The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 4:38 pm

I imagine if there's one person who has been subjected to near fatal amounts of civilian nitwittery, it's him.


I can think of someone who has faced even worse nitwittery, by his own account... :twisted:
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 4:59 pm

Free Silver!!

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Play “Melancholy Baby,” quick!
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 6:32 pm

Like I said, this story and what it represents is so tied to current events it's hard not to wed them together, but really this has been building for a very long time. I'm not sure the heat will ever be off, even if this one case can be argued as understandable.
There was some critic a while back calling for GONE WITH THE WIND to be "banned," and for a film critic he was remarkably clueless about film history. A buddy of mine saw the antics of Spencer Bell iin the 1925 THE WIZARD OF OZ and thought it was a stunning thing worthy of calling my attention to. He simply couldn't appreciate this was a drop in the bucket to someone who's seen countless other examples of this kind of thing over decades of watching old movies. Neither could news host Chris Matthews, who somewhat naively mentioned on a recent broadcast discussing racial tensions that all the train porters in "Alfred Hitchcock movies" were played by black actors. He seemed baffled by this "oddity."
The sad truth is, our heroes were living in evil times in many ways. In their day, the KKK marched right down Pennsylvania Avenue and nobody stopped them. Interracial marriages were illegal, the Armed Forces were segregated, everybody was listening to AMOS AND ANDY and THE BLACK AND WHITE MINSTREL SHOW was a staple of British television as late as the 1970's! Even in a movie as timeless as HORSE FEATHERS, you can't help but notice now that the only black person in all of Huxley College is Thelma Todd's maid, and Zeppo doesn't think twice about barking orders at her. Young people today can hardly believe it was ever like this, and bless 'em for it. More than one poster on the IMDB was utterly taken aback by Ingrid Bergman referring to Dooley Wilson as "that boy" in CASABLANCA, and more than one thread was started on the message board by people looking for an "explanation." Harry Belafonte has been known to call the occasional press conference so we can watch his head explode as he raged about THE BIRTH OF A NATION. Alas, you'll find completely embarrassing moments of racism in such films as HOLLYWOOD HOTEL, MEET THE BARON, COLLEGE, A LADY OF CHANCE, DUCK SOUP, THE LOST WORLD, SEVEN CHANCES, BUCK PRIVATES, EVERYBODY SING, I TAKE THIS WOMAN, DOUBLE WEDDING, THE MIDSHIPMAN, THE SMART SET, SEVER YEARS BAD LUCK, GHOST BREAKERS, NOT SO DUMB, A DAY AT THE RACES, GENERAL SPANKY, PARDON US, SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK, and about a thousand others. How do you sell modern viewers on these movies with something a little more persuasive and less lame than the excuse that "times were different then?"
I don't know what the answer is. I do know that banning cherry-picked titles is not the answer. Aside of the fact that nothing gets people more interested in something than forbidding access to it, you cannot turn a page without acknowledging the page exists and the problem is the human race will never be able to move on without getting past racism entirely, if such a thing is even possible.
Elwy Yost once interviewed Keye Luke and asked him what he thought of the cries to get his CHARLIE CHAN movies blacklisted because Warner Oland was (gasp!) Swedish and not Chinese, despite the positive was the character was always portrayed. Luke replied, "Some people call it racism. I call it artistry."
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostFri Sep 01, 2017 7:33 pm

Perhaps by showing the pictures and letting people see the actuality of the times and then, afterwards, ask questions as to why, is perhaps far better than banning them or put them out of reach. If people's reaction is one of disbelief and horror then it may be of some assistance in seeing that such circumstances no longer exist.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 7:12 am

Donald Binks wrote:Perhaps by showing the pictures and letting people see the actuality of the times and then, afterwards, ask questions as to why, is perhaps far better than banning them or put them out of reach. If people's reaction is one of disbelief and horror then it may be of some assistance in seeing that such circumstances no longer exist.
But very few titles would induce horror, it's generally more subtle than that.

When I took the time to look up "Coal Black and de Sebben dwarfs" it was much less vile than I had expected!
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 11:57 am

Mike Gebert wrote:I can think of someone who has faced even worse nitwittery, by his own account... :twisted:


I've known several online sites that had folders specifically dedicated to savaging one, some, or all of their "competitor" sites.

