Short Takes: Of Beatlemania, Christian Zealots, No Sex in the Sixties and Beauty’s Wounds

An Occasional Column by Brian Arsenault

The Beatles Their Golden Age

I thought only Queen Elizabeth I had a Golden Age.  This curious little DVD by Les Krantz , known mostly for sports reporting, is primarily a bunch of old newsreels (an ancient form of media), movie previews (now called trailers, I believe) and photos of album covers.  No Beatles music is heard — must be a rights issue. Plenty of screaming girls and crowd scenes at airports.  George Harrison saying Patty wouldn’t date him at first but “everything turned out all right in the end.” How ironic is that.

The one great insight of this largely tedious  60 minute “film” is unintentional.  All of those newsreel commentators sniping at the Beatles and their fans and just dripping with sarcasm were so out of touch with what was happening that they missed the arrival of what has been obnoxiously called “youth culture”, which totally changed entertainment and arguably the Western World.

We also are reminded that the “Christians” who led the record burnings after Lennon’s little remark about the relative popularity of Jesus and the Beatles were the Klan. And what’s happened since John spoke those killer comments? The Beatles have sold more albums than anybody in history and “Christianity” has devolved into: a huge institution that protected priests who buggered little boys and elected an ex-Nazi pope; a bunch of boring mainstream Protestant denominations whom almost no one pays attention to; and those crazy evangelicals who have nearly attained cult status with their odd beliefs.  Who knew from Hutterites anyway?  Of course, the Church of the Politically Correct may be even more offensive and is in ascendancy but that’s for another day.

The Me Generation by Me . . . Growing Up In the 60s by Ken Levine

This book is in places screamingly funny.  The guy was a principal writer of Mash, Cheers and Frazier, after all.  And for those who didn’t grow up in L.A. it’s instructive that Dick Van Dyke was the PA announcer at his kid’s football games, that Love-Ins were just another place to pick up girls and that UCLA was where the geeks and nerds went while the cool kids went to USC.  Who knew (if you grew up in the East).

Mostly, though, it’s about Levine’s unending unsuccessful attempts to get laid, sort of a Woody Allen of the West that gets a bit tedious by the end.  For the sake of all of us, Ken, just put your money down and buy some action if you are that inept.

Movies You May Have Missed

There’s a good chance you didn’t miss this first one but I did so I thought I’d mention it for the also unaware. I promise not use words and phrases like “compelling” and “coming of age film” whenever discussing movies.

Stealing Beauty (1996), is a compelling coming of age film by famed Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor) .  But seriously folks, this is a beautifully shot film set in the Tuscan hills (how could it not be beautiful) which is about people trying to figure out how to live together.  Jeremy Irons is a dying poet who has realized there is nothing worth paying attention to but beauty and Liv Tyler is beauty made all the more compelling by kindness and decency in an indecent world. She is a 19 year old virgin who just has not found anyone who is worth it. Yet.  As a character in the film reminds us — beauty wounds the heart.  Get wounded.

A Foreign Field (1993).  Wounds of another kind and the hope of healing are at the center of A Foreign Field, another ‘90s film with a very fine cast: Alec Guiness, Leo McKern, Jeanne Moreau, Geraldine Chaplin, Lauren Bacall and more.  Several write-ups on this film since its release describe it as sentimental but that’s only if one thinks that love for a brain damaged comrade, a prostitute, even a soldier of Nazi Germany are by nature “sentimental.”  If one finds them remarkable in the face of the horrors of a war now decades past, this little movie is a revelation.

I’m sure you can get both of these from Netflix, Amazon, and other sources.

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