Books for Everyone!

Year’s End 2020

Market Research

When I cannot leave the house to go to market, I do market research!

Actually, it has been my choice during this past year to not subject myself to the Victim-Retailers who remain masked, and the Idiots who contact Retailer-Headquarters to lodge a complaint with Market Command that there are people in the store NOT wearing a mask.

My market research has been online, and it has involved the arts, of sorts. There are probably as many Movie Blogs online as there are Movies-of-the-Distant-Past about which to blog!

Last night, I decided to end my night-work from translating a scary scene of THE DAWN into L’AUBE. Émile Marais, the blacksmith, le forgeron, was there, in his barn, holding his red-hot tongs, and looking at a thug, un voyou, named Dent Cassée, or Don Cassay, Broken Tooth. He restrained himself from using those tongs, and I felt very pleased at his level of self-control.

Some characters are more inspirational than others!

It was 9 pm of the clock, and I needed some down-time. Going straight from Translation-Mode to Bedtime-Mode, ’round about 11, results in at least an hour of my brain not shutting down for sleep. Weird dreams often ensue.

My remedy for this Active-Brain-Syndrome is to read online film review blogs, composed by some very strange individuals. Last night, I chanced upon a reviewer whose absolute favorite era in American film-making is the late 1960s and early 1970s!

I consider that time-frame of motion pictures to contain the definitive dregs of cinéma. I nonetheless read the entire review of AIRPORT, with a few laughs at her commentary. There’s the heart-to-heart, Father-Daughter talk between the airplane-enclosed lovers, Very Married Pilot Dean Martin and Single Stewardess Jacqueline Bisset: she tells Poppa that she is pregnant.

Then there is the Socialite Wife of the Airport Manager. This reviewer made some very cogent (and profane) points about this dressed-to-the-nines goddess, who starts every conversation at “full-throttle harpy”. She braves a blizzard, wearing mink, no less, to have at her husband in a way that proves she is the one who ought to be running Lincoln Airport. I am sure that a remake today would make that adjustment, whilst retaining the full-throttle harpy sound effects.

I then was able to go to bed, and fall fast asleep. No nightmares at all!

Perhaps it was Dean Martin in the pilot’s seat, wearing that hat and uniform, that soothed my mind to a better night’s rest, but I doubt it. Dean has never put me to sleep. That role, though, was a good one for him; he reportedly valued it as one of his favorite characters (anything was better than Matt Helm). The Cast of Characters surrounding him was filled with old (OLD) thespians, several of whom would die not long after the film was made; young (YOUNG) actresses in their budding phases; and Has-Beens who were had cheap by the Studio.

The going-broke Universal Studios was taking a last-gasp chance on this entry-level disaster flick, not even expecting a Hit. In fact, the Top Suit predicted it would be a big flop. And so, naturally, it was a Smash. Martin took a percentage of the gross, instead of a salary, and cleaned up the runway on AIRPORT, a film I’ve seen only twice — and just during the past decade.

Edith Head, always a clever cookie at cutting clothing-corners, had to design clothes from the Trivera polyester fabrication. Helen Hayes came out like the trooper that she was in acting-circles, garnering a 2nd Academy Award, the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, portraying a smiling mean old lady who manipulates everyone around her!

AIRPORT ushered in the disaster decade of the 1970s with the disaster film to trigger all of those star-smashed disaster films. (There is even a blog entitled Disaster Movie World.) The 1970s were tailor-made for plots that just got worse and worse and worse . . .

Because the U.S. film industry during the 1970s made no pretense of creating celluloid art. Hollywood had given up on that concept: motion pictures were made only for money. The profit motive is always the primary goal of any business venture, but where entertainment has traditionally been concerned, there had concurrently existed the objectives of telling a good story, with believable characters, and at least a few uplifting themes, maybe even an inspiration or two. That entire concept got trashed during the trashy 1970s. (I consider the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express and the 1978 Death on the Nile good — for 1970s films.)

