July / Aug 2011
Taking the 1930â€™s by Storm!
ANYONE KNOW WHAT Scarlett sees in him? Page 4
NEVER EVER PICK ON A future super hero. Page 16
IT’S A DEPRESSION, baby! Buy a movie ticket! Page 26
MUST WE BE IMMORTAL to defeat Nazis? Page 8
SHE KNOWS WHAT IS fashionable. Do you? Page 18
OKAY, SO IT DIDN’T happen just like this. Page 30
IT IS HARD BEING IN THE employ of a total idiot. Page 10
SO TALENTED, HE COULD even draw himself! Page 20
MORAL OF THE STORY: … is there one? Page 32.
HE HAS A VOICE, DON’T ya know. Page 12
SOME PEOPLE USE ANY excuse to be a jerk. Page 22
NEVER ASK SOCIALISTS over. Trust me. Page 34.
DOES ANYONE NOT WANT this man dead?!? Page 14
LOOK! IT’S A BIRD! It’s a plane! Wait, what? Page 24
THE GREAT DEPRESSION did much for fashion. Page 26
with Carissa, Charity, Eliza, Ella, Hannah, Lydia M., Meghan, Ruth, and Shannon.
Linked to reviews for convenience: Atonement, The Aviator, Captain America, Dear John, Gosford Park, Inglorious Basterds, The King‟s Speech, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, and Upstairs Downstairs.
Want to write for us? Have a suggestion, a request, or a question? Contact me at email@example.com
This webzine is an extension of www.charitysplace.com. Get sneak peeks of upcoming issues, new movie reviews, blog posts, and more by joining our Facebook and Twitter groups! 2
ou‟ll notice changes in this issue from the last. I‟m having a lot of fun designing a unique style for the publication overall as well as for our individual articles. In this issue we have some truly awesome stuff for you to read! Many of my brand new columnists make their premiere in these pages and in each new issue you can look forward to sections on Literature (Fiction vs. Film, page 4), Art (Pencils, Paint & People, page 20), History (Invitation to the Past, page 18), Classic Film (As Time Goes By, page 26), and Pop Culture (Old Thoughts, New Twists, page 24). I chose this theme (the 1930‟s and „40‟s) because I wanted to explore the era of WWII but avoid making the issue morbid as a result. It was an important, terrible time in history and even in the summer when we are all enjoying the sunshine and iced lemonade, wartime is depressing. So within these pages, we will touch on the war but also on fun topics… like the abdication and a reluctant king who enlisted a speech therapist, the high fashion of the age, a young woman uncertain of what she wants, the romances of wartime, the rivalries and
friendships of the Upstairs and Downstairs lot, and of course the most famous book and film of the 1930‟s. I will give you a hint: “Frankly, Scarlett…” To the right you will see three Hollywood actors that abandoned their careers to join branches of the military and serve overseas: Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, and Jimmy Stewart. Two were fortunate enough to return but the third, Howard, died a hero when his plane was shot down by the Germans. He had made numerous successful runs overseas and speculation about the true cause of his death is still rampant to this day; it is unknown if the enemy was targeting him or under the mistaken assumption that Churchill was aboard! Many more men whose names we will never know except for those who loved and lived with them gave their lives in that bitter battle for freedom, and millions more men and women worldwide serve our countries through their current military careers. May this issue and the joy of freedom in it pay homage to them. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your devoted, courageous and impacting service. ■ 3
By Ella G.
torylines that have an ability to transcend time all contain a secret ingredient. It doesn‟t matter what a character‟s name is, where the story is located, or how many pages it is. What matters is the connection a reader feels in immersing themselves in the pages. Does it hold the same power over them that it did to others who have read the tale before? Is it just as applicable and thoughtprovoking as the day it was published? If it takes place in a bygone era, does the story still send a message for the current time instead of something antiquated and irrelevant? Gone with the Wind‟s setting is from the days of the Antebellum South, the Civil War, and
Reconstruction, but the novel was not published until 1936. Judging by appearances, it does not seem as if the two periods in history have anything in common, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Great Depression was in full force in 1936. Unemployment rates were high and millions of people lived in a home where there wasn‟t any steady income coming in. Because banks were going under, many families lost their homes and were reduced to living in “Hoovervilles” (towns of cardboard boxes). Soup kitchen lines were crowded with men, women, and children since that might be the only meal they had that day. Some took to living the life of a hobo by riding
the rails from town to town in the hope of employment, whether it be for a day or a week, enough to feed their bellies that day and provide shelter for the night. Jobs were so scarce many took whatever work they could find; it was common to see men on street corners selling apples or morning papers. It wasn‟t much but if that is what you could find as a job, you took it and were grateful for it. The early 1930‟s were much worse than when Margaret Mitchell first wrote her novel. There was a period of a few years in which the economy seemed to be improving and the country was finally getting on its feet again. It would only be a year before the United States would plunge
into a second recession, causing citizens to again struggle and feel like they could not get their head above water. In certain places it seemed as if they couldn‟t catch a break— huge dust storms ravaged the Midwest, leaving the farmland barren and unable to be cultivated with crops. Many families packed what little they had and traveled West in the hope that California and the Pacific would open a new way of life. Whatever had to be done to survive and keep the family afloat was done. Back in the 1860‟s, the setting was very much the same. The South was tired of being controlled by the Northern government; they felt they were losing their identity. Several states were of the opinion that forming their own country, known as the Confederacy, was the only way in which to preserve their way of life. For the North, it was a matter of pride. To them, it didn‟t matter so much about the states separately but about them collectively. It would not do to see their nation ripped apart, even if they did disagree on a few topics such as states‟ rights and slavery. And for the slaves, they desired something about which they could only dream and hope. They were tired of the mistreatment, living conditions, and the horrors that many of them experienced. It was clearly a messed up world. October 24, 1929 was
the beginning of the dark days during Margaret Mitchell‟s time. April 12, 1861 was the day it all changed for her heroine, Katie Scarlett O‟Hara. Financial devastation is vastly different than war, yet the human spirit has to rally in the same way. Margaret Mitchell said, “if Gone With the Wind has a theme it is that of survival. What makes some people come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong, and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don‟t. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under? I only know that survivors used to call that quality „gumption.‟ So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn‟t.” Challenges either make or break you. They either turn you into a better human being for having gone through them or they cause you to break under the pressure. There were those in both troubled times that buckled under the strain, yet far and away there were those who stood up, dusted themselves off, and approached each new
challenge with strength. They knew they had made it through once before; they could do it for as long as they needed. Perhaps that is why Gone with the Wind sold over a million copies in the first six months. Readers had the ability to go back in time to another place and recall moments of a bygone era they had read about in history books. They could
even greater way than fiction already does. Here was a heroine that seemed a lot like themselves. Yes, she lived in the Civil War, had three husbands and buried two of them, bore four children and lost two —if a woman reading this was not in that stage of life, it could have seemed totally inapplicable. But Scarlett was a woman of strength, one who struggled
escape the dreary present day with just a few turns of the page. Yet maybe there was a deeper connection to the novel, something that made it come alive in an
to save her home and have enough food on the table. She and indeed all of the other characters suffered through their ordeals and let them shape their lives.
