I like old movies. Especially musicals. I love to watch folks operate in what I consider a simpler time, a less complicated society, when our focus was more on people and relationships than on our computer screens or Facebook posts. At least that is what I see in these movies. Simple lives.
There is also no or very little violence, bad language or emotionally intense situations in these movies. My goal of pure and simple entertainment, and more than likely a song in my head, is what I seek. The other thing I like about these movies is the multigenerational living. Nearly all the families portrayed in older movies have at least three generations living together. The lives of both the old and the young have a delightfully high value. Of course, the death rate among women and children was atrocious in older times. People died of the flu or a cut quickly turned into something worse. Medical care was lacking, so grand efforts were taken to protect and preserve all members of the family. Men mostly worked, women mostly stayed home. The kids helped with the chores and the elderly help with the children is a blissful symbiosis. On screen anyway.
I recently purchased the original MARY POPPINS movie. I did buy the electronic version, merging the old with the new. Ironically enough, the movie was released the year I was born. We share a history, me and that movie. I grew up with an LP record of the songs from the movie. A sound track as we knew it back then. I am not sure if I still have the record, and if I did it would be packed away in storage. I remember playing the record in my room as a kid. The songs bring on such a sense of nostalgia and I still know most of the words to nearly all of them. The words were written on the album cover or inside on the jacket and I recall reading them so that I could sing along.
I remember the room I had in that house where I would play my records. I was in the back of the upstairs hallway on the street side. This childhood home was a split level, but a little different than the ones we see nowadays. One walked in on a main level that had the living room, eating area and kitchen. Off the living area, it was about 6 steps to the upstairs that contained all the bedrooms and a main bathroom. At the same precipice are another 6 or so steps to the basement. The basement, which was only partially under ground, had another bathroom, laundry room and a den. This was our play room, TV room and rompus area. My Dad had a desk down there too, tucked away in the corner. Not an office, but someplace that my parents paid bills, worked on taxes, or wrote letters. There were built in closets all along a back wall that were used for storage and where my Mom would hide holiday presents.
I remember times of being in my room and playing records. I am not sure if I was in trouble or if I was escaping something else. My dad was a raging drinker during my formative years and there was always chaos in the house. I am suspicious that my record playing in my room may have been related to my parents fighting. You know, my way to drown out their fighting with my own noise and retreat into my own little world. It could have also been related to me being sent to my room. I was a pretty good kid, as I was shy and contrite and rarely broke the rules, so I am not sure why I would have been sent to my room. Despite any negative reason for my presence in that room, I have more positive memories of playing my records than I have negative memories as to why I was there.
The reason I buy movies is so that I have a small collection of films to watch on days I am either stuck at or choose to stay at camp, have no internet or for future days when any sort of TV may not be available. I wanted to pick movies that I could watch over and over without getting too bored. I also like to choose movies that illicit good feelings, positive emotions, laughs and “good, clean” entertainment. Nothing scary or too emotionally intense. Just something to pass the time, keep my brain busy and give me something to do. I like to keep these movies on when I do other things, like write or mend or cook. I enjoy the background noise when I am fussing about.
MARY POPPINS in particular gives me such good feelings and music that I can completely embrace it’s legacy. Sure, there are the implied negative aspects of that time period. Women did not vote, own property and were completely under the control of their husband. Young girls got married and made families. They often died in childbirth and rarely lived on their own. I am sure there was rampant abuse that went on behind the scenes. White men dominated everything and used both formal and informal means to advance their agenda. God forbid you were a person of color or someone with a disability or gay or anything else that did not conform. Yeah, I know all of that existed in the reality of the times. These movies let me choose the naiveté of the people on the screen and the situations that play out, with all their innocence, songs and superficially happy times.
Suspension of disbelief is what entertainment is all about, is it not? I mean, we ask folks to believe in the stories of STAR WARS and SPIDER MAN, don’t we? We ask audiences to fly in space, walk through walls, live under water. This really is not different. The people and situations on the screen are a representation, a portrayal, and may be no more based in reality that the latest JURASSIC PARK rendition. Given that context, I embrace my penchant for old movies, for my interpretation of a simpler time, of families and situations that always come out for the better, of people breaking out in random song and dance. I embrace my inner MARY POPPINS and all those on whose wings she flies.
Now, back to work I go.