Why return to OLD Hollywood?

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Classic movie buffs know the opening scene of Citizen Kane very well.  A publishing tycoon, lies on his deathbed, clutching a snow globe depicting a wintry scene.  As the man, once a wizard of words, clings to life, those privileged to be in his room during his last moments anticipate what profound final words might come from his mouth.  Finally, he utters one last word just as the snow globe drops to the ground and smashes into bits.   The word: “Rosebud.”

Thus is the beginning of the story of Charles Foster Kane, a character whose life is based on American Newspaper magnate William Randoph Hearst. Played out in a series of flashback scenes throughout the movie, news reporters scramble throughout the movie to retrace the old man’s life, trying out-scoop each other in order to decipher the meaning of that final word. What is Rosebud?  Who is Rosebud?  Don’t know the answer? Then apparently you haven’t  seen this classic movie.  I won’t spoil it for you now, but thanks to a fellow classic movie buff and a little research on it myself, I found out an interesting tidbit about that word that I will share at the end of this blog.

If you haven’t seen Citizen Kane, you have every opportunity to do so, along with sooooo many other amazing movies, many of which have been remade in recent years.  Because there is now an entire generation of people who are simply not acquainted with OLD Hollywood and the body of work that came out of the decades before this one, I choose to bring back the Hollywood of days gone by, in all its glitz and glamour, and reintroduce it to what I call the “On-Demand” generation…most especially the young adults who might not even realize how many of today’s biggest box-office money-makers are actually remakes of classic movies from years ago.

I won’t go into names now.  I have nothing against remaking classics, except for the disconnect producers seem to deliberately ignore when it comes time to publicize these new movies. It’s as if they do not want today’s viewers to know this is actually only a remake.  Like I’ve said in my other blog, DetroitDixieChick.blogspot.com, it isn’t always a bad thing to remake a classic.  For instance, Hitchcock’s North by Northwest WOULD be cool to see in 3-D….but really, aren’t we overdoing the 3-D and high definition thing just a tad?  OK maybe not, I enjoy it too, but this is my blog and I choose to celebrate the classics.

I chose the name Rosebud for this blog not only to pay homage to one of Hollywood’s greatest classic movies but also because I liken today’s Hollywood to a Rose, whose fresh bloom has long been faded off the petals.  Read this passage by poet Walter de la Mare, entitled When the Rose is Faded.

When the rose is faded,
Memory may still dwell on
Her beauty shadowed,
And the sweet smell gone.

Sadly, the Hollywood we see today, both in movies and with respect to its celebrity, is like that faded rose, so very different than the original Hollywood, then called Hollywoodland, where the invention of what was then called “moving pictures,” first silent, then the talkies, first took place.

In its heyday, the era many call the days of the Silver Screen, Hollywood scripts were well written, directors, actors and actresses actually went to acting schools to study method acting and dramatic theater. They often cut their teeth on B films before getting their so-called “big breaks” and if you really watch actors and actresses from their early days through to their most well-known films, you can actually see them grow in their trades.

Hollywood 2011 is almost like a reality show shot in the warm, sunny land of California, with stalking photographers snapping stars’ every moves, where too many actors and actresses openly go to rehab and where basically people wishing to become famous and land a gig in the world of movies simply uploads a 3 minute video of themselves. It seems Andy Warhol was right when he quipped that we all will get our 15 minutes of fame.

Are there still great actors? Sure. Are many of them people who have studied the trade and great directors who really know how to make worthwhile movies? Absolutely. Yet to me, there simply are not enough hours in the day to watch the true classics, mainly because there are so many that remain unknown to today’s generation. And that’s where I come in.

Here’s what you can expect from me with the launch of Rosebud:  In some blogs, I’ll focus on a specific genre, like epics, thrillers or film noires; in others, I’ll focus a certain movie or a body of work from one specific actor or actress.  I’m also guilty of a secret passion: gossip….I have old celebrity gossip rags from The Hollywood Reporter, including stories from the infamous Hollywood Gossip Reporter Hedda Hopper (I swear I was her, in another life) so maybe, even though there were no TMZ reporters or paparazzi stalkers around, I might drop in a tidbit of oft-repeated gossip tidbit about the stars we revered as Gods or Goddesses, many of whom are no longer with us, just to show they were human, even if their studio contracts often didn’t allow them to appear as human as we are. (Translation: Thanks to the almighty powers of Hollywood studios, you did NOT see magazines touting “Stars Without Makeup” on the news stands.)

Seeing the classics has never been easier.  You have Netflix. You have On Demand.  You have American Movie Classics or Turner Classic Movies.  The point here is, I am making it my personal mission, with the launch of my newest blog, to introduce the classics to a new generation.  Or, if you are a late baby boomer like me, you may have seen such movies but not in many years, so I’ll re-introduce these to you!

OK, so  outside the movie Citizen Kane, there is also mystery surrounding the word Rosebud….one that Publisher William Randolph Hearst fought to have stricken from the movie, to no avail…. It seems Mr. Hearst had a personal pet name for his girlfriend, Actress Marion Davies’ most private body part…and that name was….Rosebud.  The moral of THAT story is Ms. Davies might have been wise to not over share while swilling champagne at her lavish pool parties back in the day.  :)

You see, there were bawdy references and rumors circulating throughout Hollywood even back then…and you can bet that if I hear ‘em, I’ll spill ‘em!  Stay tuned, as they like to say….and be sure to come back for more! HOORAY FOR CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD!

About Janice Fritz-Ryken

Former journalist and media/ PR specialist-turned wife and mommy who does freelance writing on the side. Blessed with a great husband and happy, healthy daughter, loving family and many close friends! Born in Detroit, currently resides in Chattanooga, Tn.