Monday, March 21, 2011

21 March 1957 “Think Pink: Madison Avenue to Beatniks”

AHfunnyface  The 1957 Film Funny Face staring Audrey Hepburn is such a good example of this pivotal year.

This movie shows how we are on that pivotal point, here in 1957, between the glamour and bright plastic world that began after WWII and edging our way into the black sleek smoke filled rooms of Beatniks.

The contrast between the sultry questioning loner of the Beatnik is even contrasted with the brash ‘devil may care’ big band sound in this modern dance Audrey portrays. The slinky bass notes and modern Martha Graham jerking movements contrast the big brass explosion of the very Hollywood synchronized dancing.

Even the characters portray the changing attitude of my times here in the 1950’s. The ever growing big Madison Avenue NYC world of Fashion and Magazines in Technicolor contrasted with the quiet scholastic modern Audrey who has a mind of her own and sees through it all. ahwedding The eventual marriage of the two main stars is, in a sense, a marriage of these two worlds. Many feminists might point out that despite the hints of ‘freedom’ of the female character, she is still only happy when she is frothed in creamy white and married to the ‘man’ at the end. Yet, we must remember, that most people do want an outcome of being in a long term relationship. The very notion that denying a natural outcome is both juvenile and really besides the point. To me, this movie, this year 1957, really is the edge of the crevasse which will stretch before us of the coming 1960’s.

Now some photos from the lovely fashions of the movie.ahhat AHballoondress AHfishingsuit ahpink

AHfunnyface2 Even Audrey Hepburn’s beatnik-esque attire of all black slim clothes and flats ( a look now synonymous with Hebpurn herself) is the portrayal of the two worlds of big showy Madison Avenue  extravaganza star mingled with the trouser wearing black coffee drinking Beatniks increasingly becoming frustrated with their countries move towards more SHOW than Substance. Now, don’t get me wrong I love the old Hollywood films and their over the top dance numbers and color to me make them Art. Performance and Design combined. I would rather see a streaming loop of these on a museum wall than what passes for ‘performance art’ now a days. But, still, the point those Beatniks were coming to see, the sale of their country to the big company over the ‘little guy’ is starting to feel more real to me. Of course, had they not become so dependent on the growing drug culture and segway into what the Hippy movement became, I wonder if they could have taken a more scholarly ‘high road’ attempt at standing up for what America was before the war. We shall never know, now of course.

But, I wonder, here in my little middle class housewife role, happy in my home and garden, would the works of the Beatniks cross my path? Would I, in tandem to them, begin to wonder myself ‘what was happening to this country we fought for’ while I watch myself set aside canning, growing my own, and being more a part of the world in lieu of the ease of the supermarket, the man made machine that helps me but eats up electricity and gas? I don’t know. I wonder about this more and more as my time here passes.


  1. Great post! Always a favorite film of mine, and it was my love for the Beatnik culture that got me started with my whole "stick it to the man" attitude back when I was 11 years old.
    Always a joy to read your posts!

  2. The 50s certainly were a time of change, weren't they? As I attempted to put myself mentally back in that time, I'm guessing I would have liked the movie Funny Face. I would have seen it as sophisticated and artsy and would have liked the emergence of something new and different.
    Had I been able to see into the future at what a mess the 60s became, I probably would have rejected the beatnik culture.
    I always thought that for a woman who would have thrived in the 50s, the 60s would have seemed like a harsh slap in the face.
    Thanks for another fascinating post.

  3. I love the 'Think Pink' number. Just a fabulous film altogether.

    I'm also quite keen to see the new movie 'Howl' about Allen Ginsberg and the poem 'Howl', which i think is a fabulous piece of poetry.

    I also think it's funny that Jack Kerouac's novel "On the Road", considered to be a quintessential beatnik piece, even though he himself disagreed with the common definition of 'beat'. Kerouac was much more religious than the popular 'beatnik' perception, and actually meant 'beat' in terms of 'beatitude'.

  4. Beatnick stuff seemed to be for young people in N.Y.C. when I was a girl. But, yes, the movies showed it a lot. It seemed quickly eclipsed by the hippie movement.

  5. Oh, I adore Audrey. She was so beautiful and elegant. But too skinny for my taste. She has always been my mother's idol, so last Christmas I gave her a box with Audrey's movies. I haven't seen the movie in question. It is difficult to find vintage movies with subtitles (DH doesn't understand English very well) in Denmark.

    Great post as always. I love the way you think.
    I hope you have received my guest blog yesterday. :)

  6. My son, who has a blog, came to your blog, 50's Gal, on my recommendation, and really liked it. He made a comment, but maybe it didn't take or got lost in the spam filter. He admires your dedication to your project!

  7. Oh, that is wonderful Mary. It is odd, I have no restrictions on comments but every so often I will notice a large queue of comments awaiting moderation. Not sure why, if I see it I will okay it of course.

  8. One vote for team Think Pink! I adore that video. I did not grow up in the 50's but when I see the beatnik movement portrayed in movies and tv, it does not appeal to me.

  9. He is Sammy's Special Day ( -- about his growing up years; a humorous blog illustrated by his younger brother). He showed your blog to some of his G.I. friends in his barracks, and they admired your dedication to the project, too!

  10. I love the movie, I always get a kick outof how the fashion people tear the book shop appart for just the "right" shot.

  11. Ah, yes. The Beat Generation. A friend and I became quite enamored of it when we were but 13. Loved the black. Mattress on the floor of my little pad (formerly a girly bedroom). We would sit there for hours reading beat poetry and playing the bongos by candlelight. The drug culture came along with the hippies and wasn't part of our culture, but Ezra Pound and Jack Kerouac were.

  12. Oh, my son apologizes for the double comments of his that will show up for approval -- he tried to comment again but it didn't show up.


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