Monday, August 15, 2022

Ann Blyth book on SALE!

The eBook version of my book on Ann Blyth's career: Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. will be on sale today and tomorrow in celebration of her 94th birthday on August 16th. A lady of stunning talent, her decades-long and multi-faceted career is explored in this book, which you can now purchase for $1.99 for the next two days.

Here are links to Amazon,

Barnes & Noble,

And a universal link to Apple and several other online shops.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Confidence - 1933

Confidence (1933) stars Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, formerly of Disney but here in his Universal years.  Also featured are President Franklin D. Roosevelt (sans leg braces) and the Great Depression.  There's something really bold in black-and-white cartoons, daring and courageously surreal.

It's silly, poignant, and innocent, but the message of confidence is, while important, not really what got us through the Depression or what made this country great.

It's optimism.  Our forebears always looked to the future with optimism. Today we battle those consumed by its opposite: cynicism.  The cynics find no good in anything, certainly not in government by the people, and prefer to burn everything down.

I would imagine a cartoon is not going to solve that schism in today's society.  But I wish somebody would try.

It takes real guts to be optimistic when life is really rough, and your chickens are sick.

Friday, July 29, 2022

A League of Their Own - 1992


A League of Their Own (1992) is the best movie ever made about baseball.  It achieves this by also being about a lot of other things, and baseball is the conduit by which all those other things flow together.  Above all, it shows a love for the game that can only be displayed by a group of people so desperate to be allowed to play it for the joy and sense of freedom it gives them.

Though this blog is concerned primarily with classic films, I’ve always been interested in modern-day films set the past, especially with an eye towards telling the story with the style of classic films: the bold newspaper headlines, the montage of images to show the passage of time, and the gimmick of splicing in a few replica newsreel bits.  I’m a sucker for it.

This movie, beyond illustrating a period of history, actually makes history by resurrecting professional women’s baseball in the 1940s – something many people had forgotten about by 1992 and most did not know about at all.  I can recall reading a review of the movie at the time it was released by a dismissive reviewer who had no knowledge of the league and displayed very little appreciation of the movie because he did not understand the historical background.

A short-lived television series followed, and now on the movie’s 30th anniversary a new series is being launched next month, but in between 1992 and now there have been books about the subject, websites and Facebook pages created, a popular exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and merchandise promoting a league that no longer exists – including the iconic dress (literally, a dress) uniform sold as Halloween costumes.  It spawned the motto:  “There’s no crying in baseball!”

Director Penny Marshall filled this movie with heart, affection, courage, humor, and that love of baseball.   What particularly appeals to me, beyond the really excellent job of sets, costumes, script with topical references, are the smaller moments that represent something huge.

For instance, the African-American woman who catches the fastball, looks back at stars Geena Davis and Lori Petty with pride, nods, and walks away.  She will not be invited to play on the All American Girls Professional Baseball League because she is Black.  Here’s a link to the true-life story of how that lady, DeLisa Chinn-Tyler, came to be in that scene.  The scene was not in the script.  She was a terrific ballplayer, came down to try out for the movie, and like her character, was not utilized because of her skin color.  But Penny Marshall, with her great eye for telling a story, put her in this nonspeaking role for only  a few moments and left an indelible impression and told a huge chunk of history while she was at it.

I love that Geena Davis, from the moment her character as an older woman must be prodded by her daughter to attend a reunion of the team, throughout the scenes of her joining the team for her sister’s sake and becoming its reluctant star, shows the awkwardness of many women of the day who, in many fields, feel they must conceal or restrain their talent or their joy in their talent because it is considered inappropriate to be competitive, athletic, to take time for oneself to play, or deserve to be paid for any work formerly done by a man.  Moreover, her love for her sister means that even though she nags her and is overprotective, she will not lament dropping the ball in the last scene to make her sister the star.  Did she drop it on purpose?  We’ll never know, and that is another beauty of the movie.

