Film Analysis #2 (Psycho)

Posted onDecember 10, 2010 
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Psycho is a 1960 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released by Paramount. It follows the story of a secretary, Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, who finds refuge in a motel after stealing money from her employer. The motel owner is Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins. The story follows the aftermath of Bates and Crane’s encounter. Hitchcock believed that films were structured to build suspense, and that suspense took precedence over graphic horror. His narratives usually centered upon seemingly normal settings like a man owning a motel in a simple town, only to reveal something dark beneath the surface. In Psycho, it seems apparent that Hitchcock has a fascination for birds. He very cleverly disguises birds through the movie, making it a theme throughout. The bird itself becomes a motif in Psycho, and Hitchcock challenges the audience to make the correlation.

Right off the back, the theme is set through the female lead’s name, Marion Crane. Her last name is also an actual bird. I thought this was an essential part that sets the theme early. Furthermore, the setting also contributes to the theme. The film takes place in Phoenix, which is a mythical bird that rises from its ashes. This in itself can symbolize Crane’s attempts to rise from her ashes and begin a new life using the money. It becomes rather easy to trace this bird motif that Hitchcock disguises in the film. One of the stimulating scenes that stood out to me in the film was the scene where Crane has a meal with Bates. When Bates invites her into the parlor, it is very difficult to make out the room. The room is completely dark and the fact that the movie is in black and white really adds to the suspense. As soon as Bates turns on the light, you see these little canary-like birds around the lamp. After the light illuminates the room, we get a medium shot of Crane browsing the room. The first thing she sees is this stuffed owl mounted on the wall with its wings spread, like the owl is preparing to catch its prey. This can be seen as foreshadowing – the crane is a peaceful bird, unlike the savage owl. Hitchcock may be alluding to the fact that Crane’s life is actually in danger, and that the owl, in this case Bates, is preparing to strike.

The next thing Crane sees is this black crow, a bird notoriously associated with death. It also proves to be rather fittingly that it is underneath the crow where Bates sits her to eat her sandwich.  Bates sits in the corner opposite of her, right underneath the owl. To the right of his shoulder, the audience can plainly see another intimidating bird that is difficult to identify. From first glance, it appears to be some type of Vulture. With the position of the characters, you can easily make some inferences. He sits on the corner where all the “hunting” birds are located, and she sits in the corner where the song-birds are located, and right beneath the crows. This further depicts foreshadowing, as Hitchcock warns the audience of her impending demise. That night, the crane is slaughtered by the bird of prey, Bates.

Also important to the scene and relevant to the theme of birds is the conversation that takes place between the two. Bates begins the conversation by telling Crane that she “eats like a bird.” She reacts to the comment with a reply “you’d know, of course,” while scanning the room. Throughout the entire conversation she can be seen dabbing at the bread, which explains the rationale for Bates’ comment.  He then begins explaining himself and rambling by adding “the expression [eats like a bird] is really a fa-false…falsity because birds really eat a tremendous lot.” He goes on to explain that he enjoys taxidermy and does it as a hobby. He actually caresses the bird next to him and explains to Crane how hobbies are suppose to pass the time, not fill it.  He enjoys stuffing birds because they are passive, even when they’re alive. Throughout the movie, he maintains a plain and calm life. He gets frustrated with his “mother” and her continuous badgering, but he loves her a lot and gets offended when Crane suggests having her “sent away”

Bates then begins talking about how a boy’s best friend is his mother. Throughout the movie, you can draw the parallels of how this bird, Bates, is afraid to leave his mother’s nest. He begins talking about his mother and the camera is placed at a low angle, and in the background the audience can see the creepy birds of prey. He goes on to describe his mother as “as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.” This is ironic because at the end of the film, Bates’ mother says, “And in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man, as if I could do anything except just sit and stare like one of his stuffed birds.”

