What I’m Watching: NCSU Professor of Film Studies Marsha Gordon

In this series, we’re sharing what locals are doing with more time around the house. 

Image courtesy N.C. State University

Dr. Marsha Gordon, Professor of Film Studies at North Carolina State University and Fellow at the National Humanities Center, has contagion films on the brain—not just for the obvious reasons, but because she’s been asked to speak about them for Movies on the Radio this week (tune in Wednesday at noon on WUNC 91.5—and they welcome listeners to call in during the show and share their picks for films related to this subject at 877-962-9862). But we asked her to share some other recommendations, too. Here’s what Gordon is watching these days.

Warning, she says, these are very eclectic choices!  

Depression-Era Good Times

That’s right. When I want to lose myself in a witty, racy, scrappy good time, I turn to the Warner Bros. backstage musical Golddiggers of 1933. It starts with a song and dance number featuring dazzling coin-centric choreography by Busby Berkeley and ends with a delightfully absurd close-up of Ginger Rogers singing “We’re in the Money” in pig Latin. What makes this movie sail are its female stars—Ruby Keeler, Aline McMahon, Joan Blondell, and Ginger Rogers—whose wisecracks and survivalist sensibilities always put a smile on my face.

A Timely, Scary Virus Thriller

If you aren’t horrified enough by spending your days hitting re-load to find out the latest bad news about our current pandemic, I recommend watching Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s often eerily predictive 2011 tale of a rapidly spreading, highly fatal virus that makes its way from Asia to a totally unprepared U.S. The CDC works around the clock to try to stem the carnage as the virus incapacitates the country, showing us the best and worst of human behavior under near-apocalyptic duress. Re-watching this film now has made me even more diligent about social distancing: it’s a useful reminder about how important it is for all of us to take necessary precautions to stem the spread of Coronavirus in our communities.

A Moving Story of Injustice in the South

I just saw 2019’s Just Mercy, a first-rate film based on real-life lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s quest to overturn unfair convictions of death row inmates through the Equal Justice Initiative. The film conveys the horrific consequences of how racism has influenced our legal system with strong performances by Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Rob Morgan, who take the viewer inside death row in ways I found unsettling and moving. There is ample humanity to be found in this film, which is no small feat given its focus on such egregious social and legal injustices.