It's one of the more trollish characteristics of the Interwebs, and would be funny if it weren't so desperately sad.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 2:45 pm

Donald Binks wrote:Perhaps by showing the pictures and letting people see the actuality of the times and then, afterwards, ask questions as to why, is perhaps far better than banning them or put them out of reach. If people's reaction is one of disbelief and horror then it may be of some assistance in seeing that such circumstances no longer exist.


Yes, showing Gone With the Wind and then discussing the actual history of the Civil War and encouraging questions on topics raised in the film is likely best. I've seen GWTW twice, and it is an objectively great film in terms of acting, direction, visuals and score(Max Steiner did great work on it) but it also reinforced the notion of the Confederacy as a noble, romantic Lost Cause rather than an attempt to continue expanding slavery. I think the work's greatness makes it an attractive target for the impulse to censor or condemn.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 3:22 pm

AbZeroNow wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:Perhaps by showing the pictures and letting people see the actuality of the times and then, afterwards, ask questions as to why, is perhaps far better than banning them or put them out of reach. If people's reaction is one of disbelief and horror then it may be of some assistance in seeing that such circumstances no longer exist.


Yes, showing Gone With the Wind and then discussing the actual history of the Civil War and encouraging questions on topics raised in the film is likely best. I've seen GWTW twice, and it is an objectively great film in terms of acting, direction, visuals and score(Max Steiner did great work on it) but it also reinforced the notion of the Confederacy as a noble, romantic Lost Cause rather than an attempt to continue expanding slavery. I think the work's greatness makes it an attractive target for the impulse to censor or condemn.
Might feel a bit forced for GWTW. After all it's not Birth of a nation or Riefenstahl.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSat Sep 02, 2017 4:12 pm

It'd also be a long night.

As for Griffith, I've long felt that the general adulation for him is overblown; film history has been sort of like the drunk searching for his keys under the light, even though that's not where he lost them, because the light's better there. Griffith was the greatest so Griffith got saved and seen so Griffith was the greatest. I think we've slowly seen that Griffith not only had comparable rivals in his time (Tourneur, DeMille, Weber, Willat, etc.) but that he had his strengths and weaknesses.

That said, I have no great affection for BOAN but Intolerance passes my version of the Harry Cohn test— as I wrote here once, I was completely captivated when I saw it in my teens, and showing it to my son in his teens, he was completely captivated by it too. And there are a number of other top quality films in his oeuvre, from Biograph days to at least the early 20s. But he did what movies do, indeed he was discovering what movies could do— make stories into myths. And BOAN, as it happens, being of its time (and having a president at that moment who was, in fact, one of the progenitors of that myth, the noble Lost Cause), sold a particularly pernicious myth.

Gone With the Wind to me is different because, from the get-go to me, it seems to be saying "Here's what the past was like, and it's safely dead." It comes to bury Tara, not to praise it. Not that the nostalgia of the film didn't perpetuate the era, but to me GWTW lives on as a work of popular art as well as moviemaking because so much of it about pushing back against the myth— Melanie could have been in BOAN, but willful, decidedly un-virginal Scarlett never would have; Rhett would have been an utter reprobate in Griffith and Dixon's South; and all the fine featherheaded Southern fools in the later movie, regularly getting themselves killed for nothing, would have been one-dimensionally noble heroes in the older one. These are important differences which make GWTW far from the simple picture people are trying to see in it.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 12:24 pm

goalieboy82 wrote:
oldposterho wrote:I completely agree if they're going to change the dog's name in a remake. I recently re-watched Dam Busters and cringed whenever his name was mentioned. It was downright painful to hear, marring an otherwise almost perfect movie.

Peter Jackson's retort about overzealous fanboys is classic. I imagine if there's one person who has been subjected to near fatal amounts of civilian nitwittery, it's him.

his grave is still there on the base by the way.


Surely one way is simply not to mention 'Nigger' by name, something which could be done easily and preferable to calling him 'Rover' or 'Rex'. I recall seeing THE DAM BUSTERS in a cinema in the late 1960s and don't remember shocked reactions to the name, only the effectiveness of the scene where he gets run over. And, of course one is not compelled to watch the film, as I have successfully avoided sitting through both the LORD OF THE RINGS and HOBBIT trilogies with extreme ease...

Such names weren't uncommon, and in fact our Gran's cat was called 'Blackie', which might raise disapproving harrumphs these days. As a matter of fact, several years ago I looked after a friend's cat for a couple of months, and as he seemed to have no name and was all-black, I thought I'd have to call him something, so settled on 'Enoch'. The cat didn't complain, but when the fellow returned he was shocked at the 'racism'...

