Pre Code Confidential #22: GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE (MGM 1933)

cracked rear viewer

One of the most bizarre films of any era is GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE, a political fantasy extolling the joys of a totalitarian dictatorship in America! Produced by the independent Walter Wanger , a staunch anti-Fascist(1) , and financed by William Randolph Hearst, the left-leaning newspaper magnate(2) who served as the inspiration for CITIZEN KANE, the film shows what would happen if all the political power in Washington were consolidated in one man – and shows it to be a good thing!

Newsreel footage is interspersed with the inauguration of President Judson Hammond (Walter Huston ), newly elected at the height of the Depression. Hammond is a typically phony, glad-handing politician, more concerned in towing the party line and maintaining the status quo than helping the people that elected him. Though he promises peace and prosperity, Hammond tells the press he regards the problems of unemployment, homelessness, and rampant crime…

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Music Video of the Day: Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith (1991, directed by Marty Callner)

Remember the old chat lines?

I don’t know if they’re even still around but back in the late 80s and the 90s, they were the only thing advertised on TV after midnight.  All you had to do was dial the number and then, for only three dollars a minute, you could get a custom psychic reading or hear Ice Cube’s thought of the day.

The most popular chat lines were the ones that were advertised as being used by “hot singles waiting to talk to you!”  The commercials all featured insanely hot girls in their underwear, usually lying in bed with a landline phone.  Common sense should have told everyone that anyone that hot wasn’t sitting at home on Friday night, waiting to hear from some teenager in Canton.  Still, 1-800 numbers were a big business back in the day.  They were the original chat rooms.

They weren’t cheap, either.  “3.99 for the first minute, 0.99 for each additional minute.”  Those minutes added up fast, especially when the operators had been trained to draw things out.  For some people, it was worth it for the chance to fantasize about the voice at the other end of the line.

The video for Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion centers around that fantasy.  On one end, the teenager from Canton who says he’s an entertainment lawyer.  On the other end, his fantasy.  In the middle of it all is Aerosmith, performing at an old warehouse in the Charleston Navy Yards.

Sweet Emotion is one of Aerosmith’s most enduring songs.  Some fans think that the song was inspired by the band’s mutual dislike of Joe Perry’s then-wife but Steve Tyler has said that it was actually inspired by a feud between the wives of both Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton.  The song was a big hit when it was originally released in 1975 and then it was an even bigger hit when it was re-released in 1991.