Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just Watched: The More the Merrier

What a fun and wonderful film that so strongly echoes a place and time--Washington D.C. at the height of World War II, or at least as filtered through the lenses of Hollywood movie cameras.

In The More the Merrier, one woman and two men share an apartment in the midst of a housing shortage in the capitol city. Jean Arthur, Joel McCrae and Oscar-winner Charles Coburn form the odd trio. Coburn's character, retired millionaire Benjamin Dingle plays cupid to the other two, Arthur's already engaged Connie Milligan and McCrea's soon to be shipped out soldier Joe Carter. It is a very funny film on so many levels, but most especially its frequent and hilariously choreographed pratfall comedy, and it clever, witty and often fast-spoken dialog that touches on much of the era's popular culture.

Two terrific exchanges exemplify that notion. First, Dingle and Carter together recite the parts from a Sunday Dick Tracy comic and then impart:

Dingle: "Gosh, that Dick Tracy is sure playing with dynamite."

Carter: "Sure is."

Milligan: "Is that the best you can do with your time?"

Carter: "Gotta keep up with what's going on."

Dingle: "I missed two Sundays with Superman once, and I've never felt right since."

And an equally funny dialog between Milligan and her young teenage neighbor about a particular American institution:

Morton: "Do I want to join the Boy Scouts or don't I?"

Milligan: "Well of course you do!"

Morton: "But I'm not the camp-craft type! So should I join because I don't like hunting and fishing and hiking and camp-craft, and ought to? Or not join because I don't like hunting and fishing and hiking and camp-craft?"

Milligan: "Well yes, definitely."

Morton : "Some problem. A person should know if he's the camp-craft type."

Washington D.C.'s wartime ratio of eight women to one man is one of the movie's underlying comedic themes and is featured prominently via women whistling at men and nightclub gender imbalances. Set dressings further evoke the era; a war bond poster can be seen near a timeclock, nightclub dancers are costumed in patriotic regalia.

A terrific movie and great snapshot of bygone popular culture.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

See the Presidential Race on a Big 20" Picture

As we approach the dawn of all-digital television, it's sometimes hard to believe that America's love affair with television is just a little over six decades old. The 1952 presidential election was the first to really extend into Americans' homes via television, and Westinghouse used that as an advertising hook as this magazine ad reflects.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Windows to the Past: Fun at the Pier

Four teenage girls enjoy the midway games on the Newport Beach Pier during the spring of 1954. The photo was taken by a photographer from the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hello from Alaska

"World War II changed the ideas of many Americans about Alaska. Americans became interested in the problems of the territory. Opportunities in Alaska today are already vastly improved because of two inventions, the radio and the airplane."

So observes this 1950 publication entitled Hello from Alaska, created to promote the then United States territory and sponsored by the National Dairy Council. As Alaska has recently been in the headlines due to media surrounding presidential election politics, I thought it would be fun to visit its vast northern landscape as it was perceived over a half century ago. The small booklet used a two-page map to illustrate the area's resource-rich geography:

"With the airplane, radio, and new highways, as well as a vigorous, intelligent people, tomorrow in Alaska promises a new kind of pioneering."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Quick Note

Apologies for the shortage of content this week at both 2719 Hyperion and Boom-Pop! We got caught up in some extensive home remodeling that was long overdue but is now happily completed. We will return to our regular schedule of posting next week. Thanks as always for your continued interest and encouragement!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Windows to the Past: Celebrating Victory

Here is the Victory they were all gardening for.

Teenagers in Salem, Oregon celebrate the end of World War II during August of 1945. The picture was taken at the intersection of State and High Streets in downtown Salem. Gas rationing also ended the day the photograph was taken, August 15, and likely influenced the celebrants mode of transportation. The picture is from the Oregon State Archives.