Department Store Movies: A $ign of Our Times

Whether in the news, online, or around the water cooler, more attention was paid to Black Friday than to Thanksgiving this year. What used to be an unacknowledged tradition for mainstream America—women shopping the day after Thanksgiving while men watched football—has now become a barometer of the American economy. Retailers and their corporate masters outdid themselves in the sheer volume of advertising for Black Friday in the hopes of whipping up the masses into a shopping frenzy. Early bird sales turned into midnight sales, and shoppers revealed the ugly side to this new “holiday” in the stampedes, fights, and pepper-spray incidents that marked Black Friday 2011.

I remember when shopping in the big department stores was festive and fun. Each year, I was able to tap into the Christmas Spirit in the big department stores, which were always decked out in colorful holiday decorations, as I took my time pondering over my gift purchases. Undoubtedly, I was seeing the experience through the haze of memories of Hollywood movies, which have mythologized the department store as an important American social institution. Somewhere along the way, holiday shopping ceased to be festive and fun, but I continue to expect that my shopping experiences will be like those in Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Story. The ugly stories of Black Friday mayhem and madness inspired me to poke around the history of department stores and their depiction in the movies, not only in Christmas films but in all genres.

THE EDDIE CANTOR BALLOON IN A 1930s MACY'S PARADE

When Macy & Co. opened in 1878, The New York Times called it the “Place Where Almost Anything May Be Bought,” which defined the department store for 19th-century shoppers—who would become consumers in the 20th century. In November 1902, Macy’s moved to its present site. By this time, other department stores were thriving in major urban centers, including Sears and Marshall Field’s in Chicago, Halle’s, Higbee’s, and the May Company in Cleveland, Hess’s in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Hudson’s in Detroit. But, it wasn’t until after WWI that the stores began to regularly use decorated windows to attract customers and attractive displays to sell merchandise. The postwar boom also brought about an explosion in the advertising industry. Retailers realized that touting one’s goods in modest, explicit terms while waiting for the customer to make up his mind were no longer enough to rake in the profits. Campaigns were mounted with the help of psychologists who served as consultants to persuade consumers that certain goods were absolutely necessary for a happy and prosperous life.

Department stores reflected prosperity and modernity. Generally situated at busy intersections, they occupied the nicest downtown buildings in the city’s retail centers from which downtown property taxes were calculated. The peak development of department stores in the 1920s mirrors the growth of cities.

SHOPPING BECOMES A PART OF MODERN URBAN LIFE IN THE 1920s AS SEEN IN THIS POSTCARD OF THE 'SHOPPING HOUR.'

The department store pops up in Hollywood movies during the 1920s, helping to shape audience perception of this new institution as a place bustling with economic and social activity. There, shoppers can easily find and afford every modern convenience while securing their place in the burgeoning middle class. One common plot device was for shop girls to fall for their male coworkers who were actually wealthy men masquerading as clerks. In her last silent film, My Best Girl (1927), Mary Pickford—who had starred in several Victorian-style stories as the spunky tom-boy heroine—“graduated” to the role of a contemporary woman in a modern setting. She plays shop girl Maggie Johnson, who works in a five and dime department store, where she meets handsome Joe Grant, played by Buddy Rogers. He is really Joe Merrill, the son of the millionaire store owner, and he is in disguise as a clerk to learn the business from the ground up. Shop girl Maggie and retailer Joe fall in love while working together in the department store, a setting for both romance and upward mobility. Likewise in Safety Last (1923), Harold Lloyd’s best-known film, his character promises his girl that he will go the city to seek his fortune. He is hired as a lowly clerk in a department store, but he poses as the manager—a position that proves to his girl that he has made good.

MARY PICKFORD DISPLAYS THE MERCHANDISE IN 'MY BEST GIRL.'

