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Friendly courtship from the movies? - Input Junkie
October 12th, 2009
11:41 am

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Friendly courtship from the movies?
I just watched the "Marianne the Librarian" clip


from The Music Man. I haven't seen the movie since I was a kid, and I didn't especially pay attention to the boring people stuff back then. I mostly remember the musical numbers as songs, and the marching band fantasy at the end.

Good God, that's courtship which is indistinguishable from bullying.

And there's the less politicized issue of assuming that introverts need to be broken down by extroverts.

The whole plot is pretty amazing. My mental filing system seems to be offline-- any other notable examples of trickster plots where everything which normally would have caused damage turns out to lead to a solidly happy ending?

Anyway, in the interests of washing that clip right out of my mind, would anyone care to recommend a clip or a whole movie that's about courtship which doesn't include either person squelching the other?

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From:fengi
Date:October 12th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Have you read the lyrics to Shapoopi? I loved that song when I was a kid, but now it creeps me out:

Well a woman who'll kiss on the very first date
Is usually a hussy.
And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out
Is anything but fussy.
But a woman who waits 'til the third time around,
Head in the clouds, feet on the ground!
She's the girl he's glad he's found--she's his
Shi-Poo-Pi!

Shi-Poo-Pi!

Boys: The girl who's hard to get!

Marcellus: Shi-Poo-Pi!

Girls: But you can win her yet.
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From:nancylebov
Date:October 12th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
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I'd completely forgotten or not noticed it the first time around. That's an amazingly good dance number, pity it's associated with annoying lyrics.

In other news, there are people who think "Every Breath You Take (I'll Be Watching You) is a love song, and I've heard tell of "Paradise at the Dashboard Light" being played at weddings.
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From:heron61
Date:October 12th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
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The first of these is bafflingly creepy, the 2nd merely impressively tacky.
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From:tomscud
Date:October 13th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
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The worst wedding song choice I've heard of was in a mixed-race wedding. The (white) groom's fraternity brothers were in the band, and decided to play "Brown Sugar".
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From:sterlingspider
Date:October 12th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
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Greece always weirded me out that way.
Moral of the story? The best way to happiness is to lie to make yourself look better if your a boy and forget about being sweet and become a delinquent if you're a girl!
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From:redneckgaijin
Date:October 12th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
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I hate musicals in general (with only a few exceptions), but The Music Man is right up at the top of my list for absolute hatred of music, plot, and characters all three.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:October 12th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
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It was a standard trope of romantic comedies of the time; the guy initially comes across as a jerk and harasser, and then inexplicably wins the woman over. At least in this case it's clear that Harold Hill was a jerk, and it's the woman who reformed him. But that's another cliché, and I never found the characterization in that movie plausible.
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From:osewalrus
Date:October 12th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
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True on both counts. It fits the established idea that a "good woman" reforms "her man" through loyalty and patience. It is an interesting contrast with the more cynical productions in the 30s-40s, where bad men were actually bad and stayed bad (e.g. "My Pal Joey.")
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From:agrumer
Date:October 12th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Also the idea that a woman was supposed to put up a false front of reluctance, which the man was then expected to batter down.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:October 13th, 2009 07:08 am (UTC)
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That's not what happened to Hill. Marian didn't have loyalty and patience toward him; she was out to expose him till the very last, when she saw that his hoax was having good effects on her troubled little brother.

If Hill reformed at all, it was some combination of attraction to her, responsibility for the little brother (and the other children in the band), and the town offering him presumably some permanent respectable job and role. (This was foreshadowed by his old sidekick having settled down there in the past.)

I don't like the idea that Marian herself needed any kind of fundamental changing, though.
(Deleted comment)
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From:nancylebov
Date:October 12th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. That definitely qualifies.

Second thought-- it's a very sweet number, but if it's set in a relationship that's already established, it's not quite what I'm looking for.

Edited at 2009-10-12 07:00 pm (UTC)
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From:heron61
Date:October 12th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
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My favorite courtship film is Simply Irresistible. It's fairly well done and is perhaps the only film of its type that features an egalitarian and non-offensive approach to such things.
From:twistedchick
Date:October 12th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Considering that the movie was set in 1912, when women were considered secondary to men and did not have the vote yet, I don't find it surprising at all. I do think the director in that scene did a lousy job; Marian's role has the potential for some significant putdowns to Harold Hill in that scene that make her more active than acted upon (which we did when I was Marian in high school) but that are not in the movie. With period movies (and this one is doubly so, set in 1912, made in the early 1960s), you get what you get. He's supposed to be slimy and selfish, and he's good at it.
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From:nancylebov
Date:October 12th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
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I'm not blaming anyone for that scene, though considering that it was made in 1962 and directors aren't shy about modifying historical truth to suit current sensibilities, I'm a little shocked at the how crude it all was.

