The very existence of the MPAA rating system. Before its debut in 1968, the film industry was still following the outdated Hays Code, which severely limited the creative freedom of filmmakers with its heavy-handed censorship. The new rating system meant that films that would never have seen the light of day under The Hays Code could now be released with cautionary "R" and "PG" ratings instead of being heavily censored or banned outright. Beginning in The Seventies, movies such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and A Clockwork Orange, which would never have been possible under The Hays Code, changed filmmaking forever with the boundaries that they were able to push under the new system. This isn't as obvious today, now that the organization has gained a reputation for stifling creativity instead of encouraging it. Studios now have a bit of a tendency to edit movies to get lower ratings, and the MPAA has attracted a lot of criticism for giving independent films higher ratings than studio films with similar content.
Subsequently, the PG rating. Today, with PG-13 being the default rating for many family films and the R rating being a lot more prevalent in genres other than Action, it's hard to believe that PG was once considered somewhat edgy and a cause for concern among parents.
Horror movies in general. Many horror movies that first came out in the late 1960s and 1970s were seen as incredibly over-the-top in their depiction of violence, and a lot of them received 'R'-type ratings in many countries. Compared to now, in which Torture Porn movies with ridiculously graphic depictions of being being tortured and murdered now being the norm in horror movies, many once cutting-edge horror movies of the 1960s would seem tame to a new viewer.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore: It seems hard to believe that movies such as these were actually considered raunchy, filthy films when first released in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Today, they seem pretty tame compared to most comedy films being released (which, really, is kind of sad when you think about it).
Airplane! was originally an intentionally corny, funny comedy, and was a huge hit in its time. However, its corny style of humor has been imitated and parodied so many times (often poorly) since that today it may be more likely to be seen as the bad kind of corny humor than the good kind.
The film is also a parody of disaster movies of the time like Airport and Zero Hour, which because of this movie's camp and because of how much airplane travel has changed, contemporary audiences aren't likely to catch certain elements that are being spoofed, as they are no longer in public consciousness.
On that note, up until 1980 Leslie Nielsen was a respected dramatic actor, and the whole joke with his character was seeing him bring his usual gravitas to this kind of material. And of course, afterward his career took a hard right turn into doing nothing but these kinds of films, until they completely eclipsed his public image.
This is the case with so many actors from that film: Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, etc.
The film Wrongfully Accused can also suffer from this. At the time, it was actually part of the joke that the film cast such a wide net in the material that it parodied. Nowadays, every parody movie is like that, and the worse for it.
It also pokes fun at a lot of movies that were popular at the time it was made, so the audience would be able to easily recognize the subject of the joke. However, as time has past many of the movies in question have waned in popularity since then and may not be immediately recognizable.
Alien and its sequels. It looks like a clichéd movie, but invented or popularized most of the relevant tropes for that genre (though even at the time it was intended to do little more than ride the coattails of Star Wars), as well as propagated its xenomorph alien designs throughout many other films.
An interesting move on the part of the producers of Alien, that served to heighten the tension at the end, but which cannot work now, was to kill the characters off in reverse order of the fame of the actors playing them. It is difficult now to realize that John Hurt was probably the biggest box office name in Alien, having just done I, Claudius for the BBC, and the film Midnight Express, and that both Veronica Cartwright, who had been acting since childhood (she was Violet Rutherford on Leave It to Beaver, and the sister of Angela Cartwright of Lost in Space), and Harry Dean Stanton, a well-established character, were both much more bankable than Sigourney Weaver, who, at the time, was unknown. She had a single film credit, other than a brief role in Annie Hall, and a few TV appearances. Alien made her career. So, at the end, when no one is left alive other than the actress the audience had never heard of, it seems very unlikely that she will survive at all, let alone heroically. However, now, in the 21st century, she is Sigourney Weaver, Sigourney Weaver kicks ass, and the film could not end any other way. Knowing that she appears in all of the movies as the main hero also helps kill any sense of fear for her safety.note Though that didn't stop her in Alien³.
