Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

Doug and Mary celebrate
    Today is New Year's Eve, a time of celebration for a new year, but also a celebration of what happened in the past year, so in honor of 2012 I made a list of movies I watched and books I read for the first time that I got the most enjoyment out of.  This year I watched a lot of silent movies and really started loving them.  Last year I watched a few, but this year I realized how awesome they are.


Clara Bow and Antonio Moreno
It (1927):  Clara Bow is awesome.  I first saw this movie back around February or so and have probably seen it five times.  I even wrote a paper on the movie for my film class (I got an A-).  I love Clara Bow's expressions.  For example how mad she gets when her friend tells her about the social workers.  I also love her expressions as she gets ready for the night at the Ritz but doesn't have a thing to wear.  Bonus: the immortal line, "Just you wait, I'll take the snap out of your garters yet" is in this film.

Trouble in Paradise (1932):  This movie is hilarious. I wrote about this film in my Lubitsch and it is still awesome.  Bonus: Miriam Hopkins wears glasses when she pretends to be a secretary which I believe is one of the few times someone looks good wearing glasses in a movie.

Mantrap (1926):  Clara Bow in another awesome movie.  I love the scene where she just takes off in the boat and leaves her husband and potential new husband on the shore.  I love when she say that she "flirts only when its absolutely necessary."

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920):  This movie is just so weird.  I think that's why I loved it so much the first time I watched it.  It just kind of fascinated me with those crazy sets and of course, Cesare.

Mary Pickford
Sparrows (1926):  My favorite Mary Pickford movie that I've seen. She is fantastic as she protects the children from the horrible old man.  The scene where the baby dies is great.  Mary Pickford provides proof that silent movie acting is often very underplayed and then all the more powerful.

The Mark of Zorro (1920):  Douglas Fairbanks is hilarious in this movie.  I love when he pretends to be the boring Don that does tricks with a handkerchief. "Have you seen this one?"  Of course the action is pretty exciting as well.

Our Modern Maidens (1929): If there is one random obscure super specific genre I love it's flapper movies, doesn't matter if it is a melodrama or a comedy. I will love it if it was made in the 1920s and stars Joan Crawford, Clara Bow, or Colleen Moore, so I love this movie.  Joan Crawford is exceptional in this film and beautifully underacts a scene at the end where she gives up her happiness (at least temporarily).  As a bonus, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. does imitations of John Barrymore, John Gilbert, and his dad as Robin Hood.

Bebe Daniels and Gloria Swanson
Why Change Your Wife? (1920): If you have only seen Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, you should definitely see this movie.  It is hilarious.  She is great when she is the dowdy housewife.  I also love Thomas Meighan as her husband.  Bonus: there is a great cat fight between Bebe Daniels and Gloria Swanson.

The Oyster Princess (1919):  I already wrote about this in my Lubitsch post, but it is seriously hilarious.

Davies as Lillian Gish
The Patsy (1928):  Marion Davies is great in this movie.  She wants to date her sister's boyfriend so she asks him for advice for the dating world and he tells her to get a personality.  Eventually she does imitations of Mae Murray, Pola Negri, and Lillian Gish, which are hilarious.  Marie Dressler also stars as her mean, but hilarious, mother.


"Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood" by Eileen Whitefield:  This is a very solid biography of the great Mary Pickford.  It provides a fascinating look at her family, working in movies in the early days in New York and of course the start of Hollywood and her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks.  The end is very sad because of her alcoholism and reclusiveness, but the book provides a interesting look at one of the most popular actresses of all time and the first and only female movie mogul.

"Runnin' Wild" by David Stenn:  This is probably the best biography I've ever read. It is extremely well researched and you also get to know Clara Bow as a person, who was often funny, but had the worst personal life ever.

"Swanson on Swanson":  A great biography.  It was extremely interesting and had a lot of fascinating stories about Hollywood in the 1920s.

