Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pass the popcorn
Husband and I are both lovers of old movies. The TCM channel might just be our favorite channel, and we're never happier than when we're watching Bogart or Stewart, Garbo or Stanwick. This past evening we watched a minor bit of fluff called Love Crazy starring William Powell and the beautiful Myrna Loy.

At one point in the lunacy, Husband turned to me and said "I love the studio system." Yeah, me too. The classic days of contract players at MGM or RKO resulted in some of the most amazing films of all time. And allowed them to pair together male and female leads who actually had (gasp!) that illusive quality of chemistry. Of course most people know Powell and Loy from the Thin Man series of films the did together. But as Love Crazy illustrates, those weren't the only paring from these two.

Of course Myrna Loy (who I've always thought was stunning) was such an incredible talent she'd be able to act as if she had chemistry with a brick, but when matched with the wise-cracking, whip-crack comedic timing of William Powell, it was magic. Love Crazy makes very little sense, but it's great fun. And, as with all movies made during the era of the studio system, everyone from the elevator boy (Elisha Cook, Jr.) to the overbearing mother-in-law (the stern prow of Florence Bates) was shining. I think that's what I miss most about the studio system. Back then the bit players were as funny or as memorable as the stars. OK, maybe you need to be an old movie nut like I (or Husband) to know them by name, but any movie that has Thelma Ritter or Eric Blore in it is worth seeing. And I love watching those films and saying "hey, that cop is the hotel bellboy from that Cary Grant movie we saw last week."

Modern movies just don't have that quality of having been made in the small town of Hollywood. With global film studios, location shots, the demise of the studio system and the rise of the superstar, it's no doubt gone for good. Thankfully, though, there are DVDs and the Turner Channel to remind us of just how glorious the glory days were. And I'm proud to say that I will always rather watch a James Stewart film than anything with George Clooney.

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