Thursday, October 30, 2008

You Otto See It: The Cardinal (1963)



Otto Preminger's 3 hour epic, The Cardinal (1963), tells the story of the Catholic church during the 1st half of the 20th century through the journey of one priest as he travels down the path to become a Cardinal. And what better way to tell such a humongous story than through the life of one man. That sort of tight focus makes it easier for this grand story to be taken ine in. And this film goes down smooth and easy. It deals with heavy topics such as premarital sex, abortion, racism, anti-semitism & fascism (Nazis) and the dealings between church & state. However, you don't feel the weight of them as you would expect. They are very serious subjects and are dealt with as so in the story, but the film's style, story and characters all have an approachable quality that make those 3 hours fly by.

I was very impressed by Tom Tryon as Father StephenFermoyle. He had a serenity and natural gravity that lent itself well to the role of a priest. Yet you also knew his character cared very much for what he did through the facial expressions that seemed truly genuine. I heard that Otto Preminger gave Tom Tryon a very difficult time during this film. This role was to be Tryon's breakout performance to make him a major star. Unfortunately, it didn't happen as this film went on to tank at the box office. It however did get 6 Oscar Nominations and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama in 1964. Tryon did some more acting roles but found that his writing career was more fruitful. And in the end, that career led to more successful films in the adaptations of his works.

I suggest you do two things. First is watch The Cardinal. You definitely Otto see it, especially if you have an interest in religion like I do or even if you enjoy a good story (and some Burgess Meredith). Second, go out and buy a copy of The Other, Tryon's novel which has just been reissued this month by Millipede Press (in paperback, hardcover and leatherbound editions).


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leading Couples

Leading Couples
The Most Unforgettable Screen Romances of the Studio Era
by Frank Miller
Introduction by Robert Osborne
9780811863018
$19.95
September 2008
Chronicle Books

My favorite line: They were cool before anybody had picked up the word. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were united by their deep love and respect for each other and their disdain for anybody who didn't get it.

I received an advance copy of this book a while back and have been relishing every page. It's a beautiful 4-color paperback book with french flaps. Quite a deal for only $19.95. I should know, I work in the book business.

This is the third in the TCM book series. The first was Leading Ladies followed by Leading Men, both books were released in 2006. This year brings Leading Couples a collection of 37 on screen romantic duos. This book was quite a pleasure to read. So much so, that could be why it took me so long to finish it as I have a tendency to linger over the books I truly enjoy. The book is divided into sections which each couple getting their own. Some starts repeat but you won't find anyone in there more than twice and there is still a lot of variety to keep the reader interested. Some couples were in many films together, others only a few, some even only one but sometimes it only takes one shock of electricity to be memorable.

Each section is pretty consistent (me likey consistency) and the structure works well.

1) Half-Spread image of couple
2) Introduction
3) Behind the Scenes
4) Offscreen Relationship
5) Star Bio Stats
6) Key Quote
7) Essential Team-Ups (if applicable)

My favorite section to read was the Offscreen Relationship. Some folks liked each other, some folks LOVED each other and other folks just faked it for the silver screen. I also really appreciated the list of "Essential Team-Ups". That helped me fatten up my Netflix Queue quite a bit.

My favorite of all the couples features came as a surprise to me. I would have thought it would be Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I've watched several of their films and have read a biography on their love affair. Woman of the Year (1942) is one of my favorite films. But I couldn't help but be transfixed by Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. I have never seen them on screen but read their section at least three times!

TCM is doing a Leading Couples film festival in November. (Read their press release here). Their November schedule is coming out soon so watch for it.

I do have a couple of gripes about the book. They kept to the very mainstream. There were only a few obscure pairings like Dick Powell & Ruby Keeler and Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell. I understand that this kind of guide is meant to be an accompaniment to the actual movies and many other obscure pairings (Norma Shearer & Robert Montgomery for example) are not necessarily available for viewing on DVD. Also, the author said Jimmy Stewart was a notorious womanizer. No he was not! Hmph! But I did enjoy the bit about Norma Shearer watching Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and singling him out as her next romantic target. Only Norma Shearer could do something like that.