"Flapper" by Joshua Zeitz:  I love the 1920s, so I really loved this book.  It has detailed sections on the Fitzgeralds, Coco Chanel, and the flappers of the movies -Colleen Moore, Louise Brooks, and Clara Bow.  The book is very well researched and well written.

"Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy?":  Another great autobiography.  She writes about her Hollywood years, but the reader also gains insights into vaudeville and aspects of being a child star such as the pressure of being your family's sole support.

All five of these books helped me understand early Hollywood and the 1920s more and they were also all darn good reads.  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Silent Stars Go By

   I realized last year what a weirdo I was when I was singing the line of  "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that goes 'the silent stars go by' and this is what I thought of:

Billie Dove hogged  almost all the toys, but luckily...
Baby Peggy and...

Clara Bow each got a doll.

Colleen Moore sang carols and

Gloria Swanson decorated while

Mary Pickford directed traffic.

Joan wanted to go to Pickfair, but Mary
didn't think her outfit was appropriate.
Joan did manage a quiet dinner with Doug Jr. though.
   While looking for publicity pictures, I didn't really find any with male stars.  I guess they didn't have to put up with as much ridiculous posing, so instead here's a picture of Valentino who I wish was cooking spaghetti for me this Christmas:

   Here are a few more fun pictures I found:

Mary Pickford

Gloria Swanson looking sad

Swanson, again
   Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy 114th Miss Dunne!

   Irene Dunne is one of my favorite actresses and so I thought I would write something on what would have been her 114th birthday, which means she was born in 1898 and would be really old, if she was alive.   One thing I love about Dunne is that she doesn't look old, but she looks so young and natural.  She wasn't really a movie star (although she had worked on the stage) until about forty, which is very unusual.  I think this adds some maturity to her roles.  I like that in Love Affair the leads are both in their mid-forties, but can still find love.
   Another reason I love Irene Dunne is that she seems to have been a genuinely nice person in real life.  She was happily married to a doctor for over thirty-five.  She worked for the United Nations.  She was a devout Catholic, who did a great deal of charity work, but no prude or hypocrite unlike at least one of her Hollywood pals.  She had a great sense of humor* and luckily this translates into her movies.
   I love her performances in Theodora Goes Wild and The Awful Truth.  I like that she goes crazy just half way through, instead of being crazy all the time, like in some screwball comedies.  I love her face while Cary Grant's date sings "Gone With the Wind".  In Theodora I love when she gets back to Lynnfield and all the ladies are scandalized.  "Michael, you idiot."  And of course I love the scene in The Awful Truth at Cary Grant's fiance's house where she pretends to be his sister:

   But of course Dunne was also great at drama.  Penny Serenade, in my opinion, is one of the greatest tear jerkers ever, a fact which is helped by Irene Dunne.  You love her and Grant's characters so much that you desperately want things to work out for them.  I love Dunne's eagerness to please the adoption lady, especially after she is caught dancing the Charleston.  Irene is both heartbreaking and adorable in her desperation to be a good mother, such as when she tries to give the baby a bath with everyone watching.
   Sadly I have only seen a few Irene Dunne movies (Theodora Goes Wild, The Awful Truth, Penny Serenade, I Remember Mama, Life With Father, and Love Affair) because of the scarcity of her movies in libraries (even my university library) by me.  However I became a fan after I watched her in the first movie I saw her in and saw her delightful combination of wit, class, and humanity.  Obviously I still am a big fan.
   Oh by the way if you haven't seen this episode of her on What's My Line? you should.  It is hilarious and it is one of the best guest appearances I've ever seen on that show:

*One of my favorite of her stories goes like this: “Years ago the public used to hound me but now I can go shopping in peace.  The picture postcard people printed a card of our house and address years ago for the tourists but they made a mistake and took the next house.  I’d peek out my bathroom window at all the people trampling the lawns next door and feel sorry for the neighbors.” 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Name Checking

