Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Golden Age

I love the ’30s.

It was, in so many ways a terrible time. The rise of fascism and National Socialism, Stalin’s purges, the Great Depression. W.H. Auden called it a “low, dishonest decade” and there’s no arguing with that. So what’s to love?

Man, they had had style.

Men dressed — including the omnipresent fedora. None of this going out to dinner in a tank top and flip flops. Women went for whatever glamour they could afford and their style has never been matched.

Has there ever been a meaner piece of machinery than a Thompson submachine-gun? And the pistol hit the extent of its necessary development with the Colt 1911 .45 automatic — it’s all decadence from there.

A big American car in basic black — what else could you possibly desire?

People traveled on trains and there are no more romantic words than “the night train to...”

American music was going through one of its periods of massive creativity, with the jazz age effortlessly moving into the age of swing, and the movies were entering a golden era. Hemingway was at the peak of his powers, with no signs of his decline into a drunken parody of himself.

Michael Mann’s vision of the 1930s comes alive on the screen in “Public Enemies.” Maybe it’s weird to feel nostalgic for times long gone before your own, but it’s not an uncommon malady among history geeks.

All I know is that I sat in front of the Sisters Movie House screen last night and wished I could crawl right through it and straight into 1933, hard times and all.

See a review of "Public Enemies" at
Jim Cornelius, Editor

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