After their dinner in the parlor, she stands up and says goodnight. As she explains to Bates of her long drive in the morning, the camera is placed at a low angle. This is something I found rather chilling; the crow’s beak appears to be stabbing at her in the background. Once again, this is a prime example of foreshadowing. In the film, I felt that these birds represented Bates rather than his alternate self, his mother. When people investigate the murder of Crane, Bates is seen eating sweets from a bag, resembling to me more that of a bird. It is Bates who tries to flee away from sticky situations, such as interrogations. Bates is a passive character who exhibits these feminine qualities. It is through his alter-ego that he is able to commit these violent actions – he has to dress up like his mother to commit the actual crimes. One can depict the mother in Psycho as a doppelganger. She plays this sort of “double,” but it isn’t an exact copy. She is a ghostly presence, elusive, and the doubling is not perfect. The manner in which Hitchcock depicts the mother was very much frightening, and very well suited for this thriller.

All in all, through his brilliant placement of birds in the scene, Hitchcock establishes a theme of birds throughout the film. He uses them to warn the audience of events that are going to occur, and he also uses them for aesthetic purposes. As is the norm for a Hitchcock film, Psycho was intended to keep the audiences at the edge of their seats. From the very first opening number, the attention of the audience is grabbed with the blaring horns of the theme song. Hitchcock stays true to the tone of the film as a psychological thriller, challenging the audience to look beyond what meets the eye. In addition to adding to the mood of the scene, the birds also portrayed symbols of what was yet to come. The angle placement of the camera also made the birds, and Bates, much more intimidating. With Hitchcock, the placement of everything on the screen is done so for a reason, and it is up to the audience to discern its meaning.


Posted onDecember 5, 2010 
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I didn’t see the whole movie, La Noire De… (1960) but from the little clip that we saw, I did enjoy it. For a low budget, there was a good cinematographer. I found it interesting how they had to dub a lot of the sound and that the main character spoke in internal monologue. I don’t know if it was done b/c of them needing to dub the sound or if it was just a coincidence. The way the story was told (in flashbacks) helps give the film a strong sense of direction. The scene with the haunting music gives us a visual reminder of the past and social colonialism. That scene was really spooky to me, especially since I didn’t see the movie from the beginning. The repetition of the song in the end sequence (the drums) where he’s in the neighborhood of the nanny adds to the tension b/w the boss and the nanny’s brother.

The way Ousmane Sembene uses color is amazing. He uses black and white patterns which work well visually since the film is about racism and colonialism. It virtually highlights these themes played throughout in the movie in a somewhat subtle way.

A scene that stood out to me was when she was wearing that black and white dress. Against her dark skin is was presented beautifully and it was satisfying to the eyes. Along with the black/white stripes on the floor, it looked like an optical illusion to some extent.  Overall, it was a strong film with a deeper message. I would like to watch this movie from the beginning to the end.

A Taste of the Black Cream of Hitchcock’s Humor

Posted onNovember 29, 2010 
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Like anyone with a good sense of humor, I found it humorous in the way that Alfred Hitchcock promoted his film. The reel shown before the screening made me anticipate for the movie to start. It gave me a taste of the “black cream of Hitchcock’s humor.”

Another thing I found interesting was how Hitchcock has a habit of putting himself in his own films, for shot or a cameo moment. This has been considered a respectable act on his part. This reminds me of how Stan Lee has made cameos in SOME, not all of his Marvel movies as one-scene characters.  What I found more interested was how Hitchcock had to pay for 60% of the making of the film and had to film on a cheap Universal studio to save Paramount the embarrassment; this completely back-fired with the acclaimed success of the film, Hitchcock made a fortune as a major profit participant.

Anyways, back to the film. Hitchcock was able to produce a great surge of emotion for me while I watched Psycho. Usually when I watch movies, I like to think ahead and try to figure out the plot. But with the screening of this movie, I just went it and enjoyed the “moment” as it came.  In the beginning of the movie, Hitchcock builds this character and we learn a lot about her. When I finally felt connected with the character of Marion (played by Janet Leigh), she gets torn into pieces. He had a knack for stirring up my emotions. I was shocked that she was gone in less than 1 hour into a movie, being that she was one of the main characters. She was highly advertised w/ this movie so I was even more shocked when this happened, not disappointed though. You can note how she was treated in a troubling way (her reason for leaving).  I like Hitchcock’s rebellious attitude (displaying sexual and violent scenes). It made the film more thrilling to watch.

