Tag: Orson Welles

Music Movie Monday: Big Bands and Film Noir – the ’40s

Music Movie Monday: Big Bands and Film Noir – the ’40s

Music

With the Depression over, people began returning to the dance halls and the era of Big Band Swing was underway. The top dogs in the field were Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

Glenn Miller Orchestra
Benny Goodman
Artie Shaw

Glenn Miller was killed while en route to a USO show when his plane crashed into the English Channel, and his death is considered the end of the Big Band Era.

With the close of the swing era, we see the emergence of  bebop and jump blues, two forms of up-tempo jazz. As the decade rolled on, jazz and blues began to make their way into the mainstream, with such singers as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald reaching national prominence.

Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday

“Crooners,” such as Bing Crosby were in vogue and by the end of the decade, Frank Sinatra would become the first teen idol.

Bing Crosby

Crosby’s 1942 “White Christmas” is the best-selling single of all time, with an estimated 50+ million copies sold worldwide.

Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra

Singing cowboys were also a thing, with Gene Autry among the most famous of these.

Gene Autry

Movies

After a rough start in the early ’40s because of the war and loss of foreign markets, the movie industry rebounded and by 1946 was at peak profitability.

You can’t talk ’40s film without Casablanca, the 1942 romance starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The movie won Oscars for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director, and gave us such classic lines as “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Round up the usual suspects,” and “We’ll always have Paris.”

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca

Another hallmark of ’40s film was film noir, literally “black film,” which evolved from ’30s gangsters movies and reflected a darker and more cynical mood among the country. Film noir features ominous plots, fatalistic heroes and dangerous femmes fatales (shoutout!). The first definitive example of this genre was The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart as hard-boiled detective Sam Spade and was directed by John Huston in his directorial debut.

Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sidney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon

On a more optimistic note, the films of Frank Capra idealized the underdog and the triumph of the “common man.” The most “Capraesque” of his movies is 1946 holiday feature It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.

And finally, there’s Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane, which has been called the most influential movie of all time. The film is renowned for its cinematography, innovative plot structure and memorable musical score. Stanley Kubrick, Sydney Pollack and Woody Allen are among the filmmakers who list Citizen Kane as one of the best movies of all time.

So there you have an overview of music and films of the 1940s. If you want to read more, check out the sites below.

filmsite.org
Wikipedia
retrowaste.com

As always, thanks for reading, and have a great day!

xoxo

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself (and Possibly Godzilla): The ’30s

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself (and Possibly Godzilla): The ’30s

Hello! Welcome back to our romp through history. Remember all the jazzy fun and debauchery from last week? Well, it’s over. It’s the ’30s. The stock market has crashed, the banks have failed and the crops have dried up. Hitler’s on the rise, a world war looms and worst of all? You still can’t drink legally!  What the F, 1930s?

Luckily, we have distractions in the form of radio, movies and art deco, so at least there are pretty buildings to look at while we’re selling pencils on the street corner.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems, amirite?

Here are some major (and not so major) events of the ’30s:

1930

Aug. 12: Clarence Birdseye invents frozen food. Unfortunately, no one can afford ice so his idea is a bust.

1931

March 3: Congress approves The Star Spangled Banner as the national anthem so we’d have something to fight about on Twitter in 2016.

March 14: Nevada legalizes gambling and Fredo Corleone begins banging cocktail waitresses two at a time.

May 1: After just over a year of construction, the Empire State Building opens, becoming the world’s tallest building until the Twin Towers are topped off in late 1970.

Beloved NYC mascot King Kong arrives in 1934, serving as an ambassador for the city until his purported death at the hands (paws?) of Godzilla in the early ’60s.

1932

Nov 8: Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, introducing the tradition of referring to presidents by their initials.

WTF

May 9-June 16: Congress passes FDR’s New Deal, replacing the Old Deal with gluten-free, paleo and vegan options.

Dec 5: Prohibition finally ends with passage of the 21st Amendment and everyone asks themselves what the F they were thinking for the last 13 years.

We were too drunk on bathtub gin to think

1934

March 22: The first Masters golf tournament is held in Georgia, but it fails to make golf any less boring.

1935

June 2: Babe Ruth retires and uses his farewell speech to curse the Boston Red Sox.

Aug 14: Congress passes the Social Security Act, ensuring that future Judge Judy litigants have a means to support themselves when not suing each other over pit bull attacks.

1936

May 30: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is published, romanticizing the Old South, slavery and Rhett Butler.

Butler? I don’t even know ‘er! (#sorrynotsorry)

Aug 1: The Summer Olympics get underway in Berlin as Adolf Hitler tries to pretend he’s just a normal, run-of-the-mill führer and not a homicidal lunatic.

What are you talking about? I love Jews!

American track star Jesse Owens goes on to win four gold medals and inspire Carly Simon’s 1980 hit song Jesse.

1937

May 6: The Hindenburg explodes over Lakehurst, New Jersey, crushing the fledgling airship industry, but eventually giving us Stairway to Heaven.

Anyone else suddenly in the mood for a hot dog?

May 27: The Golden Gate Bridge opens.

And remains open until Godzilla destroys it in 2014

1938

March 12: Still pretending he’s not up to anything nefarious, Hitler annexes Austria.

What are you talking about? I’m just here for the wiener schnitzel.

Oct 30: Orson Welles trolls millions with his #fakenews radio broadcast that Martians have landed in New Jersey and are meeting in Holsten’s with Tony Soprano. Unfortunately, the air goes dead and no one knows for sure what really happened. (Although there is plenty of speculation on Reddit.)

1939

June 12: The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, NY. The first inductees include Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and A-Rod*.

*Definitely not A-Rod.

Sept 1: Hitler invades Poland, kicking off World War II.

What are you talking about? I just really like Chopin.

The good news is, WWII helps to end the Great Depression. The bad news is, everything else. Stay tuned for next week when we move into the 1940s and get to talk about WWII in depth. Until then, thanks for reading and be sure to save the date for April 22 when we will bring you Decadent: 100 years of Burlesque. Check back soon for ticket info!

See you next time!