Getting the Timeline Wrong

 

Anachronisms occur when a film or TV show that’s set in the past makes a mistake, and includes things that couldn’t have existed yet in the time when the story is set. Some are insignificant, visible only to a tiny number of history buffs and specialists. Others are face-palm blatant, like someone carelessly leaving a Starbucks cup in the background of a scene in Game of Thrones. Errors like that can hurt the suspension of disbelief. HBO wasn’t amused. A few people lost their jobs over that.

General George S. Patton liked Packards. But it’s not possible for him to have ridden in the postwar car we briefly see on the streets of wartime London in Patton. It’s not a big error, though I can tell you there was an uneasy murmur even from 1970 audiences, who were old enough to detect that something was slightly wrong.

Cars tend to make it tough to fool an audience because they are readily date-identifiable, especially for a male audience old enough to remember them. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to notice clothes and hairstyles that look “off”. They’re usually right, too: for decades, studios compromised, not wanting to be historically correct at the cost of making actresses less attractive to audiences. Faye Dunaway’s hairstyles in Bonnie and Clyde are Sixties styles influenced by the Thirties. Cleopatra did not dress like Elizabeth Taylor. I doubt anyone demanded a ticket refund over it.

How long ago is the story? The standards of historical recreation have risen sharply over the years, but in general the farther back it is, the less critical timeline errors are. Notorious perfectionist Stanley Kubrick used an 1827 Schubert trio on the soundtrack of Barry Lyndon, which ends in 1789; it felt right, and nobody cared. In the opening scenes of King of Kings, Pompey, an arrogant Roman general on horseback, defiles the sacred Temple of Jerusalem. In 65 BC, though, the six-pointed star wasn’t a symbol specifically for Judaism, and it wouldn’t be widely recognized as one for another 1600 years.

If an outta-time anachronism runs the other way, it may be an eccentric choice, but it’s not a timeline goof by our definition. The Sting (1973) is set in 1937, but its music and story, even its poster design, is pure pre-World War 1. Again, nobody really cared, especially as The Sting was essentially a charming conman’s crime comedy, not a documentary about the Depression. Comedies usually get a break. You expect the helicopters to be correct in Zero Dark Thirty. Less so for Tina Fey’s Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

The mostly young staff of George Clooney’s 2005 Good Night and Good Luck didn’t notice a problem with plastic water bottles left scattered around a CBS-TV table littered with 1954 debris—ash trays, fountain pens, notebooks, cardboard coffee cups. After all, what’s the problem? People drank water in 1954; they had water coolers, didn’t they? And there were already plastic bottles in existence. They Googled it. But in 1954, we didn’t carry them around to compulsively hydrate ourselves all day and everywhere. It’s a minor, but telling, detail of pre-Eighties life that they didn’t know they didn’t know.

Some mistakes happen because habits or customs changed. Unlike obvious errors in technology, these tend to be “invisible” to modern eyes, hence trickier to avoid. As careful as Barry Lyndon is, people in that era did not write with their left hand. In other films, men putting on their boots in or before the 1700s didn’t sort them left and right; they were all the same. For nearly all human history, the obvious and universal, so therefore unspoken, fear of pregnancy or disease inhibited sexual relations in ways that many contemporary readers and audiences don’t seem to care to understand.

Anachronistic ideas do more cultural damage than 1959 DeSotos in a 1957 scene. In too many cases of historical storytelling, the past is neither understood nor respected. It’s merely a malleable tool to be used to send a message about the present. To be sure, this was true of enterprising dramatists well before even Shakespeare’s time.

Some adjustment of dialog is usually needed for comprehension, but sometimes that adjustment is done to tacitly frame and silently pre-condition an issue for us. In the old days—pick any date prior to, say, 1965—people spoke differently. The words they chose reflected a different way of thinking that a dramatist needs to respect in its own terms. Making some timeline mistakes, major or trivial, is hard to avoid even when the filmmaker has the best of intentions.

In Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, written by Tony Kushner, statemen use terms like “racial equality” that mean something now, but would have been strange to 19th century ears. Biblically-based arguments about easing the burdens of the dusky sons of Ham would have made far more sense to them, but far less sense to modern, secular audiences.

