Classics/Art 329 Lectures 16-18

Lecture 16: The Genius of Vera-Ellen

A. Vera Ellen Westmeier Rohe........Origins in Ohio

    1. Small town girl from midwest makes good in New York

    2. Billy Rose Showgirl! Sensation on Broadway stage

    3. Strong religious upbringing

    4. Mistreatment by Samuel Goldwyn

    5. MGM Star- the making and destruction of a dancing star

        a. MGM forces her to change her body shape!!

        b. Harsh dieting and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

        c. Anorexia Nervosa

B. The Secrets of Vera-Ellen's Dancing

    1. Every step is perfectly executed and the transitions from step to step fluid and flawless

    2. Greatest of the paired dancers [view an image of Vera-Ellen and Fred Astaire in "The Belle of New York"]

    3. Could do any kind of dance- meticulous rehearsals.

        a. Superb ballerina

        b. Comic dancing

        c. Song and Dance- her voice always dubbed in movies, not on television

        d. Modern Dance/Jazz Dance- trained by Gene Kelly [view an image of Vera-Ellen with Gene Kelly]

        e. Superb tap dancer- rapid fire tapper

        f. Acrobatic dancer

        Vera-Ellen movie poster for "Happy Go Lovely"
        g. Prop Dancer

        h. Stunt Dancer- death defying jumps and leaps in cabaret show and occasionally on film

    4. Superb Actress- her crying scene in Call Me Madame

C. Her Great Personal Tragedies- a life only partially fulfilled

Lecture 17: The Master of Suspense--Alfred Hitchcock

A. Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (1899-1982)

      Hitchcock and his family
     Hitchcock and his family

    1. London days- William Hitchcock, poultry dealer and fruit importer

    2. Maps and buses- merchant marine plots by age 8

    3. 1912-1920- Jesuit Schools (Order of St. Ignatius of Loyola)

        a. Original Sin- Eve, nobody is perfect

        b. Everyone is tainted

    4. Desire to distrust and punish blonde women

    5. Electrical engineering, navigation, economics, art, political science

    6. 1919- Estimator for Henley Telegraph Company- electric cables

    7. Art School Evening Classes- transfers to Henley's art department

    8. Famous Players Lasky (Paramount) London 1920-1922

    9. 1923- Gainsborough Pictures, Islington, England- screenwriter, art director, assistant director, production manager, director

    10. Woman to Woman (1924)- Berlin and Munich- assistant director, art director

        a. UFA/British film industry accord- start of his German influences

        b. Films made in Munich in both languages- Hitchcock says "Achtung" for action

    11. 1925- The Pleasure Garden- Munich, assistant director Alma Reville

    12. 1926- The Lodger- theme of the second self, the wrong man

     13. 1927- The Ring- opens at a fair

Please click here for page one of an article on Hitchcock's work, and here for page two.

B. The Hitchcock Dialectic

    1. Germanic influences- stimmung, werden, psychic acoustics, lighting, expressionism

    2. Pure Cinema- influence of the silents

    3. Kammerspiele- reveal story through inner feelings, nuance, gesture, light, shadow,

    4. Fuses D.W. Griffifth and Max Reinhardt- stimmung plus editing

    5. Criminality- blind justice, society's innocent victims, ineffective police

    6. Appearance versus Reality

    7. Object Power

    8. Objective Correlative (also used by Fritz Lang in Metropolis)

    9. The Gradual Slide into Chaos- buildup to the big moment

        a. Starts with dull normality- boy meets girl, girl poses for artist

        b. Stir in some lurking evil below the surface and develop into the big moment

        c. Blackmail (1929)- Hitchcock's first sound film is actually partially silent

    10. Denial of the expected

    11. Original Sin

    12. Black Humor

    13. The Hitchcock Cameo

    14. Hitchcock the Huckster

    15. Surrealism Influences

          a. Giorgio De Chirico 1888- 1978- [view two images of De Chirico's work, including Melancholy, 1913, right]

  b. Salvador Dali 1904-1989 - Persistence of Memory 1929

c. North by Northwest 1957- with Cary Grant

D. Saboteur (1942)- with Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lane

    Norman Lloyd, the villain of  Saboteur, once lectured in our class!!     
  Norman Lloyd, the villain of  Saboteur, once lectured in our class!!

