She's got no future, but one helluva past...i
It's a musical, of course -- back then people didn't think much worth committing to the (relatively expensive) medium that wasn't singing & dancingiv -- backed by the usual story : gal falls for the "wrong" guy. Back before the pantsuit cooption of this trope and its subversion whereby the wrong guy became the Socialist-Tractorist (which is to say truly and utterly, world-destructuringly wrongv) rightabouts the Last Socialist War, back when the wrong guy was just some rando schmuck thinking too much of himself and constantly trading fifteen grand of someone else's furniture for thirty-five hundred to cover a twenty-five hundred debt from a previous such trade yesterday (plus "living expenses")... what can I say, it didn't exactly work, but it also didn't condemn the piece.
Otherwise the singing's terrible, the dancing not much better (and not just because so narrowly construed), pretty much the onlyvi valuable item in the entire production is some very early commentary (albeit I suspect unintentional) on the nature of technological progress and its tight relationship with inflation. There's a scene of dancing "poor kids" / Irish people (because that's how it went, whadda ya want) who smoke, one puffvii, and then throw the cigarette out, only to have another, right in their hand, ready to go, the very moment they're ready for another drag (offa dat fag). At a time cigarettes were rare (and therefore expensive) enough to be desired, this must have landed upon the audience as sheer magic of a very practically useful sort. Some kinda magic Joe definitely'd want, the kinda magic making the public suspect the people on the stage might not be complete fuckheads. Maybe they get it ?
They didn't get it, of course not. But... Well I mean, for a stretch back there... Hey! It almost looked like they do get it. Like, at the very least, they might. It did!
What can you do.———
She's Rosie, the queen of the models. She used to live up in the Bronx but she wander'd from there down to the Washington Square of Bohemian Honky Tonks. One day she met Harrison Fisher, said he "You're like roses! Them stems I want you to pose, for a picture on the cover of 'Jim Jam Jems'" And that's how she first got her start bow her life is devoted to art, they call her... the Rose, of Washington Square. She's withering there in basement air she's fading pose in plain or fancy clothes. They say her Roman nose seems to please artistic people. Beaux, she's plenty of those, with secondhand clothes and nice long hair. She's got those Broadway vampires lashed, to the mast. She's got no future but oh! what a past! She's the one Rose of Washington Square.
She's terribly good as a model, the artists are stuck on her charms. Once a feller said he would paint Venus from her -- only Venus... ain't got no arms. Rube Goldberg her figure admires, he dresses her up in a veil and uses her shape for the pictures that he draws in the Ev'ning Mail. He promised sometime when he's free that he'll model a statue of she they call the Rose, of Washington Square.
- Fewer and ever fewer ; owing to the inexorable march of "history" (or something somewhat like it at any rate), the ra-ra-ra-america crowd's well spent by now.
Did it ever occur to you, by the way, that absolutely the only reason any"one" from the future's ever going to consider present affairs will necessarily be some contemplated falsification so as to serve whatever misconstrued "political goals" of his direct if momentary interest ? "How does history relate to me" shall be not the chief, but the only interest in present affairs at another time, as is already the case anyways.
Well, why didn't it occur to you ? What, do you ever go through your old pictures ? Do you even still have any of them ?
Aww, and there you thought "the future" could be co-opted, could be exploited to satisfy (a small part of) your momentary inflationary needs! They were going to provide the usual imaginary horde of angels hovering at their usual place ("right over the horizon"), ready to fall in and "make things right" to your standards, weren't they ? Why didn't it occur to you that future has its own inflationary needs, which are (necessarily) going to be even more pressingly expansive than your own ? Hm ?
Is it perhaps because you know -- for a fact and deep down, however you try to disavow the knowing you nevertheless still know -- your present nonsense's got absolutely no chance in hell of long surviving in this world ? Was that it ?
I shouldn't be too worried about it ; stupidity prevails on whatever timeline. Its representatives never fare well, that much is true ; but stupidity itself... now that's another matter entirely. [↩]
- 1939, by Gregory Ratoff, with Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Al Jolson. [↩]
- Id est relatively rare, because expensive, human activity. Perhaps it's remarkable for the same reasons, too ?
And yet they didn't opt to require every cinematic production include trained dogs, or trained cunts, or spinning plates on the nose, or all sorts and manner of equally expensive, because equally difficult, therefore equally rare, human activity. No, it's just tapdancing. Just like that, magically, tapdancing's the one.
That shit's boring, immensely, inconceivably boring, yet you can't find a 30s production that ain't a "musical" in which they don't tapdance at least a little. 0 tits, though most people care more about tits than feet. 0 egg beating, though of the feminine skills of the period (meanwhile "lost") I certainly imposed egg beating upon more nude & distressed damsels than either singing or tapdancing for crying out loud. 0 anything else, and it all makes about as much sense as anything else humans do. [↩]
- Speaking of which, if you watch this thing you can't miss noticing Cagney most definitely studied Jolson. [↩]
- Tyrone what's his name, who isn't even black by the way... what the hell is wrong with these people! If his name's Tyrone Power and he's not black he should at least display the common fucking decency of being the one putting on blackface, don't you find ?
Anyway, John White-Smith over there's a terrible actor, if you can call him an actor in the first place. More properly he's a marginal stage hand, really, seeing how the entirety of his actor's craft consists of staring. Not nearly as elaborately as ol' Willie, either -- he's just got this one sorta-kinda stare that he does when he's acting, like a toaster putting the light on while it's toasting. I mean, the toaster's a toaster all the time, even when it toasts (perhaps especially when it toasts), and just so Bill McPaleskin Peckerbergwood's "an actor" all the time -- even when he
staresacts. Perhaps especially when he actsstares. [↩]
- "Bai, tu stii cum fumeaza milionarii ?" [↩]