By the way: who decides when a word or term is anachronistic? It isn’t always a razor-sharp distinction that lends itself to a certain answer. Experts in linguistic analysis run into gray areas, where someone may have used the term once in an obscure journal or small-town newspaper thirty years earlier, but it doesn’t catch on, and is reinvented by coincidence. The 1959 title The Twilight Zone is an example. Even Rod Serling didn’t claim it was original, but he couldn’t remember when he’d ever seen it. Most of the claimed predecessors turn out to be dead ends.

Mad Men was a happy hunting ground for (usually) minor anachronisms. Real-life advertising executives of the Sixties didn’t yet use terms like “leveraging (an advantage)” or “levelling the playing field”. In those days, the only people who “sought someone’s input” would have been audio engineers. These are errors, but most of them aren’t important.

Some are. The show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, was a relatively young man who knew a lot of things but didn’t always get them right. In an early episode, an ad agency loses a Jewish client when they inadvertently reveal their casual anti-Semitism. He was making a genuine historical point: Even in JFK-era, superficially liberal midtown Manhattan, classic old-timey American upper-class anti-Semitism wasn’t as rare, or as long ago, as we like to believe. But he did it, if you’ll excuse a treif expression, rather ham-handedly.

There are subtle shifts in national moods and morals that get blurred over in films. The French Connection (1971) actually took place ten years earlier, when pre-Miranda NYPD procedures were different and much rougher. Ignoring the passage of time was not something that most outsiders would notice, and made it seem all the more real.

A major turning point in 1969’s Goodbye, Columbus: a mother discovers that her 21-year-old daughter is hiding her use of birth control, driving a young couple to break off their relationship. In Philip Roth’s book, written in 1959, it made dramatic sense. But when the film came out, the idea that an upper-middle class mother of an adult child in the wealthy suburbs of New York would be so shocked at the idea seemed unrealistic. Times had changed quickly.

While we’re on the subject, in our own times Aaron Sorkin has a natural gift for heavy-handed scene-setting that in 2010’s The Social Network turns Harvard in 2002 into a babe-mobbed-rich-jocks versus sex-starved-nerds social situation out of a cliched Mythical State College in 1955. That was sometimes wryly noted even when the film came out, at a time when in the eyes of the national literati, Sorkin could do no wrong.

In less ideological cases, I’d suggest that we give the filmmakers a break, or at least a sliding scale of blame. Apollo 13, given the great opportunity to film in NASA locations, couldn’t always eliminate minor anachronisms like a few, background, out-of-focus, overexposed examples of the later, shuttle-era “worm” logo of NASA’s initials. These weren’t exactly mistakes; the production knew a few of them were there, appreciated the authenticity of the site anyway, and tried to frame and edit the shots to minimize the attention paid to them on screen. In 1995 it was an honorable, realistic approach. Nowadays, a Netflix cleanup team would simply go in overnight and paint them out.

Ron Howard, given the rare privilege of using some actual flight-ready Apollo Command Module hardware, may have accepted a Collins receiver on the set that was a Block III model that, although almost identical to Apollo 13’s, wouldn’t fly until Apollo 15 the following year. Quelle horreur, right? Full disclosure: I’ve always liked the movie and I don’t count these as timeline mistakes for anyone but the most demented nitpicker.

On a lesser budget level, I cut the cable and streaming production teams even more breaks. Well, up to a point. Their owners and bosses were the ones who signed the deals that guaranteed Hollywood-level visual perfection at New Mexican, New Zealand, or Quebecois prices. Now it was up to the hungry local teams to deliver, to save—or lose—their own skins. To a remarkable degree, they have, at each tier of the contracted schedule. From Cold Case to The Dark Side of the Ring, history via cable TV has been successful as one of the final ad-supported arenas left.

Budgets are far tighter these days; after the years-long hangover after the pandemic-era frenzy of spending all of Hollywood’s money on building streaming services that could, conceivably, by the far-off year of 2020, compete with Netflix. It didn’t happen. Yet even these present-day budget strictures don’t inhibit the quality of what’s possible, with enough cultural energy.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Books. Now there’s an anachronism.

