Bug's Sidekick

WHAT IS A CLASSIC MOVIE

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I am new to this site, but I have watched TCM almost since it started. I realize I am not going to like every movie or genre, but am just miffed at some of the 2nd and 3rd rate movies being broadcast on TCM. So, what does the C in TCM mean?

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I am new to this site, but I have watched TCM almost since it started. I realize I am not going to like every movie or genre, but am just miffed at some of the 2nd and 3rd rate movies being broadcast on TCM. So, what does the C in TCM mean?

 

http://www.reelclassics.com/Articles/General/definingclassic-article.htm

 

TCM don't just show films made within the "Studio Era"..

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_system

 

...or the "Golden Age of Hollywood", if that' what you're referring to.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_the_United_States#Golden_Age_of_Hollywood

 

As you see, it's not an easy answer.

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I think each person has to make their own definition of what a 'classic' may be. 

 

For me, I have a fairly rigid definition. It has to be a film that was produced in either Hollywood or London between 1930 and 1960. If I did not limit it that way, there would be too many other films to include. This is not to say I don't enjoy some silent films or films from other countries or films from later decades.

 

But when I am talking about classic film, this is my working definition.

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Bug's sidekick?

 

Which Bug are you referring to?  That kid named Bug in that "Little Rascals" movie from  '94? (And obviously no longer a "kid"?)

 

Well, to try and answer your query( AND welcome you to the boards),   The word "classic" around these boards seems to be largely subjective.  Some thinking "classic" refers to just a frame of time, and some saying it's more in the quality of the story and production, and then there's those who claim it means BOTH.

 

Me, personally, I figure any first rate movie the same age or just slightly older than my kids qualifies.  For instance---

 

There's others here who would agree the movie THE GODFATHER qualifies as a "classic".  Understandably.  Then there IS someone here who feels ANY movie made after 1960 should NEVER be considerd a "classic".  I disagree with this, but as long as TCM shows a fair amount of movies that can fit anybody's criteria, I find no reason to complain.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Thanks, for the insights. It is probably very subjective. For me, most of the classics are black and white films. But, who could ever leave out 2001,Dr.Z,Lawrence,some Godfather, or even some toons in the list.

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Thanks, for the insights. It is probably very subjective. For me, most of the classics are black and white films. But, who could ever leave out 2001,Dr.Z,Lawrence,some Godfather, or even some toons in the list.

 

As for the 'c' in TCM;  classic is just a marketing term.   There is no fixed time period definition like there is with classic cars (defined by states in the licensing process which impact things like not needing bi-annual smog checks etc..).

 

Since for movies the term 'classic' is so subjective I try not to use it at this forum.   Instead I use terms like Production Code era,  pre-code era,  and studio-system era related to films made during a certain time period in US history.       

 

The use of the terms "2nd and 3rd rate",   relates only to the quality of a film, with no regard to when the film was made.         

 

When you say 'most of the classics are black and white' I assume you really mean the time period those films were made and not that being B&W is a criteria for being a 'classic'.    e.g.  The Adventures of Robin Hood was released in 1938 and that film has more in common with all the B&W films released in 1938 than it has any color film released after the end of the Production Code).

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 So, what does the C in TCM mean?

 

Originally, both AMC and TCM used the word "Classic" to mean older studio-era classic films, generally made before around 1960 and usually under the terms of the old Hays Code and Pre-Code "decency" rules. .

 

Even in the Pre-Code years of the 1920s, up until mid-1934, there was an old original Hays Code in effect, but in mid-1934 a more strict Hays Code went into effect.

 

Starting in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Hays Code began to crumble, and many independently-made movies began to be of low quality, as the big studios began to lose power and break apart, and eventually shut down as old time "movie factories".. Also, cursing often tended to replace intelligent dialogue by the late 1960s and a lot of violence began to be shown in films. This led to lower movie quality, according to some people.

 

So, in the 1980s and into the 90s, old AMC and old TCM filled a need for people who liked the older movie styles, stories, photography, etc.

 

But, like with a lot of other cable channels, many companies began to try to expand their viewing audience by adding new kinds of materal, so non-classic films began to be shown more and more on AMC and TCM.

 

There are a lot of other details, but those are some basic ones.

