Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 and the movies

I don't care much for the overblown ceremonies that are going on in New York City and Washington DC today; any time there's a large-scale tragic event like the attacks of September 2001, I prefer to deal with it by getting away from the rest of the world. When Prince Charles' ex-wife died, for example, the massive public wailing quite frankly repulsed me.

Anyhow, I was thinking of travel and the movies, a topic I've covered before. In November of last year, I wrote:

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.

Plane travel in older movies is glamorized, but what's forgotten is that it was also much more expensive, and a province of the wealthy. I think we're all better off for being able to move about the country freely, but that's not what I wanted to discuss in this post. After September 11, 2001, we've gotten such monstrosities as being forced to take off one's shoes; X-ray scanners that show you in something resembling nudity, and if you refuse that, pat-downs that many women have said feel much too sexual. Having one's shoes tested is certainly something that could be shown in an old movie, but I'm trying to imagine Joseph Breen allowing a sexualized pat-down to make it to the screen.

Many people I know in Europe are horrified (and I think not entirely without merit) at how much information the US government is asking for on people who will be flying to the US, as if any of this will really prevent another terrorist attack. At the same time, though, I'm reminded of a scene from The Day of the Jackal in which the French police do far more than just look at a hotel's register, with the implication that the French are being tracked much more than Americans of the time (the film is set in 1963) would have been.

And I can only imagine what today's authorities would have thought of Claudette Colbert's Ellie Andrews paying a little old lady to buy her a ticket on the night bus from Miami to New York in It Happened One Night. Obviously Colbert is an evil terrorist! Not only that, but she and Clark Gable get in a strange car with Alan Hale and take off, showing no ID whatsoever! And then there's her first husband King Wesley, who's going to fly that autogyro into a building. Terrorists all! Waterboard them!

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