A League of Their Own (1992) exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame displaying the fictional Life magazine cover with star player Dottie on the cover. (photo JT Lynch)

Her daughter, in trying to get her to go to the league reunion, says, “Mom, when are you going to realize how special it was, how much it all meant?”  By the end of the movie, we know what it meant, and it seems Dottie does, too.

I love the grown Stilwell, who as a bratty child bedeviled the team (again, illustrating a situation common to women of that era – their husbands did not always take over babysitting chores), stands before his mother’s image on a poster exhibit at the Hall of Fame and we see how much he misses her.   Always makes me tear up.  We realize then that Evelyn’s not coming to the reunion. He says that he had to be there for the exhibit opening because, “She always said this was the best time she ever had in her whole life.”   We may mourn for Evelyn, played by Betty Schram, as well in the thought that her few years on the team was better than life at home.

The scenes showing the women having to attend charm school may seem condescending, but I can recall reading at least one memory of a former player who said she liked the classes because she had spent her childhood in poverty, had never been inside a restaurant, and was eager to learn what she was told were the social graces.  Remember the character of Shirley, played by Ann Cusak, who cannot read her own name on the roster because she is illiterate, and the girls teach her to read on long trips on the team bus.

Spot on is the radio program of the lady protesting the formation of a league of female ballplayers, her charge being that it would make them more masculine.  As silly as this sounds, this was exactly what WACs, WAVEs, SPARS, women Marines and any female volunteering to help with the war effort faced by society, carefully chaperoned by a military that needed them but did not want to offend the public.

We know that Rosie the Riveter, after being lauded for helping win the war, was summarily booted out of the factories when the war was over, and the movie includes a foreshadowing of this when Mr. Lowenstein, played by David Strathairn complains to Mr. Harvey, played by Garry Marshall when Marshall wants to end the league.   Marshall says, “We’re winning the war…we won’t need the girls next year.”

Lowenstein responds, “This is what it’s going to be like in the factories, too, I suppose…the men are back, Rosie, turn in your rivets.  We told them it was their patriotic duty to get out of the kitchen and go to work, and now when the men come back, we’ll send them back to the kitchen?”

“There is no room for girls’ baseball in this country once the war is over.”

The movie gives us plenty of action, to a swing and boogie beat, and as the crowds get bigger, the stakes get higher.

Tom Hanks plays the drunken manager, resentful at being forced to coach women, but by the end of the movie, he turns down a chance to coach Triple A to stay with his ladies.   They have all traveled far.  We almost gasp at the Hall of Fame scene to see his poster displayed with the date of his death.   He won’t be coming to reunion, either.

Marla, played by Megan Cavanaugh, the unattractive introvert who is the best hitter on the team transforms into a lovely young woman, marries before the season is over, promises to return next season, married or not, and we have the satisfaction of seeing her at the reunion enjoying an apparently happy retirement.

We don’t know what happened to the longsuffering team chaperone, Miss Cuthbert, played by Pauline Brailsford.  I feel bad for her for the mean tricks and insults she endured, but even she became one of the gang by the end.

Though I have read some reviews complaining of the modern-era bookends of the movie at the beginning and end, and the modern theme music played, particularly the one over the closing credits by Madonna, who plays “All the Way Mae,” as being a depressing closing to the film.

I disagree.  

Above and below - Doubleday Field, Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York (photos by JT Lynch)

The movie is about memory and legacy as much as it is about action in the moment.  It is not just a cute story about a novelty female baseball team.  There is always some sadness in looking back, some sober reflection of how much age has changed us and our world.  We wish we could turn the clock back, but then again, we don’t.  “This used to be my playground,” as the lyrics intone in a somber refrain, is like a ghost telling us that the dream was not just a dream.  We’re waking up much older in a different reality.   It really happened, but everything is changed now and we can’t go back.  We are physically different, even if in our hearts we are still 20 years old.

It is delightful to see actual original players among the elderly ladies playing baseball in their AAGPBL sweatshirts at the end of the movie, the girls of October. 