Some times it was for good, others it destroyed. The same could be said for those of the Great Depression and it was a book that brought the two worlds together. It was a
greater way by making the fictional story into a film that decades later the American Film Institute would consider the fourth greatest movie ever made. It would be a movie that
novel that brought hope and encouragement: here were several characters who rose from the ashes of the Civil War, who refused to let famine, finances, and wars get them down. The novel would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize and sell countless copies. Yet in 1939, David Selznick would make Gone With the Wind come alive in an even
remains untouched to this day; no one has ever come close to even attempting a remake. Some things are better left original; this is one of them. Most will end up seeing this classic at least once in their lives. For the time in which it was made, it is a cinematic triumph. The vivid characters of Scarlett O‟Hara, Rhett Butler,
Ashley Wilkes, and Melanie Hamilton are some of the most difficult to portray, as they have been duly etched in fiction history. Yet the strong cast (Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland) not only met the match, they made the roles their own. One cannot picture anyone else in these parts, nor can they read the book without picturing those actors in the title roles. Rumors of Bette Davis and Gary Cooper to initially have those parts are interesting at first yet one cannot think of GWTW without Vivien Leigh‟s perfect portrayal of a complex woman or Clark Gable uttering some of the most iconic lines. They literally make well -known characters come alive in a way that only film can do. Vivien would go on to win Best Actress and the debate about how Clark Gable should have won Best Actor continues to this day. They were just that good. With all books and movies there are bound to be differences between the two. Books can go on forever; movies have to be
condensed for time. Where Margaret Mitchell gave Scarlett four children, Selznick gave her only two. Parts at the beautiful Tara plantation are shortened or removed altogether (like the marriage of Scarlett‟s sister Sue Ellen). Any bad language or sensuality in the novel had to be left out of the film, for there was a code by which movies had to follow. The film never appears to be over the top; it feels authentic and true to its time. You feel as if you have truly stepped into the Old South, complete with its horse drawn carriages, hoop skirts, and antebellum mansions. Dramatic license is used in some scenes yet in the three hour and fortyfour minute time frame the viewer does not mind. The general message and hope in the story comes across. This time, it is given a face and audible lines. Money was tight in the Great Depression era but all ages parted with their money willingly to step back in time, to relax and be encouraged at the same time. A powerful story can still accomplish the same thing today by reminding people they are not alone, even if it is initially in a writer‟s mind. If they are writing what they know, as all writers should, they are drawing from their own experiences. They are just not using their name. Margaret Mitchell was using Scarlett O‟Hara as a model of herself and future generations as well. ■
By Charity Bishop
ver since the first issue of Captain America came out showing the hero punching Hitler in the jaw, sci-fi and WWII have been linked. From Doctor Who saving a Blitz-torn London from Daleks to the exploits of Indiana Jones, many heroes have been face to face with history‟s most evil force. My two favorite encounters are those in Sanctuary and Doctor Who, but there are many, many more. Magneto, from the XMen franchise, was raised in a Polish concentration camp and later hunts those responsible, which brings him to Charles Xavier, a telepath who teaches him to expand and control his abilities. At first they are inseparable but their different beliefs pull them apart. Charles believes in humanity and its goodness while Erik has seen it at its worst and dislikes humans. Eric chooses a darker path than Charles and becomes no better than his enemies, yet he invokes sympathy since we understand his fear. Spock and Captain Kirk meet futuristic Nazis in the original Star Trek series. They try and pass for SS officers on a recon mission but are caught, imprisoned, and tortured. A resistance movement has formed to challenge the government 8
and the socialist leader is eventually assassinated. The team from Fringe encounter a Nazi scientist who appears unchanged from his photograph from 1943 and attempts to pull off a daring assassination. His research is turned against him and he perishes at last for his war crimes. The X-Files encounter
German spies on a cruise ship caught in the Bermuda Triangle. Mulder discovers the ship is in a time warp and becomes involved in a daring plot to protect a brilliant scientist from the Nazis on board. Then there‟s Sanctuary. Helen Magnus is 158 years old, fell in love with Jack the Ripper when he was called John Druitt, is acquainted with inventor Nikola Tesla, friends with Invisible Man, and knows John Watson, inspiration
for Sherlock Holmes. The Five experimented with pure vampire blood in the 1880‟s and each developed methods of long life. Helen is leader of the Sanctuary Network, which provides a safe haven for creatures with genetic abnormalities. During WWI, The Five are recruited by the British government to serve in the war effort; their unique talents continue to come in handy into the second war. Helen, Watson, and Nigel travel behind enemy lines
into enemy-occupied France to learn what the Nazis intend to do with a powerful abnormal. Their means of contact with the home front is a wireless machine invented by Tesla, who is in London helping coordinate an invasion with General Eisenhower. They also encounter John Druitt, who seems to be working
with the Nazis. Or is he? Meanwhile, Tesla reveals a spy in the Admiralty. The reason I like this episode so much is it is one of our few chances to see The Five in action, as friends (and enemies), in service to their nation, and is our only opportunity to see them best the Nazis. It stands apart from the rest of the series in that it is not told in flashbacks but as an individual adventure. It also permits us to meet an ancestor of another character, a brave soldier who perished in the war. Then there‟s the Doctor, a Time Lord who travels the universe through space and time in the TARDIS. He has encountered WWII numerous times (and will again when season six continues in the autumn) but one of the episodes in the 5th season takes place during the Blitz. It opens with a summons from Winston Churchill to London. When Amy and the Doctor arrive the cigarchomping leader is proud to show them the latest invention against the Nazis, a robotic force he calls “Ironsides.” They are actually the oldest enemy of the Time Lords, the Daleks, a race known for its desire to obliterate all life. The Doctor‟s wild accusations at first go
unheeded but finally he prompts them to a confession and discovers it has been part of their plan all along that he will identify them, so they can unlock a brand new kind of Dalek. As a diversion to permit their escape, they switch on the lights of the city in a blackout, leaving it vulnerable to the Blitz. Fortunately, there is more than one scientist capable of rigging spitfires for space flight and England‟s bravest help the Doctor to shut down the Dalek space craft‟s electrical beam. But they escape while the Doctor is saving the world from destruction… again. He does that a lot. Some find this episode a tad mundane but I am very fond of it. I think it is both a charming interpretation of Churchill and contains some interesting parallels. Never has it been more obvious that Daleks are a futuristic interpretation of Nazis: a “superior” race using advanced technology (Nazis had u-boats, enigma machines, and aircraft) to exterminate enemies. One reason they continue to strike fear into our hearts is because of their lack of humanity; they believed their enemies (all different from themselves) should perish and pursued that with total abandonment of all sense of compassion or the sanctity of life.
Placing the Doctor into the midst of WWII is risky because he has the power to change time. He could prevent it from happening. He could put an end to it. But he doesn‟t. He fights evil where he finds it as he permits history to unfold. One could argue for all his repeated claims of love for humans that it is cruel not to intervene when they need him most, but the Doctor is outside time. He sees the past, present, and future. He knows that although dark times may descend, they also reveal the best in humanity and unmask its true heroes. He could change history but doesn‟t because he knows the end of the story as well as the beginning; he lets temporary evil transpire for a greater good. The Doctor reminds me of another Lord of Time who can also see the end result. His love surpasses the Doctor‟s because as hard as he tries the Doctor cannot save us. He is a mere reflection of a Being much more powerful, far more dangerous, and with an even bigger love for us. Unlike the Doctor He is not the last of His kind but the first and only of His kind. Many people struggle with this war and its death toll. It was so awful we cannot bear to think about it. It is impossible for us to
understand why or how it was allowed to happen. Some use it to prove their belief that God does not exist, because He did not stop it. These are legit
questions. God behaves a lot like a Time Lord. He loves us but because of free will allows us to deal with the consequences of sin and our actions. The war was not stopped until good men took a stand, but His intervention is evident in the lives of those who served Him. Miracles are
apparent, from those who escaped to those who found Him in the midst of their suffering. God never
promised us a perfect life on this earth. He can see the bigger picture. Maybe the Doctor doesn‟t remind you of the same things it does me, but whenever I smile over his antics and feel grateful for his help, I am reminded of another Lord of Time. ■ 8
By Carissa Horton
ave you ever noticed in life how some men are brilliant and others are just….not? The literary world is populated with such intense minds as Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, and even a more elegant class of man such as Rochester or Knightley. These men encourage fluttering feminine hearts and begrudging respect from male peers. Even now smiles spread across numerous faces as their names are merely read in fond retrospect. Sadly, not every literary character is granted the significant admiration dealt to the keener minds of society. Some, in a word, are idiots. However, in defense of one Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, it‟s not really his fault he‟s an idiot. That unpleasant trait developed at birth and can hardly be held against him. Although it does beg the question of just what happened to him? Was he dropped on his head as an infant? Fed a tad more honey than was good for him? Denied the company of responsible adults during his early childhood development? It‟s quite impossible to determine the cause of his idiocy except to declare, loudly and fondly, that he is an idiot.
