BREAKING: Film festival comes to sprawling campus!

MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2018

On snow day, we screen Broken Arrow:
Breaking! As our sprawling campus was being hit with as much as 0.01 inches of snow, we declared a snow day and a Daily Howler Film Festival.

Thanks to TCM and On Demand, we were able to screen Broken Arrow, the 1950 western which featured this romantic/marital pairing:
Broken Arrow 1950: Jimmy Stewart, 42 in real life; Debra Paget, 16
According to the leading authority on Broken Arrow, the film "won a Golden Globe award for Best Film Promoting International Understanding."

More specifically:

"Film historians have said that the movie was one of the first major Westerns since the Second World War to portray the Indians sympathetically."

We're going to guess that those historians could also be thought of as "experts." Our interest in the film was recently piqued when research told us of Paget's role in the film.

According to the leading authority on her life,
Paget seems to have come from a vaudeville/burlesque family. Our own sainted father was in vaudeville/burlesque, though on the business end.

Bud and Lou were some sort of family friends, or so the old snapshots say. Also, even the tempestuous Dorothy Lamour, sidekick to Bing and Bob in the Road to... movies, though this was all well before our own time.

Thanks to a show business mother, Paget was under contract in Hollywood starting at age 14. She's best known as the love interest in Love Me Tender, Elvis' first film. But years earlier, she had starred with—and even married!—Stewart in Broken Arrow.

According to the leading authority on Broken Arrow, she was 16 during filming; he was 42. It was the way of the era.

Meanwhile, the leading authority on Paget's life tells the story like this:
Paget's first notable film role was as Teena Riconti, girlfriend of the character played by Richard Conte, in Cry of the City, a 1948 film noir directed by Robert Siodmak. Fresh out of high school in 1949, she acted in three other films before being signed by 20th Century-Fox. Her first vehicle for Fox was the successful Broken Arrow with James Stewart. At the age of 16, Paget played a Native American maiden, Sonseeahray ("Morning Star"), who falls in love with Stewart's character. Stewart was 42 at the time.
Morning Star? We'll say! Heh heh heh heh heh!

Watching the first half of the award-winning film, we've been amazed to think that Stewart was making such dreck within four years of It's A Wonderful Life (1946).

The earlier film offers an iconic portrait of same-age American married life. In real life, Stewart was 38 at the time; the transplendent Donna Reed was 25.

In Hollywood. that counted as "same age" marriage. A more ridiculous era was a few years away.

By 1950, the peculiar era of "codger chic" was being launched in Tinseltown. As a result, Stewart was hooking up with Paget, who was still a high school student.

For a fascinating profile of Paget, try this 1951 Hedda Hopper column, exactly as it appeared in the Toledo Blade. We'll admit to a deep soft spot for families of this board-trotting type.

As this decade moved along, Hollywood created an array of portraits of old coots walking away with teen-aged brides. Future mothers in Alabama were absorbing this cultural ideal, as were several men.

In 2014, the Washington Post described Humphrey Bogart's relationship with Bacall as "the best love story ever." He was 44 when they met and got it on; she was inexperienced and 19.

Three years later, the Washington Post triggered a moral panic. Someone who was 32 had once dated someone who was 19. kissing her several times! Her mother had even seen him as "good marriage material." Every pundit knew that this latter fact had to be disappeared.

At the Post, the fact that the fellow had dated someone 19 reinforced the claim that he had molested someone who was 14. For ourselves, we don't approve of molesting people. We also don't approve of that kind of "journalism."

We have a soft spot for trouper families like Paget's. We'll admit that we're a bit less impressed with the people who staged that (latest) moral stampede.

While we're at it, we watched a few minutes at the start of last evening's Golden Globes. We'll admit to an unlovely basic reaction:

Given the reams of hypocrisy and misdirection being put on display by the various high-level "artists;" given the many major players who had enabled those decades of crime; what decent person would have wanted to be inside that room?

That was our unpleasant basic reaction during our moments of watching. We watched a bit of the opening monologue, didn't much like what we saw.

17 comments:

  1. Also, all those people criticizing Roy Moore for wearing a cowboy hat and riding a horse are full of it! Hollywood did it first. Watch for Bob's 24 part series cataloging every movie ever made featuring cowboy hats and people riding horses.

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  2. Bob,I think we've got the point that you too lust after those young girls who are unsure of themselves and not likely to tell on you. There's really no need to go on trying to blame your lusting on old movies.

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    1. Talk about missing the point completely.

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  3. Jimmy Stewart made 92 films yet Bob has been able to come up with only two Stewart films with this extreme age difference phenomenon that he says was so influential in shaping Americans ideas about marriage. The same ratio is true for the cherry picked films other male stars he named.

    Also, shouldn't lots of books and articles exist on this topic of the incredible societal influence of a couple of dozen films out of thousands that were made in the fifties exist in the fields of both film studies and sociology of marriage? Why hasn't Bob been able to cite one? It’s because there’s no evidence that this handful of films influenced anyone in any way.

