Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Old Movies Stink

(Or, for those born after 1973 who aren't offended by the phrase, what I mean to say is: Old Movies Suck!)

OK, so I know it's all artsy and whatnot to be into old movies. To sigh and say, "Citizen Kane is just brilliant. That man really had the eye. You know?" But I just can't pretend anymore. Old movies suck. (That's not to say that the majority of movies today are anything more than drivel, but that's another day's post.)

You might have several classics popping defensively into your head, like Gone With the Wind or All About Eve or Rear Window. But let's face it, those are exceptions.

Here's some proof: Look at the old lists of Oscar winners. Then actually watch those movies. Don't just remember them, watch them. (Memories make atrocious things rosy and meaningful. Like how I loved the movie "Don Juan DeMarco" in high school because I, like every girl born between 1972 and 1979, loved Johnny Depp, and high school chemicals were still invading and diluting my brain. Years later, seeing the DVD in the bargain bin at Walmart, I convinced Mike to buy it, remembering how romantic it was. 43 "Oh, I forgot that part"s later, I had learned my lesson to never trust your memory of a movie.)

I watched Anchors Aweigh last night, 'cause you know it's all classic and junk. This movie was nominated for 5 Oscars and won 1 in 1945 (won best music score, nominated for best actor, best cinematography, best original song, and best movie). So this is up there, you know. The best 1945 has to offer us.

Best music? The lyrics went something like: "You're as charming as a Christmas tree. You should sit on my knee. Golly gee." Please, somebody, get Franky a lyricist!

Best actor? Admit it, we all love Gene Kelly for his thighs and pirouettes, not his acting ability. He's the hammiest ham I've ever seen, pulling ridiculous faces at every turn, and I say that with all adoration. (I wrote an essay on him for Dance 101 in college, you know.)

Best cinematography? I tried to convince Mike that Ol' Genie dancing with a girly boy-mouse in fairyland was a necessary cinematic precursor to "It's a Jolly Holiday" from Mary Poppins, but he wouldn't buy it.

This movie was 2 hours and 24 minutes (2 HOURS and 24 MINUTES!) of over-acted, overly predictable, awkward shmooze purely created to give Gene's thighs and Frank's pipes a platform.

Phew. Sorry, I'm getting all worked up. The simple fact is that movies were a new genre in the old days. Actors were fresh from vaudeville and film directing was a new profession. I'm not all for the theory of progress, but this is one area where progress has thankfully reigned.


T. said...

I agree that many do lack excitement and charm. I love the Turner Classic Movie Channel and I will Tivo the movies that have a 4 star rating (out of 4 stars) and many times I have found myself falling asleep during the movie--that is unheard of for moi! I do like to watch the movies because of their simplicity--it seems like movies today are made for the ADHD at heart. I must say that I love Breakfast at Tiffany's the most and I love the cheesy soap opera blank stares that fill so many of the classic movies!

Amber said...

Yeah--there has to be a happy medium between a movie like Razor's Edge which would put a hyperactive monkey to sleep and the crazy ADHD movies of today!

That's funny you liked Breakfast at Tiffany's--I hated that movie! I think I was expecting it to be like Roman Holiday and that's why I didn't like it, though.

Now that I've written that mean post, I'm remembering all the old movies I do like, and I'm actualy in the mood to watch some oldies. :)

Sarah said...

I loved BAT's and I didn't care so much for RH. I'm with you on old movies in general Amber. Most of them I pretty much hate. But there are a few gems out there. The same is true of today though too.

Mike said...

I couldn't make it through more than a few minutes of either Breakfast at Tiffany's or Roman Holiday. But then I really don't like Audrey Hepburn (drives me nuts for some reason). I think film editing and cinematography have advanced a lot over the years, and that's one reason a lot of old movies seem so sloooow and flat. Inventions like the Steadycam helped a lot for interesting angles and zooms. Cutting ten seconds from every minute of film would probably improve those old movies a lot, too.

I really think old movies and old actors are highly overrated. It's not that some of them aren't good (and some are fine and some are bad). And you have to take into account when a film was made when judging it and what limitations they faced (like with regard to camera technology, visual effects, sound, etc.). But it's not like acting or scriptwriting were new (quite a bit of that from Sophocles to Shakespeare to Death of a Salesman). I just don't feel obligated to agree with people when they pressure you into agreeing that X was such a great actor or X was such a great movie and you have to agree because, after all, they're "classic". It's not like I have to think a movie or actor is great because they're new either. Some movies sucked in the classic era and suck today in the remake. Temporal prejudice just isn't my bag, baby. The end.

(on a side note, I do like Jimmy Stuart, so I don't hate all old time actors and their movies; he was funny, interesting, and performed well)

Mike said...

Oo, Charlton Heston, too. Don't know why, just kinda liked him (he just died, which is too bad). I don't elevate either him or Jimmy to godlike levels just because they was an older-time actors, though. They were both good, but only as good as they were (better than a lot of people today, but there are also a lot of good actors today that match or surpass them). Maybe they just stand out more because they were so much better than so many of the other actors at the time.

Sarah said...

I haven't seen anything yet that has caused me to care much for Jimmy Stewart or Charlton Heston. But I agree with all your other points.

Amber said...

All the old actors I can think of whom I liked, I think I liked for their roguish good looks. I'm not actually sure if they were good actors or not. (Clark Gable, Charleton Heston, Gregory Peck, etc. etc.)

But I definitely can't think of any actresses I liked, beyond thinking, "she's pretty."

Who's shallow now, Sarah? :)

But I've got a lot of nerve to put down old movies. I'm going to watch (well record, actually) Top Chef tonight. Not exactly great art if you know what I mean. :)

Anonymous said...

I've often wondered if there was something wrong with me, because I don't like old movies. I mean, some are decent, sure, and there are some good actors in any given era, but let's face it, there are many genres that benefit handsomely from modern technomological doodads,

Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, computers enhance these genres so much. Digital bullets and blood and swords and explosions and and and....

Heck, even rom-coms have new horizons thanks to techmology, like 'You've got Mail'.

The quality of production is just plain better now than it was. Granted there are still hack-job actors and writers, and Quentin Tarantino. It's kind of like music, some people rashly say 80's music sucks, but come on, every era has a bunch of junk as well as some good stuff.

The thing that makes old movies suck the most, in my mind, is the color. I like bright colors. Old movies are drab and ick... I have a hard time with Westerns from any time period because of all that brown... it's just not pleasant.

Remember Dick Tracy? All those really bright characters? I love that movie, and I think it might be mostly due to the colors and not the content....


Amber said...

Oo--I'm totaly going to keep making rash, sweeping, condemnatory statements like, "old movies suck," and "cats suck," and "potatoes suck," to keep up such fun discussion!