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Classic movie taglines


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Which taglines do you think are most memorable?

Here's the definition of a tagline:

"It is a branding slogan. Taglines are used in marketing materials and advertising. The idea behind the concept is to create a memorable dramatic phrase that will sum up the tone and premise of a film."
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I rarely think that much about them; since every movie has one.

Of course, long before it becomes a 'tagline' or a 'blurb', (written by marketing minions, intended for consumers) its a 'logline' and a 'pitch' (intended for agents and execs). That's somewhat of interest because it can foretell whether a movie or a book rights are bought and whether the property gets produced in the first place.

 

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30 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I rarely think that much about them; since every movie has one.

Of course, long before it becomes a 'tagline' or a 'blurb', (written by marketing minions, intended for consumers) its a 'logline' and a 'pitch' (intended for agents and execs). That's somewhat of interest because it can foretell whether a movie or a book rights are bought and whether the property gets produced in the first place.

The logline is usually a short phrase or sentence. The pitch is a somewhat lengthier plot description. In film school, they told us that if you went into a producer's office to pitch an idea for a movie or TV series, you should be able to do a verbal pitch in 60 to 90 seconds. We had an assignment once where we did this in front of our classmates.

The professor had a stop watch. We went in front of the class and practiced our pitches.

***

Our professor told us the logline for SPEED was "it's DIE HARD on a bus." A pitch for SPEED would give a brief explanation of the two main characters, plus the basic plot of the movie.

A tagline as you said is created by marketing departments. These are one sentence or two sentence hooks that typically appear on the poster or are voiced in the trailers. They might be the logline, but usually they give more clues about the movie-- connecting the story to a specific genre.

The tagline for SPEED was not "DIE HARD on a bus" it was "Get Ready for Rush Hour." And that implied it was an action movie.

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Just now, TopBilled said:

Thanks. That one seems like a logline that they used for the tagline. They might have had different taglines on other posters.

I remember seeing it on old trailer for it, when they put the huge white lettering with exclamation points!!!

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All your remarks above are true TB but I might add that as the pace of the industry has sped up in recent years, all of these elements have as well. Yes indeed there are 'elevator pitches' (but only the length of one floor) and --I forget what its called-- maybe 'hallway pitches' or 'doorway pitches' where, a producer passing down the hall merely pokes his head into a room where one of his Readers is in the middle of a script and he will ask 'what's it about' before blithely continuing on his way. That's mighty brief.

Loglines are pretty standardized these days, ideally 1 sentence in length (1 sentence with maybe three clauses) and need to state conflict, goal, and stakes. They can be three short sentences long if necessary, (yea basically the same as one sentence with three clauses).

Anyway as I described above pitches, are now very very fast (unless given at a 'pitchfest' where you are allotted more time). But ideally producers want them to refer to movies they already know and they just want to hear the new way you've mashed them up. "Die Hard plus Jaws". They don't really want to hear any new ideas; unless it is so instantaneously hi-concept that there's no question it would make a hit movie. Most of the time they want you to say "its Die-Hard plus Jaws" but if what you have is so obviously good, they will give an ear: "strippers fight to keep giant space robots from destroying the earth". 

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Going back to a pitch.

I still remember the pitch I did for that class in film school. I said:

"It's called SIGNIFICANT OTHER. It's a TV movie for the Hallmark Channel, but it could also be a low-budget art house film. An introverted teenage girl who lives outside Chicago has a pen pal who lives in France. He's also a teenager, just about to start college. She's been writing to him for almost a year, pouring out all her innermost feelings. And he's been writing back, pouring out his thoughts and feelings. They send emails and texts, as well as actual letters and cards on special occasions.

Gradually Stella and Pierre have fallen in love through these communications. They have exchanged photos and have even talked on the phone. Pierre and his family are coming to America this summer. So they decide to meet one day in Chicago. They are looking forward to it. However, two weeks before their meeting, Stella is suddenly killed in an unexpected car accident.

