I woke around 3:30 this morning to let the dogs out for a minute. When I got back into bed I turned on Turner Classic Movie channel thinking I'd fall back to sleep with a comfortable old movie. "Bachelor in Paradise"was on, circa 1961 with Bob Hope, Lana Turner, Paula Prentiss and the guy who played Gidget's Father in the TV series "Gidget". For a little over an hour, I was riveted, in spite of this being a "B-Movie" it was a fascinating feast for these old eyes.

The story was set in one of the very first residential tract-home communities in the San Fernando Valley. Lana played a Real Estate Broker who owned one of the tract homes which she rented to Bob Hope who played A.J. Niles, an author of Kinsey-type studies, sent by his manager to suburbia to write a similar book about the sex lives of middle America. Yes, sex had been invented by 1961. Anyway, A.J. Niles found plenty of sex being had in the peaceful subdivision of "Paradise Village", but that wasn't what compelled me to stay awake and watch the movie. It was the LOOK, designs, materials and color schemes. This movie epitomizes that unmistakable 50s-60s, mid-century modern, space age aesthetic when women dressed like the wives of astronauts, and as mentioned in my previous post (All Stirred Up), everyone drank martinis.Strangely, I found myself looking at the decor with disdain. Everything seemed cheap, mass produced, tacky and cheesy looking. I was surprised at how ugly it all seemed to me. Even the wide shots of the neighborhood had me cringing.

Then I remembered the way we dressed in the 70s and decided that the magical man-made fabric of Polyester must have been a product of the same sick sense of style. It's no wonder we needed drugs and alcohol to get us through those decades. Or maybe bad taste was the product of a gigantic hangover we were all suffering from then.

Go back just nine years before that and watch a film like "The Bad and The Beautiful", 1952 and see what a difference a decade can make in the minds and the taste of a culture. Oh well, at least we got the martini part right, right?

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