Luckily, Bertie is not one of those obnoxious idiots that prey willfully on unsuspecting persons and relieve them of 100 quid every so often with the intention of never repaying the debt. Why should he borrow from friends when Bertie himself is loaded? One might say leaving him a fortune was the kindest thing his parents could have done for him before departing this mortal coil. Heaven forbid it be doled out by the unbending will of his imposing Aunt Agatha. A more terrifying and solemn figure has never before graced the fictional page. If she were in control of his entailment Bertie might have found himself married the moment he left university to a nice, quiet, peaceful girl. Bertie awakes in a cold sweat from these types of nightmares. As it happens, though, Bertie controls his own destiny. His finances are his own, so instead of borrowing money, he occasionally loans it out to any and every desperate chap he knows from his club activities. However, what idiots most require in all the world is someone to keep them on the path of righteousness. Or at the very least someone who can prevent said person
from making a complete boob out of himself by becoming engaged to the wrong girl by accident. In Bertie‟s case, that someone is Jeeves. One bleak morning when Bertie is barely capable of prying his eyelids open after imbibing far more than was good for him the night before, the doorbell to his flat rings. He answers and who should be standing there but the world‟s perfect gentleman‟s personal gentleman. Jeeves is no ordinary valet. He is one of those keenest minds of England that the world hears tell of, the Sherlock Holmes who lurks in kitchens and serves tea while fighting a grimace as his master bangs out “47 Ginger-headed Sailors” on the piano. He is a man of infinite patience and impeccable taste. As a bonus, Jeeves occasionally gets licks in when Bertie proves temperamental and obstinate. There‟s a certain delight experienced by one and all when Bertie finds himself peddling 10 miles in the rain on a bicycle due to a gag of his own making. Children must learn from their mistakes, even after they‟ve graduated from university. If there were a Hogwarts to instruct valets in their
trade, Jeeves would have emerged as Prefect, at the least. Jeeves is the grain of sanity to balance Bertie‟s tendency for disaster and mischief. What every idiot truly needs is a genius by his side. So is Jeeves to Bertie Wooster. Oh certainly, there are rough patches here and there in their relationship, brought about by Bertie‟s wayward desire to wear outlandish headgear and try his hand at performing with the trumpet, yet Jeeves and Wooster are destined to go through life together. Not even a 42nd street skimmer, in Jeeves‟ mind the worst hat ever invented, could halt the master/servant relationship for long. One wonders just who is the master in the Wooster household? Jeeves gets his way in the end. Monogrammed hankies are burned, hats are given to charitable organizations, and white dinner jackets mysteriously vanish from cupboards. It is much like a dog owner cautiously ridding a prize Dachshund of ill-reputed habits. A Master/Servant relationship? I think not. Whenever any problem arises either great or small Bertie knows immediately what must be done: it is time to ask Jeeves. ♥ 10
By Ruth Anderson
onsidering my life-long love affair with early 20th century history, I knew appallingly little about the life of George VI, the centerpiece of the recent film The King‟s Speech. My awareness of him was limited to history books or the occasional appearance in a war-era drama, and none of these sources addressed his struggles with a speech impediment. Born after his charismatic elder brother Edward, dealing with a crippling stammer was bad enough without the pressure of being heir to the throne. But all that changed when Edward decided if he could not have the twice-divorced 12
Wallis Simpson, he wanted nothing to do with the throne, leaving Bertie and his stammer to be thrust into a most unwelcome spotlight. In the increasingly mediacentered world of the 1930s, a sovereign‟s image was no longer formed by images. In radio and film, his words can carry weight and rally people to his side or leave them cowering in fear. For a man with a stammer, the problem must have seemed overwhelming. Yet with help of Lionel Logue, a highly unconventional speech therapist, George VI found his voice, and it‟s that intimate, personal story, set against the onset of World
War II, that unfolds herein. Prior to seeing this, I never imagined watching a story where the main plot device of a speech impediment could be so gripping or get me as emotionally involved as it did, but when you have a sympathetic, engaging character, made all the more compelling because he was real, and a tour-de-force performance from a great actor pouring his heart and soul into the role, you can‟t help but be moved. Colin Firth is a revelation. I find myself exhausted from the emotional investment I felt when watching him. The painful effort with which Firth shows how hard it was
for Bertie to articulate his thoughts and feelings left me completely wrung out as a viewer. It would be easy to view this as “simply” a historic biopic, but it‟s so much more than that—it‟s about overcoming physical struggles, yes, but beyond that it‟s about overcoming fear—and who hasn‟t been attacked by that monster? The man that forces Bertie to face his fears and step into his destiny as George VI is Lionel Logue, his Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush). Logue was a brilliant, innovative maverick. He had no formal training. All his therapies and expertise were based on his hands-on
experience with shellshocked war veterans in Australia. He had to push through centuries-old social constraints in order to gain Bertie‟s trust and address the issues at the root of the Prince‟s stammer. Lionel and Bertie gradually formed a fast friendship that grew to transcend their social and class differences, but in order to get to that point they go through an unbelievable refining fire that tests each man‟s resolve to the near breaking point. Another critical player in this gradual transformation is Bertie‟s wife, Elizabeth. My awareness of “The Queen Mother” prior to this was limited to knowledge of a universally beloved member of the royal family, up to her death at the age of 101. I‟ve always had a notion that she must have been a force to be reckoned with to stand up to the London Blitz and serve as family matriarch through the turbulent years the royals have seen in my lifetime, but I never suspected the pivotal role she played in supporting her husband and seeking treatment options for his stutter. Helena Bonham Carter gives the woman due justice with her regal and gracious performance. I have far more respect for the reallife counterpart now. If their marriage was half as strong as this portrays it, I‟m blown away by the warmth and depth of their relationship. Bertie‟s parents are played by Claire Bloom and Michael Gambon. The parent/child dynamic is fascinating and heartbreaking to witness. Not only is there the traditional British “stiff upper lip” mentality to contend with, but there is a wrenching lack
of understanding or empathy for Bertie‟s speech struggles and how to cope with it, which fosters blistering tension in the royal father/ son relationship. This sad dynamic is the focus of one heartbreaking scene that marks the first time Bertie opens up to Lionel shortly after his father‟s death. He imparts details of physical abuse at the hands of a nanny who preferred Edward, as well as what would be referred to today as emotional abuse or neglect from his parents. The very people who could have helped Bertie the most instead made the situation worse due to a lack of understanding
“stuttering” film, though it will make you think about the difficulties of coping with that in a new and much more informed light. It‟s a story of how one copes with life as it changes in a flash and finds the courage to face one‟s worst fears. The thought that Edward, the “golden” child, would abdicate was not even a blip on anyone‟s radar during Bertie‟s childhood.
Certainly, he was second in line to the throne but he was viewed as very much the spare heir. When Edward chose a life with Wallis Simpson and the strict demands of the over the responsibility of position they were expected kingship, not only did Bertie to uphold. When you see have to radically change his Bertie as a man only a breath plans and view of his life, but away from the throne, who so did his wife. One of my only wanted his father‟s favorite scenes occurs shortly approval (only given on his before the coronation, when deathbed and even then not Bertie breaks down sobbing to him personally) I dare you about never wanting (or even not to weep. being worthy) to be king. The King‟s Speech defies Elizabeth reminds him that categorization. It‟s not a he had to propose marriage
to her three times before she‟d accept, because she wasn‟t sure she wanted life in the public eye… but she thought he “stammered so beautifully,” she couldn‟t say no. Not only is it a beautiful illustration of love and true commitment, but think about the ramifications of her “yes”—being a wartime queen was more than she bargained for in marrying the younger prince. Early in the story Bertie‟s daughters request a bedtime story. The herculean effort and bravery required to complete such a simple task broke my heart. But Bertie did it. And the love for his children that allowed him to tell that story is a foreshadowing of the love and extraordinary friendship that equips Bertie, the man who never wanted to be king, to be the leader and voice of a nation in its darkest hour. The titular speech, his first during the war, is a suspenseful one that succeeds brilliantly in giving viewers a feel for what it must have been like to live during that time, literally hanging on every word spilling from your radio. This film is a powerful portrait of the life-changing gift of friendship and a moving reminder of faith in the face of fear. The next time you think about how far God‟s brought you through whatever your valley may be, I challenge you to take an extra moment and thank Him for the people He placed in your life to help you. That is, perhaps, the greatest gift of The King‟s Speech. ■ 13
he murder mystery has a great tradition in Britain, both in print and on screen. You know the names of the detectives and the tropes of the genre: a large cast of suspects and a big reveal at the end. You even know the classic line, parodied countless times over the years, that “Maybe the butler did it.” But in 2001, a fresh revision of this type of story entertained new audiences. Gosford Park showcases the idea of performance not only through its extensive and talented cast but also in its themes and dialogue of the superb script. The first thing that 14
By Rachel Sexton should be mentioned about it is the ways it differs from earlier murder mysteries. Writer Julian Fellowes (an actor in period productions like the Aristocrats series) makes sure he gets all the expected details down and then grafts on the added layer of the class-division drama. There are many examples of this in British television as well, such as the classic Upstairs, Downstairs and the recent Downton Abbey (which Fellowes also wrote). The contrast between the lives of the gentry living above stairs with their wealth and entitlement and the servants below stairs with
their own power struggles and crises, is a delicious one. Moreover, the drama provided by it meshes excellently with the tone of a mystery. And what a mystery it is! In November of 1932, puttering motorcars deposit various guests (along with their servants) at the countryside home of Sir William McCordle, the estate from whence the film derives its title. He and his wife Sylvia lead a staid, polite conversation in one of their many parlors while in the servant‟s quarters all is hustle and bustle. Performance as a theme appears at this very
early stage when head housekeeper Mrs. Wilson informs each servant that they will be referred to by their employer‟s name while staying in the house. It is the first reference to someone being other than what they appear to be. The guests are there for the men to go hunting, but it is a social weekend with dinner and cards and conversation in the evening. They don‟t know that Sir William will be both poisoned and stabbed before the next night is out. Yep… both poisoned and stabbed. Which means we‟re looking for two different culprits. Clearly,
Sir William had an easy time making enemies, and leading up to his murder the audience learns quite a bit about his secrets. But even more clever about the script is the way it creates subplots that might have a bearing on the murder with only a small amount of dialogue. Most clever of all, however, is the fact that all the clues to the true killer and motive are there for the astute viewer. (A second watching of this film is almost a necessity due to this.) I won‟t spoil anything but the resolution here is believable and has real emotional weight. Even before Mrs. Wilson‟s instruction to the staff, acting as an actual profession has an influence on the script as we learn that one of the guests is the real-life famous actor of the time, Ivor Norvello. The actor is a cousin of William‟s in the script and he has brought with him another guest, a producer named Morris Wiseman. Through him, the audience gets some of the best oneliners and an even more conspicuous example of the performance theme. Wiseman brings with him his own valet, an attractive, pillow-lipped young man named Henry Denton. When the endearing young Scottish maid, Mary, for the classic snobbish grande dame Lady Trentham says Denton‟s Scottish accent is off, it‟s the first clue he is concealing something.
