Nick James

Nick James is deputy editor of Sight and Sound.

That’s Liquor!

Nick James, 7 March 1996

One of the many things that separate the movies of Hollywood’s classic era from those of today is their indulgent attitude to alcohol and drunkenness. So many famous scenes from studio pictures made in the years between the coming of sound in 1929 and the mid-Fifties are chained in memory to the bar or the drinks cabinet that hard liquor and cigarettes seem integral to the medium, as essential as klieg lights and mascara. From Rick’s bar in Casablanca, to Margot Channing’s theatrical salon in All about Eve, to any Western saloon, booze is the magnifier for all that 30-foot-tall emoting.

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