In honor of this new book, I decided to take my peculiar interest in Greta Garbo & John Gilbert as an on screen couple and I will watch and review Flesh and the Devil (1926). Watch for the review here along with a couple of tidbits from the book.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Out of the Past, Into the Now ~ A Mitchum Man


I just couldn't help myself. Going through the Sunday circular I found an advertisement and a coupon for Mitchum deodorant. Their ad campaign slogan tells their future customers that they are "Mitchum Men" which means they are macho, they are no-fuss and low-maintenance and they are tough! Just like Robert Mitchum! I have never heard of Mitchum deodorant, but turns out I'm one of very few who haven't. Mitchum deodorant has been around since 1959 and is part of the larger company, Revlon. I did some research thinking that maybe this product was originally endorsed by Robert Mitchum product. Or a family member or one of his kids may have started the line and used the name. But alas! It has no connection to the sad-eyed actor except for the ethereal one of Robert Mitchum being the quintessential man's man, the target group for the deodorant.


I went to Mitchum's website and after I had some fun with their armpit orchestra, I discovered they also have a line called "Mitchum for women". Now if I buy this deodorant and wear it, I fully expect to see Mitchum lookalikes falling at my feet. That's realistic right?



Friday, October 24, 2008

Queen Norma Shearer ~ Let Us Be Gay (1930)


~Let's be gay about it!~

This is what it's all about. This is the stuff that feeds my soul. This is the cream in my coffee, the salt in my stew, the starch in my collar and the lace in my shoe. This is what I love.

Picture this. It's 6 am and the TV is turned to Turner Classic Movies. A lion roars on the screen and some jazz music follows opening up to the title sequence. It's a film from the early 1930's. Part comedy, party drama, light-hearted with a moral. It could be naughty, it could be sweet, it could be a wonderful mixture of both.

This is my absolute favorite type of film and Queen Norma Shearer happened to make several of them, including Let Us Be Gay (1930). Now before you snicker, "gay" here means jovial and carefree. When the title character of the movie finds her husband is cheating on her and divorces him, taking their three children with her, she decides to be gay, without a care in the world. Norma Shearer transforms from a plain jane to a celebrated beauty. What amazes me is the plain jane version of Norma Shearer. I did a doubletake when I saw her. Stripped of any make-up, donning thread-bare duds, glasses and a homely haircut, this vision of her contrasts greatly from the glamorous Norma that most of us are familiar with. I admire Norma for her willingness to do strip down like this. She does the same in Marie Antoinette (1938).

Films like Let Us Be Gay don't take themselves seriously. They are perfect 1 to 1-1/2 hour vehicles in which audiences escape into someone else's life. Whether they be rich or poor, the unique characters are what drive the story. The industry was still transitioning into talkies from many years of producing silent films, so the movies from the early '30s are oddly quiet. I find this quite refreshing. The takes are sometimes long and lingering, a total opposite of what is found in our present ADD culture. These films are not difficult to watch and most are quite entertaining. This is my favorite type of film and what a pleasure it was to have seen the obscure classic Let Us Be Gay!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Otto See It: Advise & Consent (1962)

Otto Preminger's Advise & Consent (1962) wasn't necessarily an enjoyable film to watch. I found myself wondering what the heck was going on for the first 30-40 minutes only to get it, but not care until a good 80 minutes in. The story takes too long to get to the best story, the one of about Brigham "Brig" Anderson, the troubled Senator from Utah. A tighter focus on his story and having that thread be what binds the plot together would have made for a much more interesting and cohesive film. Controvery, something that Otto Preminger never shied away from, makes this film interesting today: corrupt politics, Gene Tierney saying the word "bitch" a few times and the famous scene at Club 602.


Even though I can't say this is one of my favorite films, I still think you "Otto" see it. Especially for the last 40 minutes which are amazing. The artwork promothing the film advertises this is a Henry Fonda movie. That is very misleading, since this film has a spectacular ensemble cast and although Fonda's character is very central to the plot, he's not given that much screen time. The wonderful cast includes Charles Laughton (awesome), Gene Tierney (still gorgeous), Franchot Tone (I call him "my oversized coat", I like him), Burgess Meredith (soft spot for him), Peter Lawford (Good News!), Don Murray (heart-throb), Lew Ayres (what a gentleman), Walter Pidgeon (he put up with Greer Garson), etc. The person to watch for is Charles Laughton, who plays the conniving North Carolina Senator with Southern charm. He's so fascinating to watch and they give him so many great lines.