    • #1
  2. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    I recently watched A Night to Remember*, and it has plenty of what I would consider ‘good’ fictionalizations, as well as some bad ones.

    On the ‘good’ side is the iconic presentation of Thomas Andrews informing the captain that the Titanic was going to sink, and why; it gave the audience needed information while portraying historical figures in a manner that was more or less consistent with their personal and public reputations**, as well as eye witness accounts of their actions elsewhere during the crisis (no one heard or saw the actual conversation taking place, and at minimum it was likely much shorter, louder, and informal than the outstanding scene in the movie).

    On the bad side is the character assassination of Bruce Ismay (albeit not on the same level as the Cameron movie), who some sources maintain was directly requested (if not pushed) to get into one of the last lifeboats to leave, in the belief that there needed to be someone high-ranking in the company to give needed information to investigators, and before that was frantically trying to convince reluctant passengers to board the lifeboats as soon as possible (as well as ineptly trying to help lower the boats at one point, which was included in the movie).  His actions were not exactly heroic, but it wasn’t the act of selfish cowardice that is generally portrayed.

    *There are colorized versions available on Youtube….probably fan-made, judging by the quality, but they did a decent enough job.

    **The captain deserves more blame for negligence regarding lifeboat drills than his public reputation provides, but both he and Andrews acted and died with honor at worst, and heroism at best, during the crisis.

    • #2
  3. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Many movie anachronisms involve things that look like modern preserved counterparts.

    Consider automobiles. New York in 1970 would be dominated by vehicles built between 1962 and 1970. Anything older than 1967 would likely be faded and rusting and anything older than 1965 would be perforated. A 2024 movie about 1970 New York would have a variety of vehicles built between the late 50s and early 70s, all of which were reasonably well preserved, and most of which look like they just came from a cars and coffee meet up.

    The opposite can also be the case. Household props from prop houses are often faded, even though they would have been new when the movie was set.

    Also consider buildings. Here’s where it gets more complicated. If you film a movie in the actual setting, things will be older. A movie about World War II will show a weathered bunker, even though the concrete would have still been curing. The inside of the command post will seem to have 20 coats of paint, even though it would have been on its first coat. But this creates expectations. So, even if a set is built, it is often over aged. Consider westerns. The wild west was a very short period of time so almost all buildings would have been nearly new. But this is almost never shown.

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Consider westerns. The wild west was a very short period of time so almost all buildings would have been nearly new. But this is almost never shown.

    And tumbleweeds (prickly Russian thistle) had not invaded the West as of yet.

    • #4
  5. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Brilliantly informative, thank you! 

    • #5
  6. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Good article, Gary. Thanks. I always thought Serling got The Twilight Zone from diving, which is the only other context I have ever seen it used in.

    • #6
  7. Teeger Coolidge
    Teeger
    @Teeger

    The kind of anachronism I hate the most is when people, usually women, are given modern attitudes and sensibilities.

    • #7
  8. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Arahant (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Consider westerns. The wild west was a very short period of time so almost all buildings would have been nearly new. But this is almost never shown.

    And tumbleweeds (prickly Russian thistle) had not invaded the West as of yet.

    https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/tumbleweeds-fastest-plant-invasion-in-usa-history.html#

    • #8
  9. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    Arahant (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Consider westerns. The wild west was a very short period of time so almost all buildings would have been nearly new. But this is almost never shown.

    And tumbleweeds (prickly Russian thistle) had not invaded the West as of yet.

    You just ruined so many movies and TV shows for me. Thanks not ;)

    • #9
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    KCVolunteer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Consider westerns. The wild west was a very short period of time so almost all buildings would have been nearly new. But this is almost never shown.

    And tumbleweeds (prickly Russian thistle) had not invaded the West as of yet.

    You just ruined so many movies and TV shows for me. Thanks not ;)

    Well, it did depend on the year and place. The tumbleweed was still good for The Big Lebowski. 1860’s? No. 1870’s? Maybe in North Dakota. Etc.

