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American old film class Cabin in the Sky and The Wizard of Oz - Essay Example

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Frank Baum novel, made in 1939. The film starts with one of the greatest instances of special effects on screen, a tornado over Kansas in which teenager Dorothy Gale’s (Judy Garland) house is carried to a wondrous land…
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American old film class Cabin in the Sky and The Wizard of Oz
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The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz is a ic musical based on the L. Frank Baum novel, made in 1939. The film starts with one of the greatest instances of special effects on screen, a tornado over Kansas in which teenager Dorothy Gale’s (Judy Garland) house is carried to a wondrous land called Oz. To get back, she needs the assistance of the mysterious Wizard of Oz and is assisted enrouté to his Emerald City by The Scarecrow who wants brains, the Tin Man who wants a heart and the Lion who wants courage. These three misfits expect the Wizard to help them. The first scene in Oz is a huge parade, with music, marching and a multitude of Munchkins. The sets are lavish, costumes bizarre, colours psychedelic and the music is loud and active. Two very good visual sequences are the foreboding interior of the Wizards castle and the swooping swarm of the Wicked Witchs minions resembling flying monkeys. The wicked witch threatens Dorothy. The Wizard of Oz is a true predecessor of most modern Hollywood movies, and perhaps the single most influential movie of the twentieth century. Its reputation of being a classic is well deserved.
This movie was released during the Great Depression. The faith in human nature expressed in The Wizard of Oz served as an affirmation to movie going audiences in 1939. The Wizard of Oz is one of the most enduring stories in American popular culture, the themes and images from this story are a part of everyday experience and the songs "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" and "If I Only Had a Brain," are instantly recognizable. The Wizard of Oz is about the great American myth of self-actualization, the allegorical search for courage, intelligence and heart. The message of the film is that all of these things lie within one and all that is needed is to recognize them and that despite the magical and amazingly colourful world that we live in, there is no place like home and ones family. It could also be construed to be a film about the disillusionment with politics as the great and celebrated leader turns out to be a charlatan, while all that is needed to get by is the simple basic tools within held by the masses of the world.
Cabin in the Sky.
The 1943 musical "Cabin in the Sky", resembles a standard MGM musical rather than a black-music musical. "Little Joe" Jackson (Eddie" Rochester" Anderson) drifts from his devout and devoted wife Petunia (Ethel Waters), to Georgia Brown (Lena Horne). He is shot by Domino Johnson (John W. Sublett), a gambler. Little Joes soul leaves the body and Lucifer, Jr. (Rex Ingram) and a heavenly general(Kenneth Spencer) are present with lieutenants. Joes salvation or damnation is postponed for six months without his being able to remember the out-of-body experience. The devils in order to ensure their victory (claiming Little Joes soul and annoying the heavenly host) enrich him and send Georgia Brown to deliver this good news. The plan works well. Petunia writes him off, but only for a time. However, coached by the General she goes to claim half the windfall as community property, to the nightclub Little Joe has bought (and hired the Duke Ellington Orchestra to play in) in a dress more gleaming even than the raiment of Georgia Brown and flirts with Domino who comes to reclaim Georgia Brown from Little Joe.
The big production numbers are in the nightclub. The biggest, which Busby Berkeley reputedly helped choreograph, is Dominos announcing he is back in a big. This is followed by a more staid regularly scheduled performance from Georgia Brown, and then Petunias song and dance. This is followed by a tornado and a brawl and Little Joes six months end with his being shot again. Although Ethel Waters was older and considerably more pious than during the Harlem Renaissance days, "Cabin in the Sky" is the best record of her as a singer and dancer. The performances by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington though not unique are praiseworthy and Kenneth Spencer’s tap dancing is formidable. The first hour of the movie has fairly bland singing and acting by Waters and Anderson, and some stereotypical mugging, male shiftlessness (Anderson), vixening (Horne), and fervent faith (Waters). The moment that everyone is present in the nightclub, the tale ignites. Cabin in the Sky has an intelligent and witty script, which treats its characters and their race with a dignity rare in American films of that epoch. Read More
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