Ed, a few blogs back, you mentioned that TCM recently aired one of the early "Lone Wolf" B-movies from Columbia, starring Warren William. TCM ran the final two entries in the series this weekend, starring Gerald Mohr and Ron Randell, respectively. I suppose these programmers were the movie equivalent of 1940s pulp stories, quickly and simply written and filmed. The acting and direction were lighthearted (I guess the term in 1949 would have been "gay," before the word acquired other connotations), the sets no-frills, the production values technically accomplished. The writing was snappy and clever. It seemed to assume that the viewer had an appreciation for wordplay and an ability to follow verbal give-and-take. At the same time, it never slipped into cleverness simply for the sake of showing off. What a difference from, uh, like, you know, the dialogue in most of today's films and TV shows.
Today's younger viewers must watch this stuff and feel that they've encountered a broadcast from some alien society. Invariably, the protagonists in modern TV and movies are pretty sad specimens, always feeling sexually inadequate, burdened by past sins that they've committed or had committed on them, overworked, underappreciated, alienated. Geez, give me a break, I have enough problems in my own life. Mohr and Randell breeze through their problems in perfect command of the situation, charming the gorgeous leading ladies and never raising a crease in their dinner jackets. I don't know whether Mohr and Randell were such jolly fellows in real life, but it probably doesn't matter. On screen, they're guys with whom I'd like to have a beer or a cup of coffee, and take some cheer from their company. I'd cross the street in heavy traffic to avoid most of the depressing characters I see in today's "entertainments."
Ed here: I suspect you're right. People under forty probably find it hard to imagine that we found such programmers entertaining. Part of the appeal for me is the innocence and I don't mean the sexuality. Nobody has any problem except that which the plot gives him or her. You note today's "sad specimens." That makes me recall half a famous line "After such innocence--" Once Hwood began dealing realistically with our lives (at least more realistically than previously) there was no way back. I think the phrase "guilty pleasures" is especially applicable here. As I watch these old Bs I feel guilty for watching them--a dude called the Lone Wolf; c'mon--but then I say to hell with it and just enjoy myself.