I'm not enough of a movie buff to know whether it was typical of its time.

My current emotional state on the subject is partly resentment that paying attention is making something less fun, and partly being impressed that people have managed to even start to dig their way out from such bad cultural influences.

Edited at 2009-10-12 06:59 pm (UTC)
From:twistedchick
Date:October 12th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
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I don't know what you remember about 1962, but those *were* the current sensibilities, as far as I recall; no modification necessary. Check out the beach blanket movies for comparison. Or, for a retro version looking at 1962, American Graffiti.
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From:dcseain
Date:October 12th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
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I must say, this being the only part of the film i've ever seen, that this dramatization does not relate at all to any stage production i've ever seen.
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From:osewalrus
Date:October 12th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
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This happens a lot when looking at 50s era musicals. Go back and watch "Carousel." It includes the segment on "when your man beats you, it's ok, because he's only doing it because he loves you."

Most people do not understand how far we have come in our social values, and why it was so painful to make the transition in a single generation.
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From:cakmpls
Date:October 12th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
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"Carousel" is another musical of which I have memories from my high-school and college days, but even then, mid-1960s, I found that theme creepy.
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From:madfilkentist
Date:October 15th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
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Then there's the slighly later Oliver, where the woman expresses the same feeling ("As Long as He Needs Me") and, IIRC, gets killed as a result of sticking to her worthless boyfriend.
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From:cakmpls
Date:October 12th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
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Maybe it's a difference in our ages; maybe it's that I have such fond memories of playing in the band when we did "The Music Man" my senior year of high school. But I just don't see that scene, nor the movie as a whole, as you do.

Harold Hill is brash and pushy, yes, but I don't see him as "bullying" or "squelching" or "breaking down" Marian. Nor do I see this as (referring to a comment above) the love of a good woman saving a bad man. Harold and Marian change each other.

That's implicit in many scenes, such as "Till There Was You" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLDsLeVxOaU). The most explicit comes right after that song; as Marian walks away, Harold reprises "Seventy-Six Trombones" and Marian reprises "Goodnight, My Someone" (these are the same tune, with different time signatures and tempos), then Harold drifts into singing "Goodnight, My Someone," followed by Marian singing a bit of "Seventy-Six Trombones."

As I see it, Harold and Marian both free each other from unfulfilliing lives.

I don't know if anyone who wasn't at least a teen at that time can grasp how remarkable the song "The Sadder but Wiser Girl" was: the lead male singing the praises of the girl whose "virtue I'm too late to save" was my first inkling that maybe church, school, and parents weren't telling the truth about a girl ruining her life by "giving in."
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From:agrumer
Date:October 12th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
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"Trouble" is still pretty entertaining.
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From:nancylebov
Date:October 12th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely, and it's an interesting example of a moral panic in addition.

I'm not arguing that the whole movie is evil or anything like that.
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From:nancylebov
Date:October 13th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
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It certainly is, and an interesting example of a moral panic, too.

I wasn't arguing that everyone should hate the whole movie.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:October 13th, 2009 07:17 am (UTC)
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And that exposure of moral panic for profit -- or even just innocent provincial moral panic -- makes lasting redeeming social value for any and all faults the movie may have!

Now instead of a complicated debunking, all we have to say is "right here in River City" or "with a capital T" or any of several such phrases.

That hifalutin Greek had it wrong: it's the good that movies do that lives after them, the bad interred with their cellophane.
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From:thnidu
Date:October 13th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
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Try "She Loves Me".
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From:nancylebov
Date:October 13th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
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It's a love song for an equal relationship, but the relationship is already established, and I'm looking for something that shows starting a relationship.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:October 13th, 2009 06:58 am (UTC)
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For some wild reason, "Small World" from GYPSY comes to mind.

I'm sure there are others, involving Audry Hepburn, Fred Astaire....

How did the courtship in OKLAHOMA begin? "If I Loved You"?
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From:thnidu
Date:October 13th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
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No, "If I Loved You" is from Carousel.
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From:thnidu
Date:October 13th, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
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I beg your pardon. I wasn't thinking of the Beatles song, but of the earlier Broadway musical of the same title, based on "The Shop Around the Corner".
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