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Defining a "classic" is a way of giving away your age.  If you're a teenager a film from the last century (pre 2000) may be considered a classic.  If you are one of the senior members (no names but you know who you are)  of these boards a film must be from the previous century (pre 1900) to be a classic. :D

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Defining a "classic" is a way of giving away your age.  If you're a teenager a film from the last century (pre 2000) may be considered a classic.  If you are one of the senior members (no names but you know who you are)  of these boards a film must be from the previous century (pre 1900) to be a classic. :D

I think to teenagers they are referred to as "daddy duds" not classics!

:lol:

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I am new to this site, but I have watched TCM almost since it started. I realize I am not going to like every movie or genre, but am just miffed at some of the 2nd and 3rd rate movies being broadcast on TCM. So, what does the C in TCM mean?

 

By 2nd and 3rd rate movies, are you referring to the so-called "programmers" and B-movies of the Hollywood studio era?

TCM does show a lot of those.

Those movies do have their fans who even like think those movies as "classics." 

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Defining a "classic" is a way of giving away your age.  If you're a teenager a film from the last century (pre 2000) may be considered a classic.  

I don't think that is always necessarily true. A lot of younger people appreciate films from earlier decades. Look at 1939...they can probably tell you at least three or four classics made that year, way before their parents or grandparents may have been born. 

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Defining a "classic" is a way of giving away your age. 

 

You are so right. My favorite classic opera, Giuseppe Verde's LA TRAVIATA, premiered the year I was born, in 1853. That makes me 162 years old. Because I'm so old, I just can't stand any of this modern punk opera junk.

 

Yes, nobody could compose classic opera like ol' Joe Green could.  :)

 

 

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To me the question "what is a classic movie' relates to these two possible factors;  age of film and quality of film.

 

The legal definition of a classic car does NOT involve quality but only age (in most states  25 years or older).    This means a Ford Pinto is just as classic,  legally, as a 65 Ford Shelby Mustang.  

 

Age also is the only factor used by most people I know when defining classic rock.  

 

When one decides quality is a primary factor for something to be 'classic' they add an additional subjective component. 

 

As HoldenIsHere points out many films from the studio-era,  especially in the 30s, were cheap programmers,  and 3rd rate productions at best.   If quality is a primary factor these films can't be defined as classic even if made during the classic filmmaking era.

 

 

 

 

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Yes, nobody could compose classic opera like ol' Joe Green could.  :)

Fred, don't forget Joe Green's more recent output, which has been discussed around here quite a lot lately. Green was working well into the 1960s, in a new genre:

 

brainthatwouldntdie.jpg

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People seem to always be confused as to the definition of "classic". It is not subjective, nor tied to any particular time period. 

 

A "classic" IS: An art form that transcends both time & culture.

 

In other words, if music, a painting, a woven rug can be appreciated by a British, African and Japanese person, it has transcended culture. If music, a book or play was written a thousand years ago and people still enjoy it today, it has transcended time.

 

If you're referring to more recent art forms, such as rock music or movies, "classic" obviously has a shorter time frame.

"Classic" rock would be anything from the past that is still universally enjoyed, such as the Beatles. Whether you personally like them or not, their music is enjoyed by all ages and all cultures. An example in movies, would be The Wizard of OZ, universally enjoyed by all ages & cultures.

 

This is why I object to the statement, "A modern classic" describing a new movie. It's actually opinion, because it simply hasn't stood the test of time yet. "Modern classic" correctly refers to a more recent movie within film timeline, such as HAROLD & MAUDE.

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People seem to always be confused as to the definition of "classic". It is not subjective, nor tied to any particular time period. 

 

A "classic" IS: An art form that transcends both time & culture.

 

Sorry, but I don't agree with that definition. To me, a classic is very much related to a certain time period. There has to be a bit of historical value for something to be a classic. It cannot transcend anything unless it points to a greater truth within the context of the times in which it was produced. 

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People seem to always be confused as to the definition of "classic". It is not subjective, nor tied to any particular time period. 

 

A "classic" IS: An art form that transcends both time & culture.

 

In other words, if music, a painting, a woven rug can be appreciated by a British, African and Japanese person, it has transcended culture. If music, a book or play was written a thousand years ago and people still enjoy it today, it has transcended time.

