yet another blog…but mine!

"Jaws is No. 1"

The Emergence of the Modern Blockbuster in the 1970s

As Hollywood prepared to enter the 1970s, its future had never been less assured. Recognizing this, the National Association of Theatre Owners—the leading trade organization for film exhibitors—hosted their November 1969 convention centered around the theme: “The Challenge and Response to the Unconventional ’70s.” The organization’s president, Julian S. Rifkin, in his introduction to the event, declared the challenge of the upcoming decade to be “an all-inclusive, all-important one: the very problem of survival.”[i] Though the decade had not yet arrived, a host of existing challenges from the 1960s seemed poised to carry over and intensify in the coming years. And only industry response to these challenges, Rifkin contended, would “determine the future of the motion picture and motion picture theatre industries.”[ii]

These anxieties, while alarming, were not without reason. Weekly theatre attendance, which had declined in the prior decade, would reach an all-time low in 1971.[iii] Television viewership, meanwhile, was on the rise, and the introduction of “pay TV” presented as a great a perceived external threat as any the industry had yet faced. And overshadowing all of this was an industry-wide recession from 1969-71, the result of rampant overproduction and underperformance, that nearly drove several studios to the point of insolvency, Yet, out of these circumstances, the movie industry would develop itself anew and emerge transformed by decade’s end, no doubt because of the decisions made by executives over the course of the period.

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“Is Your Sub-Deb Slang Up-To-Date?” (Dec. 1944)

I’m currently in the process of assembling Ladies’ Home Journal articles from ~1943-1946 for an upcoming research paper and thought I’d share some of the more interesting pieces that I’ve come across in the past few days. This one comes from the December 1944 issue, one that devotes a good number of pages to the era’s “sub-debs” (sub-debutantes), or teenage girls. The magazine typically featured at least one sub-deb article in the forties (edited by either Maureen Daly or Elizabeth Woodward) and they are quite fun reads. Unfortunately my research topic doesn’t have much of a use for the articles but I’ve been photographing them anyway and will try upload the interesting one in the days/weeks ahead. Apologies ahead of time for the less than stellar quality…the images were taken, frequently in haste, in the NYPL’s 42nd St. branch where you too can read the full issues to your heart’s delight.

This excerpt is just a neat little slang translation guide from the period….my guess is that it was meant for the totally unhip mothers of the period as I’m sure the cool kids knew their stuff. My favorites: twitterpated (!), robot bombed, and toujour la clinch (sucker for the French).

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Charity & Sylvia

Review of “Charity & Sylvia: A Same Sex Marriage in Early America”

Despite Rachel Hope Cleves’ early assertion to the contrary, her book, Charity and Sylvia is hardly an “unremarkable” history. Certainly, elements of the work’s focus—namely its look at romantic and familial relationships, gender expectations, and domesticity—are rather ordinary and speak to a common 18th/19th century New England experience. But one would be mistaken to discount the extraordinariness of the title characters’ abilities to adapt these otherwise typical components of life to their own unique circumstances. Cleves, initial modesty aside, knows this well and so her study of Charity and Sylvia, a same-sex married couple in 19th century New England, reads as nothing less than profound and worthy of the extended consideration given it.

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The Late Late Show w/ Craig Ferguson

Lately, I’ve been watching lots of Youtube reruns of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Despite my general disbelief about the fact that I’m actually watching repeats of years old late night talk shows (something I don’t even do now), I’m finding it rather fun to watch the episodes in full and follow along in some sort of sequential order (even if I jump around in spurts). I suppose of all the entertainment produced for television nothing is so intrinsically ephemeral as the nightly talk shows as they center their monologues around topical events and their interviews around then current movie/tv/music releases. Nevertheless watching years later adds an element of fun and it doesn’t hurt that Craig is hilarious. Above is a funny clip of noteworthiness from my recent watching; it originally aired November 11, 2012. In it, Craig works with Alton Brown to make some candy…naturally, things don’t quite go to plan.

 

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