Dreamin’ on Poverty Row

Movie Night!

I’ve been watching a number of films made in the 1930’s by studios of which I’ve barely heard; Chesterfield, Invincible, Allied, Mayfair, Imperial-Cameo, et al. These were low-low-low-budget operations that I see described as “poverty row pictures”.

These films have flimsy sets. Sometimes rooms are simply indicated by a pool of light and a cloth background. Sometimes the sets (and the scripts) are recognizable as recycling efforts from other films (i.e. the village depicted in Chesterfield’s Condemned to Live looks remarkably like the village in The Bride of Frankenstein or Son of Frankenstein).

I suppose the costumes are cheap as well, but they look pretty sweet to me. People in these films dress for dinner. The ladies wear evening gowns and heels whether they’re night-clubbing or traipsing around secret caves with perfectly flat, dirt floors. The gents all wear sharp suits, ties, and snappy hats. And they know how to use their suits! These guys could say more with how they removed their hats than they possibly could with the cheesy dialogue they were probably given to memorize the morning of the shoot.

And cocktails! Ubiquitous at any occasion or time of day!! For any reason or no reason at all!!!

I’m thinkin’ I shoulda been around in the thirties workin’ at a speakeasy in a sharp suit, tie, and a snappy hat…crackin’ wise wit’ de clientele.

Fortunes coulda been made.

Sharp suits…

…snappy hats…

…secret caves…

…cheesy things to say…


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