Monday, March 2, 2009

Gas Masks

This picture was taken in the early 1940's and shows a group of four women training for chemical warfare. The women are in nurses uniforms and are wearing gas masks. I find this to be a fascinating photograph.


  1. Among my favorites here! Wacky, haunting, beautiful.

  2. PJM, it is time for you to guess the Mistery Person. You have 24 hours to give us the name, age, family tree and the age of Grandma the moment the picture was taken of the second women on the left.

    P.S. Try some mistery persons from outside America for us Europeans to stand a chance :)

  3. Wow, what an AWESOME photo!!!

    It looks like something from a classic sci-fi film!!! - it's surreal!!

    Funny thing, I wonder how effective those gas masks really were??

    It reminds me of those "duck and cover" exercises we used to have in elementary school in the late '50s and early '60s in the event of an "atomic bomb." That was the big fear in those days (the Cold War), that Russia was going to drop a bomb on us.

    They told us to "get under our desks and cover our heads." We used to have drills all the time, sirens would go off and we would scramble under those flimsy desks.

    HA!!! What good would that have done, anyway???

    Love it.

  4. And . . .what are the knot-like things on their heads???

    Are they part of the gas masks or is that their hair???

    Anybody have any ideas???

  5. @SmartGirl: back in the 80s, when I was a kid, all the adults had a gas mask home (it was mandatory) as a countermeasure for an atomic attack. Hilarious, I know. Funny thing was that most of the people was using the green bag that came with the mask as a normal daily bag. I guess because it was the strongest bag material available at the moment on the Romanian market :)

    Even funnier, some people nowadays were again those green bags. Mostly artists, communists and anarchists. A strange community, a funny country.

    I promise I will try to find some old picture from the Communist Era and I will post some links to you.

  6. @SmartGirl: The black knot-like things are real knots. The mask had rubber bands on the back to fix the mask on your head. The old Romanian model was anarchy green. I see the American model was black.

  7. MBadragan:

    Thanks for the info. I can't believe people still had those things in the 80s.

    what good would they do?

    I've always wanted to visit Romania and Eastern Europe, I've heard Prague is beautiful.

    I have to get to Italy first, though, that's were all my distant relatives are.

    We were SO naive in the 50s!!!

  8. Engrossing image.
    It looks almost like
    a still from a science
    fiction film.
    It has an eery feeling
    with no background and
    the women running.

    Chemical warfare is one
    of the worst things
    man has thought of
    to kill and maim...
    and yet they keep using

  9. :) We were still naive in the 80s.

    Prague is beautiful, same for Budapest. Bucharest took too much damage during the communism and lost most of its beauty. You really need a good guide to find places worth visiting. But I can recommend some other towns that are really nice.

    Italy I don't know but I have a bad feeling it is not what you expect after seeing movies and reading books about. It happened to me in Paris and I lowered my expectations :)

  10. MBadragan

    It's strange you chose the
    "the second woman on the
    My eye was drawn to her.
    Her positioning, compared
    to the others, is a near
    perfect image of a person

  11. I think the woman on the far left is the scariets.

    "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

  12. This photo makes me want to yell, "Klaatu Varata Nicto!"

  13. Ray, frankly, when I said second on the left I did not have the picture in front of my eyes, I just picked one. But now that you mention it, I can see there are lots of things differentiating her from the others: she gives the best impression of running, she is the only one with light colored hair, she is the only one that seems to wear the mask correctly, she has the broadest shoulders, she seems the only one taking the drill seriously.

    I probably uncounsciously did all this analysis and picked here without knowing why.

  14. Heather:

    THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is one of our FAVORITE movies, but only the 1951 original, with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal.

    The remake was lousy, we purists can't stand that stuff.

    Why does Hollywood constantly try to remake classic films - when are they going to figure out that you can never tamper with iconic material?

    I can't think of ANY remake that was worthwhile. "Sabrina" was particularly insipid. Julia Ormond is certainly no Audrey Hepburn. And "Psycho" with Ann Heche was totally forgettable. It disappeared from theaters almost immediately.