Later, the truth comes out. When the news makes the servants quarters and someone asks if he‟s the murderer, another valet, Robert Parks, responds, “No, worse. He‟s an actor.” Most of the examination
by noting that, “It must be disappointing when something just flops like that.” Ivor is very cleareyed about his place. When Wiseman inquires how he stands these people, Norvello tells him, “You forget: I make my living by impersonating them.” In fact, you could almost assert that he sings for his supper. Literally. One of the joys of the film is the pleasant surprise of Jeremy
of performance in the script is not quite so overt. Norvello‟s career is briefly touched on in dialogue and played for laughs when Lady Trentham mentions his latest film, The Lodger,
Northam‟s singing voice as he jingles along on the piano to ditties like “That Lovely Land of Might Have Been. The director crafts cinematic drama at its finest when showing scenes
of Ivor singing a crescendo as the murder is committed and discovered elsewhere in the huge house. Northam is, of course, only one of the many staggeringly gifted English actors in this cast. Whether a character is part of the gentry or the staff, the actor who plays them could be the star of their own period drama. The fact that so much of Britain‟s talent is gathered together creates an undeniable thrill. It is impossible to single out one or two, but I am partial to the no nonsense warmth of head maid Elsie, played by Emily Watson, and the mesmerizing glance of Owen Wilson as Robert Parks. Harry Potter fans will also appreciate how different Smith‟s role here is from the stern Professor McGonagall, and Derek Jacobi is short on screen time but still makes his presence felt. Performance gets no better demonstration than from this cast. The excellent script of Gosford Park, with its blending of a mystery with the drama of social class, bases its very structure on servants performing a role for their employers. Mrs. Wilson memorably comments on this when she says near the end, “I‟m the perfect servant, I have no life.” This is the most ingrained way in which performance appears as a theme in Gosford Park. Oh, and that famous “butler” line? Yeah, its here, but with a wink. ■
By Caitlin Horton
“Do you actually think the fact that you know how to program a computer makes you more of a human being than me? That I'm out of touch because I don‟t know what you know? I know what freedom is. I know what it feels like to fight for it and I know what it costs to have it. You know compromise.” —Steve Rogers to Tony Stark, Civil War: The Confession
nce upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of doing magnificent things with her life. All she wanted was to wear the Air Force blue and serve her country with nobility. Sometimes, though, life has a way of taking dreams and breaking them apart. The little girl found out she had asthma and the door to the world of the military slammed shut. Fast forward several years and you will find this little girl a grown woman now. She‟s been to college, has a job, and sometimes studies WWII in her spare time. Even so, she remembers those distant childhood dreams. She knew she wasn‟t the only person to be told “No, you can't” by the military, but her own personal loss still hurt. Then one day, abruptly and unexpectedly, she discovered Captain America, a “superhero.” Why was he any different
from so many others? She struggled to put into words what normally was only the deepest of feelings. Maybe it was because he was rejected from enlistment due to asthma, amongst other things. Perhaps it was because all he dreamed about was serving his country. It was like déjà vu. So she went to see the film, after months of waiting. And there in the theater, she handed over her burden of feeling inadequate to one of the USA‟s greatest symbols: Captain America. Steve Rogers started out his journey as a scrawny ninety pound asthmatic, determined to join the military and continually rejected. All it took was one person with the right connections to see the integrity inside of Rogers and give him the passing stamp. This person, Dr. Abraham Erskine, was in charge of creating an elite force of “super soldiers”
for the army. Out of all the men in the small test unit Rogers struggled the most with military exercises but never allowed it to dampen his military spirit. His intelligence and politeness spoke to Dr. Erskine, who believed Rogers was the best candidate. Someone who begins his journey as a good man is more likely to finish the race as a good man. The army didn‟t need another bully. Although the military was displeased with the doctor‟s choice, Rogers was put into a machine after receiving special injections in his major muscle groups. And surprisingly, the experiment worked. And so began the life of Captain America, the emblem of freedom and justice to adults and children during the 1940‟s. Able to run faster and jump higher than any athletic normal human, Steve Rogers defied life as he
wielded his star-spangled shield against the evil of the world. Unlike other superheroes from that time, Captain America represented a way of life, he told people not to be limited to what people expected but to reach for even greater things, higher goals. He told them to stand up and say “I can do this, regardless of my history, size, or ailment.” He was a light shining across America. The credits roll. The lights turn on in the theater. The once-little girl brushes away a tear from her eye. Captain America may fight evil on the global level but he fights smaller, far more personal battles for the everyday man and woman. She knows and feels that he has given some amount of release and freedom for those who are soldiers in their hearts but not in their bodies. May God Bless Captain America. ♦
ost of us know and love the scene in Downton Abbey when Sybil shocks her family by shamelessly donning new pantaloons in an era when women wore only skirts. Sybil was ahead of her time since in the next decade her peers wore not just pants but short skirts and even shorts! During the wars women had to work the men‟s jobs, therefore wearing trousers was not uncommon, but none of the new trends took away from the glamour of fashion in general. There is something about those iconic, elegant images that intrigues us. For every decade an ideal woman comes to mind with all the perfect articles that go with the time period, but in my opinion the women of 1930‟s were the most glamorous. It might be the shine, the bold styles, the fur coat, or the perfect hair. She simply stands out. One of our lady‟s musthave essentials is a high crowned or wide Florentine hat, giving her a polished and elegant touch. She should enjoy her hats, since in a few years she will be forced to give them up for more practical garments. She may even don overalls to work in a factory! Her favorite accessory is a stunning fur coat. Our lady‟s motto is not to be 18
By Eliza Gabe
shy or conservative. The wrap around her neck, as uncomfortable, itchy and unnecessary as it looks, makes men say, “Wow!” Underneath her dress she wears underwear and a bra of quality laced cotton. She is comfortable now that (as it is after 1935) she has a standard cup size to go by. In
later years this too will seem a luxury, since in the 40‟s she will have to settle for less comfortable material or maybe make her own bra from a pattern in a magazine. They will need to conserve material so she will sacrifice comfort. Well, we assume she will
this since we‟re assuming she‟s a nice lady. Our lady has a trousseau and we know, without any doubt in our mind, that our lady is fashionable. So it consists of a few dresses, a coat, a veil and someday a wedding dress made of satin. Isn‟t there something smooth and nice about the
Images used: Keira Knightley in Atonement, Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner and Cate Blanchett as Kathryn Hepburn in The Aviator.
