Chaste Entertainment–Its Roots and its Consequences

Watching Captains Courageous I don’t know which i’m more nostalgic for: the streak of boys-to-men films that overwhelmed the direct postcode period (1935-41) as i kind of  ‘-oh-shit-we-can’t-talk-about-sex-anymore-what’s-there-left-to-say’ backlash, or the heyday of the obnoxious child actor. the best thing about actors like Freddie Bartholomew andJackie Cooper is that one finds oneself necessarily empathetic towards and repulsed by them at once, creating a truly ambivalent viewing experience. the death of the code would have seemed to kill any pretensions Hollywood ever had towards telling stories which inspire ambivalence, and yet the most fascinating thing it did was produce a perfect hoard of uninteresting actors which one was suddenly asked to identify with. This is perhaps why I’m beginning to warm up the post-code period—-complications keep arising even in the simplest stories which i never expected. for instance, how to feel sympathetic towards blander-than-eggs George Brent in a film like THE RAINS CAME? How to understand the post-code character of Miriam Hopkins in films like A GENTLEMAN AFTER DARK and OLD ACQUAINTANCE? How to give three-quarters of a shit about the Hardy family? These things can be done and more. 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~ by levantor on July 13, 2009.

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