Which has brought us, the Viewing Public. to today.

How did The Movies come to such an appalling fate? It’s all due to The Suits and The Investors and The Money-Lenders and those Dark Forces that are usually revealed for what they are, in the Light of Day, when things get too sideways and flip upside-down financially.

The 1980s ushered into the Living Room, at least in the United States, the Video-Tape. At first, the machine to play the Tape was a heavy, expensive lug of limited capability. The medium, in itself, was a long-term loser strategy. Short-term, the Studios, or whoever had bought up those film rights, made a fast killing.

Just like the audio-tape cassette, the video-tape cassette was guaranteed to wear and tear and fade and warp and twist and turn and break. And the actors and actresses had to fight legally, via the Screen Actors Guild, to get their royalties. The Foreign Dragon Market then emerged to plunder any and every kind of “intellectual” property that it could — to the point where the entire mega-blob entertainment globalist glob now markets TO that Foreign Dragon Market.

The rest of us, in our living rooms in America, have moved on from the Videocassette — to the DVD — of classic Hollywood fare. The DVD is not indestructible, but it is more durable. And then there are the special features, enhanced sound, Blu-ray technology with a finer digital resolution, along with those Bonus Documentaries — that are sometimes better than the movie itself!

The one constant factor that has become obvious during the past four decades of Cinema as Entertainment — is the disappearance — POOF — of any true motion picture industry. Norma Desmond was right, once again. (Don’t you just love it when the Villainess, or Villain, is right?)

The pictures got small.

So small that they were transferred onto cassette tapes that were viewed as almost disposable from the start. The epoch of the VCR, the Video Cassette Recorder, in the VHS format, lasted about a decade — but it was a very sober admission by Hollywood that its best days, of creative celluloid art, were long gone: Over, Fini, CUT!

What replaced Hollywood during the 1990s was the potted plant with the pervert wolf, and the plethora of tarnished-screen creeps and cronies, and the gullible and not-so-gullible-lambs-to-the-star-machine slaughter by media moguls who specialize in peddling porn: privately, commercially, globally.

Those dolts with the kiddos in the home; those peons with their buckets of popcorn; those rubes who wait-in-line for heroic-storylines: They will buy anything, and gladly pay for anything.  Cause where else are they gonna go?

They all went to the Past. The Past is a seemingly endless repository of cinematic art that, very ironically, was deemed as disposable by the Studio Moguls of the 1930s and 1940s. By the 1950s, the film industry, at least in America, was swiftly sunsetting, although occasionally a marvelous talking picture or exquisite epic would be created during the early to mid-1960s. The art of acting did not cease to be an art; but it stopped being commercially marketed — onstage, in films, even in real life!

One could blame “politics” for the degradation and debauchery of arts&entertainment in America, and elsewhere. But the political class is primarily composed of scavengers, feeding off of detritus and dying bodies, be they destitute companies or future corpses of once-great but now insolvent industries. The fact that the formerly productive, prolific and even innovative entertainment industry cannibalized is a blatant, albeit grotesque, indication that future investors are waiting for mediums into which to place their smart money.

A truly free market magnificently decides what will sell, and what will not sell. The past forty years of declining viewership in theatres led to smaller and fewer theatres, an economic reality that the studio bosses had already encountered in post-WWII America. The Suburban Multi-plex, with its demographically sliced audiences, its dozen screens, its cinemuck and adolescent talking-pictures, took over where The Drive-ins left off. The screens just kept getting smaller!

It seems that the covert market research by the producers and promoters of the ghastly digital displays of the past 20 years informed those kinky baboons that the Big Screen not only got tiny: the small screen was getting bigger and bigger.

No one was Going to the Movies anymore. The Government therefore needs to help us out: Pravda Potomac Productions presents . . .

Another motion picture no one wants to see.

That strategy is how movies of the 1970s, such as AIRPORT, have made the kind of come-backs that Norma Desmond literally killed for.