word satin? She thinks so. Following the trend of the most stylish of ladies, our woman acquires a taste for sunbathing. It may be hot and time consuming but she knows that it‟s essential to get a tan on her back. She puts on a bathing suit, complete with stripes on the shorts, a sleeveless shirt and big sun hat and lays down on her face. It may take all summer but her back is looking fine. She‟s going to find the
perfect evening gown now. Backless, of course. She‟ll arrive at the dinner party in that furry, itchy coat and take it off and suddenly become the definition of glamour. So in the evening she goes out after taking a good long time doing her hair and making up her face just right. Outside, the city lights gleam and shine just like New York City, or so she imagines. Car horns honk. Ladies in hats and coats are traveling to the
theater, tall men in dark coats walking them to the doors. Someday, our lady will have an escort. While searching for a dress the word France pops up over and over. Well, she‟d better buy something from France, then. She sees an intriguing dress with frills all along the skirt. It‟s by Chanel, as are many on the rack. She sees a lot of silk and a few gowns so thin her mother would
positively scream at the lewd sight of them. She‟ll stick to something a little more conservative, unlike her coat. There are several gorgeous golden dresses but she knows very well that gold will clash with the bright colors of the house where the dinner party is taking place. She hopes that she‟ll find a.. ahh! Why, she found it! It‟s long, silky, bright and just what she wants. Our lady is complete. ■ 19
By Katharine Taylor
o artist I can think of more perfectly captures the spirit of the American 30‟s & 40‟s than Norman Rockwell. As an acute observer of detail, he painted things inspired by life around him, from pretty girls wearing the fashions of the time to small town scenes like the doctor‟s office or a political meeting. He was a stickler for accuracy and included beautifully rendered details, props in his stories. In every painting he set the scene like a playwright and though the viewer may not notice every detail at first glance, each helps reveal the mood of the art and reward second and third looks with the joy of discovery. Many of his works are so iconic and recognizable as part of the background of the era that we tend to take them for granted. For many years Rockwell‟s art was sneered at by art critics as overly idealized. Admired artists of the time were expressionists like Jackson Pollock, so he seemed to be swimming against prevailing currents in the art world. While artists like Pollock lived troubled lives of excess and addiction, Rockwell settled in a small town with his family and earned a living by the often stressful and demanding job of illustrating magazine covers. Later, as his work became more popular with the public, he painted more large independent works, but he was still producing covers to the last years of his career. He never intended to be a rebel, since even he admired abstract art. Though he was not ashamed to be known as an illustrator, he argued that it should be considered an art in its own right. He said, “No
man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He‟s got to put all of his talent, all of his feeling into them. If illustration is not considered art, that is something that we have brought upon ourselves by not considering ourselves artists. I believe that we should say, „I am not just an illustrator, I am an artist‟.” His working methods were famously perfectionist and precise. He trained at several well-known and respected art schools in New York and his drawing skills
people admire about him. Take one of my favorite of his works as an example, “Girl at the Mirror.” It has a young girl with a fashion magazine open in her lap, wistfully studying herself in the mirror. It‟s instantly clear from her expression, the position of her hands, and the props on the floor that she has just reached that moment of first wondering if she is beautiful. How did Rockwell know how to pose her hands just so, gently, hesitantly cupping her face? How did
were outstanding. He either worked from life with his models costumed exactly as they would appear or took extensive reference photos of every model and prop. His preparatory drawings in charcoal were detailed and beautifully finished. His capacity for observation enhanced his ability to tell the stories that make his art so memorable. The way he tells a story in a single glance is unparalleled in any other artist and is the talent most
he know the feeling every woman can identify with and how to portray it with such subtlety and power? Or consider “Rosie the Riveter,” an icon of WWII. It‟s possible to dismiss her as pure propaganda. There were many earlier representations of mythical “Rosie” before Rockwell painted his version, but if you dismiss this work you‟d miss the little details that raise it above political advertising. Rosie‟s pose is an homage to Michelangelo‟s
painting of Isaiah on the Sistine Chapel, so Rockwell has given Rosie the status of a great heroic figure, but he added a lunch sandwich in one hand and the humor of using “Mein Kampf” as her footrest to ground her solidly in reality. You couldn‟t more clearly say “everyday people can be great heroes by working faithfully at their calling,” but this result is far more powerful than words. Rockwell was not shy about using his art to give a message. In the 60s he did works like “The Problem We All Live With” which depicts the experience of segregation from the point of view of a young black girl going to school. Her vulnerability is emphasized by the scale of the work and the cropping out of the adults‟ heads. The famous “Four Freedoms” series was propaganda of a sort: they were used to sell war bonds. Although they have been panned as obvious, many people still find the themes of freedom depicted in them stirring. It‟s this kind of artistic imagination, detailed observation, and just plain great drawing and painting skill that make Norman Rockwell, as he himself said, “not just an illustrator but an artist.” Naturally, his work appeals to a nostalgic view of an idealized America with small towns and friendly people. And sure, it‟s a fun look back into a vanished era, but his depth of vision saves his work from being too cutesy. No matter how old-fashioned the settings may seem, his paintings always manage to capture an emotion, an memory, that is universal and thus eternal. ■ 21
By Rissi C.
tories of wartime are so often presented painfully today. Even in bygone years one couldn‟t go to the cinema without seeing film reels requesting help for troops overseas. Whether such stories be through current events or film, they range from heroic gestures that at times result in the loss of one life to save another to bonds of brotherhood within platoons to romantic epics in which lovers are torn apart. And through each of these topics, almost everyone can find something inspiring and with gratitude can humbly thank those past and present who served in the military. Unfortunately most of the films (especially those of recent years) are jaded in their depiction of war. Their goal is to convince us to hate the principles of conflict. Several entertainment outlets during times of war have explored romance in a time when luxuries were rare and every fleeting moment was precious… but another thing 22
some adaptations have done is paint a false picture of just what war is really like. With exception to certain iconic battles, it is… boring. Most writers have to create a false image of warfare, otherwise the population wouldn‟t buy the latest novel or put a film on top at the box office. Love stories have been fodder for many big-scale productions and while sometimes I do not appreciate how each fable ends what can be enjoyed is a well-constructed saga. Even during the confusion or later jubilation of wartime, there were many romantic rumors or affairs—remember that iconic kiss? Probably one of my first introductions to a war onscreen was Hallmark Hall of Fame‟s In Love and War (not to be confused with the Sandra Bullock film). It tells the tender and factual story of a British soldier captured by Germans and sheltered by an Italian woman. The story unfolds on soil that isn‟t protected from soldiers
raiding homes or troops of men camping nearby. Weeks pass and with time, Wanda teaches Eric more about her life so he is able to better blend into the foreign land… but a decision may separate the pair forever. It isn‟t hard to distinguish the obtrusive differences between now and past eras but it‟s been proven that when time comes to tell stories of forbidden love, that has stood the test of time. In contrast, look at the modern wartime romance by Nicholas Sparks, Dear John. John meets the vibrant, pretty college student Savannah and is smitten. They are together every waking moment during his brief leave but all it takes is two weeks for something akin to love to develop. After John‟s return, the two keep in contact through letters… but what neither of them foresee is the test their relationship will expose with a letter that changes everything. Both of these stories have a similar something going for them; they are fostered by
time, such a fleeting thing in life. I do not condone loves forged in such a short time, or at least, those in real life, but I do understand the need to further a bond quickly on screen, and in such angsty circumstances Most of the results in both stories are beautiful and each contain moments of enchantment. In the story of Eric and Wanda, both love one another unconditionally and fate rewards them. John and Savannah‟s story isn‟t so charming in the idea that they love without condition. Savannah is a conservative student by conviction but she allows separation from John to rule her emotions and take them to negative places. Her eventual betrayal hurts both of them in different ways, but it is her reasoning of that betrayal that is preposterous. Since the story covers the 9/11 tragedy, this is one of those movies that tries to besmirch war for everything from Savannah‟s weak selfcontrol to John being coerced
into re-upping the stakes; war therefore quickly becomes the easiest target on which to lay blame. Almost as if it were on auto-pilot, war has been called out as reason for tearing lives apart and given that, upsetting the delicate balance that we “real” human beings live in a world rocked by so many sin-driven scandals. Constants in life, whether they be persons or effects or headline news, drive people into upheaval (emotional habits), the results of which allow us safe culpability towards anything, even where it does not necessarily belong. Further film examples enforcing such ethics come in the adaptation of a best-selling novel, Atonement. It chronicles the lives of a wealthy family whose young daughter accuses the son of a servant of a crime he did not commit, driving a wedge between the two daughters. Time changes their lives and eventually, the younger of the two, Briony, later recounts the story in a novel as an adult. Depressing as it is on its own, it too likes to play the guilt card on war as reason behind the extended misery forced on its characters. While some of their lives are cut short by circumstances beyond their control, in getting there, they still lived a terrible existence. Then there is The Lost Valentine in which a great example of ever-lasting love is presented in some of its most beautiful forms. It is a multi-generational story
about two different couples, one taking place at the start of America‟s entrance into WWII. A newlywed sends her husband off to fight for his country, never to see him again. Cynics may not like it because it presents an
something or someone has become common in film rather than the characters taking responsibility for their choices. Savannah‟s excuses for leaving John are petty; physical separation—letters couldn‟t sustain her. It is we
actions is a foreign concept. Should we blame something or own up to our mistakes? Eric and Wanda face much conflict and the war does not take the brunt of blame for the consequences of their actions; instead, the experience makes the couple more confident and grow closer together. John is selfless in that he loves Savannah unconditionally, but while she was his soul mate, in the end she did not deserve him. Savannah let doubt creep in and convince her that obligation over love was the better course. The circumstances were not the cause of her decisions but her fear and co-dependency. She could not remain strong while apart from the man she loved, so she abandoned him, and the blame is in his absence rather than her foolishness. Hollywood‟s ideals of war haven‟t been kind unrealistic view to a necessary evil to of the age-old preserve human life. For adage “one true generations wars have love,” meaning been fought in different you can never ways for many reasons. find love again We have grown weary once it is gone. but comfortable in Common threads being products in our connecting these circumstances—often stories are its something much bigger characters going than us. Is it easier to through warfare blame a convenience in different ways. or own up to choices? Though unspoken To answer that question it felt like something that who create the messes our almost is redundant, but the enforced certain choices, but lives fall into. In dismissing harder things in life are to many it was the enemy. the blame, we let society‟s usually the most rewarding. While it is all right to get trap ensnare us. What is it It is such a cliché to vent caught up in the romance of about them that makes their anger at something that is the moment, culture wants us way right and ours outdated? controlled by our individual to view life through roseThe answer is simple; choices. Given the crossroads colored glasses. But much nothing. As a nation, in life, won‟t that life be so like Savannah‟s love for thinking for ourselves and much more beautiful when John, it isn‟t given without more accurately, taking looked at with a clear condition. Laying blame to responsibility for our own conscience? ■ 23