 

If you're referring to more recent art forms, such as rock music or movies, "classic" obviously has a shorter time frame.

"Classic" rock would be anything from the past that is still universally enjoyed, such as the Beatles. Whether you personally like them or not, their music is enjoyed by all ages and all cultures. An example in movies, would be The Wizard of OZ, universally enjoyed by all ages & cultures.

 

This is why I object to the statement, "A modern classic" describing a new movie. It's actually opinion, because it simply hasn't stood the test of time yet. "Modern classic" correctly refers to a more recent movie within film timeline, such as HAROLD & MAUDE.

 

Your  definition of 'classic' above has a contradiction;  you say it isn't subjective but then say 'universally enjoyed'.     First how does anyone know what is universally enjoyed or not and second what is 'enjoyed' is 100% subjective.

 

In addition your definition of 'classic' is very narrow especially related to movies;  While I assume 99% of us at this forum can agree Oz meets your definition,  when it comes to the majority of movies made,  there is no data to support what is "universally enjoyed".     e.g. are only movies on the AFI top 100 list 'classic'?     Of course not,  but your definition requires some type of 3rd party validation related to how many 'enjoy' said movie.

 

Also,  as it relates to TCM,  I assume the majority of movies do NOT fit your definition as it relates to the taste of the current US public (who hasn't seen 99% of the movies from the studio-era) .   

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The definition of classic is something judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.  Under this criterion a classic novel, painting, film or wine can be produced a 100 years from now. The key words are judged, quality, kind and time. You can't compare apples with oranges and there has to be a consensuses among knowledgeable people doing the judgement. 

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Another factor in defining a "classic" is how high, or low, we set the bar . Example, a similar argument  can be made for the baseball hall of fame. Some people believe that the standards for making it into the hall have been lowered over the years, that a  true "hall of fame"  should only have say, half the number  of honorees than it currently has . Maybe the current hall of fame needs a separate "super hall of fame" category , with extra high standards for entry.  I guess my point is that "classic"  is a term that is not easily defined , we can only try to agree on some general standards and  not take the term too literally.

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The definition of classic is something judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.  Under this criterion a classic novel, painting, film or wine can be produced a 100 years from now. The key words are quality, kind and time. You can't compare apples with oranges and there has to be a consensuses among knowledgeable people doing the judgement. 

Unless you put a special set of criteria on it. My definition of classic film is limited to Hollywood and London-based productions from 1930 to 1960. So using my definition, it doesn't matter what came before and what came afterward, or if those other things are regarded as classics by others. I am only looking at a specific range of classic filmmaking. No other range can apply to filmmaking that covers the years immediately leading up to, including and following WWII.

 

If I wanted to focus on a certain time period for literature, painting or wine, I could do so. And in fact there are plenty of scholars who do exactly that. It is irrelevant to them what happened in other time periods, except for the period they are most interested in studying and appreciating.

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People seem to always be confused as to the definition of "classic". It is not subjective, nor tied to any particular time period. 

 

 

 

If you're referring to my first reply to BUG, then you misunderstood( you must've caught that from facebook).

 

I stated that the word "classic" seems to be largely subjective "around these boards".  And it is.

 

Yes, I do agree with your assertion that truly, the word "classic" refers to something (but, not neccesarily an art form. as a CAR isn't an actual "art form", despite being what many might think is a "work of art".).  But the "transcending time and culture" aspect of your assertion works well for me.  As for me, as well, I would expand the criteria a bit.....

 

Any film, despite it's age and medium(color or black and white) that still maintains the ability to entertain may be able to be called a "classic". 

 

Now, some might break all that down to TOO spcific pigeonholes, as with silent movies.  Now, not ALL "classic movie" lovers find silent movies entertaining.  Some limit them only to comedies.

 

Same with "pre-code" or past code.  Wartime movies or whatever.

 

Now, Dobbsy sees the loosening of language and increase of violence in movies after 1960 as the beginning of "the decline".  Actually, I might go along more with his language argument, and possibly throw in some nudity.  But, I'm no prude, but I see gratuitous inclusions of these sorts of activities in films to be insulting to my intelligence.  But in most post 1960 films, and I'D expand that to post 1970 films, this practice has become more or less routine.  I've a sort of funny tale related to that.