    One of my pet peeves is when a reviewer will automatically compare either two books, movies, actors, etc just to get name recognition.  Several years ago when I was a pre-teen and still reading fantasy, all of the books would say something like "for fans of Harry Potter".  More recently it has been with "for fans of Twilight" or "fans of Hunger Games looking for something to read need search no further."  Even when I was 12 I thought this was odd because generally the books had nothing to do with each other except perhaps the genre.
     More recently this has bugged me with actors.  For example comparing Shirley Temple to Mary Pickford when in reality they were completely different.  But the one that really gets me is all the attempts to compare whoever to Marilyn Monroe.  For example a review of David Stenn's wonderful biography of Clara Bow contains the phrase that she "was the Marilyn Monroe of her day."
    Wait, what?  Now if you have seen a smidgen of either's work you would know they have a completely different style, partly because talkies and silents require a vastly different acting technique.  Also their images are different.  Monroe is the stereotypical, generally passive, dumb blonde sex symbol (at least in her movies).  Bow is nothing of the sort.  She is vivacious and generally is very active in getting her man.   Clara plays working girls, but not simpletons.  Part of this is that they come from completely different decades.  Clara Bow is the perfect liberated female of the 1920s, while Monroe is really a naive sex symbol well suited to the far more conservative 1950s.  (Note I do like Monroe, but personally I like Clara a whole lot more and think she is more talented.)
    But you say, perhaps they are referring to their similarly tragic personal lives?  Well, "Runnin' Wild" points out that Marilyn often exaggerated her childhood woes to get sympathy.  Bow may have talked about her life, but it was not to get sympathy.  She was just honest about where she had come from and didn't care what others thought.  Now Monroe didn't have a great personal life, with foster homes, etc; but frankly I can't think of a life much worse than Bow's.  While Marilyn was in decent foster homes, Clara was nearly killed by her schizophrenic mother and raped by her alcoholic father.  One of the real tragedies of Bow's life, I think, is that she married a nice guy and had two sons, but was unable to care for them, even though she desperately wanted to, because of her terrible mental health caused by her awful childhood and a family history of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
    Lastly although Clara Bow had a terrible insomnia, she was rightly known as "the hardest working girl in Hollywood" because of her work days that often lasted eighteen hours (six days a week).  As we all know, Monroe was rarely punctual, driving her coworkers crazy.  Clara would never have done this.
   Really the only similarity that I can think of is that they were both sex symbols, so not surprisingly the name check is pointless.  Also I can't imagine it would sell more books.  Like there was anyone in a bookstore thinking, "Uh a book about an actress I never heard of", flips over book, "WHAT? she was like Marilyn Monroe?  I am now buying ten books for each family member and his dog."  Honestly name checking could work with fantasy directed at pre-teens, but why do it in this case?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Veronica Lake

This picture sort of represents how I have been feeling for the past few weeks.  (Also I thought this would be a good opportunity to share this awesome photograph).  However finals are done and I am home for Christmas, so I will most likely write something more substantial soon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Long Live Lubitsch!

Lubitsch with Chaplin, Pickford, and Fairbanks
Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947) died sixty-five years ago today. The world lost one of its greatest talents that day.  In honor of Lubitsch, here are my three favorites of his movies:

The Oyster Princess (1919): If you haven't seen a silent movie (or don't like them, yet), The Oyster Princess would be a great place to start, particularly if you like Lubitsch's later movies.  The movie makes fun of Americans, in general, and in particular the 'fad' of rich American heiresses marrying poor European royalty.  Ossi Oswalda stars as the spoiled daughter of the Oyster king.  Oswalda was known as the 'German Mary Pickford' for good reason and you see some of her charm and talent in this film.  Also watch out for the hilarious 'Foxtrot epidemic' scene.
Ossi inspects the 'prince'
Trouble in Paradise (1932):  This is the movie that I think best personifies the Lubitsch touch.  Light and sophisticated, Lubitsch puts two and two on the screen, but he doesn't force the point that it equals four. (A lot of directors could learn a thing or two about this. Even Billy Wilder had a sign that said, "What would Lubitsch do?")  The movie tells the story of two thieves (Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshall) who fall in love and plan to steal money from a rich heiress (Kay Francis).  My favorite scene is the first one, where Hopkins and Marshall find that they are sole mates.
My Sweet Little Pickpocket
Ninotchka (1939): Lubitsch got great performances from his actors.  This is true in Nincotchka.  Garbo gives one of her most unforgettable performances as the laughing Soviet.  The movie tells of a Russian spy (Garbo) who comes to Paris and falls in love with a Parisian (Melvyn Douglas), but it is so much more than that.
Gotta Love that Hat