By Lydia Watson
ecember 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, a day that changed America, the day America entered the war it was trying so hard to stay out of... and a year that defined America‟s biggest superheroes. In 1932, two Jewish men living in Ohio created one of the most iconic figures of American comic books and pop culture, Superman, an invincible superhero from a distant planet who could leap tall buildings with a single bound and took his power from the red sun. When he was first introduced in the 1938 Action comic number one, it wasn‟t long before America was swept with Superman fever. It was perfect timing; with the rise of Nazism, co-creator Jerry Siegel felt that the world needed a crusader, even if it was just a fictional one. And apparently so did the rest of America. With the creation and popularity of Superman, DC comics soon introduced characters like Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and many more easily recognizable names and figures as well as many we don‟t remember today. America was hungry for a new type of entertainment and for characters that stood for truth, justice and the American way. During 1939 and 40 there was a thirst for Superman stories, comics, and products like there had never been seen before and almost has never been seen
since. It was clear that there was a thirst for more superheroes. It wasn‟t long before the rest of the heroes we know so well were created. At first, they fought things like bigotry, petty criminals, gangsters and brought on their own kind of vigilante justice. Superman even fought the KKK in one comic book! However, overseas there was a growing threat that couldn‟t be ignored, Nazi Germany. As this threat grew more and more serious, it couldn‟t be ignored by the writers and artist of Action Comics. When America entered World War II, so did its superheroes. But you can‟t have Superman, a fictional character, win the war. For such a thing to happen would disrespect the real men fighting the war and of course for young children reading and watching the stories of such fictional heroes, make them question what was really happening overseas. Instead, Superman took on the job of supporting the war effort. He was on posters asking people to buy war bonds and recycle, even if that meant having to recycle comic books. Batman and Robin delivered guns to men on the front lines, Wonder Woman used the heads of iconic people like Hitler as bowling pins. Comic books were also used to help teach many of those entering the military how to read. During a time when literacy rates were not as high, the military
had to find away to encourage reading among soldiers, and comics was a great way to do so. Over 30% of printed materials sent overseas during the war were comic books. Even though Superman could not directly fight the war, comic books and radio plays were still being written and somehow had to deal with what was going on in the real world without it directly affecting the fictional one. Clark Kent was rejected from the draft because of poor eyesight, accidentally using his X-Ray vision to read the eye chart. Though many comic covers saw support from Superman for the War, many of the stories inside the comics stayed away from direct conflicts with German dictators, choosing to remain with Superman fighting criminals at home and attempting to defeat his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor. Though many probably imagined what would have happened if Superman were real and it was even postulated how Superman might have ended the war, in the end it was not something that could really happen. Stories that had to be written for so many different medias for Superman and other comics had to focus on more than just what was happening overseas. Stories arcs can be finished in an episode or a month, WWII lasted for years. Thus Superman and others had to stay in the background, reminding people to keep supporting
the boys overseas and keeping those serving entertained. There were stories now and then that those reading could tie to the war as superheroes fought evil dictators, spies, and on occasion Superman would run into Nazis outside Europe, but overall comics were used as an escape from war rather than a reminder. It was a time like America has not seen since, a time that changed a nation, it‟s people, and helped propel a new genre of storytelling and heroes who stood up for what they believed in and encouraged a nation to do so as well. Created by immigrants who found themselves fighting for the country they were so proud to live in, these stories were each in their own way touched by the lives and the commitment of the people who created them. Over the years they have changed as America has changed but they still retain many of the core values instilled in them by their original creators; themes brought on by a nation on the brink of war and characters filled out by the lives of those who wrote them. Superman may not have won the war but he helped define and was defined by a generation and continues to be a beacon of hope today. For more information, I recommend you visit the supermanhomepage.com and see the documentary Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics. ■ 25
By Meghan M. Gorecki 26
otion pictures have captivated the American public from the invention of the movie camera; was it the dashing hero or the pretty girl that attracted young and old alike to the movie theater? Dramatic stories often relatable to at least one person in the audience? The sugarcoated plots that played out in-between elaborate song and dance numbers? Motion pictures take the moviegoer out of a world filled with stress and strife to another place where a guy always gets a girl, troubles melt away, the villain is thwarted, and even bittersweet movies always end on a hopeful note. The directors, cinematographers, producers, composers, lyricists, scriptwriters, actors and actresses from the golden age of film truly had a gift for making great movies of all genres. Many films heralded as “classics” today were created during America‟s golden age. The major studio moguls and behindthe-scenes employees fit many films to the troubles of the public, including the Great Depression and World War Two. The Great Depression burdened the American public with worries, stress and trouble. When they wanted a respite or a treat, they often headed to the nearest movie-house. In tune with the studios of the era, the movie houses across America gave out weekly specials to
entertain and assist the needy public. Many also gave out cans of food and dishes included in the price of a movie. The box office returns for much of 1930‟s films, in spite of a dark economic climate, proved their brilliance and artistry had captivated the public. RKO had Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodger‟s happy go-lucky comedic musicals to divert America‟s attention from their troubles, and
all ten of their films, the final film made in 1949 by MGM, were hits at the box office. The songs were snappy, the acting fresh and young, and the plots were predictably corny but nonetheless enjoyable. These musicals were fun diversions for a depression-weary public, taking them into a world where happy endings are expected, all to the tune of words and music that have endured through the years.
“Musicals were fantasy trips for the audience of that day. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy sings a song and gets girl. The plots were that simple. The musicals of the 1930‟s, 1940‟s and even the 1950‟s may not tell you where our heads were at, but it certainly told you were our hearts were at.” —Frank Sinatra (That‟s Entertainment, 1974) The most remembered and acclaimed musical of 27
the 1930‟s is The Wizard of Oz. It is based on the hugely popular Victorian children‟s series by Frank L. Baum, The Adventures in Oz. The producer was Mervyn Leroy, who had been under contract at MGM for some time. He would soon become famous as a producer and director with films such as Random Harvest and Waterloo Bridge. Some time passed before the producers and director decided who to cast in the role of Dorothy Gale, especially after a rival studio (Fox) wouldn‟t lend out the biggest child star of the 1930‟s, Shirley 28
Temple. A girl formerly known as Frances Gumm, now known at MGM as Judy Garland, was on hand and snatched up for the role. Her small-town grace and plain-Jane beauty fit the bill of the Kansas farm girl Dorothy to a „T.‟ A new and rarely employed technology called Technicolor had been used lately in the fashion show sequence of The Women, and in the entirety of Gone with the Wind, and was to be used in the majority of The Wizard of Oz. After a few minutes in sepia-dreary Kansas, the brilliant hues of Technicolor awed and
charmed the audience when Dorothy stepped into the land of Oz. It carried the moviegoer into a sparkling world far away from the hardships of everyday America in the Great Depression. The Wizard of Oz epitomized the MGM look, set a high standard for musicals, and solidly endeared itself in the heart of the public for years to come. While MGM had musicals as their enduring specialty Warner Brothers had one dynamite actress, petite in stature but a huge, multi-faceted personality that shone through in every film she
starred in—all 120 of them! Her name was Ruth Elizabeth Davis but she was commonly known as Bette. Posthumously nicknamed “The First Lady of Film,” Bette was and is today heralded for her performances in a brilliant array of films: crime melodramas, period pieces, and the occasional comedy. Her best known roles are in romantic dramas. She often played the “bad girl” and only rarely did she portray a likable character. It was her dynamic talent and fierce determination that endeared her to her fans. She joined the studio in
1932 and quickly rose to stardom playing difficult roles only a truly great actress could tackle. In 1937, she attempted to contest her contract and leave Warner Brothers but lost the case. Ironically, this began a long line of her most successful films. She had a forceful and intense style present in all her films and roles that cemented her place in America‟s heart as a leading lady. Bette Davis has a long list of impressive accomplishments in addition to her great films; these include being the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; she won the Academy Award for best actress…twice! Bette was the first to accrue ten Academy Award nominations and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. But one of her biggest contributions to society was her role as the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen, the most renowned canteen in World War Two America. December 7th, 1941 is a day that lives in infamy in our hearts and marks the commencement of America‟s involvement in WWII. Hollywood joined the war effort with zeal, not with entirely selfless motives, but they certainly
contributed to boosting morale. The war earned millions for the studios in 1942! Many stars enlisted in a branch of the military or the Red Cross, to the worried grumbles of their employers. June Allyson was a spokesperson for the Red Cross while
lonely servicemen, most of them days away from being shipped out. The “canteen movies” were popular escapes for those on both the home-front and battlefront. The Hollywood Canteen, run by Bette Davis and John Garfield, was turned into
Jimmy Stewart and Lew Ayres enlisted in the Air Force, with Clark Gable and Robert Taylor serving in the Navy and Army. Other stars performed in canteens in Hollywood while many local women volunteered their time and energy to entertain and extend hospitality to
the most sensational variety-show film for those overseas who could not make it to Hollywood. It was a fictional story but filmed in and around the Hollywood Canteen. Stars from many studios stood in as cameos, popular songs of the day were performed by singers and
bands, while appearances and narratives by Bette Davis and John Garfield were intertwined as well. The plot was simple and a bit corny; it involved a regular G.I. Joe falling in love with a glamour girl before he was shipped out, making her promise to wait for him. This she did after a breathless goodbye kiss! The films of the “golden” era were grand vehicles for audiences to forget their troubles, have fun and relax in spite of the tense times. Studios utilized the struggles of wartime on the home front by putting their best foot forward in every film they made, in every genre. The musicals were tinted with whimsical and otherworldly qualities that captured viewers from the second the opening song played, while war dramas struck a patriotic note with the families watching at home, and romantic dramas drew tears and inspired hope in the hearts of women all over America who were waiting for their husbands or sweethearts to come home. Films then and now have always truly been the public‟s great escape… and I‟m sure they will continue to be for generations to come. ■ 29
By Shannon H.
