Lost in the Movies: Hooray for Hollywood! 1938 - 1940 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 5

Hooray for Hollywood! 1938 - 1940 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 5

The fifth chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films.
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump)

Hooray for Hollywood!

Depression lingers. War looms. Fascism marches across Europe. And yet here we are, hobnobbing with socialites and hanging out with callous adventurers, giggling at pratfalls and whizzing along in car chases, playing with children's toys and fighting a war with Indians. We're dazzled by Robin Hood, hushed by a mythic Lincoln, and assaulted by the last of the dodos.

Concluding our survey of the thirties (or at least that sliver of it captured in my collection), we dive right into the thicket of Tinseltown. In this chapter, America dominates, and by America we mean Hollywood, and by Hollywood we mean movie stars, and by movie stars we mean Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and, in particular, Cary Grant (that unseen third wheel in the picture above). A narrow view, to be sure, but aside from the contingencies of my control group (recent boxset purchases filled gaps while also creating imbalances), this focus can be justified by the desire to display, if only once, the glamorous allure of the silver screen unalloyed by its other appeals and values.

There are only two exceptions to the isolationist flavor of this chapter (excluding an American film set in Europe, and dealing with the rise of Nazism - albeit not in the particular clip I chose). The first is a British thriller by a man soon to be one of Hollywood's brightest lights himself. The second, way out of left field, is a somber picture about peasants, hailing from the country that was soon to be America's enemy.

Since my purpose here is to show everything, not pick and choose in terms of a theme, I left it in but if it doesn't seem to fit (aside from an appropriate graphic transition I was able to provide) that is, in a sense, just right: it can serve as a brief reminder of what was going on in the outside world - and a good transition into the next clip, a Hollywood picture which took a hard look at recent history.

Then listen closely to that last lyric, because the clouds - far from being far behind - are closing in, and tomorrow they will unleash a torrent to sweep up America, and with it Hollywood and the movies.

Yesterday: The Golden Ages


Sam Juliano said...

It was an exhilarating way to kick off Wednesday as I prepare for my school day. There are many films here that cr out masterpiece (MODERN TIMES, THE 39 STEPS, TOP HAT, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW, GRAND ILLUSION, THE AWFUL TRUTH, REMBRANDT, THE BAND CONCERT, WIFE! BE LIKE A ROSE, SWING TIME) while a few others like CAPTAIN BLOOD, STORY OF THE FOX and LE BELLE EQUIPE would be excellent choices in practally any visual essay.

This is a labor of love,. which exhibits an astonishing time and technical commitment. It serves as a springboard for those seeking to re-visit or discover, but beyond that of course it'sd a time portal to this cherished art form that commands so much of our blood, sweat and tears.

Joel Bocko said...

Glad you enjoyed it Sam. I was going to say you meant to leave this comment under Day 4, but then I realized I had linked to the wrong video clip!! It has been fixed.

Interesting you liked Rembrandt so much. I like it quite a bit too (I love Laughton) but wasn't sure how many others placed it. The Naruse and Duvivier I saw just in time for inclusion - both really great movies.

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