Given their connection to prosperity and status, the department store makes for an interesting setting during the Depression.  In Employees’ Entrance (1933), Warren William stars as the cold-blooded manager of a department store. He dangles promotions and dismissals over the heads of his employees, hires women based on their willingness to indulge his favors, and uses beautiful shop girls to distract his enemies. He is ruthless in business and in personal relationships and holds the futures of his employees in the palm of his hand without regard for their well-being—a feeling that many Americans could relate to at the time. In Saleslady (1938), there is a twist on the masquerade plot of the 1920s, but the storyline still centers on upward mobility. This time, it is the female lead, played by Anna Nagel, who is an offspring of the rich pretending to be a member of the working class. Mary Bacon, the granddaughter of mattress manufacturer Gramp Cannon, gets a job in a department store. She falls in love with co-worker Bob Spencer, who does not know her real identity. Bob tries to give Mary a nice home, but reaches beyond their means by buying items for “practically nothing down and very easy payments,” a Depression-era hazard. By the end, Bob has not only learned the truth about his wife but goes into business with Gramp Cannon—a wish-fulfillment conclusion that finds the working class and the wealthy coming together to solve the ills of the Depression.

In The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)—released after the Depression—labor relations are depicted much differently, reflecting a change in public attitudes and perceptions. In this comedy, Charles Coburn stars as John P. Merrick, the world’s richest man. The department store plot still depends on a masquerade, but this time it’s the store owner who goes undercover as a clerk when employees organize for better wages and conditions. He is befriended by fellow employee Mary Jones, played by Jean Arthur, and labor organizer Joe O’Brien, played by Robert Cummings. When Merrick experiences mistreatment by management at the store, he changes his attitude about his employees and institutes fair labor practices. In other words, once management truly understands the plight of the worker, then they become benevolent patriarchs who take care of their workers like family. There is also the suggestion that all must work together as equals to make a better workplace and a better world—an interesting subtext for the war years.

JOAN CRAWFORD IN THE 'WOMEN': A CONNIVING SHOP GIRL CLIMBS THE SOCIAL LADDER.

Though the department store becomes a battleground for labor relations in some movies during the Depression, it never completely loses its connection to upward mobility through romance. Bachelor Mother (1939) stars Ginger Rogers as a New York shop girl who finds a baby. The masquerade in this film is that she pretends to be the baby’s mother. Despite being branded an unwed mother, she lands the store owner’s son, played by debonair David Niven. However, upward mobility has a negative connotation in The Women (1941), in which conniving, working-class shop girl Joan Crawford steals Norma Shearer’s upper-middle-class husband.

While researching department stores, I discovered they were more than just retail businesses back in their heyday. From the 1920s through WWII, many of them held concerts, fashion shows, and art exhibits. Professional photographers set up temporary stations during certain times of the year to take family portraits at reasonable prices. Some of them had travel offices, where customers could plan vacations. Others had nurseries where children played under the watchful eye of a nursemaid in uniform. (That is one feature I wish department stores still offered, because too many parents tote their nagging, noisy children up and down the aisles while they shop.) Department stores were core institutions that reassured Americans that life was good. Through special services, lectures, exhibits, and entertainment spectacles, the stores displayed a certain way of life while offering for sale the necessities and luxuries that that lifestyle entailed. Small wonder that the real Santa Clause would choose to set up shop in Macy’s in The Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Contemporary Christmas movies that evoke nostalgia as part of their charm, such as A Christmas Story or Elf, tend to evoke the old-school department stores.

SHOPPING IN 'THE TWILIGHT ZONE': I HAVE ALWAYS FOUND MANNEQUINS A BIT CREEPY.

During the 1960s, department stores evolved into chains, building new stores in the suburbs. The stores underwent dramatic changes to adapt to new economic and urban developments, including decentralization from metropolitan areas, accommodating the popularity of the automobile through huge parking lots, and juggling challenges from no-frills retail competitors with inexpensive merchandise, called discount department stores. The connotations of department stores and discount stores evolved with the times. In contemporary films, they are often the settings for human greed and soulless consumerism. One of my favorite stories set in a department store is a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone titled “The After Hours.” At first, it seems to be about a woman named Marsha, played by Anne Francis, trapped in a department store after it closes. She is shocked to discover that the mannequins come to life after hours and look just like the customers and store employees during the daytime—a kind of “Our Town” of nicely dress inhabitants damned to an eternal hell of meaningless consumption. Thirty-five years later, meaningless consumption was played for laughs in Jingle All the Way (1995), about a father’s desperate attempt to get the season’s hottest toy for his son for Christmas. Arnold Schwarzeneggar plays the father who left the task till the last minute and must encounter all manner of ugly behavior in the shopping malls, toy stores, and department stores.

