Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #193: Nostalgia

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week, the theme is nostalgia, which is going to be a bit tougher for me. I was born in 1972, so there's not much nostalgia about my childhood years in the general popular culture. Everybody's supposed to love the 60s, but the 70s? And the Reagan era? Heavens no! It's probably even worse in the UK since the 80s produced Margaret Thatcher, and the cultural types seem to think that everything wrong with the UK started with her.

But, I got some good ideas and came up with three entries that are going to leave everybody here commenting, "I haven't seen any of these!" Well, at least in one case there's some good news for the Americans reading this blog.

John Nesbitt's Passing Parade: Annie Was a Wonder (1949). MGM hired short subject producer John Nesbitt to make a series of two-reelers in the 1940s looking at the "passing parade" of life. Most of the entries in this series are nostalgic, not in the sense of those of us watching today feeling nostalgia, but viewers who saw them originally in theaters probably would have felt nostalgia. In this Oscar-nominated entry from the series, Annie (Kathleen Freeman) is one of the many Swedish immigrant girls who came over to the US at the beginning of the 20th century and worked as live-in maids, who were obviously fondly remembered by the children in the family. As I said, a lot of the entries in the Passing Parade look at the olden days, such as Our Old Car (1946), which is going to be part of TCM's Saturday morning block this week, sometime between 8:00 AM and 9:30 AM. (I can't recall whether the first block of shorts comes before or after the first feature.)

Let's Sing an Old Time Song (1947). I used up Strawberry Blonde a few weeks back so I can't use it here, but then I remembered this Warner Bros. short that presents a couple of old standards from around the turn of the last century, or long before the songs in the "Great American Songbook" that are thought of as the standards today. The history of the songs is discussed, and then, as with "The Band Played On" at the end of Strawberry Blonde, there's a chance for the audience to sing along.

I Never Forget a Face (1956). This weird short from Warner Bros. recycled a whole bunch of newsreel/documentary footage from the 1920s, starting with presidential candidate Warren Harding running his campaign from his front porch, and going through the rest of the 1920s. Most of the footage is of course silent since it predated talking picutres, but one of the highlights has sound: 1928 presidential candidate Al Smith, singing "The Bowery". Perhaps the other highlight is of Mary, then Queen Consort of King George V of the UK (and the one the ship is named after if you believe the story). She's seen with her daughter and granddaughter, the granddaughter being an infant named Elizabeth, who has been on the throne for close to 65 years now.


joel65913 said...

Well you almost got me but I have seen Annie Was a Wonder! I don't remember all the Passing Parades I've seen but I'm a fan of Kathleen Freeman so I do recall this one. It was a nice wholesome little short.

I haven't seen the other two but the last one in particular sounds fascinating.

I thought of The Strawberry Blonde for this as well but was pretty sure I had used it before but loving this sort of movie it was easy to come up with another three.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)-A year in the life of the upper middle class Smith family (including second daughter Esther played by Judy Garland) as they and their hometown prepare for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. For the most part charming, sweet and bandbox pretty full of great songs-The Trolley Song, The Boy Next Door, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (which was written expressly for Judy) etc.-this is interwoven with dark undertones most courtesy of borderline psychotic (though she’s meant to be seen as innocently eccentric) youngest daughter Tootie (Margaret O’Brien-who won a special Oscar). Wonderfully produced by the Freed unit and directed by Vincente Minnelli.

On Moonlight Bay (1951)-Based on stories by Booth Tarkington we are once again at the turn of the 20th century. In bucolic small town Indiana the upwardly mobile Winfield family has just moved into a bigger house that only the father likes until tomboyish daughter Marjorie (Doris Day) meets handsome neighbor, college student Bill Sherman (Gordon MacRae). Suddenly she gets in touch with her feminine side and she and Bill start a romance which goes along fine until her father finds out Bill is a nonconformist who doesn’t believe in marriage or other traditional values. But after many songs, several mishaps and lots of warm and fuzzies all ends happily. Followed by a sequel “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”

Radio Days (1987)-Told as a remembrance Joe (Woody Allen) recalls his youth (played by Seth Green) growing up in the 30’s and 40’s with his colorful and somewhat crazy family (including his parents who will argue about anything including which is the greater ocean-Atlantic or Pacific!) and people he encounters including the story of radio personality Sally White (a quite brilliant performance by Mia Farrow). Filled with beautiful period detail this captures both the period and a sense of youth.

Birgit said...

I have seen Annie is a Wonder! I found it somewhat sad that all she did was be the housekeeper. I haven't seen the other 2 but they would be fun to watch