Was it wrong for Disney to censor Fantasia to remove the character Sunflower?

This post is an expanded version of something I wrote on Quora.

One of the most controversial aspects of Disney’s Fantasia is the censorship of the character Sunflower from the Pastoral Symphony segment of the film.

Sunflower is a centaurette (female centaur) who is depicted as being a hybrid of a young black girl and a donkey.  She is shown performing duties as a servant to the other centaurettes who are depicted in a wide variety of pastel colors.

Beginning in the 1960s, Sunflower was deemed a racist and negative depiction of black people, and her scenes in the film were deleted.  Beginning in 1990, the scenes were restored, but the shots she was in were cropped (zoomed in) so that she could not be seen, except for one that was.  For the 2010 DVD and Blu-ray release, Some scenes had Sunflower digitally erased, and others were cropped to a smaller extent than in earlier releases, all to reduce graininess.

There is much debate over whether she should’ve been removed from the film.  There are those who say that she should be censored in order to move away from the attitude of depicting black people as negative stereotypes.  Others say that she shouldn’t be censored because such portrayals were very common in animated films of the time, and that removing them is the same as saying that they never existed in the first place.  Some believe that there should be a middle ground; in other words, for example, the late film critic Roger Ebert felt, “While the original film should, of course, be preserved for historical purposes, there is no need for the general release version to perpetrate racist stereotypes in a film designed primarily for children.”

Also of note: There are other black characters in the segment.  There are two identical unnamed centaurettes who are part young black women and part zebra and another young black girl donkey centaurette named Otika who in the original rolls out a red carpet; in all versions currently available, Otika is digitally removed so that the red carpet appears to unroll by itself, and the zebra centaurettes have never been altered or removed from the film.

Sunflower

Otika

Sunflower’s scenes can be viewed here and here.

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Review and Recap of Move Over, Darling

As I mentioned briefly about in a previous blog post, this movie was a second attempt at a production, as the first attempt was troubled, and it ultimately failed and was forced by a variety of circumstances to shut down.  Twentieth Century Fox wanted to make a remake of 1940 comedy My Favorite Wife called Something’s Got to Give. Marilyn MonroeDean Martin, and Cyd Charisse were to take the roles that were originally played by Irene Dunne Cary Grant,  and Gail Patrick.  However, filming was troubled due to Monroe’s frequent absences.  Monroe was fired from the film, but she was rehired because Martin refused to do the film without her.  However, she died before filming could resume.

Since Fox had already put a lot of money into the film, which was over budget, the decision was made to start over form scratch.  There was a new director, Michael Gordon, who replaced Jean Negulesco, who originally replaced George Cukor.  The new leads were Doris Day, James Garner, and Polly Bergen, taking over from Monroe, Martin, and Charisse.  The new title was Move Over, Darling.

Nick Arden is a lawyer whose wife Ellen Wagstaff Arden was lost at sea following an airplane crash in the Pacific.  It’s been five years since her disappearance, and Nick is in court.  He petitions a judge to have her declared legally dead; the judge is quite absent-minded, but grants the petition.  Immediately afterwards, Nick asks the judge to marry him and his fiancee, Bianca Steele, much to the judge’s surprise.

At the same time, Ellen returns to America.  A Navy submarine ship found her on a deserted island and rescued her.  Ellen wants nothing more than to call her family and let them know that she is alive and well, but when she is unable to make a call, she instead accepts a ride home.

Ellen gets home and she sees her two daughters who were only babies when she disappeared.  They don’t remember her, and Ellen does not tell them who she is.  Ellen later goes inside the house and shocks her mother-in-law Grace.  After Grace gets over the shock, she reluctantly tells Ellen that Nick has gotten re-married; Ellen is devastated by this news, but since he is on his way to Monterey, California, to the same hotel where he and Ellen had their honeymoon, she and Grace realizes that it’s not too late.

Ellen flies to Monterey.  Shortly  after she arrives, Nick and Bianca check into the hotel; the clerk offers him Suite A, but Nick and he insists upon any suite other than the suite where he and Ellen spent their honeymoon, and they are given Suite B.  As he and Bianca get into the elevator, he sees Ellen in the lobby, and he is quite shocked.  Nick makes an excuse to leave Bianca in their hotel room, he finds Ellen, and they embrace each other.  Ellen expresses disappointment with Nick, but he defends himself saying that they couldn’t search for her forever, and he tells her that they held a beautiful memorial service for her.  This touches Ellen’s heart, but she still insists that Nick tell Bianca about her.  Nick checks Ellen into the same suite where they had their honeymoon, which happens to be  next door to the suite Nick got with Bianca.

