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Film Reviews | Regular Feature first time. You, sir, alone have founded a nation in ways Mr. Washington could not. You have fused opposites, made them one, and in so doing, you have insured their victory." Benedict Arnold: A Question ofHonor provides an entertaining and historically acceptable version ofthe events surrounding the treason. However, in this post 9-11 production, I noticed that the phrase "God Bless America" rolled off of George Washington's (Grammer's) tongue as smoothly as it does George W. Bush's. I am not sure if that phrase was the mantra of The Revolution. Suzanne Broderick Bradley University sbroderi@bumail.bradley.edu Notes Wilson, Barry K. BenedictArnold:A Traitorin OurMidst. McGill-Queen's University Press. Montreal, 2001. 141 Wilson 160 Wilson 157 Randall, Willard Steme, BenedictArnold: Patriotand Traitor. Dorset Press. NewYork, 1990. 559 Wilson 161 Chicago There is one staged number in the recent film version of Chicago (2002) without fancy costumes, intricate choreography, or a cheering audience. Interestingly, it is not the performance that accompanies the hanging of an innocent woman—a "dying swan" (to bonow lyrics from the final song)—that gets this somber treatment. No, the execution of Katalin Helinszki (Ekaterina Chchelkanova), announced as a "Hungarian Disappearing Act," transpires on a velvet-curtained stage and receives one ofthe most vigorous and sustained rounds of applause. The austere presentationbelongs to the musical numberperformed byAmos Hart (John C. Reilly), the much-abused husband of jazz murderess Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger). Dressed in hobo attire, he stands in a solitary spotlight on an empty stage and sings "Mister Cellophane" to two stone-faced audience members: "Cellophane. Mister Cellophane. Shoulda been my name. Mister Cellophane. 'Cause you can look right through me. Walkrightby me. And never know I'm there." These lyrics highlight Amos's marginalized position in his wife's affections, in his interactions with lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), and within the nanative of the film. If, however, one understands "cellophane" as a reference to the film stock, as well as a reference to Amos, the lyrics of "Mister Cellophane" also provide commentary on the act of watching the movie. You can, "look right through" film and, often, "never know [it's] there." Indeed, much of Chicago is about the "razzle-dazzle" ofshow business, which allows performers—whether they are showgirls, murderesses, or lawyers—to fool their respective audiences— whether they are club-goers, reporters, orjury members—into believing fanciful stories. In order for the show to be successful, the audience must be drawn into the performance. According to this logic, film audiences accept the "reality" ofthe world portrayed on screen. However, film musicals have a long tradition of disrupting their audiences' ability to accept the world they create as a representation ofreality. They employ several techniques that create disruption : unusual camera angles, shifts in space, and experiments with new technologies being the most pervasive. All of these patterns contribute to the filmmusical's reputation ofbeing largerthan Ufe. Movies in this genre pull their audiences into a fantastical world, while, simultaneously, providing them with tools for identifying how the movies create the fantasy. A large percentage of movie musicals feature one or more numbers performed on a stage. However, when presenting acts in a theater or club venue, the films make use of camera angles that do not correspond to a theater audience's perspective, displaying events from points of view that would be impossible for an actual theater audience to witness—such as a view of the audience from the stage or a view of the stage from the ceiling. A similar type of disruption occurs when events that supposedly takes place on stage are shown in a location that could not appear on stage. Busby Berkeley made these practices famous in the 1930s. In Gold Diggers of 1935, for instance, one musical sequence presents multiple viewpoints of pianos twirling across an elaborate stage, including several shots of the sequence from above. At an earlier point in the same number, an expansion of scale shrinks the original stage to fit within the space of a piano decoration on a new set, where the action continues. These shifts in perspective and location have become a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9922
Print ISSN
0360-3695
Pages
pp. 74-75
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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