There may be no natural vista more perfectly suited to the medium of motion pictures than the seashore. Always the same, ever changing, the water’s edge has been incorporated into every movie genre in the hundred-plus years since the medium’s inception... " /> There may be no natural vista more perfectly suited to the medium of motion pictures than the seashore. Always the same, ever changing, the water’s edge has been incorporated into every movie genre in the hundred-plus years since the medium’s inception... " /> There may be no natural vista more perfectly suited to the medium of motion pictures than the seashore. Always the same, ever changing, the water’s edge has been incorporated into every movie genre in the hundred-plus years since the medium’s inception... " />
Posted by Richard Harland Smith on May 29, 2007
There may be no natural vista more perfectly suited to the medium of motion pictures than the seashore. Always the same, ever changing, the water’s edge has been incorporated into every movie genre in the hundred-plus years since the medium’s inception, from shadowy silent films to sunny musicals, from blue steel westerns to syrupy melodramas, from Gothic horror films to Blaxploitation, from Beach Party to Bollywood. While the skylines of Hollywood, New York, London, Paris, Berlin and Rome have changed over the decades, the shorelines of the world have retained their beguiling timelessness.
In the movies, the beach is a great place to begin (the witch slicing runic symbols in the sand in Mario Bava’s I coltelli del vendicatore) and end (undercranked headcase Dom DeLuise trying to slice up Burt Reynolds in The End). The beach is where has-been actor Frederic March breast-stroked to his final fadeout in A Star is Born, where leatherneck Burt Lancaster and velvety Deborah Kerr consummated their hunka-hunka burning love and hardcase Montgomery Cliff fell under a rain of MP gunfire in From Here to Eternity, where wistful swabbie Dennis Hopper met his mermaid inamorata in Night Tide, where wayward astronaut Charlton Heston came home again in Planet of the Apes, where coffin-borne bloodsucker Robert Quarry bobbed ashore in The Deathmaster and Jean-Loup Philippe and his vampire squeeze Annie Belle floated away on the tide in their casket-built-for-two in Lèvres de sang, where Robert Duvall’s Air Cav swept in like Valkyries from the Sikorsky assembly line in Apocalypse Now, where The Warriors made their peace with the Grammercy Riffs, where John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John had summer lovin’ in Grease and where it all began and ended in Jaws.
The sea speaks to us of vast limitlessness and yet it was once considered the edge of the world, the end of everything. The allure of the sea echoes our love of the movies, with the roar of the breakers evoking the purr of the film projector, the hypnotic succession of crashing waves like mesmeric 24 frames-per-second required to animate the moving image.
Some years ago a friend who’d moved to Hollywood more than a decade ahead of me stood above the beach at Malibu with a foreign-born acquaintance. Among the surfers, hodads, beachcombers and sun worshippers were more than a few homeless people, these lost souls conspicuous in their head-to-toe coverings, their garbage-picked gym bags bursting, their shopping carts piled high and pushed with no small amount of difficulty across the sand to the water’s edge, where they stared out into the vast nothingness. My friend heard himself ask aloud: “Why are there so many homeless people on the beach?” His companion replied with clipped European efficiency:
“Because they can go no further.”
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art Direction Art in Movies Australian CInema Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Black Film Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films About Gambling Films of the 1960s Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movie titles Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival TCM Underground Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies