They Saw Frank Capra Flicks in the Original Run

My dad believes modern Hollywood could never film anything as subdued as the bus scene in It Happened One Night, and I can personally disagree.

Modern Hollywood, he argues, would make it a music video. Where this singing is relatively rough, modern Hollywood would add more than a touch of gloss. Every hair would be gelled into place; every singer would be professional, noodling their way up and down the melody without regard for pitch or intonation.

That’s the style these days, he’d argue. Americans just don’t do that anymore. Evoking Yogi Berra, he might even add that old movies are a thing of the past. I’d agree if I didn’t have anecdotal evidence that disproves that.

This week, members that veteran’s band I’m in started in on a classic call-and-answer called “Bill Grogan’s Goat” toward the end of our post-rehearsal dinner. We sang along, at first tentatively. Who sings in public, anymore?

We did. “Bicycle Built for Two” and “Man on the Flying Trapeze” later, we sped on from song to song, not that our tempo was anything to brag about. Said one clarinetist:

That was the prettiest dirge we sang all night.

Merry, sober serenades aren’t all that much a thing of the past. We were a more-or-less regular group, and we were just waiting for the check to come in, after the diner had closed for everyone else.

I belted Sinatra and Buble alike, depending on your perspective, and I can personally attest that it was a hell of a lot of fun and that there was no hint of embarrassment.

Most notably, there was a remarkable age parity; there were plenty of young timers taking the lead, even if this group was full of old-timers. These supposedly long-dead traditions will be around for some time longer.

At least until next week, I hope.




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