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This micro-episode sets up a topic we’ll be exploring throughout the summer: the films, stars and scandals of 1938. By midway through that year, Hollywood was in such a desperate downswing — and so concerned that Americans were losing interest not just in specific movies but in moviegoing as a habit — that the studios banded together to launch a massive PR campaign to convince the public that 1938 was Motion Pictures’ Greatest Year. It wasn’t.
This episode is shorter than usual, and not as polished as I would like it to be, particularly in terms of the recording quality, and these things are related. Mr. You Must Remember This has a new job, for which we are in the process of temporary relocating to San Francisco. I was short on time this week, and by the time I got around to recording, I was in Los Angeles and parts of my usual recording set-up were en route to our new home. All should be back to normal by next week. I hope.
The primary research source for this episode was Catherine Jurca’s fascinating book Hollywood 1938: Motion Pictures’ Greatest Year. I basically piggybacked on her extensive, awe-inspiring research, and tried to synthesize it into something more anecdotal. This book gave me the idea to do a series of episodes stemming from the events of 1938, and so, while most of those future episodes won’t necessarily have much to do with the MPGY campaign, I thought telling that story would be the best possible way to begin a series called Follies of 1938.
Next week, we’re going to return to our other ongoing series, The Many Loves of Howard Hughes. The tentative plan for the next few weeks is to alternate between series, but I reserve the right to mix it up, too.
"Preludes for Piano #1" by George Gershwin
"Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra I - Allegro" by George Gershwin, performed by Oscar Lavant with New York Philharmonic
"Preludes for Piano #3" by George Gershwin
"Preludes for Piano #2" by George Gershwin
"Lady Be Good," performed by Count Basie and his Orchestra
"Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra II - Andante Co Moto" by George Gershwin, performed by Oscar Lavant with New York Philharmonic
"You Go To My Head," performed by Marlene Dietrich