Nick tries to tell Bianca the truth about Ellen, all while Bianca is trying to consummate their marriage, but there are a variety of complications, including Bianca thinking Nick is rejecting her and acting hysterically.  Ellen loses her patience, and returns home.  Nick fakes a back injury so that he and Bianca will be forced to return home.  Back at home, Grace suggests that she tuck in her daughters into bed.  Ellen still does not tell them that she is their mother, but she sings them a song that she sang for them when they were very young.  They remember it, but they don’t remember where they heard it from.

The next day while the girls are at school, Nick and Bianca return home to see Ellen who is posing as a Swedish nurse.  After Ellen “miraculously” cures Nick’s “broken” back, she offers to give Bianca a massage, but the massage breaks out into a physical altercation, that Nick breaks up only to be distracted by the door bell ringing.

An insurance adjuster comes by, and he mentions in passing that Ellen was stranded on the island with a man named Stephen Burkett, and that they called each other Adam and Eve.  Nick is immediately jealous, and when he tells Ellen that he knows about Stephen, she tries to convince him that nothing happened, but he still refuses to believe her.  Ellen decides to go to a department store where she finds a meek and plain-looking man, and she asks him to pose at Stephen.  At the same time, Nick finds Stephen, a very attractive man, swimming a local hotel’s swimming pool and flirting with women.

Ellen introduces Nick to the fake Stephen; Nick asks them questions about their time on the island, and the fake Stephen states that they spent practically no time together.   After that, Nick and Ellen go out to lunch.  Nick suggests going to a hotel for lunch, knowing that the real Stephen is there.  Ellen confesses that she lied to Nick about the fake Stephen.  Nick starts to feel guilty about his plan to expose Ellen’s lies, and he insists they leave immediately.  Stephen then approaches them.  Angry at Nick’s deception, Ellen leaves and a wacky car chase ensues.

Back at home, Nick and Ellen are bickering when the police come.  They arrest Nick for bigamy.  Grace had called the police since he refused to settle the dispute on his own.  In court, Ellen is declared legally alive, Bianca and Nick’s marriage is annulled, and Ellen decides to sever all ties with Nick.  Stephen shows up in court proclaiming his love for Ellen, but Ellen attacks him, stating that he did nothing but harass her during the five years they spent on the island, and that she tried to spend the past five years staying away from him.

Back at home, Ellen is feeling dejected about the entire ordeal, but she is greeted by her daughters in the swimming pool, who call her “Mom.”  Nick is also swimming, and he invites her to join them.  Despite being fully clothed, Ellen enthusiastically jumps into the pool, embracing Nick and fully reuniting with her family.

I’ve been obsessed with this movie since last fall, though I saw it maybe in 2013.  It’s the just the dilemma.  You lose your spouse at sea.  You find love with somebody else.  You declare your spouse legally dead so that you can get re-married.  Then your spouse is is rescued and returns home.  What do you do?  This theme is so timely that this movie could be perfect for a remake today in 2015.

Another appealing thing to me is the theme of “coming back to life” (so to speak) and having a second chance with with your family who previously thought you were dead.  It has to be extremely hard to be away from your family for five years, to miss seeing your children grow up, and so on.  Also, it must be hard on your family to lose their loved one, and to not even be able to give them a proper burial, and to be a child who lost their parent as a baby, and who has to grow up never knowing their mother.

Despite these themes and the entertaining factor of the movie, there are some plot holes.   When Ellen returns to her home, and she sees her two daughters in the swimming pool, they, at the time of her disappearance, were babies, and they were too young to remember her.  Ellen greets her daughters, but they don’t recognize her.  I can’t believe that.  I mean, the only way this would be possible is if Nick had removed all photos of Ellen in their home, and never showed them to their two daughters.  It seems selfish for a father to never show his daughters any  photos of their presumably deceased mother.  Even if they don’t remember her, they could still feel the pain of the fact that (as far as they knew) their mother was dead, and that they would never know her.  Then again, the beginning shows Nick to be somewhat insensitive, in that he had Ellen declared legally dead, and married Bianca immediately afterwards; the judge was right to be shocked that a man would have his first wife declared legally dead and without waiting at all, marry his second wife.  Also, when Ellen poses as Helga, the Swedish nurse, Bianca does not recognize her either.  So, we are expected to believe that Nick removed all photos of Ellen, and never showed his new wife photos of his first wife whom he lost?

