Thursday, June 24, 2010

The ramblings of a golden-holic

The other day I went to a local store that had a massive DVD sale. I purchased six DVDs, all of which (excluding one which was Princess and the Frog- heh, what can I say? I'm a kid at heart) were from the 'golden era of Hollywood'.

When I got to the counter the woman who served me asked if I was buying these movies for my mother or my grandmother or some other older female relation. When I replied that they were all for me, she looked at me in this sort of disbelieving way as though she didn't know whether to believe me or not.

I get this reaction quite a lot.

For some reason a lot of people in society think that just because I am young means that I can't possibly appreciate things from so long ago. And more importantly, I can't appreciate things that the majority of society has seemed to have forgotten; in this case, old movies.

I know a lot of people don't understand my obsession with the golden era of Hollywood- hell, even I don't understand it. There are plenty of modern celebrities, badly written romance novels, brainless movies and TV shows, etc out there that are currently being obsessed over by those of my age group; but instead of swooning over Justin Bieber flicking his hair in that I'm-so-nonchalant-yet-cool way or sighing over the latest Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart love story, I am busy frantically looking up facts on old Hollywood and constantly searching for new movies, new stars to watch and to admire from that era. I guess that sort of makes me a geek.

Not that I mind overly much, in fact truth be told, I rather enjoy it a lot.

In History I learnt that in order to prepare for the future, you have to first understand the past. I think this also applies to film.

I appreciate some of the good quality films made in modern day even more then the average viewer, because I understand all that the very first stars, directors, producers went through to make today possible. The techniques, effects, acting and the general idea of a ''star'' was all created so many years ago. It’s through viewing the beautiful movies of that era that you begin to realise how much of an effect old Hollywood has had and still continues to have on our movie industry.

I have posters, cds, pictures, dresses, clocks and countless of other things that call back to the old days.
My collection of old movies (silent’s AND talkies) grows more and more almost weekly, thank god that most of the time old movies are being sold for cheap or else I'd be living in a cardboard box, broke, surrounded by all my classics, not unlike a crazy cat lady. But I'd be a crazy classic DVD lady or something to that effect.

I realise that I am probably coming of as a bit strong here- but hey, what can I say? I'm obsessed.

Give me Peck over Bieber, Audrey over Kirsten, black and white over colour, good story over special effects, a kiss on the hand over obscene adult scenes, screwball over vulgarness, any day!!

I guess my rant is over, I had to get that of my chest I do apologise if it did not make any sense, or if it was over-the-top stupid.

I guess all I wanted was to really say was this;

I'm a golden-holic. But unlike most ''holics'' I never, ever want to be cured ;)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain't heard nothin yet!

Edit:  I wrote this blog when I was seventeen/eighteen years old. As such, I wasn't really as well informed and educated. This movie, while historic, does contain 'blackface' by the main actor.  While I was disgusted back then with this display, I now understand more the history/etc, of what this means.  It no longer sits right to me to recommend this movie or its star. No matter how historic of a film or actor he was.  That said, I do believe that this movie still has a purpose. A purpose to tell us how far we, as a society have come- and how far we still have to go.

Those words made movie history.

Today I was privileged enough to see The Jazz Singer for the first time. I picked it up at my local target for only eight dollars. Being the landmark movie it is, I thought that it would only be fitting that I devote my first real post (the last one doesn't count, as it was an introduction of sorts) to The Jazz Singer.

There's a lot of controversy surrounding this movie. Some say it is racist, others say it's outdated. I must admit I do find the film both outdated and racist, which is hardly surprising since it was made in 1927 and based on a very outdated play.  I think it's important to view these movies as a reminder of what used to be.  

I have not come across many Al Jolson works, save for his music of course- which, though you may not know it is still very much around. But he seems to sparkle and light up the screen in a special way. For those who do not know about The Jazz Singer, let me tell you a little bit about it. The Jazz Singer was released in 1927 by Warner Brothers.

Yes, that's right I said Warner Brothers, not MGM as some believe.

The Jazz Singer is often credited to be the first feature-length distributed movie that used synchronized sound and dialogue for different parts of the movie.

