Sunday, August 5, 2012

Films' "Good old Days"

Sometimes one can find interesting, if not necessarily good, programs on TV.  Now that doesn't mean they're necessarily bad, either.  Old movies, very old movies, are in that category.  I found such a movie that brought me in my past fantasy land.

Unfortunately, I remember not the channel so I can't give credit to it, but the movie was Tarzan of the Apes.  What caught my attention was its date:  1932.  That was a very long time ago.  Johnny Weissmuller was Tarzan and, if I remember correctly, Maureen O'Hara was Jane.  The two characters met for the first time in the movie and, of course, after an hour and a half or so the came to the expected end.  Another Tarzan movie followed and I think it was when the pair got married.  I didn't watch the second movie.

I hadn't quite arrived in 1932, but my brother had.  I was in my parents' planning stage, but they were trying to figure out how to have a little girl.  It took them two or three years before they started trying in earnest.  By the time I got to see that Tarzan picture, it was already an old one.

Certainly by today's standards, the Tarzan movie was pretty bad, but it was still good in that it was fun to watch. 

I suspect the cable network picked this time to show the movie because Michael Phelps was swimming in the Olympics.  Before he became Tarzan, Weissmuller was a world class swimming champion.  I think he may even have won Olympic Gold, perhaps five of them. 

Phelps did come to mind during the movie.  There was a scene with Tarzan in the river water out-swimming crocodiles.  Phelps never, even during his world record breaking swims in this year's Olympics, swam as fast as Weissmuller.  There is just a small possibility the movie swim was speeded up a wee bit.

And you should have seen those jungle animals running.  Wow! 

As I watched the movie, I got to thinking about the "good old days" of film.  We didn't have television when I was a youngster, but beginning in the late 1940s when I had reached that age of being allowed to go to the movies without my parents, my friends and I used to spend every Saturday afternoon at the theater.  Remember the old Civic Theater.  How about the Strand or the Empire?  Then there was the Cinema in Woodfords Corner.  Another was on the second floor above the A&P in Deering Center.  It went through several names before it was demolished.

At our age, westerns and World War II movies were our favorites.  I still remember those old "heroes" and their sidekicks; and, yes, I could name most of them.  Like that Tarzan movie they were great at the time and for our age.  "Corny" might be a much better description of them today.

Ah, "they" don't make movies like those anymore.  They were fun and, for the most part, clean.  Good guys wore white hats, bad guys wore black.  And the moral was ever constant:  Good won over evil.  Sex scenes and nudity, but not romance, were all but non-existent.  Remember when two people lay side by side, still fully clothed, and the camera slowly moved up toward the sky?  I think we knew what was taking place, but it wasn't necessary to get up close and personal.

And the screenwriters had vocabularies.  Many words, common in films and society today, were never spoken in those old films.

Oh, the memories that a 1932 Tarzan movie brought back.  Movies like that aren't made anymore, but in some respects, what they said was more powerful than some made today.


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