ARNOLD AND THE MODERN-DAY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE IN 'JINGLE ALL THE WAY'

Another plot device for modern-day department store movies involves characters who get locked in the stores overnight, or longer. Often, the character uses the situation as an opportunity to dress up in clothing from the racks and try out the merchandise—the adult consumer’s equivalent to a kid in a candy store. In Where the Heart Is, Natalie Portman stars as a pregnant, working-class teenager who is abandoned by her boyfriend at a Walmart. With nowhere else to go, she lives inside the store for several days, pretending to be a shopper during the day and browsing through the merchandise at night. She takes on guises with each outfit and bits of furnishings that she borrows, pretending to be camping one night, or relaxing at the beach the next. She tastes the luxuries of a middle-class life she herself has never known; the experience foretells the young woman’s goals and aspirations for a better life for her and her child. Just as it had way back in the 1920s , the department store offers hope that anyone can enter the middle class. Proof that we belong there is provided by the products we acquire.

CONSUMER BINGING IN "CAREER OPPORTUNITIES'

Career Opportunites (1991) stars Jennifer Connolly and Frank Whaley as two people from opposite ends of the class spectrum who are locked inside a Target for the night. Like Portman in Where the Heart Is, Whaley—a janitor—tries out the merchandise, but his experience is akin to a consumer on a binge. After his spree, he discovers that Connolly, who is the daughter of the town’s wealthiest family, is also trapped inside the store. Career Opportunities was directed by John Hughes, so it is no surprise when they work out their class differences and come together. The pair even thwarts a robbery by two inept low-lifes. Like other department-store narratives through the decades, Career Opportunities still makes use of class differences among the characters, positing the department store as a locus for upward mobility or, at least, equality.

The department store, a 20th-century landmark of urban life, is also an ideologically rich setting in our pop culture for understanding attitudes, issues, and problems related to our economy and the differences among the classes. Small wonder that we have made Black Friday a new holiday to be spent entirely inside department stores in celebration of consuming.

Allen, Frederick Lewis. Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920’s. New York: Perennial Library, Harper & Row, 1964.

Faircloth, Christopher. Cleveland’s Department Stores. Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

Whitaker, Jan. Service and Style: How the Department Store Fashioned the American Middle Class. St. Martin’s Press, 2006.

60 Responses Department Store Movies: A $ign of Our Times
Posted By Al Lowe : November 28, 2011 4:58 pm

I once saw Shari Lewis, the TV star who was the friend to Lamb Chop, riding in New York’s Macy parade. I saw everything else too, during my visit, but I mainly remember Shari because she looked bored out of her mind.

Hi Suzi, my computer was shut down by a virus or something else for three or four weeks. I have a new computer. I’m back!

Posted By Al Lowe : November 28, 2011 4:58 pm

I once saw Shari Lewis, the TV star who was the friend to Lamb Chop, riding in New York’s Macy parade. I saw everything else too, during my visit, but I mainly remember Shari because she looked bored out of her mind.

Hi Suzi, my computer was shut down by a virus or something else for three or four weeks. I have a new computer. I’m back!

Posted By suzidoll : November 28, 2011 5:08 pm

Hi Al:

So glad to hear from you. I was just thinking about you a couple of weeks ago. Glad your computer is up and running. That happened to me a year or so ago. What a nightmare. It required two computer “experts” to get it fixed.

I loved the Eddie Cantor balloon photo I found–a testament to his popularity at the time, yet so few know of him now.

Posted By suzidoll : November 28, 2011 5:08 pm

Hi Al:

So glad to hear from you. I was just thinking about you a couple of weeks ago. Glad your computer is up and running. That happened to me a year or so ago. What a nightmare. It required two computer “experts” to get it fixed.

I loved the Eddie Cantor balloon photo I found–a testament to his popularity at the time, yet so few know of him now.

Posted By Al Lowe : November 28, 2011 5:18 pm

That is a great photo.

They made a bad movie, a biography of Cantor in 1953, THE EDDIE CANTOR STORY. “If thats my life, I didn’t live,” Cantor said when he saw it.

Posted By Al Lowe : November 28, 2011 5:18 pm

That is a great photo.

