I’ve been watching old movies lately on the Turner Classic Movie channel. I plopped down in front of the television a few days ago and watched a 1955 classic. “The Tender Trap” featuring Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds.
I noticed the cars, clothes, furniture, and habits of that era; 50’s furniture, 50’s fashion and 50’s customs. And everyone, I mean every one, was super skinny! Even the actors I used to think were fat were very thin compared with today! I was shocked!
The men wore suits. Now, I know that this is a movie and glamour is the focus. But suits!
These men looked handsome. We never see suits in movies today.
Shoot. We never see suits, period! And the women? Wow. Beautiful dresses.
The movie industry has always influenced society. Clothes and the hair styles provide a blueprint of how to dress. Now, naked fronts, swimsuits up the crack, and everything exposed is our blueprint.
I heard no swearing, and no foul language; neither witnessed any surprise blood letting, nor indecent scenes. Of course, there were subtle innuendos. But kids wouldn’t catch on. And the dialog did reflect a different attitude. Romance, propriety, manners, marriage, a woman’s desire to raise children, love. These societal rules still flowed out of the script.
I am not exalting Hollywood. Au contraire. Just noticing the influence the “old dame” has. These post war movies are history lessons. Yes, Hollywood has always delivered its messages well; promoting irreverence and loose morals. But, these movies are innocent babes compared to today.
Now let’s look at the negatives.
These characters all smoke like chimneys. The most accommodating act a man does for a woman is light her cigarette. Watching them inhaling and blowing smoke; then kissing. I thought “ugh.” Bad breath. And their clothes must stink. They are holding a cig (we used to call them “fags”) all the blame time.
The over indulgence of alcohol is portrayed as the “genteel life”...they drink it in the morning, in the afternoon, and evening. It’s all portrayed as the “way” to be, while all this liquor is poured into a water glass. Straight. Just guzzle, guzzle as the whiskey pours down the muzzle.
Ah, such sophistication!
We should remember that this generation survived the Great WWII, and their style of celebration; getting absolutely numbed-out plastered, was an off shoot. Movies reflected it.
The beginning of the portrayal of a man as weak and unaware, and a woman as cunning, conniving, and the “boss” hadn’t taken root yet. No, the girl was starry eyed for her “prince” and she wanted nothing more than to love him and have a home. Women’s Liberation movement is yet some eight years away.
It’s strange. The acting today is better. It is more realistically, profoundly, portrayed. But, in doing so, the irreverence, profanity, and promotion of every kind of sin known to man just gets worse.
When my age group was in high school, and younger, we went to the movies and felt good at the end of the story. Love heals all, the good guys always win, the bad guys always are foiled and lose, romance is alive, men are men, and women are women.
The good guy always won the girl. Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, and Gene Autry took care of any problems. There was always a gun fight with both sides skittering behind big boulders and shooting their pistols at each other. Bad guys got killed too. We would cheer!
Never, in a thousand years, did any of us think that we could therefore, go shoot somebody. We instinctively understood the difference between fantasy stories and reality.
So, yes, where have these invaluable observations taken me. Why, they’ve taken me back. And I enjoy TCM.
Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com. Visit her website juditabler.com.