Incidentally, as a secondhand bookseller, I have often been asked for Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Niggers' under that particular title, as opposed to the BBC, who not only used the American title, 'And Then There Were None', but deliberately chose not to even mention the non-PC original when making their three-part adaption a couple of years ago.
Last edited by earlytalkiebuffRob on Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 12:33 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
I think that indigenous folk were treated in much the same way throughout the Empire. Right up until the 1970's Aboriginal children in Australia were separated from their families and fostered by whites in order to better assimilate them.

The nation has formally apologised in the last few years.

You might get some idea of what it was all about from the film "The Rabbit Proof Fence" which came out a few years back.

(At the moment the national day - "Australia Day" on 26th January is being lambasted because it is seen as "Invasion Day". Recently statues of Captain Cook have been defaced. Whilst we can acknowledge now in hindsight that evils and wrongs were done in the past, I believe we all just have to now muck in and get on with things the best way we can. )


We had some of this nonsense over here in England with regard to a statue or bust of Cecil Rhodes, which had started to 'cause offence' after umpteen years in situ. Of course all that was needed was for those offended to either avoid the thing, or to break wind (not easy to do on cue), cock a snook or to deliver a hearty Bronx Cheer when passing it...
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 12:56 pm

The Blackbird wrote:Alas, you'll find completely embarrassing moments of racism in such films as HOLLYWOOD HOTEL, MEET THE BARON, COLLEGE, A LADY OF CHANCE, DUCK SOUP, THE LOST WORLD, SEVEN CHANCES, BUCK PRIVATES, EVERYBODY SING, I TAKE THIS WOMAN, DOUBLE WEDDING, THE MIDSHIPMAN, THE SMART SET, SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK, GHOST BREAKERS, NOT SO DUMB, A DAY AT THE RACES, GENERAL SPANKY, PARDON US, SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK, and about a thousand others. How do you sell modern viewers on these movies with something a little more persuasive and less lame than the excuse that "times were different then?"
I don't know what the answer is. I do know that banning cherry-picked titles is not the answer.


The scene in SEVEN CHANCES where Buster flees when he realises he has been following a black woman may or may not be racist, as interracial marriage was, I understand, illegal, and his quest was after a bride, after all...
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 1:02 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
The Blackbird wrote:So, er, the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, as part of its "stated mission" to "entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves," has decided to prove it by trying to pretend history never happened and tossed GONE WITH THE WIND into the trash bin after getting some complaints about its content by some people whose mind-set can be adequately summed up by one spokesperson's stated aim that "slowly but surely, we will rid this community of all tributes to white supremacy."


There seems to be an ascendancy by history revisionists. I just don't know why people have to completely judge the past with the viewpoint of today. No doubt in our present time we have made a dog's breakfast of something or another that will be frowned upon in another 50 or so years.


A certain 'Bart' has recently emailed me to complain at the cavalier use of that essential expression 'dog's breakfast'...
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 1:13 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:
I think that indigenous folk were treated in much the same way throughout the Empire. Right up until the 1970's Aboriginal children in Australia were separated from their families and fostered by whites in order to better assimilate them.

The nation has formally apologised in the last few years.

You might get some idea of what it was all about from the film "The Rabbit Proof Fence" which came out a few years back.

(At the moment the national day - "Australia Day" on 26th January is being lambasted because it is seen as "Invasion Day". Recently statues of Captain Cook have been defaced. Whilst we can acknowledge now in hindsight that evils and wrongs were done in the past, I believe we all just have to now muck in and get on with things the best way we can. )


We had some of this nonsense over here in England with regard to a statue or bust of Cecil Rhodes, which had started to 'cause offence' after umpteen years in situ. Of course all that was needed was for those offended to either avoid the thing, or to break wind (not easy to do on cue), cock a snook or to deliver a hearty Bronx Cheer when passing it...
Don't forget "Bomber" Harris while you're complaining. And give my regards to Statler.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 1:23 pm

These days it's hard to recall whether one is Waldorf OR Statler...
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 2:30 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:These days it's hard to recall whether one is Waldorf OR Statler...
But seriously: Wasn't that Rhodes statue in South Africa?
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 4:07 pm