Penny Marshall gave us a chunk of history that was lost for a few decades and that is a great achievement.  The movie itself is a cultural milestone.  “That’s what makes it great” as Tom Hanks says of baseball, because it is hard.


Here is a link to the AAGPBL website with more information.

And here’s a link to members singing the team song you’ll remember from the movie.

Here's a link to the Women in Baseball exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York.


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.



Thursday, July 14, 2022

A Public Service Announcement - Our Miss Brooks

At the conclusion of the Our Miss Brooks radio show starring Eve Arden, of an episode called "English Test" which was broadcast over CBS radio on August 14, 1949 -- but after the final Colgate toothpowder commercial, that is -- came the following public service announcement:

Here is something for all of us to think over seriously:  Democracy stands for freedom, love, and tolerance, and it's up to each of us citizens to practice it daily, otherwise we subject America and our democracy to severe and destructive criticism from forces wishing to do away with the democratic way of life.

Now more than ever before, we must openly protest against anyone around us who speaks or infers slander against any individual or group because of racial or religious difference.  If not, we are selling out our heritage, our freedom, and our peace.

Many episodes of Our Miss Brooks and other popular programs were concluded with public service announcements of one kind or another: pleas for donations to the Red Cross, the Community Chest, a cancer fund.  This particular announcement is striking.  The dark forces waiting to bring down democracy by our failing to live up to it are not stipulated to be only foreign adversaries.  It seems inferred that these dark forces could exist here in this country.

It's a powerful passage especially for today.  We are balancing on a knife edge of insurrection.  People exist among us who want to take down democracy if we let them by our behavior.

A fascinating way to end a lighthearted screwball comedy radio show.  Today we are more on guard against being preached to, which for some people is far more egregious than losing our democracy.  Were the producers of Our Miss Brooks bold in taking such a stance?  Or did they know that their audience, who had just fought a long and terrible war against fascism, and winning it, would be receptive?

Were such a public service announcement made today at the end of a popular television show, what percentage of the population would complain that it was "political"?

And reject it?

We discussed the radio show, the TV show, and the movie Our Miss Brooks in this previous post.


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Freedom from Fear

The Greatest Generation was moved to combat fascism by many impulses -- pragmatic as well as inspirational.  Perhaps no other call to commitment (for it wasn't purely just a call to arms) was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union address in 1941 -- a very different January 6th.

The Four Freedoms were:

Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Worship
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear.

He did not precisely stipulate Freedom from Fascism, but that was the collective upshot of the Four Freedoms.  Our greatest gift from the Greatest Generation was freedom from fascism.  

In celebration of the Independence Day holiday here in the United States, and with a view to the astounding loss of freedom and encroachment of fascism, I invite you to have a look at my book on specifically how the monster was battled in thought, in word, and in miles of film.  Hollywood Fights Fascism is available in print and eBook at a variety of online shops.  This week only, the eBook has been reduced to $1.99.

Relive, and celebrate, how evil was faced, discussed, dramatized...and fought. From inspirational home front movies to instructional films for military training made by Hollywood's First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU), classic films were the weapon.

The Greatest Generation received instruction, inspiration, and, of course, entertainment from a source that affected them perhaps even more than the greater technology of generations to follow: the movies.

Grap your copy here at Amazon,

and at this link for Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and a variety of other online shops and libraries.

The sale ends next Sunday, July 10th.

Happy Independence Day to readers here in the United States!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Remembering Judy Garland this month on TCM

Judy Garland, having been chosen the Star of the Month, made June especially enjoyable for watchers of Turner Classic Movies. Seeing her filmography in bursts is especially poignant for allowing us to follow the bubbly, nervous, awkward girl with the phenomenal talents, as she marches toward maturity and the wonderful roles, but personal hazards, we know she will face.  There are times we just can’t study her hard enough.  Other times, knowing the perils of child stardom and harsh world that eats up the more emotionally vulnerable, we almost wish we could look away.

