Imitation of Life
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2 items from 2011

Is The Help helping?

21 October 2011 4:23 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The African-American servant or 'Mammy' is one of Hollywood's more troublesome cliches. Does new hit film The Help subvert or reinforce the stereotype, asks Xan Brooks

Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House is an amiable 1948 comedy that casts Cary Grant as an imperilled advertising executive who is rescued, on the day of the deadline, by his beaming black domestic servant. "If you ain't eating Wham, you ain't eating ham," quips the servant, bustling in with a freshly prepared breakfast and casually providing a slogan to save her master's bacon. Naturally Blandings is delighted. "Darling!" he calls to his wife. "Give Gussie a $10 raise." This, back in 1948, was what passed for a Hollywood happy ending.

These days, thank heaven, the help are paid more fairly. For evidence, check out The Help, a 60s-set, Mississippi-based drama about a bunch of servants who "help" a white journalist write a book and »

- Xan Brooks

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Clip joint: Melting

16 March 2011 8:48 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Enjoy a selection of those moments when solid cinematic gold is transformed into liquid assets – and suggest your own below

It's springtime at last. And that means summer will come. And that means heat. And that heat means melting. Everything does it, from the tarmac on the streets to that ice lolly you bought moments ago that's already dribbling down your hand. Movies are the perfect medium to experience this effect of heat in motion, turning solids into something a bit more viscous. Of course you can photograph a bit of ice, but until the advent of cinema the motion of this in effect was unfilmable and thus this facet of the majesty of nature was left unrecorded. It didn't take long for those entertainment boffins to realise that melting, far from simply being a neat visual shorthand for the passage of time and the circularity of the seasons, was »

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