Perhaps most noticeable with the second film's seamy vision of the future, which was (at the time) notable for being seen through the eyes of a platoon of cynical, working-class soldiers. Considering how popular the Space Marine trope has become since 1986 (thanks to the likes of Halo, StarCraft, Doom and Warhammer 40,000), to the point that the trope now borders on cliché, this idea doesn't seem nearly as original as it once did.
Alfred Hitchcock. This trope could just as easily be called Hitchcock Is Not Suspenseful. Anything of his was the defining work in suspense when originally produced, but looks sad and overdone now that it's been copied to death.
Alfred Hitchcock's suspense films have had much of the suspense removed due to the rampant parody. On the other hand, the Rear Window trope has been parodied so many times that some viewers are taken by surprise when the old film plays it straight instead of turning into a case of Stab The Salad.
Psycho was groundbreaking for its time by essentially founding the slasher film genre, but now the infamous shower scene has been referenced (and often parodied) by other horror films to the point of saturation. When it was first released, the shower scene was an enormous shock - the idea of killing off the character played by the best-known actress in the film one-third of the way into the running time was quite literally unheard of.
Not only that- she was the main character in the film up to that point. Audiences initially didn't know who to identify with once Marion Crane was dead.
The Birds didn't look so cheesy and fake at the time.
American Beauty inspired so many other "dark heart of suburbia" dramas that the film has lost a lot of its initial impact. In particular, the "dancing plastic bag" scene has been parodied/taken out of context so many times that the original sequence can come off as Narm.
Interestingly enough, American Beauty is quite similar to The Ice Storm, another "dark heart of suburbia" movie, which came out two years before American Beauty. (The similarities between the two might be coincidental, though, as Alan Ball wrote the original version of The American Beauty's script before The Ice Storm – or the novel of the same name it was based on – had been released.) This would make The Ice Storm the original Seinfeld Is Unfunny example, except that The American Beauty is much better known, and therefore the likelier inspiration for the various films that followed.
Animal House was the Trope Maker or Trope Codifier of many of the Frat House comedies that followed it. Nowadays, it seems horribly cliched, but it was doing a lot of these jokes for the first time. The falling-ladder scene has little effect for the children of Generations X and Y, who saw it copied in countless cartoons and teen movies.
Tim Burton's 1989 take on Batman was considered dark and edgy at its time: perhaps not compared to the Batman comic books of that era, which influenced it, but certainly compared to the campy1960s live action show or the 1970s animated Superfriends, which was how most of the public was familiar with Batman. Now it seems tame, especially when compared with the Christopher Nolan films. Absurdly, Burton himself commented on the Nolan films by saying that things had changed from the days when he wasn't allowed to do a "dark" Batman as Nolan did, when in fact the whole point of Burton's version of Batman was that it was dark, and Nolan's interpretation would never have been possible if it hadn't been for Burton's!
The Birth of a Nation invented or popularized many features that are standard in modern cinema, such as cutting between different locations to increase suspense during action scenes. Someone watching the film nowadays won't think twice about these innovations, while the blatant racism and hero-worship of the Klan are unfortunately a lot more noticeable.
Blade. The rebirth of the Super Hero movie genre also comes to mind. Most people credit X-Men's smooth cinematography and darker take...and completely forget that X-Men borrows heavily from it. At the time it was a sleeper hit and probably the film that truly revitalized the comic book movie market after Batman & Robin single-handedly killed it.
Blade Runner popularised a number of sci-ficonventions, and as a consequence, the impact can be somewhat lost on audiences who have already seen the many imitators and their intellectual androids, ugly dystopias and drunken, future cops.
The Blair Witch Project was the film that proved that internet-based Viral Marketing could work, allowing the micro-budgeted indie horror flick to become a box-office smash and a cultural touchstone for the late '90s/early '00s. Between the many, many, manyfound-footage horror films that have employed similar conceits, and the fact that the passage of time has distanced the film from its revolutionary marketing campaign, this can be lost on modern viewers. While it still enjoys a decent reputation, watching it today, without having been exposed to the torrent of hype in 1999, can make one wonder what was so scary about it.
