Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Whatever Happened to Glamour?

There is a distinct lack of glamour in my life.

This was made horribly clear to me as I lay in bed a week or two ago dying of a terrible fever surrounded by twelve black ravens singing 'When the Saints Go Marching In' at me. It was not a pleasant experience, even though it now amuses me to portray myself as a freakish Jesus-like figure surrounded by twelve weirder apostles, and it was rendered somewhat doubly more unpleasant by the knowledge that I was not only feeling as if a pack of abnormally heated racoons were nestled in my brain, but I probably looked it too. Ingrid Bergman never looked so horrific, not even when Claude Rain was slowly poisoning her to death in Notorious; at worst, she looked mildly and glamorously feverish as Cary Grant declared his love for her. In the state I was in, Cary Grant would have probably gladly put me out of my misery.

After this shocking epiphany - that at the moment nothing in my life has any more glitz or sparkle than a lonely empty fridge pushed into a canal - I decided to act upon it and launch myself into the 1940s with the cinematic aid of Casablanca, Gilda, Intermezzo, and Roman Holiday. How can one not be inspired by Audrey's chic simplicity, or by Ingrid's soft sophistication? How can one not instantly want to be Rita Hayworth's dazzling character, la femme fatale, with flowing locks and cutting wit? And because these films are black and white, they scream old-school style which is now almost utterly lost on the new generations. These films don't need the bright technicolour mask to distract the very distractable, the focus is all on the dialogue and actors. Not that I don't enjoy modern films, but, frankly, what would you rather see: Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a beautiful, doomed romance sweepingly given up for a nobler cause, set within spectacular displays of verbal antagonism and without any hint of sickening love cliches; or Megan Fox on the receiving end of attempted murderous strikes by, essentially, a gigantic tin can? Marvellous special effects, I'm sure. But I'm not sure I can like a film purely for its 'special effects'....


And that's the great thing about the old films: they didn't have special effects. Or not really, anyway. So it was pure acting. The thing about a film like Casablanca is that, even if you haven't seen it, I bet you've heard of a lot of the lines: "Play it, Sam"; "Louis, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship"; "Here's looking at you, kid"....and they're not even the best ones. This film is stuffed to perfection with clever lines and amusing characters, so much so that they have sneaked in to our day to day culture and we don't realise it half the time. And it upsets me greatly to think that most people of younger generations have no idea who Ingrid Bergman or Rita Hayworth are.


So I have made another decision, based on the sole objective to educate the youth of today (and absolutely nothing to do with the fact I want more glamour in my life): henceforth, I shall use every creative cell in my brain to evoke the style and spirit of these wonderful films, wearing more dresses, arranging my hair in soft waves irresistible to the touch, red lipstick for all occasions! A resolution I fully intend to carry out starting today and keep going probably until the ravens return or I'm late for work, in which case perhaps a neglect to powder my nose may be forgiven.