Two films that are mirror images of the Blacklist-HUAC fifties, ON THE
WATERFRONT and SALT OF THE EARTH, have complicated but nonetheless
optimistic endings. Given the sad fate of SALT OF THE EARTH itself,
its optimism looks poignantly misplaced.
The fifties are also big on therapeutic narratives, such as that of
I'LL CRY TOMORROW, in which Lillian Roth (Susan Hayward) is
stage-mothered into the life of a performing robot, leading to
alcoholism and absolute degradation, only to end up with Alcoholics
Anonymous and a triumphant validation on "This Is Your Life." With the
enemy TV portrayed as an agent of personal reformation, this is a rare
vision of redemption indeed. MARTY, an envoy from the small screen,
finds hope for the middle-aged, homely, ordinary person in a culture
that favors youth and glamour.
As for musicals, try THE PAJAMA GAME, which finds romance and harmony
in union-management. I'm not sure if this is the film to look at
during the current WGA strike or not.
Associate Professor and Director of Film Studies
Dept. of English Indiana University School of Liberal Arts
501V Cavanaugh Hall
425 University Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 274-9825 (phone)
(317) 278-1287 (fax)
Quoting Adam Fish <[log in to unmask]>:
> Dear Screen-listers,
> I am looking for Fifties film examples of heroes, heroines, or whole
> groups of people that go through many travails but come out better in
> the end. Examples that come from epics and musicals would be
> Thank you,
> Adam Fish
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