The problem with not referring to Guy Gibson's dog by name is that he used the dog's name as the radio code word for the success of the mission. So to keep that otherwise endearing detail, you have to make him Trigger, or Old Toby, or Winston or something.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostSun Sep 03, 2017 10:18 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
The Blackbird wrote:Alas, you'll find completely embarrassing moments of racism in such films as HOLLYWOOD HOTEL, MEET THE BARON, COLLEGE, A LADY OF CHANCE, DUCK SOUP, THE LOST WORLD, SEVEN CHANCES, BUCK PRIVATES, EVERYBODY SING, I TAKE THIS WOMAN, DOUBLE WEDDING, THE MIDSHIPMAN, THE SMART SET, SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK, GHOST BREAKERS, NOT SO DUMB, A DAY AT THE RACES, GENERAL SPANKY, PARDON US, SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK, and about a thousand others. How do you sell modern viewers on these movies with something a little more persuasive and less lame than the excuse that "times were different then?"
I don't know what the answer is. I do know that banning cherry-picked titles is not the answer.


The scene in SEVEN CHANCES where Buster flees when he realises he has been following a black woman may or may not be racist, as interracial marriage was, I understand, illegal, and his quest was after a bride, after all...


It was indeed, illegal, but that doesn't make the scene, which was intended to be funny, any less painful, sad and cringeworthy now.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostMon Sep 04, 2017 4:41 am

Some scenes in Roscoe Arbuckle's Comiques are also pretty cringeworthy today (which doesn't change the fact that, overall, the films are still hilarious, of course).

We may have gotten overly "PC" in some respects, but I still prefer that to the alternative (that is, little or no sensitivity to these issues at all). I can't think of any better explanation to modern viewers than the possibly unsatisfactory "times were different." Or some variation, like, "most people didn't mind such humor then." They didn't, after all; I know I bring up Jack Benny's radio program a lot now, but listen to some of the Rochester-jokes of the late 1930s...audiences laugh heartily, without any sign of restraint, to jokes we would now find unacceptable. It's... fascinating, in a twisted way.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostMon Sep 04, 2017 11:53 am

Smari1989 wrote:listen to some of the Rochester-jokes of the late 1930s...audiences laugh heartily, without any sign of restraint, to jokes we would now find unacceptable. It's... fascinating, in a twisted way.


Perhaps even more fascinating are examples where the audience actually bites back. It's rare, but I've heard it. I remember a bit from the Jack Haley Wonder Bread show from the late 30s about Italians - all sorts of cracks about being greasy, smelling bad, etc. You can hear the audience going from nervous laughs, to groans, to near-catcalls, and Haley sounding increasingly uneasy about the material. It makes you wonder how comfortable audiences really were with that kind of comedy when they saw it in movies.

The way I try to explain it to people today is it was a comedy of social exclusion. People were more anxious about conformity and normality. Comedy and anxiety are linked, to my mind. It's why we laugh when we're in a horribly awkward situation. There must be something primal about it. It wasn't just foreigners who were the butt of jokes - it was women, fat people, thin people, the deaf, the short-sighted, the effeminate, the stupid, the smart ... basically, if you were anything other than a wealthy white heterosexual male, you were fair game.

I'm glad we live in a time where the equation has flipped, and it's the people who worry about such meaningless differences that are the ones considered worthy of being made fun of.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostMon Sep 04, 2017 1:35 pm

Smari1989 wrote:Some scenes in Roscoe Arbuckle's Comiques are also pretty cringeworthy today (which doesn't change the fact that, overall, the films are still hilarious, of course).

We may have gotten overly "PC" in some respects, but I still prefer that to the alternative (that is, little or no sensitivity to these issues at all). I can't think of any better explanation to modern viewers than the possibly unsatisfactory "times were different." Or some variation, like, "most people didn't mind such humor then." They didn't, after all; I know I bring up Jack Benny's radio program a lot now, but listen to some of the Rochester-jokes of the late 1930s...audiences laugh heartily, without any sign of restraint, to jokes we would now find unacceptable. It's... fascinating, in a twisted way.


Jack Benny was actually ahead of his time with regards to Eddie Anderson. Rochester talked back to Benny on
several occasions which is very rare for a black servant or any other black character from that time period.