 

 

In the early days of cable TV in these parts, we were sitting in the living room(about 1983 or so) watching "The Competition" on HBO.  Even my older daughter, in spite of the movie having tons of classical music in it, was enjoying it.

 

That is, until a scene came on in which a naked Richard Dreyfus and equally nude Amy Irving were seen rolling around on a motel bed.  My daughter, just 11 years old at the time, clucked her tongue and waved her hand dissmissively at the TV and disgustedly said, "It figures!  Just when a movie's getting interesting they show THIS junk!"  :D

 

Made me wonder what all the fuss was involving "viewing standards" for children and such.

 

However, despite my rambling, I'm still interested what Bug meant by "2nd and 3rd rate" films.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Now, Dobbsy sees the loosening of language and increase of violence in movies after 1960 as the beginning of "the decline". 

I think the language argument is tricky and cannot be applied evenly. Some expressions back in the 30s and 40s might seem harmless now, but could very easily have been regarded as put-downs. One that we hear often in crime films is when they call a mobster a 'low-down dirty chiseler.' Today, the word 'chiseler' seems like no big deal (and probably a lot of young people today don't even know what it means)...but in 1945, that was a big insult. 

 

And then there's the reverse. Where words that were used back then in a 'good way' or patriotic sense are looked at as politically incorrect now. For instance, calling someone a 'J-a-p' is considered very derogatory. And in fact, Joan Crawford utters that slur in THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE (the print TCM airs has it cut out).

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People seem to always be confused as to the definition of "classic". It is not subjective, nor tied to any particular time period. 

 

A "classic" IS: An art form that transcends both time & culture.

 

In other words, if music, a painting, a woven rug can be appreciated by a British, African and Japanese person, it has transcended culture. If music, a book or play was written a thousand years ago and people still enjoy it today, it has transcended time.

 

If you're referring to more recent art forms, such as rock music or movies, "classic" obviously has a shorter time frame.

"Classic" rock would be anything from the past that is still universally enjoyed, such as the Beatles. Whether you personally like them or not, their music is enjoyed by all ages and all cultures. An example in movies, would be The Wizard of OZ, universally enjoyed by all ages & cultures.

 

This is why I object to the statement, "A modern classic" describing a new movie. It's actually opinion, because it simply hasn't stood the test of time yet. "Modern classic" correctly refers to a more recent movie within film timeline, such as HAROLD & MAUDE.

 

Well put, TikiSoo.

 

I would also add that I think it is sufficient to refer to a movie like HAROLD AND MAUDE  as a "classic" without having to add the word "modern" as a qualifier.

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People seem to always be confused as to the definition of "classic". It is not subjective, nor tied to any particular time period. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sepiatone said: If you're referring to my first reply to BUG, then you misunderstood( you must've caught that from facebook).

 

 

 

Sorry, I do not participate in FB.

 

 

 

Sepiatone: I stated that the word "classic" seems to be largely subjective "around these boards".  And it is.

 

 

 

Well yeah, just read the responses, "I think classics" or "To me classics mean"....

 

 

 

What I stated as the definition of "classic" is the actual dictionary definition, the language is precise. Once you choose a subject to deem "classic"- like movies, cars or cookie jars - everyone jumps in with their opinion.

 

 

 

And because something must be "enjoyed" by different cultures & times, you will have the odd personal disagreement. But does the majority of people agree it's good art?

 

 

 

When you have a large faction of people who deem a certain art is "good" and "timeless", while the majority still calls it "stinko" and not worth their time, it can be called a "cult classic", as in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. If people 50 years from now totally disregard NOTLD, it loses it's "cult" & "classic" status.

 

 

 

Yes, I do agree with your assertion that truly, the word "classic" refers to something (but, not neccesarily an art form. as a CAR isn't an actual "art form", despite being what many might think is a "work of art".)

 

 

 

Well, cars don't spring up from the ground, they're designed by people. A beautifully designed Corvette Stingray is pretty much universally accepted as a "cool car" by teens to grey tops in Spain to Siberia. 

 

 

 

The idea that everyday objects are designed & modeled by real artists was the philosophy of Andy Warhol. Many people misunderstand that's the idea behind his soup can picture & personal cookie jar collecting. 

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