Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where's the History? There's the History.

At Ralphs a few days ago, I found a glass bottle of Hubert's Lemonade. Mango. I decided to try it not because of the lemonade, but because mango is Lisa's favorite fruit, and I should see what it's like in many different combinations.

I had it tonight, and I liked it. I don't drink lemonade often, but that tasted fresher than most lemonades usually do. But what struck me wasn't so much the taste, but the story of Hubert's Lemonade on the back of the bottle, starting with the headline "WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, YOU GET A BIG TRUCK.":

"In 1935 Hubert Hansen did just that. Armed with a truck full of his homemade natural juices, he drove around studio lots sharing his delicious goodness with rising stars."

1935. I read a lot about 1935 Hollywood when I was in middle and high school. I read about the stars, the directors, the screenwriters, and costume designers like Edith Head. There may have been a few editors too, and I was always fascinated and awed by the power that such studio heads as Louis B. Mayer held. Whenever we went to Fort Lauderdale, to the Main library branch of the Broward County Library system, I looked at those long shelves fairly sagging with movie books on the second floor, wanting to take them home.

Having backed away from movies considerably after I ceased to be a film critic, and finished writing What If They Lived?, I'm still interested in directors, but not so much the details that I used to crave. I do want to read that biography of Louis B. Mayer that I heard about, to see what MGM was like from his perspective, but the fights on the sets, the rush to get scripts done and movies produced, I just like to watch the movies now. I don't need to know everything. But I do want to know about Hubert Hansen. Was he on the MGM lot in 1935? Did Clark Gable try his lemonade, if it existed back then too? Hansen is the type of person I want to know about in Hollywood at that time. What about the cooks at the commissaries? How about the secretaries in all those front offices? What was the daily work schedule like for the carpenters, the cameramen that weren't the directors of photography, the accountants in the payroll department? I'm sure there are some paragraphs given over to them in books about the studios, but I want more. There should be more. The industry may have run on star power, but it didn't successfully exist because of that. I want to know of those who weren't as well known as even director Victor Fleming or screenwriter Robert Riskin, who wrote It Happened One Night and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, among many others.

It sounds like a possible writing project for me. But my three presidential books come first. That's what I'm more passionate about right now. But it could be something to find out about. I don't think the far less famous names of those that helped Hollywood run as well as it did back in the '30s should disappear entirely.