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Son of the Gods (1930) Intro/Outro by Robert Osborne


lydecker
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I was watching some old recordings I had made in 2012 (mostly to enjoy the now-gone classic TCM graphics of that era) and stumbled upon "Son of the Gods" starring Richard Barthelmess & Constance Bennett with intros and outros by Robert Osborne.  On the face of it, this film appears to be one of the most "objectionable" films you could view (I assume it will never see the light of day on TCM again)  but, in reality, is it?  Richard Barthelmess's character (Sam Lee) is the son of a wealthy Asian who, as the film begins, has been sent away to college.  Sam "looks"  Caucasian though he is by no means trying to "pass" as white. Sam is smart, kind, handsome and generous and the fact that he is Asian-American is known by his male friends but not by their girlfriends.  When the women find out that Sam is Asian-American, let the racial epithets begin.  However, Sam's friends strongly condemn the women and point out that Sam is a great guy and that they (the woman) are racist jerks.  Sam then leaves for Europe where he meets (you guessed it!) the beauteous Constance Bennett and they fall madly in love.  Until . . .  Constance's racist father informs his daughter that Sam is (gasp!) Asian-American.  Instantly, Constance begins hurling racial slurs at Sam, telling him she never wants to see him again.  Sam is devastated and simultaneously receives a telegram summoning him home to the deathbed of his father.  Upon inheriting his father's businesses, Sam decides to reject "the white world" and embrace his Asian heritage.  Meanwhile, Connie, regretting her horrible behavior toward Sam, is spiraling downward into drink, degradation and potential death.  She becomes so ill and calls for Sam so often that her racist father is forced to ask Sam to come to  his daughter's bedside to help her find the will to live.  Sam comes and she does live but he returns to New York.  Finally, Connie (who has been trying to apologize for her horrible behavior for quite a while now) comes to Sam and says she doesn't care about his race and they reconcile.  In one of those terrible The Studio Does Not Wish To Offend Anybody moments, at the 11th hour, it is discovered that Sam is the adopted (not biological) son of the Asian merchant and is actually white.  To Connie's credit, this revelation, is unknown to her when she re-states her love for Sam and her desire to marry. 

In his typically classy, quiet, understated way, Robert Osborne in his intro and outro admitted that this film provided plenty of "cringe-worthy" moments and evidenced attitudes that definitely were not in line with "current" (2012) thinking.  Wow.  No over-the-top "Reframed" series, no need for multiple hosts to decry the anti-Asian sentiments in this film and, a general acknowledgement by a representative of TCM that we all get that the racist attitudes  shown in this film were/are wrong but the film still has some merit, particularly to see the performances of both Barthelmess and Bennett at this stage of their careers.  The other thing that struck me as revelatory about this film was that it consistently portrayed all of the racist white people as total villains and, almost to a fault, made the Asians and Asian-Americans pretty much saints.  Something which in hindsight, is pretty amazing for a wide-release film written and produced in 1930. 

Bottom line:  As been said here again and again:  The overreach of the current TCM Management to publicly apologize for practically every film made from 1930-1960, is especially grating when one sees that TCM had been providing   --  pretty much from Day 1  --   (excuse me for using another overused word) "context"  and disapproval about the racist attitudes and stereotypes shown in many films of this era.  

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I really wonder how Osborne would view what TCM is doing now.     Would he feel that due to changing demographics and the overall US culture that what is going on now is "necessary"?      Would he think that due to the current US political situation (yes, the results of the 2016 election),   that TCM had to do something?  

While I doubt it,  I still wonder.

 

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8 hours ago, lydecker said:

I was watching some old recordings I had made in 2012 (mostly to enjoy the now-gone classic TCM graphics of that era) and stumbled upon "Son of the Gods" starring Richard Bathelmess & Constance Bennett with intros and outros by Robert Osborne.  On the face of it, this film appears to be one of the most "objectionable" films you could view (I assume it will never see the light of day on TCM again)  but, in reality, is it?  Richard Bathelmess's character (Sam Lee) is the son of a wealthy Asian who, as the film begins, has been sent away to college.  Sam "looks"  Caucasian though he is by no means trying to "pass" as white. Sam is smart, kind, handsome and generous and the fact that he is Asian-American is known by his male friends but not by their girlfriends.  When the women find out that Sam is Asian-American, let the racial epithets begin.  However, Sam's friends strongly condemn the women and point out that Sam is a great guy and that they (the woman) are racist jerks.  Sam then leaves for Europe where he meets (you guessed it!) the beauteous Constance Bennett and they fall madly in love.  Until . . .  Constance's racist father informs his daughter that Sam is (gasp!) Asian-American.  Instantly, Constance begins hurling racial slurs at Sam, telling him she never wants to see him again.  Sam is devastated and simultaneously receives a telegram summoning him home to the deathbed of his father.  Upon inheriting his father's businesses, Sam decides to reject "the white world" and embrace his Asian heritage.  Meanwhile, Connie, regretting her horrible behavior toward Sam, is spiraling downward into drink, degradation and potential death.  She becomes so ill and calls for Sam so often that her racist father is forced to ask Sam to come to  his daughter's bedside to help her find the will to live.  Sam comes and she does live but he returns to New York.  Finally, Connie (who has been trying to apologize for her horrible behavior for quite a while now) comes to Sam and says she doesn't care about his race and they reconcile.  In one of those terrible The Studio Does Not Wish To Offend Anybody moments, at the 11th hour, it is discovered that Sam is the adopted (not biological) son of the Asian merchant and is actually white.  To Connie's credit, this revelation, is unknown to her when she re-states her love for Sam and her desire to marry. 

In his typically classy, quiet, understated way, Robert Osborne in his intro and outro admitted that this film provided plenty of "cringe-worthy" moments and evidenced attitudes that definitely were not in line with "current" (2012) thinking.  Wow.  No over-the-top "Reframed" series, no need for multiple hosts to decry the anti-Asian sentiments in this film and, a general acknowledgement by a representative of TCM that we all get that the racist attitudes  shown in this film were/are wrong but the film still has some merit, particularly to see the performances of both Barthelmess and Bennett at this stage of their careers.  The other thing that struck me as revelatory about this film was that it consistently portrayed all of the racist white people as total villains and, almost to a fault, made the Asians and Asian-Americans pretty much saints.  Something which in hindsight, is pretty amazing for a wide-release film written and produced in 1930. 

Bottom line:  As been said here again and again:  The overreach of the current TCM Management to publicly apologize for practically every film made from 1930-1960, is especially grating when one sees that TCM had been providing   --  pretty much from Day 1  --   (excuse me for using another overused word) "context"  and disapproval about the racist attitudes and stereotypes shown in many films of this era.  

I've got a bunch of DVD's I burned off of TCM starting in June 2007 and going through to Robert's death. He could always get a social point  across  concerning a film without being preachy. It seems to be a lost art. 

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5 hours ago, LsDoorMat said:

I've got a bunch of DVD's I burned off of TCM starting in June 2007 and going through to Robert's death. He could always get a social point  across  concerning a film without being preachy. It seems to be a lost art. 

Yes, and so apparently is the idea of being:

avuncular

[əˈvəNGkyələr]
 
ADJECTIVE
  1. relating to an uncle.
  2. anthropology
    relating to the relationship between men and their siblings' children.
     
     
    (...and which Bob Osborne was...and which none of the present TCM hosts are)
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