Monday, November 24, 2008

Something About the '30s

I just finished watching the entire series, Carnivale. As usual, I'm annoyed it's over and canceled and that the story will never be finished. I don't know why I continue to subject myself to the faulty medium of TV (even in old series on DVD when I already know their fate beforehand).
Carnivale captivates my imagination, with its grittiness, richly detailed settings and realismo magical. I can't get enough of things that are set in the '30s, the Depression or the Dust Bowl. Examples: O Brother Where Art Thou, Miller's Crossing (both of which are Coen Brothers films, must be a favorite era of theirs too). I want to see the clothes, shoes, curtains, wallpaper, furniture and radios. And in Carnivale, the tents, trailers and gypsy caravans.
The truth is, I wasn't very interested in the great Good-vs-Evil storyline in Carnivale, just the characters and the situation: Carnies, living outside society's rules. But I was intrigued by the twist of having the evangelists and churchgoers represent Evil and the collection of misfits, outcasts and thieves represent Good.
My Swedish immigrant grandpa was a migrant oil field worker during the Great Depression. You didn't have to speak much English to do that kind of work. He got his left thumb sliced off in an oil derrick. I can only imagine what the medical care was like.

My husband is the grandchild of "okies," migrants who were chased west by poverty and hardship during the '30s. That Southern-sounding dialect you hear in Northern California, always among the working class or a "good old boy" who has risen in the ranks, is a living artifact of the migrations of the '30s.
If you can recommend any more movies or TV set in this era, please let me know.
Scene from Miller's Crossing
Scene from O Brother Where Art Thou

9 comments:

Ernie Branscomb said...

“….migrants chased west by poverty and hardship during the '30s. That Southern-sounding dialect you hear in Northern California, always among the working class or a "good old boy" who has risen in the ranks, is a living artifact of the migrations of the '30s.”

Indie, throw in a little Irish and Scandinavian and you have a typical 1950’s Lumberman.

Kym said...

I know when I was a telephone operator, people would ask me all the time where did I come from. I knew I was speakin' Humboldt Hill folk with an Okie twang 'cause my grampa came from Oklahoma, too

humboldtherald said...

How far are you into Six Feet Under?

Indie said...

Heraldo, I watched Six Feet Under to the end. I think I saw all of them. I enjoyed the message that seemed to run through the whole show, that life is messy, chaotic and fragile. And I like how it ended, telling everyone's whole story. Good recommendation. Got anymore?

Carson Park Ranger said...

We lost interest in the self-absorbed characters of "Six Feet Under," but "Carnivale" was right up there with "Deadwood," in our house. Great characters.

Interest in the '30s may increase as we descend again into uncertain economic times.

Indie said...

CPR, that is how I felt about the characters on Six Feet Under. I could never find one to identify with or admire.

I should give Deadwood another shot. Something bothered me the first time I saw it, but I can't remember what.

And you are absolutely right about why the '30s are interesting: survival in tough times.

I need to do my history homework, but which came first, Prohibition or the Depression? Is the Depression why Prohibition didn't work out? How did Prohibition get passed in the first place?

Anonymous said...

"My husband is the grandchild of "okies," migrants who were chased west by poverty and hardship during the '30s. That Southern-sounding dialect you hear in Northern California, always among the working class or a "good old boy" who has risen in the ranks, is a living artifact of the migrations of the '30s."

I have great respect for the Oakies and their descendents, partly as a result of reading "The Grapes of Wrath." I have met some of the Oakies who moved here in the mid-1950s, and they reminded me of the earlier migrants who came here before them.

Just so you know, my grandfather came from Texas to California as a child in 1911. His children, born in the 1930s here in Humboldt County, spoke with a southern accent all through their lives, even though he died before they reached their teens.

I figured they chose to keep that accent alive as a tribute to their Dad.

Indie said...

I'll bet you're right about the reasons why they maintained the Southern dialect.

To certain listeners (like me!) that is the accent of genuineness, integrity and trustworthiness. Probably because it sounds like someone we once admired and trusted. For me, it is the voice of mothers, sisters, uncles and cousins.

Anonymous said...

"If you can recommend any more movies or TV set in this era, please let me know."

"Places in the Heart" is as authentic a movie set in that era as any I have ever seen. If you haven't seen it, I hope you will see it soon. It is about a woman's desperate struggle for economic survival during a time of crisis.