Stella's brother Max has been reading all the correspondence that occurred between Stella and Pierre. He doesn't think he should tell Pierre over the phone that his sister is dead. So on that fateful day he goes to Chicago to meet Pierre. Max is gay and takes an instant liking to Pierre. He decides not to tell Pierre that Stella died, only that she's been in an accident. This way he can continue to write to Pierre on behalf of "Stella."

*****

I got an "A" on this pitch. I never wrote the script for it. But maybe I should. I think it would make an interesting movie, don't you? Especially if Max turns out to be a psycho stalker...I like the idea of the straight French boy continuing to pour his heart out to "Stella" not realizing that it's a guy he's now sharing his private feelings with. Also, it kind of seems like a cross between CYRANO DE BERGERAC and PSYCHO except geared for a modern day teen/college age crowd.

Max could even start dressing as "Stella" thinking that he is now her. He feels that if he puts his dead sister's clothes on, wears her perfume, he will get into character more...and his communication to Pierre will be more authentic. Of course, a busybody aunt could find out what Max is up to. And the aunt, a righteous God-fearing Christian, decides to put a stop to this madness and tell Pierre the truth. Only Max kills her before she can ruin everything.

I have no idea how it should end. How many people would Max kill? The third act has to be Pierre finding out the truth. But does Max kidnap Pierre, in the hopes that he can make Pierre love him for who he is and forget about Stella? Is Max closeted? Or is he out? Also, when Pierre learns the truth, how does he reconcile his feelings for Max. After all, he fell in love with both Stella AND Max. And so it goes...a writer's work is never finished...

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I guess what is depressing about these trends is realizing that today's producers behave like little more than mako sharks; they are in the business not only of making money but of promoting themselves as winners and providers. They keep their corner offices only by producing hits; they are not above stealing, lying, cheating to keep their status. I just don't believe this is always how it was; the classic studio system (and even studios in the 70s) was not such a crazed 'feeding frenzy'; producers could develop a variety of projects (high end and low-end) at their leisure, without constantly fearing their throats being cut. Now, it's as if every movie has to be a sure-fire blockbuster to get greenlit.

I'd enjoy seeing more threads on classic producers on this forum sometime.

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10 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I guess what is depressing about these trends is realizing that today's producers behave like little more than mako sharks; they are in the business not only of making money but of promoting themselves as winners and providers. They keep their corner offices only by producing hits; they are not above stealing, lying, cheating to keep their status. I just don't believe this is always how it was; the classic studio system (and even studios in the 70s) was not such a crazed 'feeding frenzy'; producers could develop a variety of projects (high end and low-end) at their leisure, without constantly fearing their throats being cut.

I'd like to see more threads on classic producers on this forum sometime.

I've never been worried about my ideas being stolen. And I know a lot of people who are paranoid about that. People with careers in Hollywood and people on the fringe of Hollywood trying to break in.

The reason I don't worry about producers or other writers stealing is because I know that they can take a concept but they can't write it or sell it the way I do. You have to be confident (almost narcissistic) that you are the only one who can deliver the product THIS way. They will fumble without you. That sort of mentality. 

Also I have a fertile imagination and there are endless ideas in my brain. Just yesterday I was reading about a little known 1985 motion picture, and it totally caught my attention. I thought, wait a second-- they did that all wrong. It should have been done like this, it would have been a hit if they did it this way. And in ten minutes I had worked out a whole new, much more satisfactory approach for that concept.

So I am not above borrowing a concept. Except I mold it into something original that can only be filtered through my own experiences, my own sensibilities and my own desires and dramas. That is what all producers and writers have to do, if they are going to be worth anything...they can re-appropriate older material, they can creatively plagiarize...but they still have to put their individual stamp on it, just like I put my stamp on what I do. I think most creative types know this. So there's really nothing to be paranoid or insecure about, if you are confident that you and only you can deliver the goods in a way that is unique and not like anyone else.

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I'm familiar with that POV, yes. But I think idea theft is rampant these days nonetheless (its said to be one of the primary reasons that Readers exist in the first place, so that execs can claim they 'weren't directly exposed to an idea' and that they 'happened to come up with it on their own').

