The Golden Age of Hollywood

I'm recycling a post that I made on another site. The rememberance of the events of today made me recall an important lesson I learned about the magic of cinema.

I had always been told that the popularity of the 1930s musical comedies was due to their escapist nature. People could forget their hopeless situations while watching these films. The concept makes sense, so I bought it. I didn't live through that time period so 'I couldn't have known how the people experiencing it felt.

On the Friday evening immediately following 9/11 I was, like most Americans emotionally drained from the events of the week. I had watched nothing but CNN since the attack, and read extensively about it in newspapers and on the internet. At that point, I couldn't watch another minute of the news. Althought I couldn't erase the events of 9/11, I just wanted something to take my mind off of it. I turned on Turner Classics and that night they were showing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers in Flying Down to Rio. That film is typical Astaire & Rodgers: a silly plot involving an implausible romance, elegant costumes, lush sets and of course, stunning trademark choreography.

For the next 90 minutes, I forgot about the World Trade Center. I laughed for the first time since that Tuesday morning. The film made me forget that I was trying to deal with a tragedy, and helped me to stop feeling so depressed. That evening I truly came to appreciate the value that musical comedies had in the Depression Era, and their importance not only to film history but also, to the history of American culture.

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Comment by Joanne C on September 18, 2008 at 7:15am
Joel McCrea was from my hometown, Syracuse, NY!
Comment by LadyMadeleine on September 11, 2008 at 4:57pm
I know exactly what you mean...

During a particularly difficult time in my life (4 close family deaths within 8 months) the Fred and Ginger movies helped get me through too... they were my favourite films (and still rank very high for me). Unfortunately in the midst of that is when Ginger herself passed away, however the joy they left behind continues into perpetuity.
Comment by M.T. Fisher on September 11, 2008 at 4:36pm
Movies are wonderful for escapism. Sadly, today's filmmakers and critics have forgotten that. I'll hear someone say, "That film wasn't realistic at all," and I'll reply, "My kinda film!"
Comment by Rosie Sayer on September 11, 2008 at 3:04pm
Joanne, do you know the film Sullivan's Travels? It's about a successful film director who decides he needs to make a serious film, something that will contribute something meaningful to the world, not just entertain people. After many adventures and some exposure to real folks with real problems, he finally realizes the importance of simple entertainment and returns to his true calling.


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