They made a bad movie, a biography of Cantor in 1953, THE EDDIE CANTOR STORY. “If thats my life, I didn’t live,” Cantor said when he saw it.

Posted By Jenny : November 28, 2011 8:49 pm

I have always wanted to buy something that would be wrapped in paper and string. And have it written up and taken over to the counter for me. And on credit (not credit card). And in black and white.

Posted By Jenny : November 28, 2011 8:49 pm

I have always wanted to buy something that would be wrapped in paper and string. And have it written up and taken over to the counter for me. And on credit (not credit card). And in black and white.

Posted By Mike Phillips : November 29, 2011 12:13 am

This is an amazing post! So well researched, and with such a great array of films.

I absolutely love “Employees’ Entrance”! Warren William is so great as a complete b*stard: “There’s no room for sympathy or softness—my code is to smash or be smashed!” I think his role in this film is my favorite corporate villain of all time.

Posted By Mike Phillips : November 29, 2011 12:13 am

This is an amazing post! So well researched, and with such a great array of films.

I absolutely love “Employees’ Entrance”! Warren William is so great as a complete b*stard: “There’s no room for sympathy or softness—my code is to smash or be smashed!” I think his role in this film is my favorite corporate villain of all time.

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 2:54 am

Mike: Thanks so much for the comment. Strange as it seems, I have a thing for Warren William, probably because of his straight-laced character in Gold Diggers of 1933.

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 2:54 am

Mike: Thanks so much for the comment. Strange as it seems, I have a thing for Warren William, probably because of his straight-laced character in Gold Diggers of 1933.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : November 29, 2011 1:38 pm

I remember when shopping in the big department stores was festive and fun.

I remember going with my mom and at the end of the shopping day, we’d go to the candy counter in the Sears or Woolworths, both had one. The candy man (yes, young’ens, they used to actually have those, it’s not just a song) would scoop out my choice into a red-striped bag (they used to have those, too). And the department stores had everything! First though my mom would order me a cheeseburger at the lunch counter and the host or hostess working behind the counter would keep an eye on me while my mom shopped! How times have changed.

I think Miracle on 34th Street is the one that most makes me miss the department stores of yesteryear more than any other.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : November 29, 2011 1:38 pm

I remember when shopping in the big department stores was festive and fun.

I remember going with my mom and at the end of the shopping day, we’d go to the candy counter in the Sears or Woolworths, both had one. The candy man (yes, young’ens, they used to actually have those, it’s not just a song) would scoop out my choice into a red-striped bag (they used to have those, too). And the department stores had everything! First though my mom would order me a cheeseburger at the lunch counter and the host or hostess working behind the counter would keep an eye on me while my mom shopped! How times have changed.

I think Miracle on 34th Street is the one that most makes me miss the department stores of yesteryear more than any other.

Posted By DBenson : November 29, 2011 2:58 pm

The “Black Friday” horror stories are just a few steps beyond the old comedy staple of women going crazy at department store sales (a mob of females attack a big table, hurling stretches of fabric and the occasional employee in the air). Another beloved cliche is a comic battle that involves the toy and sporting goods departments. And the window display where somebody impersonates a mannequin or a robot.

A few more specimens:
THE FLOORWALKER with Chaplin (Messing about with merchandise and an escalator)
A CHRISTMAS STORY (with its surly Santa and elves)
THE BIG STORE with the Marx Brothers. (Sing while you sell!)
TROUBLE IN STORE, feather-light 50′s Norman Wisdom vehicle (Norman tries to rise from the stockroom to win a pretty coworker, messes about in various departments.)
WHO’S MINDING THE STORE?, a 60′s Jerry Lewis vehicle (Same basic idea, except the pretty coworker is actually the boss’s daughter)
MANNEQUIN (Used to run in constant rotation with “Red Sonja” on TBS)
A MOM FOR CHRISTMAS (Holiday-themed riff on “Mannequin” with Olivia Newton-John)

And that Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs is chased all over the store by a floorwalker who wants to reassign him to a taxidermy display.

Posted By DBenson : November 29, 2011 2:58 pm

The “Black Friday” horror stories are just a few steps beyond the old comedy staple of women going crazy at department store sales (a mob of females attack a big table, hurling stretches of fabric and the occasional employee in the air). Another beloved cliche is a comic battle that involves the toy and sporting goods departments. And the window display where somebody impersonates a mannequin or a robot.