It must have been downright shocking material for people in the 1960s. The movie opens in a sleazy hotel, where the dialogue of the characters makes it evident that they just finished making love. The mise-en-scene of this opening scene sort of embellished the situation of the couple. We go from a sunny exterior that when it transitions to the inside of the room, it seems nothing but gloomy. The dark/gloomy room signifies their current position and troubling life issues, for example: He has just gotten a divorce and is having trouble paying the alimony bills while she has to sneak during her lunch break to make love to this man. This sexual frankness must have been shocking for the audience at the time. They see this blond attractive lady who is involved in this sexual complex relationship with a divorced man, and she’s unhappy.  She even suggests that they should see e/o respectfully. After they discuss having a more respectable relationship, where he should meet her sister and go out in public…Sam tries to joke about it, trying to sort of brush it off. The camera switches back and forth showing mostly close-ups instead of medium-shots.  By having these close-ups, Hithcock displays the emotional capacity of this topic and indicates the importance of it. When he finally gives Marion her “all right,” by shrugging her shoulders, and they begin to talk about the future…they open the blinds and its as if a light of hope (for their future) had seeped in through the cracks. 

You can depict the mother in Psycho as a doppelganger. She plays this sort of “double” but it isn’t an exact copy, it is a ghostly presence, elusive, and the doubling is not perfect. Something was definitely “off” (she was being played by her son). The appearance of the “mother” was frightening and to some extent disturbing.

One thing I would like to talk about is the scene when they are eating their dinner in the room full of birds. First off, I want to mention that her name was Marion Crane. Her last name is an actual bird. I just thought that was interesting and I don’t know if this intentional or unintentional. Also, the setting of the plot gives a lot away. It takes place in Phoenix, where is the place where a bird rose from the ashes. When you walk into the office, you also notice all the stuffed birds. These all seem like evil birds and look like birds of prey, maybe mirroring Norman Bates “psycho” persona in the sense that he’s a “bird of prey.” (When the hawk-looking bird is behind him, it can be shadowing who he is…very creepy!) It’s ironic when Bates compares his mother to one of his stuffed (dead) birds saying that “she’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.”

The editing and sound were the perfect combination in the shower scene that made it what it is today. Both of these components worked together in order to produce this realistic and horrific scene into perfection. In a total of 1 minute run-time we observe over 50 different combination of shots/cuts. The montage in this scene is remarkable. While witnessing this, we hear the edge of a knife piercing into this woman’s skin surface, along with her cries of help. With this many shots, I find it interested and remarkably stunning was that we never actually see the knife itself piercing through the skin. We may assume it is because of the sounds, and the motion of the knife before it actually pierces her. Some people say this scene was supposed to “wash away her guilt.” I say it did so, and more.

Overall, I feel that Psycho opened doors for psychological thrillers all over the country. This film was a precursor of what was to come and served and a stepping stone for other horror films to rise about. I enjoyed the movie, it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. One thing I really enjoyed was the musical score of the film. It really got under my skin and was well suitable for the scenes it corresponded to. Props to Bernard Herrmann. The score was the icing on top of this cake. He really did it this time. With out this major feature of this skillfully composed score, the film would of not been what it turned out to this. The music plays a major role to the intensity of the film along with the overall mood. The shower scene was enhanced by Herrmann’s crafted perfection of a score. Hitchcock and his dense character is what laid the major foundation for the ultimate classic thriller. This is the perfect example of a well-crafted piece of work in this film industry. Pure cinematic magic. <3

Dorothy :D

Posted onNovember 17, 2010 
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I really enjoyed Written on the Wind. I don’t know if it had to do with the fact that it was our first color film. Actually, saying that it was in color would be some sort of an understatement. For those of you who were there for the screening  should of noticed how vivid the colors were. The dramatic use of color really did it for me. A lot of the scenes to me seemed like paintings, not in a bad way but more in a wow way. I never thought that color can make that much of a difference, but Douglas Sirk made me aware it did. One of the outfits that stood out to me was when Mary-lee (Dorothy Malone) was wearing this plaid button down shirt. It was red and blue and she wore blue pants. It was the scene where she was in the lake (she did repeat the outfit) but in this scene it just stood to me a lot. Throughout the movie I thought she was just this spoiled little alcoholic brat…but then when this scene comes and she recollects all these internal memories that seem to a point almost orgasmic to me. She goes to the lake where she reminisces about Mitch and how they were…even the carving in the tree. All these ingredients in this scene showed the softer side of her (which also comes out in the court room where she says the truth about her brother’s murder). Her genuine emotions begin to surface, and you can’t help but feel sympathy for this girl. I feel that the bright colors (usually associated with happiness) do the scene justice b/c she’s suffering knowing that the man she truly loves is in love with someone else.  The colors seem to contradict what she’s feeling but at the same time I feel that it intensified her genuine emotions…the way she was at the lake was a face she didn’t show to anyone (except that day in the court room).

