Tag Archives: movies

Memories of 1969 through the Lens of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

In order to shield myself from as much Election Eve I watched the film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, written, produced and directed by Quentin Tarantino. I have always admired Tarantino’s film making magic and ability to tell a story using period pieces and weaving fantasy into it, and then blend stories within stories, often using a lot of violence, blood and gore. But this was something different from those. It was a love letter to Los Angeles of that era. It was a look into a past I remembered as a kid, 1969 Los Angeles, Southern California, and in large part California in the late 1960s to early 1970s. The culmination of the film dealt with the Manson Family and a fictional ending of that very real and horrifying crime.

Tarantino used the film to portray a year in Hollywood which was pivotal in the transition of the old Hollywood to the Hollywood of today. It was also a year that was part of an era where the country began to change. Growing up on the West Coast, but mostly in Southern and Central California from 1968-1974 I saw that change from the perspective of an eight to fourteen year old. Even when we lived in Oak Harbor, Washington, we made frequent trips to Napa and Stockton California between 1966-1968 before my dad was transferred to Long Beach in the Fall of 1969. The film took me back to that time, the television shows, commercials, films, clothing styles, music, cars, and even the buildings, theaters, fast food restaurants were perfect. As we watched the special features on the Blu Ray disc we talked a lot about things that went on then.

We talked about that era, beginning with the Manson Family killing spree and what a relief it was to both of us it was when he died in prison. We also reminisced about the other things going on in California around that time period, and how each one was terrifying to children and adults. Of course there was Manson and his trial. Then there was the Zodiac Killer, the Golden State Killer and the Symbionese Liberation Army and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. A lot of these groups were covered by national as well as local television and radio stations.

But then there were the thoughts about cars, restaurants, television shows, and movies; the clothing of the period, and other memories, good and bad.

I found the film amazing because of how well it depicted the period, and I liked the ending far more than what happened in real life with the Manson Family. Sometimes the fantasy ending is better than real life. It may be something that we have to hold onto over the next two and a half months.

Hoping and praying for Peace,

Padre Steve+

P.S. The saga of the toothache is over. This morning Judy dropped me off at the Navy Dental Clinic where I was treated very well. I am not going to go into detail about it, but the tooth was cracked, the nerve abscessed, and sometime died making the tooth necrotic. It was removed, I was given more pain meds and a stronger antibiotic. I need to contact the Clinic for other questions on follow-up because I did not ask the questions before Judy picked me up. The pain level has gone down, the swelling too. Thank you for your kind words thoughts and prayers.

 

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Blazing Saddles at 39

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“I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists.” Hedley Lamar (Harvey Korman) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiTKIbR69ss

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Today is the 39th anniversary of the release of the Mel Brook Western parody classic Blazing Saddles. I wasn’t quite 14 years old when it came out but somehow managed to get a ticket to the R rated movie. I didn’t have a fake I.D. like President Obama said was how he might have gotten into the theater to see it when he was 13, but I remember getting in to a lot of R rated movies back in those days without any parental supervision.

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To me the film is a cultural icon and classic. I watch it several times a year and if there is nothing else on and I want a good laugh there is a good chance that I will put it in my DVD player.

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The movie couldn’t be made today. It insulted everyone and was one of the most politically incorrect movies ever made. However, 1974 was a different time. It was a time of social and political turmoil as the Vietnam War wound down, the economy tanked and the Nixon Presidency teetered with each new revelation about the Watergate break in and cover-up.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upvZdVK913I

Mel Brooks used comedy to confront many of the evils still rampant in our society, racism, sexism, political corruption as well is simple ignorance were all targets of Brooks’ wit.

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Starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, and Madeline Kahn it became one of the surprise hits of its era, surprising even Brooks in its acceptance and box office success. Unlike many movies it has endured and now at 39 years is considered one of the classics of American film.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6dm9rN6oTs

Brooks’ rich parody of the Western genre. Even John Wayne, though asked by Brooks to be in the film after looking at the script “Naw, I can’t do a movie like that, but I’ll be first in line to see it!” 

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Now when I see some of the same prejudice, racism, ignorance and corruption today I am reminded of Jim the Waco Kid’s (Gene Wilder) comments to Sheriff Bart when he experienced the racial prejudice of a little old lady:

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“What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

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Now since it is getting late and I have things to do in the morning even though “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives” I must prepare for bed.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under film, Political Commentary, purely humorous