Blazing Saddles is rumored to be one of the first, perhaps the first film ever, to include a fart joke.
It wasn't, since there were fart jokes as early as the Great Depression era. Blazing Saddles was simply the first film to blatantly do a fart joke, without bothering to Get Crap Past The Radar.
Broadway Melody, the second film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and the first all-sound musical, was a huge deal when it was released. However, its look at the goings-on on a Broadway musical became clichéd by the mid-'40s, thanks to nearly every movie about Broadway copying its basic set-up. Add the fact that as it was the first movie musical, Hollywood still had a lot to learn about blocking musical numbers to avoid looking 'stagey'.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. A lot of stuff regarding it. Many modern audiences have never even heard of it, but they've certainly felt its presence through imitation.
The ending of the 1976 version of Carrie is often ranked up there with some of the greatest scary moments of all time. Many people, not knowing that Carrie was the first horror film ever to have a shock ending like that, wonder why, seeing as how it's become practically expected of a horror film to shock the audience one last time. Nowadays, the final scene doesn't seem so scary anymore.
On the other hand, the shock ending of Friday the 13th (1980), which blatantly ripped off Carrie, is still considered quite scary to modern audiences.
Citizen Kane, often times trumpeted as "The Greatest Movie of All Time," tends to inspire "What's the big deal" responses from first time viewers, especially since Post Modern movies have become the norm and the Cinematography has influenced so many other films.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the first truly successful (in western markets) Chinese Wuxia (periodic Kung-Fu) movie, suffers from this. It's much harder to screen such a movie nowadays because people can't look past the "tacky" kung-fu with its flying about and running on walls - which has been imitated repeatedly in many "Hollywoodian" action films for the past 10 years. Of course, it wasn't original per-se, as Wuxia films were already seen as tacky in their homeland (China), but in the west this was regarded as a new phenomenon and therefore taken with more respect. It won an Academy Award and still lingers around the middle of the IMDB's Top 250 list - and for many good reasons other than the dazzling fights.
Daredevil, the 2003 film, despite its shortcomings and disappointing box office performance, compared to each of its predecessors which gives out a varying degree of surrealism throughout each scene as if telling the viewers that they should never forget that they're watching a superhero movie, viewers who enjoyed watching Daredevil in the theaters noted that certain scenes made you almost forget that this is a superhero movie. This apparently became a measuring stick for the superhero movies that followed, which used higher levels of realism, thus overshadowing this movie that, so to speak, took a dare.
Debbie Does Dallas. To modern eyes it watches like a porno Cliché Storm. That's because it was more or less the comedic template for the porn industry. Likewise, The Devil In Miss Jones for more artsy-fartsy dramatic fare.
Les Diaboliques was widely considered to have one of the most shocking original twist endings of all time when it was first released. But after fifty years of films copying this ending, modern audiences are often able to predict what will happen.
Die Hard. In the eighties, action films perferred invincible heroes who slaughtered mooks by the dozen with casual disdain. Die Hard popularized grittier and more realistic action, with heroes who are more vulnerable and suffer from character faults. It also popularized the concept of action movies confined to a limited space: "Die Hard on an X." For example, Speed is "Die Hard on a bus."
Like the Airplane! example with Leslie Nielsen above, at the time it came out, people were shocked at the idea of a comedic actor like Bruce Willis being an action star. Nowadays, what with Tom Hanks Syndrome, comedic actors doing serious roles aren't nearly so amazing. Plus, like with Nielsen, some people don't even know that Willis got his start in comedies.
The Exorcist. At the time it was released, it was considered to be the most shocking and horrifying film ever created. There were stories of audience members fainting and having to leave the theater due to being so disturbed by the movie. Nowadays, many of the scenes in the film come across as more comical than scary, especially with how subdued later films with similar premises would take the idea.
