Monday, 30 August 2010

The Front Page

At various film classes and in documentaries about classical Hollywood, I have watched the same scene from His Girl Friday (1940) over and over again. Rosalind Russell walks into Cary Grant's office and they exchange an extraordinary repartee, where it's difficult to judge who's winning. To me this was the coolest relationship ever - a man with brilliant wit and intelligence and a woman with class and balls of steel!

I finally managed to watch the film in totality and was once again astonished at how modern early Hollywood was. Films like Citizen Kane (1941), The Third Man (1949), and His Girl Friday (amongst many, many others) are to me the prime examples of how American cinema in the 1940s was the culmination of Hollywood's so-called Golden Age. The razor-sharp dialogue, the natural acting, the suave main characters, the fabulous unravelling of the storyline - these films were a class apart. Compared to that era, with its limited technical development, everything we see today is a bit of a damp squib. 

No wonder then that one of the 'cool'est films we have seen in the past decade, Ocean's Eleven (2001), is not only based on a 1960 film of the same name, but also borrows heavily the style from that time. Yet it may be too much to ask Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock to pack the same kind of swagger in all their films that Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor once had.

Ah, the good old days...

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