It is about a man that comes from a very orthodox Jewish family and due to his love for Jazz and unwillingness to follow in his father's footsteps, he leaves home in pursuit to become a star, much to his mothers heartbreak. Eventually after many years of trying to make it big, he meets Mary Dale a beautiful dancer, who helps him get his big chance, and eventually lands him a spot on Broadway. However as time goes on and he tries to reconcile himself with his father and mother, the choice between his career and what his family wants become more and more pressing. What will he decide? *queue suspenseful music here* XD

Image removed. 

For most of the film it is a silent film, only through songs and one particular scene with the main character and his mother, do we hear a sound and/or dialogue. The Jazz Singer is often attributed to stopping silent films altogether. This is not really true. Though of course it did have a profound effect on the industry, silent films continued to be produced for many years to come -though admittedly these silent films would often use synchronized music and sound effects after the successes of this movie and Don Juan (1926).

While I was watching this movie I wondered to myself what it must have been like for audiences of that time to go and see this movie... Especially in the scene where Jackie (Al Jolson) sings and talks to his mother. How the audiences must have reacted, when they were so used to silent films, to have suddenly the main character speak and laugh. It must have been magic.
I almost wish I could go back in time and observe everyone.

Other then Al Jolson, the cast also includes May Mcavoy, Warner Oland, Cantor Rosenblatt and lots more. May I say that the lighting on this film was absolutely brilliant, particularly when used on May Mcavoy who at times looked absolutely stunning. Apparently, Myrna Loy can briefly be seen as one of the chorus girls, I must confess I missed her.If you get the chance to see this movie, I definitely suggest you do. Though some themes may be outdated and perhaps offensive to some people, the movie itself is a landmark in movie history. The relationship between the mother and son in particular is very touching.

A must see for all movie buffs.

DISCLAIMER; THE JAZZ SINGER belongs to Warner Brothers, all images and references to it in this blog are used in a manner of awe and admiriation. I do not claim to own or to be affiliated with Al Jolson, any of his family, any of the other actors or Warner Brothers themselves. I am just a star-struck kid, who is very scared of lawyers, so if there are any issues please do not hesitate to contact me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

To begin...

I am not sure when it began exactly. It would be hard to pinpoint when it all started- I think it would be suffice to say that it was always there, lurking.

But I think it really began to become apparent, to become known when I was not yet fourteen. The old era of Hollywood had long been a interest of mine, but it was not until I began to buy more of the movies from that era- it was not until I began to do more research of that period, that my interest grew into an obsession.

While I have many other obsessions and interests (some of which no doubt will make an appearance on here) the one that continues to grow from strength to strength, is my fascination with old era Hollywood.

I am seventeen years old (eighteen in only five days!), not exactly your usual fan of such movies. I have a collection of DVDs that span from 1914 onwards. My favourite actors/actresses are from the ''Golden era of Hollywood'' spanning from 1920s-1950s.

People ask me all the time why I like such movies, why that era fascinates me so much. Usually I cannot give an answer, but today as I sit here pondering it, I think I have one. I think I like these movies in particular because they represent a time of simpler life, of values and morals that are no longer present.

Do not misunderstand me, I don't wish to push women back into kitchens wasting their lives as a housewife, mother, etc without being anything more. Nor do I wish to go back to the times were such racial prejudice was present.

But I do wish that our society did retain some of those old school manners and civility that have long been discarded...

I have no doubt whatsoever that every one has heard the phrase ''They just don't make movies like they used too'', and it's true. They don't.

I'm not saying movies today are bad, we all know that there are some brilliant ones out there. I am however saying that back then there was a certain quality, detail, that cannot be copied in today’s standards. The photography, the lights, the glitter, the certain glamour they had back then are irreplaceable. Yes some movies had dodgy effects that are laughable to today's generation (1933 King Kong, a mere example), but that does not lessen the appeal of such movies in my eyes, in fact it rather makes them all the more worth while, all the more valuable.

I guess I began this blog as a tribute to those stars, movies of yesteryear. To share my obsession to the world and to try and send out the message that just because it's old doesn't mean it's broke...
My name, well my nickname really, is Nelly and I want to, should anyone let me, to share with you all My Golden Obsession.