A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

15 January 2008

Hats In Film

It's no secret that I like watching old films...I've liked them since I was a little girl, I will, in all probability, continue to like them until I die.

The dialogue was usually wittier back then even though they do throw in a 'Bourne' film once in a while to show everyone they can still WRITE dialogue. Films now seem to rely on unbelievable special effects to get their point across at the obvious abandonment of any type of plotline. Sometimes there is no plot...just a series of one fight/car chase/pyrotechnics/obligatory boob shot after another. Yes...we know you have a nice CGI team...your action sequences are great, but let's not sacrifice art for the sake of a sale. Let's stop relying on this high tech compensation for your obvious lack of script prowess. You, Hollywood, are suffering from projectile dysfunction.

Now, I'm not saying that every single movie falls into this category...but a good many of them seem to try to dazzle you with cinematographic brilliance and nothing more. I just watched "Ghost Rider" the other nite...did this film even HAVE a plot? Did "Mission Impossible 3"? What they did have was a whole bunch of CGI fluff disguised as plotline if you ask me.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the 'Bourne' films...the first one more than the other two...but I loved them. What I loved about them was the fact that they weaved a plausible plotline into believable action sequences without the sacrifice whatsoever of dialogue. AND the dialogue wasn't so highbrow to make you feel like you were a complete moronic idiot...i.e., I could follow along without bringing a "Covert Subversive-English" dictionary with me to watch the movie.

Now, back to the original point I had (and I stress the word "had" as I've gotten off my original point entirely)...movies like "His Girl Friday" and "It Happened One Night" had brilliant dialogue...they also had something else movies lack today: Hats.

Hats, both men's and ladies' have gone the way of the dinosaur in a very short period of time. I have been wondering this for ages...just what happened in our history to totally wipe hats off the face of the Earth? I did some research on the matter and some blame John F. Kennedy because he didn't wear one, then other men followed suit (no pun intended)...and just like in "It Happened One Night" when men saw Clark Gable not wearing an undershirt...sales of these items plummeted. Jackie's pillbox hat, on the other hand, became an instant national necessity. So you could argue that while her husband's style evoked one mannerism, hers did quite the opposite...so I'm not too sure how that all works out in the end...and for the sake of this blogumn, I'm going to stick with movies and things of that ilk.

Watch any "I Love Lucy" episode and you will see a various cornicopia of hats if you will. There might not have been any money to get an apartment with more than three rooms, but, by golly, she must have had a closet in that place the size of Grand Central Station to house all those hats. A few episodes even centered on hats...or at least the buying, wearing, salivating over, and generally obsessing about them.

Hats in old films can also sometimes be incorporated into the script as a whole comedy piece. Take "The Awful Truth" with Cary Grant and Irene Dunn...well, you couldn't work a good 15 minutes of sight gags, dog tricks, and man-hiding-in-the-bedroom antics without them. Try that nowadays and it just wouldn't work. Drama sometimes also relies on clever "hat-in-hand" movie magic to engage their audience. Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" begs the question...what DOES one do with a wayward monogrammed hat when you've already conveniently hid the body? I'll tell you what...you get found out by an astute hat-wielding James Stewart.

The hat, be it men's or women's...was a wardrobe accessory worn by both the rich and the poor...it was ubiquitous. You didn't have to wear a three piece suit in order to don one...Art Carney proved that in "The Honeymooners"...so it was clearly an established necessity in blue and white collar workers alike.

And just think of a whole portion of Hollywood without hats...just what would the massive movie musical have been without Fred Astaire crooning about "puttin' on his top hat", without Carmen Miranda's extravagant fruit-laden ones, without Minnie Pearl's price tag-adorned one, without Buster Keaton's porkpie one, and the derby so synonymous of Charles Chaplin?

But when exactly did people stop wearing hats in film, in real life and what, in my opinion, are the long-term ramifications? Well, I will attempt to enlighten you in my next hat blogumn next time.


  1. Absolutely marvelous. I love hats. I wear ball caps on the weekends, but I have really good hair, so not so much anymore. Even though I am turning grey, I will never go bald!!
    Nice Work.

  2. Wow! When you said you would update, I didn't know you were going to write a book.

    I honestly don't know if movie makers are stupider or any less talented today than they were in the past. I would say that there is a lot of stupidity and lack of talent when it comes to the people who ultimately decide if a movie will even be made(lawyers mostly). The people coming out of film school, however, are probably just as good as they ever were.

    What it comes down to, today as in the past, is how to get the most people to line up at the ticket booth and hand over as much money as possible. In the past it might have been engaging characters and witty dialog. Today, it's spectacular special effects with only a sketchy plot and sketchily drawn characters to support it. So in the case of most big budget flicks today, you might argue that with the exception of the special effects directors, pride in workmanship has just gone down the poop chute. The special effects directors are wielding too much power, and in some cases moving over into the regular directors chair. Too bad.

    Dreamworks is a real bastion of mediocrity. I can see why Steven Spielberg never got into USC film school. He just can't resist topping off his movies with sappy, maudlin endings that would make any fair minded person roll his eyes. Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and especially E.T. The Extraterrestrial are three examples that come to mind. He and his collaborators should seriously question their ability to decide which movies should be made and which shouldn't be made based on merit. It's hard to argue with the box office, however, which is why we're stuck with a franchise like Shrek.

    You can't go wrong with a Coen brothers film (No Country For Old Men, Fargo) if you don't mind excessive but rarely gratuitous violence.

    If you want to get your moneys worth at the movies these days, it might be worth the effort to seek out independent films that aren't so widely distributed and don't necessarily deal with the subject of homosexuality in a pretentious, lighthearted way.

    Hats! Lord, what can I say about hats? Sometimes I wear them if I'm having a bad hair day or going to a ballgame. Most of the time I don't wear them. I must say the characters in those old movies kind of looked naked without a hat. In movies these days, they kind of look silly with one. Ah well. Styles change.


  3. And they only LOOK like a book because it's now in the squooshed up column format...if it was the same format as I used to have, it wouldn't have been as long. ;)