well, this is tricky. i had what i considered to be a reasonably good, perhaps amusing idea for a blog post. this would be that one, but i fear it's gone all out of control in regards of size and content.i am not sure if this is going to work as well as intended, but here goes!
i recently had reason, of if you will felt compelled, to watch a sequence of low budget, sort of art-house type films from the 70s. mostly of a Scandanavian variety, but a few had clearly had such a low budget that they used some rather well known American actors and actresses, simply overdubbing the voices and, as it were, sound effects later.
it dawned on me, in a such a way as to not distract me from the complexities of the plot points, fear not, that a number of incidental things in the background of these superb motion pictures are things that we no longer see in this day and age. here then, as best i can, are a few examples of what i speak of.
firstly, have a look at this picture, showing a scene from a film where a brother helps his sister out with some homework.
sorry, no, i am not at all certain what subject it is they are discussing, but i suspect that it could well have been biology. that's not quite so important as what i wish to draw your attention to. can you see it? yes, that's right, that is a pretty splendid poster of the uber-music sultans of Sweden, Abba, in the background.
i am sure that the kids of today put posters up on their bedroom walls, it being something of a rite of passage, but i truly remain unconvinced that they have pop stars full worthy of the poster treatment. most of the pop stars today are so disposable that they are off the record label before whatever they have theoretically recorded hits any sort of chart, with the majority of the music sounding like the efforts of the first work experience kid the label could grab and sit in front of a computer. i mean, bands like One Direction and Take That, but they are no Benny, Bjorn and them other two. there is of course a school of thought that suggests no one is - to some purists, not even Bjorn could possibly be Bjorn, he is that good.
whereas Abba are no longer with us as a going concern (but yes, very much with us in the lucrative licensing sense), Sir Elton John, a chap with a Knighthood that is usually saved for valour in battle rather than bravery at the piano, is a good example. have a look at this amazing poster of him.
yes, i know what you are thinking. well, in the 70s, things were somewhat different, and it was rather usual for the ladies to fawn over the then rather more humble sounding Mr John, much like in the 80s George Michael was the poster boy of choice.
i would speculate the lack of bona fide pop stars for the kids of today to have posters of is probably the fault of the early 90s. the single biggest, let me check my typing here, cult figure of the early 90s was that Kurt Cobain fellow. he was a chap of curious talents and in many respects embodied all that is spoken of in the realm of the studies of Cartesian dualism. on the one side he was known to express anger at being famous, and indeed did not really favour life, but on the other he also signed lucrative contracts freely and recorded stuff to release; an action likely to make him famous. the kids got terribly confused about if they were to worship him or ignore him, so it really was only when the memorial posters of him came out that anyone put his picture on their wall, feeling safe that he would no longer be offended about either fame or celebration.
moving aside from pop music for a moment, and the format known as pop art is perhaps not as widely exhibited in homes as it once was. have a look, as long as you like, at these three fine examples.
pop art is unusual as that it has never gone out of fashion. from its birth, really usually agreed on as being in the 60s, to the present day no one has ever said "let us throw out all pop art after mocking it for a bit, if only to show how clever we are". and yet still, despite never suffering a blow to its credibility, value or, most importantly, its beauty to the eye, few these days celebrate pop art with open displays of it in their homes. well, maybe him that did Colours and that Hurdy Gurdy thing, Donovan, does. probably. and maybe him off Led Zeppelin that did the singing too.
for a culmination, indeed if you will climax, to the worlds of pop in the sense of art and music, behold this next image, which features a dazzling expression of juxtaposition.
celebrating both Andy Warhol and The Osmonds (at least i think it is The Osmonds, the sort of short one at the front kind of gives it away) is a stark, bold move that very few would do. well, David Bowie would, but not all of us are David Bowie. unlike Bjorn, may i stress, no one has ever said that not even David Bowie is David Bowie. some sort of museum thing recently did an exhibition called "David Bowie Is", which underlines that. so don't.
