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Posts posted by slaytonf

  1. That was clearly his best role. It is both wonderful and painful to watch him in it. Wonderful because of his commanding performance. Painful thinking of all the performances we don't have of him because he was black. Lena Horne doesn't represent the only collection of lost opportunities due to the idiocy of racism. I like to imagine Shanghai Express with Anna May Wong and Marlene Dietrich playing each others roles.

  2. I see two competing views of America in the 50s. One where there was no prejudice against women in the sciences and professions, or anywhere else, for that matter. One where women faced discrimination and exclusion from careers, and sternly directed to roles as wives and homemakers. I'm afraid I have to accept the latter, else why the strident move for equality in the social/cultural upheaval in the 60s and 70s? But there was ferment happening.


    As for the prettiness of the leading ladies, well, all leading ladies had to be pretty. Just as all leading men had to be pretty. That's true even today. Stars like Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery that attained top billing without prettiness are next to non-existant. The common stereotypes of scientists and academics is masked by the prominence of the roles. In other films where they are supporting or incidental characters, they are either portrayed as mousey social misfits, or crazed eccentrics, obsessed with their field of interest.


    The thing I like in these films, and sometimes it is the only thing I like, is that though they face prejudice and discrimination from other characters, the filmmakers don't treat them that way. In other films of this time, it is the filmmakers (the writers, producers, and directors) who have the depreciatory view of women in these roles, and it is part of the film's intent to demonstrate that the woman is wrong, and document her return to reasonability by giving up her misguided path. If she doesn't, she dies.

  3. > {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}


    > No, it's not. I was a pre-teen and a teenager when I saw all these films originally, and the reason they made the girls "doctors" and scientists was so they would not seem out of place in a film, and boys always liked to see good looking women in films.


    Ah well, it's sad to have my cynicism confirmed.



    > I don't recall any prejudice against women scientists back in the '50s, since there were plenty of girls in school who took science courses, and all nurses were "scientists" and professional women.


    > I think there was probably a desire among professional men in the '50s to have professional women in their professions.


    No? No discrimination against women in the era when the career paths for women were restricted to secretarial work, teaching, nursing, and homemaking? Of course, I wasn't around in the 50's so I can't say from personal experience. Perhaps women did enjoy equality in professional and academic spheres; perhaps they were not forced to sit outside classrooms to listen to lectures; or have their intellects considered unsuited to scientific disciplines; or be dissuaded from pursuing academic careers because they would only end up getting married and abandoning them. Perhaps women did have equal standing among their male professionals and didn't have their input belittled, dismissed, and ignored. Evidently my understanding of the past has been inaccurate. In which case, the current disparity in the numbers of men and women in the ranks of academia and the professions, and the low numbers of women in positions of power and influence are not legacies of the past and evidence of lingering sexism, but the result of a recent decline in the status of women. This is an alarming development and ought to be addressed in the highest circles of our society.


    As I noted before, women in these films not infrequently served as the authority for information, contributed to the intellectual discoveries necessary for understanding the threat and developing the response, and ordered men around in implementation of the response. If women in these films were only granted intellect so there would be a pretext for there to be a babe accompanying the hero, they would only have been given the minimum requirements to provide for their presence, and contingent endangerment, providing the opportunity for their rescue by the hero.

  4. You don't have to go back to the 30's and 40's to find damsels in distresses. What intrigues me about these movies is the way they differ from contemporary movies. For a standard drama, comedy, western, or the like it took a big star to have a woman portrayed as other than a stereotypical June Allyson Good Obedient Wife Who Knew Her Place. These films certainly didn't have headliners in them. But these women pursued interesting scientific careers, and they remained women while they did it. Contrary to the formula then predominating in the culture where a woman would have to trade in her femininity or personality in order to achieve professional or academic success, the women in these movies didn't have to be sexless or depersonalized.

  5. One interesting aspect, and a refreshing one, of this genre of movies is their portrayal of women. Instead of the brainless, dependent, emotional, yet gorgeous object of the hero's attention, they-at least the primary female role-are not so infrequently competent, intelligent, accomplished, and occupy a position of importance and influence. They also at times direct operations and even command men in the campaign against the monsters/invaders. All this without patronizing or condescending attitudes--if not from the characters, then at least from the filmmakers.


    Accounting for this in the women's-place-is-in-the-home 50's is perplexing. Perhaps it was necessary to provide a pretext for the presence of the lead male's love interest. Or it this too cynical a view of the makers of these films?