    • #10
  11. MWD B612 "Dawg" Inactive
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    One of the things that drove me from Season 3 of “Jack Ryan” was in the first episode. The opening scene takes place in 1969. When Zoya hands Ryan the SIM card she says the program was funded at during the fall of the Soviet Union, which would have been 1989. A major error IMHO.

    Add to that the ridiculous escape from Russia, when Ryan and Yuri somehow get from the Black Sea in a Zodiac boat to the coast of Greece. Somehow they made it through the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles, heavily trafficked straits and waterways, without being detected. SWMBO didn’t understand why I went to watch something else.

    I usually give some errors like these a pass, but two glaring errors like that in the first 10 minutes? Nope.

    • #11
  12. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    I hate really anachronistic soundtrack music.

     

    A western with an all black cast? Cool. A hip-hop soundtrack? Stupid.

    • #12
  13. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    As someone who was there, I enjoyed the nostalgic 1980s setting of Netflix’s Stranger Things. But it always seemed odd to me that the Duffer Brothers, the creators of the show, would have such affection for the period: they were born in 1984 and could not have any clear memory of that time. Of course, it would be more accurate to say that Stranger Things is set in the world of 1980s movies than in the “real” 1980s; it owes more to Steven Spielberg and Stephen King than to actual history.

    And of course they couldn’t get every little detail right, because as Gary points out, there are all kinds of trivial little mundane deails that you wouldn’t even think to question. When I was watching the show, something bothered me about the school buses; I realized that the problem was that their roofs were painted white (which helps to keep the buses cool inside). That’s a modern thing; the buses in my day were yellow all over. But who, on a film set, would even notice the color of the school bus’s roof?

    • #13
  14. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    I hate really anachronistic soundtrack music.

    That’s what bugged me most about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Visually it seemed to be going for period accuracy, but the soundtrack was the most obnoxious kind of modern music. Took me right out of the movie.

    • #14
  15. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    The next thing Gary is going to spoil for all of us is explaining how the Founding Fathers didn’t actually break out in song while debating the Declaration of Independence!

    • #15
  16. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    As usual, an interesting and informative post. Thanks Gary!

    • #16
  17. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Audiences do notice when characters use anachronistic phrases such as “racial equality” and “seek input.” These stand out like pigs at a banquet. Such sloppy script writing can turn me off a whole series or movie. Modern speech and sensibilities were part of what turned me off of Sanditon, a promising BBC adaptation of an incomplete Austen work that turned out to be a teeny bopper production with pretty dresses. 

    • #17
  18. DrewInWisconsin, Œuf 🚫 Banned
    DrewInWisconsin, Œuf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    I hate really anachronistic soundtrack music.

    That’s what bugged me most about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Visually it seemed to be going for period accuracy, but the soundtrack was the most obnoxious kind of modern music. Took me right out of the movie.

    See also Ladyhawke, which is a fun 1985 movie set in medieval Italy, so why the Alan Parsons synthesizer soundtrack? I would love for someone to release a cut of that movie with a more appropriate score.

    • #18
  19. DrewInWisconsin, Œuf 🚫 Banned
    DrewInWisconsin, Œuf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    I hate really anachronistic soundtrack music.

    That’s what bugged me most about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Visually it seemed to be going for period accuracy, but the soundtrack was the most obnoxious kind of modern music. Took me right out of the movie.

    Although that’s kind of a Baz Luhrmann thing. See Moulin Rouge which is basically La Boheme with a bunch of popular music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Or Romeo + Juliet which is a bunch of 90s bands. (To be fair, the latter was supposed to be set in the modern day, too, so it’s . . . almost appropriate.) When the cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” comes on in Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, it kind of pulls me out of the movie, too.

    • #19
  20. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    I hate really anachronistic soundtrack music.

    A western with an all black cast? Cool. A hip-hop soundtrack? Stupid.