La Dolce Vita is a film where the "hero" is an amoral Casanova Wannabe journalist type who hangs around lots of decadent celebrity parties and can't get no satisfaction. Precisely what made it seem so racy and different in 1960 and so long and ordinary now. Indeed, film buffs were complaining about how tame it had become as early as the '70s.
Final Destination: The first film was considered genuinely frightening with audiences in suspense at what would finish off the characters or whether they would survive at all. Nowadays everyone knows that the Final Destination characters are going to get bumped off creatively and, while there are still some films in the series that can create suspense (2 and 5 especially), they can't replicate the suspense of the original which in turn is less scary these days because everyone knows what to expect from a Final Destination film.
Godzilla, the original 1954 film. At the time of its release, it was groundbreaking for the Japanese film industry. Many people today ridicule older Godzilla films for the reason of them being "Man-in-suit!!!" made films. What they fail to realize is that had it not been for suitmation, most special effects as we know them today (such as motion capture CG, which utilizes similar techniques to suitmation) would not exist. This is despite the fact that Godzilla actually contained very few suitmation shots. Like other films at the time, it mostly made use of stop-motion and clever editing. (Although later films in the series were almost entirely suitmation.) That said, the original may still shock modern audiences who expect something akin to the Lighter and Softer versions of the creature that were often aimed at children.
Grease is today considered almost unwatchably corny, or at the very least So Bad, It's Good, where as in The Seventies it helped start a huge wave of Nostalgia for The Fifties. It also counts musically. At the time, the idea of mixing (then) current music like disco, with older styles (1950s rock), was unheard of. It was also one of the first movies to both portray the Fifties sympathetically and to depict people living in that era as a lot more "cool" than they're usually credited.
Halloween (1978) seems today a clichéd, formulaic slasher film. But it created the clichés and established the formulas.
Ditto for Friday the 13th (1980) which came out before slashers became predictable. According to the filmmakers, people watching it on the big screen would literally be shouting "don't go in there!" and "don't open that!" in genuine fear for the characters. These days anyone exposed to slasher films knows that of course they're going to go in there and of course they're going to get killed in a clever and creative way.
See also: Scream (1996). It lampshaded every horror movie cliche while still paying loving tribute, creating a tongue-in-cheek slasher/comedy genre that has been aped multiple times over nearly two decades.
House on Haunted Hill (1959) was terrifying when it came out in 1959, and it's ending gimmick was revolutionary. Now the film can come across as just another old haunted house flick that's boring and/or campy and has inspired a RiffTrax parody commentary. However, Vincent Price keeps the film holding up decently, and it's (very loose) remake 40 years later was a critical failure in part for not living up to it.
When House Of Games came out in 1987, the idea that everything that happens in the movie is a huge con was still relatively fresh. (Though similar plots had been used in earlier movies, such as Sleuth.) Since then it has become such an established cliche of con artist movies that the viewers pretty much expect it, which is why the Plot Twist is much easier to guess now than it was in 1987.
Jackie Chan. Through the 1970s, Chinese martial arts films were a deadly serious business, with grim plots and frequent Downer Endings probably best known today from the films of Bruce Lee. Then Chan came along with the idea that you could make a martial arts film that was supposed to be fun, or even a straight-out comedy. Chan's autobiography gives a fascinating view of just how powerful a mindset he was up against when making his early comedy films like Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu, with the public at large pretty much calling him a heretic. Today, these films can be pretty disappointing to people used to his later works where he felt much more comfortable throwing in jokes and wild stunts.
Jackie Chan's style came as a direct result of being compared to Bruce Lee after Lee's death. After getting of being touted as "the next Bruce Lee" he instead aimed to become "the first Jackie Chan", mostly by being the exact opposites of Bruce Lee. Lee's motions were long and smooth; Chan's were short and choppy. Lee almost never got hit; Chan gets the crap kicked out of him regularly. Lee was always in control of the fight, counting on his skill to win fights; Chan was never in control and had to rely on luck and improvisations to win fights.
Also, Jackie Chan pioneered many filming techniques to add excitement to the action scenes. The majority of these techniques have been used so much they are considered horrible cliches at this point.