Despite these plot holes, I enjoy the film simply because of its humor and the themes it addresses.

Introduction Speech of a Famous Person: Marilyn Monroe

This was written for my Advanced Public Speaking class.  We had to introduce a famous person.  This assignment assumed that the person was still alive, and that the subject would be speaking publicly.

  1. Introduction
  1. Today, I will introduce one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.
  2. She is known for being one of the leading sex symbols of her day
  3. Yet, she also wished to be known as more than a pretty face, but a serious, talented actress.
  4. That person is Marilyn Monroe.
  1. Body
  1. Monroe was born in Los Angeles in 1926 (Doll, 2007).
    1. She did not have a stable, happy childhood.
    2. Her mother was mentally unwell.
    3. Her father never acknowledged her as his own daughter.
    4. Her mother became unfit to raise her, and so Monroe was often in foster care, or cared for by friends of the family.
    5. At age sixteen, she got married, and soon after that she began a modeling career as a result of her work in a parachute factory during World War II but after she began her modeling career, she got a divorce, and turn her efforts to to becoming actress.
    6. Years of hard work paid off, and Monroe was signed to 20th Century Fox.
  2. Monroe became a huge star with 20th Century Fox, with much emphasis on her sexy image (Doll, 2007).
    1. Some of her hit films included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and The Seven Year Itch.
    2. However, Monroe did not feel happy about the roles she was given, and she sought more challenging work, not wanting to play shallow, sexy dumb blonde characters.
    3. She moved from Hollywood to New York City and studied at the Actors’ Studio to learn how to become a serious dramatic actress.
    4. She also established her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions.
    5. Following the success of The Seven Year Itch, she signed a new contract with Twentieth Century Fox, granting her creative control over the films she appeared in.
    6. Following her appearance in the film Bus Stop, Monroe proved that she was serious dramatic actress with considerable depth.
    7. From then on, Marilyn Monroe was viewed as not only a sex symbol, but as self-sufficient and intelligent woman who was very good at her field.
  1. Conclusion
  1. To conclude, it is clear that Marilyn Monroe is more than a pretty face.
  2. She is a woman who knows what she wants out of her career, and she showed that she has the talent and skill to make it happen.

 

References

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s Early Life – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-early-life.htm

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s First Movie Role – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-early-career.htm

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe in ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-later-career.htm

 

Review and Recap of Valley of the Dolls

In the summer of 2012, I discovered Valley of the Dolls on Netflix (I am sad to say that it not available on Netflix anymore, as of this writing; I found that out yesterday when trying to re-watch it for the umpteenth time.). I watched it, and enjoyed it greatly. This movie has been popular for nearly fifty years, and it considered to be one of the great cult camp classics.

The film was based on the novel of the same name by Jaqueline Susann. Susann wanted to become a famous actress, although her mother predicted that because of her high score on an IQ test, she would become a famous writer. Ever since Susann graduated from high school, she tried to become an actress, but never was successful, only getting small roles. She did have her own talk show on the now defunct and mostly forgotten early TV network, DuMont, called Jacqueline Susann’s Open Door, but it was short-lived.

In the 1960s, Susann drew upon her experiences in Hollywood, and she wrote her very first novel, Valley of the Dolls.  It became a huge hit, and in 1967, Twentieth Century Fox made it into a movie.  The movie was one of the top-grossing films of the year.  But it was universally panned by critics who called it poorly-written and acted and trashy.  Nonetheless, it has endured as a so-bad-it’s-good cult classic.

Valley of the Dolls tells the stories of three women dealing with the professional and personal struggles of stardom.

Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins) is a ingenue from the small New England town of Lawrenceville who moves to New York City to start a new life and gain new experiences; she wants most of all to find out who she is what she wants from life.  Anne begins working as a secretary in a law firm for singers and actors.  While delivering contracts to egotistical Broadway veteran Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward), who is preparing for a new musical, she meets and befriends Neely O’Hara (Patty Duke), an up and coming actress and singer with a small role and single musical number in the show, and Jennifer North (Sharon Tate), a showgirl who is quite sexy, but has no real talent and who is a backup dancer in the production.  In addition, in the office, she meets and begins a romance with Lyon Burke (Paul Burke), the nephew of one of the firm’s founders.  Their relationships run into trouble due to Lyon’s unwillingness to ever get married. Lyon leaves Anne to go to England to research a book he plans to write.  After this, Anne is offered a chance to be the face of a line of beauty products called Gillian’s by the company’s head, Kevin Gillmore (Charles Drake), due to her refined, natural, relatable, and elegant beauty.  Anne becomes a nation-wide celebrity known as the Gillian Girl and eventually becomes engaged to Kevin.  At the height of her fame, Anne has a chance encounter with Lyon and reunites with him, ending her engagement to Kevin.  In meantime, she attempts to support Neely and Jennifer throughout their struggles.  After learning that Lyon is cheating with Neely, she begins using dolls to cope, but soon she gives them up, leaves him, and returns home to Lawrenceville, realizing that it’s the only place where she can thrive.  Lyon begs her for forgiveness and asks her to marry him, but she turns him down, while suggesting that she might change her mind in the future.

Neely O’Hara is a talented young singer with a single number in a musical on Broadway, but Helen Lawson, the star of the show demands that her one song be cut from the show, as she fears being upstaged by Neely.  Despite this setback, and with the help of Lyon, Neely sings in a telethon, gains prominence, and decides to make it big in Hollywood.  With the support of boyfriend-turned husband, Mel (Martin Milner) and dolls—amphetamines to be alert throughout the day barbiturates to sleep at night—Neely becomes the biggest star in Hollywood, but Hollywood changes Neely for the worse, making her abrasive and egotistical.  Mel realizes that Neely is no longer the woman he married and leaves her; after their divorce, Neely marries Ted Casablanca, a fashion designer, but, the dolls and the pressures of stardom become too much to handle.  Ted leaves her for another woman due to her drug dependency and workload making her too tired to have sex.   Neely’s addictions cause her to become unreliable, and she is replaced by another actress on her latest movie.  To get away from everything, Neely travels to San Francisco.  While in a bar she plays one of her songs on a jukebox, and while singing along to it, a man insults her.  Angry, Neely throws her drink in face; he tries to attack her, but he is restrained, and Neely leaves the bar.   She walks among the city’s strip clubs and adult entertainment and sees a theater marquee advertising a pornographic film that Jennifer appeared in.  The next morning, Neely wakes up in a motel to a strange man stealing her money; distraught, she overdoses and wakes up to Anne and Lyon who checked her into a sanitarium.   Neely recovers and attempts to find new success on Broadway.  However, her egotistical behavior causes Lyon to quit being her manager.   Shortly before the premiere of her new musical, Neely takes dolls and drinks alcohol, leaving her in no condition to perform. Her understudy is sent to go on in her place.  The understudy is a sensation, and Neely walks around an alley and breaks down, realizing that she has lost everybody and everything in her life.

Jennifer North is a showgirl who despite having considerable sex appeal, is rather untalented.  Her jobs in the show business world consist of showing off her body.  She meets Tony Polar (Tony Scotti), a nightclub singer and begins an affair with him; despite the objections of his half-sister and manager Miriam (Lee Grant), Jennifer and Tony get married.  They move to Hollywood so that Tony can begin acting, but his success is limited.  Shortly after a studio drops his option, Tony suddenly has difficulty walking and forgets who Jennifer is; Miriam tells Jennifer that he has a  genetically-inherited disorder called Huntington’s chorea (now called Huntington’s disease) which is incurable and causes a person’s muscular and mental functions to gradually decrease.  Miriam explains that she and Tony had different fathers, that Tony’s father had the disease, and that she didn’t tell Tony because she was uncertain if would ever happen to him, and she knew it would distress him; the disease was the reason why Miriam objected to him getting married and why she put Tony and Jennifer on a strict budget because she needed to save as much money as possible for when he inevitably has to be committed.  Jennifer who is pregnant with Tony’s baby decides to have an abortion out of fear that the child will inherit the disorder.  Tony is committed in a sanitarium (which would now be called a psychiatric hospital) and to support him, Jennifer decides to appear in “art films,” which are actually soft-core pornographic films, in France; she hates the entire ordeal because when she married Tony she gave up doing jobs that require the exploitation of her body.  After making the films, Jennifer returns to America and finds that Tony’s disease has progressed to the point that he doesn’t remember who she is.  Shortly afterwards, Jennifer is diagnosed with breast cancer and must have a mastectomy, which distresses her because she has no talent and would no longer be able to use her only asset, her body, to earn a living and keep Tony in the sanitarium.  Feeling as though she has lost everything in the world that she has ever had, she commits suicide by taking an overdose of dolls.