    Have you seen the original 1956 version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" with Kevin McCarthy?


    slit my throat.

  15. Heather:

    THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is one of our FAVORITE movies, but only the 1951 original, with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal.

    The remake was lousy, we purists can't stand that stuff.

    Why does Hollywood constantly try to remake classic films - when are they going to figure out that you can never tamper with iconic material?

    I can't think of ANY remake that was worthwhile. "Sabrina" was particularly insipid. Julia Ormond is certainly no Audrey Hepburn. And "Psycho" with Ann Heche was totally forgettable. It disappeared from theaters almost immediately.

    Have you seen the original 1956 version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" with Kevin McCarthy?


    PS - I heard that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were thinking of remaking Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Yuk, no-one can replace Paul Newman.

  16. I don't know how old I was when I saw the old black and white movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still", I know I was very young. It scared me so much that I made sure to memorize those words so if I ever saw Gort I could say them and he wouldn't lazer me. That visor lazer thingy was WICKED!
    I agree with you about the old movies. Why try to remake a good thing? I was actually going to go see the new "Day the Earth Stood Still" but I heard so many bad reviews I thought it wasn't worth my money to go. Did you ever see Yul Brenner in "West World", that's another one that scared me to death. I had just had my tonsils out and it was late at night. I was all alone in the room scared out of my mind! Gotta love Yul Brenner.

  17. Heather:

    Yul Brenner was a really cool guy. I saw "West World" too, it was creepy. That film came out in 1973, when I was in college. Thatwas the same year as "The Exorcist." I still have trouble watching THAT one today.

    The same exact thing happened to me with Psycho - I saw it for the first time alone (and without my parents' permission) late at night in the summer of 1967 when I was babysitting for a family up the street. It came out in theaters in 1960, and everyone was talking about it. So I was really curious; but of course, my parents wouldn't let me see it.

    But on this night my parents obvioiusly weren't there; and it was on TV; so I watched it. I was 13 years old; and after seeing Janet Leigh get stabbed by Norman Bates, I refused to take showers for the rest of that summer and began locking the bathroom door whenever I went in there. I was damaged for months, haha.

    If you have a chance, try to get a copy of the ORIGINAL "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956); and, in a subsequent post, let me know what you think of the ending!!!

  18. POPE GEORGE RINGOMarch 3, 2009 at 4:49 AM

    Ben Affleck is an actor?

  19. I'll do that! I've never see either the 1956 or the 1978 versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

  20. it appears that the ladies are emerging from a cloud of what I would expect to be CS gas, aka tear gas. Any male who served in the military has experienced that.

  21. Hi, Heather:

    Make sure you get the original black and white version, 1956, with Kevin McCarthy. Wait until you see the ending!!!

    Pope George Ringo:

    Bet you didn't know that about Ben Affleck, did you??

    And . . .it's against my religion to watch remakes of classic films. It's sacrilege.

  22. @SmartGirl: I would not condemn the remakes as a whole. There are movies and movies. I just saw some parts of 1962 Lolita, for example (with James Mason playing Humbert) and, on my opinion, it is a lot worse than the 1997 Lolita with Jeremy Irons. Maybe it is just a matter of taste.

    Statistically, I agree with you. Most of the remakes are bad.

    Wouldn't be lovely to have a remake of Casablanca with Julia Roberts and Adam Sandler

  23. MBadragan:

    I'm referring only to remakes of iconic, classic films. They are almost always bad (or at best, inadequate) because they always invite comparison to the originals.

    Lolita was never one of my favorite films (or books). I wasn't crazy about either film, but the remake wasn't bad. I thought the original was dreary, but you need to watch the whole thing.

    I don't know WHY hollywood can't figure this stuff out. If they want to "remake" a film, they need to "rework" it - i. e., take the same general plot, but change the title, setting, and particulars so that the newer version can stand on its own merits and lessen the comparison issue.

    Several of these films have worked fairly well.

