Sunday, 16 June 2013

Gloss Blog Tour: Marilyn Kaye Movie Guest Post!

Gloss was published in the UK on June 6th, and it sounds like a great read for fans of the 60s and Mad Men! I'll be reading and reviewing it soon, but for now here's a synopsis from the Macmillan site plus a fantastic guest post further down the page. Thanks, Marilyn!

Four girls are living out their wildest dreams during one steamy New York summer of fashion, romance, secrets and glamour. Experience the swinging sixties in this brand-new teen series.

New York, 1963. Fashion, music and attitudes are changing, and there's nowhere in in the world more exciting. Sherry, Donna, Allison and Pamela have each landed a dream internship at Gloss; America’s number-one fashion magazine. Each girl is trying to make her mark on New York and each finds herself thrown head-first into the buzzing world of celebrity, high-end fashion and gossip. But everything isn’t as glamorous as it seems - secrets from the past threaten to shatter their dreams.

They're finding out that romance in New York is as unpredictable and thrilling as the city itself.


The Gloss girls go to the movies 
 by Marilyn Kaye

On dates, couples in the early sixties might go to school dances, football games, bowling alleys and skating rinks. But the number one date destination was the cinema. Given the fact that there were no DVDs or premium cable movie channels, teens went to the movies a lot.
If the boys were choosing the films, the Gloss girls would have seen the blockbusters of the time. These were war movies: Lawrence of Arabia, The Longest Day, and The Great Escape. The first two James Bond films, Dr. No and From Russia With Love were extremely popular, and there was a John Wayne western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.

Horror films were big date flicks, and there were plenty of them. The biggest hit was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and Hitchcock’s follow-up, The Birds, got plenty of screams, too. The Haunting was a shivery ghost story, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, featuring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, was delightfully creepy.

A guy who wanted to impress a date with his sensitivity might choose The Miracle Worker, the story of Helen Keller, or Lilies of the Field, about an itinerant handyman (Sidney Poitier, the first Black actor to win an Academy Award), who helps a group of nuns build a church. One of the most important films of the period was To Kill a Mockingbird, a tale of prejudice and racism in the Depression-era south, based on Harper Lee’s bestselling novel.

Girls hitting the cinemas with their friends might have gone to see Doris Day movies, with their light-hearted treatment of the battle-of-the-sexes: Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, and Move Over, Darling. Also for the girls, there were a number of films that dealt with young women looking for love: Where the Boys Are and Follow the Boys featuring popular singer Connie Francis; Rome Adventure, in which a young librarian (Suzanne Pleshette) goes to Rome and finds love with hunky Troy Donahue, one of the main heart-throbs of the era; and Sunday in New York, in which Jane Fonda frets that she may be the only living 22 year old virgin.

As to movies which actually featured teens, some of the lesser-known ones focused on the problems of teen culture: Because They’re Young, The Explosive Generation, The Restless Years. This last one stood out because it starred Sandra Dee, who would go one to become one of the biggest stars of the period as Gidget, the girl who falls in love with surfing and a surfer. One of her most memorable performances was in A Summer Place, a tender and touching love story (with Troy Donahue, sigh.) Dee would also make lighter films with pop singer Bobby Darin, who would become her husband: Come September and If A Man Answers.

Musicals were popular in the early ‘60s, the biggest being West Side Story, an updated version of Romeo and Juliet set among rival gangs in New York City. Several musicals featured teens: State Fair, with popular singers Bobby Darin and Pat Boone; Beach Party starring Annette Funicello and pop star Frankie Avalon, which kicked off a whole series of teen movies set on the beach of which featured teens. Bye, Bye Birdie featured another pop star, Bobby Rydell – the story dealt with teen hysteria over the military drafting of an Elvis Presley-type superstar. The real Elvis, no longer a teenager himself, made musicals popular with teens, too – Follow That Dream, Blue Hawaii, and Fun in Acapulco.

Finally, there were more serious films about teens during this period. Splendor in the Grass starred Nathalie Wood and Warren Beatty as a romantically involved teen couple in the 1920s, and actually dealt with sexual frustration – very controversial for the time. David and Lisa focused on the relationship between two mentally-ill teens. And then there was Lolita, based on the novel by Nabakov, in which a middle-aged professor becomes obsessed with a fourteen year old girl – particularly interesting in that it was a film featuring a teenager, but which most teenagers were forbidden by their parents to see!


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