Monday, 2.23.09

Today we watched a segment from the omnibus film, Tales of Manhattan (1942), directed by Julien Duvivier. The movie consists of a number stories centering around a formal tailcoat. The segment we viewed was about a composer, Charles Smith (Charles Laughton), who wears the coat on the night of his dreamed of opportunity to conduct a symphony. The coat is too small and rips resulting a passionate response from Smith and a lesson in judgement and validation by the audience and Maestro. Some of my observations & thought bites include:

  • Is your husband a waiter? Oh no, He’s a great musician
  • Music, not moider, good music, get it?
  • Will you oblige me by not rewriting the score?
  • Music without feeling is noise
  • Many examples of non-verbal communication
  • Maestro = master (Squidward?)
  • But Maestro, the man is a genius
  • When Charles Smith began to play the piano in the Maestro’s chambers, the Maestro was visably affected, perhaps having a sublime moment or experiencing punctum
  • Smith, he said, Smith you are a genius
  • Mrs. Smith choked up over the possibility that Charles might actually get his big break
  • We’re dining out tonight
  • The Maestro passes the baton to Smith physically & symbolically
  • Everybody in the audience was dressed identically in formal attire. They conform to a notion of what one must look like to experience high art. This reminded me of the comment in Klimt about the (non)removal of hats at the gallery opening
  • When Smith’s coat begins to rip he doesn’t represent the trappings of high art anymore so the judgment (Why Man Creates) turns harsh with laughter and derision
  • Smith stops, removes his coat and passionately breaks down because he has failed (he fears) his one opportunity to be discovered and appreciated
  • The Maestro stands, removes his coat & instructs Smith to continue. Smith is validated as a legitimate, worthy artist
  • Again the audience conforms with the men removing their coats
  • The audience accepts Smith’s genius and approves

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