I think I might enjoy old movies more than ones being made currently. I love to look at the old fashions, see the old style of acting, hear the old soundtracks. There are certain movies, however, that I am drawn to for their color. Those films of the 1960s that just burst with bright color, so much that they dazzle the eye. Films these days have lost that element unless they were made for children. Think about it. What was the last film that you watched? Was their furnishing? Was it minimalistic and strikingly modern? Probably. Unless the last film you saw was by Wes Anderson or was Everything is Illuminated, that is.
My mother was a singer when I was little, so naturally, she exposed us early to musical theater. Because she was a soprano and because she was pretty sure we would be sopranos too, she tended to like the musicals that had parts in it she could sing, such as Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, or the Sound of Music. We had a mound of VHS tapes of the Rogers & Hammersteinthat we would watch over and over again (apparently, she tricked us into liking it). These films combined some very optimistic cinematography with typically joyful singing, in stories where more often than not, the good guys won and lived happily ever after. The effect is really striking.
Here’s a few samples:
First, some scenes from Bye Bye Birdie of recent(ish) Mad Men fame. In this first scene, Ann-Margaret plays the young Kim who has just been “pinned” by a guy named Hugo. She tells one friend and soon the whole town is on the phone spreading the news. It’s really great. There are scenes with people in showers on the phone, a dude driving a convertible on the phone, and people in a dinner on phones. Yah know, because there was wireless back then (no.)
This one is also from Bye Bye Birdie. I like the movie so much that it is hard to narrow down my picks to share. In this one, Kim is in a fight with Hugo and both have gone out to the local hotspot to blow steam, flirt with other people, and make each other jealous. There’s some great dancing, some Elvis-impersonation, and Ann-Margaret really rocks the redhead in hot pink thing.
Now, we switch gears. The next few clips are from the French film Les Parapluies de Cherbourg by Jacques Demy, starring Catherine Deneuve. This film is not quite so sunny as Bye Bye Birdie, but the colors are incredible. The film is essentially an opera – two lovers are separated when he is drafted and sent to war. She pledges to wait for him. Meanwhile, she is pregnant with his child and not yet married, struggling to make it on her own. Years go by and there’s no word from him, and one day, a rich gentleman comes a long offering to save her from her troubles through marriage.
This first scene is the two lovers, pre-war, dancing at a cafe after she has been forbidden to go out with him by her mother. (She is very young). The conversation isn’t that important – everything in this film is sung, even things like “I need to change my shoes” or “It’s a mambo. Let’s dance.”
The next scene is later. Genevieve ,the young girl played by Catherine Deneuve, and her mother need money, so they go to a local jeweler to attempt to sell the mother’s pearls. The jeweler refuses to buy them, but a young, stylish gentleman, who was their peddling loose stones, offers to buy them. He doesn’t have the cash on hand, so helpful mom suggests that he come buy with it tomorrow.
In the last scene, things are looking pretty bad for Genevieve, so she basically decides to marry the rich guy. He sends her a ring, she puts it on, and then it cuts to her walking with the man, who is promising to treat her unborn baby as his own and telling her he loves her. In all of these scenes, the color is outstandingly bold and beautiful – from bright red walls, to hot pink walls, to yellow dresses, to blue floral prints. Everything is in stark contrast to the music.
This next scene comes from South Pacific. The men are talking about women and how they miss them. That’s all I really remember from the plot, but you get the point. PS look at how tiny the lady’s waist is. It’s nuts.
Lastly, this is the opener and most famous scene from Oklahoma. Look at the bright blue sky, the green, the orange of his shirt. The vividness is a perfect match with the exhilarating song and really makes you believe that it is a beautiful morning.