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  4. In point of fact, I don't understand how you can say "It's a Wonderful Life" is a great movie. It is maudlin nonsense. How many films were made in this time period and how many were any good? Most were garbage. Many unsung at the time are now seen to be great works of art.

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    1. "It's a Wonderful Life" was 26th at the box office in 1947. Bob would like you to believe that this weak attendance was because people were lined up around the block at the nearest "codger chic" film.

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    2. People weren’t going to see Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby movies because they wanted to see singing and dancing, and they weren’t going to see Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne westerns to see gunfights and such--NO--according to Bob, they were going to see these stars so they could plan for their daughter’s marriage strategy! Yeah, that's the ticket.

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    3. The resurgence of "It's a Wonderful Life" as a perennial feel-good movie regularly shown at Christmas time is an interesting phenomenon. The movie teeters on the brink of being a tragedy, and Stewart's performance is close to manic. The happy ending seems surreal and unconvincing, and shows how close to nightmare the "American dream" really is. I wonder if audiences in 1947 picked up on the cynicism, whereas later audiences glossed over the dark edges and put the film in the feel-good category.

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  5. In "It's a Wonderful Life", George Bailey is only FOUR years older than Mary Hatch, regardless of the distance between Stewart and Reed. Bob's attempts to justify or equate are becoming more and more silly - some might say, pathetic.

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    1. Right. Stewart was 38, so Bob must have thought that George Bailey wanted to go off to college at age 38. Bob can't seem imagine that in many movies the male star's real age is much older than many the characters he plays.

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  6. I think the pairing of older male stars with younger actresses stems more from chauvinistic attitudes than any glorification of age difference romances. Male stars remained bankable as they aged, like Cary Grant or Clark Gable, whereas female stars were not deemed suitable as romantic leads after a certain age. (Grant was romancing Audrey Hepburn while Bette Davis was terrorizing Joan Crawford in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane"). And that's all about chauvinistic attitudes, in Hollywood and in society in general.

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    1. Yes, I said this when Somerby first started this thread, but he is more concerned with fairness for Moore than fairness for actresses. A guy’s gotta have his priorities.

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  7. First Somerby quotes the leading expert on Paget:

    "Fresh out of high school in 1949, she acted in three other films before being signed by 20th Century-Fox."

    Then Somerby states:

    "By 1950, the peculiar era of "codger chic" was being launched in Tinseltown. As a result, Stewart was hooking up with Paget, who was still a high school student."

    Obviously, she wouldn't have had time to do those three other films before Broken Arrow and still be in high school.

    It may be that someone is lying about her age, not uncommon for female actresses during that time period. Or it may be that she quit high school early. But this is the kind of trivial error that Somerby pounces on when he is evaluating someone else's reporting. Instead, he takes as gospel the kind of bio manufactured by studio staff and fed to the press.

    Does Somerby not recognize the power differential between Stewart and Paget, who is supposedly Indian?

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  8. Asked Monday by reporters whether Trump’s physical exam, scheduled for Friday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, would include a psychiatric component, deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley barely engaged the question. He replied, simply, “No.”

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  9. "Given the reams of hypocrisy and misdirection being put on display by the various high-level "artists;" given the many major players who had enabled those decades of crime; what decent person would have wanted to be inside that room?

    That was our unpleasant basic reaction during our moments of watching. We watched a bit of the opening monologue, didn't much like what we saw."

    Here is a man with no empathy. He watches the Golden Globes and sees hypocrisy. He cannot imagine what it is like to be female and participate in an industry that (1) excludes women from creative and leadership roles, (2) underpays them for the work they are permitted to do, (3) declares them too old when they hit 30, (4) sexually assaults them while everyone turns a blind eye.

    Women participate in the movie and TV industries for the same reasons as men do. They love acting or writing or directing or producing entertainment. They are not treated the same, but it is the only game in town, so they must deal with it the best they can.

    Now that the need for change is being acknowledged, instead of welcoming the moment, Somerby sees hypocrisy. He has no right to be so blind to the hopes of the female half of that event that things will finally change for the better.

    Any oppressed group goes along to get along. If you don't, you cannot work at all. Somerby, hypocrite to top all hypocrites, takes a break from defending creeps like Moore and can only see hypocrisy in the proceedings, because some men and now joining women in demanding change.

    Somerby is an ass, a huge festering ass. He has no standing to declare anyone else a hypocrite. He is the problem himself and he has no excuse for the crap he has been writing here lately.

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    1. I tried to make a similar point when Somerby first started on this topic. My analogy was: what would Somerby say to blacks and liberals back in the day? Something like this, I surmised: "Why did you wait till 1965 to bring about Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation, when the problem had existed for so long? What a bunch of hypocrites we 'enlightened' liberals are." It's breathtakingly obtuse of Somerby not to recognize how difficult it is to bring about big societal changes. And that these changes have all been brought about by liberals/progressives. So he shits on that too.

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