How many of us have not grown up with the movies? There probably isn’t anyone that hasn’t been affected by what they have seen on the silver screen. I grew up on black and white cowboy movies at the Ulman Theater. I can still watch an old western on TV and be immediately transported back in time to those days of my youth. I have gained a healthy respect for the movies that preceded the movies that I actually attended. The channel on TV that shows nothing but old movies gives one a nostalgic trip that can’t be found any other place. How many of you can watch an old Shirley Temple movie without getting a joyful tear in your eye? About 20 years ago, they started tampering with the old black and white movies by “colorizing” them. It seems that the majority of people felt as I did. The old movies lost something in the process. Old movies should be shown in black and white. The colorizing idea was dropped.
America’s love affair with the movies started in 1915. Most of the early movies were shown at arcades that were built for live entertainment. Until 1927, they were without sound. The dialogue was shown on the screen right under the picture. I have never been a big fan of silent movies, but I watch a bit of one every now and then just to remind me why. When “talkies” made the scene in 1927, movies became the main entertainment in America for the average man. During the Great Depression, movies provided a great chance to escape the drudgery of everyday life and experience adventure that would never be available to them in any other way. The movies of the 1930’s are the best. They had a good story line and no artificial props. Anyone that has seen one of the movies from the Thin Man series with William Powell and Myrna Loy has to admit that it is great entertainment.
I mostly prefer the movies that feature James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, or Humphrey Bogart. They are guaranteed action and a good story. Of course, you can be jaded by believing in the movies too much. In the movies, the good guy always wins, and that is not always the case in real life. I guess that is why we like the movies so much. We usually knew who the good guy was, and the excitement was in following his or her adventures to the gripping conclusion where they came out on top. The emotional roller-coaster ride made it all worthwhile when the hero triumphed in the end.
There were movies that the studios realized were better money-makers than others, and they produced other features with the same characters. People seemed to enjoy the familiarization with the characters and followed the sequence of films as religiously as some people follow their TV shows of today. In fact, the movie studios have made sequels of many of the more popular films. Movies have followed the many advances in technology, but I can’t imagine seeing the Thin Man in color. If you want that, try a James Bond movie.
(Pictured above: top: Marion Davies, Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickfordbottom: Richard Bartholomew, Ronald Coleman, Arthur Lake)