52ND STREET IN 1931-ISH
Above I've posted a real weirdie. It's stock footage of West 52nd street shot sometime in the early 1930s. It has no discernible point or reason for existence. Unlike normal stock, there is little that is simply caught. Rather it is mostly staged shots of restaurant and speakeasy tasks--a guy taking a long time to hang up a coat (complete with inserts of the coat hanger), a view of a restaurant kitchen at work, a shot of a well-to-do couple being shown menus by a waiter. The location seems to largely be the 21 Club, though perhaps even that's staged. All in all it is puzzling at its worst and mesmerizingly boring at its best. (Is there anyone else out there in the world that finds spacing out on old footage like this--or the previous couple of NYC posts--wildly, stupidly entertaining? A friend of mine wrote me that watching the footage I posted last week was like watching 'paint dry'. Fair enough. But the boringness of that footage pales by comparison with this stuff).
We see a staged bust 'in progress'--there's a shot of a bouncer talking to somebody through the door-window that all speakeasy's had and refusing them entrance, only to have the door pushed open and half a dozen unconvincing looking Feds barge in. Was this footage dailies for some FBI sponsored documentary about the evils of 52nd Street and illegal liquor joints? Halfway through is some nice material of the street itself and pedestrians, cars etc. and for a moment we can actually glimpse life on the streets of New York in 1931 (roughly--the cars and mens hats feel more early thirties than twenties). A lovely limo pulls up and a couple gets out and enters the club. But then we're back to close ups of club signs, doormats, street signs...I'm yawning while writing this and yet perversely looking forward to viewing the damn thing again.
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 12:53 PM