Mary-lee (Malone) at the Lake scene

I didn’t know much about Dorothy Malone but then I did some research, because I was really curious about her. She stood out to me the most. And one thing I found interesting about my research was that she actually went through a “transformation” for this role. She went platinum blond to get out of that “good girl image”. I would have never known she had a “good girl” image before this movie since her acting was remarkable. She also got an academy award for best supporting actress in 1956 for this role. I don’t know who else was nominated at the time but I do think she deserved it. She was very flamboyant and over-the-top but I think this (for a melodrama) was perfect and she played the role with a very relaxed and sensual energy that she practically kills it. (not in the sense that she messed it up, more that she dominated)

Dorothy Malone with her Academy Award in 1956

Besides the scene in the lake…i also enjoyed the mambo scene. Who didn’t? There was two scene where she was dancing. I felt that the music was moving her…rather than her moving to the music. Idk if that makes sense but that’s how I felt watching her dance. In the scene where she’s dancing with Mitch, she’s wearing this long black dress and black gloves. It sort of reminded me of Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in the sense of the wardrobe.

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind (1956)

I also noted that when she was dancing, she was wearing this black dress where the other ladies around her were wearing red. This caught my attention b/c black is usually a negative color (like how she is a negative person throughout the movie) . And although she was wearing black, she stood out to me in the room. The other ladies in the room sort of look at her in a sense that they feel envious, and I can’t blame them. I feel that Sirk was playing w/ color here as well. The cross-cutting that occurs b/w her father and herself. When he was walking up the stairs…and the music got faster and the more she got into it, in my head i wanted him to run up those stairs…it was just very well-put together. With the dramatic use of music, it really makes the scene escalate as he is literally “escalating” to the top. (although he never makes it 🙁 ). As the scene progresses, the way her hips move while her dad is tumbling down the stairs really highlighted Sirk’s style of dark humor coupled with genuine emotions. In this case, the genuine emotion is her happiness as well as his disappointment in his own daughter.

I actually ordered the movie…and it should be getting here by now. I’m excited to add it to my DVD collection. I was saying how Lady Eve was my favorite movie…but I think Lady Eve got bumped to my 3rd favorite movie. (I don’t know which movie I like more, this one or Psycho.)

Here’s a clip of her dancing in BOTH scenes…enjoy 😀

Both Samba dance scenes 😀

Film Analysis (The Lady Eve)

Posted onOctober 22, 2010 
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The screening that I will analyze is “The Lady Eve,” starring Barbara Stanwyck as Jean Harrington, and Henry Fonda as Charles Pike. The film was directed by Preston Sturges and was released on March 21st, 1941 by Paramount Studios. The movie follows a very typical and simplistic formula for romantic comedies – boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy gets girl boy loses girl, boy ends up with girl and all is happy. The appeal, however, is in the journey the characters take along the way. Adding to said appeal is Jean’s character, who turns out to be a tough woman with a sharp tongue. Such characters were common in Sturges’ films, which were known for their dialogue. Being directed by Sturges, it would seem appropriate that the film evoke his style. The film is popular for its use of slapstick comedy, which Sturges was also well-known for. Laughs were often drawn from characters falling down steps or hurting themselves. From character selection, to camera movements and actions, Sturges had every aspect shot the way he intended it to.

Sturges had eleven rules that he felt would give a film box office appeal. Sturges’ eleven rules are:

  1. A pretty girl is better than an ugly one.
  2. A leg is better than an arm.
  3. A bedroom is better than a living room.
  4. An arrival is better than a departure.
  5. A birth is better than a death,
  6. A chase is better than a chat.
  7. A dog is better than a landscape.
  8. A kitten is better than a dog.
  9. A baby is better than a kitten.
  10. A kiss is better than a baby.
  11. A pratfall is better than anything.

