The Golden Age of Drama
Hollywood was at its best. In 1938, Ed Sullivan (columnist for the New York Daily News) polled his 20-million readers, and Clark Gable and Myrna Loy were voted "King & Queen of Hollywood". Black-and-white cinematography would reach a zenith during these years that colour is still striving to match. We experienced the emotion of each moment by watching the expression of the one who saw something off-screen. We didn't have to see it. We just knew, by the look on the actor's face, what to feel. Onscreen charisma meant more than a pretty face, and escapism was the order of the day. Decades before news cameras would invade even the sacred places in our lives, the Hollywood movie reflected otherwise-unknown ways of life. And all for only a quarter.
Young boys lived the life of a gangster through Cagney and Robinson. Young girls were sure that Gable and Grant were just waiting for them to grow up. They tried to imitate Garbo's sadness, Errol Flynn's fencing, Boyer's accent, and Greer Garson's hair. They wanted to dress like Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy. And there was Bette Davis: the clothes, the eyes, the confidence. For an investment of 25 cents and two hours, movie-goers could escape the oftentimes harsh realities of life and forget their troubles. And that was worth a quarter, even during the Great Depression.
We've tried to choose movies that represent the best of something. A look, a style, a mystery, a fashion, an entrance, that kind of thing. But we also chose some for their cinematography, the incredible costume design, the onscreen chemistry between certain teams, the director's ability to carry us away from our own surroundings for a while, or fabulous sets. Sometimes it's the ability to watch a historical period come to life. Historical to us, but very "modern" to the people making it. What a fabulous way to see those days lived as they really were, even if the plot leaves something to be desired.
There are lots of reasons to watch a good film, and it was difficult to narrow our list down to one page. We tried to include people and films which still crop up in conversation. Remember, if you're uncomfortable about watching something, then we strongly urge you to set it aside. After all, these are just suggestions. Even just a quick trip through the names (and their pictures, if any) will give you some conversant knowledge of this Golden Age of Drama.
(Faces in the filmstrip: Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Ingrid Bergman.)
Quotes to Remember
Here's looking at you, kid. Rick Blaine (Casablanca)
We'll always have Paris. Rick Blaine (Casablanca)
Rosebud. Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane)
The stuff that dreams are made of.
Detective Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon)
After all, tomorrow is another day.
Scarlett O'Hara (Gone with the Wind)
Quotes Not to Remember
Play it again, Sam.
(Neither Bogart nor Bergman said this. "Play it, Sam" is all you get.)
Judy, Judy, Judy.
(Cary Grant never said this. No one knows how the myth began.)