Saturday, May 03, 2014


I like the way love scenes were handled in the films of the thirties and forties. Imagine how thrilling it must have been to have been a filmgoer in the days when gigantic, passionate heads loomed over audiences of silhouetted chain-smokers. Almost everybody smoked in those days, even some of the kids who sneaked in the exit doors.

Hollywood knew how to do love scenes in those days. They often started in the light...

...and then made their way into darkness. Maybe that was to assuage the Hays Office but I prefer to think that it was done to push the scene into the realm of myth and magic. 

Screen lovers of that period (above) were usually confronted with some insurmountable obstacle like a pesky, killjoy spouse previously thought dead. That elevated their love to the level of tragedy.

Sometimes the obstacle was a disease. Here (above) Garbo has only hours to live but she struggles to keep that a secret from her lover who can't understand why she seems to be so tired and mushy all the time.

Sometimes though, the couple won the lottery and ended up being deleriously happy. They looked into the future and saw nothing but a continuation of their bliss. 

I love the closeups (above) where one head studies the other. 

And how can you beat beach kissing?

Some argue that love scenes...the moment when two closeup heads come together for a crescendo kiss...are overrated. They point out that, when shown out of context, even well known love scenes seem disappointing. That's because the most interesting part of love is established in the light-hearted details or the torturous build-up spread throughout the film. For these fans the boffo climax seems unnecessary.

Maybe they're right, but I still prefer it. My Theory Corner gut tells me that you need a story that pays off...that builds to an exciting climax. Film is about hyper reality. You need a scene to hang that on, a memory the audience can take home with them.


Roberto Severino said...

Right on the money. Many reasons why these scenes were so memorable. They really made falling in love an unforgettable event.

Roberto Severino said...

Also, off topic but I think Steve Worth will love this. Just found it today because I currently subscribe to this channel on YouTube.

It's a 1930 recording of the song "The Mysterious Mose" and the uploader took the time to add the framegrabs from the Fleischer cartoon to the video. It's really cool. He usually posts a lot of old jazz music from the 1910s-1930s. Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey most notably are present in this session.

Joel Brinkerhoff said...

I just watched Torantore's "Cinema Paradiso",the original release, not the three hour 'New' version. The gift Alfredo leaves Toto is very touching and a great symbol of their affection for one another. It's a love story on many levels.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Holy Cow! I just got a comment from Walker Dukes on the 9/29/2010 post I did about him. It reads:

Dear Uncle Eddie:
Thanks for your great review of my work. I really appreciate it.
I love to do TV Shots, which are not screen grabs but the result of me sitting in front of the tv with a camera and a tripod to take shots of the stars as the films are actually broadcast. I'm still on Flickr and also Facebook. I am also doing high definition work too, with as much over-the-top color that the saturation can stand.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Roberto: Wow! A nice version of Mysterious Mose. Many thanks!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Joel: I saw the beginning of that film ages ago and didn't like it, but maybe I was just being dense. I'll give it another try.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Walker: Thanks for the comment! I love your work! I'll try to do an update soon!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Brian Sewell: Got your note. I'll make the change you asked for whenever I can find that post. I wrote it a long time ago before I started using tags.

It may take a while but I don't think I'll forget.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

"C": Oops! I identified you as Brian Sewell. Sorry.