Valley of the Dolls is a favorite of mine.

I do find it watchable, and I do not think it’s too bad.  But it has some major flaws.

One of them is hammy and forced and stilted acting.  Patty Duke as Neely O’Hara does not act some dramatic scenes well enough, and they come across as almost comical.

Bad dialogue.  My favorite line in the film is the scene where Jennifer North is attending a screening of an erotic film she starred in, and her character’s husband says in French after she reaches orgasm and knocks over a bottle of wine and two glasses on the floor, “Gabrielle, the wine almost fell in my shoes.”  Nobody says stuff like that.  Another gem in that scene is this exchange:

Jennifer’s character Gabrielle: If you were not my husband, I would be crazy about you.

Gabrielle’s husband: I will get a divorce tomorrow.

Undeveloped storylines: Late in the film, after Lyon Burke, Anne Welles’s boyfriend accompanies Neely back to New York for her planned comeback on Broadway, they begin an affair.  Anne is devastated and begins using sleeping pills to cope.  But she realizes that she is going on the same path of destruction that Neely and Jennifer (who by that point in the movie had taken her own life), and she gives up the pills and returns to her New England hometown.  The Neely/Lyon affair comes out of nowhere.  I didn’t even notice it the first time I watched the film.

Regardless, I enjoy the film because the story and characters always remain interesting.  What draws me to the film is its depiction of Hollywood and stardom.  It is not all fun and glamour.  People try to destroy you in order to avoid being replaced by you.  You are exploited just because you are sexy, and not because of any talent.  People make impossible demands of you, and they forget that you are a human being and not invincible.  Film shoots often do not go as planned.  While the film did not do the best at addressing these issues, due to how disjointed it is, it was fascinating to watch she challenges unfold on the screen.

Film Analysis Assignment (Roman Holiday) [MCOM 4731 & 6731/IFDI 5731 – Film Analysis Assignment]

For my screenwriting class, we had to write a film analysis paper for a film that was awarded or nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay.

Film Analysis Assignment

Due Date:  Wednesday, September 17, 2014

 

Students will choose a film from the list below and write a 3-5-page paper (single-spaced), discussing the important aspects of the film they chose to view for class.  Students are encouraged to choose a film they have not seen before, since the purpose of this assignment is to expand overall film knowledge.

 

The first portion of the paper will be dedicated to the identification and explanation of the following structural elements of the film:

  • Plot
  • Subplot(s)
  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Theme
  • The film’s turning points (all seven turning points)
  • Setting (all four aspects)
  • The genre of the film

 

During the second portion of the paper, students are encouraged to analyze a film from their personal viewpoint.  Students should ask themselves questions such as, did you relate to the characters while you were watching the film?  Were you rooting for the protagonist?  Were there believable character arcs throughout the entire film for the main characters?

 

Throughout the entire paper, students are expected to make a thorough analysis of the film; therefore, it may be necessary to view the film more than once.

 

Below are the films you may choose from:

The Godfather

The Godfather, Part II

When Harry Met Sally

The Verdict

All the President’s Men

The Graduate

Roman Holiday

Singin’ In the Rain

Dead Poets Society

Good Will Hunting

 

Ellis Sutton

MCOM 4731 & 6731/IFDI 5731 –

Film Analysis Assignment

Plot

For this analysis, I watched the debut performance of a graceful, talented, and generous actress, the late Audrey Hepburn.  It was Roman Holiday.  This film won several Academy Awards including Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn and Best Story (At the time, the awards for story and screenplay were two separate awards) for Dalton Trumbo (Ian McLellan Hunter who wrote the screenplay along with John Dighton, and who was nominated for writing it along with him was credited for the story accepted the Best Story Oscar because Trumbo was part of the Hollywood Blacklist, and therefore, could not be credited; Trumbo would, in later years, eventually be credited for winning the award, and in 1983, his widow was given the Oscar that was rightfully his and should have been awarded to him in the first place).

The film focuses on a Princess Ann, who is the princess of an unspecified European country.  Ann is on a goodwill tour of various European capital cities, including London, Amsterdam, Paris, and currently, Rome.

Ann, however, is feeling very jaded and disenchanted with life as the member of a Royal family.  Her life is very choreographed.  She always has a packed schedule filled with dedicating buildings, meeting dignitaries, and attending balls where she has to dance with several of the male guests in attendance, and where she has to stand for a long time, in high heel shoes, to meet, greet, and shake hands with the various royal people in attendance.

