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Hidden Values: The Movies of the Fifties (2001)

This documentary was broadcast on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable channel to kick off the presentation of films related to TCM's theme of the month for September 2001. Actors Lee Grant... See full summary »
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Storyline

This documentary was broadcast on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable channel to kick off the presentation of films related to TCM's theme of the month for September 2001. Actors Lee Grant and Paul Mazursky, producer Roger Corman, director John Carpenter, film critic Molly Haskell, and journalist Peter Biskind discuss the issues involved in six films of the 1950s. Topics include teenage loneliness, youth rebellion, changing gender roles, and the beginning of the sexual revolution. Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@prodigy.net>

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1950s | See All (1) »

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4 September 2001 (USA)  »

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References Ghosts of Mars (2001) See more »

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"We go to the movies to see who we are."
15 June 2005 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

Those of us who frequent IMDb probably see lots of movies. We probably saw many as children, uncritically sitting, quietly, in the dark, accepting the entertainment. The central idea here is that we accept more than entertainment. We learn what it is to be a good man, a good woman, a bad man, a bad woman; how to treat each other, to achieve success, love, and happiness. Or how to deserve failure, rejection and ridicule. All absorbed slowly, by immersion (as with C.J. Cherryh's fictional "tape", for any who've read her stories).

The 1950s were long enough ago that we can pretty clearly see the sort of values presented, and how it was a strange brew: combining WWII-era conservatism, favoring traditional sexual roles (i.e. the old double standard), traditional racial roles, capitalism, parochialism and duty, with postwar, pre-60s radicalism, favoring re-examining all the above, seeking pleasure (and yet meaning), cosmopolitanism and individuality. If you grew up during this decade and watched movies, these are the values you're likely to have, at least in part.

Through interviews and examples, this film illustrates these points with clarity, if a bit dryly, and generally maintains the viewer's interest. I'd like to see a similar documentary done for every decade, so any of us who grew up in them could be illuminated, as well.


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