She had watched the Bond movie Goldfinger and commented on some of the things contained in the movie that would by today's standards might be viewed differently. I took a special interest in the topic as I was planning on writing a post today on the subject of a book that was made into a movie in the 1950s that was considered scandalous....which I will talk about in a moment.
Anyway..I always enjoy RK's take on things as she is a great blogger and found her comparisons to Goldfinger which was released in 1964 to a current movie that she went to see.
Of course, me being me, I had to jump over to Google "Goldfinger" and refresh my memory. I hadn't seen the movie since I was a teenager and didn't remember much other some of the characters odd names. There was Goldfinger, of course, but there was also, Oddjob and Pussy Galore.
After taking a minute to read over the plot line on Wikipedia article related to the Goldfinger movie, I happened to notice an explanation of how the movie worked a rather racy innuendo into a movie of that era.
Honor Blackman (actress that played the role) as Pussy Galore: Goldfinger's personal pilot and leader of an all-female team of pilots known as the Flying Circus.The character's name follows in the tradition of other Bond girls names that are double entendres: concerned about censors, the producers thought about changing the character's name to "Kitty Galore", but they and Hamilton decided "if you were a ten-year old boy and knew what the name meant, you weren't a ten-year old boy, you were a dirty little bitch. The American censor was concerned, but we got round that by inviting him and his wife out to dinner and [told him] we were big supporters of the Republican Party."
Thought Number One..."That's Shocking!" Then and Now
I, too watched a movie last week but, in my case, I had never seen it before. Probably, in part because it was released in 1957, I was busy trying to master "Dick and Jane."....the book...not the movie.
As I was scrolling through cable channels I noticed that Peyton Place was starting. While I had heard of the book, the movie and the TV series, I had never read or watched anything associated with Peyton Place. BUT after watching the movie I had more questions than answers. WHY would either the movie or the book be described as "wicked" or "moral filth?" The content of the movie was far less sexual and/or violent than any prime time television show today. Surely, the book was better.
Of course, that led to the obvious...I looked on the Internet and saw that the book was considered wicked, tawdry, sleazy, immoral filth ...at least by 1950's standards.....which also led to the fact...I had to read the book.
Thought Number Two: What makes it sleazy now compared to what made it sleazy then.
After watching the movie and trying to find anything remotely resembling filth and sleaze, I thought there just had to be more to it.
Which led to ......Amazon + two day shipping putting this little gem on my doorstep.
The latest release of Peyton Place has an introduction written by Ardis Cameron that talks about the history of the book. Back in 1956 this book was touted as obscene, Canada considered it indecent and made it illegal in the Commonwealth, it was banned from most major libraries, but still... it was the first true blockbuster novel. It sold sixty thousand copies in the first ten days of its release. It remained on the New York Times best seller list for 59 weeks edging out God's Little Acre and Gone With the Wind. The book and it's author were vilified but that didn't keep it from being hidden in the nightstand in one out of every 29 households in America.
|Just a guess, but I would think that 50 Shades of Grey would have been frowned upon in 1956.|
Just as RK's comparison to the Goldfinger movie to movies today, Peyton Place wouldn't be considered shocking in the same way today as it was then. What made the book taboo then was the story line of a rape by a stepfather resulting in an abortion. The book did not contain an account of the rape itself. It was inferred by the fact the character Selena needed an abortion. (abortions being illegal back then) The other big no-no in the book and movie was the town widow that had in fact never been married but had a child. That seems to be a horribly shocking scandal in the book.
By today's standards, the moral outrage connected to the book might of been the liberal use of racial slurs. I doubt that much of the indignation connected with the book then, was for that reason
What makes the story more interesting is the real story behind the author and how the book affected her life. Grace Metalious loosely based the book based on her childhood in New Hampshire. It didn't win her friends and admirers. Quite the opposite. Her hometown paper, the Manchester Union Leader wrote an editorial saying:
This sad situation reveals a complete debasement of taste and fascination with filthy, rotten, side of life that are the earmarks of the collapse of civilization.
Critics called it lurid, sensational and cheap and they said it would never sell to which Metalious responded "If I am a lousy writer, then a hell of a lot of people have lousy taste." but even with her bravado, Grace suffered. Her husband lost his job as the local school principle, they later divorced and she became an alcoholic. She died at the age of 39 with cirrhosis of the liver. She was quoted prior to her death as saying ""If I had to do it over again, it would be easier to be poor. Before I was successful, I was as happy as anyone gets.
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