Not that we’re obsessed, exactly, but sometimes it seems our world actually does revolve around records. Last night I watched two films, chosen at random, one made in 1945, the other set in the same year. Now what are the chances that both had a 12” disc as major plot point?
Delightfully Dangerous is a nothing little musical, past the movie musical heyday, with Constance Moore as a burlesque dancer who’s younger sister, Jane Powell, thinks her a Broadway star. Jane favors semi classical warbling to Constance’s wiggle, and devises a plan to land her sister a part in a legit new musical. Her best pal just happens to have a ‘recording machine.’ So they make a home recording of ‘Bubbles’ doing a jive version of one of the show’s numbers. As the younger sister rushes down the stairs to play the song for the producer, the black 12” sleeveless disc rolls out of their arms, across the lobby floor, into a revolving door and into the street. Miraculously, delightfully, movie-magically, the revolving door returns the record to them. A record collectors wetdream – every record you ever lost returning faithfully into your waiting arms…
No more fluff for me. I then watch Emperor, the story of MacArthur and the decision to find Hirohito culpable for starting WWII. I had always heard that the Emperor addressed the country on the radio, and the war ended immediately. I also knew that his wishes were obeyed completely, resulting in the safest occupation any army had ever experienced.
Well it turns out that a live appearance was unimaginably undignified. So a recording was arranged of the surrender speech and it was the recording that was obeyed. But the kicker is that days before the recording was played over the radio, more than a thousand die-hard extremist officers stormed the palace to seize the record, perhaps kill the emperor. So a frantic scene results with high-ranking Japanese officials cradling the sacred record and hiding it from the soldiers, finally sneaking it out of the palace in a laundry basket filled with women’s underwear. When broadcast all hostilities ceased, the badly recorded Gyokuon-hōsō (Jewel Voice Broadcast) saving a quarter of a million American lives.