Bond was even receiving this treatment by the late '60s, thanks largely to countless parodies and ripoffs. When reviewing You Only Live Twice in 1967, a critic for Time magazine not-so-ironically compared the Bond franchise to that of Frankenstein, saying that "there have been so many flamboyant imitations that the original looks like a copy".
Pierce Brosnan's portrayal of Bond. Better Special effects. More subtle villains. Less camp. Self referential humor. More of a focus on the Geo-political fallout of a mission. This legacy is fatally undermined by the Daniel Craig version doing all this better than the Brosnan version.
Jaws: The so awesome, but now sadly so clichéd use of the movie's theme. In addition, it's now become a tradition of monster movies to not show the creature much until the end to increase suspense. Nowadays, everyone knows what a shark looks like.
John Hughes. When he was making teen films, it was rather rare for there to be films based purely on teenagers and their inner angst. It was actually unique to take the usual school archetypes and see what makes them tick. Nowadays, with at least three generations of teen dramas (as well as countless parodies and homages) that have replicated or even advanced from the analysis of such films as Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club, Hughes's bite doesn't seem as sharp. Ferris Bueller doesn't seem much like a suave troublemaker when compared to recent characters such as Tony Stonem.
John Woo. In similar vein to Jackie Chan, back in the 80s some guy from China created an entirely new genre labeled 'Gun Fu/gun ballet' and similar. He pioneered the idea of choreographed two-gun action scenes, popularized slow motion gun fight sequences in the west, and generally brought Guns Akimbo style into the mainstream. Nowadays films like Face/Off and Mission Impossible II are criticized as copying The Matrix style of gun fights (even though Face/Off is older). Hang on, who was that guy who the Wachowskis were hugely influenced by when making The Matrix?
Jurassic Park. First, this is often considered the movie that introduced CGI creature effects to its audiences on such a large scale. Before this time, CGI in movies tended to be one or two scenes out of a whole two-hour movie due to its expensive nature, with the rest being taken up by puppetry, stop motion animation and miniature work. JP was one of the first movies to use CGI in the majority of its creature special effects. Now-days, with films like Avatar and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow being more CGI than real, a few of the effects look dated (though it still holds up better than in even earlier films, such as The Abyss). Second, this was one of the very first feature films with a wide audience to do away with a lot of old dinosaur tropes, having bipedal dinosaurs stand horizontally and having them act more like birds and less like lizards. However, the film gets hit by a bad case of Science Marches On (most glaring of all, the Raptors lack feathers, which scientists are now certain they possessed.) A dinosaur fan might go back to watching that movie and laugh (or cry) at the errors.
King Kong (the 1933 original). At the time of its release, people thought it had the greatest effects in film. Now, with 80 years of technology advancement, two remakes of which used it, the power is somewhat lost on most people.
On the other hand, the trope is reversed if you try to view Kong as a typical 1930s film. Most aficionados of Thirties cinema are more familiar with the mid-'30s and late '30s classics, made after The Hays Code against portrayals of sex and violence in American movies began to be officially enforced. As such, it can be shocking for modern-day viewers to see things like Fay Wray being stripped nearly nude by Kong and blood gushing from the bodies of the dinosaurs after Kong kills them. Indeed, quite a few viewers of pre-Code (1930-1934) Hollywood films have felt their jaws hit the floor at what they are seeing.
Mad Max 2 aka The Road Warrior. Pretty much every post-nuke movie since has featured crazed marauders on motorcycles and dune buggies fighting it out in the desert.
The Magician, a silent film from 1926 featuring a Mad Scientist Hypnotist. At the end of the movie, when the Big Bad's castle blew up, you may think to yourself, "Hey, they stole that scene from Bride of Frankenstein", but then you realize that Bride wouldn't be made for another nine years. While The Magician may seem like a hopeless Cliché Storm now, (borrowing liberally as it does from Mary Shelley, Svengali, and Victorian Melodrama,) it did go on to influence many horror films that were to follow in the coming years.