  6. I am aware of and understand the conditions you discuss. I agree that the level of complaining can become annoying and monotonous. When I see that happening in a thread, I avoid it. To be fair, I should think you could ascribe disappointment at TCM not doing what they know it can do, and a sincere desire to improve its programming, as motivations for those who offer criticisms, not just simple nastiness or arrogance. I don't think people who didn't recognize what TCM offers, and value it highly, would have reactions--sometimes strong ones--let alone voice them.


    Viewers voicing their disappointment at what they see, and their desires for what they want to see gives TCM information on what its audience wants, how to adapt its programming to cope with other channels, and perhaps motivates it to work harder to get those films that are not so easy to get, either because of competition, or obscurity.

  7. And Bessie Love, and Marie Prevost, and Madge Evans, and Una Merkel, and Chester Morris, and Robert Montgomery, and Allen Jenkens, and Dolores del Rio and Roland Young, and Ruth Chatterton, and Jean Muir.


    Victor Jory. Ah, yes. The only decent performance in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

  8. I doubt that TCM would go the the time and expense of creating a special set of prints solely for the purpose of furthering a unspoken policy of imposing on its viewers alternate color regimes. In fact, TCM makes a big deal of it when it participates in a restoration. More likely is it that the prints TCM gets are ones made with poor reference to the original negatives. Most of the prints we see are very old, much used and faded prints, or prints made from prints, not negatives. It is my thinking TCM has little or no control over the prints it gets for any particular movie, and cannot be assured of the highest quality, unless it is a film that has been restored, like Lawrence of Arabia, or The Red Shoes. Visitors to this site have commented on the variable quality of the the same film from one showing to the next.


    If I remember correctly, TCM, or Ted Turner, once pursued a policy of colorizing its (his) stock of black and white films. The resulting firestorm of outrage ended that, and, I think served as the germ for the laudable efforts TCM has made for the restoration of many films.

  9. I'd have to disagree with you on Duffy, only in a positive way. It's one of the best caper movies. Lots of great talent. James Coburn at his smoothest and hippest. Susannah York at her slinkiest and sylphiest. Great mod atmosphere, slick music, cool Rawls tune, and Duffy's house in Tangiers is a blast. The caper itself is a little lame, but in a good caper movie, the caper is the least important part.

  10. Headquarters, 8th Air Force. Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. Despite intense pain, shock, and loss of blood; with complete disregard of his personal safety; Captain Derry crawled back to his bomb site, guided his formation on a perfect run over the objective, and released his bombs with great accuracy. The heroism, devotion to duty, professional skill, and coolness under fire displayed by Captain Derry. . . .under the most difficult conditions, reflect highest credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States of America. By command of Lieutenant General Doolittle."


    (That's my boy.) Pop

    The Best Years of Our Lives.

  11. I do not like to respond without the title of a movie, so I was waiting to see if someone else came up with anything. As there has been no response, I will tell you what I have in mind and see if that jogs your, or someone else's memory. The girl is on a bicycle, and is the target of a thug. She is the daughter of a police detective who is putting big pressure on a crime boss. As a precaution, the detective sends his family to stay with relatives. The thug the crime boss has sent to get the family discovers where they are, and goes after the little girl, but I believe he only succeeds in killing himself. The detective's wife comes back to him, not wanting to leave him alone in his time of danger.


    Everything works out just fine in the end.


    I hope this helps.


    Edited by: slaytonf on May 30, 2011 6:41 PM

  12. There are two other good ways of checking when a movie is coming up. First, there are the monthly schedules, and you can look up the title of the film you are interested in. If it is scheduled, the date and time will show up under the title in the Web page for it. For example:




    All times are Eastern. Evidently TCM has determined that the rest of the country has ceased to exist.

  13. Dragonwyck and Harvey have both been shown on TCM numerous times. But they, like other films, show up in waves. They will be shown often for the period of some months to a year and then disappear for a year or more, then return again. Another good example of this is Pride and Prejudice, with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier, which used to have quite a short rotation, but has not shown for over two years. It will reappear in July. Over a year ago, or more, a whole slew of Hitchcock films were repeatedly shown, including The Birds, Psycho, Rope, and Vertigo. Now all we see is North By Northwest. I think it has something to do with licensing agreements. TCM buys the rights to show a film so many times, or over a period of so long. So to watch a film you want, you just have to wait until they lease (or whatever) it again.

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