Are you a big vintage film fan? If you love movies from the 1940’s, you probably loved those film noir titles released during the early parts of the war.
The amazing thing about film noir is that they really provide a stark naked and truly honest view of the human experience and human soul. A lot of the 1940’s movies, and essentially all cinema before it and after it, engage in a form of moral illusion.
It was only up until the 1970’s that Hollywood has disabused itself of this moral self delusion. What am I talking about? Well, the idea that human beings are inherently moral, good and decent and that we all can work towards some shared common goals that ensure that everybody moves forward and nobody gets left behind.
This cultural pipe dream that was a staple fare for Americans starting in the 50’s and reaching really ludicrous forms in the cold war filmography of Hollywood, was turned on its head by the short, brief, but extremely significant and influential film noir period.
It’s as if Hollywood head honchos, in the span of maybe 5 years, told all their creative geniuses to get real. And get real they did because the film noir corpus really blew away people’s sensibilities regarding what’s good, what’s right, morality, sexuality, and all other important issues that affect the human experience.
Well, it seems that after World War II came to a close and all these veterans came rushing back to populate America’s suburbs, there seems to be a mad rush towards conventional morality, and this showed in the Hollywood products being produced at that time.
That’s how important vintage film is because when you look at the film noir period, you get a really vivid view of just how far films, as an artistic device, can be taken. Of course, since the 70’s, we’ve been breaking down barriers and exploring new territories, but still, the film noir period does stand out in film history as a significant watershed period.
Well, are vintage cars produced in that era just as culturally significant and important? Unfortunately, the answer would be no.
If you were talking primarily in terms of technological innovation, maybe you would have a good argument. But in terms of cultural innovation, I would beg to argue that during that period, Detroit and American corporate automotive hierarchies were geared towards mass products.
They’re geared towards making as many people happy at one time as possible. As such, a lot of the cutting edge innovation that they could have engaged in, and I’m of course talking about Ferrari and Porshe, American companies simply didn’t bother with.
Sure, there’s no shortage of experimental cars. I mean, these concept cars still exist today, but besides that tiny pocket of automotive design, we’re essentially left with generic, vanilla and all too forgettable designs.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying these are historically completely forgettable. I mean, a lot of them make for great testimonies to their particular historical period’s preferences and a lot of them do make quite a bit of an artistic impact in their own right, but when it comes to all the distinct ethno-linguistic and political-economic ramifications that we can tease out of a particular cultural product, it would be a better bet to stick with vintage films.