At one point during the film, I nearly screamed when I heard the familiar voice of Betty White. Then when I saw the face to match the voice, I was ecstatic! Growing up watching the Golden Girls, I always really admired Betty White. It was superb to see her as the lone female Senator who stands up to the brash and outspoken Senator of Wyoming. Woot!

Update: After writing this piece, I found the movie grew on me. I think it at least deserves a second viewing! If you do watch it, don't give up on it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Queen Norma Shearer ~ Hollywood Revue of 1929

I finally sat down and watched The Hollywood Revue of 1929 all the way through! And by golly I enjoyed every minute of it. Well, all the minutes in between Conrad Nagel's presentations, because geez louise was he NOT funny. Basically, the revue consisted of varied segments. Dancing, singing, comedy routines and acted dramas.

Almost everything was black-and-white, except for three sequences shot in color. And one of those three sequences included Queen Norma Shearer (the reason I wanted to watch the revue in the first place)! Norma and John Gilbert did the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet. Director Lionel Barrymore says the studio wants new dialogue, so they re-do the scene in flapper slang. All in Technicolor splendor! I was so excited I was literally jumping up and down in my sofa chair. This was purportedly the scene that ended John Gilbert's career. His fans from his silent screen career where appalled at his voice and it led to his downfall. I don't really see what the big deal was; he sounded fine to me. However, I wasn't from that era and I'm sure his fans had felt that his voice shattered the image they had of him in their heads. Shearer did however make the transition to talkies smoothly and in this scene she was excellent. This would be the precursor to her playing Juliet in Romeo & Juliet (1936).



Buster Keaton in drag, performing for the Mermaid king.


Laurel & Hardy doing their thing. Falling on a banana peel is a requisite.



Busby Berkeley-esque dance numbers. Pretty!


Technicolor ballet sequence. Dazzling!

All the MGM stars in raincoats in front of a humongous painting of Noah's Ark. Creepy! (watch it here)


Marion Davies dance number (she still freaks me out though).


Joan Crawford's singing and dancing number. She did a decent job. And luckily there were no wire hangers in sight.



All the Singin' in the Rain. This is the official song of the revue and was the inspiration to the 1952 movie. I scoff at you if you thought Gene Kelley was the first to sing that! ::scoff::


There are quite a number of camera tricks and cool choreography that make this still a pleasure to see even today, with all our technology and advancements. Which just goes to show you, entertainment is timeless!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Holiday Affair (1949) out on DVD 11/11!!!

I'm so excited that Holiday Affair (1949) is going to be out on DVD! I saw this on TCM and immediately put it on my wishlist. This is the year I buy two of my favorite Christmas classics, the other being Christmas in Connecticut (1945).

But good grief! Take a look at the artwork for the DVD package!!!! Is that really the original poster for the film? Talk about misleading. Poor Janet Leigh, wrapped up in cellophane (which was invented in 1908 if you were checking) and tied up in a bow, blowing a kiss. Robert Mitchum and Wendell Corey are looking up at her, with expressions that make them seem both intrigued and perplexed. The little boy seems like an afterthought. And don't get me started on that stupid tagline.

Complete misrepresentation. She's NOT offering herself up to two men to fight over her. On the contrary, she finds herself in a love triangle but it still holding on to the memory of her deceased husband. She struggles with that loss but also wants a good father figure for her son. It's a sweet film, a bit melancholic but heart-warming. That poster just gives the wrong message. ARGH!!! Maybe I'll just print out the below picture and put that in the keepcase instead! At least its more honest and Mitchum is always easy on the eyes.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Out of the Past, Into the Now ~ Amy Adams as Rita Hayworth

I really like Amy Adams. Especially after I saw the film Miss Pettigrew Lives for Day (2008), which just happens to be the theme of my new blog header. I like Amy Adams even more now with the November issue of Vanity Fair. She channels Rita Hayworth from Gilda (1946) in the photographs accompanying an article about her. They are stunning. Makes me want to break out and sing "Put the Blame on Mame". The video posted on Vanity Fair's website shows the photo session and the different Rita Hayworth-esque poses she did in the black dress and black gloves. Check it out!



