Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Old Movies

I like the screwball comedies from the 30’s, war stories from the 40’s. But the movies from the 50’s have a gothic quality; there’s a woman in a black sheath and pearls, whose only purpose is to walk to the door when the doorbell rings.

“Yes,” she says as she opens the door. And it’s never a question.

And then, touching her pearls, she says, “She’s not here,” or “We haven’t seen him,” or “I’m sorry I can’t help you.”

I think she’s the daughter of a 30’s movie, a lighter time -- the Boston granny in diamonds and sequins who spent a lifetime on the staircase, listening for another doorbell, until she could say, “Smithers, tell them I’m not in.”

But in the 50’s gothic, she must sit in her chair, three steps from the door, and wait her whole life for the doorbell to ring. Day after day, she must put on her slip, slip on the sheath, wait for the bell, until someone will ask so she can say no.

31 comments:

  1. I think being filmed in black and white added a lot of that "feel" tp the movies.

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  2. Your 50's one makes me think of: "The last woman on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door." Scary stuff.

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  3. I'm pretty sure we've tried to imitate other movie types, old and new--cowboys, cowgirls, astronauts, mobsters, etc. How about these folks you're offering? Do we try to imitate them too?

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  4. Tash, I love that. If there were such thing as a Twilight Zone anymore, think I could write this as an episode.

    And Banjo & Pat, seems these roles were always played by the same woman.

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  5. I don't know, if everyone has you pegged maybe you can work that to your advantage, do things and no one really sees you doing it. I'm wondering what she was getting away with when we ccouldn't see her...

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  6. Maybe not so different then from now. Pretentious, don't you think, to have a person whose only job it is to answer the door for you? Especially if she does it with glamour and mystery. TV and film have always shown America "You could live this way if only" you were richer, better, whiter, whatever. Whatever you will never be.

    Haven't finished coffee yet.

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  7. Sounds like the opening of a porn film

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  8. Petrea, for all those reasons I can't stand to watch sticoms or reality television. I mean, I could be that quick on my feet - especially with my parents/wife/husband if only....

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  9. It's why I don't read women's magazines.

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  10. I read old books, too, because they have so much more depth to them. And sometimes it's amusing, like the one set in England that I just read, referencing "Princess Elizabeth". Yep, written around 1950.

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  11. Well, such women still exist in my neighborhood, though nowadays they don't open the door, they look through the peephole and phone 911. That's what the police are telling us to do if the doorbell rings.

    And on a Hallowe'en foray around the mansions of La Canada, some doors were opened by French maids in full uniform holding platters of candy.

    Sorry I can't talk about old movies, though. I don't seem to have the time to watch anything. But the slip under the sheath dress sure takes me back to the 50s.

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  12. ...and the postman always rings twice. So, that's a double.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. I'm envisioning Kim Novak or Tipi Hedren wearing the black sheath, answering the door...

    with Hitchcock shadows and camera angles...

    and the suspense builds...

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  15. Are old movies like old fashion? Kinda wish it were.

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  16. Ooo, don't mind me, just cleaning up my spelling errors. Try again...

    Paula, fraught with possibilities.

    Petrea, what kind of fascinates me about these women is that they have one task and no back story. So they've always spooked me.

    Unless you're PA, and bring your own back story.

    Marjie, I'm a fan of the old books the library gives away after no one has read them for X years. I figure they deserve one last chance.

    Ms Garlic, that must throw Bellis's neighbors into a panic.

    Chieftess, more like Kim Novak's mother. After their turn at the door, they're rarely seen again.

    Not a fan, CP?

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  17. I can't remember the last time I saw a movie from the 50's, and I can't recall a specific movie that has such a role. And yet, I know exactly what you're talking about, like I've seen it a million times.

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  18. You and Tash have spooked me. And it's night here. Damn.

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  19. I don't say no.

    And it's Friday.

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  20. I zipped up the back of Tippi's green evening gown

    true story

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  21. Sounds, disturbingly, like a cross between film noir and Waiting for Godot...I like it!

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  22. Italo Calcagni, italian, offers his services. If you need a "answer the door man", I'm perfect. NO time-wasters!!!
    PS: I ADORE B&W movies.

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  23. Susan, that's it. And I've got this voice in my head, "Picture, if you will..." I should take something for that.

    Shell, so you read Tash's story? Great concept.

    Cam, that's great.

    Italo, you Italianos know your way around a B/W classic. We'll have to do a post on that someday.

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  24. Definitely fodder for a Twilight Zone.

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  25. Did you catch The Caine Mutiny last night on TMC? A favorite of mine.

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  26. Life can be fun ... or you can reflect if it really was fun – unknown.

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  27. here is one off topic...from one of my favorite movies "State & Main": Only second chance I know, is the chance to make the same mistake twice.

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  28. I like olden day movies as well. I like the way they dressed, but I liked the fact of no harsh language and no nudity. It's like they told the story in it's sincerity.

    I appreciate that.

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  29. Yes!!! The love scenes were more sensual because of what they left out...the terror scenes were more powerful because of what they left out...the movies actually had good writing, interesting psychological dramas, excellent cinematography (as in Hitchcock)...what can I say? I love old movies!!! Yeah...the acting is sometimes a bit stilted...but they tended to be much more interesting...now..it's pretty much formula all the way!

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  30. At least she has pearls, and nice pearls at that.

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