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Pandemic Cinema

from The Los Angeles Times

Want to understand how a pandemic upends everyday life? The movies can tell you


Pacific Liner
Chester Morris, left, and Victor McLaglen in the 1939 movie “Pacific Liner.”(Turner Classic Movies)

Back in 1939, RKO released the movie “Pacific Liner,” about the chaos that ensues when a cholera-infected man stows away on a cruise ship bound for San Francisco. As the disease spreads among the working men in the boiler room, the paying passengers party on as usual on the decks above, kept intentionally unaware of the bacterial time bomb ticking down below.

Sound familiar?

In times like these — with the world reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic — we’ve all found ourselves flinching every time our phone buzzes or our smart watch dings. Each news alert drags us deeper into the unprecedented, be it the cancellation of major sporting events or the dizzying drops in the stock market.

But as anyone who watches a lot of old movies can tell you, the looming specter of a devastating plague isn’t as novel as some may think. If anything, Hollywood has been preparing us for this moment for decades.

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on March 13, 2020 by Editor

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