    The best example of this is the great 1981 film "Body Heat" starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. That's a remake of the 1944 classic "Double Indemnity," with Babara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, but they changed the setting, the characters' names and the plot details.

    As soon as I watched it, I recognized what it was, but Body Heat stands on its own merits because the particulars are different. I read somewhere that Kathleen Turner studied Barbara Stawyck's performance to prepare for her role.

    The 1998 film "A Perfect Murder" with Michael Douglas and Gwyenth Paltrow was a reworking of Hitchock's 1954 classic "Dial M For Murder"; but again, the setting, characters, and plot details were changed to give the film it's own identity.

    It can be done, but it has to be subtle, a word that people seem to have forgotten about these days.

    There are only two direct remakes I can think of that deserve to stand with the originals - Cape Fear and the Postman Always Rings Twice. But I still prefer the originals, i guess i'm a purist.

    Re Casablanca, I agree with your choices, it sounds great. But which part did you want Adam Sandler to play - Humphrey Bogart's (Rick Blaine), Paul Henried's (Victor Laslow), or Claude Rains (Captain Renault)?

    I suggest Ben Stiller and Ben Affleck for the remaing two roles. That should round out the cast nicely!!!! I can't wait.

  24. Sandler should definitely be Rick, with Rob Schneider as Ugarte. Ben Stiller may be quite good in the role of a naive and idealistic, but highly hormonal, of course, Victor Laszlo.

    Ben Affleck is not made for such a classic movie, sorry. I would recommend Jerry Seinfeld as Renault. Can you imagine a cynical, misanthropic Renault? The level of his psychic fracture while almost humanly saying in the end "the beginning of a beautiful friendship"?

  25. MBadragan:

    Those choices sound perfect, I agree.

    But who would you suggest for Sydney Greenstreet's role, Signor Ferrari?? It has to be someone jovial, but sneaky at the same time.

    How about Dan Ackroyd - he's put on enough weight!!

    My problem is that I mostly watch classic films, so I'm not up on all the new "actors." I see very few current movies, they just don't interest me.

    If you like classic films, have you seen "The Best Years of Our Lives" from 1946 with Myrna Loy, Frederick March, and Dana Andrews. I think should have been listed as No. 1 on the AFI "Greatest Films" list instead of Citizen Kane.

    It's unbeliveable and remains relevant today.

  26. Dan Ackroyd is a fine choice but I would prefer to see as Ferrari his Ghostbusters colleague, Bill Murray. From time to time, Bill will leave his table and will go in one of the far corners of his bar and will take another double to some strange Japanese Scotch Commercial (as in Lost in Translation).

    SmartGirl, I had the chance to see a huge number of classic b/w movies when I was younger. Unfortunately, those times the Romanian translation of the titles had nothing to do with the actual title and I have no clue if I saw it or not. Anyway, it is not relevant.

    I prefer smart movies, no matter if they are new or old. I prefer the European school, Italian and French, and, when it comes to older movies, I prefer the British ones. It is true, the old American movies are very similar in approach with the British ones.

    As for Citizen Kane, I am sure that most of the people saying it is the best ever had a healthy nap at least during the second half of it. They like Citizen Kane as in another era "clever" people liked Picasso. I really doubt so many people can meet consensus on such a niche/complex/multilayered movie. It is more probable to have "Titanic" or "Breakfast at Tiffany's" as the best ever than Kane.

  27. MBadragan:

    bill murray would be good, but he's not portly enough, i think. how about alex baldwin, he's fat and sort of edgy, too.

    you are the only person who's ever agreed with me about citizen kane, besides my father.

    it bores me to tears.

    if you haven't seen "best years," i suggest you do so. it's well worth your time.

    it's about three servicemen who return home from world war II and the problems they have readjusting to civilian life.

    of course, our society 60 years ago was very different, but the issues are handled with such sensitivity that the film retains its relevance today, especially with everything going on in iraq and afghanistan.

    i don't want to give too much away if you haven't seen it, but i think it's well worth your time.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.