But we can’t.  Because she’s Judy, and she’s remarkable.

She is no stranger on TCM’s roster, particularly as most of her career was spent at M-G-M, whose films are owned by Ted Turner and WarnerMedia, the pre-1986 anyway, which is what we old movie fans cherish most.  So we do get to see her movies from time to time.  But to really feel the impact of her energy, her skill—which is an achievement above natural talent, for this girl worked hard at her craft—it’s best to see her in a string of her films, and this whole month has been a powerhouse of her impact, even in her smallest roles, which did not stay small for long. 

She did not, however, shoot to stardom on the wings of the publicity department as other stars did—it actually seemed like studio boss Louis B. Mayer didn’t really know what a gem he had.  But when it was time for her to take the lead, she shone.

Most fans and critics alike seem to think her moment came with The Wizard of Oz (1939), that resonated with generations of children—and the adults they became—possibly for the ironic image of a girl on the cusp of womanhood who was taking a perilous journey, scared stiff, accompanied by a misfit trio who were not always terribly helpful, but who in spirit had her back, and she defeated a terrible villain, saved a society even as she unmasked the phony leader—who, unexpectedly, was not a villain but yet another victim of his own weakness.

But generations of children who were not old movie buffs would never have seen this movie and it would never have become an iconic experience of American childhood without annual broadcasts on television.  For free.  No cable fees, no subscription.  Not today.

Will future generations of children still feel the warm sisterly bond with Judy Garland in their fascination for this movie without it’s being a regular and expected experience of their childhoods?  To be sure, their parents and grandparents may treat them to home video (in whatever form it may take in the future) and Wizard of Oz-inspired toys, but will that die off when national memory (aside from the classic film buffs’, that is) finally lets it go?  For so many people, this movie is their introduction to classic films.

It was not my introduction to classic films, but it likely was my introduction to Judy.

It's been lovely to hear the outpouring of expressions of enjoyment for the movies shown on TCM this month, but particularly for having the whole month devoted to Judy Garland, to giving her a showcase.  She would have been 100 years old this year, and the tragedy of having died young at the age of only 47 is part of the sadness of considering her career, that one is perhaps unable to completely enjoy her work in A Star is Born (1954) without almost subliminally remembering the train wreck of her own self-destructive demise.  In a sense, we still mourn her.  There are few people on the national stage we still acutely mourn after 53 years.

I’ve often thought what a shame it was for her that she did not live long enough if only to see her films celebrated particularly on TCM.  I like to think she would have enjoyed that, and would have made a heck of an interview for Robert Osborne.

I’ve enjoyed reading posts and comments on Facebook and on Twitter about how deeply fans feel about Judy Garland, and it is a kind of love that has little to do with awe of a big star.  There is something deeply personal she touched in people. 

This month reminded me of two very different people whose appreciation of Judy Garland made an impression on me.  One, was my father.

My parents were teens during the Great Depression, and spent, to hear them talk of it, pretty much the entire decade at the movies.  They were very familiar with Mickey and Judy.  When they were middle-aged and had a house full of kids, Judy Garland hosted her television variety show on CBS, The Judy Garland Show for one season from 1963-64.  Since I was a toddler at the time, I didn’t catch up with this program in until much later in life.  But I have it from an older sister who recalled that whenever the show came on, the kids had to be silent, the family plunked down in front of the TV, and my father’s face just lit up with rapture. 

Now, my father was not a movie musicals kind of guy.  (My mother loved them.)  He preferred Westerns, film noir, crime dramas, political dramas, war movies.  He liked his movies on the heavy side.  He wasn’t into fluff that much.  In fact, if Jerry Lewis had ever crossed his path, my father probably would have belted him because class clown-types annoyed him.

But Judy, sweet vulnerable, funny, offbeat Judy, she could do no wrong.  When she came on the 19-inch screen, in black and white and sometimes fuzzy depending on the reception, a woman in her early 40s that seemed to be pushing back with all her might at some new kind of physical frailty—well, that didn’t matter; he just beamed.  That was her power.

