Ending of The Dancing Cavalier
- As has been mentioned by film scholars both on and off the net, if the French Revolution parts of The Dancing Cavalier are supposed to be the dream of a down-on-his-luck Broadway hoofer who was reading A Tale of Two Cities, how can the film end within the flashback? Didn't the hoofer ever wake up?
- Hey, if it worked for Shakespeare...
- Well, at the end he has a shoulder wound. So... he wakes up from his dreams. He performs on Broadway and it's a big hit. The girl he fell for who initially chose a mobster has come back to him, but he prefers his elegant dream girl from the French Revolution. He leaves the theater in a funk, having achieved everything he wanted, but now he wants something else. He goes down an alley, and is attacked, mugged, and shot. The end of the picture is either the last imaginings of a dying man, or a version of heaven he had a vision of while unconscious and where his soul will now remain.
- In a strange twist, it turns out that the Broadway part is the dream, the hero really is from the time of the French Revolution. (It's been done in a short story, La noche boca arriba (The Night Face Up) by Julio Cortázar.)
- Possibly the film ending is him waking up.
- Maybe he wakes up, then has another dream at the end.
Lina Ain't So Bad
- How exactly is Lina Lamont the villain? She is a victim of discrimination and a domineering studio system. True, this is set in the days of The Golden Age of Hollywood, when actors were lucky to have any rights under contract...but still, you'd think one of her colleagues would come to resent her treatment as much as she did and negotiate for a better contract on her behalf; surely Don Lockwood, being the biggest star of his day, would have some leverage. You couldn't really blame an ostensibly powerful figure whose life is nonetheless so micromanaged that she's literally forbidden to speak in public to develop an intensely antisocial and narcissistic streak - who wouldn't? And why should we feel sorry for Kathy for having to dub Lina's voice? What did she expect? Lina trained for years and is an established movie star, while Kathy has zero experience in front of the camera and practically no experience on the legitimate stage; she's a chorus girl! She should just be grateful she's anywhere near an A-list production, let alone anything other than a Spear Carrier.
- Lina is the villain only at the end. Her getting Kathy fired for a mistake when her bosses didn't care was bad but not quite villain territory. She becomes the villain when she decides to knowingly and willfully destroy a promising up-and-coming actress' career to save her own. Lina's contract actually appears to be fine. We don't hear anything about how she's forbidden to speak in public because of her contract and her contract gives her the right to sign off on all press releases. She is just discouraged from doing so by everyone around her not because she is being micromanaged or because she's a woman but because her voice horrifies everyone around her. It's really bad. If she speaks in public, people will know that and it WILL destroy her career. They're actually doing her a favor letting her make a ton of money and not letting her sabotage herself that way. It's why at the end that guy tried to stop her from making a speech and Don only let her do it so she'd ruin herself. It makes sense Lina would be frustrated and bitter about not being allowed to ever speak for herself (especially since she lacks awareness of the effect her voice has on others) but just because it's understandable doesn't mean she's not the villain. Not telling her about the dubbing was cruel (if ultimately necessary if they were going to make it work as she didn't have to cooperate) but Kathy didn't need to feel grateful she's anywhere near an A-list production. She knew she was going to have her own career and Lina was trying to take it from her for sheer spite. She wouldn't even let Kathy do her own work or be credited. That's some Alfred Hitchcock-Tippi Hedren crap right there. Kathy expected that when she agreed to do one dubbing and then get to act as herself (in starring roles or otherwise) then that's what would happen and she wouldn't find out she was going to be forced into doing five years of uncredited dub work for a terrible person at the premier of the movie. She was trying to help the studio and save the film, not anything selfish. Lina trained for years...kind of. The film makes it clear the silent acting wasn't good enough for when dialogue got introduced and they all had to make adjustments. Many silent film stars didn't have the right voice and faded away. Established film stars don't stay popular forever and Kathy was the fresh new talent who maybe would have done smaller roles before being a big star during the course of her five-year-contract. We're supposed to feel sorry for Kathy because she's a good and talented person who was only trying to help and who would have been screwed over and lost any chance of having a career of her own (even at a lesser level than Lina's stardom) because of Lina's selfishness and refusal to accept that the medium had changed and she was no longer suitable for her role.
