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Hello there! Welcome to the classic film appreciation thread. Talk about your favourite classic films, the great dvd/blu ray copies you own or another platform you watch them on, your favourite scenes in classics, and anything involving those great, old films!
Personally, I've only just started delving into the vast world of the classics. Mostly I have watched American movies: no French New Wave, Italian stuff, but I'm up for suggestions.
I'm pretty sure there's more than just me who love these old films, so talk (type?)away.
EDIT: Opinions are great; tell us what you liked, what you disliked, but remember, be nice about it.
Edit Edit: Just to clarify, don't be scared by the word "classics". Just because the film you want to speak of isn't regarded as a "classic" (i.e. Casablanca), doesn't mean it's not worth mentioning. I just used that word (which is rather vague) to differentiate from more modern films. From silents to talkies and beyond, go and gab away.
Edit Edit edit: I want this thread to be focused, so let's talk about films from the early silent days til 1967. Of course, if you just have to mention that one movie that doesn't meet the cut-off date, that's fine.
edited 17th Nov '15 2:23:35 PM by LongTallShorty64
Where are the boundaries here? Where would you say classic film stops?
I, for one, want to say the emergence of New Hollywood. Damn near everybody knows about all the important movies after that period, but very few about anything before that.
^^Totally until New Hollywood, I don't want to see any Bonnie and Clyde here!!! (well, if you really want to talk about them...ok, but it's frowned upon.
I'm not sure about that classification/timeline. I mean, say what you want, but New Hollywood was, in a sense, a very classic period (at least now with the benefit of hindsight), with a sort of renewed focus in cinematic approaches and skills, as well as the exploration of new and interesting topics, as well as old topics (Bonnie & Clyde is a masterclass in terms of the portrayal of morally questionable people, or the glamorization of a criminal life, after all).
Besides, what about the movies which aren't considered New Hollywood, but are classics from those times and part of different scenes (e.g. some of the movies from the Czechoslovak New Wave note like Valerie and Her Week of Wonders or the New German Cinema authorsnote Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders)?
Also, can't, say, Criterion movies be considered classics on their own? Including more recent ones?
edited 10th Nov '15 7:11:29 PM by Quag15
I've seen, among others:
And I'm sure most people have seen Psycho, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot...
And of course, the great classic comedians: Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel And Hardy, The Little Rascals, The Three Stooges...
Bonnie And Clyde is a pretty good film, sure, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. I think for the purpose of the thread, classic film is anything done pre-New Hollywood. Whether this includes anything concurrent that wasn't part of the movement... I dunno.
edited 10th Nov '15 7:23:56 PM by Aldo930
I'm not saying that New Hollywood hasn't made classics, but in order to make this thread more focused, I want to talk about the Old Hollywood/Italian/French/British/Japanese/whathaveyou films from the dawn of film to I'm going to say until the mid 1960s. Yes, of course you can include other foreign films from the era I speak of!
My favourite films from the classic era are screwball comedies: give me
Also, film noirs are great; my faves include:
Can't say much for westerns though... never understood the appeal? Are there any really good ones, other than the ones mentioned, that I should watch?
I've heard about Bicycle Thieves, but I can't get into these neo-realism films. What makes them so acclaimed?
edited 10th Nov '15 8:40:41 PM by LongTallShorty64
Ball Of Fire is an entertaining film, I admit. Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck are good in it. The slang in it, though... Did anyone ever really say "Gestanko"?
I haven't seen enough Westerns to tell you.
Bicycle Thieves is about a guy whose bike is stolen, and he goes out to search for it. I don't want to spoil anything, but the ending's kinda anticlimactic.
I've also seen Rashomon, and it's pretty good, even if there's a few scenes that drag out too long.
edited 10th Nov '15 7:33:38 PM by Aldo930
I'm pretty sure Billy Wilder made up half the slang in that film. I do really want to use Sour/Sugar Puss in my vocabulary more, though.
