Old Movies

zekko

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When I watch old movies, I like to see how the dating culture and gender roles have changed over the years. I just watched Soldier in the Rain on TCM from 1963 - Steve McQueen and Jackie Gleason are buddies in the army. It was surprisingly good, I thought, considering I had never heard of it.

Anyway, Steve McQueen sets Jackie Gleason up with Tuesday Weld, and they date for the rest of the movie. Gleason is a master sergeant in his 40s, and Weld is "18 1/2" and a senior in high school. At one point she brings him some cookies she baked in her home ec class.

If a guy in his 40s today dated a high school student, he might get called a pedophile, or at the very least get looked at sideways. I'm always reminded of The Nutty Professor (the original one), also from 1963, where college professer Jerry Lewis has an affair with a student (Stella Stevens). In some states today this could get him arrested, and in most he would lose his job and teaching license. But back then no one bats an eye.

There is a scene in Soldier in the Rain where Gleason plays the white knight: They run into another older guy who starts yelling at her for flaking on him, and Gleason makes him apologize. I guess in a less feminized world, guys will play Protector more.
 

samspade

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I miss TCM. That reminds me how in Singin' In The Rain, Debbie Reynolds' character is around 19 or 20, I think. Gene Kelly is in his 40s and falls in love with her. But at least Reynolds isn't in high school, lol. In 1952 Kelly was 40 and Reynolds was 19 in real life.

Though the plot of that movie is pretty messed up. He totally white knights for her and they conspire to ruin the other actress' (Jean Hagen) career, because she can't sing and talkies are about to take over. The studio even tries to force Hagen out of the movie and give credit to Reynolds. Hagen gets a lawyer and threatens to sue. In the end, spoiler, she's outed at the premiere in humiliating fashion. Her crimes were that she's shallow, can't sing, and had Reynold's character fired for accidentally throwing a pie in her face at a party.

My point is, no way that movie gets made today. Or if it did, Hagen would be the heroine for standing up to the "patriarchy." But whenever I watch that movie I see it as everyone teaming up to push her out, even if she's just a shallow actress.

Also, I don't really like musicals, but I can watch Singin' In The Rain for some reason.
 
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