    This soundtrack, on the other hand, was perfect:

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I hate when historians are narrowmindedly anachronistic.  At breakfast a few minutes ago I read a review in American Historical Review of “Bohemians West: Free Love, Family, and Radicals in Twentieth-Century America.”  The book is about a West Coast couple the reviewer describes as  “writers and activists”  who abandoned their spouses and carried on a long-term relationship.  I’ll betcha “activists” was not a word that anyone would have thought to use back in 1911.

    The couple were “proponents of free love and attempted to live these ideals even as conventions, the law, and their families stood in their way.”   The author and reviewer both seem to treat them as pioneers on the road to greater equality, greater wokeness etc., etc., even as they note how the guy essentially took advantage of the woman as has been done since time immemorial.

    It would have been interesting for a historian to note what was different about the time and place that made it possible for this couple to more easily get by with abandoning traditional roles and responsibilities, but instead they celebrate the couple as pioneers.  In the concluding paragraph, the reviewer writes, “Although Wood and Field often fell short of their own ideals, they nevertheless navigated a path toward a more egalitarian version of heterosexual marriage and divorce.”   Right.  Just as one could say a shoplifter “nevertheless navigated a path out of the store toward a more egalitarian blah, blah, blah.”   

    A little historical perspective would have done these historians a lot of good in writing about this story.  

    • #21
  22. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    DrewInWisconsin, Œuf (View Comment):

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    I hate really anachronistic soundtrack music.

    That’s what bugged me most about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Visually it seemed to be going for period accuracy, but the soundtrack was the most obnoxious kind of modern music. Took me right out of the movie.

    See also Ladyhawke, which is a fun 1985 movie set in medieval Italy, so why the Alan Parsons synthesizer soundtrack? I would love for someone to release a cut of that movie with a more appropriate score.

    You and me both.

    • #22
  23. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Fascinating, Gary! Thank you!

    • #23
  24. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    DrewInWisconsin, Œuf (View Comment):

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    I hate really anachronistic soundtrack music.

    That’s what bugged me most about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Visually it seemed to be going for period accuracy, but the soundtrack was the most obnoxious kind of modern music. Took me right out of the movie.

    Although that’s kind of a Baz Luhrmann thing. See Moulin Rouge which is basically La Boheme with a bunch of popular music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Or Romeo + Juliet which is a bunch of 90s bands. (To be fair, the latter was supposed to be set in the modern day, too, so it’s . . . almost appropriate.) When the cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” comes on in Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, it kind of pulls me out of the movie, too.

    A modern music score is also used in Marie Antoinette, a 2006 movie I recently rewatched with my sister after reading a historical account of the story. This second time watching it as a more informed viewer, I realized it was historically detailed and accurate (although this doesn’t come across to the often puzzled casual consumer watching vignette after vignette that makes up the plot). However, I find some of the music jangling and distracting; my sister loves it and bought the soundtrack years ago. 

    • #24
  25. Joker Member
    Joker
    @Joker

    Mystery Science Theater 2000 existed to poke fun at B movies and their out-of-place errors. One episode, I think covering a gladiator movie, had an outdoor scene with rolling hills in the background as a Jeep rode by.

    • #25
  26. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Many movie anachronisms involve things that look like modern preserved counterparts.

    Consider automobiles. New York in 1970 would be dominated by vehicles built between 1962 and 1970. Anything older than 1967 would likely be faded and rusting and anything older than 1965 would be perforated. A 2024 movie about 1970 New York would have a variety of vehicles built between the late 50s and early 70s, all of which were reasonably well preserved, and most of which look like they just came from a cars and coffee meet up.

     

    Right! But there are subtleties here too. In the Fifties and Sixties, people traded their cars in more frequently, like every two years in many cases. Planned obsolescence was a real thing. So an exterior scene of a prosperous suburb in 1960 would have cars of 1957-60 vintage. But a dusty small town would have few new cars, and the ones on the street would be older and more beat-up. 

    Renting period-appropriate cars is a big business in NYC and L.A. and there are tiers of quality and expense. Cars that look right, but don’t run can be towed and pushed into parking spaces. “Runners” cost more. The drivers are members of the Teamsters union. 

