Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

Today marks seven years since the terrorist attacks that brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I wsa wondering how, if at all, this could relate to classic film. Sure, there are movies from the 1970s through the 1990 in which one can see the towers as part of the city's skyline. However, my personal opinion is that the single best use of the World Trade Center comes in a TV show: The Simpsons episode The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson.

City skylines generally don't feature prominently in movie plots. Their appearance is usually in the form of an establishing shot. I've commented on the use of the Eiffel Tower, one of the symbols of the Paris skyline. As for the New York skyline, however, the most beautiful use of it isn't even the actual skyline. Instead, it's the animated, color-changing version that morphs into the real thing, constituting the opening sequence of West Side Story.

I guess we're left with "Things that aren't there any more". This is one of the good aspects of classic movies, documenting places as they existed as a certain time in the past and no longer look a thing like they used to. London, for example, was bombed during the war, and shots of the bombed out buildings can be seen at the beginning of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Paradine Case. Post-war London also features in one of the Traveltalks shorts, 1946's "Looking at London". And, of course, there's the entire city of Vienna, as seen in The Third Man.

However, looking at people who Hollywood thought were going to be the next big thing but didn't quite pan out that way is even more interesting. There's an MGM movie from 1966 called Eye of the Devil. To promote it, they created a featurette promoting its young new female star: All Eyes on Sharon Tate. It shows Tate enjoying the London nightlife, doing some of the work on Eye of the Devil, and brief snippets of some of the movie's co-stars talking about what a wonderful actress Sharon Tate is and what a bright future she was going to have. The poor producers. There was no way they could possibly know what was going to happen to Miss Tate.

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