With alarm over the effortless and near-total socialization of the U.S. economy, and with worry over concessions in the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, a reader writes: "It is hard to feel joyful during the holiday season while our country and Constitution are in such peril."
Having sifted through the mailbag, I am sorry to say that such sentiments are not unique among readers lately -- at least those among the 45.6 million Americans who didn't vote for Barack Obama. I can't exactly say help is on the way, but how about the next best thing?
As one who continually presents reports and even eyewitness dispatches to readers of my column and blog (www.dianawest.net) about the ever-receding tide of Western civilization, I think I probably owe a little escape -- or, better, escapism -- to readers, some respite from reality. At least until the end of the holidays.
And so, after sorting through the vaults for some diverting holiday fare, here is a festival's worth of A-list movies set in some of the great cities and tourist spots of the world -- the same places that serve as backdrops to some of my rather more depressing columns about the ongoing multi-pronged war on the West that, alas, characterizes our era. But enough of that for now.
Given the gloom, some parameters. First, freshness. While these movies are what you could certainly call Cinema Antique, some of them may well prove to be new discoveries. In other words, no "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Casablanca" here -- although "Casablanca" wouldn't make this particular cut because of my second criterion: total uplift. There are no world wars brewing in these pictures, no bad cases of rotten luck. And no poignant states of marginal truth.
Let's kick off this cinematic tour in New York City with "Easy Living" (1937), an especially carefree A-list romantic comedy written by Preston Sturges about what happens when career girl Jean Arthur crosses paths with a Wall Street millionaire (who never heard of subprime "toxic paper") played by Edward Arnold. Ray Milland portrays the handsome son. And if you haven't seen "The Band Wagon" (1953), an all-time best musical with songs by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz and starring Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Jack Buchanan and Oscar Levant (who built a comedic career on his neurosis), it will lend a high note to any holiday.