A few more specimens:
THE FLOORWALKER with Chaplin (Messing about with merchandise and an escalator)
A CHRISTMAS STORY (with its surly Santa and elves)
THE BIG STORE with the Marx Brothers. (Sing while you sell!)
TROUBLE IN STORE, feather-light 50′s Norman Wisdom vehicle (Norman tries to rise from the stockroom to win a pretty coworker, messes about in various departments.)
WHO’S MINDING THE STORE?, a 60′s Jerry Lewis vehicle (Same basic idea, except the pretty coworker is actually the boss’s daughter)
MANNEQUIN (Used to run in constant rotation with “Red Sonja” on TBS)
A MOM FOR CHRISTMAS (Holiday-themed riff on “Mannequin” with Olivia Newton-John)

And that Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs is chased all over the store by a floorwalker who wants to reassign him to a taxidermy display.

Posted By Suzi : November 29, 2011 3:26 pm

Greg: I remember eating at a lunch counter, too. I also remember sitting in the floor in the toy section, where the kids’ books were, and reading while my parents shopped. Don’t think people could do that today. And, the thing that I remember the most was that the store never seemed that hectic or crowded. Maybe I am blocking that part out, or maybe it was because I grew up in a small town.

Posted By Suzi : November 29, 2011 3:26 pm

Greg: I remember eating at a lunch counter, too. I also remember sitting in the floor in the toy section, where the kids’ books were, and reading while my parents shopped. Don’t think people could do that today. And, the thing that I remember the most was that the store never seemed that hectic or crowded. Maybe I am blocking that part out, or maybe it was because I grew up in a small town.

Posted By Suzi : November 29, 2011 3:29 pm

DBenson: I originally had THE BIG STORE and MANNEQUIN in my list of movies to talk about, but I hadn’t seen THE BIG STORE in so long, I didn’t have much to say about it, and there is something about the ideal woman being a mannequin in the latter movie that bothers me.

I need to see the Bugs cartoon. It’s not ringing a bell, and I am a WB-cartoon fan.

Posted By Suzi : November 29, 2011 3:29 pm

DBenson: I originally had THE BIG STORE and MANNEQUIN in my list of movies to talk about, but I hadn’t seen THE BIG STORE in so long, I didn’t have much to say about it, and there is something about the ideal woman being a mannequin in the latter movie that bothers me.

I need to see the Bugs cartoon. It’s not ringing a bell, and I am a WB-cartoon fan.

Posted By DBenson : November 29, 2011 4:23 pm

A quick internet search — The cartoon is called “Hare Conditioned” and the floorwalker is modeled on a radio character, “The Great Gildersleeve”. It begins with Bugs hopping around, very bunny-like, by a campsite. Pull back to reveal it’s a window display of camping gear. After closing, Bugs discovers his new position is in the taxidermy department and hilarity ensues.

Posted By DBenson : November 29, 2011 4:23 pm

A quick internet search — The cartoon is called “Hare Conditioned” and the floorwalker is modeled on a radio character, “The Great Gildersleeve”. It begins with Bugs hopping around, very bunny-like, by a campsite. Pull back to reveal it’s a window display of camping gear. After closing, Bugs discovers his new position is in the taxidermy department and hilarity ensues.

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 4:27 pm

DBenson: Thanks. I feel a blog topic coming on about WB cartoons.

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 4:27 pm

DBenson: Thanks. I feel a blog topic coming on about WB cartoons.

Posted By Tom S : November 29, 2011 5:52 pm

The first movie that came to mind reading this is Preston Sturges’ Christmas in July, which revolves heavily around the department store shopping culture of the time- have you seen it?

Posted By Tom S : November 29, 2011 5:52 pm

The first movie that came to mind reading this is Preston Sturges’ Christmas in July, which revolves heavily around the department store shopping culture of the time- have you seen it?

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 7:14 pm

Tom: I had that on my list but have not seen it since I was a kid, and I couldn’t remember it well. So, I cut it when the post started to get too long. I would like to see it again, because it’s Sturges.