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Limericks, sort of

Well True Classics is holding a limerick contest at    I am definitely not a poet, but I was bored in one of my classes today, so I wrote a few limericks (at least I hope they count as limericks, I'm honestly not sure.)

Design for Living

There was a girl searching for a loop
Should she choose March or Coop?
Plunkett said, "It may be fun."
but when he was done
Miriam used him as a dupe.

42nd Street

Jones and Barry were to put on a show
but their leading lady was low
so they gave it to Ruby
although she was a newby
and decided to give it a go

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nostalgia: A Rant

       I don't really love the current craze of superhero movies, but all of my family does, so I have seen many of them.  This is how I found myself being dragged to the theaters in July to watch The Avengers.  This is also I happened to rewatch the movie a few nights ago with my sisters.
       I absolutely love cultural history, so I have gotten in the habit of looking for things that relate a historical artifact or event to the time period.  A few weeks ago I went to a football game, which I practically never go to, and reflected upon what the expected behavior told me about the society, etc.  I give this as necessary background knowledge for the following analysis.
        While watching The Avengers I noticed something that I think is prevalent in modern movies-- romanitizing the past, especially World War II era America.  This is especially evident in the character of Captain America.  He is what many people assume the Greatest Generation were all like.  While I know there were many like him, I had a problem with this while watching Captain America.
This is not a war bond rally.
        In Captain America, things are idealized.  His team consists of an African American man, Japanese American, and I think a French and an English guy.  Also an English girl hangs out and commands American troops.  I realize that Captain America may have enough clout to get anyone he wants to join his team, but I would have liked there to have been a mention to troubles they had back home.  It bothered me that Captain America fights HYDRA.  What, are Nazis not bad enough?  Couldn't the Captain have freed some concentration camps or something?  Captain America is an idealized America, but wouldn't a perfect America be able to deal with its problems, such as racism or real threats like Nazis? (Side note pet peeve: those propaganda films Captain America makes and those war bond rallies, seriously?)
This is a war bond rally.  (Bob Hope)
     Nostalgia shows the past in only a good light.  Captain America shows the prominent idea that 'things were simpler back then'.  People had morals and just went and were united in the war.  Somehow I don't think so.  During and shortly after World War II, several movies came out that idealized a 'simpler time' that was about fifty years before.  Meet Me in St. Louis and Life with Father being prominent examples.
Since You Went Away
      The movies made during World War II were excellent, but they were also propaganda.  The self-sacrificing heroes and heroines of Since You Went Away and So Proudly We Hail were there, I'm sure, but so were jerks like Ernest Borgnine's character in From Here to Eternity and that random guy that insults Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives.
      Now I really do think the Greatest Generation was the best, but making them unrelateable doesn't help us learn from history.   Too often we compare the best of the past to the worst of the future or vice versa.  For example one of my grandfathers was a World War II veteran, came home married my grandmother, and became an alcoholic, abusive jerk.  Happily my grandmother divorced him and took her children.   On the other hand my brother one of the 'entitlement generation' volunteered for military service because he knows it is important.  He is in Afghanistan right now.  He left his wife and son and hasn't seen his second son yet in person.  He is a great man and one of the kindest people I know.  You can't make a sweeping generalizations about anything particularly about a generation you didn't live in.  Nostalgia is easy to fall into, but can also be dangerous.  If we hold those in the pasts either as gods or irredemable devils, how can we hope to be like them or avoid becoming like them?  But if we realize everyone has their faults perhaps we can understand how we too could intern Japanese-Americans or that we too could have fallen victim to Hitler's promises, then perhaps we can purge those qualities from ourselves and become better people.  Perhaps, we can also avoiding making those mistakes in our future history.