The Matrix, heavily influenced by anime, religion and the western, caused such a major shift in culture — and Special Effects, with the proliferation of Wire Fu and Bullet Time in action sequences, as well as stoic action heroes wearing black dusters and shades. It also reversed the decades-old trend of science-fiction films depicting a future full of colorful "futuristic" gimmicks and Zeerust. Looking at many sci-fi/fantasy films from as recently as The Nineties, it's amazing how hokey many of them already look, and The Matrix deserves the credit (or blame, depending on your attitude) for that.
The series is credited with pretty much inventing, or at least solidifying, the modern Zombie Apocalypse story: the Dead rising to feast on the flesh of the living, the total breakdown of society as a result, a small group of humans forced to work together to survive but generally failing due to Humans Are Bastards, and fairly bleak endings stressing the Inferred Holocaust, etc. Zombie films that don't follow this pattern are generally viewed as subverting the expectations of the audience. However, the film did not originate all aspects of the common Zombie Apocalypse playbook. For example, Return of the Living Dead was the originator of zombies eating brains.
The fact that the first film's protagonist is black was very unusual for its day, which can be lost on modern audiences.
The fact that the origin of the zombie apocalypse is never explained and the problem is never resolved was highly unusual for the day. Usually B-movies would end with some sort of technobabble summation assuring everyone that the problem had been solved. The Birds was another example of a film around this time that subverted the trend. Films with such open endings are much more common in recent days.
Porky's once had a reputation for being a definitive sex-comedy, with its "shower scene" having a memetic level of hotness ascribed to it. In retrospect though, the film isn't really that funny or that sexy. This is strange as some of its contemporaries (eg Animal House) have held up very well.
The Poseidon Adventure. Just try to watch a Disaster Movie and not spot any scene, plot, or subplot that hasn't either been spoofed, homaged, recreated, or otherwise by even any action movie. It can be quite hard to believe that this movie was so novel back in the 70s (even today, it's an unlikely premise), or that several scenes in The Towering Inferno had people on the edge of their seats. Heck, nowadays, people can probably point out how the elevator scene in The Towering Inferno is actually quite silly.
Another potentially off-putting thing in Poseidon would be the presence of Leslie Nielsen in one of his many dramatic roles, as mentioned above.
Pulp Fiction: The Tarantino-style dialogue, in which characters have long conversations about trivial, pop culture-laden topics that don't seem to relate to the plot, was virtually unknown and highly influential. The Nineties were littered with irreverent crime films heavily borrowing from Pulp Fiction's tone.
Revenge of the Nerds. Being a nerd used to mean something. Originally seen as the first movie that was made specifically with the intention to empower nerds. Now the movie is seen as a weak analogy of nerdy social ostracism to the genuine prejudice faced by racial minorities. One could understand questioning how the films most memorable characters (the openly gay Lamar and the pothead pervert Booger) actually qualify as nerds. With passing time, it's been realized that "true nerds" (as opposed to the caricatures in this film) are still not considered any cooler. All of the so-called cool nerds were never true nerds to begin with.
In almost a bizarre case of Life Imitates Art and thanks to computers and the internet becoming not only mainstream but a way of life, it's this caricature of "nerds" that 'has' become cool. Unfortunately for "true nerds", this caricature is closer to being Hollywood Nerd (Type 1) than an accurate depiction. The entire image of a shy, skinny pale guy with glasses doing cool things has started to get a bit of romanticism attached to it; however, even in those cases, those with that view fail to realize that the reason why a nerd can do all these cool things, is because of the sheer amount of time spent on learning and working on those things.
Saturday Night Fever. There was a time when this movie's dance with the diagonal pointing was actually a new idea.
John Ford's Stagecoach, to paraphrase the Halloween review above, "seems today a clichéd, formulaic Western film. But it created the clichés and established the formulas."
After having seen Luke, I Am Your Father parodied a million times, experienced the Expanded Universe, and gotten to see villains like Exar Kun or Darth Revan, and particularly after the two-plus decades of pulp sci-fi blockbusters that the film (directly or indirectly) inspired, coupled with the largely underwhelming response to the prequel trilogy, how many younger people are still able to watch the original movies completely seriously and see Darth Vader as an awesome villain?