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 7:14 pm

Tom: I had that on my list but have not seen it since I was a kid, and I couldn’t remember it well. So, I cut it when the post started to get too long. I would like to see it again, because it’s Sturges.

Posted By Tom S : November 29, 2011 7:30 pm

It’s a lot of fun, though a step below Sturges’ absolute best.

Posted By Tom S : November 29, 2011 7:30 pm

It’s a lot of fun, though a step below Sturges’ absolute best.

Posted By MedusaMorlock : November 29, 2011 7:37 pm

Also a big Hi!!! to our pal Al! We’ve missed you, kiddo!!!

Love the Eddie Cantor balloon, too! Love Eddie Cantor himself, too! :-)

Though it’s not a department store, but I think a drugstore, I love the establishment where Dana Andrew has to take a job as a soda jerk after he returns from being an ace bomber pilot in “The Best Years of Our Lives”. Horrible that he has to take orders from some whiny jerk who didn’t go into the service…is his nickname “Sticky” or something? (I just checked — “Sticky” Merkle it is!) Such a letdown but then he punches some big mouth in the face and thankfully loses his job and eventually gets Teresa Wright!

Great post, Suzi!

Posted By MedusaMorlock : November 29, 2011 7:37 pm

Also a big Hi!!! to our pal Al! We’ve missed you, kiddo!!!

Love the Eddie Cantor balloon, too! Love Eddie Cantor himself, too! :-)

Though it’s not a department store, but I think a drugstore, I love the establishment where Dana Andrew has to take a job as a soda jerk after he returns from being an ace bomber pilot in “The Best Years of Our Lives”. Horrible that he has to take orders from some whiny jerk who didn’t go into the service…is his nickname “Sticky” or something? (I just checked — “Sticky” Merkle it is!) Such a letdown but then he punches some big mouth in the face and thankfully loses his job and eventually gets Teresa Wright!

Great post, Suzi!

Posted By MedusaMorlock : November 29, 2011 7:39 pm

I also forgot one of my favorite sequences from Danny Kaye’s 1947 “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is when he has to go into the department store to get some things for his mother, and ends up crashing a ladies lingerie show, wearing a dog muzzle, and imagining himself hat designer Anatole of Paris. Now that’s a shopping trip!

Posted By MedusaMorlock : November 29, 2011 7:39 pm

I also forgot one of my favorite sequences from Danny Kaye’s 1947 “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is when he has to go into the department store to get some things for his mother, and ends up crashing a ladies lingerie show, wearing a dog muzzle, and imagining himself hat designer Anatole of Paris. Now that’s a shopping trip!

Posted By Maryann : November 29, 2011 10:04 pm

One of my favorite department store films stars one of your favorites Robert Mitchum in Holiday Affair where he sold trains in the toy department. Love interest was Janet Leigh who was a comparison shopper for a rival store and managed to get Mitchum fired.

Posted By Maryann : November 29, 2011 10:04 pm

One of my favorite department store films stars one of your favorites Robert Mitchum in Holiday Affair where he sold trains in the toy department. Love interest was Janet Leigh who was a comparison shopper for a rival store and managed to get Mitchum fired.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : November 29, 2011 11:25 pm

DBenson: Thanks. I feel a blog topic coming on about WB cartoons.

Bring it on!!!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : November 29, 2011 11:25 pm

DBenson: Thanks. I feel a blog topic coming on about WB cartoons.

Bring it on!!!

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 11:29 pm

Mare: Love Holiday Affair, and I would love to do comparison shopping for a living!!!

Greg: I am truly thinking about about the WB cartoon blog. Just think, I would get to watch cartoons as part of my work! Maybe I could work one into my class next semester.

Posted By suzidoll : November 29, 2011 11:29 pm

Mare: Love Holiday Affair, and I would love to do comparison shopping for a living!!!

Greg: I am truly thinking about about the WB cartoon blog. Just think, I would get to watch cartoons as part of my work! Maybe I could work one into my class next semester.

Posted By dukeroberts : November 30, 2011 1:36 am

What kind of a shop did Jimmy Stewart work in in The Shop Around the Corner? It was a small shop, but they offered different types of things, like a small department store. I love that one.

And as much as I would hate to stand in a line on the morning of Black Friday, if I could get stuck in a store overnight with early 90′s Jennifer Connelly, riding that electric horse, I would do it.

