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Thread: The AW Film Canon - 1940

  1. #321
    Exquisite taste Jali's Avatar
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    I also was very surprised by the DGD love, I found it pretty mediocre when I saw it years ago and with Lucille Ball as the main good thing about it.

  2. #322
    Montgomery Clift GeorgeEastman's Avatar
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    1. The Shop Around the Corner
    2. Remember the Night
    3. The Grapes of Wrath
    4. His Girl Friday
    5. Rebecca
    6. The Great Dictator
    7. The Letter
    8. The Fighting 69th
    9. The Philadelphia Story
    10. Zorro

    So close to another well deserving Lubitsch win

    "And there on top of his head were faces like she had seen only in a dream, almost too beautiful to be recognized as people at all:
    the most beautiful woman and the most beautiful man in the world, she the female version of him, and he the male version of her
    "

  3. #323
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    Quote Originally Posted by francesco-natale View Post
    I have already noticed, while Dance Girl Dance has been studied countless times as a very important feminist film by (sometimes) radical feminist scholars and critics, a lot of actually male heterosexual spectators don't see it as feminist (not able to argue about it, just a general observation). I think it's very interesting about the definition of feminism.

    For exemple, Tavernier said exactly the same, not understanding what it is so popular among feminist and female critics. (But in his late commentary about Arzner he show a lot of admiration for her early works, so who knows ?)

    Also, I'm not surprised you didn't like it : like the Red Shoes it's a lot about classical ballet
    I mean, yes, I assume there are well argued writings about the film’s feminism, and I respect your opinion (or ladylurks’s or SirRobin’s, or Poet’s) so much that I have self-doubts, but ugh, it irritated me. I can see how having a movie focused on a woman’s professional and artistic dreams, on her drive to achieve them, instead on her love life, is highly unusual for the era, and could be considered feministic. And also, of course, her big speech before the crowd that boos her, when she finally gets fed up with them, that’s undoubtedly feministic too. But still, at the end of the day, she achieves her professional dream via a man (Bellamy) and because the man falls for her because she’s so pretty, and also because she’s (in the movie’s world, not for me, of course) “pure” unlike the “floozy” Lucille Ball. That’s not my notion of feminism or of proto-feminism. And really, the movie, in the end, despite nominally being about her dancing dreams, ultimately still falls into the era’s clichés and devotes way more time to her love life and the two suitors than to her professional struggle. And then there’s the clichéd female rivalry and cattiness, between two clichés, the floozy and the virtuous. Of course there ARE also scenes about her professional dreams (that moment when she first sees that big ballet is an oddity in the era’s movies, and well done), but ultimately they don’t take as much time as the love life, the cattiness and the overall cliché-ness.

    But really, my complaints are more about artistry and craft than about ethics: I found the story rather banal (a woman wants to dance, and after some rather minor struggles she dances, thanks to a male benefactor, it really IS Flashdance in the 40s, only Flashdance didn’t have the male benefactor), and the tone is so, so mild. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a drama or a comedy, and ends up being neither. As a comedy, I half-laughed once, and the potentially funniest character (Ball) is handled almost as a serious villainess. As a drama, nothing is really that dramatic or moving, although that out-of-nowhere death at the beginning certainly #Tries, but it’s just too inconsequential to affect the audience or the narrative. Other than Ball, the other actors seem to act in a strange haze as if they were not very sure why they’re saying those lines or doing those things. This may be the least charismatic performance I’ve seen from O’Hara. And SirRobin praising the way the musical numbers are filmed has be baffled and puzzled: Arzner just adopts the POV of someone in the audience of a stage show. Yes, feet are showed, but only because Arzner adopts that unimaginative POV, not because there’s a dancing camera that seems to be roving and waltzing along.

    I mean, I didn’t even think this was “not that great”, I thought it was mostly mediocre.

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  4. #324
    Montgomery Clift GeorgeEastman's Avatar
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    I apologize for EVER complaining about ANY result, I didn't know how blessed I was with taste regularly until I saw the horrors that exists elsewhere.

    "And there on top of his head were faces like she had seen only in a dream, almost too beautiful to be recognized as people at all:
    the most beautiful woman and the most beautiful man in the world, she the female version of him, and he the male version of her
    "

  5. #325
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    I actually saw a lot from this year without much effort. But all are in the top 10 so

    I promise to be back in the 30s next year!

  6. #326
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeEastman View Post
    I apologize for EVER complaining about ANY result, I didn't know how blessed I was with taste regularly until I saw the horrors that exists elsewhere.

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  7. #327
    Montgomery Clift GeorgeEastman's Avatar
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    Yesterday there were many masterpieces fighting each other here, yet none were worthy in todays list, the horror indeed.

