PolySciFi Blog

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


The Grapes of Wrath

There's another thing the Academy is good for besides screenings like these, and that's digging up old ghosts. I went to their screening of The Grapes of Wrath, and here's who was there:

I'm not sure how they found all these people, or got them all to show up, but like David Carradine said, they were all just looking forward to watching this movie with everybody. It must be pretty great, if you're Dorris Bowden, to be able to see yourself onscreen for a big audience again.

The movie was great; funny, well acted, beautifully photographed. Some "social message" movies from the 40s (all right, most social message moves from the 40s) haven't aged well. But some have, and this is one of them. The politics of the movie are more complicated than you may remember; here's the end of Tom Joad's famous speech:

...and when people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they built - I'll be there, too.

Which sounds a lot like Bush's ownership society. What's deliberately missing from Bush's worldview, and painfully apparent in this movie, is that the game is rigged; if you don't have money or property, good luck getting any. It's easy to subscribe to a bullshit view of the left that says: what they want is for everything to be communal, from each according to his abilities, &c. And that's true on the very fringe, but then by the same token, the right wants fascism and theocracy (combined!). Anyway, more on that when I think about it more; for now the note is it's a great movie.

Also: they showed two newsreels. One was a Christmas Parade down Hollywood Boulevard. You could clearly see the Taft building and the Roosevelt, but of course all the shops are now long gone. And the L. Ron Hubbard's Winter Wonderland display that's my personal favorite thing about the season? Not there; Hubbard was still writing pulp sci-fi. The other newsreel had then-columnist Ed Sullivan presenting Bette Davis and Mickey Rooney crowns as the "King and Queen of Hollywood." So not exactly earth-shaking news in either case.

Last: shorts. Teddy the Rough Rider, which was decent, and A Wild Hare, which was kickass.


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