MOVIES – THEN AND NOW A Star is Born Part 2

April 22, 2019

Part 1, I compared the production techniques of three of the four versions of “A Star is Born.” My cliffhanger at the end was the promise that I would compare acting techniques in Part 2.

First, for folks too young to remember the movie serials, I’ll explain the term “cliffhanger.” Each chapter of the serial ended with a “cliffhanger,” which meant it would end with something terrible happening to the protagonists. You had to watch the next chapter to see how they escaped destruction.

Now, back to comparing acting styles.

In the 1937 version with Janet Gaynor and Frederick March, the acting was just a shade less than stage acting, which requires projecting not only of dialogue, but of facial expressions and gestures because audiences are at distances from the actors. In movie acting, the camera can come close so that speech and bodily expressions need to be “natural.”

What’s interesting is that in one scene a producer, defending Esther Blodgett’s screen test by noting her acting was “mild.” He pointed out that might be a good thing, that perhaps movie acting would become more “natural” in the future.

Indeed it would. That trend actually started when sound was introduced in the late 1920s. Hollywood had to start hiring stage actors who were vocally trained because many silent movie actors had heavy foreign and/or regional accents and squeaky voices. The problem with the stage actors was they were trained to project voices and bodily expressions. So, they were instructed lessen their projection.

They did, but not to the degree that would come later. The 30s acting was more realistic than the 20s, and the trend continued through each decade. Many movie historians believe the big change in the 1950s when “method” acting took hold with stars like Marlan Brando and James Dean.

Frankly, the effort to make acting totally realistic has often gone too far with actors mumbling to the point they are not understandable. I suppose the trick is to come across as being “natural” while speaking distinctly enough there to be understood.

As far as “A Star is Born” is concerned, the stars performed more naturally with each new version that I saw, it appears to me. Still, my favorite version was the 1954 version with Judy Garland and James Mason. I missed the Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson version.

I know this is too long, but I didn’t want to take time to make it shorter.

6Hoyt Bray, Rob St. Clair and 4 others
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Nate Gross

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Movies, Then and Now

April 3, 2019

 

Deciding on watching something new, we rented the latest version of “A Star is Born,” released in 2018, the 3rd remake. I had seen the original 1937 version with Frederick March and Janet Gaynor on TV and the 1954 version with Judy Garland and James Mason, but missed the 1976 one with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Of those I saw, my favorite is the 1954 version. Being 23 years old when I saw it in 1954 at a theater at Augusta, Georgia — I was serving in an Army band at Fort Gordon then — the music in it was the popular music of my youth. That’s probably one reason I liked it best.

Another would be the different shooting techniques. The 2018 version was shot in cinema verity style, which is all right for documentaries, but, for me, not in dramas. Cinema verity uses handheld unstable cameras, which makes the audience aware of the camera. Millions of feet of World War II combat films were shot by U.S. Army Signal Corps photographers using 16mm handheld cameras. Most dramatic films are shot in the direct style, which uses stable cameras with the idea being that it’s best that the audience is unaware of the camera. In the direct style, actors are instructed to never look directly at the camera lens. The 1937 and 1954 versions were shot in the direct style

How does Lady Gaga compare with Judy Garland and Janet Gaynor and Bradley Cooper with James Mason and Frederick March? Stay tuned for part two of Movies , Then and Now.

LONESOME? DOES SOCIAL MEDIA HELP OR HURT?

October 20, 2018
If you are lonely, you are not alone.

One source says 60 million Americans suffer chronic loneliness.

Studies show that loneliness can cause a lot of health problems.

Now, we're being told the problem is getting worse because of social media.

That seems strange because social media connects people. 

Social networking on the internet helps if used to promote face-to-face 

conversation, but if used as a replacement for that.

So, I suppose the lesson is that it's okay to do Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Don't use it as a substitute for face-to-face interaction with others.  

“Think About That for a Moment”

August 7, 2018

That’s what Gayle King, a co-anchor on CBS This Morning, advised us to do as she reported on the largest forest fire in California history during the rapid-fire, tightly-edited Your World in 90 Seconds opening segment on the show. (At one time, I did not like newscasts to be referred to as “shows.” I thought of them as being serious business. That was during the Walter Cronkite era. Now, unfortunately, the term “show” is accurate.” None of today’s news shows comes close to the numbers Cronkite, Brokaw, or Jennings newscasts pulled on CBS, NBC, and ABC. Admittedly, there were fewer choices then. But, I digress. Back to MS King and her advice.) If we had stopped to “think about that,” we would have missed the beginning of the next story.

That is one advantage that newspapers and magazines had over broadcast news. We could stop to think about a story before we went on to read the next one.  However, there is now something that lessens that advantage. It’s called a DVR, which stands for “digital video recorder.” Miss a story because you’re thinking about the one you just watched, just hit the rewind. I wouldn’t be without a DVR.  The latest stats I could find online show a little more than half of TV households have a DVR. Commercial TV stations and networks probably weren’t too pleased with them when they came into use because a lot of folks, including me, record most of what they watch so they can fast forward through the commercials. I do watch some commercials, the clever ones that give me a little entertainment or important information for my time spent watching their sales pitch. They have to come at the beginning of the break to hook me.

Book Review

July 9, 2018

THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING

Even though James Patterson books have sold more than 300 million copies, up until now I have never read one of them. I have read President Clinton’s autobiography, My Life. Now I can say that I have read a  James Patterson book. And, I now plan to read another one, because I really enjoyed The President is Missing, which I read because it was co-written by an actual former President of the United States. I would imagine a lot of folks have read and will read it for the same reason.