- "No longer suitable"? Says who? To act, which is fundamentally a silent art anyway? Many performers have left their mark by never speaking, or speaking only rarely. Also, think how many hot women there have been in the movies who never spoke, or wouldn't have had to speak anyway, purely because they were Fanservice Extras - or sometimes even the de facto stars of the show by virtue of same? Lina was hot; couldn't she have rounded out her career doing that, with little adverse effect to her public image? More than anything else, Lina was the victim of Values Dissonance: stuck in an era that was all wrong for her, when seemingly every second of a motion picture had to have all characters talking a mile a minute and her voice (not the fact that she was a woman, which was never mentioned above) the reason for her marginalization. She was just born several decades too early: if she had started her career in, say, the 1970s, she would have been hailed as "unique" and "authentic", and gotten lots of roles, even serious roles (most of them probably along the lines of "call girl" or "working mom", but that's better than nothing).
- She could have done any of that. She chose to try and destroy another woman's career in order to salvage her own instead. That's what makes her the villain. Yes, she was unlucky enough to be working in an era where her particular skills were being devalued, and yes, Hollywood was far from progressive when it came to women's rights in those days. But that doesn't make everything Lina does justified or defensible. We might not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them, and the way that Lina responds to hers does not reflect particularly well on her. She's not the only person to find her time in the spotlight ending, and she's not entitled to sabotage someone else in order to stay there.
- No longer suitable to be the big star leading lady. I read something about how Lina was supposed to have gone into doing terrible jungle movies or something, there's always something, but it's not what she wanted. And it's pretty impressive she managed that since she pissed off the head of the studio trying to blackmail him and plotting to ruin a perfectly nice girl's career like that when she was only doing them a favor. And we don't even know if she's good at acting, just that she can smile and look pretty. Yes she's hot but is she hotter than any of the other hundreds of up-and-comers? Everyone in Hollywood is hot (especially the women as that's where sexism comes in). Maybe later she could have gotten some quirkyroles where her comically bad voice is the punchline but even today we don't really have people with really annoying voices in lead roles because they annoy the audience with their voices.
- Lina's the villain because she'd rather bury another actress's career prospects to cover up her own lack of talent, and lie to the press and public in her studio's name in order to force them to go along with it. Whatever legitimate frustrations she might have about her treatment by the studio, forcing Kathy to act solely as her uncredited dub voice when Kathy only got involved in the first place to help save The Dueling Cavalier from bombing at the box office doesn't fall within the range of justifiable response.
- Make no mistake: Lina is set up to be the antagonist from very early on in the movie. Her reaction to Don Lockwood when he's a "nobody" stuntman, followed by how transparently her attitude toward him changes after he's "graduated" to leading man, shows that she's a shallow, unsympathetic character. Movies in this era tended to paint in stark shades of black and white for all that they were filmed in color, so her early behavior, followed by how obnoxious she is backstage when you first hear her speak, is a clear indication she's the character you're supposed to hate. They didn't want to risk that the audience might get confused about who they're supposed to root for.
- Who wears tap shoes to diction lessons? Or when visiting a friend taking those diction lessons?
- People who break into song-and-dance routines to liven things up when they're bored, as both Don and Cosmo apparently do.
Why the Colour?
- Why go to so much effort to show everything in such lavish color when (in-universe) it's all being filmed in black-and-white?
- Assuming you mean this strictly in universe (such as when the characters are filming The Dueling Cavalier), just because something's filmed in black-and-white doesn't mean you don't still have a sense of colour. If anything, this is a case of Truth in Television since quite a few silent films' sets and costumes were almost garish in their colourings to try and force the sense of colour show even through the black-and-white limitations. If you film something in black-and-white and use very dull colours for sets and costumes and such, you get a very dark-looking film which is great for a genre like film noir; for a "normal" movie, not so much.
- Here's an idea of what that means: The Addams Family, the most ghoulish and darkest people ever put to black and white TV, had a living room that was, in reality, bright pink. https://www.fastcodesign.com/3021327/asides/the-addams-familys-living-room-was-pink
Music Doesn't Solve Everything
- Why do they decide to turn The Dueling Cavalier into a musical? Is that supposed to address any of its problems?
- It outdoes The Jazz Singer (which was actually mostly silent) with the spectacle of transporting a musical to the screen, it lets them cut any scenes already filmed that they don't like (which also tightens up the plot), and it lets Don show off his vaudeville skills.
- Those are all pluses, but they don't mitigate the production's technical problems or Lina's voice.
- Part of the logic in turning it into a musical was that it helped give some context to the farce it was. It helped "sell" that the comedy was more intentional than it was.
No One's Heard Lina Speak
- Has Lina never encountered a Loony Fan on the street and spoken to them, revealing her voice?