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You Otto See It: The Man With the Golden Arm

It was a strange coincidence that I watched Guys and Dolls (1955) and The Man with the Golden Arm (1956) back-to-back. Guys and Dolls is a musical about a gambler who gambles with love and stars Marlon Brando. Frank Sinatra co-stars as an illegal crap game organizer. Sinatra had been vying for the title role of Sky Masterson and lost out to Brando. Brando does most of the singing, which seems a utter shame given Sinatra's God-given talent. But Sinatra gave Brando his comeuppance the following year when he quickly snagged the role of Frankie Machine in The Man with the Golden Arm away from Brando, who was the first choice for the film. Sinatra steps out of his realm and does an amazing job as a dealer, finally clean from his heroin-addiction, trying to get his life back on track by becoming a drummer and staying away from drugs and cards. But his old life, and the people in it, keep getting in his way.

As I've said before, I absolutely love it when actors step out of their comfort zones and do something completely different. While it didn't work so much for Brando, it definitely worked for Sinatra. This is one of the best films I have ever seen and it has much to do with Sinatra's performance (which I'm sure Otto Preminger had a hand in).

I decided, instead of gushing on and on about this film, that I would keep it short. I'll give you 5 reasons to watch this film.

1) Frank Sinatra's astounding performance. He was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for this film.

2) The opposition between motherly yet sizzling hot Molly (Kim Novak) and the pathetic and conniving Zosh (Eleanor Parker). They play off each other very well even though they don't share very many scenes.

3) The musical score by Elmer Bernstein. I hardly ever notice music, but I did with this film. The music interacts with the motions of the scenes. Beautiful.

4) Otto Preminger's direction and Sam Leavitt's cinematography. Everything just falls into place.

5) Saul Bass' title sequence art. It's beautiful. He's well known for the title sequences in numerous Preminger and Hitchcock films. For Man with the Golden Arm, Bass created a minimalist black background cut by moving white bars. It's beautiful for its simplicity. See below. (thanks to Frank & Kevin for their help on this!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Blog Feature!

I thought to myself, why not take my obsessive Facebook status-updating compulsion and tie it into my blog? So thus, I started a new feature called "Newsreel ~ What I'm Up To Now". I'll just provide little snippets of what's going on in my personal world. And maybe I'll add some random thoughts. I promise to keep it all classic film-related (and amusing). Check it out on the sidebar!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jungle Red!

I hadn't originally planned to see the newest incarnation of The Women (2008), but that's what I was doing last Sunday evening. As I spoke before about this subject (see previous post), there have been good and bad remakes. I didn't expect to like this one, but luckily when I went to the theater, I left all preconceived expectations behind and opened myself up to what was going to grace the screen. And guess what ? I kind of liked it!


There are some obvious flaws. First of all, the dialogue. The original, The Women (1939), had the most amazing cutting, witty and catty dialogue. Plus the pacing in the original is fast, where as its much slower and more casual in the remake. My biggest gripe is that while Cukor did such an excellent job showcasing all of the talent in the original, the remake did not take advantage of its ensemble cast as it should have. Poor Bette Midler gets only a couple minutes of screen time and her whole plotline is reduced to one flighty conversation. Gah!


Most of the bloggers who have reviewed the 2008 version did not like it. And I can see why. The original is just so great that it really can't be matched. But the remake is very conscious of its predecessor, making references to it throughout the movie. On its own however, the film was very enjoyable. My favorite was the climax scene (spoiler alert to those who aren't familiar with the original story), when Mary decides to get back together with Stephen. It happens in a delivery room when one of the characters is having a baby. It was so funny I near fell out of my chair laughing. And the remake made MUCH better use of the author character (Nancy Blake played by Florence Nash and Alex Fisher played by Jada Pinkett-Smith). The Sylvia Fowler character is very 3-dimensional in the remake. She can be evil, but she has a history and she's a good person at heart. Whereas, the Sylvia Flower in the original is a conniving stock character that Rosalind Russell played oh so well. In the same way Russell did in 1939, Annette Benning really does steal the picture. All in all, it was an enjoyable film.



And of course, I painted my nails my version of "Jungle Red" in honor of the movie!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Friend Dynamic

Watching a movie with friends is a totally unique experience. It's multi-layered and full of surprises. I recently had several opportunities to watch some classic and contemporary films with friends. To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest, A Girl Cut in Two, Baby Mama, among others. In fact the picture on the left is of Kevin, H. and Lisa who joined me to go see Metropolis recently (see my previous post). If I had watched any of these films by myself, at home, (which I have), I would only remember the story and not the experience. But it's a whole other story when I watch movies with friends.