    The cars and coffee meet up vehicles are often seen on location shoots, where it’s too expensive to bring rental old cars in via truck transport. The company puts out a call to local owners of classic cars. This is usually not a film crew’s first choice, because the private owners insist on being the drivers and understandably care more about their cars than they do about the film. 

    • #26
  27. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I hate when historians are narrowmindedly anachronistic. At breakfast a few minutes ago I read a review in American Historical Review of “Bohemians West: Free Love, Family, and Radicals in Twentieth-Century America.” The book is about a West Coast couple the reviewer describes as “writers and activists” who abandoned their spouses and carried on a long-term relationship. I’ll betcha “activists” was not a word that anyone would have thought to use back in 1911.

    The couple were “proponents of free love and attempted to live these ideals even as conventions, the law, and their families stood in their way.” The author and reviewer both seem to treat them as pioneers on the road to greater equality, greater wokeness etc., etc., even as they note how the guy essentially took advantage of the woman as has been done since time immemorial.

    It would have been interesting for a historian to note what was different about the time and place that made it possible for this couple to more easily get by with abandoning traditional roles and responsibilities, but instead they celebrate the couple as pioneers. In the concluding paragraph, the reviewer writes, “Although Wood and Field often fell short of their own ideals, they nevertheless navigated a path toward a more egalitarian version of heterosexual marriage and divorce.” Right. Just as one could say a shoplifter “nevertheless navigated a path out of the store toward a more egalitarian blah, blah, blah.”

    A little historical perspective would have done these historians a lot of good in writing about this story.

    A tangent: attitudes about friendship and the language used to describe it were once much more flowery than we’re used to. Damon and Pythias death scenes evoked tears. In the decades when I grew up, books or old movies with stuff like that made boys cringe.  “Haw haw! They’re queer!” But they weren’t. Sex had nothing to do with it. It was a different world. 

    And now, ironically, modern writers will make the same mistake in the other direction. “Hey hey, they’re queer pioneers!” But they weren’t. 

    • #27
  28. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    In The Hunt for Red October, the movie opens showing an issue of Proceedings (the US Naval Institute’s magazine) featuring a submarine on the cover.  That issue wasn’t published until after the time period of the movie . . .

    • #28
  29. DrewInWisconsin, Œuf 🚫 Banned
    DrewInWisconsin, Œuf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    A tangent: attitudes about friendship and the language used to describe it were once much more flowery than we’re used to. Damon and Pythias death scenes evoked tears. In the decades when I grew up, books or old movies with stuff like that made boys cringe.  “Haw haw! They’re queer!” But they weren’t. Sex had nothing to do with it. It was a different world. 

    And now, ironically, modern writers will make the same mistake in the other direction. “Hey hey, they’re queer pioneers!” But they weren’t. 

    The activists are always trying to retroactively make figures from the past into “queers.” Any two men showing the slightest bit of affection are labelled gay by modern activists. I assume the point is to say “We’re everywhere!” 

    But because modern writers really push homosexual relationships (to the point where if I see a heterosexual relationship depicted, I’m shocked it’s even allowed), I now assume affectionate characters of the same sex are gay, even if that isn’t the intent. I recently listened to an audio drama where one woman rescues another woman from peril, because “you’re my friend, and I love you.” And . . . I wasn’t quite sure if it was supposed to indicate that they were lesbians. There was nothing else there except this now-anachronistic expression of love between two friends. Or was there more? Textually, not. Subtextually? I suspect it was written precisely so that it could be taken either way. 

    • #29
  30. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    EJHill (View Comment):

    The next thing Gary is going to spoil for all of us is explaining how the Founding Fathers didn’t actually break out in song while debating the Declaration of Independence!

    I recall that you and I once cyber-discussed how modern films portray 1950s TV studios and control rooms. I’ve always thought Quiz Show did a great job. You told us about the unusually careful mockups that were made for Good Night and Good Luck (which, water bottles aside, was also a fine job of 50s re-creation). 

    This stuff falls into the category of “only the pros would notice”, but hey, we count too. Gary Sinise’s biopic George Wallace was directed by an actual veteran of Fifties TV, John Frankenheimer, so the occasional TV cameras are period-appropriate. 

    • #30
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