Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beach Scene 1941

Now that we’re nearing the end of summer, a nod to my favorite beach scene in the movies. This is in “The Devil and Miss Jones” (1941) where Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn, and Spring Byington share a picnic lunch on the crowded beach of Coney Island. Rented bathing suits and a lesson on how the masses live are the order of the day for the wealthy Coburn incognito as a worker in his own store. Miss Arthur, Mr. Cummings, and Miss Byington are his unwitting employees who befriend him and show him the ropes.

This film deserves its own essay at another time, but for now, the scene at the crowded beach is enough to invoke a sense of quickly fading summer. It is not a beach of teenagers twitching to the twang of electric guitars as in a future era. There is no surfing by privileged middle class youngsters, but only a stolen moment for the Depression-era laboring classes on the weekend to try to snatch some essence of the good life. Not easy in the elbow-to-elbow mob on that beach. But, like all working people everywhere, as Mr. Coburn learns, you take what you can get, and make the most of it.

What are your favorite beach scenes?

That’s all for this week. See you Monday. Hope some of you can get to the beach.

4 comments:

J.C. Loophole said...

Imitation of Life, while not even close to being my favorite film, does begin with a beach scene (at Coney Island I think) which is pivotal to the set up.
Can you help but think of the beach when you see the title From Here to Eternity?
And how about one of my favorite Sylvester/Tweety cartoons: Sandy Claws which takes place entirely at the beach?

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hah, "Sandy Claws," by all means! I love ever-serene Granny.

Your other suggestions are good ones, too. Coney Island seems to have been immortalized on film a great deal. I'm surprized, except for Norman from "A Star Is Born" marching resolutely out into the surf to do away with himself, and Mack Sennet's bathing beauties, that old Hollywood, being in close proximity to the ocean, did not film beach scenes that often. Unless perhaps there are more beach scenes out there than I realize.

Laura said...

That was a great beach scene in THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES.

One that comes to mind for me is from a movie I saw for the first time a few months ago, THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU with Eleanor Parker and Dennis Morgan. They have only two nights together as newlyweds before he ships out during WWII, and one of them is spent in a tent on the beach near San Diego.

Two other films I've seen for the first time in the past year: there's Dana Andrews romancing Alice Faye and Linda Darnell with a California ocean background in FALLEN ANGEL...and Ida Lupino and Bruce Bennett going to the club on Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, California, in THE MAN I LOVE. Not precisely a "beach" scene, but it had great foggy mood. You could almost smell the ocean air.

Best wishes,
Laura

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, Linda, thanks for joining us. I'm not familiar with those films you've mentioned, and I love when readers educate me. It makes my "movies to see" list a bit long, but I'll get to them all eventually.