July 17, 2011

1945–1954

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1945–1954

Wonder Man
A ’40s movie musical, the plot of this one’s a little nutsy and not worth describing here. Our scene proffers a slight men-at-Vassar joke, and features the movie’s lead, Danny Kaye.

Thanks to Jason Marin ’95 even though he’s known about this for years and never told me!

Gentlemen’s Agreement
Here’s a great example of another major trope of the collection: Vassar as a class marker. Many of the scenes of this type in the collection aren’t terribly interesting, as the line to identify a character as a Vassar graduate isn’t used humorously. But as a character point, the women so identified are typically wealthy and elegant, well-bred, intelligent, and typically quite proper and demure. Gregory Peck’s love interest in this drama about antisemitism is a Vassar graduate from an upper-crust Prostestant New York family who through the course of the movie has trouble reconciling the prejudice she didn’t fully know she had.

Thanks to Arielle Edwards for the tip.

The Naked City
Another clip where Vassar is used as a class marker, and also to note a woman’s independence. This is the movie with the famous line, “There are eight million stories in the naked city.” Our scene finds the intrepid detectives checking in with the wealthy mother of a girl they’re seeking.

Thanks to Jim German for the tip.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game
One of my personal favorites. The song is by Roger Edens, who contributed many songs to the great MGM musicals, with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  This song contains a rather dark lyric about Vassar—and they even managed to rhyme “Poughkeepsie.”

Thanks to Bronwen Pardes ’95 and Erika Slutsky ’05 for the tip.

A Letter to Three Wives
A well-regarded melodrama, Linda Darnell here notes that a uniform is a great leveler – no one knows your background or social class. As we see many times through this collection, Vassar here signifies an elite, highborn person.




The Road to Bali
Here’s one of the later of the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road” movies—slight on plot, heavy on jokes and repartee between the two principals. Typical for comedies, Vassar’s a punchline, here implying that all the girls are worth ogling. (Bob Hope also has another Vassar joke from 1940's The Ghost Breakers. This one's better.)



Mogambo
More big stars talking about Vassar: Ava Gardner and Clark Gable. Vassar is here used to mean someone prim, proper and well-mannered.



Trouble Along the Way
This was an unusual John Wayne film. He plays a former football star who takes a job at a seminary coaching their football team. Vassar here is used as a stand-in for “girls school” as he takes a swipe at how lousy the team is. A very similar joke can be found in Brother Rat and a Baby.

Thanks to Prof. Denise Whalen for the tip.

Lady in the Dark
This was a live presentation from the very early days of television of the same Weill/Gershwin musical we have elsewhere in the collection (from 1944, starring Ginger Rogers and in the movie Star! with Julie Andrews). Ann Sothern plays Liza, and she sings the “The Saga of Jenny,” which contains the great, sexually forward lyric (especially for its original date in the early 40s!) about Vassar girls. The setting is a dream sequence, of a trial conducted by a circus.



Scandal Sheet
A noir potboiler, based on Samuel Fuller's The Dark Page; this clip is toward the beginning and sets Vassar as a character point for reporter/feature writer Donna Reed (not in the scene), as ace reporter John Derek discusses with his boss, Borderick Crawford.
 

Sabrina
Here’s another well-known one, with great actors in the scene. It’s interesting in that it’s an early evocation of sexuality at Vassar--just kissing, but still.



Burns & Allen TV Show
This is really a fun one, from the mid-’50s TV show of George Burns and Gracie Allen. Gracie’s airheadedness was always on display for comic effect. Here she goes to a banquet for their friend Harry’s alumni club. It’s interesting here for Vassar to be used sarcastically—taking it as understood that Vassar girls are smart. (Or maybe it’s not sarcastic and they were implying Vassar girls are stupid?)

Thanks to Carl Wolf ’81 for the tip.

Susan Slept Here
This light comedy from 1954 puts Hollywood screenwriter Dick Powell in charge of a delinquent Debbie Reynolds. As their relationship becomes somewhat romantic, complications ensue and his friends attempt to break them up.  The movie is narrated by an Oscar statuette.


Continue to:
Page One: 1926-1944
Page Three: 1955-1964
Page Four: 1964-1967
Page Five: 1968-1976
Page Six: 1977-1983
Page Seven: 1984-1987
Page Eight: 1988-1990
Page Nine: 1991-1996
Page Ten: 1996-1998
Page Eleven: 1999-2000
Page Twelve: 2001
Page Thirteen: 2002-2003
Page Fourteen: 2004-2005
Page Fifteen: 2006-2008
Page Sixteen: 2009-2010
Page Seventeen: 2011-2013
Page Eighteen: 2014-2016

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