Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Day travel

I feel badly for those of you who have to travel long distances to get wherever you're going this Thanksgiving. Travel is a mess compared to the glamor it was back in the old studio-era movies. No TSA agents to fondle you, thanks to the Production Code forbidding that. I guess the closest a classic movie might have gotten would be the baby Peeping Tom in Gold Diggers of 1933. They didn't have the nude scanners either, since technology hadn't been well-enough developed in those days. It was just X-rays. The X-ray machines weren't even used for screening airplane passengers; it seems to me as though most of cinema's use of X-rays was in cartoons, for comic effect to show the insides of a character in much clearer detail than any real-life X-ray could.

And then there are the planes. The transatlantic plane that gets shot down at the end of Foreign Correspondent is impossibly well-appointed. A year later, in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, W.C. Fields takes a plane that has a sleeping compartment like the railroad cars of the day. I suppose that's not too bad, since some of today's airlines have advertised business- and first-class seats that fold to completely horizontal for sleeping. But the W.C. Fields character wouldn't have been able to afford business class.

Perhaps the most fun is in John Wayne's The High and the Mighty. Once the plane is stricken, one of the passengers panics, and fires off a gun! Now, it's bad enough by today's standards that he got a loaded gun onto the plane. What makes The High and the Mighty even more hilarious is that, later in the movie, the character overcomes his panic, at which point, the other passengers and crew give him back his gun.

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