I admit it. I’m addicted to old movies. Really old movies.
I love silent films. I’m fascinated by those stars who never made the transition to sound. John Gilbert. Theda Bara. The list goes on. And though I regularly support the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I don’t always go. But I always want to.
I also love the early talkies. There’s something magical about the films of the 1930s and 1940s. The artistry is amazing. The camera work, the story lines, and the actors. But like everything in life, even movies made during the Golden Age of Hollywood can be stinkers. Bad directors, bad scripts, and bad casting. Just bad movies.
And then there’s the unusual enunciation of one key word.
Some of the dialogue can be a bit much. Dated perhaps—or just overly dramatic. For instance, the word darling pops up an awful lot in love scenes. It’s kind of standard. My grandmother used to call me darling. But, there was never any romantic intent. At least, I don’t think so.
I have one friend who uses darling. It’s a cue that a nasty zinger is about to be hurled your way. If you wear a bathing suit in his presence you might hear, “But darling, I thought you worked out.” Ouch. He’s truly a laugh riot, but you need to have a sense of humor. Fortunately, I do.
Eva & Zsa Zsa
Bette Davis gushed darling quite a bit in Now Voyager. The Gabor sisters knew how to work a darling to their advantage. But that was more of a Budapest-Petticoat Junction dahling. Tallulah Bankhead was famous for starting nearly every sentence with darling. Check out Hitchcock’s Lifeboat if you don’t believe me. They must have added it into the script just for her.
Jeff won’t have any part of these older films. I’ve tried to get him to watch—but the dialogue just turns him right off—even though Bogart, Cagney, Gable, Cooper or Tracy, rarely uttered such nonsense. And so, when my remote locks onto Turner Classic Movies, Jeff tends to rush right out of the room. I’ve come to accept it. I simply yell out, “But darling…don’t leave me…I can’t live without you.”