Alright, for those of my readers who havent a clue what I mean by that, lets do a brief history of movies. Back before the end of the 1920’s, all movies were silent, in a voice sense at least. Then, the much hyped at the time, Jazz Singer came along, and the movie world slowly transformed into a world of sound, and not silence. The early movies were quite wild for their time, though by modern standards, most would seem pretty tame,, but drinking, smoking, and costumes that barely covered anything were quite often the norm back then. One movie, the chorus girl outfit for some consisted of a long blonde wig, and that was it! Oh, and they were chained up at the time too! This is what was known as the pre code era. Then in 1934, though not totally acted on for another year or so, there was a clampdown on this wild stuff, called the Hays Code, which spoilt most of the fun! It actually took until the mid 60’s before the code started to loosen again, far too long.
Until yesterday, we had one remaining lady from that era in our lives, Mary Carlisle. Sadly, yesterday, at the amazing age of 104, she finally passed away. There is an interview with her on You Tube, done when she was 100, where she’s doing dance kicks, albeit supported by her chair. And yes, in terms of adult actors of the Pre Code era, she was the last! There are a couple still alive who are slightly older than her, but neither appeared in their first movie until well after the Pre Code era was over.
Every year from 1922 to 1934, there were a new set of ‘baby stars’ introduced, and in 1932, Mary was one of them, at the grand age of 18! She had in fact worked in the movies for a couple of years by then, but that was her breakout moment. Oh, of the others that year, some dancer type named Ginger Rodgers! Oh, and Gloria Stuart, the old lady at the end of Titanic! Some made it, some didnt, some had long lives, others didnt, but anyway… All gone now!
Mary was never a massive star, but she had a decent career that lasted until 1943, all the same. For a few years now, she’d been looked upon as the last link back to that wild movie era, but now even she’s gone. RIP, Mary, and thanks for the memories.
Oh, and lastly on the subject, 113 years ago today, in Montana, Myrna Loy was born! In the same year, 1 month, and 4 days after that, in Oklahoma, a certain Clara Johnson was born! Still, she’ll get her day, I’m sure, given this is the first year I’ve known her birthday, lol.
So, video time. A suitable title to sum up the pre code era? This, maybe? Warning, the song is dreadful, but just seemed apt!
Today is one of those landmark anniversaries that people probably dont tend to remember. But in the US at least, its one of those major landmarks in civilization. What, I hear you ask, no doubt? Darlings, as a good flapper would explain it, it was the end of Prohibition. Yes, on the 5th December, 1933, that period of so called temperance came to an end! Given that it had started on the 17th January, 1920, thats quite a period that the US was supposedly dry.
Of course, in truth, the only thing that changed 84 years ago, was that drinking suddenly became legal again. I have no idea if those first few years, whether the imbibing of alcohol did stop, or not. What is clear though, is that by the mid 20’s, speak easy’s and gin joints, all illicit, had appeared in most major cities, and probably most other places as well.
Its definitely fair to say, that by the late 20’s, any young flapper worth her bobbed hair, and short dress knew where to get a drink when she wanted one. And lets face it, many people were far too happy to provide them for her! And yes, I’m pretty sure that alcohol touched Clara Johnson’s, and most other young actresses, and dancers lips long before the end of 1933! In fact, I’d be disappointed in her if she didnt! However I suspect they had to watch how much they drank if they were performing the next day. Well, maybe…?
Its said, and I have no definite proof of the fact, that the night prohibition ended, Jean Harlow was in a warehouse in Los Angeles, err, celebrating, as the lorries drove off, laden with beer for the bars, joining in the celebrations. Let me say, I wouldnt be at all surprised, knowing her, if that was true! But as far as I know, its only hearsay, so lets leave it there, OK?
Of course, the irony for me, is that at the moment at least, I’m one of the temperance brigade. No, not willingly, just being sensible, as the medications I’m on arent meant to be mixed with alcohol, so being a good girl… So yes, I’ve had one day of drinking alcohol in nearly 6 months! For that, I laid off the painkillers for 3 days, as instructed, and all was fine. Well, yes, I did feel slightly sleepy, but that was as far as it got. Since then, none has passed my lips…angelic look…
Do I miss it? No, not really, but then again, I’ve never been a big drinker anyway, so not a lot to miss. There have been a couple of times when it would have been nice to have a glass of wine, but I’ve stayed on the pledge lol! PS If anyone knows of a no alcohol, or low alcohol wine I could probably get away with drinking at Christmas, please let me know!
However, there are, even now, what they term ‘dry counties’ spread across the US, mainly in the ‘bible belt’ zone, but I suspect not all of them are. Then again, I remember when I was younger, that there were parts of Wales, and Scotland especially that were dry on Sundays! Not sure if that still is the case, mind.
The only other thing I wonder, is what happened to those illicit drinking places? I suspect many became legal bars, though I’m equally sure a good number shut down when all the fun went away.
Right, video time. Well, you could say all those wicked young flapper girls were this, prior to 5th December, 1933, I guess? Not that they cared, I’m sure, but… This is a one hit wonder, in every sense of the word, not hard to see why!