Did people WALK differently in the 1920s-1940s?

We’ve had the “old movie accent” discussion on the SDMB before. I haven’t seen any threads on the “old movie gait”, though. Whenever I see a movie from the 1940s and earlier, often people seemt to be walking with a rather unusual gait; very stiff compared to today, and often “waddley”, for lack of a better word. In scenes with crowds on the street, everybody seems to have that stiff gait. If an African-American hack comedian was looking to perfect their “white people walk like this” routine, watching films from the 1940s would be perfect for their training.

So, did people really walk differently in the first half of the 20th century?

No but I’m guessing that old movie stars were stage-trained initially, and perhaps the standard entrance onto a stage was a classically trained technique.

Consider filming techniques. I may be way off in my dates, but there was a time where the movie was filmed at one speed and displayed in another.

Can someone link to the “old movie accent” discussion? I can’t search for being a guest…

My contribution is that, like dressing nicer to go out than people do now, perhaps holding yourself up straight, walking stiffly and not “slouching” was just the way it was seen fit to conduct yourself in public arenas.

People used to get their laundry starched back then.

Walking differently between 1920’s and 1940’s? Well, there were those goose-stepping guys.

From the beginning of the sound era in the late 1920s to today, the standard film speed for 35 mm film has been 24 frames per second.

The standard film speed for 8 mm, Super 8 mm, and 16 mm film cameras was 16 to 18 fps, unless it was a sound camera, in which case 24 fps.

That was before Aerosmith recorded “Walk This Way”, which cleared up a lot.

[Groucho]If I could walk that way I wouldn’t need talcum powder[/Groucho]

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of walking in the World War II movie A Walk in the Sun (1945), at least after the first fifteen minutes or so, once they start their trek.

A serious guess: uncomfortable, ill fitting shoes?

One thing you might do to determine if you are looking at an affectation of the movies of that era, or an actual difference in everyday life, is try to dig up some newsreel footage showing street scenes, and see if it’s evident there.

I recall reading something about John Wayne and it mentioned that actors were taught to walk in a specific manner, especially during the era when cameras were kept relatively still. They took very small steps so that it looked like they were moving but they didn’t cover a lot of ground. I’m not sure about the walking part.

Stage training would make sense too, because your range of movement is limited on stage and you have to exaggerate your movements in order to communicate them to the audience.

I doubt very much that this has anything to do with it. Stage and movie acting were strict disciplines that had little to do with “proper conduct” and a lot more to to with the practicalities of the technology, communication, and theatrical tradition.

But in the silent era which certainly covers most of the 1920s frame rate was lower, 16-18 frames per second. Many of us grew up seeing silent films (Chaplin and Keaton shorts and the like) that looked accelerated because they were being projected on modern equipment at 24 fps.

But note the original post said, “Whenever I see a movie from the 1940s and earlier, often people seemt to be walking with a rather unusual gait”.

Silent era film speeds would not explain this in movies of the 1940s and 1930s.

(And actually, by the 1920s silent film speeds had creeped up to something close to 24 fps. See Silent Films: What Was the Right Speed? by Kevin Brownlow.)

elmwood, are you able to link to any examples (e.g., from Youtube)?

Lacking any supporting documentation or examples, I am going to say it was part of the more affected, “actorly” way of presentation on-screen.
No one wanted to see people acting like the folks they could see every day…

Just thought I’d chime in with an opinion. Having seen hundreds of movies from the 1930s and 1940s, I have never noticed anything unusual about how people walked.

It’s film speed.

Think of how people look in those “comically sped-up manic” scenes (such as Charlie Chaplin takeoffs) and all their moves are somewhat jerky and waddly. It’s the same deal with those 1920s/early 30s street scenes. I think the OP mistyped the decades, that’s all.

No, elmwood typed “1940s” twice, and “the first half of the 20th century”. He’s not talking about the silent era.