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Old Natchez on the Mississippi

Old Natchez on the Mississippi(1939)

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  • Very educational reminder

    • Mike Strong
    • 1/18/14

    Sometimes I record these little spots from the travelogs to other subjects. I didn't record this one and I am kicking myself because I realized, as I felt my jaw drop, that this is one of the reasons TCM is such a cultural treasure. This is something we should not forget about our still-recent past. You could lecture for weeks, assign books and essays and still not get such social history across so well. You would never get it across so well even with those "intense" plays that supposedly deal with the social strata and racial strata issues which are so naively and nakedly on display in this short film. For that reason, this film is a treasure. I disagree with those who think the audience should be prepared first. I pictured how I would use it with students and decided to not prepare them ahead of time. I would take down their expressions after and then go for comments. And not just about the racial atmosphere and supposedly genteel life style depicted here. Those who might still come from a society where this is normal might not see it but they would be quickly enlightened by the rest of the students (or anyone from the comments here) who would also find their jaws on the ground (like me). Those are the students who would see directly how horrifying is this "gracious" plantation-based life. I'm sure they will quickly see who pays those costs. The discussion can go into discussion of today's life and what are the similar situations today that we don't see any better than those people featured in the film saw in 1939.Or about education and learning. Who would now (any) or who would have then (1939) absorbed the given message from the narrator (i.e. teacher) versus what lessons are learned because there is now such a different situation that the education is not in what is said but in the opposite reaction to those genial claims. Or just how much does a scripted play or film intended to address social ills effective versus the effect of something like this film.

  • Romanticizing Slavery

    • PJ
    • 1/18/14

    This Travel Talk is an embarassment. It speaks of the romantic period before The Civil War. The white plantation owners are shown in a cotillion dancing on the lawn, belles in beautiful gowns, young men in confederate uniforms. while the "darkies" are shown happy, singing and dancing by their slave shacks. I do not believe in censorship and I was raised in Louisiana in the years Jim Crow laws were still violently enforced. However, there are some "historical" films that need contextualization and denunciation when they refer to the pre-Civil War period as "romantic". Certainly not romantic for the millions of slaves. Shame on TCM for showing this kind of racist blindness.

  • Love It!

    • Ginger
    • 1/18/14

    Needs no intro from TCM...should never be deleted from the collection @ TCM...and those who think they know the "real" South and its true history are not usually from the South! I'm amazed at the interest and intrigue that remains until this day regarding the Southern culture. The South is truly unique as is the "West," "North," and "East". Loved the costumes, the vivid color, the setting sun along the river...

  • Blast from the past

    • Rebecca
    • 12/26/12

    I really like the old travel logs. They are a glimpse into history. This one is particularly revealing about the attitude of a segment of our society towards an era in our history. I believe it needs no introduction. The shock value of witnessing the glorification of a society based on the heinous institution of slavery is enlightening. The "romance" of the old South is fiction, however it is still alive -- note that the Natchez Pilgrimage still exists as a weeks-long festival, celebrated twice a year.

  • Mother was in this Travel Log Movie.

    • sonofthesouth
    • 12/31/11

    Natchez, Mississippi hosts an annual event called the Natchez Pilgrimage. There are tours of the old homes and other events. It is not unlike local festivals held all over the world. In 1939 my mother was in the Natchez Pilgrimage Pageant. She remembers that it was being filmed that year for a Travel log. A photo of her also appeared in a New York newspaper in hoop skirt dress promoting the season and event. This was about the time of the release of "Gone with the Wind" and interest in the south was high. She saved $40 to have a dress made for the pageant. She recalled that the "wedding" displayed in the movie was the prelude of the real wedding of the couple shown. The dancing girls were all in a local dance school. The "male" dancer in the lead was actually the woman who ran the dance school. Today we find portions of this short racially shocking. Unfortunately, in 1939 living conditions were not good for poor people in the south. Many people did gamble, dance for coins and smoke pipes (Pipes cheaper than cigarettes and boys still dance for coins in New Orleans.). This short is an accurate portrayal of life and events in Natchez, Mississippi in 1939.

  • Horrifyingly Fascinating

    • Marie
    • 10/13/11

    This film represents the mythology about the South perpetuated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy for decades after the Civil War was over. The South, they insisted, lost its precious way of life only because they were overrun by superior Yankee numbers and were morally superior in insisting their states' rights were infringed upon. They persistently constructed this mythology and made sure it got into every school book in this country, North and South. The slaves were happy and masters were kind! The war was not over slavery, it was over states rights. Here is this 1939 film still depicting the South in this manner! Southern belles saluting a pre-War flag!! Black people smoking, dancing sad little jigs and reminiscing about the days of benevolent slavery! This film was made in the same year the movie Gone With the Wind was released. Gee, I wonder how that happened? As late as the 1940s we were all still being fed this ridiculous picture of the old South. TCM should hang onto this film as a genuine piece of Americana and use it for educational purposes. I didn't see if you had a lead-in to tonight's showing of it on TCM or not, but I'm betting you did not. You should explain the context of that film before showing it. Wow! That thing really took my breath away. What a piece of romantic clap-trap. Warn the viewers and enlighten them! Marie

  • Appallingly racist

    • Sue
    • 1/30/10

    Did anyone at TCM preview this? It basically provides a fond, nostalgic look at the good ole' days of slavery, the "merry" times when "Mammy" and the other "colored folk" enjoyed music and good times in the cabins surrounding the "fine" homes (direct quotes). Granted, Natchez is a beautiful town, but I think TCM could do without this film celebrating the days when slave labor built it.If, on the other hand, TCM could use this as a prime example of the racism alive and well in the film industry (or America in general) of the 1930s, then put it in context and use it for illustrative purposes.

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