Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A happy Christmas Eve

Gold Diggers of 1933

Happy Christmas Eve!

What a great holiday season I have had so far. I'm in awe! I had a fun Halloween, an epically great Thanksgiving, and now I'm even enjoying Christmas! My goodness. The days when I had to self medicate with Hugh Grant movies seem to be over. I did see one Hugh Grant movie at Thanksgiving, but it was just for fun. I am watching movies, though, and there is a theme.

What I've been watching are movies from the 1930s, trying to imagine that time in America. My parents were teenagers during the Depression. How awful! It's hard enough to be a teenager in happy times. They, as the rest of the Greatest Generation, were forever changed by that experience. Teenagers during the Depression, young adults during WWII. They had it tough, they did.

The idea of the Forgotten Man haunts me. It is mentioned in all the depression era movies, it was so prevalent. My Man Godfrey, with William Powell, is a total fantasy - as they all were - but the most compelling depiction of Depression era homeless I've seen so far. He was irresistible

The rich people in these movies are depicted as extremely weird, all of them. In some movies, they are despicable, in others, adorable, but they all seem crazy. They're dressed to the nines, enjoy every luxury, but in order to do that in the midst of the Depression, there has to be a heavy layer of denial at play. 

First there was the "Great" War, after which people lost their minds for awhile: the roaring 20s. The Depression was a hideous National hangover from all that. It's interesting to think about.

The movies are fabulous, though. Great historical sociology. I highly recommend Gold Diggers of 1933 in particular. Busby Berkeley designed the song/dance scenes. They are so trippy! My Man Godfrey is awesome. I watched King Kong, too. He is the only character in the movie I cared about. It'll show you how differently we think about animals, for sure. And Fay Wray, screaming her heart out over and over. I wonder what that film did to her larynx? The character only takes the job because she is fainting from hunger, out on the street. She is saved by the insane, cruel director. Bizarre!

I had planned to watch Dinner at Eight with Kansas City born and raised Jean Harlow tonight, but was invited at the last minute to dinner on Tennessee Avenue. I'll take a walk with Presley, the dog I'm going to dog sit starting tomorrow, receive massage at the Willard Hotel, one of the most happily haunted old hotels in DC, then have dinner with the husbands. 

A great Christmas Eve. It will bring me back to 2013, almost 2014, as it should, from the crimped platinum blond hair, speakeasies, pencil mustaches and cigarette smoke of the 1930s. Oh yeah.

Happy festivals of the returning light. Shalom.

This is Presley, wearing a yarmulke.


Rebecca Clayton said...

So glad you're having a good holiday run this year!

My mom was a young adult watching those 1930's movies, and they made a huge impression on her--that's how she imagined the wide world for the rest of her life. She just never got over the idea that I should be a little Shirley Temple, and grow up into a wise-cracking Gal Friday. Disappointment ensued. (Although I had the wise-cracking part down pat, it turned out not to be such a good thing all by itself.)

I am lucky that she loved the smart, independent, spunky gals in the movies, rather than the passive sweet damsels the heroes rescued. I watched those old movies on daytime TV when I was a little girl, and I never entertained the notion that I should be a Stepford wife.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Oh, and "My Man Godfrey" is the best!

Steve Reed said...

Awww, look at Presley!

I love those old Busby Berkeley musicals, though I haven't seen one in ages. I don't think I've ever seen Gold Diggers, and I've never seen a Jean Harlow movie. Maybe I have some New Year's Resolutions to make. :)

Glad your holidays are going well, Reya!

Anonymous said...

A decade ago,I remember going to an open inspection in an "austere" original art deco house on the outskirts of the city. A classic in cream and red, and all curves and original mirrors.
I thought if I lived here I'd spend my time in feathered slippers, silk gowns and watch all those black and white movies you've mentioned - though some movies of this era are now re-released in colour. I had visions of buying myself a chrome traymobile - remember that fad?
My mother would always bring in afternoon tea to guests on the traymobile, the cups and saucers rattling along.
The sets and the costumes are just wonderful - some feisty women too - Mae West, Bette Davis later on. I equate those screen classics with the midday offerings I'd watch if I was ever home from school ill.
Presley looks great!

Reya Mellicker said...

I love the movies, too, Pam. Haven't seen them in ages.

ellen abbott said...

we watched Cloud Atlas last night. not sure if I know what it was about. I guess I'm mellowing about the over the top christmas. It didn't really impinge on me either this year.