The second person whose devotion to Judy Garland was much younger, and I met her several years ago when she was in high school.  She was involved in the school drama club and she wanted to pursue a career in theatre.  Judy Garland was her favorite.  That surprised me, because I’d thought that young people today who have ambitions for an entertainment career might be drawn toward modern film stars, pop stars, TV stars.  But for her, Judy was tops. She knew all the songs in Judy’s career repertoire.  She identified with her in a way she perhaps did not identify with the glossier, edgier stars of her own era.  Judy was timeless.

Thank you to TCM for giving us a huge banquet of Judy this month.  For Judy’s 100th birthday, it was a wonderful gift to us.

Have a look here at these previous posts of some of Judy Garland’s films: 

Summer Stock (1950) 

For Me and My Gal  (1942)

Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

A Memory of Memorial Day School Assemblies

I recently stumbled across this recording on YouTube: The Ballad of Rodger Young, and it brought back a flood of memories of elementary school Memorial Day assemblies.

The song was written by Frank Loesser, known by most of us for his Broadway musical comedies including Guys and Dolls.  Mr. Loesser was a private in the Army during World War II in the Radio Production Unit, and he was assigned to write and edit songs for radio programs, the purpose of which would be for recruitment.  

For one particular task, he was to write a song about a Medal of Honor recipient, and he chose among a list of names Private Rodger Wilton Young, who was killed in action when he drew fire from the enemy so that his company could withdraw from an ambush.  The action occurred in the South Pacific on the island of New Georgia in the Solomons.  Private Young was killed July 31, 1943.  He was 25 years old. 

A poignant and compelling aspect to the story is Private Young had suffered head injuries before he went into the service, which, over time, damaged his eyesight and rendered him nearly deaf.  He refused to be sent to a field hospital and chose to stay with his unit that was entering battle.  This is the description of his actions for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor:

On July 31, 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machinegun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machinegun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties.

I did not know all this when, as a fifth grader, I learned “The Ballad of Rodger Young” from a music teacher who visited our class once a week and taught us folk songs.  That we year learned “Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill” and “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” and probably a few others I’ve forgotten. 

But the memory of “Rodger Young” came rushing back to me as I heard it for the first time in nearly 50 years, so much that I was able to sing along with the refrain.  It also called to mind our elementary school Memorial Day assemblies.

I don’t suppose they were unique, but they impressed me enough to remember them.  The school janitor would go outside and lower the flag on the flagpole in front of the school.  I could see him from my classroom window.  In a short while, all the grades of this small neighborhood school – there were probably well under 200 children and staff in all – would march out in more or less straight lines and gather around the flagpole.  There would be poems, probably “In Flanders Fields,” and maybe the Gettysburg Address, and then two teen trumpet players from the two different high schools we had in town would arrive in their band uniforms and one would stand before us by the flagpole, but the other one would go off to some short distance away, around the corner of the school where we couldn’t see him.

Then they’d play “Taps” and distant one would be the echo of the other.  It was mournful, and stirring, and I still think about it whenever I hear “Taps” at a commemoration.  Then a few boys who were Boy Scouts, who had worn their uniforms to school that day, would solemnly, and sometimes needing a little help from the janitor, raise the flag again.  Then we’d go back to class.

It didn’t take very long, but it formed an indelible and precious memory. 

This took place in the early-to mid 1970s when the Vietnam War was still limping along and many of us were disgusted and questioning our government.  Many of us had family members and friends in the service, but we never questioned them and held them dear, waiting for their return.   “The Ballad of Rodger Young” was about a World War II soldier who died in combat.  My elementary school was named for a young man in my town who served in World War II and likewise, died in combat.  World War II was still much closer to us then and still in our national consciousness, even though we were engaged in Vietnam (though the draft had ended by this time).