    "And there on top of his head were faces like she had seen only in a dream, almost too beautiful to be recognized as people at all:
    the most beautiful woman and the most beautiful man in the world, she the female version of him, and he the male version of her
    "

  8. #328
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    Quote Originally Posted by McTeague View Post
    I mean, yes, I assume there are well argued writings about the film’s feminism, and I respect your opinion (or ladylurks’s or SirRobin’s, or Poet’s) so much that I have self-doubts, but ugh, it irritated me. I can see how having a movie focused on a woman’s professional and artistic dreams, on her drive to achieve them, instead on her love life, is highly unusual for the era, and could be considered feministic. And also, of course, her big speech before the crowd that boos her, when she finally gets fed up with them, that’s undoubtedly feministic too. But still, at the end of the day, she achieves her professional dream via a man (Bellamy) and because the man falls for her because she’s so pretty, and also because she’s (in the movie’s world, not for me, of course) “pure” unlike the “floozy” Lucille Ball. That’s not my notion of feminism or of proto-feminism. And really, the movie, in the end, despite nominally being about her dancing dreams, ultimately still falls into the era’s clichés and devotes way more time to her love life and the two suitors than to her professional struggle. And then there’s the clichéd female rivalry and cattiness, between two clichés, the floozy and the virtuous. Of course there ARE also scenes about her professional dreams (that moment when she first sees that big ballet is an oddity in the era’s movies, and well done), but ultimately they don’t take as much time as the love life, the cattiness and the overall cliché-ness.

    But really, my complaints are more about artistry and craft than about ethics: I found the story rather banal (a woman wants to dance, and after some rather minor struggles she dances, thanks to a male benefactor, it really IS Flashdance in the 40s, only Flashdance didn’t have the male benefactor), and the tone is so, so mild. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a drama or a comedy, and ends up being neither. As a comedy, I half-laughed once, and the potentially funniest character (Ball) is handled almost as a serious villainess. As a drama, nothing is really that dramatic or moving, although that out-of-nowhere death at the beginning certainly #Tries, but it’s just too inconsequential to affect the audience or the narrative. Other than Ball, the other actors seem to act in a strange haze as if they were not very sure why they’re saying those lines or doing those things. This may be the least charismatic performance I’ve seen from O’Hara. And SirRobin praising the way the musical numbers are filmed has be baffled and puzzled: Arzner just adopts the POV of someone in the audience of a stage show. Yes, feet are showed, but only because Arzner adopts that unimaginative POV, not because there’s a dancing camera that seems to be roving and waltzing along.

    I mean, I didn’t even think this was “not that great”, I thought it was mostly mediocre.
    I actually think it's the middle tone who makes the movie that interesting for me and that's exactly what you said, it's not funny, it's not dramatic, it's mostly ... like life ? I think it was the point of Arzner, here, to let us in quite insecurity about everything. It's part of the charm of some movie of the era (mostly at the RKO) who are on a days of experimentation about public and genre. Last time I watched it I find the movie totally perfect regarding rythm and story, but in a way I agree with you. It's minor key, not minor, for me. The only complain I have is probably the blandness of a young O'Hara, not at her ease at all. But this could be seen as a proto sirkian idea of a narrative : clived secundaries characters are more important than perfect, leading one.

    Regarding feminism, I actually think the great force of the movie is Ball's character, who, actually ended to be pretty complex and should have been a big evil woman and actually is not at all (again; as it if in like). It's exactly what you said : it's "almost" and it's not. Because of Ball's interpretation of course, but not only. I also think the movie is mostly about male gaze, but in a realistic and honest way. The fact is in this patriarcal days, beauty and purity was major reasons to success, under male gaze, and the movie makes a testimony of it, but saying it, making a distance about it and actually not filming it (did you actually watch Flashdance recently ? Because that's pretty disgusting how the female bodies are actually looked at while in Dance Girl Dance you watch male looking women like that, but the camera is not sexualising them (even for 1940 standars). The Ball's numeros are not sexy at all, because, they re're just sad and pathetic. I find the movie pretty realistic about that and the Ball's persona of the days was also perfectly suited to make them even less erotic. That's a woman who has to live with her body, which is seen as something tragic.

    Anyway, no problem at all, of course, I respect grandly your opinion and you're not alone (see Jali's post) but watch early Arnzer's works, you could be surprised !

  9. #329
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    I'm doing a Mae West'marathon, this days and every commentator agree about West being the true "author" of her movies, working as producer, choosing costums, partenairs, making her musical numberss and, of course, scenarist and dialoguist (and credited as) and much more important in the result than any of the director she engaged. I think it could be cool and fair to have her movies under her name as a co-author. This way, a year like 1940 could have two female authors in the top 30. Is it possible to make the change in the final list ? @The Dark Poet

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