Sturges’ rules can be seen in “The Lady Eve.” There is one specific scene in the movie that involves several of his rules. In the movie, Jean asks Charles, to accompany her to her room so she could change her shoes after breaking one and falling all over him. Jean speaks fast, basically confusing Charles into following her orders. The scene then fades to her room as they walk down the stairs. Once they enter the bedroom, most of the scene is done in one shot. Sturges was known for shooting scenes once, as noted in James Harvey’s article, “Sturges: Genius at Work.” Sturges rarely shot scenes more than once, and it can be seen in this particular scene. From the moment they enter the room, the camera follows them around as Jean continues to fire line after line at Charles, including the risqué “see anything you like?” The scene continues with Jean flirting with Charles, before he finally chooses a pair of shoes for her to wear. The first cut doesn’t take place until Jean sits on the bed waiting for Charles to change her shoes. This was the perfect time for a cut because it allowed the camera to reposition itself and catch Jean from a more provocative angle as she sticks her leg out. From this vantage point, the audience gets a clear shot of Jean’s leg and Charles’s desperate face as he changes her shoes.

That one scene can be called the typical Sturges scene, using four of his rules and filled with the witty dialogue he was known for. The scene contains a pretty girl arriving in a bedroom with a man, and sticking her leg out so that he can change her shoes. Moreover, this whole encounter began with a pratfall; Charles “tripped” over Jean’s foot, causing him to fall and her heel to break. The entire film remains faithful to Sturges’ rules and the rules of screwball comedies. For example, in a different scene, Charles chases Jean after she sees a snake in his bedroom; yet another one of Sturges’ rules. Before entering the room, Charles asks Jean if she would like to come in and see Emma, to which she replies, “That’s a new one, isn’t it?” This is another example of the sharp dialogue in the film. The chase ensures when Jean learns that Emma is in fact a snake.  The chase scene is done with very little cuts, doing so only when the location changes – when they leave or enter a room.

In addition to Sturges’ rules, as mentioned earlier, the film follows the typical formula for a comedy, both romantic and screwball. What begins as an exciting challenge for Jean turns into much more. Her initial intentions are to con Charles, as she usually does with the help of her father, the Colonel. As expected, she actually gets in too deep and falls in love with Charles. However, he discovers her original intentions and he leaves her. Throughout the remainder of the film, Jean is trying to entice Charles and show him she truly cares for him. She even goes to the extreme length of creating a whole new version of herself. The fact that Jean pursues Charles to be her husband stays true to the theme of marriage in screwball comedies. At the end of the film, boy and girl get married and presumably live happily ever after.

All in all, Sturges’ movie, “The Lady Eve,” remained true to the many rules it was intended to follow. The dialogue was quick and smart, making the film very funny. One recurring theme throughout the movie that was also funny and very popular in screwball comedies was Charlie constantly wiping-out when he was in the presence of Jean. This was truly a highlight of a genius at work, Sturges. Another scene that I think was brilliant and defines Sturges as a director was the use of dialogue and the camera’s point of view when Jean used the mirror to check out Charles. The view Sturges used was from Jean’s mirror, allowing the viewer to see everything from her perspective. The shot was a close-up of the mirror in Jean’s hands. While the audience had this point of view, we were watching Charles read his paper, and Jean was narrating as various women approached him and were respectfully rejected. This added to the humor of the scene, yet gave the viewer an appreciation for the innovativeness Sturges was displaying. This just goes to show that with the right person at the helm, a typical plot can be turned into a brilliant film.