While it is definitely a page-turning cyber-attack thriller loaded with violent action and many surprises, it has the depth of geopolitical and White House intrigue, and it does address today’s political climate. However, James Patterson, in an appearance on Book TV on C-SPAN, said the book is not political. I’m not sure what he means by that, because it also definitely deals with politics. Maybe he said it because parties are never identified. I never saw the words Democrat and Republican in the book.

There was a time when I read almost no fiction, but I read more of it now, especially by authors like Grisham and Follett. And, now, as I said, I’m going to give Patterson another read. Any suggestions on which of his thrillers I should try?

 

 

 

Seth, Slow Down

June 22, 2018

Seth Rudersky’s rapid-fire delivery might work in Manhattan, but it didn’t work for me and some others at the RiverCenter’s 2018-2019 Season Reveal Concert in the Bill Heard Theater last night. We simply couldn’t understand what he was saying.

The first admonition public speaking course instructors often give is “slow down.” That is especially important in a large theater, and Bill Heard seats almost 2,000. So, Seth, when you play in big auditoriums,  I think many more folks will better understand what you’re saying if you slow down.

The reveal  part of the concert, which included a video presentation, was easy to follow. The upcoming season is loaded with a large and diverse number of shows and concerts. We plan to attend a lot of them.

 

 

 

Another Way to Reduce the Cost of Healthcare

June 10, 2018

The point of the post is still topical, so I’m rerunning it. Your responses, as always, are welcomed.

Dick's World

IMG_1923 Locally grown produce on sale at Uptown Market in downtown Columbus, GA, Saturday, May 27, 2017.

It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare in the United States is highest in the world, but  overall quality is low among developed nations. The United States ranks 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization.  As you probably know,  just about all of the developed countries in the world but the United States have universal healthcare.  Certainly the top ten do. While the debate on whether to go single-payer or continue for-profit is important, there is another way to drastically reduce healthcare costs that gets very little attention.  Poor diet reportedly is a major contributor to the cost of healthcare in the United States.

This was graphically pointed out by a Harris County farmer at a Wednesday night group discussion at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.  He provided…

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Political Rewind Shows “Old Fashioned Radio” Can Still Work

June 9, 2018

Born in 1930, I have witnessed the evolution of mass broadcasting. When I was a kid, my family gathered around a large console radio in the living room to listen to dramas, comedies, live music shows,  and special events like national political conventions, things that people watch on TV now. Many of the programs featured live studio audiences. That came back to me as a friend and I  “gathered” around a radio to listen to Political Rewind on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The show attracted a sold out audience to Legacy Hall in the River Center in Columbus. It’s usually aired from Atlanta with no studio audience. Columbus Mayor Tersea Tomlinson, who has appeared on it in Atlanta, invited GPB to bring it to Columbus. To me, that was a great idea because not only did it provide a very informative and entertains program, but because it reminded a statewide audience that Atlanta isn’t the only vibrant metro area in Georgia. The River Center competes well with any theater complex anywhere in America now.

We really enjoyed the program. Not only did it inform us politically, it was entertaining. The host Bill Nigut and the panel, State. Senator Josh McKoon, State Representative Calvin Smyre, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Ledger-Enquirer  reporter and columnist Chuck Williams were at the top of their articulate games. And the reactions of the large audience enhanced the experience.

If you missed it when it aired Friday afternoon, you can hear it on the GPB website. In my view, it’s definitely worth a listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Varsity and Dinglewood

March 30, 2018

Amazing how two hot dog emporiums have become famous enduring institutions.

I saw where Varsity hot dogs were served to legislators for dinner at the last session of this year’s Georgia legislature. I had my first Varsity fare years ago. The Varsity opened across the highway from Georgia Tech in 1928, two years before I was born.

I enjoyed my visits to The Varsity, but frankly, I like Columbus’ Dinglewood Pharmacy hot dogs and scrambled dogs better. Not only does Dinglewood beat The Varsity in hotdogs (to my taste), but it does in longevity, also. It opened in 1918. I started enjoying their hot dogs and milkshakes in the 1930s. (I haven’t had either in years.)

The Varsity is still a drive-in. Dinglewood was also a drive-in for a while at its old location. It used an empty lot next door for drive-in service until the owners of the lot decided they didn’t like that idea. When that closed it continued “curb service ” on Wynnton Road. I know this because my “big brother” Elbert was a teen-age carhop there in, if my memory is correct, about 1940.

Don’t Let Them Snow You

February 7, 2018

Recognizing Propaganda

Every minute of every day you are subjected to propaganda. People are using words, pictures, and even music to influence the way you think.  Before I get into how propaganda works, the techniques that are used, I should define the term as used in this post.

Propaganda is the use of one-sided messages to influence the emotions, opinions, attitudes, and actions of targeted audiences for political, ideological, or commercial purposes. The messages may or may not be factual.  That’s a paraphrase of a definition provided by Richard Alan Nelson in a Wikipedia article.

A very effective explanation of how propagandists manipulate us is a documentary, Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions, by Jerry Kroft, Ph.D., a Psychologist, who wrote Duped! Delusion, denial, and the end of the American Dream.  You can see it on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo5gPG72KM

He explains the basic tools that are used.

1.Reframing

2. Repeated Affirmations

3. Vicarious/ Imitative learning

4. Distraction and denial

5. Classical & operant conditioning.

It would be great, in my view, if this were shown to every11th grader in the United States.