We hung flags on our houses, but protested the war.  Expressing patriotism was not such a conundrum then as it is now, even despite being divided about our participation in Vietnam, perhaps because World War II was still not too distant, and we still felt strongly and were taught by society that fascism was wrong, that Nazis were the bad guys and always would be, and anybody professing their loyalty to authoritarians over the Constitution drew our immediate disgust and distrust.  We wanted the ship of state righted; we didn’t want it torn down nor feces spread on the halls of the Capitol.  We had fought a war against fascism.  Rodger Young died for it.  We knew people in town who had died to preserve democracy.  The value of democracy was still at the heart of every debate. 

But because the Vietnam War, which began before I was born and was still being fought, and over 58,000 Americans died there, Memorial Day celebrations gave us more to think about than dishwater platitudes or the ritual of making enemies of fellow Americans so popular with fascists among us today.

Even to a small child watching the janitor patiently untangle the rope to help the Boy Scouts raise the flag, Memorial Day was somehow deeply personal.  It was quiet, considerate.  Then we went back to class.


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Young at Heart at the beach

Young at Heart
(1954) gives us a glimpse of an idyllic beach scene on the Connecticut shore in the 1950s.  To be sure, it is mostly of Hollywood origin, or at least, California, but if the beach is not in the right location, the warm and lovely nostalgia of the beach is genuine.

This is my entry to the Fun in the Sun Blogathon, hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association.  Have a look at some great posts on this topic here.

The movie Young at Heart is a remake of Four Daughters (1938), which we covered previously in this post.  In that original story, widowed Claude Rains heads a family of four girls, played by the Lane sisters plus Gail Page, and all are musicians.  May Robson plays the auntie matriarch who lives with them.  The girls’ suitors have picked out their choices among the daughters, but all the young beaus have competition with the newcomer: handsome and happy-go-lucky Jeffrey Lynn.  But an even newer newcomer, a dour, sarcastic and self-pitying John Garfield swoops in to really disrupt things and his love for Priscilla Lane nearly tears the family apart.

We see the beginnings of the rift and a change from a lighthearted first part of the movie to a more serious and even tragic second part at a family picnic in a secluded country glen.  Here we see the sisters are really all interested in the same man. 

In Young at Heart, this scene is transported to the beach.  Robert Keith plays the Claude Rains role of the dad, Ethel Barrymore in a charming mixture of regal and down to earth plays the May Robson role.  Here the sisters number only three instead of four: Elisabeth Fraser, Dorothy Malone, and Doris Day.  Doris plays the lead Priscilla Lane role.  The boyfriends are with the family at the beach, and the heartthrob who will cause unspoken jealousy among the sisters is played by Gig Young in the Jeffrey Lynn role.

Frank Sinatra plays the John Garfield role in this movie, but this scene is just before he makes his first entrance in the film, so we don’t know yet how he’s going to upend the family.  Even without him, the seeds of discontent are already sown, making the day at the beach bittersweet.

With an almost nuclear-powered sunny disposition, Doris Day is the most lighthearted of the group and fails to see her sisters’ yearning for the man she playfully cavorts with in the surf.  Doris gets to sing two songs during this nearly 10-minute beach sequence. 

For those of us who live close enough to a coast to have spent pleasant days on the beach, the movie image of sand and sea, of wave-kissed rocks and sunshine reflecting off the constantly moving ocean is familiar and almost personal, like someone with a movie camera somehow entering our brains and capturing a memory.  Some sensations experienced going to the beach are really timeless and there is a distinct and powerful comfort about that.

But we may sense that some aspects of this scene are not timeless, and that perhaps going to the beach in the 1950s was a little more do-it-yourself, simple, and perhaps with a slower pace of life.   Yes and no.  We don’t see any arcades or water parks or concessions, or even bathhouses with facilities on this beach, but there were beaches back then and even before – though not all – with plenty of tourist amenities. 

That this beach is not crowded and there is plenty of space between the actors and the extras in the background should not be taken that beaches were not crowded in the 1950s.  Of course, they were.  But not all were, and even in these modern times, I have been to New England beaches that were just as unspoiled and unpopulated as this one in the movie seems to be.