In the other direction, the original trilogy in particular had this effect on many of the older Space Opera tales that inspired them, such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. It didn't help that both of those series were revived (the former as a movie, the latter as a TV series) to cash in on the post-Star Wars sci-fi craze.
Superman: The Movie was the first superhero blockbuster and its sequel, Superman II set the template for a superhero sequel. And yet, not only is it likely that younger audiences might find them boring, but many fans of the modern comics and animations blame the films — which create "the Donnerverse" — for the entirety of Superman's hatedom.
It also wasn't too long ago that Spider-Man 2 was seen as the benchmark for what Superhero movies should try to achieve; mixing the fantasy/campiness of the comics with realism. Much like Superman before it. With the release of even more realistic and serious superhero movies (such as Iron Man and The Dark Knight Saga), or less realistic but with huge action set pieces and witty dialogue like The Avengers, the Sam Raimi trilogy has started to show its age, and is no longer held in as high esteem as they once were.
DocumentaryThe Thin Blue Line was one of the first documentaries to actually dare to produce reenactments in order to provide greater information about events, not to include narration, and not to identify people speaking on camera. While revolutionary in its time (and, more importantly, its effect of having the case reviewed and eventually overturned) even the most basic of television non-fiction programs have since adopted many of its techniques making it seem trifling to some modern audiences. An acknowledged groundbreaking classic of the genre is now made to seem almost amateurish.
The twist in Orson Welles' The Third Man has been done so many times that it's impossible for a remotely film-savvy person to watch it today and not see it coming from very early on, which is a shame because it's nonetheless a well conceived and sharply written film. In these days when writers feel the need to constantly pull the rug out from under the viewers, such a twist is usually just one part of a Gambit Pile-Up.
TRON introduced the concept of cyberspace (a virtual world) to most audience members for the first time, something that subsequently became entirely routine, such that by the time of The Matrix (1999), it only needed to be explained THAT Neo was inside a virtual world, not what a virtual world was. Tron's use of computer-generated graphics was revolutionary, and served as midwife to the modern visual effects industry. The film even helped popularize the word "user" for a computer operator. (There was no consensus of terminology at the time; the word "computerist" was another popular term.)
3-D Films. For many early ones the plot was poor or non-existent, and many scenes were shoehorned in just to show off the 3D. They wouldn't be at all worth watching in 2D, and those flaws are jarring now that 3D is becoming popular again after Avatar. Thankfully, a lot of modern 3D movies tend to be quality on their own rights, since 2D versions are often released alongside. Even Avatar, the trend-setter for modern 3D Films, is perfectly enjoyable without 3D.
This is evidenced by SCTV's mockery of 3D movies, with John Candy (as the inimitable Dr. Tongue) and Eugene Levy (as Woody Tobias, Jr.) constantly moving any old object that they happened to have in hand towards and away from the camera, accompanied by appropriate soundtrack noise and a sudden, inexplicable break in the action.
This is actually the third time it's happened, there's been a 3D boom about every thirty years since the 50s.
One would be hard-pressed to find a scene from anyStanley Kubrick film that hasn't been parodied/homaged to death.
The famous "Star Gate" sequence, in which brilliant colors flash past the screen as the main character travels deep into space, required some extremely tricky cinematography and caused jaws to drop when the film was released in 1968. Thanks to the incredible advances in special effects since then, modern audiences often find the scene rather boring (not helped by the fact that sequence goes on for something like ten minutes).
Zombi 2, after thirty years of zombie movies about scientists looking for the source of the zombie outbreak (and possibly a cure), people holed up in buildings with an assortment of guns and melee weapons, and Downer Endings, can come off as derivative of every zombie movie ever made... even though this film, together with Dawn of the Dead (which Zombi 2 was an unofficial sequel to) helped codify all of the tropes listed above. On the other hand, the gore effects still hold up after all this time (the film wasn't released uncut in Britain until 2005).
