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Money: How Far Does a Buck Go in Classic Film?

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cmvgor
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Postby cmvgor » March 8th, 2008, 9:50 am

Nightfall (1957), ran Saturday morning on TCM. Aldo Ray paid
$39 and change for two round-trip bus tickets From Los Angeles to
Moose, Wyoming. The time setting was the "present day" of 1957.
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"
--Bret & Bart's Pappy

klondike

Postby klondike » March 8th, 2008, 11:51 am

Great topic!
Remember that expression "tougher than a two-bit steak"?
Or all those times Noir characters checked-in to a cheap flop-house, but had to put down 4 or 5 bucks in case they skipped out in a week, or less?
My favorite period-cost scene is from 41's Sullivan's Travels, wherein disguised Hollywood millionaire Joel McCrea slumps into an East L.A. diner, trying to cadge a cup of coffee and a "sinker" for his one thin dime, only to fall reluctant prey to Ronnie Lake's charity for a plate of ham & eggs, which (I seem to recall) was quoted as costing right around 25 cents!
Likewise, in St. Louis Kid, countergirl Ann Reid gets miffed at cocky Jimmy Cagney (quel suprise!), and secretly tabasco's his ham dinner, which was advertised as that day's special, for only .20!
Fill me up, Sweetheart, and carve me a slab of that pecan pie! 8)
Last edited by klondike on March 8th, 2008, 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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charliechaplinfan
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Postby charliechaplinfan » March 8th, 2008, 2:56 pm

Ronald Colman paid 30 cents for a quart of Borscht in Talk of The Town made in 1942.

cmvgor
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chowdowncheap!

Postby cmvgor » March 8th, 2008, 6:19 pm

Couple of weeks back; insomnia re-introduced me to They Shoot Horses Don't They? (Filmed in 1969; set during the 1930s depression.)

At a quet point in the marathon dance contest, with characters on the screen giving dialogue that advanced the plot, an off-screen voice in the
bleachers was chanting, "Hot dogs! Get your Coney Island Red Hots, right
here! Five cents!"
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"

--Bret & Bart's Pappy

melwalton
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prices

Postby melwalton » March 8th, 2008, 7:23 pm

CMVGER

Yes you could buy a hot dog for a nickle in the mid 30s but not in the restaurants. There were street vendors in Manhattan with pushcarts who sold hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut for five cents. I was going to school at that time and bought my lunch from them. The restaurants charged ten cents. As did the 'Hot dog stands' ( Nedicks etc ).
You could buy nickle candy bars three for a dime at the tobacco shops.
I don't know about bus fares. The subway cost a nickle If I went anywhere farther, I hitch hiked. ..... mel

melwalton
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prices

Postby melwalton » March 8th, 2008, 7:41 pm

Klondike
In the mid 30s some restaurants ( what we called 'Greek coffee pots ) advertised ' 2 eggs any style 15 cents. And that came with toast and home fried potatoes. Ham or bacon cost ten cents more,. And you got 2 doughnuts for your nickle. These are Bronx prices. In Manhattan, you
could get a meal, like hot dogs and beans, with bread and butter for 25 cents at a chain store, I forget the name of the chain. It wasn't the automat. I didn't eat in a lunch wagon ( like in 'Sullivan's Travels' ) until after the war. ..... mel

Metry_Road
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Postby Metry_Road » March 9th, 2008, 8:20 am

melwalton, you sound like a New Yorker. In the movie 'The Apartment (1960)', Jack Lemmon says his rent is $85 a month for his apartment in the lower 60's, half a block from Central Park. It looked like an average apartment, probably 2 beds, 1 bath and kitchenette, in an older building. What would that cost today?

Regards

melwalton
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NYC.

Postby melwalton » March 9th, 2008, 7:22 pm

Hi, Metry. Welcome to SSO, best site I know of.
Yes, I was raised in NYC. I lived in Manhattan ( Hell's Kitchen ) in the 1920s then in the Bronx ( Morrisania ) in the 1930s and spent a couple years in Brooklyn ( Sheepshead Bay ) before the war, I got a job in a steel mill in western PA and settled here after the war.I don't know about rents now. Last time I was in NYC was in 1972 and then only to change planes.
As for the rent on Lemmon's apartment, I would guess that it would be an arm and leg, now. We have some New Yorkers here who could tell you. Judith lives in Brooklyn.
In the thirties, a five room apt , one bath in a good neighborhood ( All neighborhoods were good in the 30s, LaGuardia wouldn't stand for the muggers and street gangs ) cost about 30 dollars a month in the Morrisania district of the Bronx Say 158th street and St. Anne's Avenue for example. You could get a furnished ( bed, dresser and chair ) room in Manhattan for 3 dollars a week, Not deluxe but not slum either. Simple but clean, no private bath 'tho.
Nice talking to you. ...... mel

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » March 10th, 2008, 10:57 am

The apartment described, in the East or West 60s, would probably go for at least $4500/month now, if not more, depending upon what it has to offer in extras. Now, most apartments around there are co-ops and condos, anyway. Rentals are increasingly hard to come by anywhere in Manhattan. I think $85/month was probably on the inexpensive side then for that location. I wonder if Lemmon's character even earned $85/week (the rule of thumb back then was that your rent should be one quarter of your monthly income - wow! imagine trying to find such a place now in NYC).

