|When we think of the Forties now...|
I am a '40s baby myself, born in December 1945 just after the war - but I am a child of the '50s as my movie-going began in 1954, when I was 8, as per previous posts here. John Russell Taylor makes some marvellous comments, which I wanted to share ...... as he begins:
My mother particularly liked Alice Faye singing "You'll Never Know" in HELLO FRISCO HELLO (she used to sing it to us), and RANDOM HARVEST, men like Ronald Colman and Walter Pidgeon were the kind of reliable men housewives liked; she continued going to the cinema less often into the early '60s, by then television provided all the entertainment the family needed.
Taylor's article reminded me of Alan Bennett in one of his memoirs, recollecting his aunts, working career girls who modelled themselves on Bette and Joan, in their swagger coats, "consulting the mirror in their power compact" and straightening their nylon seams, as they dished out putdowns to the men who presumed on their favours ...
The Forties now seem to fall into two distinct eras: The War Years up to 1945, and then that Post-War Era. The British cinema captured the 1940s wartime perfectly in items like 2,000 WOMEN, and that post-war era in HOLIDAY CAMP, IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY etc (British label). It was the great era of Lean and Michael Powell and Carol Reed, as well as those Gainsborough melodramas (CARAVAN, MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS, THE WICKED LADY) and Anna Neagle-Michael Wilding romances which wartime audiences lapped up. There were those new post-war leading men too as Gregory Peck, William Holden, Mitchum, Lancaster, Douglas came to the fore, as well as new girls Susan and Ava, Deborah and Jean, and Janet - who would all be leading names in the Fifties. The older stars like Gable and Stewart came back from the war and resumed their careers too - "Gable's back and Garson's got him"! while Stewart starred in the new immortal IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Later films capturing that Forties British wartime were led by Schlesinger's YANKS in 1979, capturing the look and mores of wartime Britain perfectly, as did Frear's A PRIVATE FUNCTION for the post-war era.
My own early '40s favourites included Ty Power and Gene Tierney in the South Seas in SON OF FURY, and Ida Lupino as that very hard-boiled chanteuse in ROADHOUSE (with Richard Widmark in manic mode), or Linda Darnell in any number of films,
and those noirs with rootless drifters in those diners and rooming houses as dark secrets unfold... (which I caught up with at Sunday matinees in the '50s).
It has been fun going through the old editions of SIGHT AND SOUND and "Films & Filming" which I acquired recently, issues from before my time, from the 1950s an early '60s ... so much nostalgia there to recap. (SIGHT AND SOUND of course is still published every month, as the mouthpiece of the BFI - I wrote on their new Top 100 Films, a year or two ago - Hitchcock label), but "Films & Filming" ceased in 1990, as I worked there for a while and knew the owner and have a lot of back copies, I feel I keep their legacy alive...).
Soon: Back to the 1930s and GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 - only 80 years ago !