The Rambo movies seem almost cliched by this point, having seen all the action movies inspired by them.
The second film did copy an arealdy common cliche. Gene Hackman had made Uncommon Valor, which saw release in 1983, two years before Rambo: First Blood Part II. (This film in turn resembles J.C. Pollock's novel Mission: MIA and a point in The Shadow Unmasks). Tom Laughlin introduced Vietnam Veteran Billy Jack in the late 1960's. Don Pendleton introduced Mack Bolan in 1969.
The irony of the sequels is that they were made in response to the shift in the way that action movies were made in the 80's. First Blood was nothing like them, and in fact is more of a thriller than an out-and-out action movie. The creators of Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III found themselves competing with films like Commando and Predator and tailored their movies according to audience expectations. It can be odd to see Rambo as a trauma-wracked veteran on the run from an unjust pursuit, rather than the We Do the ImpossibleOne-Man Army he became in later movies.
The scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy opened the front door of her house to the Land Of Oz, which brought the film from a sepia tone to color for most of the rest of the movie, was radical for its time in 1939. Although the color comes out crude by today's standards, the fact that it was there at all was quite an achievement for the late '30's. Remember that only a decade before, movies started to be released with sound.
Also, some of the effects and makeup used in the film were complex and realistic for its time, but can be laughable by the standards of what could be achieved even in The Seventies. Some effects such as the tornado still do hold up today, though.
Rebel Without a Cause. In addition to being arguably the first true "teen movie" ever made, the film was also unique for being among the first to do away with the utterly wholesome depictions of children and teenagers that were so prevalent in movies before then (the movie was, in fact, made in response to the youth counterculture movement that was bubbling at the time - which, of course, would be more fully realized in the following decade). James Dean's teenaged character gets caught up in a gang and takes on a life of crime to rebel against his highly conservative (but loving and supportive) parents. What's more, the film actually demanded the audience to sympathize with his character and question some of his mother's and father's parenting practices. While some of the things he does are quite shocking even today, the lack of swearing, sex, etc. certainly diminishes its impact when compared to more recent films depicting troubled teenagers. A matter not helped by the fact that the "rebellious music" he and his friends listen to is... swing and jazz music!
Certainly the (slight) suggestion that the father may be somewhat attracted to, and thus feel threatened by, his teenaged daughter was very unusual for a 1950s movie.
Most of M. Night Shyamalan's early movies count as this, in some way or another. Before his reputation as a director took a nosedive, and before a whole generation of moviegoers got their kicks by pointing out the logical flaws in his famous Mandatory Twist Endings, his movies actually did get a lot of well-deserved praise for their unconventional retellings of popular Hollywood stock plots. And before everyone knew to expect them, the Twist Endings in his movies were half of what made them popular.
The Sixth Sense: A supernatural horror movie that successfully masquerades as a psychological thriller for the first half, ends with a genuinely shocking Twist Ending that no one had any reason to expect, and manages to turn a ghost story into a heartwarming tale of an Intergenerational Friendship. When it came out, that was notable. But when the twist became the most well-known thing about it, many people forgot that its story actually had many other merits.
Unbreakable: A superhero movie that successfully hides the fact that it's about superheroes for most of its running time, makes real-world superheroes seem plausible (doing it well before the 2000s superhero movie craze started, no less), manages to turn a superhero's origin story into an understated family drama about ignored potential, and ends with another genuinely shocking Twist Ending that no one had any reason to expect. Since 2000, though, superhero movies have become such a regular attraction at the box office that many people forget what an unconventional portrayal of superheroes Unbreakable was.
Signs: An Alien Invasion movie that takes place almost entirely on a remote farm, manages to keep its aliens almost entirely unseen, and successfully juggles family drama and religious dilemmas with the possible extermination of humanity. For all its flaws, it truly was unlike any other sci-fi film that audiences in 2003 had ever seen. And before its many plot holes were widely spread by word of mouth, its unconventional take on the Alien Invasion was the most well-known thing about it.