The Strand Theatre had many films to show
I have noticed with interest the recent stories and photos of the Strand Theatre depicted in the 1940s and early 1950s. For those who attended the Strand back in those days, we can readily identify with these stories and photos. But for those of you who were not here back then, it becomes difficult to identify with them.
For these reasons I would like to offer a few tidbits that may, perhaps, help you better understand and appreciate that era.
To begin with, movies of that day were much different than contemporary movies. Even movie titles had different meanings compared to today’s titles. For instance, the movie “The Gay Ranchero,” which starred Roy Rogers, depicted a singing cowboy whose good looks and good manners were appealing to the young ladies. Now, if this movie title were stressed in today’s movies, well, must I say anymore? Or the movie “The Thin Man,” who was described as all-knowing, sleuthful and gay. Certainly not gay as we know it today, but as debonair and suave, charming, smart and elegant.
Of course the various types of movies that were shown to parallel those old cars parked on the street of the Strand were very much different than today’s shows.
A good example is “Esau’s Tales.” This was a movie short, usually seen at the Saturday matinee and lasting about 10 minutes, and could be described as an allegory, a story or movie with a hidden meaning. Usually this particular short took a serious subject and treated it lightly. Other shorts were “Antics of Leon Earle” and Behind the 8 Ball,” a Pete Smith specialty staring Dave O’Brien.
Again, some of those vehicles depicted near the Strand were made near World War II days. And movies exploited buying war bonds to help finance that war. And, speaking of the war, movies loaded the screen with many patriotic shorts such as
“The March of Time,” a weekly feature that kept us abreast of the war and aftermaths of the war.
Comedy was seen differently back then compared to today. “Ma and Pa Kettle” series kicked up laughs as things unfolded on the farm and the weekly ride into town on an open truck. Red Skelton and other comedians introduced a style of comedy, which, again, is out of date today.
You must remember, I am writing about the types of movies you saw at the Strand, which paralleled those old cars you see in the photos.
It was not until Elvis Presley made his debut in the mid 1950s that movies and music experienced a drastic change.
Presley unveiled everything that was suggestive and this rapidly changed the tone of entertainment. His style actually curtailed Big Band Music and popular singers like Crosby and Como. It was so influential that even today singers and soloists are considered “naked on the stage” without a guitar in their hands. He also influenced today’s long hair look. His coming onto the scene chopped disc jockey jobs on the radio.
Much can be said and written about movies and music of that long ago era. To have changed the themes in any form or fashion would be fatal to the movie industry back then. We accepted that “old car” look and those movies, which always ended with good coming out the best. Only those of us who were there and who experienced those nostalgic situations can really value that “old vehicle look” depicted in those old photos and movie placards.
Back in the 1940s, a grammar school classmate gave me a unique course in homespun education. This friend often talked about his Uncle Ander. It wasn’t until high school days that I learned he was talking about his uncle “Andrew.” He also used terms like “tar,” “far,” “knowed” and “us-uns.”
With the help of my English teacher we unscrambled his sayings. For instance “far” was fire, “tar” was “tire,” “knowed” was knew and “us-uns” meant all of us.
That particular teacher was very adept in teaching self expression. I suppose that is why today I become so frustrated when I hear speakers, broadcasters and even teachers using so many incorrect phrases.
I hear the term “only other” so much these days. It simply should be the “only one ” or the “other” one.
Possessive pronouns are also problems for some, especially writers. Me, driving the car that day was a wise move. My driving the car is correct. Always check out the verb to see if it has “ing” on the end of it. In this case, my becomes the PP.
Also, antecedents are commonly misused. “The boy THAT hit the ball is tall.” “That” is the antecedent and should not be used to further describe the boy. “The boy WHO hit the ball is tall” would be correct. “WHO” refers to a living person and “THAT” refers to non-living person and usually refers to a thing.
There are many shortcuts that are helpful and I have often though I would compile a list of these shortcuts to help students and others in self-expression. But, a lack of drive and getting a tad older smothers that initiative.
Another commonly misused term is return back. For example the sentence …Return back to the front of the line when you are finished” should be simply …Return to the front of the line when you are finished.” The word back is repetitious.
WOW, did I insert English 101 into today’s column? I did not intend for it to be that way. Just trying to be helpful to any who may be interested in making improvements.
There will be more next week.
Contact Lowell at email@example.com.