The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Hello all! As promised, here is my analysis of the cinematic techniques of a black and white, early 30s movie. I am so glad that I made the decision to go back and watch a movie from this time because, as I said before, it bridged the gap between The Kid (1921) and The Wizard of Oz (1939).

So I’ll start out by talking a little bit about some camera techniques that I have been paying close attention to in all of the movies I have seen. Those of you who have read some of these articles before know that I talk a lot about the use of the camera as a method of storytelling. I noticed the camera was moved around more in The Kid than say Behind the Screen (1916). This obviously changed with time. Anyways, in this 1934 film I finally saw the camera panning scenes moving with the actors when they walked! I am surprisingly excited about that since I am used to it just moving from place to place with jump cuts. It makes sense that this is when I started seeing more and more moving shots because this is in fact a musical full of dance scenes. Since the dancers are moving, sometimes the camera will need to move with them to watch them (just like we do with our eyes)!

Something else that is very important to note about this film is that it has sound! This is the first movie that I have watched from my list that has both music and sound (The Kid just had background music). I can personally say that the new addition of dialogue plus the music really kept me engaged and it made it slightly easier to follow the story line.

“The Continental”

There is one dance sequence that truly caught my eye in this movie titled “The Continental” that swept the nation and even won the first ever Academy Award for Best Original Song according to Wikipedia. You should check it out above! It is quite long, but very entertaining. Watching this scene made me feel like I was at the hotel watching this dance party occur. Similar to The Kid, The Gay Divorcee is truly a time capsule that allows viewers like me today to go back and visit a moment in time from over 80 years ago.

Speaking of going back in time, I remember one time when I was little, I was watching an old movie with my parents and I got bored watching the opening credits because they were taking so long. My parents told me that they used to put some of the credits at the beginning of the movie before they put them at the end. I thought it was very interesting how they moved them to the end instead of allowing the audience to see who gets credit for what on the picture. I was reminded of this when I began watching this movie. Honestly, I think we should bring this back so the crew gets the credit and visibility the deserve, but that’s just my opinion.

Anyways, I just had a few more quick notes on my list that I will address here. So, sound was obviously relatively new at this time and I noticed a few things in the movie that could’ve been unintentional mistakes with sound. At one point Guy Holden (played by Fred Astaire) is moving furniture around, so the audience would expect noise of the chair sliding around on the floor. It’s a mistake so small that I barely noticed it, but I am glad that the emphasis on perfecting sound in movies has grown sense. I also noticed that we had some new transitions in this movie too (at least for me)! I saw the fade transition come back and I also saw a new one that is called the fade to black. This shows time passing usually. Make sure to check those out!

Thank you for reading this far! I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed the movie (which was a lot). I am so glad that we are making some good progress through the Legendary Movies List and I can’t wait to watch the next one. Thanks again!