Friday, November 12, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Great Expectations

Valerie Hobson and Jean Simmons in Great Expectations (1946, dir. David Lean)
‘Let me see you play cards with this boy.’
‘With this boy! Why, he is a common labouring-boy!’
I thought I overheard Miss Havisham answer - only it seemed so unlikely -
`Well? You can break his heart.’
-- Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Photo and text via Old Hollywood.

Shopping in 1946

On this summer day in 1946, captured by a sidewalk photographer on Monroe Avenue in Grand Rapids, my "nylons" were actually rayon. Before 1940 we wore cotton lisle, or if rich, sheer silk. Ladies were just getting a taste for nylon when the war took both nylon and silk away from us. Rayon it was, and boy, did we hate it! The "look" wasn't sexy, there was an odd, dull sheen, and worse, they wouldn't dry overnight. So several pairs were usually lined up on the bathroom rod in varying stages of despicable sogginess. We resorted to liquid stockings, leg makeup poured from a bottle. It was a disaster, with all of the downsides you could dream of!

... Department stores of the era dazzled with their offerings. There were extensive furniture departments, normally a full floor, with fully furnished rooms providing decorating ideas and promoting the furniture offered. There were piles and piles of rugs. (Carpeting wasn't popular until later. Rugs were laid over hardwood floors with a border of dark-stained wood showing. If the wood wasn't good enough to show, you could purchase two-foot-wide linoleum printed in a hardwood pattern.)

... Apparel was "big" in the stores, with departments for most sizes, except if you were "small!" Petite wasn't recognized by designers and manufacturers then. So you resorted to shopping in children's wear, or buying an approximate size and having it altered, or you sewed for yourself. In my mother's time, the early 1900s, the itinerant seamstress would show up once a year, unfold her table, and stay long enough to make whatever the family needed — a week, 10 days, maybe a couple of weeks.

... Shopping can be tiring, and stores wisely provided very nice lunchrooms to keep their customers under their roof to take off down the aisles again after a respite, purses in hand. Those purses didn't contain plastic, which came later. But we could charge to our store account, and the salesperson would always ask "Charge and send?" One simply did not carry packages. They came by store delivery truck to your home in a day or two...

Getting from one floor to another was zippy. The bank of elevators was tended on the main floor by an eagle-eyed, uniformed store employee who knew exactly where each elevator was, and beckoned you to the one that would open its doors next. The elevator would arrive, the uniformed operator would open her doors with a white-gloved hand while the other hand was ready at the controls to take you off flying the minute everyone was herded in. As the doors glided shut again you called your floor, and whoooosh, you were off, leaving your stomach in your shoes if ascending or in your throat if going down. The operator brought the cage exactly level with the floor, calling the number out smartly before opening the doors. An elevator ride then had none of the clunkiness and maddening turtle pace of today's automatic elevators.

Retail workers in those years could have normal family lives, as stores were all closed on Sundays. In Grand Rapids stores stayed open evenings only on Monday, until 9.
Text excerpted from memories recorded at the Flickr photostream of Joey Harrison.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raymond Chandler in 1946

“If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better, I should not have come.”
This is the first photo I've ever seen of him; found at Ordinary Finds.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Big Sleep (1946)


The Big Sleep is known for its convoluted plot. During filming, allegedly neither the director nor the screenwriters knew whether chauffeur Owen Taylor was murdered or had killed himself. They sent a cable to Chandler, who told a friend in a later letter: "They sent me a wire ... asking me, and dammit I didn't know either"...

The cinematic release of The Big Sleep is regarded as more successful than the pre-release version (see below), although some complain it is confusing and difficult to follow. This may be due in part to the omission of a long conversation between Marlowe and the Los Angeles District Attorney where facts of the case, thus far, are laid out. Yet movie-star aficionados prefer it to the film noir version because they consider the Bogart-Bacall appearances more important than a well-told story...

The Big Sleep was made in the age of Hays Office censorship, and accordingly some of the more risqué elements of the plot were either presented discreetly or done away with altogether. In the novel, the books Geiger profitably rents are pornography, then illegal and associated with organized crime. The photograph of Carmen wearing a "Chinese dress" and sitting in a "Chinese chair" alludes to that.

In the film, Joe Brody is killed by Carol Lundgren who believes he killed Geiger. In the novel, Lundgren is Geiger's homosexual lover, a detail which goes unmentioned in the film.

In the novel, Marlowe finds pornographic photographs of Carmen and later finds her naked in his bed. In the film, the photographs show Carmen was at Geiger's house when he was killed (thus possibly implicating her in his murder). The novel's nude bedroom scene in Marlowe's apartment is altered in the film to a clothed Carmen awaiting him in an armchair.
More at Wikipedia.

Marilyn Monroe, the babysitter

The photo is actually dated June 1947, but heck - that's close enough.

Via Suicide Blonde.

Bathing suits

Photo: Peter Stackpole, LIFE. Via Ordinary finds.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Fashion Fantasy" (1946)



This film is part of 'Brit Chic: Fashion on Film 1946-1989', a touring programme of films from the BFI National Archive.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Donald's Double Trouble" (Disney, 1946)


"Daisy tells Donald he has to improve his English and manners before she'll see him again. Fortunately, an exact double with an English accent, clear speech, and impeccable manners happens by. Donald talks him into posing as Donald, but grows increasingly jealous as Daisy hugs and kisses the stranger."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Washington silver quarter


From an era when American coinage actually had intrinsic value. 

This 1946 quarter was made from 6.25 grams of 90% silver, 10% copper = 0.18 oz pure silver x recent spot price $18.50/oz + the copper = about $3.50 today intrinsic value. 

Photo credit.

John Deere tractor, 1946 Model A


The green seems to have been even greener then.  Credit.

1946 Ford


I wonder if the name "Tudor" sedan was an intentional pun on "two-door"?

Credit here and here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dolly Parton - born January 19, 1946



The movie version above, and her duet with Vince Gill below.  I prefer the latter.

Biography here, and my favorite (really) big hair photo from the 1960s.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious"


Ingrid Bergman (gowns by Edith Head), Cary Grant, Claude Rains. 

The action opens in Miami, Florida, "Three-Twenty, P.M., April the Twenty-Fourth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Six..."

The video above is Part 1 of 11, which means you can watch the entire movie on YouTube if you are so inclined.