[But I still don't know why this defense works, when it didn't work for George Harrison; the reality probably is that if you're a nobody you just can't muster up the resources for a giant legal battle against a big studio].

Anyway back to this notion of the writing being 'unique as per the writer': the reason I think it doesn't float very far is that many movie scripts today don't particularly need the good, gifted, 'extremely personalized' writing style you're extolling. Movie plots are simplistic; movie dialog can be quite banal (and yet still effective). So the writing is not the key factor. A dozen staff writers can take any idea and quickly get it into shape for marketability. But the fresh idea in the first place is what counts; and that's why ideas continue to be stolen. Whichever version of the story gets to the screen first, wins.

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38 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I guess what is depressing about these trends is realizing that today's producers behave like little more than mako sharks; they are in the business not only of making money but of promoting themselves as winners and providers. They keep their corner offices only by producing hits; they are not above stealing, lying, cheating to keep their status. I just don't believe this is always how it was; the classic studio system (and even studios in the 70s) was not such a crazed 'feeding frenzy'; producers could develop a variety of projects (high end and low-end) at their leisure, without constantly fearing their throats being cut. Now, it's as if every movie has to be a sure-fire blockbuster to get greenlit.

I'd enjoy seeing more threads on classic producers on this forum sometime.

I'm...not sure what this has to do at ALL with Classic Movie Taglines, but I'll turn it into one:
Power-hungry producers are so determined to show that Their Mega-Deal finally hit the screen, they don't think of it as a movie, they think of it as a product.  As a result, the marketing no longer has a tagline that cajoles you with what the movie is about (eg. "Bill's having a bad day--He's lost his girlfriend and his cellphone, he's being chased by spies, and he's expected to save the world.  And he just ran out of coffee."), but instead sells a product/brandname-advertising tagline three or four words long, that they can "blast" at the audience in the trailer--And usually one that has no idea what the movie is about to begin with, but makes a clever word-play on the title, since that's what they're selling:  "Gone With the Wind:  IT'S. GONNA. BLOW."

Or, if the appeal is a TV-series or remake property the audience already knows, sell the recognition as what the viewer is paying for:  "Gone With the Wind:  GIVE A DAMN."

As for classic movie tagline, there are so many to choose from, but for me, for some reason, the one that instinctively springs to mind is The Sting (1973):  "All it takes is a little confidence."

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18 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I'm familiar with that POV, yes. But I think idea theft is rampant these days nonetheless (its said to be one of the primary reasons that Readers exist in the first place, so that execs can claim they 'weren't directly exposed to an idea' and that they 'happened to come up with it on their own').

[But I still don't know why this defense works, when it didn't work for George Harrison; the reality probably is that if you're a nobody you just can't muster up the resources for a giant legal battle against a big studio].

Anyway back to this notion of the writing being 'unique as per the writer': the reason I think it doesn't float very far is that many movie scripts today don't particularly need the good, gifted, 'extremely personalized' writing style you're extolling. Movie plots are simplistic; movie dialog can be quite banal (and yet still effective). So the writing is not the key factor. A dozen staff writers can take any idea and quickly get it into shape for marketability. But the fresh idea in the first place is what counts; and that's why ideas continue to be stolen. Whichever version of the story gets to the screen first, wins.

But see, I am not selling the idea. I am selling me. The idea comes with me. It might be an idea someone else can use, or has used in the past. But it's different in that it's an idea that comes with me. This is the narcissism part of the Hollywood business. I cannot be stolen. Therefore an idea with me cannot be stolen. I have put my stamp on it. I also respect other people who put a stamp on what they do. That makes it unique to them, and it cannot be stolen from them.

Basically, you can steal Hamlet. But you can't steal Hamlet sold with Laurence Olivier. That's because none of us are Laurence Olivier, so we can't recreate Hamlet with Olivier. We can only recreate Hamlet. Make sense?