   1. The paranoid universe- crisscrossing

   2. Denial of the expected, opposite of what is expected

   3. Black humor

   4. Buildup to the big scene

   5. Vertigo

   6. Object Power- objects are alive as symbols and actors

   [view images from Mel Brook's High Anxiety]



Lecture 18: The 1950s -- Communists and Aliens!

A. Happy Days?

     1. Post World War II Syndrome- Psychoanalysis, Freud revives

      2. The Atomic Age- Atomic Age Anxiety, Duck and Cover, The Nuclear Threat

      3. Radiation and Religion- God is punishing us for our transgressions!

      4. The Cold War- Russia and Nikita Kruschev vs. The USA and Richard M. Nixon/John F. Kennedy

B. Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957)

      1. 1944- Election to the U.S. Senate, was ex-marine lieutenant and captain

      2. 1949- Russia explodes its first atom bomb using stolen secrets

      3. 1950- Speech to the Wheeling, West Virginia Women's Club- The Big List of Names

      4. 1952- Re-elected, Chairs H.U.A.C.

      5. 1954- Hearings are televised

            a. The Blacklist

            b. The Front- Dalton Trumbo, John Garfield, Larry Parks

            c. Informants and Helpers to H.U.A.C.- John Wayne, Robert Taylor, Adolphe Menjou

            d. Resistors- Edward R. Murrow stands up against McCarthy, risking his life and career

      6. Dec. 2, 1954- McCarthy loses his chair

      7. 2005- George Clooney actually makes a movie about all this! GOODNIGHT AND GOOD LUCK

C. The Problem of John Wayne-  American hero or draft-dodging informant [view an image of a lunch box depicting John Wayne]
American Legend Lunchbox

D. The Problem of Science- J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967)

      1. Harvard, Cambridge, Cal Tech, Berkeley- the great teacher in Quantum and Nuclear Physics

      2. 1941- The Manhattan Project- atomic energy lab at Los Alamos, New Mexico

      3. Enrico Fermi and Nils Bohr

      4. Father of the Atom Bomb

      5. 1946- receives Presidential medal of merit after Hiroshima and Nagasaki

      6. 1946- 1952- principal U.S. advisor on atomic energy to the president

      7. 1949- Confrontation with President Harry S. Truman over H Bomb

      8. 1950- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg- Commie traitors?

      9. 1953- Critical Year- Rosenbergs executed, J. Robert Oppenheimer held accountable

            a. Dwight David Eisenhower- U.S. president revokes Oppenheimer's security clearance

            b. Oppenheimer removed from AEC- Atomic Energy Commission

            c. Oppenheimer branded dangerous, unstable, pinko-- science out of control, mad scientists with nuclear power running amok

            d. Oppenheimer concerned about role of scientist in world survival, wins AEC Firmi Award 1963

E. The UFO Problem- Watch the Skies!

      1. Mass Hysteria- Roswell, New Mexico in 1947- Commie plot?

      2. Alien Invasion and Religion- The 2nd Coming?

      3. The Thing from Another World 1950

      4. The Man from Planet X 1951

      5. The Day the Earth Stood Still 1953

      6. The Theramin - invented 1919 by Russian scientist Leon Theremin (1896-1993)

F. FIEND WITHOUT A FACE 1957- 1950s stereotypes created from headlines [view an image of the movie poster]

      1. Small Canadian town has TOP SECRET air force radar installation

      2. Fear of alien creatures- mysterious deaths

      3. Fear of atomic power- RADIATION, mutants, aberrations

      4. Fear of atomic scientists- science runs amok, cannot be controlled, Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves) is similar to J. Robert Oppenheimer.

      5. Stereotyped image of the university science professor- old, addled, batty and dangerous

      6. Fear of Communists- cold war tension

      7. Anti-intellectualism- liberated, unrestrained thought is evil, conform or die!

      8. Pro- Military- Religious support, blind faith in authority figures of government