Ok. I'm open to new things, so I'll definitely try out Bicycle Thieves.
I almost forgot to mention my other favourite genre in old films: The Romantic Comedy (when it wasn't a dirty word): a la The Shop Around the Corner, Holiday, Singin' in the Rain''.
Ah, Kurosawa, loved the Seven Samurai, hated Throne of Blood since it was so darn HAMMY. The man who played the Macbeth character was yelling a guttural yell the whole time. I just didn't like it.
Any favourite silents? I recently became aware of a Colleen Moore film Why Be Good? that was very wonderful. I've seen Harold Lloyd's Girl Shy(which was great), and Safety Last! which was okay.
edited 10th Nov '15 7:45:02 PM by LongTallShorty64
Fair enough. How about, say, 1967 as the end year of this thread?
Well, if the end of year was, say, 1969, I'd propose, for example, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. Very violent and cynical, and it deconstructs it so well, you'll get to (partly) understand the appeal.
Anyway, the greater appeal of Westerns were:
a) their emphasis in American post-mythmaking (think John Ford and his choice of showing the legend of certain figures, real or fictional, rather than the cold, harsh reality/facts);
b) the individual performances of certain actors. Besides John Wayne, I'd recommend, for example, James Stewart (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) - they were both in that movie, btw) and Gary Cooper (High Noon (1952);
c) some of their cinematography and photography (John Ford being the prime master of this in the genre).
What makes them so acclaimed is that they broke with the classical way of making movies, which had put more emphasis in narrative functions than in aesthetic and sometimes philosophical values and knowledge.
The thing to keep in mind is that Italian cinema, from the decade of the 40's onwards (in part to compensate the post-WWII zeitgeist Italy was still in, which was one of decay, fatalism, and loss of pride), decided to put a lot of emphasis on exploring different areas. Besides, they worked with non-professional actors, for the most part, they shot on location in ruins from both Ancient Rome and the post-WWII areas, and their focus on social issues, like the plight of the working classes and its observation by children (there was a lot of focus on children as an Audience Surrogate).
Eventually, the genre's main authors went into different areas/genres, such as historical spectacle pieces and allegorical fantasies, but kept some of the key ideas around. For this and quite a few other reasons it is considered to be the Golden Age of Italian cinema, since it influenced many other Italian genres and scenes in some way or another.
I recommend Fellini (Nights of Cabiria), Roberto Rossellini (Open City, Stromboli, Journey to Italy) and Lucchino Visconti (Ossessione, Bellissima).
Broken Blossoms. Not an easy movie.
edited 10th Nov '15 8:00:15 PM by Quag15
Thanks for your very concise explanation of Westerns and the importance of Italian/neo-realism.
I've been wanting to watch High Noon, but wasn't too sure about it, but now you've convinced me. I'll also watch the The Wild Bunch.
I guess the reason I mostly stayed away from Westerns is their overly, shall we say, macho-ism. Maybe that's a stereotype (and I'm willing to see it in a different way), but it seems to push the ideals of American as the lone cowboy, fighting for their freedoms yadda, yadda, and that sort of bothers me. I guess the deconstruction of The Wild Bunch should make it much more interesting to me.
Yes, let's end the classic era to 1967.
Whoa, Broken Blossoms sounds very similar to Frank Capra's The Bitter Tea of General Yen.
edited 10th Nov '15 8:14:20 PM by LongTallShorty64
Another topic to go over: what classic film to you think is criminally underrated?
Well, there were no superheroes or charactes wearing tights in most classic movies, so this thread probably isn't going to get a lot of posts.
