So here, in rough order, are some things the Siren loves that didn't make it onto Jacqueline's list:
1. Intertitles in sound movies. One of the Siren's very favorite things ever, as she's mentioned before. I haven't seen one of these since Star Wars, and that wasn't strictly an intertitle since it was at the beginning. Do they just assume no one can read? That can't be, since everyone in the audience is texting like mad, a complaint that finds the Siren in complete accord with her friendly archnemesis Dirty Harry. Anyway. I adore intertitles, like the YELLOW JACK! alert in Jezebel and "And so the 'keeks' went out of another marriage" in That Uncertain Feeling and all the intertitles in this movie that you may have seen at some point:
2. Trains, especially trains with sleeping cars.
3. Dressing for dinner. The Siren has thrown many dinner parties here in glamourous little old New York, and not one person has ever shown up wearing something like this
let alone this
Nope, not even me.
4. I love any scene of a woman getting undressed behind a screen. I doubt that women did this much in real life but in the movies it's a killer. Bonus points if the woman hits the man in the room (there's always a man in the room) with something she's just taken off.
(Yes, she's standing in front of the screen but she's about to go behind it any minute. Googling didn't get me far with this one. Where's C. Parker of Starlet Showcase on this category?)
5. Marcel waves. As a small girl watching her first black-and-white movies, the presence of marcel waves let the Siren know whether the movie was worthwhile. This meant she saw some good movies at an early age, like this one:
6. Nightclubs. Especially in the 1930s movies like Top Hat, where they appear to be roughly the size of an aircraft carrier.
Even non-musicals had fabulous nightclubs, as you can see in the background here in Nightmare Alley.
And even a nightclub that's supposed to be seedy, like The Blue Gardenia, looks stylish.
That brings us to
7. Smoking. People do it everywhere in old movies, with unapologetic gusto. The act of smoking can give rhythm to lines, buying the character some time.
It can tell you much about the way the characters relate.
It is, in short, a social activity.
(The Siren here adds the obligatory note that smoking is a Bad Thing, although why the failure to denounce smoking as soon as it's mentioned causes howls of protest is something the Siren doesn't get. No one freaks if the Siren fails to screech "Heroin kills!" when discussing The Man With the Golden Arm.)
8. Drinks. The way people knock 'em back in old movies fills the Siren with awe. And it's not just the ones you expect...
...it's even the folks hanging around the fortress of the American home. Watch Walter Huston pour out a simple Scotch in Dodsworth--about a half-tumbler. The Siren gets goggle-eyed every time she sees it. And of course, nobody drank like these two.
9. Full-length musical numbers in non-musicals. The Siren just saw one in Safe in Hell, in which the adorable Nina Mae McKinney sings a lovely version of "Sleepy Time Down South" while serving dinner to the sleaziest guests in the Caribbean. But there are lots of other examples. Even Howard Hawks had one, the "Drum Boogie" Barbara Stanwyck performs before kicking back with some academic types.
So, the Siren doesn't want to turn this into a meme. For one thing, the misuse of the term meme is irritating some of the purists around here. For another, the Siren has trouble picking people to tag. So this is not a meme, it's an invitation. If you want to contribute, please do so, either in commments, or at your own blog. If it's the latter drop me a line and I'll link back. The one rule is that we're looking for details and atmosphere, not big artistic stuff. And link back to Jacqueline, since she started it.
While we are on the subject, here are some delightful entries in the A-Z meme oopsImean list-by-invitation:
Operator_99 hits it out of the park with an all-1930s list
Jacqueline T. Lynch shows herself a kindred softy and lover of Dorothy McGuire
Goatdogblog goes international
Glenn Kenny gives some class to the joint
Dirty Harry, in a burst of liberality, mixes in some movies he didn't even like
Robert Avrech includes some wonderful silents
Filmbrain flashes film erudition it will be hard to top with An A-Z of Nikkatsu Sleaze and Action.
For a complete list of all 125 or so, check Blog Cabins. If this doesn't make him King of Google I don't know what will. Am I missing any good lists? Tell me. Finally, if you have the Siren on your blogroll, but have yet to spy yourself in the thickets of her sidebar, please say so via email or in comments. The Self-Styled Siren has a liberal blogrolling policy, and if you list her she will almost always list you back.