Saturday, September 5, 2009

You Young People

That's a little hard for me to say because it required admitting that young people are "others" and I am, to put it humorously, a geezer. I bemoan that a generation is already grown up that doesn't remember what a phone booth was, or know what it was like to live in a house without a television set, or expected to share the family car which was not new.
I saw a movie on Turner Classics that was released in 1942, with a spirited if somewhat psycho Bette Davis in it, ranting about, causing trouble for everybody. In This Our Life turned out to be an engrossing saga of two sisters named Stanley and Roy. Maybe they were crazy because their parents gave them boys' names and they never felt quite right about it. Anyway, Bette was really the off-the-wall one; Roy was played by the elegant Olivia de Havilland, who had to tolerate the whims of Stanley way beyond the natural call of sisterhood--starting from the beginning of the movie when Stanley decided to run off with Roy's husband (Dennis Morgan) and leave her own fiancé (George Brent) in the lurch.

Bette was pitch-perfect in the role of a headstrong sociopath who teased, cajoled, or charmed exactly what she wanted away from whoever had it, and never looked back. When she did look back, it seemed to her that people were always blaming her in a way she couldn't understand.

Somewhere early in the movie somebody (I think it was the delightful old rich uncle Charles Coburn, who adores Stanley) says, "Well, that's just the way modern young people are--they think they deserve whatever they want, and they just take it."

When I heard the line, I was struck that it was written in the early 1940's. Quite likely it was in the Pulitzer-prize-winning book by Ellen Glasgow from which the movie was taken. The movie presents an interesting transition time in history, with a civil rights side story, and a very complex network of human relations. Certainly it was not the first time somebody attributed all the coming ills of life on the younger generation, nor the last. That it was as blatantly easy in 1942 to see that things were changing as it was in the 1960's or it is today is not surprising. Around the turn of the 19th century, the many inventions and the alarming new music dubbed "ragtime" had the geezers wringing their hands.

It's one of the advantages of getting old--you can absent yourself from the middle of things and let a different generation take the heat.


Steve said...

Quite a few of these young folks consider an old movie to be pre-1990.

Some won't even watch a B&W.

Mary Lois said...

Harrumph! They're missing something then.

There's not even an explosion in this movie. Does it have a chance?

Justin Kahn said...

Can't they reedit to include a few explosions. Like how Pride and Prejudice and Zombies adds zombies?

In that case, I would totally watch B & W films.

Dennis Maloney said...

All of Miss Bette Davis's movies are great. You don't see pictures like that today because nobody has her talent. Yes, I know she was married, but she wanted to be known as Miss. Her husband was a alcoholic and abused her, which shocked me when I read about it in her bio. Actually threw her out of a car one nite. Never liked Crawford though, who was in a number of her pictures. I guess it is all a matter of taste. In my generation it was and still is Kim Novak. Her and Bill Holden did the most, should I say sexy, dance in Pinic.

Mary Lois said...

Davis had four husbands in all, Dennis, and all the marriages were pretty stormy. I don't know who threw her out of the car, but there was one she hit over the head with a lamp and he died a few weeks later. As a human being, she had her problems, but she was one of the best actresses ever in movies.

You and Slezak have a thing for Kim Novak, but for the life of me I can't imagine why. To each his own, I always say.

Hoboken Kid said...

Bette Davis married 4 times, one got whacked with a lamp...DON'T mess with BETTE, I say. Great actress, yes she was. LOVE ALL HER MOVIES.

SORRY ml, ya can't see all da fuss about da movie, PICNIC, 1955. Bill Holden, Kim Novak, DA SONG, MOONGLOW, the dance scene...Dennis and I can't get that one out of our heads. To all you guy readers out there, CHECK IT OUT. Youtube, Picnic. Tell me that don't put a twinkle in ya eye....greatest romantic dance clip EVER. AND IT'S IN LIVING COLOR TOO.

Remembering when da goils got dressed up like that, da hoop dresses...that went up when they sat down...tell us what you think, or are we both NUTS?

Mary Lois said...

I remember dem dresses, Slezak. Usually it was petticoats, but there were actually "goils" who wore hoops. Had to have those full full skirts.

I've seen Picnic a number of times, but the movie doesn't really work for me. Holden was way too old and Kim Novak was too (but still too young for him). Oh, never mind, if you guys like it, that's okay with me.

Give me a a good old Bette Davis flick, with Paul Henried lighting two cigarettes at the same time. Or Bacall saying to Bogart, "It's even better when you help." Maybe I'll write a whole blog post of movie memories. Stay tuned.