Hi’-Neighbor! (1934)


Between the wars, and in spite of the depression, America remained in two halves. Today, those are red and blue states, but in the 30s it was rural America and the cities. During this time, the cities got bigger and the farm areas somewhat thinner but more resolute. You were either in one or the other, period.

There were essentially no suburbs, what we would think of today as suburbs. Except in Southern California. Suburbs were invented after the second war with Levittown and the huge incentive of veteran’s mortgages. Only then would they become something fully recognised in the film consciousness as physically representing the middle class melting pot.

That’s why it is so noticeable here. The gang lives in a suburb where rich, poor, black and white coexist.

Now think about that a moment. I’m pretty sure that Roach had no special agenda. This suburb was outside Los Angeles and handy for filming. But the notion of a gang that transcends class (but not in this episode) and race, and even sex mostly is pretty darn commendable. And I suppose in the long run it was as influential as all the other stuff that gets Spike Lee riled.

This one has a familiar theme for the Gang shorts: class is bad, women are fickle and attracted to cash, cooperation and imagination trumps all.

Posted in 2006

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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