Old Movies are weird

Old Movies are weird
Current mood:  contemplative

Last night I had AMC or some such channel playing while I did my book keeping (fun!). I saw the end of The Maltese Falcon, which was almost comical in its overly dramatic acting/lighting/camera angles. I love when they pause for a nice head/shoulders shot of the actors reacting. It cracks me up every time. Plus, the female lead (this is big plot give away, so skip to the next paragraph if you dont want it messed up) had enough strength to kill a man, but not enough to keep from bawling out her confession to Bogart. Silly woman.

Next was a one reel wonder about a singing jockey, the girl of Irish descent who held his heart, and the Italian balloon seller who saved his horse from being drugged. There was singing, racing, kissing, and a bet between the balloon man and the hot dog man. It was fabulous! Oh, and lots of flowers for some reason.

Finally was the 1915 epic silent film Birth of a Nation. It started with a Northern American family coming to visit their Southern friends. The younger boys were friends and the older boys fell in love with each others sisters (the Southern guy stole a tintype of the Northern guys sister b/c she wasnt there to actually meet). They promised to meet again and then went home. The Northern dad was powerful and fell under the influence of a woman of racially mixed blood (which apparently made her evil? I think thats what they were trying to convey by all of the contrasty close-ups where shes giving a crazed eyed look at the camera. Or she could have just had a twitch.) Anyway, then the Civil War broke out and things were bad. The younger boys met on the battlefield and almost killed each other, recognized each other as 1 was shot in the back and the other died from previously inflicted wounds. They died in each others arms. The war ended, Lincoln spared the Southern older brother and who then met the sister from the tintype and they fell in love. Everyone went home and life struggled to return to normal. 

I thought it would end, but instead we moved onto reconstruction, which began with a disclaimer about the fact that this was not a commentary on the races of today, blah blah. What I learned there (3.5 hours later) is that the KKK saved the south, black people looked an awful lot like white people in dark make up, and white southern women are stupid enough to fling themselves off of cliffs. It just kept going on and on and got weirder and weirder.

The highlights were the historical reenactments. They all began with slates letting us know that these were historical facsimiles and not, in fact, actual a recordings of the events as they happened. I also learned that schools in the South are WAY more civil war focused in their history lessons. Claudine knew carpetbaggers as a shrimp dish and hobos, not the evil miscreants they are made out to be in southern history. You really had to pay attention to make sure you caught all of the slates w/ plot development. We didn’t, so it kind of turned into a MST3000 event with Claudine and me creating our own, far more historically accurate, dialogue. That was fun.

Anyway, it was all part of a series they’re doing about the portrayal of African Americans in films. I must say, it was not very flattering. If they werent bowing and scraping, they were drinking and trying to get their hands on the white women. I suddenly had an urge to watch Blazing Saddles. I think I will once I get home.


~ by rebeccaclaire on May 3, 2006.

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