Sunday, May 16, 2010
People Will Talk
And how!! This is a film from 1951, when filmmakers were really starting to push the envelope with the Hays Code. Sex was largely still being implied by dance sequences and fade-outs, murders were bloodless, and anything outside of heterosexual same-race relations was illegal. Well, here we have an example of how flouting the rules leads to great art. Here we have premarital sex, unethical doctors, an unveiled suicide attempt, abortion references, and men raising other men's babies.
Best of all, we have Cary Grant in the lead role. I don't know much about Jeanne Crain, the woman in trouble, but Grant is on my list of those who can do no wrong.
If this film were made now, it wouldn't startle anyone. It would be tame. But a rule that I have about watching movies is that you must allow yourself to watch it as it was intended to be seen. Watching network TV now, where no one swears, but everyone gets shot, is absurd, and there's no way around it. But watching Code-era movies, especially the ones that stick their tongues out at Hays, I never cease to be amazed at what they got away with. True, no one swore in movies then, either, but think about it: we can watch Jack Bauer on 24 literally slice a man's abdomen open while he's still vaguely alive to fish a SIM card out of his stomach, but he cannot say "Fuck." In 1951, a kiss showing anything more than two faces mashed together for a second was taboo. Isn't a little mystery nice every once in a while?