~ By Michael Davis ~
Those of you in my age bracket, 39 (in Jack Benny years) now to start there is name that conjures up many moments of hilarity, Benny along with people like Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason made us laugh week after week, they made us laugh 'till we fell off our chairs and not a dirty joke to be heard, where are the comedians today who can do that? As I was saying those of you in my age bracket will remember those days with affection. The artists, singers, dancers, comics and actors were all names that we remember and cherish, I well remember going to the movies to see Calamity Jane with Doris Day, I would go to the theatre for the midday session and buy three tickets, one for midday, one for the four o'clock session and one for the eight o'clock session, I was in love with Doris Day, I saw that movie twenty one times in a week, I just could not get enough of Doris Day, what a lovely and beautiful lady she was and is.
I did exactly the same with Mario Lanza in "The Great Caruso", I saw that movie twenty one times in one week, how many times have I seen it now? Well over 200 times.
Around 1954 the big new invention in Australia was the radiogram, one of the radio stations ran a competition, the first prize was the newest radiogram from one of our major stores, my mother entered the competition and won it, along with the radiogram as part of the prize was the winners choice of two records, these were two ten inch 78s, the two records that mum chose were Mario Lanza singing "Be my love" and Doris Day singing "Secret Love", we played these two records to death, what do I play today? Mario Lanza and Doris Day in many cases singing these very songs, this is the endurance of the artists of the fifties.
What great names come to mind when we think of that era. Along with Mario Lanza and Doris Day there were singers like Jerry Vale, Howard Keel, Al Martino, Gordon Macrae, Shirley Jones, Kathryn Grayson and Ann Blyth. There are many more artists comedians, dramatic actors and actors like James Stewart who could be in a comedy one time and the very next he would appear in a Hitchcock thriller, these people were so versatile that it is no wonder that they have endured and will for as long as audiences enjoy good movies.
When it is said that they don't make them like that anymore it is true they don't, we must be thankful that these movies were made so lovingly and with such dedication that ensures their endurance.
When were the best movies made? In the fabulous fifties, the fantastic fifties, the magnificent fifties or as the title of this section suggests the Nifty Fifties.