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September 23 - Politics, 1931, 73 minutes, directed by Charles F. Riesner, starring Marie Dressler and Polly Moran
Hattie Burns (Marie Dressler) is fed up with city government fueled by prohibition gin and deadly force. She runs for mayor, promising to send the cockroaches of City Hall scurrying. To win, she engages the greatest unrealized asset in town: the womenfolk. Comedy and drama are woven throughout this riff on Lysistrata, appearing just eleven years after passage of the 19th Amendment. Politics is a modest film that scored big at the box office, thanks to the amazing Dressler. In her sixties, and blessed with a face she described as "a mud fence," she was the most popular movie star in the early years of the Depression.
CinemaLit / September 2022 – The 1930s Get Real
What are your impressions of American films in the 1930s? Gossamer musicals and Marx Brothers' slapstick? Stodgy romances burdened with wooden acting? Nonsense escapism from the Great Depression? That's all to be found. But dig deeper for a wealth of films of exceptional depth and complexity. September at CinemaLit is devoted to four films from four genres that are terrific entertainments AND fascinating historical and sociological relics. We've got a musical (Gold Diggers of 1933), screwball comedy (My Man Godfrey), comedy-drama (Politics), and social drama (Imitation of Life). And even as you're laughing or toe tapping, we've also got homelessness, political corruption, racism, bread lines, war, murder, unemployment, sexism, and the generation gap. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. (Image used with permission of Warner Bros)
Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies.
“I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."
“Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”
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