Isolated Kane

Posted onOctober 21, 2010 
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From Robert L. Carrigner’s piece, I learned on the relationship b/w Welles and Toland. Word was that Welles wanted to work with Toland. So instead, Toland reached  out to Welles. Toland was tired of working with directors who “knew it all”. He wanted something fresh, something different and working with an amateur was just what he needed to accomplish this.  Their chemistry  evident, and many sources said that Welles would challenge Toland. Toland successfully completed the such challenge and would grin and ask Welles to come up with a harder task. Toland loved experimenting with the lighting  and camera angles, where Welles insisted Toland experiment as much as possible.  Both men had crazy imaginations. Welles wanted to push Hollywood to its limits. He wanted something different. i.e. Shooting shots from the ceiling (different various angles). This was done due to the fact that they microphones were able to be used more efficient and worrying about shadows wasn’t a big issue since the lights were placed on the floor. Eventually, all of this experimenting from these two curious men led them to finding ways to lower costs. (a movie that had a budge of one million dollars was expensive to produce) Reusing sets instead of building new ones was a big money saver for Welles. Welles actually began shooting the movies before they gave him permission to. Welles encouraged for his actors and other workers on the set to voice their opinions and he was open to their ideas. He wasn’t just commanding people on set like some sort of drill Sergeant.

I really liked the quote that Thompson said in the end of the movie about how Rosebud was just a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and how no word can ever explain a man’s life. Thompson is trying to find out the meaning behind “rosebud”, almost like a hunt. He doesn’t find it, and this whole time he was trying to connect this man’s life to a word (in broad terms). I find it interesting that Rosebud (the sled) from his childhood was what he last remembered before he died. It’s kinda sad, and you can’t help but feel bad for this man after you see his hard child hood, and how he experienced a sense of isolation. At a young age, that’s when you’re suppose to receive all the loving. A child needs that.

In the beginning of the screening, I LOVED how the screen is filled with snow falling from the sky and as the camera zooms out…you realize it’s inside a globe. The snow globe was very symbolic in the sense that when we see Kane holding the snow globe while he’s all alone, ready to croak, it drops and shatters (like his life).  Throughout the film, you see the snow globe (when he meets Susan, it’s on her drawer) and then again when she decided to leave him and he destroys her room out of anger. The snow globe in some way foreshadowed that he was going to be all alone one day or another. Regardless if he was on his death bed or not.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when he’s playing in the snow in the background and you see his mother, trying to practically sell her son. The father seems to have no say in it as she rushes the process. It’s really sad and hit me because you see him playing like a naive child, and in reality (what the audience is seeing) is this greedy lady giving up her child b/c she suddenly got wealthy? To me, that made no sense…if anything, she should have been more excited to raise her child and be able to give him everything she couldn’t before.  I liked the scenes that followed, it really gave powerful impact to me and really highlighted this isolation theme that played across the movie. How he goes from one cheerful kid playing in the snow to the camera isolating him b/w his mother and Mr. Thatche.

Regardless on my opinion of maternal instincts,  the movie was great, my 2nd favorite screening.  (Lady Eve first)

Stanwyck, The Rockettes, Change Clothes and Daft Punk?

Posted onOctober 18, 2010 
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Alohaaaa every one, my apologies for being so late with these blog posts. Better late than never. Three weeks ago, when I was reading for the screening of Struges’ The Lady Eve (one of my favorite screenings so far), the article by Patricia Mellencamp Sexual Economics: Gold Diggers of 1933 caught my attention. I don’t know what it was, perhaps the title. I read the article two times just because I enjoyed it that much. Since there is no specific guidelines for this blog, I might just ramble on.

I really enjoy watching Barbara Stanwyck ever since I saw Double Indemnity. Something that sticks out in my mind was Standwyck’s performance in the movie. Double Indemnity is a film noir where The Lady Eve is a screwball comedy. Up until this point in film history, women were generally depicted as the housewife contempt with their current status in society. The women in film noir, however, always want to have their own identity. Well this proves to be true in Double Indemnity. Standwyck didn’t disappoint me in The Lady Eve. Since it is a comedy, I payed very close attention to the dialogue.  The plot itself was funny. She’s a con artist, along with her dad. They’re on this ship and she meets a naive guy. She falls in love with him and they end in bad terms. She then disguises  herself as an English lady to torture him. Of course, in the end…love conquers all and they end up together. “Sturges: Genius at Work” has a line that stood out to me:

The most daring aspect of the screenplay and final film was its fractured chronology: jumping back and fourth in time as it ranged over the hero’s life.

This line stood out to me because my favorite film director/screenwriter is Quentin Tarantino and he is known for doing such jumps. (i.e. my favorite film Pulp Fiction. He doesn’t say the story line in order, he jumps back and forth.)

