Now I Have A Bunch of Movies to Watch


Dr. Joy Ochs and Dr. Jim Grove speak about movies on World War I.

Dr. Joy Ochs and Dr. Jim Grove speak about movies on World War I.

I counted about 55 people in Flaherty Community Room before the program started, and a few more streamed in. My wife estimated the crowd at 70, and I don’t think she was too far off.

It was a pretty decent turnout for 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. And the presentation was very interesting. Dr. Jim Grove and Dr. Joy Ochs spoke today about films depicting World War I. Their presentation preceded Thursday afternoon’s showing of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and it make me anxious to see that movie.

Dr. Grove started the presentation with a broad survey of numerous World War I-inspired films. One genre of films was the “airplane” movies, such as “Wings” or “Hell’s Angels.”

As World War II drew closer, World War I movies foreshadowed that great conflict and grew sometimes grimmer (although, to be fair, some earlier movies seem pretty grim, too). One in particular that I would like to see is “Dawn Patrol,” which centers on the difficult position of commanders who order young pilots to their almost certain death.

When World War II actually got underway, there was more of a shift to patriotic World War I movies, such as “Sergeant York,” released in 1941. I’m not going to put that one first on my list, although I probably would watch it if I were slightly tipsy.

Dr. Grove briefly covered several films that I have seen and enjoyed, such as the 1981 film “Gallipoli.” It is an Australian film that partly illustrates how lives were wasted during World War I.

On a lighter note, he also mentioned “African Queen,” possibly the leading chick flick or rom-com about World War I (trust me, yes, I know, it’s an old Humphrey Bogart movie, but I think it really is a rom-com). “My legs, the leeches.”

Dr. Joy Ochs gives insights into the movie "All Quiet on the Western Front." I don't want to spoil it, but it doesn't end well for everyone.

Dr. Joy Ochs gives insights into the movie “All Quiet on the Western Front.” I don’t want to spoil it, but it doesn’t end well for everyone.

Anyway, the two films I most want to see, and have not yet, are “Paths of Glory,” which Dr. Grove showed an extensive clip from, and “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Dr. Ochs spoke about that movie, and illustrated her points with intriguing slides. I was interested to see how windows were used as symbols in the film, and how that echoed a World War I recruiting poster.

I am glad that I will get to see “All Quiet on the Western Front” Thursday afternoon. It may be some time—the fall semester will keep me very busy—but during Christmas break, I’ll have to find a copy of “Paths of Glory.”

Dr. Jim Grove discusses "African Queen."  A very campy, very entertaining move. As an audience member pointed out, Katheryn Hepburn didn't look exactly like that in the movie. "It's actually Lauren Bacall," Dr. Grove quipped. He was joking.

Dr. Jim Grove discusses “African Queen.”
A very campy, very entertaining move. As an audience member pointed out, Katheryn Hepburn didn’t look exactly like that in the movie. “It’s actually Lauren Bacall,” Dr. Grove quipped. He was joking.

The fascinating film talk could only scratch the surface—there have been a lot of movies made about World War I. The war happened just as the cinema industry was taking off, and I’m sure it had a profound impact on the look and feel of movies.

Beyond the very informative lecture, I also enjoyed the afternoon because it was a chance to see some familiar faces. Jay Shuldiner, a retired history professor; and John Rogers, retired social work professor, both attended. It was good to see and say hello to them.

One of the nice aspects of the series is that it has, so far, had good attendance, and that it has brought many people to the Hill.

Anyway, the presentation today was informative and interesting. I can’t wait to see more. If you missed it, check out the movie Thursday, or come to the next lecture a week from Thursday. I am one of the two presenters then on World War I propaganda.

It is not my clearest photo, but for some reason I like it the best. Anyway, I'll have to ask about the movie Dr. Grove was talking about here--it's about the psychological damage done by war. It sounds very grim, but very interesting.

It is not my clearest photo, but for some reason I like it the best. Anyway, I’ll have to ask about the movie Dr. Grove was talking about here–it’s about the psychological damage done by war. It sounds very grim, but very interesting. Sadly, I don’t recall the title, maybe “Regeneration?”

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1 Comment

Filed under History

One response to “Now I Have A Bunch of Movies to Watch

  1. In this year of remembrance, I’ve been reading Robert Massey’s ‘Dreadnought’. Although the title gives the impression of being a narrowly focused naval history – the book actually chronicles the politics, policies, and personalities of the age leading to that great and terrible war. I recommend it.
    I would love to see the various events at MMU. Alas – work.

    And, as to MLTL, I believe the correct response is:: ‘your sister Roger, my brother Melissa’… at least, that’s what my memory hears in Cate’s voice.

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