Wow, that was a random rant.  Hopefully it makes sense.  I also hope there are some interesting ideas.  But if there aren't this blog formally apologizes.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fake Romances?

   As I just barely mentioned in my last post, I am in a class called Film in American Culture.  What I didn't mention was that most of my class mates seem to be, um, rather stupid regarding old movies.  While this is not necessarily a bad thing, (there's always room for converts), they act like they know a lot because hey they are in a class, which needless to say drives me crazy because I have studied movies diligently for two and a half years and have seen pretty much all of the 'important' films made before 1965 and many of the not so important ones.
   Anyway we were discussing North by Northwest today and three girls were giving a presentation about the production history, genre, etc.  One of them was talking about genre and she said something about it combining action, adventure, mystery, romance, and drama.  She seemed to act like this was revolutionary.  Now North by Northwest is a good movie and all, but no.  Genres are almost never pure.  Rarely do you have a drama without a little comedy, etc.  I think pretty much from the beginning adventure movies have some romance.  Some examples- any Douglas Fairbanks movie I can think of, Wings, and all those Errol Flynn/ Olivia de Havilland movies.  Heck, even Casablanca counts in that genre.
  Later in the class period the Eva Marie Saint/ Cary Grant relationship in the film came up.  Some thought it was awkward, and while I disagree, I can almost see their point.  Some one called it 'fake' and my teacher pointed out that that is kind of intentional.  But then the girl I talked about in the previous paragraph said that she guessed all old movies are like that because the other movies we'd seen in class had 'fake' romances. (The implication being that modern movies don't have fake romances) WAIT WHAT?!?
I can't be romantic opposite a fake, Ingrid! Stop it!
    First problem you've seen six movies in this class so you're going to say that all movies pre-1960ish had fake romances?  Second problem, two of the movies, we've watched are Casablanca and The Best Years of Our Lives.  How can you say that Ilsa Lund and Rick Blaine's romance feels fake? You are an idiot, this is the only answer.  Also I find all three romances in The Best Years of Our Lives incredibly compelling.  In fact Myrna Loy and Fredric March remind me of my parents who are adorable and love each other deeply.  Teresa Wright could be my sister and Cathy O'Donnell could be a neighbor, so I don't understand how you could find these unrealistic.  I am at a loss for words.
Yes our marriage has no romance and is soooo fake
The only thing may be that she forgot we saw these two movies, but still assuming that in the old days they didn't know what a romance was or how to make a good romance is stupid.  In my opinion she is stupid and modern movies have more contrived romances (see Transformers, most Superhero movies, etc.)  In the old days, studios knew they were making movies for an entire population and thus made movies for the entire population, which you know what included great romances.  All I said in response though was that I think there are fake romances in modern movies and fake romances in old ones, but also great romances throughout film history, because I am smart and don't make a sweeping generalization based on seeing only a few movies.

I'll bet she'd think we were fake.
In my classmates honor here are some of the greatest screen romances (in my opinion) before 1960, most of which don't need explanations because they are so iconic:

   Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill in City Lights
   Bette Davis and Paul Henreid in Now Voyager
   Clara Bow and Donald Keith in The Plastic Age: Although not a perfect movie, by any movies, I love how Clara Bow's character takes a step back and grows up and lets him grow up.  Best scene: when she is crying watching him play football
I don't really care about him, see my tears?
   Myrna Loy and Fredric March in The Best Years of Our Lives
   Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas in Ninotchka: I watched this movie for the second time last year with my female room mates and we were all gushing over Melvyn Douglas' character.  I love how he gets Ninotchka to laugh and then how he fights to get her out of Russia.
   Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca 
   Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins in Trouble in Paradise: they are so perfect for each other

   Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer in Love Affair: the perfect romance, that last scene... (and in my opinion better than the remake)
Lou's going to die, but eh I haven't demonstrated how
much I love him throughout the whole movie
   Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday: Separating for the greater good has got to be one of the most romantic things I can think of
   Mary Pickford and Mahlon Hamilton in Daddy Long Legs: although this romance is really short I love how concerned he is that he is too old for her.  Also the poor little orphan girl really deserved something good from life.
   Teresa Wright and Gary Cooper in The Pride of the Yankees

And some screen teams that nail romance in every movie of theirs I've seen:
    Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire: romance through dance- they are the best; probably my favorite of their dances is "Never Gonna Dance".  They both put themselves into the dance so much, it's not fake at all, even when slightly undermined by a quick fix ending.

    Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart- my favorite scene of theirs is the end of Dark Passage, it made me cry because you know they have a great romance and I care about them because of that.  They tell you everything with those few glances.
    Myrna Loy and William Powell: they make married life so romantic and fun, what's not to love

In conclusion I submit the proposition that romances were more often believable back then and that there is a reason, people still try to copy the great romances of the screen, most of which are from the Golden Age of Hollywood, so this girl doesn't know anything.

Film in American Culture class

   I am currently in a class entitled "Film in American Culture".  I took it because I knew there was a very low  possibility of my hating it.  Now I do really like it but there are a lot of things I would do differently.
   My teacher is having us watch seven movies as a class to explore the topic.  He chose Stagecoach, Casablanca, The Best Years of Our Lives, Rebel Without a Cause, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, North By Northwest, and Dr. Strangelove.  Now these movies are all certified classics and I understand why he chose most of them.  The thing is that I think it is kind of an eclectic bunch.  First, I feel there is lacking a central theme, which you kind of have to have with something so broad.  For another thing, we've mostly talked about how these movies reflect history and not as the title of the class would seem to indicate- films that change or reflect American culture.  If my mission was to create a class around movies that shows American culture say before 1970, I would pick different movies:
   First I think he should have a silent film.*   I think it is really important to understand why movies became such a thing and it didn't start with the talkies.  You could show something like The Birth of a Nation to reflect some of these ideas, but I think I would show Why Change Your Wife?  For one thing, it shaped fashions in both clothes and interior design. (Demille bathrooms)  For another you could talk about stardom and movie culture's universality in the early 1920s.  Lastly I think the movie is hilarious and that most people with an open mind about silents would enjoy it.  Also the fact that it is not horribly offensive and long is a plus.[Also included in my discussion of the silent era would be several shorts featuring Chaplin, etc.]
  For post-World War I we would watch Wings.  Wings is one of the greatest action movies and it would be fun to talk about how they had to fly.  It's also interesting to look at as an artifact of post war America.  You could also talk about Clara Bow, which is always a good thing.
  In my class we were supposed to look for Depression themes in Stagecoach, which are there, but the movie was made in 1939.  Gold Diggers of 1933 was made during the depths of the Depression.  You could talk about why showgirls and backstage musicals were popular.  Also the number "Forgotten Man" opens up a whole discussion about the Bonus March and the memory of World War I and isolationism.
    For a discussion of pre-World War II, The Great Dictator would be amazing.  We'd have watched some Chaplin shorts featuring the Little Tramp so students would understand the implications of making Charlie Chaplin Jewish.  We could also discuss how Chaplin's speech is basically a call to stop being isolationist.
This scene in particular would be fascinating to discuss
    As an example of World War II films, I would probably show So Proudly We Hail.  While I completely agree that Casablanca is a must see, many of my classmates had seen it.  So Proudly We Hail tells the story of nurses in the South Pacific.  Made in the middle of the war, it is a lovely tribute to the women who fought in the war and also shows many of the emotions that people obviously felt.  (For example Lake's character's anger against the Japanese.)  You also discuss the phenomena of Veronica Lake and what it meant to be a patriotic woman during the war.
  For postwar America I would show From Here to Eternity.  Made several years after the war and fairly critical of the military, it would be an interesting companion piece to So Proudly We Hail.  (You could compare the romances for example.) As a plus Montgomery Clift shows the postwar penchant for sensitive actors.
  Bonnie and Clyde would be a great movie to show in a class like this.  Although it is set in the 1930s, it's about the 1960s and influenced styles and later movies.  You could talk about the violence and the disillusionment with the establishment many Americans were feeling.  It would be fun to see how they use a clip of Gold Diggers of 1933.