“The ‘genius’ made money” with one of the biggest hits in Paramount history, The Lady Eve. I can see why. It just wasn’t a comedy on the big screen but also behind the scenes.  Being on the set, Stanwyck became “hysterical” when filming her love scene with Henry Fonda. Taking four hours to stage the scene itself because the couple kept “breaking up at it.” One thing I find interesting of Sturges was that he didn’t do more than 2 takes of a scene, and he didn’t like close-ups and covering shots.  Although this gave problems for his editors, he liked “doing it all at once without cutting.”  This stood out to me a lot, because I feel that close-ups can be dramatic revelations of what is really happening under the surface of appearances. For example, a close up of someone who appears to be sitting can show they are actually nervous. Directors can use the close-ups to try and tell the audience how the actors are feeling. Ok, he’s the genius…not me.

The 2nd reading (my favorite reading so far) Sexual Economics Gold Diggers of 1933. There’s a quote that reminds me of Mae West. “While the narrative is propelled by these fast-talking, inventive women, in the spectacles they become identical, anonymous, Freudian symbols. ” I don’t know if any of you have seen that movie with Mae West, She Done Him Wrong. I recommend it. One of my favorite scenes from She Done Him Wrong 🙂 In this reading, they talk about the Rockettes and their “sanitized routines.” While I was reading this paragraph, I couldn’t stop thinking of the  JROTC Unarmed Exhibition team. I was looking for a good video on youtube but I couldn’t find one that does their routine justice. But I will post the one I found. LICHS Unarmed Exhibition Drill team. I don’t know if you guys can view this video b/c I found it on facebook…but this is the next one I found on youtube…which is a Francis Lewis routine (I hate FLHS) UGH. But for you guys to get the point, I’ll share it. FLHS Unarmed. Lots of practice goes into these routines. Its very nerve racking when you’re performing and a there’s a judge at every angle deducting points for every time you fidget or step out of line.  Or if you’re feet aren’t at a 45 degree angle, when you’re at attention. All these rules and regulations remind me on how the Rockettes have to have a specific height…even a specific complexion. They didn’t let African Americans be Rockettes until 1987. Which I found shocking.

Another part of the reading that caught my attention was the part where they talk about the 1884 Electric Girl Lighting Company, where they offered “to supply illuminated girls” for occasion and parties. They were “electric girls, their bodies adorned with light” and they made appearances at public entertainments as “ornamental objects.” This reminded me of the French electric duo Daft Punk and their robotic spectacular. In their performances, they control the lights and they synchronize the lights with the music. The music is pretty much upbeat, therefore the lights are too. Music pleases the ears and lights please the eyes…the music and the lights are synchronized so whenever the music changes tempo, the lights change intensity and complexity too. The lights also account for the different “layers” used in their songs. Side note…they started playing Daft Punk on the radio more now…well one more time at least because the release of Tron is coming up. They are doing a cameo appearance in the movie Tron where their helmets and suits are lit up as well, much like when they perform in a concert. Here is a youtube video of their performance. Live @ Wireless Festival 2007- One More Time

Kanye West Ft. Daft Punk @ Grammy\’s 2008…Daft Punk comes out @ 2:47 but I think you should watch the whole performance to grasp the whole “electric” illuminated feel the song gives off. Side note: The NY Giants came out to this song in Super Bowl XLII, where they defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 aka the third biggest upset by betting line in Super Bowl history :-D.

I’m a big hip-hop fan and when I read this footnote from Gold Diggers of 1933, I couldn’t stop thinking of Jay-Z feat. Pharrell’s Change Clothes.

The progressive concealment of the body…keeps sexual curiosity awake. This curiosity seeks to complete the sexual object by revealing its hidden parts. [Think of the midget raising the curtain on the striptease in “Pettin’ In the Park,” the peeking inter cuts of women dressing, changing costumes, backstage or in their apartments.] It can be however, be diverted (sublimated) in the direction of art, if its interest can be shifter away from the genitals on to the shape of the body as a whole.”

Here’s the music video for those who are unfamiliar with it. Jay-Z feat. Pharrell-Change Clothes

I think that should wrap up my post. Comparing the reading to things I know now, made the reading 10 times more pleasurable to read. And that’s why as of now…it’s my favorite reading. 🙂

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