Recycling Ideas in the American Film Industry

Even though remakes are as old as the movie industry, the recycling of ideas in the American film landscape is getting more prevalent.

In the 1930s, the storylines of 16 percent of the 500 most successful films were recycled. Films such as Dracula and Frankenstein were made several times. Treasure Island (1934) and A Tale of Two Cities (1935) had been produced previously as silent films.

In the 1980s, the percentage of rehashed storylines increased to 22 percent. The 80s became the decade in which the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series were continued. It was also the time of the Scarface remakes (1983) and the creation of franchises such as Die Hard, Police Academy and Rambo.

In the first ten years of the 21st century, no less than 36 percent of the 500 most popular films are either a remake, sequel, spin-off or part of a franchise. Harry Potter, Pirates of The Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and (again) Star Wars – to name a few – are turned into film series. Other examples include the Disney remakes of the Marvel superhero films, and the modern takes on Starsky & Hutch (2004) and Miami Vice (2006).

“We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective.” – Michael Eisner, Disney CEO (1984-2005)

In other words, there has been a 20 percent increase over 80 years since the 1930s in the number of major American films whose storylines is either a remake, sequel or spin-off. The number of mainstraim American films which can be labelled “recycled” according to these criteria was 36 percent in the 2000s.

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If all the salt in the sea were spread evenly over the land, it would be 500 feet thick.

Sweden makes biofuel from dead rabbits.

Nine species have been named after Barack Obama – more than any other US President.

Volkswagen has changed its official language from German to English.

Almost two-thirds of the 33,000 annual gun deaths in America are suicides.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Jib [Noun.]

  • A triangular staysail set forward of the foremast.
  • The projecting arm of a crane.

“I have seen that girl on the deck, and I like the cut of her jib. I like the way she walks. Her independence suits me.” – Robert Barr, A Woman Intervenes (1896)

Ideal Female Bodies (iii)

Roaring Twenties (c. 1920s)

Women in the United States were given the right to vote in 1920, and it set the tone for the decade.  Women who had held down jobs during World War I wanted to continue working. Prohibition caused speakeasies to spring up, which, along with the rise of “talkies” and the Charleston, created a flapper-friendly culture. Women favoured an androgynous look, downplaying their waists and wearing bras that flattened their breasts. Beauty in the 1920s was a curveless, boyish body.

“Women have a much better time than men in this world; there are far more things forbidden to them.” ― Oscar Wilde

Golden Age Of Hollywood (c. 1930s – 1950s)

The Golden Age of Hollywood lasted from the 1930s through 1950s. During that time, the Hays Code was in effect, establishing moral parameters regarding what could or could not be said, shown, or implied in film. The code limited the types of roles available to women, creating an idealized version of women that, for the first time, was spread around the world. Movie stars at the time, like Marilyn Monroe, flaunted curvier bodies with slim waists.

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” ― Marilyn Monroe

See other: Ideal Female Body Types Throughout History


A dabbawala, also spelled as dabbawalla or dabbawallah; literally meaning box person, is a person in India, most commonly found in the city of Mumbai, who is employed in a unique service industry whose primary business is collecting the freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residences of the office workers, mostly in the suburbs, delivering it to their respective workplaces and returning the empty boxes back to the customer’s residence by using various modes of transport.

A collecting Dabbawala on a bicycle

A collecting dabbawala on a bicycle

Instead of going home for lunch or paying for a meal in a café, many office workers have a cooked meal sent either from their home, or sometimes from a caterer who essentially cooks and delivers the meal in lunch boxes and then have the empty lunch boxes collected and re-sent the same day. This is usually done for a monthly fee. The meal is cooked in the morning and sent in lunch boxes carried by dabbawalas, who have a complex association and hierarchy across the city of Mumbai.

In the morning, a collecting dabbawala, usually on bicycle, collects dabbas either from a worker’s home or from the dabba makers. The dabbas have some sort of distinguishing mark on them, such as a colour or symbol.

The dabbawala then takes them to a designated sorting place, where he and other collecting dabbawalas sort and bundle the lunch boxes into groups. The grouped boxes are put in the coaches of trains, with markings to identify the destination of the box. The markings include the rail station to unload the boxes and the building address where the box has to be delivered.

At each station, boxes are handed over to a local dabbawala, who delivers them. The empty boxes, after lunch, are again collected and sent back to the respective houses.

The barely literate and barefoot delivery men form links in the extensive delivery chain, there is no system of documentation at all. A simple colour coding system doubles as an identification system for the destination and recipient. There are no multiple elaborate layers of management either — just three layers.