is Andy Warhol one of the greatest artists we have known and appreciated the work of? possibly. some see him as a lazy con artist, producing simple works that eventually led to the farce of today where one sees a roll of toilet paper as an award winning, valuable work of art. i would never go anywhere near that far. he certainly seemed to have inspired one of the world's greatest, brilliant artists, which you can go ahead and read about if you want by clicking here. it is worth your time checking out his portrait of Jagger too.
as for the Osmonds, well, i do not have much to say on them. i am unfamiliar with them, except for hearing in passing some say that they were the zenith of American art and culture and it has all been downhill ever since, effectively ending with the death of Biggie Smalls. i do not think that was the case at all, really, as America seems to have a few decent artists about at the moment. Jack White for one, and some others too, most likely.
and finally on the pop posters front, check out this magnificent collage.
i am sure it is no accident at all that the lady (presumably one of the two featured in this scene) who did this placed John Travlota in the centre. he was, is and no doubt always will be one of the best, most attractive actors ever to have appeared in a film with Olivia Newton John and be able to fly a plane too. little wonder, then, that in the 70s many a wall saw John Travolta stuck to it.
as for the other people in the collage, no idea. the one at the bottom looks a bit like Rod Stewart, but i don't think it is him. if you know, well then you are wiser than me.
posters were far from the only medium for an expression of taste and interest in the 70s. just check out this image.
there once was a time when newspapers were the only truly universal and relied upon source of news and information. strange now, considering all that we know of hacking and how the owner's views, no matter how warped, are what dictates the content rather than events, but that is how it once was. as you can see this chap, or perhaps even the lady he is apparently visiting in this scene, if only briefly, has placed a newspaper cutting on the wall, seemingly in one of those sleek, glass only frames.
what's the newspaper cutting of? no idea, to be honest, it is a bit too small to work out and the quality of 70s films is not, shall we say, that which one finds on blu-ray today. but it must have been important to him. well, to him or the lady in the scene. not that the lady mentioned anything.
not that things stuck on the wall are the only source of style no longer seen much. wallpaper seems to have all but vanished too. i do not recall the last time i saw some quality wallpaper on sale in a relevant store, to be honest.
most people tend to opt for bare walls these days, either as they are for some sort of "rustic" image, or painted in the shade that is the most popular of the day. this is a blow, as some wallpaper was as pretty as posters. here, have a look.
that's a lovely floral thing on the go there, with some splendid artwork enhanced by some teal like shade to it. that would look good in anyone's house, that. except for the house of someone that hates floral things or teal.
it's rather nice how it connects with the painting on display too, which leads us to this next scene.
everything in the above is just quality, is it not? the amazing wallpaper, with the lovely corner fireplace painted to suit it, are a very nice touch. bonus points to that lady wearing pants that match the surroundings, although as a word of warning one does not see a great deal of either those or any other pants for the remainder of the film itself.
one must not overlook the value and beauty of those "dual light" standing proud, indeed erect, on the wall. they are magnificent them, a bold and brave statement being made by them that speaks of "i could have candles here, but instead i have merged seventies technology and style to do this instead".
you are of course not allowed to do such things in the present day. today, where i am, it is easier for both the Government and the people paid a good deal of money to provide you with electricity to simply say to you "you are not allowed to be bourgeois and have many lightbulbs in your home" than it is to provide electricity. it is nice, then, whilst the power is on, to look back at a time when things worked properly.
the most incredible display of interior design i have seen in the films i mentioned has to be in this next picture.
wow. A super amazing red, ball like fireplace with a curved chimney pipe and a television set showing off the majesty of the game of pong right next to it. if i ever got to design my own house, it would probably look like this, right down to that bottle which appears to be Bacardi.
forgive me if i have led you to believe that the interior design insights in these films has been limited somewhat to homes. this is not the case at all. look, if you will, at this traditional looking doctor's office.
you don't really get this anymore, do you? case files on display, ready to be consulted, and a magnificent chart showing off the bits of the human body that might be broken on you.