I can tell you which classic movies are overrated: most early Best Picture winners. Sunrise, which won a weird alternate Best Picture award at the first ceremony, is an all-time great. Here are the other winners pre-dating Gone With the Wind:
A couple are classics (It Happened One Night established the Romantic Comedy as a film genre, and is just absolutely fantastic), a couple are good/decent, and at least half are mediocre to awful. Seriously, Cimarron is just the worst. It's even more interesting to look at Films of the 1930s and observe just how many of the best-loved and best-rememerbered films from that era didn't even get nominated. City Lights, Modern Times, The Public Enemy, Red Dust, The Prisoner of Zenda—all stiffed.
Basically, Oscar has been getting it wrong more than right ever since the beginning.
^Absolutely, the Oscar's have almost always sucked. They've always loved Oscar-baity things (i.e. You Can't Take It with You, really?? Probably the worst Capra film, even if it has Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur).
It's true that the Oscar winners tend to be at worst dated and at best really melodramatic; it's never a true statement of the important movements or actually interesting films out there. But like you said, there're a definitely some very good films that have been awarded.
edited 11th Nov '15 12:10:31 PM by LongTallShorty64
A question was asked upthread about Westerns. Start with John Ford. Actually, start with Stagecoach, which probably established The Western as a legit form of cinematic art and not just a setting for B-movies. Then watch My Darling Clementine, which is an Inspired by... take on the Gunfight at the OK Corral starring Henry Fonda. Then skip to Fort Apache, which surprisingly casts Fonda as a villainous character opposite John Wayne, and also features a disturbingly sexy adult Shirley Temple.
Then watch The Searchers, which stars Wayne and Natalie Wood, which proved that John Wayne could actually be one hell of an actor at times, and which is one of the best goddamn movies ever made.
^Hey, thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into it. Henry Fonda is really terrific, so I wouldn't mind seeing him in some Westerns.
(Ah, man, just noticed that Irene Dunne is in Cimarron, she's so great, but that film sounds awful. Nooo.)
edited 11th Nov '15 12:15:02 PM by LongTallShorty64
Broken Blossoms is tremendous. Runs on TCM from time to time.
Actually, folks looking for an intro into silent movies would be well served to look at the Turner Classic Movies schedule. They usually run a silent film every Sunday night and they run others from time to time. A Douglas Fairbanks marathon is coming up later this month.
Just watched Broken Blossoms. Simply wonderful.
^Right now on TCM, their star of the month is Norma Shearer who also has many silent films that are being shown.
Norma Shearer has a couple of silent films on TV Tropes:
edited 11th Nov '15 6:51:48 PM by jamespolk
Another way to get a possible entry into silent film is to go to the National Film Registry and look for anything made before 1929.
I'm not sure if You Can't Take It with You is Frank Capra's worst movie, but it sure didn't deserve to win the Oscar. If everybody lived like Lionel Barrymore's family does in that movie then society would collapse.
My favorite early James Stewart movie is After The Thin Man. Because he's the bad guy in that movie. It's pretty great to see George Bailey play a crazy murderer.
Yeah, maybe my complaint about You Can't Take It with You was a little hyperbolic; it does have really cute moments with Jean Arthur's character and James Stewart's, and I do love the moment in the court scene where her character totally rips him up for not standing up for her.
I PVR'd Shearer's The Divorcee hopefully it's a good talkie of hers. That Ernst Lubitsch one looks awesome.
Mean James Stewart is the best Stewart. Have you seen the greatness that is Anatomy of a Murder. He's so darn sleazy in that film, but he plays up his country boy, ah-shucks ways to make himself seem like a harmless lawyer. I just remembered another film where he's not so nice, and it's an early film from 1939 I think. It's called It's A Wonderful World with Claudette Colbert. He's a private detective on the run from some contrived reason and he's stuck with the poet laureate who's played by Colbert.
edited 11th Nov '15 7:33:27 PM by LongTallShorty64
And in Rope he makes social darwinism and casual homicide sound downright charming (though he does get a change of conscience near the end).
^That's right! I knew I was forgetting a movie of his. Even in Vertigo, he's also pretty selfish and downright creepy.
edited 12th Nov '15 2:37:20 PM by nervmeister
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