   As is probably evident in my choices, I find it fascinating to look at the effects of war upon society.  I would probably set up the class and use Why Change Your Wife? as an example.  From there we could talk about perceptions of women in movies (especially with Why Change Your Wife?, Gold Diggers, and So Proudly We Hail).   The three movies dealing with World War II, in particular would be interesting to compare and contrast.
  Also I tried to have a variety of genres, comedy, action, musical, drama, melodrama, etc.  I find it fascinating to see how different genres and time periods deal with war and stress.
  It killed me to exclude movies like The Best Years of Our Lives, but I thought From Here to Eternity would be better in order to talk about Monty Clift and other post war method actors.  By the way I am studying to be a history teacher and I love cultural history which probably explains some of my choices.

*My teacher doesn't seem to know that much about silents, when I've talked to him before class, I found out that the only Gloria Swanson movie he'd seen was Sunset Boulevard.  Also for our final paper we have to write about a movie and how it reflects the time period.  I picked It with Clara Bow because I like to challenge myself and didn't want to go with something easier like Gone With the Wind, which has a ton written about it.  Anyway in talking to him about my paper, he asked questions about if Clara Bow was different from other stars of her day and if she had made the transition to sound.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Horror Staples: Useless Men

  For the month of October I watched 13 horror movies.  As this is more than I normally watch, I noticed something that was sort of prevalent.  Men telling women that they are hysterical, when the women are really trying to warn everyone about the monster. The men then ignore them and are in general unhelpful.  So in honor of Halloween here is an incomplete list of horror movie loser guys.
  Dracula (1931)
   While this does not exactly count, Jonathan Harker tells Mina she's just been dreaming about a creepy guy coming into her room.  Jonathan also doesn't listen to Van Helsing when he says Mina needs help.

  Una O'Connor in The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein
  In both movies Una tries to warn somebody about a man made monster.  The person being warned ignores the seemingly ridiculous Irish woman, so she as a sort of modern Sybil says, "I wash me hands of it, let you all be murdered in your beds!"

  Cat People (1942)
  Seriously Ollie is a class A idiot.  Irena tries to tell him about turning into a cat, but he just thinks she's crazy and imagining it all.  (The psychiatrist also qualifies.  He goes on about some childhood trauma she must have experienced whilst he woos her, the jerk.)  When she finally takes a turn for the better, he's all like oops I love the good old American girl better anyway.  Unfortunately Simone Simon does not get to sink her claws into him so he's around for:

  Curse of the Cat People (1944)
  Oh Ollie is also a terrible dad.  He's so afraid of having another family scandal that he squishes his daughter's imagination.  Happily he finally changes and learns that you can trust people even if they are mistaken and that you can help them through love not ignoring the problem.

  House on Haunted Hill (1959)
  Seriously that 'psychiatrist' gets on my nerves, babbling on about hysteria all the time.  What's worse is when the hero tells the heroine that she imagines seeing the creepy ghost.

  Carnival of Souls (1962)
  After Mary Henry thinks she sees The Man, a psychiatrist takes her to his office.  Basically he says she's the victim of hysteria.  She also tries to get help from her neighbor, but he is extremely useless and abandons her to the dead people.

I know there are other horror movies out there with similar dolts but to make a long story short, sometimes hysterical women have a point and even if they don't you shouldn't laugh them off.  You should take them to a psychiatrist who won't treat them only as a simple minded woman.

Happy Halloween!