Posted By dukeroberts : November 30, 2011 1:36 am

What kind of a shop did Jimmy Stewart work in in The Shop Around the Corner? It was a small shop, but they offered different types of things, like a small department store. I love that one.

And as much as I would hate to stand in a line on the morning of Black Friday, if I could get stuck in a store overnight with early 90′s Jennifer Connelly, riding that electric horse, I would do it.

Posted By Jenni : November 30, 2011 8:41 am

Interesting topic. I grew up in a small city in OH and before the mall came, we did most of our shopping in the downtown, visiting the various clothing, shoe, and department stores. A visit to the local drugstore usually was a part of the Christmas shopping, to get some hot chocolate. Great memories! Really enjoyed the film The Devil and Miss Jones when I watched it a couple years ago. My oldest, who at the time had a part-time job @ a grocery store sat down and watched it with me, and he enjoyed it a lot, saying that it had the management and worker issues just right.

Posted By Jenni : November 30, 2011 8:41 am

Interesting topic. I grew up in a small city in OH and before the mall came, we did most of our shopping in the downtown, visiting the various clothing, shoe, and department stores. A visit to the local drugstore usually was a part of the Christmas shopping, to get some hot chocolate. Great memories! Really enjoyed the film The Devil and Miss Jones when I watched it a couple years ago. My oldest, who at the time had a part-time job @ a grocery store sat down and watched it with me, and he enjoyed it a lot, saying that it had the management and worker issues just right.

Posted By cozeph jotton : November 30, 2011 3:03 pm

* Surprised no one’s mentioned Fritz Lang’s bizarre but fascinating “You & Me” which takes the dept. store world as its quasi-musical, noirish milieu …

* And strongly second “Holiday Affair” — my very favorite Xmas movie (second place “The Bishop’s Wife” I suppose)

Posted By cozeph jotton : November 30, 2011 3:03 pm

* Surprised no one’s mentioned Fritz Lang’s bizarre but fascinating “You & Me” which takes the dept. store world as its quasi-musical, noirish milieu …

* And strongly second “Holiday Affair” — my very favorite Xmas movie (second place “The Bishop’s Wife” I suppose)

Posted By Juana Maria : November 30, 2011 4:16 pm

If we are going to discuss movies and shopping centers, there is a Zombie movie that came out a few years ago, I think it had Ving Rains, I am not sure since I didn’t see it. Anyway, when my siste worked at the local mall in the food court, her co-worker would talk about what if zombies took over the mall. The way people behave in shopping centers, I’m not really sure that they aren’t zombies after all! Ha ha ha.:D

Posted By Juana Maria : November 30, 2011 4:16 pm

If we are going to discuss movies and shopping centers, there is a Zombie movie that came out a few years ago, I think it had Ving Rains, I am not sure since I didn’t see it. Anyway, when my siste worked at the local mall in the food court, her co-worker would talk about what if zombies took over the mall. The way people behave in shopping centers, I’m not really sure that they aren’t zombies after all! Ha ha ha.:D

Posted By dukeroberts : November 30, 2011 7:59 pm

Juana Maria- That was the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Both the George Romero original and the Zach Snyder remake took place in a mall.

Posted By dukeroberts : November 30, 2011 7:59 pm

Juana Maria- That was the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Both the George Romero original and the Zach Snyder remake took place in a mall.

Posted By Gayle : December 1, 2011 5:13 pm

Don’t forget Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. When the Depression hits, she’s forced to take a job at Macy’s in Toys. She’s assigned to sell rollerskates and manages to convince most customers to do COD (Cash on Delivery) on their orders since she’s never figured out how to write up a proper sales order and ring it up. Millionaire Beauregard Burnside Pickett (Forrest Tucker) shows up to buy skates for a whole orphanage and gets her fired when the sales manager sees him showing her how to write up the sale. Beau is so guilty that he tracks her down in the phone book, takes her to dinner and Auntie Mame gets a new husband!

I would mention there’s been a real trend over the years of the trapped overnight theme but also in which bad things happen. An ABC movie of the week featured James Brolin as a security guard trapped in a department store (perhaps with a pretty shopper) who has to fend off the roving Doberman Pinschers in the store! Can’t remember the title.