So that is not quite it, either.  There must be something else that evokes the strong feeling of nostalgia for a 1950s beach in this film.  Is it because there are no loud radios playing?  Maybe, but we see Doris singing along to a portable record player.  We don’t see too many record players at the beach these days.  

Is it because nobody’s in a bathing suit and they come lounging on the sand in their clothes?  Maybe.  No sunscreen?  Maybe.  

It could just be that the clam digging and the large pots with New England clambake accoutrements – corn on the cob, potatoes, etc., are not seen quite as much now as in the old days, or campfires on the beach, or gathering driftwood to fuel the fires.

There is a noticeable lack of people taking selfies or scarfing packaged junk food snacks.  No one is being divebombed by seagulls for a few Cheetos. 

I get a kick out of Alan Hale, Jr., who plays the suitor of Dorothy Malone, talking about his sudden idea of what a great thing it would be “buying this strip of beach, tearing down all the bungalows on the highway and putting up some hotels, a whole string of them.” 

She responds, “Whoever heard of a string of hotels along the beach in Connecticut?”

There are some hotels here and there on the Connecticut coast, and were, too, in the 1950s, but not enough perhaps to make Alan Hale, Jr.’s dream come true.  Instead of hotels today there are more likely to be a few condominiums, but the geography doesn’t always allow for development.  Working harbors, saltwater marshes here there, and far more protected areas than there used to be.  Thank heaven.

I think what I really like about this beach sequence is the work of the sound technicians.  Behind all the dialogue, behind Doris’s songs and the “orchestration” that seems to bloom from her portable record player, is the omnipresent, lazy, rhythmic sound of the waves rushing to the shore.  The seacoast is not a quiet place.  The sound of the surf is eternal.

The bright, almost blinding daylight of the first part of the sequence becomes a peaceful twilight with the family around the campfire, and Doris still singing, toasting marshmallows.  The large beach umbrella that sheltered Ethel Barrymore earlier in the day has been folded up.  You can almost feel the refreshing cooler breeze off the ocean, almost feel chilled by it.  It is an idyllic ending to the sequence, a calm before the storm.  A day at the beach is a respite, time to enjoy, to reflect, and to make a memory that will last through days to come.  A beach memory may mark epochs in our lives, just as it does in the movie.

Visit the CMBA website here for more Fun in the Sun Blogathon.


Jacqueline T. Lynch is the author of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. and Memories in Our Time - Hollywood Mirrors and Mimics the Twentieth Century. Her newspaper column on classic films, Silver Screen, Golden Memories is syndicated nationally.  Her new book, a collection of posts from this blog - Hollywood Fights Fascism - is available here on Amazon.

Friday, May 6, 2022

The Caftan Woman Blogathon -- NOW SHOWING

And we're off!


Paddy, lover and scholar of classic films, friend to you and me, will always be a warm memory in our hearts.  Today, we turn our fandom of this wonderful blogger into a collection of posts in her honor.  Have at it, then.  Check out these posts below, and leave your link with your post in a comment here or at Lady Eve’s Reel Life . 

Be sure to visit each other’s posts and comment.  You know Paddy would.


Another Old Movie Blog -- The Case of Charlie Chan and The Caftan Woman

Make Mine Film Noir --   Union Station (1950)

A Shroud of Thoughts -- Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Final Fade-Out"

Once Upon a Screen -- Remember Caftan Woman and her Words

Lady Eve's Reel Life -- Champagne for Caesar (1950)

A Person in the Dark -- The Binding Ties Made of Film

Hometowns to Hollywood -- Portrait of Jennie (1948)

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings --  Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952)

Let Yourself Go...To Old Hollywood -- Ida Lupino as Television Director

The Stop Button -- Ball of Fire (1941)

Vienna's Classic Hollywood -- Paul Lukas

By Rich Watson -- Saturday Night at the Movies

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