Runaway Future

11.3.2013

City for Conquest

Filed under: Sundays at Seven — forbes @ 0:52

Starting in September of 2011, I’ve been fortunate enough to regularly view classic films with a neighbour of mine.  I’m going to attempt to chronicle those sessions in a new section that I’m calling “Sundays at Seven”.

I haven’t been keeping up to date with my Sundays at Seven postings at all, but I’ve got a list of the films we’ve watched and we’ve definitely watched some really great stuff over the past year and a half.

Tonight, we watched a movie called City for Conquest. It starred James Cagney in it, who I’ve never been a huge fan of, but the theme of the movie really hit me.

The film follows a group of children who grow up in a rough end of New York as they grow up and chase after a better existence. There’s Peggy, a girl who loves to dance and Danny, a boy who loves Peggy and fights at the drop of the hat. Danny’s brother is Eddy, who has a love for music and they have a friend Googi, who is the poorest of them all and has to steal in order to get food to eat.

We then jump forward to the group as adults. Danny and his best friend Scotty are truck drivers, Eddy is trying to put himself through music school, Peggy is trying to put herself through dance classes and Googi has already been in and out of jail. They all wait success, they all want to reach a level of conquest, to rise above.

But that success doesn’t come easy and it comes with some brutal sacrifice. Peggy has to sacrifice her love for Danny in order to reach success as a dancer. Danny needs to sacrifice his body and become a boxer in order to get money together for Eddy to finish school. Eddy then needs to sacrifice his love for the art and play popular music in order to get the attention he requires. And Googi makes the ultimate sacrifice, dying in a gangster shootout on the dockyards.

Inevitably, the individual sacrifices pay off, but perhaps not in the happy ending the characters hope for. Googi’s death redeems himself, standing up for what is right one last time. Eddy reaches a level of success that then enables him to make the music he wants. Peggy’s dance career falls apart, but she reunites with Eddy, who despite being broken and blinded, is happy because they’re together.

I guess that concept of sacrifice resonated with me, because it’s the feeling I was trying to capture when talking about failure. To get a little, you have to give a little. If you want to get a lot, you have to be prepared to give up a lot, perhaps more than you’d normally be willing to give up. That’s the cost.

1.10.2011

Sundays at 7 : The Heiress

Filed under: Sundays at Seven — forbes @ 15:49

Starting at the beginning of September, I’ve been fortunate enough to regularly view classic films with a neighbour of mine.  I’m going to attempt to chronicle those sessions in a new section that I’m calling “Sundays at Seven”.

In our first week, we watched the film The Heiress. Made in 1949, the film is set in the mid-1800s and focuses on a young woman (the titular heiress) who has been unlucky in love, but then finds herself the object of affection for a smooth young man. Although his intentions are never made completely clear, her father suspects he’s more interested in her inheritance than her love and certainly the suitor’s actions mirror these suspicions.

The film doesn’t have a happy ending for any of the main characters. The heiress ends up alone, the father passes away and the suitor is rejected and continues to be penniless.

I really enjoyed this film, not just because of the strong acting (the actor who plays the father is particularly effective as a cruel parent who often is eager to point out his daughter’s shortcomings), but also because despite the actual film being more than 60 years old and the story itself being set much farther back, it still felt extremely contemporary in story. It felt like something that could be told in today’s cinema. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I wasn’t the only one to think that: the film was remade in 1997 as Washington Square.

We also watched two episodes of the Twilight Zone.

In the first, The New Exhibit, a man becomes obsessed with the wax figures of five famous murderers (creepily done as heavily made-up actors, it was unnerving to see them stand there as wax figures, swaying ever so slightly). Bringing the figures home, they eventually begin to murder anything that threatens their existence, including the man’s wife, brother-in-law and former boss, before turning on their care-taker.

In the second, Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville, a businessman who has achieved everything that he wishes to do and is as successful as he can be, makes a deal with the devil to go back in time to his old home town and start all over again. As with any deal of the nature, the devil is in the details (to excuse the phrase) and things don’t work out as planned, leaving the man lost and making a bad deal to return to the future, where he finds that it was his janitor who enjoyed the success that he once celebrated. Julie Newmar is nothing short of stunningly attractive as the devil, while Albert Salmi is a very convincing blustery and boasting businessman.

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