Around that same time, I remember my mother complaining about our pretty spacious one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, because the rent was $68/month, which she thought was too high. The apartment in question in the film may have been rent-controlled, and inherited from parents. In which case, it's still $85/month today; murders are committed for properties like that.

Remember that the Ricardos, who lived on East 68th Street, payed $125/month to the Mertzes. That was considered quite a high rent in the early 1950s.

klondike

Postby klondike » March 10th, 2008, 11:08 am

jdb1 wrote:Remember that the Ricardos, who lived on East 68th Street, payed $125/month to the Mertzes. That was considered quite a high rent in the early 1950s.


:x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x
"A hawnner & turty-fi' dollars?! . . . .
Watt-joo t'ink I yam made o' mawny?!
Aye-yi-yi - caramba!
Roosie, I t'ink you got some splannin' to do!"
:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

cmvgor
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Postby cmvgor » March 10th, 2008, 12:41 pm

Metry_Road wrote:melwalton, you sound like a New Yorker. In the movie 'The Apartment (1960)', Jack Lemmon says his rent is $85 a month for his apartment in the lower 60's, half a block from Central Park. It looked like an average apartment, probably 2 beds, 1 bath and kitchenette, in an older building. What would that cost today?

Regards


Metry_Road;
Your inquiry re the $85 digs in The Apartment also ingrigued me, so I Googled NYC apartment rentals. The closest I found to the description you gave involved a Central Park West location: 2 bedrooms
2&1/2 baths. $12.500 per month. This does not surprise me.
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"

--Bret & Bart's Pappy

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » March 10th, 2008, 12:59 pm

In law firm where I worked a few years ago we had a client who lived in one of those Central Park West buildings. I used to deliver papers for her to sign and she'd give me tea and we'd chat. Hers was a two bedroom, but it was so huge it might just as well have been a private house. It had built-in everything, maid's quarters with a separate entrance (she didn't "keep" servants, though; the extra small bedroom was used for her son's friends to crash on the weekends), and fabulous views. Not to mention a building staff of about 20, carpeted elevators, mail delivered to the door, and everything else posh and incredible you can imagine. Luxury in NYC doesn't come cheap.

melwalton
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prices

Postby melwalton » March 10th, 2008, 2:53 pm

We bought our first house in the late 50s for slightly less than 12,000. in Southwestern Pennsylvania. A 5 room, ! bath frame (Cedar Shakes ) raised ranch with basement and 1 car garage in a suburb ( Hopewell Township ) of Aliquippa, a steel town. in a good neighborhood. I was making about 1.50 an hour, depending on what job I did. The mills always paid the job not the worker and when a job came open you could bid on it, Labor paid $1.05 in 1950. and kept going up during the50s. The steelworkers was a strong union at that time. It was a boom time and one could get doubles regularly.
Our mortgage payments were 65 dollars a month;
We lived well, bought our first new car ( a Studebaker 'Lark' ) in 1959.
I recall a friend who lived in Long Island ( Kings Point ??? ) who was a welder and made more than I and complained that prices were so much higher in NYC than in PA.

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ken123
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Postby ken123 » March 11th, 2008, 11:59 am

We, my late wife and I bought our first house SE Chicago, for $27,900. Our second home in the SW suburbs of Chicago was bought brand new for $119,900 in 1992.The second hand almost twice was square footage and a much larger yard and most inportantly THREE BATHROOMS, I shared the house with my wife and daughter, and EVERYONE knows who women love to monopolize the bathroom. :wink:

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Ayres
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Postby Ayres » March 11th, 2008, 12:25 pm

This is a fascinating, and very useful, thread. I'm writing a romance novel in which a student wins a cash prize for writing in 1938. I originally had her winning $50, but my father said that $25 would be much closer to a prize amount awarded by a small college in those days--and that would have been generous.

I remember my grandmother saying that in the 1940s and '50s, reaching the status of "a $10,000-a-year man" was a very big deal. In fact, I think that's rather like making six figures now.

The house I live in (three bedrooms, finished basement, Washington, DC area) cost $3,500 when it was built in the 1930s. Now it (and the land) are worth nearly 300 times that.


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