As far as Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, his racial humor could be quite cruel at time (Out West (1918) is an example).
His mentee, Buster Keaton, could do a film about the Civil War (The General) and that film can still be be looked
at today (and enjoyed) without cringing. That is because Buster Keaton knew how far to go with the Confederate
background of the movie. Most of the time, he is indifferent to it. Notice, at the beginning, the two loves of his
life are his train and his girlfriend and not the Confederacy. Even at the end of the movie, he is more interested
in kissing his girlfriend than saluting troops.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostMon Sep 04, 2017 1:41 pm

Brooksie wrote:I remember a bit from the Jack Haley Wonder Bread show from the late 30s about Italians - all sorts of cracks about being greasy, smelling bad, etc. You can hear the audience going from nervous laughs, to groans, to near-catcalls, and Haley sounding increasingly uneasy about the material.


Fascinating. If you have a link to that program, I'd be interested to hear it.

I'm also glad we seem to have reached a point in our society where, at the very least, it's considered more improper than before to laugh at jokes that make fun of people's outward appearance, such as fat jokes, etc. Sure, some may say we've become too "PC," but I really don't see the need for those kinds of jokes anyway... whenever I see a racial stereotype in an older film, what makes me cringe most of all is the uncomfortable feeling that the performer may in fact have resented to be portrayed that way.

For the record, one of my less favorite aspects of the Jack Benny-show are the fat-jokes at Don Wilson's expense (although Wilson's own frequent laughs at these jokes do sound genuine to me, so I'm guessing that he didn't mind them himself... also, an argument could be made that audiences laughed at these jokes most of all because, actually, Wilson wasn't all that "fat" in real life, but rather "heavy").

And, yes Syd, I agree that the "racial" jokes on Benny's show are, for the most part, rather mild compared to many other shows of the era, and Rochester was certainly no dumbbell; as you say, he outsmarted Jack on many occasions. There are just a few jokes from the late 30s/very early 40s that are truly cringeworthy.

Anyway, to get (hopefully) back on topic, I *don't* think "problematic" scenes from older movies (or radio shows) should be edited out. If it's really bad, "explain" it to the audience on beforehand instead.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostMon Sep 04, 2017 7:06 pm

I'm looking for that Jack Haley episode - not many survive, so it shouldn't be too hard to track down.

It's also worth noting that Benny insisted that Eddie Anderson receive equal treatment to the rest of the cast, in some cases boycotting hotels that refused to accommodate him and such.

Reading that Benny would sometimes have older scripts rewritten in the late 40s to remove racial slurs that were no longer considered acceptable makes me wonder how much World War II contributed to peoples' enlightenment on race relations. My grandfather had a wonderful story about this. The makeshift cinema in his army camp was segregated, and he never thought anything of it until one night when a bomb hit, temporarily knocking out the electricity. When the lights came back on, everyone - black, white or whatever - were huddled in the corner together, each man as scared as the other. That's the moment he realised the idiocy of segregation.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostTue Sep 05, 2017 9:48 am

Neither atheists NOR racists in foxholes!

Great story, thanks.

-Craig
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostTue Sep 05, 2017 12:35 pm

"Rochester" is almost the star of Buck Benny Rides Again. He has more funny lines, and he even gets his own dance. Benny was very good at letting other comedians make jokes at his expense.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 1:27 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:These days it's hard to recall whether one is Waldorf OR Statler...
But seriously: Wasn't that Rhodes statue in South Africa?


Just checked - it was at Oriel College, Oxford.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 1:31 pm

wich2 wrote:Neither atheists NOR racists in foxholes!

Great story, thanks.

-Craig


With respect I have been (figuratively speaking) in a foxhole, and remained an atheist!

And talking of foxes, I'd better go out and feed the little blighter!
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostWed Sep 06, 2017 4:06 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:And talking of foxes, I'd better go out and feed the little blighter!
Oh, I thought you were going to say "...and guard the henhouse."...
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 1:07 pm

I hope this post is not too political for this esteemed forum. Since we have clearly 'solved' the race problem in this country, it is no wonder that these moderns have their sights set on old movies. Better not tell them that Raj on the Big Bang Theorey is a racist caricature and will be unacceptable in years to come. Let's just keep right on learning to love, folks, but without censoring art.
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Re: The Dam Bursts: War Officially Declared on Classic Film

PostFri Sep 08, 2017 1:25 pm

Bob Furem wrote:I hope this post is not too political for this esteemed forum. Since we have clearly 'solved' the race problem in this country, it is no wonder that these moderns have their sights set on old movies. Better not tell them that Raj on the Big Bang Theorey is a racist caricature and will be unacceptable in years to come. Let's just keep right on learning to love, folks, but without censoring art.
Surely, that show contains nothing but caricatures either way?
This is nøt å signåture.™
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