Today we celebrate the birth of America. I thought about what makes me think “Now that’s America” when I watch old movies. Here are a few things that I thought of:
John Wayne: What other actor is so widely known and associated with America? His roles are usually a cowboy or a soldier. My favorite role of his is from “They Were Expendable” which is probably one of the best World War 2 movies along with “Battleground.”
Many of my friends and others have criticized John Wayne as always playing the same role, or playing himself. I personally don’t see the issue with this when so many of today’s actors like Katherine Hegel or Jennifer Aniston play the same role over and over again. The only difference is John Wayne played meaningful, strong and manly roles while those actresses are always dizzy, confused dames. To me, John All-America actor. He even played football in college, what could be more American than that?
The 1940s: Another thing that embodies America is the 1940s war era. I suppose I am a bit romantic about patriotism because I crave a patriotism that no longer exists. During World War II, men were willing to fight for the country and those on the home front who couldn’t fight did all they could to help out. Victory Gardens were grown, cooking grease was saved and sent to the military, women sacrificed their silk stockings and painted their legs. People gave up daily luxuries that people today would refuse to give up.
LIFE magazine: LIFE magazine used to be the top publication. I can’t think of a magazine published today that can compare to LIFE. It showed the world the truth about war, the current fashions and let them in on celebrity lives. Even more so, it was a magazine that was started to revolve around photo journalism. It has some of the best photos and photographers like Robert Capa who showed us what war really was.
-Pin-Up girls: Betty Grable, Esther Williams or Rita Hayworth. They all had sex appeal, but that same attainable, girl next door quality.
-Big Band music: No one can play a trumpet better than Harry James and Tommy Dorsey always seemed like one of the most likeable fellows. Glenn Miller even died while he was flying to a USO show during World War II.-Irving Berlin: Jerome Kern once said, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music, he is American music.” The man wrote “White Christmas”, “Cheek to Cheek” and “Putin’ on the Ritz”, who else can you say that about?
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