Thursday, May 29, 2008

American Look (movie review)

You need to go back a ways in USA corporate culture, to find much happy days futurism as a genre. The later science fiction is more Mad Max, one of Dawn's favorites, darker and edgy.

But American Look is unrelentingly upbeat, produced by Chevrolet in the late 1950s, a tribute to America's designers, or stylists as they were often then called.

The camera hovers lovingly over those mod lines we still admire today, though more as retro chachkas for Church of Elvis type palaces, with Austin Powers shag rugs.

Those perky percolators, those adorable Stepford Wives, with their modest almost ankle-length dresses (unless water skiing or sun bathing, or showing off motor vehicles). Those swoopy pencil sharpeners, those cute streamlined telephones (still rotary dial)...

Per recent anthropological studies, some teenagers were actually cultivating the more juvenile delinquent look back then, in a still hush hush rebellion of Drapes (underdogs) versus Squares (on top). Later we'd get The Beatles and all that loud music.

However, our avuncular, all-knowing narrator is undeterred by these troubling signs of a brewing culture war, and simply reminds us (again and again) how lucky we are to be (white) Americans (no Negroes in this film, nor any of their music).

Women get nodding acceptance as stylists until we get to the Inner Sanctum, where Bob appears. Bob smokes a pipe, and his team of men in black, his no nonsense yes men, are anxious to please.

They go off to make a car out of clay, a Chevrolet. They then stroke it and worship it, and when Bob reappears, he is pleased.

This is really the climax of the film, but we take awhile to wind down after that, have a cig maybe, look at those percolators some more.

man in black enters the inner sanctum
(note: authorized personnel only)

Bob sets the tone (note pipe)

Bob helps choose which future is brightest

unveiling the clay car
Bob (center, with pipe) is pleased