Each dabbawala is also required to contribute a minimum capital in kind, in the form of two bicycles, a wooden crate for the dabbas, white cotton kurta-pyjamas, and the white trademark Gandhi cap called a topi. The return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit. Each dabbawala, regardless of role, gets paid about two to four thousand rupees per month. That equates to around £25–50 or US$40–80.

English: metallic lunch box Català: carmanyola...

A typical home-cooked lunch delivered by a dabbawala

In 2002, Forbes Magazine found its reliability to be that of a six sigma standard — a standard method which seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects or errors and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It is a standard that is only given to an industry which makes less than one mistake every 3,4 million tasks.

More than 175,000 to 200,000 lunch boxes get moved every day by an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 dabbawalas, all with an extremely small nominal fee and with utmost punctuality.

According to a recent survey, the dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every 6 million deliveries, despite most of the delivery staff being illiterate. That works out to an accuracy level of 99,9996%.

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Hemline Theory

In 1926 an economist called George Taylor introduced a theory that is called the hemline index. This theory says that hemlines on women’s dresses fluctuate with the economy, measured by stock prices or gross domestic product. When the economy is flourishing, hemlines increase, meaning one would see more miniskirts, and when the economic situation is deteriorating the hemlines drop, perhaps even to the floor.

Urban legend has it that the hemline is correlated with the economy. In times of decline, the hemline moves towards the floor – decreases – and when the economy is booming, skirts get shorter and the hemline increases. Monthly data has been collected on the hemline, for 1921-2009, and evaluate these against The National Bureau of Economic Research’s (NBER) chronology of the economic cycle. The main finding is that the urban legend holds true but with a time lag of about three years. Hence, the current economic crisis predicts ankle length shirts around 2011 and 2012.

The Erasmus School of Economics measured the hemlines of skirts appearing in French fashion magazines every month since 1921. And found that there is a link between hemlines and the state of the US economy, as measured by NBER’s chronology of recessions. But there’s a lag of three years: recessions lead to skirts to getting longer in three years’ time. By contrast, skirt lengths have no predictive ability for the state of the economy.

Of course, Taylor’s theory was based upon American hemlines, not French ones. But it is unlikely that there is a lag of three years from the former to the latter. If anything – with France having been the fashion capital of the world for many years – there’d be a lag from French hemlines to American ones, which is undermines Taylor‘s theory even more.

Based on the analysis of actual data on the hemline, which goes back to January 1921, data shows that the hemline-length fluctuates about every three years. Supporting the urban legend, it is obvious that poor economic times make the hemlines to decrease, which means that women’s dresses get lower, and that prosperity is correlated with a reduced hemline – more miniskirts. At the same time, and this is new to the available evidence, since there is a time lag of around three years. This explains why in an economic downturn, the skirts can be short, as this is simply due to the fact that the economy was in a boom.

The reverse relation has also been analysed, that is, whether the hemline had any impact on the NBER chronology, this time using a logit model. Reassuringly, no such relation has been found to exist, not a current one, nor that there are any lagged effects.

So, apparently bankers have no reason – other than those shared by some men – to like short skirts, and no reason to fear the apparent lengthening of them.

Skirt-based Finance

Bankers prefer long-haired and short-skirted women because by co-incedence, all the booms in the 20th century occurred when shorter skirts and longer hair were in fashion, and all the recessions happened when longer skirts and shorter hair were in fashion.

Believe it or not, there is a long-standing theory that skirt length is linked to booms in a country’s wealth: the better the economy, the shorter the skirt and vice versa.

Many American stockbrokers noticed that the long-term trends of stock prices and the hemlines on women’s skirts appear to be connected. Skirt hems rose to miniskirt shortness in the 1920s and in the 1960s, peaking with stock prices in the United States both times. Floor-length fashions appeared in the 1930s and 1970s, and the price of stocks dropped at the same time.


Lots of stock market experts disagree and think that the connection is as thin and flimsy as a miniskirt itself. Their main argument against it is that England was not in great economic shape during the 1920s. There was striking, mass unemployment and depression. So why did women take to wearing short skirts? Perhaps it was because living standards were improving at the same time, with a rise in the entertainment market and consumer goods. Also, magazines began to give more knowledge to women who had gained a new independence after the war years.

It was the same in the 1960s. Stock prices may not have been high, but the early part of the period is remembered for its economic affluence and high employment rate. The standard of living improved steadily throughout the decade. The 1960s are thought of as being ‘swinging’ and liberal, with increased consumer confidence and the blossoming of pop culture that spread across the world.

So, rising hemlines are more likely to be an indication of the mood of the time. The shortening of skirts shows a general increase in friskiness, excitement and daring among the population, and long skirts are sometimes worn in times of fear and general gloom. The stock market may or may not change direction in step with these expressions of mood.

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