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[First Things, August 2005]
I'm a fan of old movies, the black-and-whites from the 30's and 40's, in part because of the things this time-travel reveals about how American culture has changed. One thing that's struck me lately is how differently the adults in these films carry themselves, walk and speak. It seems adults used to have a whole different kind of bearing. It's hard sometimes to figure out how old the characters are supposed to be. They seem to be portraying a phase of the human life-cycle that we don't even *have* any more.
Take the 1934 version of "Imitation of Life." Here Claudette Colbert portrays a young widow who builds a successful business (selling pancakes, actually. Well, it's more believable if you see the whole movie.)