Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Speedtyping and the Women Who Inspired "Populaire"

I finally watched "Populaire" on Netflix a few weeks ago. It came out in the States in September, so I’m way behind. It's a cute movie set in 1958; it has all the visual delights of Technicolor without actually being in Technicolor.

Star Deborah Francois plays Rose, who looks for all the world like a blonde Audrey Hepburn a la "Funny Face". Audrey's photo is even in the background in certain scenes, and her "Funny Face" dance is referenced, but with Rose in pink instead of Audrey’s severe beatnik black. A girl from a tiny village, she goes to the big city with dreams of being the ultimate modern woman—a secretary. She’s not very good and she doesn’t have a lot of experience but she types really, really fast. So her boss enters her in typing competitions, they fall in love despite being different, yada yada. It’s the kind of romantic comedy we’ve been seeing for the last 70 or so years but it’s still fun.
I'm a nerd so I had to Google this. Because speedtyping is such an odd “sport” to spend months and months training someone in. But it turns out, this was actually a thing people did, and have been doing since the beginning of the 20th century. And people were actually interested in watching. What?


There was prestige, prizes and maybe even a little money involved. Interestingly, many champions were men, though in Rose’s world, everyone that competes is female.



“Would you have thought such a simple thing as typing could be so thrilling?” Still not sure I would call it thrilling, but it’s certainly interesting.


And some busy, busy typists in Milan, 1938. For more on the longest history of competitive typing and its champions, check out this post on ozTypewriter .

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Populaire! I saw that movie a few months back, and I thought it was really cute. I love those modern pastiches of old movies, where they're very true to the style, but still kind of winking at some of the outdated notions that they had then. You should check out Down With Love if you get a chance, it's a similar type of film.
    Cheers!
    Jessica, cakesandcakesvintage.blogspot.com

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