At nighttime, Ann is very emotionally upset about her life, and how much she wishes it were normal.  She complains to her maid servant about how she hates her long nightgown, which covers her feet, and that she wishes she could wear pajamas, or even nothing at all, as some commoners are known to do.  Ann also dislikes her nightly bedtime meal of milk and crackers.  When Ann grows hysterical about the challenges of being a princess and royal life and not having the freedoms that are afforded to most commoners, her maid servant calls her doctor who gives her a sleeping pill to calm her down.

The pill does not, however, go into immediate effect,and Ann sneaks out of the palace where she is staying, for a chance at some freedom, if only for a temporary period of time.

Ann hides into truck that is carrying wine.  She exits the truck after leaving the palace grounds and is happy about her newfound freedom.  However, the sleeping pill goes into effect.  A newspaper reporter, Joe Bradley, finds her in an intoxicated daze as caused by the sleeping pill, and he takes her home so that she can have a comfortable place to sleep for the night.

The next day, there is panic of sorts because Ann is discovered to be missing.  The palace claims that she is ill, and they cancel a press conference that she was due to give.

Eventually, Joe realizes who Ann is.  He decides to use this development as an opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Ann.

When she wakes up, she is confused.  He explains what happened the previous night, and she says that her name is Anya.  After she bathes and gets dressed, Ann leaves Joe’s apartment.

Ann explores the city, with great joy; feeling the need to reinvent herself, she gets her haircut in a short style, and and she runs into Joe on the Spanish Steps.  The two spend a lot of time together throughout the day all over Rome, and they fall in love.

Eventually, the police officers sent by the place to locate Ann find them at a party.  One police officer tries to take Ann by force.  Joe gets involved and this leads a large fight breaking out.  Ann and Joe manage to escape.

Shortly afterwards, Ann tearfully says goodbye to Joe because she has to return to her life as a princess.

She returns to the palace, stating that she knows what her duties are, and that is why she returned.  Ann also asserts herself to her servants, something that she had never done before.

Joe decides not to do the story that he planned to write about Ann.

The next day, the palace holds the press conference which was cancelled due to her absence, the previous day.  Joe is in attendance.  They interact as princess and news reporter, and it is very clear to the audience that their time together has changed them forever and for the better and that they would never forget each other.

 

Protagonist

The protagonists of the film are Ann and Joe.  Ann is the protagonist, first and foremost, because she is one of the film’s main characters.  The film focuses on her desire to live the life she wants rather than the life she wants to live.  Joe is a secondary protagonist (deuteragonist) because he is the second most important character in the film.

 

Antagonist

An interesting part of the film is the fact the antagonist is not the type to be actively evil, necessarily.  The palace and its servants are Ann’s antagonists.  She does not see eye to eye with them.  She wants to have more freedom.  When Ann runs away from the palace, and they find out, they set out to find her.  Eventually, the police find her, and they try to take her by force.  While, this attempt is thwarted, Ann does go back to the police because she recognizes her duties as a princess.  She only left in the first place because she wanted to get away from all of her royal responsibilities and obligations for just a moment in time.

 

Theme

The theme of the film is about how people can become very dissatisfied about their lives, and how sometimes, they simply need to take a break from everything just to feel alive again and to put things into perspective.  Ann gets a chance to be normal for a day.  But she realizes that she has to go back to her own life, and nonetheless, she appreciates that.

The film’s secondary theme is in how people can see other people as a pawn to be used only for one’s own purposes, only to change their mind as they get to know the person.  Joe, when he finds out who Ann is, decides to get an exclusive interview with her.  However, the day they spend together causes him to develop a true level of respect for her, and therefore, he decides not to write the story, because he understands what her struggles are; it would completely wrong to exploit her.

 

The Film’s Turning points (All Seven Turning Points)

I will now talk about the seven turning points in Roman Holiday.

 

The Back Story

Princess Ann is the prince of a European country, whose name is never mentioned in the film, let alone mentioned.  She has been to other European capital cities as part of a goodwill tour, and now Ann in is Rome.  She feels trapped by the demands of being royal, and she longs for freedom that is afforded to most commoners.

 

The Catalyst

At night, Ann complains to her servants about her plight.  When she grows belligerent, they call her doctor who gives her a sleeping pill to calm down.  Ann calms down to a point, and when her servants and doctor leave her room, she sneaks out of the palace.