I sat down and thought about how friends shape the movie-watching experience. I decided in order to understand it, I had to somehow make sense of it. So I broke the basic experience into three sections. Starting with pre-show bonding, followed by communal viewing and ending with post-show bonding. All three phases are crucial to provide the ultimate experience.

Pre-show bonding is taken for granted by many. In fact, it irks me when people are late (including myself, which is often the case) and pre-show bonding is either reduced to a couple minutes of rushed conversation or none at all. This is the time before the movie where you share your excitement for what's up ahead. If it's a new movie, you talk about what you've heard about the film, the director or its actors or even reviews and friend's recommendations. If it's a movie you've seen before, you share with others your last experience watching it and what interesting tidbits you have to offer. All of this increases the anticipation of watching the film and adds to a heightened sense of enjoyment. 15-20 minutes of pre-show bonding is ideal.

Communal viewing is probably the most elusive and indescribable of the three phases, although I'll try my best to talk about what I have a grasp on. The most obvious thing is laughter. When someone laughs, I find myself laughing too. Sometimes it's a joke that I would find funny so I share in the laughter. Or its just a serious scene that ended up being silly. Or it's not funny at all, but laughter is a way to react physically to it. Others laughter makes me ultra-aware of what just happened on screen. I get to thinking, why did he or she find that interesting? Then, more often than not, I'm the only one laughing, because I get something others don't. Not because I'm super-intelligent, but just because I'm weird. Maybe they're wondering why I'm laughing too?

Post-show bonding is probably the most satisfying. It's a few minutes of talk during the credits then more talk either right outside the theater or at some bar or coffeehouse. If you're lucky and watch a film at someone's home, post-show bonding can last for a good amount of time, without the worry of having to catch the bus or getting out of the cold. During post-show bonding, you get to find out what others thought of the film. What they enjoyed, their reservations or frustrations or what it reminded them of. Some of the mystery behind those random bouts of laughter slips away. People thank whoever organized the outing and promises are made to have similar outings in the future. 20-30 minutes of post-show bonding should be required.

I'm sure I'm missing many key elements to this experience, but I wanted to make sure I at least got some thoughts in writing before it escaped me. Because as nice as it is to snuggle up at home and watch a good movie, it's even better when you are surrounded by good friends.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ernie: The Autobiography


Ernie: The Autobiography
by Ernest Borgnine
9780806529417
$24.95
Citadel Press
August 2008

My favorite quote: "I've gone from a working stiff who didn't want to set the world on fire, who just wanted to keep his nuts warm, to where I am."

I just finished reading Ernie's autobiography and gee was it swell! Written in a conversational style, you feel like Ernie is sitting right down next to you telling you in person the stories of his life and his movies. He's upbeat all the way through. Some have criticized this as being a major flaw in the book, but I think it just makes it more authentic. Ernie's a happy-go-lucky Italian guy who's led a long and interesting life and why wouldn't the writing reflect that? Why do biographies and autobiographies always have to be down and dirty tell-alls? Grab a nice hot beverage and snuggle up to a book that will keep you in high spirits as you take a journey through the life of one extraordinary hard-working and upbeat actor!

I only have one critique to make. And it's not about the book or its author (or ghost writer if there is one). It's a critique about myself. I haven't watched enough Ernest Borgnine films!!! I would have enjoyed the book more so if I had been more familiar with his films. The book is laid out with a unique structure. The first few chapters are about his childhood and his family. Once you get into the chapters about his film career, they are sections within each of the chapters. Each section is dedicated to one of his films and it goes through many of them. Ernie will chat to you about his unique experience with each film and the directors and actors he works with. He doesn't bad mouth anybody. If anything, he feels sorry for the folks he didn't like or he watched fall. So die-hard Ernest Borgnine fans (or at least those people who have seen enough of his films), this book was written for you!

You get such lines like "I had a helluva time", "Believe me, I'm not complaining", "you bet your life!" He won my heart when he said that he loved Bob Mitchum and lended his support to get Mitchum an honorary Oscar before he passed away. It didn't end up happening, but the fact that Ernie was rooting for him won me over. I heart Ernie. Ernie even addresses his ex-wife Ethel Merman's biography, which had a chapter in it called "Ernest Borgnine" followed by a blank page. He said "at least she didn't say anything bad about me".