uentin Tarantino‟s Inglourious Basterds, takes the history of World War II and stands it on its head. In it, a group of Jewish-American soldiers led by Lt. Aldo Raine are “in the business of killing Nazis.” They scalp, beat, and kill any German soldiers with the misfortune of being captured by them (they also carve swastikas into their foreheads). Also, a Jewish woman and her lover plan to 30
kill the Nazi high command in their movie theater while showing Nation‟s Pride, a German propaganda film. Going in, you should know this film is historically inaccurate on purpose, as this is part of the director‟s style of filmmaking. There wasn‟t a band of Jewish commandos that scalped German soldiers and there certainly wasn‟t a mass burning of Nazi officers in a French movie theater. In
effect, it works both as an alternate universe scenario and as an act of modern revenge on former evils. One of the scenes has Lt. Raine interrogating a Nazi soldier on the whereabouts of German troop locations. When the soldier refuses to divulge information, Lt. Raine calls upon one of his men to kill the defiant enemy combatant. Because of this incident and how he is killed, German soldiers
thereafter refer to the man responsible as “the bear Jew” and Adolf Hitler is none too happy about this ragtag group of Jewish Americans giving his soldiers a taste of “justice.” While thankfully none of this happened in real life, with some good military intelligence it could have happened, especially during the last few years of the war when it was discovered there were death camps scattered
around Europe dedicated to eliminating Jews and other “undesirables.” In response, a Jewish-American army officer could have used this information to create his own troop of Jewish soldiers to avenge the deaths of their kinsmen by going on missions with the intent of killing Nazis, presuming the American government had
rhetoric. Plus, it would be seen as controversial five or six decades after the war just like the bombing of Dresden. Besides, the German army wasn‟t attached to the Nazis; rather, it was used by Hitler as a sort of war puppet, if you will. The idea of JewishAmerican soldiers could work in theory with the right intelligence but in practice it
Nazi in attendance, including Hitler, by barring the doors after everyone is in the theater and setting the whole thing on fire. This also might have worked if Shoshanna and Marcel had the right intelligence from reliable sources. They could‟ve used that information to lure the Nazis into a fiery death trap. However, this plan sounds
death camps. Inglourious Basterds does have some history behind it in that it does mention that Germany and the U.S. were parts of the Axis and Allied powers, respectively. But make things interesting, Quentin Tarantino decided to change history and make a film about what could have happened during the war.
no objections to such brutal and barbaric tactics. In theory, it does make a little sense but in practice there are several things that could go wrong. To create an all Jewish unit could be seen as religiously exclusionist and to use it as a weapon of war would give Nazi Germany even more fuel to add to their anti-Semitic
would be a disaster. The second half of the plot involves a FrenchJewish woman named Shoshanna whose entire family was killed by Nazis, led by a cruel Nazi officer Col. Hans Landa. When the movie theater she owns is selected to screen Nation‟s Pride, she and her co-worker Marcel decide to kill every
outrageous in theory and in practice unless the theater was located in Vichy France (an area of France that was a “puppet” of the Axis powers). The propaganda film would most likely be shown in German movie theaters and if Shoshanna and Marcel were discovered, they would‟ve been captured and either killed or sent to
Could there have been a group of Jewish-American soldiers hell-bent on killing German soldiers? Could there have been an event that would cause the death of the entire Nazi high command? Perhaps, but both events would never happen in practice, even though one of them sounds practical in theory. ■ 31
By L. Margaret
ow, I love my life. I am blessed to spend my days with wonderful people who graciously put up with me. I have nothing to complain about… except for a lack of excitement. I long for something to happen, a distant relative to die and leave me a fortune, a white knight to save me from a happy yet monotonous life. I know these longings are silly and I shouldn‟t mess with too much of a good thing, but what if instead of being a nanny to a sweet two year old whose parents are best friends with mine, I was taking care of brats with a drunk for a mother? A drunk who fired me for trying my best to reform her horrible children? And what if I had no family or friends? What if I lived every day for twenty years wondering what would have happened if my love hadn‟t died tragically? What 32
if my only solace was an occasion film portraying the glamorous life of people in a different world than mine, a life I could never have? And to top it all off, I had to wear the world‟s ugliest brown dress. Every. Single. Day. If I was Miss Guinevere Pettigrew I‟d be more than a little bit desperate. As she says, “… that‟s what it‟s come to, a little desperation and life can make out of us whatever it chooses.” I might be desperate enough to relax my strict moral code a tiny bit and seize what I thought was a new job opportunity. Then, when it wasn‟t quite what I expected, I‟d be more than a little shocked and disapproving, but pleasantly surprised to find myself in the world I‟d only seen on the Silver Screen. And I‟d be thrilled to discover myself having the most fun I‟d had in years, so I‟d go along for
the ride and enjoy myself, especially the part where Lee Pace plays the piano! Delysia Lafosse is an aspiring actress looking for a social secretary. By accident Miss Pettigrew, out of work governess, shows up for the interview and before you can say “Shirley Temple” she is whisked into Delysia‟s crazy and glamorous world for one exhilarating day. At every turn there‟s a party, cocktail or yet “… another man?” It makes for a delightful two hour escape into a dizzying world long gone. The film is about two women who despite their differences in station are very much alike. Miss Lafosse‟s and Miss Pettigrew‟s lives are both completely void of true friendships, both afraid of making the wrong move and ending up on the street. They are desperate. Together they find the courage to
make the right choices and make new lives. When the end comes, it‟s endearing, heartwarming, and lovely! The first time I ever saw this film one of my dearest friends and I got together for costume drama therapy. We gushed over the gorgeous costumes, giggled over the silly storyline, gleefully quoted the witty dialogue to each other (Such as “You know who you are with an honest pair of socks.” “You certainly do!”) and (maybe) swooned just a bit over the handsome leading man. When the last note of the springy energized big band soundtrack faded away we turned to each other and I said “That was so adorable, I loved it!” And my friend said “Me too! It‟s a pity we can‟t recommend it to anyone...” She was sadly spot on. The characters in this film have a complete and utter
lack of anything to do with morals; they swear, cheat, lie, abuse each other, sleep around, and only concerned with themselves. Delysia finds nothing wrong with her promiscuous lifestyle and neither does anyone else other than Miss Pettigrew, who in her innocence does not understand much of her behavior and when she does kindly does not judge but gently tries to guide her to a better way. Delysia embodies the spirit of the fast class of the 20‟s and 30‟s when morality became passé and young people did as they liked, never thinking of the consequences. She tells lies like they‟re going out of style, and dizzily flits from one man to another “playing at love.” I spend most of the movie wondering what is going through her head! She clearly doesn‟t love the empty headed young producer Phil who she‟s only with to secure her future as a star. (His delightful English sayings such as “What ho!” are rather hilarious!) She‟s clearly scared stiff of Nick, the man who‟s club she sings at; he treats her terribly and doesn‟t respect her at all. Why doesn‟t she leave him for the sweet yet penniless piano player Michael, who‟s the only real person in her life and loves her enough to tell her when she‟s being ridiculous? I have to remind myself that some choices aren‟t as easy to make when one is blinded by fear. Despite its faults, I have to admit it is among one of my favorites depicting that era.
The dazzling setting, the beautiful and authentic sets and costumes (I love when Miss Pettigrew gets a makeover, thankfully shedding the horrid brown dress for a new and flattering look). I‟ve also been a fan of Amy Adams for awhile, and Michael is played by Lee Pace (one of my favorite actors). He sings and plays the piano! I also adore the romance Miss
Pettigrew finds with the only person of Delysia‟s set that she truly commiserates with, played endearingly by Ciran Hinds. Miss Pettigrew is at one point self declared as “terribly old-fashioned” yet we find her “all the better for it.” Although 1939 was over 80 years ago, I see many similarities to the thoughts and behaviors present in that era and young people today, along with quite a few life lessons in the plot. Set in a time where no one cares much about anything, before the world was thrown into chaos, the story presents a pedagogy about not wasting a moment of the precious life we are given, and the lesson
is beautifully illustrated. There are moments of touching honestly: when the two people who remember the last war discuss the frivolity in which the younger generation is looking forward to the apocalypse (they wish they could help them see what horrors await them, but it seems a pity to burst their bubble sooner than it will be); when Michael tells Delysia he‟s done with games and “its a one word conversation,” a reminder how simple it can be to make the right choices; we just have to say yes.