these days a doctors office is all computers and "let me see if google knows what is wrong with you", really. as for charts, well, mostly they will be "gifts" from pharmaceutical manufacturers, the makers of the tablets that the doctor in all likelihood will prescribe for you to fix whatever the hell it is that you say is wrong and google users pretty much confirm.
as important in the 70s as interior design was of course fashion and clothes. if one wanted to be anyone in the 70s then it was important that you looked stylish. and i imagine few, if any, looked quite as stylish as these two dudes here.
those trousers are sensational. they really are sitting on the fence here, aren't they? those strides could be classed as flares almost as much as they could be classed as simple straight cut pants. as for the shirts, just check out those collars. no one, surely, could have ever been left in doubt that those chaps were indeed wearing shirts that had collars when going past them. awesome.
often stylish items worn in the 70s had a distinct and precise practical functionality to them. in this next picture, a scene from a film giving a strong message about the versatile uses fruit has if you have the imagination, just about everything is way cool, as in cooler than anything you are wearing right now. there is one item of great significance, though. see if you can spot it.
yes, that's right, well done. the chap is wearing a bottle opener as a sort of medallion. what a great idea! if you didn't wear a medallion in the 70s (and indeed in earlier aspects of the 80s in certain sections) you stood no chance at all of attracting the affections of a lady. ah, but what if you attracted the attentions of a lady with your medallion, but your medallion could not open a bottle for your lady to sip from, somewhat like how this rather broadminded lady is taking to a banana? this chap could attract a lady with his shiny medallion and make sure their drink was opened. as a result, he probably got more sex in one weekend that Charlie Sheen has had in his entire life. that sounds quite tiring to me, to be honest, but he seems happy enough.
on the subject of gadgets like the bottle opener, but also nothing actually like a bottle opener to clarify before you get disappointed, but i suppose you could keep a bottle opener in one - not that this chap does, unless the bottle as a very funny cap and is stored in a most peculiar, unconventional locatoon - the films i watched featured many other accessories that, alas, we do not see today. like, for instance, the briefcase.
the briefcase was a class thing. in it you could store important things such as documents, publications purchased on a business trip to Denmark or Sweden, and indeed diamonds which were the result of a successful heist. the combination lock on it meant that it was all but impossible to ever break into one, unless you took a knife to the bottom of it, and the handle and sleed design combine to make a versatile, surprisingly aerodynamic thing you can swing about and bash people in the face with.
the briefcase, sadly, took a near fatal blow with the filofax and has since ultimately died with the dawn of personal organizers, laptops and those iTwat things. businessmen find that they can store a good deal more pornography on a laptop than they can inside a briefcase, with little of it showing up on a routine scan at airport security, you see.
we can only hope the good, old, innocent ways of the briefcase return to us. in particular as it is cheaper to replace a briefcase than it is a laptop once you have bashed someone in the face with it.
whilst speaking (well, i am) of a return to good, old, innocent ways, i noticed that something called "world cassette store day" happened recently. this is kind of werid, as there was never any such thing as a "cassettes only" store. the only place i can ever remember selling music on cassettes only was petrol stations on the motorways of England. why not just release cassette only things on world record store day?
that said, tapes are class, and as you can see in this still from another scene, this young lady is very much getting into the vibe of whatever tape she has playing on a most splendid looking deck.
despite a lot of people using an iThis, iThat, iTherefore iTwat for music, more people than you might think use tapes today. a large number of them are in England, where some cannot be bothered to put a CD in the car and thus are quite happy still making tapes. the police, too, routinely use tapes for recording interviews. digital recordings are all well and good, but leave a trace when an officer feels the need to not record a part of the interview. like, for instance, when they need to go to the bathroom. or indeed need to assist the person being interviewed, who somehow fell to the floor and hurt himself, despite several officers of the law being present and seeing nothing at all which might have caused that.
a good many people use their phones to listen to music too. people use phones to do pretty much everything these days, which is kind of convenient i suppose. a handy feature on a phone is, of course, the calculator, which means that sales of stand alone, purpose built calculators have fallen lower than even Gary Glitter record sales in recent times.
