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invasion), to have been complacent, guilt-ridden, and unnaturally isolated from the instabilities that plague the world outside it. It deserves to be visited by disaster; the experience jars the family from a spurious and mechanical contentment The House of Proctor (replete with craggy shoreline, pounding surf, and the eternally circling vigilance ofa lighthouse beam—land's end! has two able bodied men (a doctor and an artist) who betray no awareness, of a war going on at all. Both are self-deluding and basically unhappy. The wife's relationship with her husband rapidly deteriorates as he moves from a drunken binge with his model to a crazy absorption in Anne Baxter is (the intruder) as a living embodiment of Saint Cecilia, inspiration for his long-overdue masterpiece — all the while completely oblivious to his wife's reluctance to relish his male prerogative. When he, acting "injured", accuses her ofmisplaced suspicions, it shows us how tenuous any prior understanding between them must have been. The ease and laughter, the big warm bustling house, the pair ofloyal servants, the economic security (where do they get their money?), the proper degree of solicitousness born ofunquestioned love, is the American dream/myth ofwhat a family should be—yet no one, from little daughter to grandmotherishly protective older sister, can be said to be happy. Indeed, the latent frustrations ofall start bubbling visibly under the tutelage ofBaxter's surreptitious villainy. How strong is this self-absorbed family that collapses at the first encounter with an alien? These are of course speculations, but the film does seem to suggest the problematic nature ofa major cultural institution and of our assumptions about male/female relationships as aggravated by particular historical circumstances, not alluded to in the film, but hoveringly present nonetheless. The film is history (among other things), despite appearances to the contrary, if we make the effort to perceive it as such. The historian's role in film study should not be restricted only to those films that explicitly announce their connections to historical events; every film awaits study in a historical context as part ofthe total ground from which students may make valid inferences ofmeaning. Jack Shadoian, Department of English, University of Massachusetts Casablanca (Warner Bros., 1943) 102 min. b&w 35mm Assuming that some movies reflect the values and current opinions of society at a given time, then utilization offilms as 'Casablanca' in the classroom has merit. This film deals with events in Vichy controlled Casablanca prior to Pearl Harbor. These events revolve around the exploits of an American ex-patriot casino owner (Humphrey Bogart) who previously had smuggled arms to the Ethiopians and fought on the Loyalist side in Spain. Bogart finds himselffaced with trying to keep an on-the-run anti-Fascist underground leader (Paul Henreid) and his wife (Ingrid Bergman) out of the hands ofthe pursuing Nazis. The film can be utilized in classes in twentieth-century American and/or European history, political ideology, and in pointing out the effects ofpsychological propaganda in wartime. The film makes a very strong appeal to World War II movie audiences for unity and cooperation among the Allies. This is best done, perhaps, when Bogart forcefully describes his multi-national group ofcasino employees; his Russian bartender, his 'good' German maître d' and Sam (Dooley Wilson) his black American piano player who, incidentally, is not asked to "play it again, Sam." 12 The film is also useful in a sociological context. For example, when Miss Bergman first comes to Bogart's casino she sees Sam at the piano and asks a waiter to give the Tx>y' a message for her. The term 'boy' has an offensive connotation to blacks and to some people reflects the insensitivity and/or disregard for feelings ofblacks that many whites express to one another. This viewer even suspects that the tragicomic scene ofthe French prefect ofpolice (Claude Raines) closing down Bogart's gambling casino and at the same time pocketing his own winnings at the tables could have usefulness in law enforcement and criminology classes. Course: Modern American History Patrick Armstrong, Jefferson State Junior College Sergeant York (Warner Bros., 1941) 134 min. b&w 35mm During the 1930's and 1940's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9922
Print ISSN
0360-3695
Pages
pp. 12-13
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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