Monday, August 03, 2009

Spinning Newspapers In The Movies

So you’re watching some old drama from the 30’s or 40’s, and the director wants to use a newspaper headline to reinforce or introduce some bit of the action. Usually they don’t just show the paper in a sidewalk rack; generally it’s not in someone’s hands with an over-the-shoulder shot.

No, it spins. Round and round it goes, spinning wildly and moving toward us, until it finally stops and we read: MURDER MOST FOUL! Or, MAYOR SHOT DEAD WITH MISTRESS. Or some such transitional bit of plot movement. I’m surprised Jay Leno never used it on his “Headlines” segment (or did he? I’ll have to check).

The mysterious warning over the phone is something I’ve never understood. It rings, the guy answers, looks shocked, indicates the caller has hung up on him. Then he looks at the handset, as if that is going to make any difference in his life, says, “Hello! Hello!” and clicks the button several times while saying, “Operator … Operator!”

I’ve long been used to the stagecoach wheels going backwards. It didn’t take me too long to realize it was some sort of illusion, although I still wonder all these years later. But why is it that five bad guys on horses can ride faster than one good guy on a horse? Does their speed increase with numbers?

And if you’re being chased, why stop on a hill and look back to see where they are? I’d just keep running like crazy and turn my head around.