A real gem of a moment is when Dylesia drops her act to reveal her real and rather commonplace name. Even in her frivolity she reveals how scared she really is. That she knows how topsy-turvy her life is, but it‟s all she knows and she doesn‟t know how to get herself out. It takes Miss Pettigrew, a clergyman‟s daughter, to tell her that “one cannot have all one wants at the moment one wants it.” She gives her some backbone
to stand up for what‟s right, show her there is another way, and help her realize that “all or nothing” is the best way to go with a man who loves her for who she is and not who she pretends to be. As someone who has known a lack of love her entire life, Miss Pettigrew wants to save Delysia from that fate, and as an outsider she sees clearly how fake the relationships in this world are. Everyone‟s an actor, cocktail in hand, smile pasted on their face, saying words they don‟t mean, playing a part to get what they want. While it‟s thrilling for a day, it‟s not the type of life anyone should lead if they want to know real love, joy and happiness. Those things won‟t be found in fame or fortune, but in the simple things in life and in those we love. That‟s what this film is about, the axiomatic truth that anything can happen in a day. If you make the right choices, your whole life can change for the best. And the wonderful part is it doesn‟t have to end there if you decide to throw your lot in with people who truly love you, you‟ll be off on a new adventure! So the days I find myself bored with my situation and wishing for my life to change I remind myself that life can alter quickly and I need to be ready to make the right decisions, stick to my morals, and stand by the people who really love me. If I do that, my new day to live is just beginning. I‟m excited! ■ 33
ven during the greatest times of need and want, it is true that some pieces of the world can flourish, thriving in wealth and splendor. This was true of the fictional Eaton Place, nestled in London during the depression and the years that follow, as 34
markers of the war that is to come begin to show in the streets. 165 Eaton Place has once seen grand parties and other social gatherings under its previous owners, but now stands empty and ready be renovated by Sir Hallam and Lady Agnes Holland. The new season of
Upstairs Downstairs, released this year by Masterpiece Theatre, follows the Hollands as they establish a home and a new rhythm of life as stable as possible during changing times. On close examination, being among the elite appears to be more of a
tightrope walk than one might anticipate. Lady Agnes must hire the appropriate staff to help Eaton Place run smoothly, as well as manage the difficulties that arise when her mother-in-law challenges her role in the family. Sir Hallam must learn how to keep his
and socializing with the politically correct persons gains importance. Meanwhile, another level of complexity is added to the social plot in the form of the staff that live below, as suggested from the title which speaks of the aristocratic life upstairs and the lives of servants downstairs. This series gives an inside look at how the newlyhired servants think, feel, work and live as they grow accustomed to each other and the ways of Eaton Place, as well as the importance of their lives
era presented in the show. One of the most interesting aspects of Upstairs Downstairs is the anachronisms inherent throughout. One gets the sense that the upper-class characters are constantly striving to retain their nobility in a world that threatens to flip all their personal views. Do they really care about the changing going on in the world around them or are they merely attempting to preserve the life that has always been? How can aristocrats balance their sense of old-money
status as the originator of this unique method of storytelling. This recent series is a continuation of a successful multipleseason series from the 70‟s. However, its status as the only one of its kind was recently challenged by Downton Abbey, which has a similar concept in that it follows the lives of masters and servants, but takes place during the early 1900‟s just prior to the first world war. Both series conclude with the announcement that war now threatens the upheaval of the worlds in
By Hannah Kingsley
social status and family from the appearance of any dishonor when his sister-in-law joins the family, her new-fashioned viewpoints causing many family difficulties. His job of keeping their name in good standing in society grows more difficult as talk of war grows greater,
outside of serving the Holland family: their romantic relationships, political ties, prejudices, and mores. As the times are changing, so does the separation between servants and aristocrats grow more ambiguous. But something both the “upstairs” aristocrats and the “downstairs” servants cannot avoid are the light whispers of the second world war to come, which makes its way into homes through radios, telephone, and newspapers. There are meetings and riots in the streets, swastika symbols strangely absent from Nazi flags and armbands. This is possibly more a sign of modern Britain and its censorship than the
privilege and power while at the same time selflessly caring for those below them, such as a helpless Jewish girl that ends up in the care of the Hollands? Sir and Lady Holland seem to have different perspectives of the unique responsibility that comes with their positions. How can care for one‟s country triumph over pomp and circumstance? Is it better to host a bigger party or have fewer offensive guests in attendance? These and other questions are those that must shape the decision-making and consciences of their lives. Due to its complexities Upstairs Downstairs has been a widely popular series, stemming from its
which the characters live and breathe. Is the new Upstairs Downstairs unique enough to survive the similarities between these two shows that have gained so many loyal and dedicated viewers? The answer seems to come in a promise from the BBC to release a second season in 2012. Perhaps viewers recognize that although both worlds of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs take place in different eras on the brink of massive change, where characters suffer through similar struggles, such as the clash of class, it is the similarity rather than differences that cause us to love them so. ■ 35
By Erica Elise
othing, not even clothing, exists in a vacuum, since it both influences and is influenced by history. Yet the decade of the 1930‟s is a lesson in contradiction. This era is one of the most glamorous in recent fashion history. How could such an elegant time exist when the country was reeling from economic collapse? Incredibly, not only did these beautiful styles exist but the Great Depression inspired them. The Great Depression began in the United States when the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929 (Black Tuesday), though there were fits and starts well before that date. The decade prior, the 1920‟s, had been marked by great growth and many people felt confident enough to invest in the stock market for the first time, often risking their entire savings whilst knowing little about it because people were making fortunes there. The effects of the crash and subsequent depression were devastating. Entire livelihoods were lost, and unemployment was rampant (as high as 25%). For most the worst had lifted by 1936, but the economy didn‟t fully recover until just after WWII ended in 1945. 36
It has been surmised that people felt the Depression was retribution in part because of the lose morals of the decade previous. And while Hollywood studios did agree to the Hays Code in 1930, people had been working to “clean up” Hollywood for more
than a dozen years. This self-censorship was not enforced and flouted until 1934 precisely because of the hard times people were experiencing. The public wanted an escape from the world around them. This likely is the reason for the styles of this stunning age
of fashion. The fairly bare style of dress in the 1920‟s were abandoned and closefitting styles adopted. The skin was covered by fabric but it followed so close to the natural form the wearer had every curve visible, looking almost nude other than a layer of silk. This
made a more feminine, ladylike appearance rather than the boyish, athletic look popular in the 1920‟s. While the women wore clothing that emphasized their curves, the men strove to appear more masculine by adopting a broad-torso look with the use of shoulder pads and more material in general. The realities of difficult life comes into play when we look for actual pieces from this period. There is little clothing from that era left, especially casual wear. People wore things until they wore out and then the scraps were recycled. Yet new technology was more accessible and clothing construction changed. Rayon, the first synthetic material, entered common use, and although invented nearly a century before, zippers began appearing in everyday clothing. Like the dichotomy between the depressed conditions of society and the fanciful clothing popular at the time there were advancements in spite of frugal living.
reached 3-4” below their knees with a blouse or sweater. Waists were high and belted. Skirts tended to be tighter at the hips with more fullness at the hem line. These were worn with silk stockings (nylon was not in wide usage until 1938), a hat and gloves.
recent archaeological digs support the fact that it was in existence well before the 1930‟s), this construction method utilized the cross grain of the material. To understand, take a piece of material in hand (nothing that is knit). Pull it horizontally and vertically,
Hair Women wore a shorter bob softened by curls or finger waves. Women generally wore hats during the day. Men tended to wear their hair cropped short on the sides and a little longer on top. It was slicked down and during the day a hat was worn, though a proper gentleman always removed it upon entering a building. Day Wear Women wore skirts that
Men wore pants with high waistlines and a lot of volume in terms of fabric, their torso broadened by shoulder pads. Evening Wear The bias cut reigned from at least 1932 on but may have gone back to 1931 as well. Popularized by Madeleine Vionnet (though
noticing there is little or no stretch. Now, turn the material at a 45 degree angle and again pull. Nearly all material that is woven will stretch in this direction. Because knit materials were not in use for anything other than stockings and similar items to get the necessary stretch, patterns of the era were turned diagonally on
textiles before cutting. When these pieces were sewn together and draped on a human form it caused the material to ease across the hips and flare out at the hem. But most dresses were not entirely cut on the bias; a seam shaped like an inverted “V” located below the bust-line is visible in nearly all evening gowns of the 1930‟s. From this seam down the dress was cut on the bias; anything above it was cut on the grain. This allowed the hip curves to be highlighted without compressing the bust, maximizing the curves so valued at this time. Women‟s evening gowns usually extended ten or more inches below the knee and the back tended to be very low cut. Men wore a coat with tails, dress pants (fine black wool), a white waist coat, starched wing collar and white tie for formal events. Less formal evening wear consisted of a dinner jacket and black bow tie. Looking at these examples it‟s clear to see why so many have lauded the 1930‟s as a golden age in fashion, even without acknowledging the hope it instilled when the world was so dark. Now, when conditions are startlingly similar in many ways, we note the trend is coming back around. Perhaps people are again looking for an escape and hoping brighter, more beautiful times will follow. ■
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