7/17/18

WALDORF ASTORIA: FEBRUARY, 1934



In February 1934, something called the 'Motion Picture Ball' was held at New York's then rather newish Waldorf Astoria Hotel and the Fox Movietone sound cameras were there to capture the event. I don't know what the hell the purpose of the ball was but it brought out a heavy duty crowd of 'swells' who, from appearances, seem wildly untouched by the great depression that was then raging just outside the doors. It feels rather like a scene you'd find in 'My Man Godfrey'--fat balding men in evening clothes, fat stuffy wives on their arms. The announcer appears to be the person that inspired Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden voice. For seven minutes we watch as a cascade of long-dead people enter an unseen room as the announcer names names, cracks wise etc. The boredom of the shot becomes mesmerizing (for me anyway). At seven minutes or so in, we cut to the actual ball itself. The band is playing 'Wonder Bar' (the movie had just been released) and a cascade of balloons is released upon the dining/dancing area. They don't come apart easily and for a long, uneasy moment we realize that people are trapped underneath them. Finally the seas part, the dance continues, the Motion Picture Ball goes on, the humanity continuing it's relentless march toward ultimate extinction only to be preserved by this film time capsule...

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