This is not your average biography. This is probably the closest you'll get to the real thing. So go out and buy a copy! Now!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

UPDATE ~ Work: My Classic Film Nest

My recent post about my work area was quite popular and I wanted to follow it up with a few things:

1) Hurricane Kyle must not have been a classic film fanatic, because due to all the rain and an unfortunate leak above my desk, my images of Marilyn Monroe and Spencer Tracy with Katharine Hepburn were destroyed due to water damage. It's a shame. Maybe I need laminated photographs?

2) Jonas of Lokomotivet started a new international blog called All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!. His first post is a photograph of his work desk and a description of all the classic images posted. He has a poster of Hollywood Revue of 1929!!! Check it out. And maybe you'll notice which blog just happens to be displayed on his computer monitor? Hmmm.....

3) At my work, we hosted an author event that had a collegiate theme. Organizers posted huge college-style posters including the standards like John Belushi/Animal House, Led Zeppelin and the Tournée du Chat Noir. There was a humongous, bright pink Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's poster too! Once the event was over, the Hepburn poster quickly disappeared. My co-worker Frank immediately suspected me. However, I was absolutely NOT the culprit since I already have two obligatory Audrey Hepburn photos (one at work and one at home) and that poster was so big it would be an eyesore in my apartment. I'm suspicious that a resident Louise Brooks fan took it. She has a penchant for oversized posters and old film stars. The investigation is ongoing.

4) Bloggers - please feel free to post images of your work area on your respective blogs, like Jonas did! Give me a heads up when you do. Guest Bloggers - if you are blogless and want to participate, please e-mail me a contribution and I can post it here. Consider youserlves tagged!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Great Depression ~ Ethay Reatgay Epressionday

I have been thinking about the economy a lot lately, especially how its going to affect myself and my family and how its going to affect American culture and business. I keep asking myself, how is our view of money and wealth going to change in this turbulent economic climate?

Something happened a couple of years ago that bothered me immensely. It was August 2005 and the MTV Video Music Awards were being held in Miami, Florida. I was watching the ceremony because my favorite new band was up for an award. Hurricane Katrina had just past by and the clouds were dark in the sky as the sun struggled to breakthrough. One of the VMA announcers declared how lucky they were to have escaped the storm unscathed. Instead of a red carpet, artists arrived with expensive luxury cars. Photographers snapped shots of the celebrities draped in their wealth. Cameras soaked up all the bling to transport those images to viewers who sat at home, their lustful eyes glued to the screen. The same Hurricane that left all those rich celebrities intact was headed start towards Louisiana to cause unspeakable destruction in an area populated with poor civilians. Why were the rich spared?

With all this talk about the state of the current economy, it got me thinking about the Great Depression. And when I think about the Great Depression, I think about the Gold Diggers films, especially Gold Diggers of 1933. There is that great number with all the ladies dressed in fake coins singing "We're in the Money". The lyrics dance in my head...

We're in the money, We're in the money,
We've got a lot of what it takes to get along.
We're in the money, the skies are sunny,
Old man Depression, you are through, you've done us wrong!
We never see a headline 'bout a bread line today;
And when we see the landlord,
We can look that guy right in the eye!
We're in the money, come on, my honey,
Let's spend it! Lend it! Send it rolling around!






Images of the girls borrowing clothes from each other, stealing the neighbor's milk and avoiding the landlady are burned into my brain. They had to be gold diggers. They had to do what they could "to get along"! I can see how audiences during the Depression would love this kind of film. They could identify with the lowly condition of the girls but also root them on as they tried to find a way out of their situation.

What about the flip side? Americans in the 1930's went to watch films in the cinemas as an escape from their current reality. They spent what little money they had at the pictures. Did they want to see films about poor people suffering? NO! They were living that reality and wanted to forget about it for an hour or two in a dark theater. So what did they go see? Films which had rich people as central characters. The Thin Man (1934), Dinner at Eight (1934), A Free Soul (1931), etc.

So what makes watching rich people in movies during the Great Depression different from viewing excessive spenders on reality shows and televised award ceremonies? Is it that the rich people in the movies are fictional so we can't really envy them because they don't exist? Where as those celebrities at the VMAs were real? How is this going to affect what we watch on screen? Will we continue to watch shows like Gossip Girl (fictional) and The Hills (Reality, bordering the line into fictional) and live vicariously through the characters or tune in simply to watch them fall? I don't know what's going to happen. I just know that what's on screen has to speak to us, otherwise audiences will go elsewhere.

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