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.
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