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Depression Lessons #7

11 June 2012 5:54 AM, PDT | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

When Earl Baldwin died in 1970, he rated a few perfunctory lines in Variety. I'd like to rectify in some small way the injustice of it all—you see, Baldwin wrote for Hollywood when the studio system was cranking out generic masterpieces by the dozen. Today's lesson concerns the neglected scribes whose gift of gab helped put a beat behind the Depression."Kidding on the level," they used to call it, honest finger-pointing that masquerades as harmless fun.

Since the studio style more or less dictated how films moved, screenwriters found themselves not only camouflaged but pretty well subsumed. With this in mind, I'll limit my panegyric to a sad and sweet indictment wrapped in a programmer, 1933's Blondie Johnson. Baldwin wrote the original story and screenplay, which dovetail with the schematic plot one might expect from Warner Bros.—it's a picture about a decent girl who, losing her mother to poverty and illness, »

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2013 | 2012

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