this is a bit of a shame, as you no longer see impressive, chunky yet sophisticated looking calculators like the one below being used.
i would imagine that if these days you built something that only did one thing, particularly an electronic gadget, you would not sell very many. these days we do not want just a calculator. today we want a calculator that can do numbers and that, but that can also bluetooth tweets, upload pictures that no one wishes to see to the internet and boil water. all at the same time.
sitting around and messing about with a calculator until the ladies and gents thought of something else, something quite different actually, to do for entertainment used to be a treasured pastime. as indeed did board games. now, much like calculators, games are something that seem to reside only on phones, and tend not to be as intellectually stimulating. in regards of the example i use here, certainly no game i have ever seen or tried on a phone, smart of otherwise, has ever been quite as arousing as Ludo is for the players in this scene.
i seem to recall enjoying Ludo a reasonable amount when i played it as a child. i did not know that it had such ambitious, more adult-related behind it as expressed in this particular film. perhaps i, to show off some slang language and indicate that i am down on where the kids are at, missed a trick when a babysitter once suggested that i play it with her. perhaps i should have paid more attention to the way she shook the dice, but no matter.
one thing that phones have yet to replace is the good, old fashioned fun social experience of using a sewing machine. yes, ture, child labour in China has more or less replaced the good, old fashioned fun experience of using a sewing machine, but that is not a phone, is it?
observe how these young, apparently quite virile and energetic people, congregate around the sewing machine to conduct their activities. mostly reading, for sure, but all facilitated by the presence of a sewing machine.
i am pretty sure one can still get sewing machines these days, probably easier than one can get a calculator that is just a calculator. i think we may even have one in the house. believe me, if i for one moment thought that in this day and age the sewing machine would give me the social interaction and vibrant fun the people in this film had, then the sewing machine would presently be sat right were our TV currently is.
moving on, and a couple of random yet oddly related things. have you, for a start, stayed in a hotel recently? what was your experience like with the bellboy? was he polite and helpful? did he carry your bags to your room in a satisfactory manner? perhaps he did, or perhaps he did not.
back in the 70s, it seems it was always the case that the bellboy was unobtrusive unless called upon, and always polite, humble and helpful.
look how the bellboy there gives a respectful nod of thanks to the two nuns, who for some reason are sharing a room (probably to cut costs), for allowing him the honour of being able to carry their cases for them. what a nice lad. the Nuns are certainly taken by his attitude and service, offering thanks to him in a somewhat unusual but certainly enjoyable way.
around today but not used as frequently as they once were are public phone boxes. one can hardly think of a phone box without thinking of Auberon Waugh, who refused to see an unvandalised phone box as "anything but a challenge", but now is not the time for that.
here is a scene of two ladies merrily using a public phone box as if it were the most natural thing in the world, enthusiastically calling and setting up an appointment with a gent who turns out to be a gynaecologist of some description as well as a free roaming, on call lingere salesman.
these days people tend not to use public phones, instead using their mobile or if you will cell phone. even in cases of emergencies i have been made aware of people rather waiting for their phone to charge up in order to call attention to their distress rather than use a public pay phone. that of course could be because simply they do not have any change.
and finally, phew to that you may say, some of you will no doubt be delighted to see some more Nuns present and beautifying my blog. the focus here, however, is not them.
look at that stout, noble yeoman, using simple, basic yet effective and rewarding gardening tools. these days gardening instruments tend to be all subversive and opulent, designed for easy use. this defeats the purpose of reward of a hard day's graft gardening, somewhat. why would you make something that is supposed to be pleasurable easier and faster?
indeed yes, if you are wondering, the Nuns here do seem quite as taken with the skills of the gardener as the other Nuns (or perhaps they are the same ones) were with the bellboy, and adopt a similar method of expressing thanks and appreciation.
well, there you have it. i can only hope and indeed place my trust in the wish that some of you have found these insights and observations of some interest. i shall be studying many, many more films of this era and this genre. i can make no promises, but if this post proves popular then i shall see what i can do about sharing further images from the seventies here.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!