29 November 2009

A Medicine For Melancholia



Today I had a case of the end-of-the-Thanksgiving-Break-three-weeks-until-Christmas-break-blahs. Fortunately I had recently recorded Flying Down to Rio (1933) which was, as you are no doubt aware, the first cinematic pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (I was going to toss a whole bunch of glowing adjectives in front of their names but those names in and of themselves suggest all manner of encomiums).

Flying Down to Rio has some rapturous film moments surrounded by a fairly silly story. This was to be par for the course for Fred and Ginger's films. I say that not to slight them in the least, I own a box set of their films that I wouldn't part with for its weight in gold (please don't take me literally if you have gold to offer, I was being hyperbolic in order to make a point).

So I watched Flying and voila, mullygrubs gone. Above I have posted a scene from another Fred and Ginger film, Swing Time (1936). If you're currently feeling down in the dumps (actually wouldn't being "up in the dumps" be as bad as down in them? I mean whether up or down, the dumps are not a happy place to be...but I digress) and do not have access to one of their films (what's wrong with you? No Astaire Rogers in your house. For shame!) try this on for size. There's plenty more at some place called You Tube that you may have heard tell of.

Suffice it to say that I believe it infinitely more difficult to be depressed in this day and age when there is ready access to some of the lightest, most carefree moments ever recorded. I hasten to add that when such moments are supplied by the likes of Fred and Ginger, they are wonderful displays of extremely talented people cutting the rug. So you get awesome talent mixed in with delightful character actors like Eric Blore who shows up in the above clip. You just can't beat em with a stick, not that you'd ever want to.

In Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Woody's character botches his own suicide. Disconsolate, he walks the streets of New York for hours, finally entering a movie theater that is showing The Marx Brothers in Duck Soup (1933). Revelation! To see such merriment and fun may not give purpose to life but it does show that humans can be be pretty darn good at entertaining themselves and one another. If one is in fact only to go around once, why not take advantage of all the joy that can be found.

Serious business must be tended to and we've all got responsibilities and duties aplenty. But when burdens and cares start to feel oppressive and the seemingly endless slog seems purposeless, it is indeed nice to know that we can spend some time hanging out with folks like Groucho Marx, Fred Astaire or any of the other zillions of entertainers whose works are forever preserved on websites, Cd's, DVDs and the like.

It took George Bailey a visit from an angel to see that he had a "wonderful life." Sometimes a visit to you tube is all any of us need.

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