March 27, 2013

HOW THE TAXMAN CLEARED THE DANCE FLOOR: “Thanks to a 1944 ‘cabaret tax,’ millions of Americans said goodbye to Swing Music. A lot fewer said hello to bebop,” Eric Felten writes in the Wall Street Journal.

And thanks to United States V. Paramount Pictures, Inc, a 1948 Supreme Court ruling, Hollywood studios were forced to divest themselves of ownership of their own movie theaters, ultimately leading to the breakup of the studio system, and Hollywood’s golden era.

In his perceptive 2011 review of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Bruce Bawer wrote that Allen is a New York leftist surprisingly at odds with the contemporary society his ideology helped shape:

While Allen likes to think of himself as a standard-issue Manhattan liberal, the sensibility of his films (whether he realizes it or not) is largely conservative.  Over and over he makes it clear that he despises pretty much everything that came out of the 1960s, and one after another of his films is an exercise in cultural nostalgia for the pre-Sixties world.   His pictures’ musical scores testify to his obsession with the Great American Songbook.  (Recall, for example, the sequence in Hannah and Her Sisters in which Dianne Wiest takes him to see a punk rock band that he hates, joking that “after they sing, they’re gonna take hostages” – after which, in order to give her a taste of “something nice,” he takes her to the Carlyle to hear Bobby Short perform Cole Porter.)  Just as The Purple Rose of Cairo and Radio Days are love letters to the 1930s and 40s – and both very charming ones, at that – Midnight in Paris is a love letter to the 1920s.

But then, the Woodman isn’t the only “Progressive” who’s paradoxically feeling nostalgic for a bygone era.

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