Posted By Gayle : December 1, 2011 5:13 pm

Don’t forget Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. When the Depression hits, she’s forced to take a job at Macy’s in Toys. She’s assigned to sell rollerskates and manages to convince most customers to do COD (Cash on Delivery) on their orders since she’s never figured out how to write up a proper sales order and ring it up. Millionaire Beauregard Burnside Pickett (Forrest Tucker) shows up to buy skates for a whole orphanage and gets her fired when the sales manager sees him showing her how to write up the sale. Beau is so guilty that he tracks her down in the phone book, takes her to dinner and Auntie Mame gets a new husband!

I would mention there’s been a real trend over the years of the trapped overnight theme but also in which bad things happen. An ABC movie of the week featured James Brolin as a security guard trapped in a department store (perhaps with a pretty shopper) who has to fend off the roving Doberman Pinschers in the store! Can’t remember the title.

Posted By Suzi : December 1, 2011 7:12 pm

Juana, cozeph jotton, and Gayle: Good additions to the list.

Gayle: The movie with James Brolin was called TRAPPED, which is how I often feel now when I am shopping in a store at Christmas!

Posted By Suzi : December 1, 2011 7:12 pm

Juana, cozeph jotton, and Gayle: Good additions to the list.

Gayle: The movie with James Brolin was called TRAPPED, which is how I often feel now when I am shopping in a store at Christmas!

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of December 2 | Parallax View : December 2, 2011 3:27 pm

[...] this isn’t just a department store.” Movie Morlocks’s suzidoll offers some highlights of the many filmed department stores, whether as places of gainful employment, symbols of modernity, or portals to the Twilight [...]

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of December 2 | Parallax View : December 2, 2011 3:27 pm

[...] this isn’t just a department store.” Movie Morlocks’s suzidoll offers some highlights of the many filmed department stores, whether as places of gainful employment, symbols of modernity, or portals to the Twilight [...]

Posted By swac : December 5, 2011 2:26 pm

I was hoping to include a link to the bizarre two-strip Technicolor MGM short Check Your Husbands, where a department store offers the unique service of a nursery for husbands (filled with showgirls) where wives can ditch their spouses while they rack up the bargains. Unfortunately, all I can find is this snippet, but it shows up on TCM from time to time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jPBST677JE

Posted By swac : December 5, 2011 2:26 pm

I was hoping to include a link to the bizarre two-strip Technicolor MGM short Check Your Husbands, where a department store offers the unique service of a nursery for husbands (filled with showgirls) where wives can ditch their spouses while they rack up the bargains. Unfortunately, all I can find is this snippet, but it shows up on TCM from time to time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jPBST677JE

Posted By swac : December 5, 2011 2:32 pm

As for Cantor, I’m still hoping his early films (Whoopie, Roman Holiday, Kid Millions) will see the light of day on DVD, probably through Warner Archive at this point. I discovered him as a kid in the ’70s, when I was taking LPs of old time radio shows out of my local library, and one was Cantor’s show, sponsored by the now-hip Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, and have been fascinated by him ever since. In recent years I’ve discovered a book he wrote about his experiences in the stock market crash, and an Eddie Cantor board game called Tell It to the Judge (my version has a different box than the link below).
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17333/eddie-cantors-game-tell-it-to-the-judge

While we’re on the subject of Technicolor, here’s the colour finale to Kid Millions, which was only in colour for the final reel, talk about near-psychedelic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN7gxGJwZ1A

Posted By swac : December 5, 2011 2:32 pm

As for Cantor, I’m still hoping his early films (Whoopie, Roman Holiday, Kid Millions) will see the light of day on DVD, probably through Warner Archive at this point. I discovered him as a kid in the ’70s, when I was taking LPs of old time radio shows out of my local library, and one was Cantor’s show, sponsored by the now-hip Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, and have been fascinated by him ever since. In recent years I’ve discovered a book he wrote about his experiences in the stock market crash, and an Eddie Cantor board game called Tell It to the Judge (my version has a different box than the link below).
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17333/eddie-cantors-game-tell-it-to-the-judge

While we’re on the subject of Technicolor, here’s the colour finale to Kid Millions, which was only in colour for the final reel, talk about near-psychedelic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN7gxGJwZ1A

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