Old Movies, Leading Ladies, and Red Lipstick

I am currently working on the last installment of  A Father’s Love. The last portion is a bit more difficult to put into words.

There has been so much on my mind lately.  So much so that my typical insomnia is now in overdrive. Needless to say I have been watching a lot of TCM overnight, thus the reason behind the title of this particular entry.

I adore classic movies. When I say adore, I mean LOVE more than any other genre of movies. My grandmother and I would always watch them when I was child. The Sound of Music, The King and I, West Side Story and finally, my all-time favorite, Gone With The Wind. I am fairly certain that I was a Southern Belle in a former life. Any movie about the Old South that includes a petticoat and a sappy love story, I am instantly hooked. I think it is my hopeless romantic side, or perhaps my simple-girl side that needs this. Yes, as complicated as I am, I am a simple girl at the very heart of it. Shocker, I know.

Clark Gable & Vivian Leigh embrace in Gone With the Wind, 1939; Selznick International Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Over the past few weeks I have indulged in a few old films that I have never watched before. One, The Rains of Ranchipur starring the beautiful Lana Turner and dashing Richard Burton. The other, Same Time, Next Year with Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. I have always loved Ellen Burstyn. The way she speaks and her mannerisms are eerily reminiscent my sweet grandmother.

Sometimes, I just need to get lost in another time and place. I need to forget about responsibility, deadlines and all of those things if only for a moment. For me, these old films do that. They transport me to a more simplistic time and place. The acting is overly-dramatic; and the effects are archaic in comparison to what we see in filmography today. I do believe that this is what turns me on when I get a glimpse of Hollywood history.

When the dam broke in The Rains of Ranchipur, it was so incredibly cheesy. The people running from the flood ran in what looked like double-time; and the crashing of the water into all of the buildings and instantly causing destruction was  incredibly super-frivolous to say the least. I envision however that this was magnificent to those viewing the film so many years ago. I instantly imagined myself in 1941, in a dark theatre with plush velvet seats and a red curtain that pulls away when a film starts. I can hear the clicking of a reel-to-reel. I imagine I am dressed in a dark green dress with a stiff slip underneath. My hair in a short blonde coiffure, my red lipstick (I adore red lipstick) is perfectly in place, and my white gloves tucked away in my handbag. I transform myself mentally to that time period; I imagine how exciting this scene in the movie would be seeing it for the first time.

There is an innocence, yet something so realistically seductive and sensual about movies like these. I am always astounded at the innuendos, as well as direct references to sexuality in these films. It makes me giggle to think about. I feel we imagine times past as very “Puritan-like.” History does tell us otherwise. We are human after-all. Our world has most certainly advanced in technology, transportation and ideations. However, despite all of that, the carnal, human act of basic thought and emotion still lives. One that I believe has existed since the beginning of time.

In both films the leading ladies are despondent and disconnected in their respective lives. They seemingly exist. The internal flame that defined them each as individual women has been dimmed because of life. Until one day by chance, something or someone, reminds them of that fire that once burned.

It is so easy in this current fast-paced, cut-throat, performance driven society that we live in to forget the simple things that make us tic. I myself have let my “fire” die down during the everyday business of life. I forget sometimes that I am that simple girl at heart. Sometimes it takes something or someone, to remind us.

I am reminded of a quote by the great theologian Albert Schweitzer; “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” 

Be still today and find the thing that rekindles your fire. It may be watching a movie, doing something that takes you back to your roots, a chance encounter even. Find that something and let it stoke the fire of your basic human psyche. We as humans need that. It is imperative to our overall well-being. It helps lead us to be the best version of ourselves.

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