The Turner Classic Movie channel delights and entertains with memories of old favorite movie stars and their films. I had forgotten some of the films and was delighted to rediscover them.
But it is surprising to watch some of those films and realize that “this scene would never work today!” Everything seems to be topsy-turvy. Things that were once considered risqué are now accepted as commonplace. Things that once shocked people are no longer shock-worthy. We are accustomed to scenes that could never have been shown a few decades ago.
But some of the tables have been turned. Movies that seemed innocent back as recent as the fifties would be considered practically obscene by the today’s moral standards.
“Father Is A Bachelor,” starring William Holden, is a film from 1950. Holden plays a shiftless man who comes upon a family of five children living alone in a cabin along the Mississippi River. We later learn that their parents were killed in a steamboat accident. Holden’s character befriends the children, who ask him to stay. He agrees to remain for a short time. The youngest child, a girl of about five, sits on his lap and cuddles up. (Oh no; that poor innocent child!) Then she asks him to put her to bed! (uh oh: feeling uncomfortable.) He takes her to her bed (eek: goose bumps rising) and undresses her (grit your teeth!) to prepare her for bedtime. She tells Holden that she has only one dress and asks him to make her a new one. He agrees, and with the four brothers watching, Holden spreads a bolt of cloth on the floor. He then carries the sleeping girl out of her bed and lies her atop the cloth. He begins to cut a pattern around her body. When he gets to her legs he lifts one leg up (eek: violated privacy) and cuts the fabric under the leg. Then he cuts the fabric farther and lifts the other leg to continue cutting the dress under her body (That pervert!).
Of course Holden turns out to have a heart of gold. He pawns his few belongings to buy the children food and supplies to survive alone in the cabin.
I was surprised by my reaction. I must be brainwashed by current events and claims of innocent women being abused by powerful men. But scenes with the child and William Holden that would have seemed “cute” at one time, seemed seedy and unscrupulous by today’s standards. How fickle the public eye is; it seems so easy to turn an entire generation. One decade’s innocence is the next decade’s abuse.