Sunday, October 26, 2008

Laughing at the past again

One of the fun things about watching classic movies is seeing people say or do certain things in the past that not only no longer hold true; but are very far off base. A classic example of this would be a lot of the movies that are set in the future, but were made long enough ago that what was then the future is now the past. The 1930 movie Just Imagine, for example, is set in the distant future... of 1980! Needless to say, most of the predictions were nowhere near accurate.

But there are also some funny things in documentary pieces. Today, for example, TCM showed one of the Traveltalks shorts, Around the World in California. In one of the scenes, they showed a bunch of cyclists taking a guided tour of Beverly Hills, and the dulcet tones of James A. FitzPatrick intoned, "There is never too much traffic...." Yeah, right. Just imagine these cyclists on the streets of Los Angeles County now. (By the same token, last week showed Mighty Manhattan, New York's Wonder City, with a sequence of where the UN building was then going up. The East Side parkway had shockingly little traffic.)

Later, we learned about some of the ethnic communities of Los Angeles. First, FitzPatrick used a hard 'g' here, something I don't think I've ever heard in contemporary English. (Bob Cummings also uses it in Saboteur.) More humorous, however, is the comment that Los Angeles has a population of "several thousand Mexicans". That had to have been wrong even 60 years ago, considering that Spain owned the place for a few centuries, and Mexicans have always been emigrating north of the border.

Thank goodness TCM shows some of these warped time capsules.

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