 

The Big Event

Ann, in a drugged stupor, falls asleep outside.  She is found by Joe Bradley, and he takes her to his apartment so that she can have a comfortable place to sleep for the night.  The next day, he finds out who she is when it is announced that Princess Ann is ill, and cannot give a press conference.  He decides to get an exclusive interview from Ann.

 

The Midpoint

After Ann, wakes up, she thanks Joe for his kindness, and she leaves to explore the city of Rome by herself, enjoying herself in the process.  She runs into Joe, and they spend lots of time together, falling in love as well.

 

The Crisis

The palace has gotten the police involved to locate Ann and bring her back to the party.  

 

The Climax

At a riverside party, the police find Ann, and they try to take her by force.  Joe and his photographer, Irving, intervene, and this ensues in a huge fight breaking out, and Ann, Joe, and Irving escaping.

The Realization

Ann realizes that she has to return to her old life.  She bids a heartfelt farewell to Joe.  She asserts herself to her servants when she returns, recognizing her duties as a princess.  At the press conference, the next day, Ann meets Joe, who ask her a few questions, and it is clear that they have both changed as a result of their time together.

 

Setting

In this section, I will depict the four elements of the film’s setting.

 

Location

The film is set almost entirely in Rome, Italy.  Several Roman landmarks are featured in the film including the Spanish Steps and the Mouth of Truth.  This shows how the city of Rome is very much a character in the film, given how many of the famous landmarks of Rome are prominently featured throughout the entire duration of the film.  If set in any of the other cities that Ann visited such as Amsterdam, London,or Paris, things would have been very different.

 

Time Period

The film is set during the early 1950s.  The time periods is not a huge part of the film.  But it does depict some of the values of the time such as how women often have little to no agency.

 

The Genre of the Film

The film is a romantic comedy with some dramatic elements.  The main plot of the film focuses on the relationship between Ann and Joe who eventually fall in love with each other.  There are also numerous comedic scenes such as when Ann is very groggy from the sleeping pill, and acts extremely awkwardly and clumsy.  There is also the scene where Ann and Joe are at the Mouth of Truth.  Joe puts his hand in the mouth, and he acts like it was bitten off.  Ann is extremely horrified, and Joe reveals that he was simply playing around with her.  There is also drama such when Joe and Ann part ways because Ann has to return to her royal life.  The final scene, depicting the press conference lacks any sort of comedy.  It is a calm and serious moment.

 

My Own Views of the Film

This film just okay in my humble opinion.  The story is rather simple.  It is all about how the royal life is not all fun and games, but a job that has great demands and very little freedom.  I did find Ann sympathetic to a point because I can understand being bored with one’s life and wanting to shake things up, even if only for short period of time (I feel that way every single day).  However, there is this part of me that despite the fact that Ann lacks certain privileges that commoners have, she still has privileges that most commoners do not have.

I don’t find the majority of the supporting characters interesting other than Joe.  They seemed kind of superflous which is odd because they logically do have something to add to the story.  They did not have the most memorable personalities, and if I were writing this film, I would like to think

However, I suppose that the rest of the film was okay.  Inoffensive and light, but not one of my favorites.  It had some funny moments, and Ann and Joe’s separation was heartfelt.  But this film seemed rather bland a lot of the time.  I personally preferred some other films that Hepburn appeared in such as Sabrina, The Children’s Hour and My Fair Lady (what little I have seen of it).

TV Tropes: Non-Singing Voice

This is not a trope, but rather trivia that is on the website of TV Tropes.  The reason that it’s not a trope is because it is not a narrative device.  It’s absence or presence has nothing to do with the story at hand.

Non-Singing Voice refers to the phenomena where an actor is cast in a musical film.  However, the actor does not sing his or her character’s songs in the movie; somebody else does.  The reasons are that the actor cannot sing or that he or she simply does not have the right voice for the material at hand.

This was most common during the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Rather than cast actors who could sing, studios would cast whomever they felt was best for the role or whomever was a bankable actor.  If the actor could not sing the songs in the film, then the studio would hire someone who could.  This was done in secret because it was felt that it would ruin the film for viewers if they knew that actors were not really singing the musical numbers.  Usually an attempt was made to make sure the singer could sound the way the actors might if the actors could actually sing; so in a way these singers were also acting the roles at hand.  Such singers were known as playback singers and their actions for the films were known as dubbing; they would often sign contracts promising to keep their roles in the films secret.  Eventually, the fact that the singers would dub famous actors became common knowledge, but there does not seem to be any backlash against the films themselves.

