New Year, Old You and Happy New Year to you all.
Being poorly is pretty crap. Being ill over Christmas and New Year is downright shitty. You might think that you could get on with some writing – but no. When the head is full of flu and you ache from top to toe, there’s nothing for it but sleeping and mindless TV consumption.
Then I discovered Talking Pictures TV – (sorry folks, available only in the UK as far as I know) – if you’re a lover of old movies, this is the place for you.
Could there be anything finer than settling down with a cuppa and some ginger nuts to enjoy a golden oldie? I think not.
It really is like stepping back in time, and I have loved and am loving every minute of it. Remember the days when producers told stories? When men were gentlemen and women were ladies? When kids would run away from a copper? It’s all here on Talking Pictures folks – in black and white primarily.
Admittedly things move a lot slower than today’s films. Yesterday, we watched The Lady Vanishes (1938) with Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. There is a hilarious moment when the two of them are fighting one of the ‘bad guys’ in the baggage carriage. The men tussle and wrestle to the ground, whereupon she jumps on top and gets an elbow in the face for her troubles. The fighting is what I would call realistic. In today’s films it seems like everyone can do martial arts, or at least fight semi-professionally – back in the old days people looked like everyone else, a jumbly, awkward mess of thumps. What we Brits call scrapping.
At some point, films morphed into action-packed, fast-paced, mile-a-minute assaults on the senses. Apparently audiences demand was for instantaneous gratification, move on to the next thing, and the next, quicker, faster – like NOW! Media students will be familiar with the Hypodermic Needle Theory – simply put, the audience is passive and communication goes one way, from the makers to the audience, and suggests that we all watch TV/films in the same way. Later came the Uses and Gratification Model; the audience seeks out what they want and can interact to a degree, to satisfy own personal wants.
The films shown on Talking Picture TV, were all made during the era of the supposed Hypodermic Needle Model. In the late 1940’s not many people actually had TV’s in their homes, they went to the cinemas to watch films. (In 1950 only 9 percent of American households had a television set, in the UK it was less.) So going out to watch a film was a big deal. Now with the advent of DVD’s and online streaming audiences are going out less and the cinemas are struggling.
Talking Pictures TV takes us back to a slower time, when people said things like “What ho?” and “Terribly sorry” in RP – Received Pronunciation. When nurses and nuns were heroines, men wore suits, and everything was tickety-boo at the final scene.
So I invite you to join me this week for such treasures as Colonel March of Scotland Yard (about a stolen skull), Man in the Moon (finding the perfect man to send to the moon!) and The Monkey’s Paw (a wish granting artefact). Let the story unfold at a sedate pace, relax into nostalgia with your favourite tipple and a slice of tiffin.
Until next time, cheerio!