Now here are some noteworthy cases of the Non-Singing Voice.

Marni Nixon was one of the most common playback singers; she might as well be called the “Queen of the Playback Singers/Dubbers”.  She dubbed for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

Natalie Wood appeared in several musical films and was dubbed in most of them.  The most noteworthy is her role as Maria in West Side Story.  She recorded her songs for the film, but her voice was considered sub-par because the songs were written for a higher vocal range than she was capable of.  She was given the impression at least some of her voice would be used in the final film, but after shooting completed, she was informed that all of her singing would be thrown out, and that Marni Nixon would re-record her musical numbers.  She felt betrayed.  On YouTube there are clips comparing Wood’s voice to Nixon’s voice; it’s clear that Nixon has the more refined voice, and Wood simply lacked the range to adequately sing the songs. In 1962, a year later, Wood appeared in the adaptation of the musical Gypsy as the title character, and did sing her parts; it helped that the score of Gypsy was not as demanding as West Side Story.  Wood would be dubbed two more times.  In 1965 she appeared in the film The Great Race; Jackie Ward recorded the song “The Sweetheart Tree” which Wood’s character sings.  Later that year Wood appeared in Inside Daisy Clover; she had three numbers, A slow and fast version of “You’re Gonna Hear from Me” and “The Circus Is a Wacky World.”  Once again, Wood recorded all of those songs, but only her recording of the first four lines of the slow version of “You’re Gonna Hear from Me” appeared in the final film.  The rest was dubbed by Jackie Ward.  Ward later remarked that after she recorded the songs in the studio with the orchestra, the orchestra erupted into a standing ovation; when she asked why, they said that they were happy that there was finally someone who could sing the songs; Wood’s performances of the songs were apparently sub-par.  Wood later stated that she was not against filming another musical, but only if she could guarantee that all of her songs would be recorded by her and appear in the final film.

In 1990’s several animated films featured voice actors who did not sing their musical numbers, and who instead had other people provide the singing voices of their characters.  This included the Disney films, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Mulan.  Other non-Disney animated films that did this included Anastasia, The Swan Princess, Quest for Camelot, and The Prince of Egypt.

Audrey Hepburn appeared in the 1964 adaptation of the hit Broadway musical  My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle.  Julie Andrews, who originated the role on stage, was considered, but was rejected as she had never shot a movie before.  The role called for a soprano vocal range, that Hepburn simply did not have.  She recorded all of her songs, but all of them were re-recorded, except for the majority of “Just You Wait” which was in a lower range than the rest, and one line of “I Could Have Danced All Night,” by Marni Nixon.  Audrey Hepburn stormed out the studio when she learned that her singing would be replaced, but she shortly afterwards apologized her behaving so childishly.  When it was somehow revealed that Hepburn was dubbed by Nixon, Nixon gained infamy, and it is rumored that this revelation is why Hepburn was not even nominated for her role in the film which won several Oscars, including Best Picture.  Ironically, Julie Andrews made her film debut in Mary Poppins that same year and won the Oscar for Best Actress.  There are clips available of YouTube comparing Hepburn’s voice to that of Nixon’s.  Once again, Nixon is clearly more skilled for the material at hand.

In film version of Carmen Jones, much  of the cast could sing, including Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, and Diahann Carroll, but they could not sing opera.  So, opera singers dubbed their voices. The exceptions included Pearl Bailey and Olga James; interestingly, Bailey’s voice did not sound operatic at all, and therefore, does not fit in the rest of the voices in the film (supposedly she refused to be dubbed) and James did have the ability to same opera.  Similarly in the film version of Porgy and Bess most of the cast (some of them had appeared in Carmen Jones) was dubbed, but some were not including Pearl Bailey.

Interestingly, it seems rare nowadays for modern musical films to use playback singers.  I think the reason might be because most actors nowadays have the clout to be able to sing their songs.  Also and perhaps, audiences would not accept the fact that their favorite actors in the film are not really singing.  Modern examples in musical live-action films inlucde George Clooney being dubbed in O Brother Where Art Thou by Dan Tyminski, Zac Efron being dubbed by Drew Seeley in the first High School Musical film (the others in the series had the songs written to fit within Efron’s vocal range) and Minnie Driver being dubbed by Margaret Preece in the film version of The Phantom of the Opera.