In that regard, there's nothing to steal...because the most valuable things cannot be stolen. They can only be nurtured and enjoyed. And that's where the community aspect of Hollywood and creative colonies take hold. Stealing is what unenlightened people concern themselves with, but it's nothing, because they're stealing nothing.

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Sure, I'm not denying the uniqueness of the writer's voice. I do think it matters a lot more in the fiction writer's market, in short-stories and novels, etc.

In movies I think unscrupulous producers today simply sidestep these considerations. Remember the race to get to the screen first between John Carpenter's 'Halloween' and Sean Cunningham's 'Friday the 13th'? Once you get to the public first you as good as own their perception. The differences between these two horror yarns is not that great, is it? But one of them became a classic and one of them wound up merely an 'also-ran'.

Another example is 'Poltergeist'. The narrative elements of that story are not hard to deliver; any competent writer could have hacked out a version. But the version which got to the public 'cornered the market'. It's now known as the 'indian graveyard' trope and no one even today can get anywhere near it.

'Over-saturated markets' in genre storytelling is one of the steepest obstacles in today's writing. And its no wonder. Any aspiring storyteller today --anyone who wants to be considered original-- has decades of media to attempt to 'stand out from'.

Jlewis's comment about 'Repeat Performance' (in your 'Essentials' thread) bears that out. 'Repeat Performance' has a lot of finesse in the plot but...the basic storyline is also found in numerous radio shows, tv shows, everywhere.

Said another way: genre stories suffer from their formulaic nature; and unfortunately genre stories dominate today's media. The kind of writing you're talking about really shines in previous decades when studios made unique, personal, mature movies. The loss of these types of films, is what I am bemoaning in my posts above this one and in other threads around the site itself....

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3 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

In movies I think unscrupulous producers simply sidestep these considerations. Remember, the race to get to the screen first between John Carpenter's 'Halloween' and Sean Cunningham's 'Friday the 13th'?

Friday the 13th (1980) wasn't even an idea until after Halloween (1978) had been released and been a massive hit. Or am I misunderstanding what you're trying to say?

 

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The production notes for Halloween, is where I drew my comment from. Haven't read the IMDb page for a while but I distinctly recall the 'race' aspect between the two projects.

If I'm mis-remembering, okay. But there are many other instances of what I'm describing in Hollywood history; my point is that genre movies are very often similar.

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1 minute ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

The production notes for Halloween, is where I drew my comment from. Haven't read the IMDb page for a while but I distinctly recall the 'race' aspect between the two projects.

Whatever you read was full of ****. This is my area of expertise, and trust me, Halloween was filmed and released before Friday the 13th was even an idea. And I didn't have to refer to notes because I've read the history of those films more times than I can count. However, if my word isn't enough, there's the Wikipedia page on Friday the 13th:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th_(1980_film)

Prompted by the success of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), director Cunningham put out an advertisement to sell the film in Variety in early 1979, while Miller was still drafting the screenplay. After casting the film in New York City, filming took place in New Jersey in the summer of 1979, on an estimated budget of $550,000. A bidding war ensued over the finished film, ending with Paramount Pictures acquiring the film for domestic distribution, while Warner Bros. secured European distribution rights.

 

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I don't think being first means being the best. It just means being first.

Also, the whole idea of different versions underscores what I was saying-- the ideas are basically public domain. It's how the ideas are implemented that makes them unique. So having more than one film that uses the same idea in theaters at the same time is just something that happens in this business. Sometimes it's really not about being first. It's about seeing a trend, seeing a new market open up and providing additional content for the audience.

If I was selling T-shirts and you were selling T-shirts, and we both noticed that there was a demand for green T-shirts, we'd both start making and selling green T-shirts. It wouldn't be about who sold those shirts first. It would just be dumb not to sell what people currently want. Why should only one of us sell green T-shirts. We can both sell green T-shirts but make them slightly different. Ultimately we want people to buy two green T-shirts, not just have them buy one green T-shirt from the first person to offer them.

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BTW, I'm not trying to rag on you, Sarge. I just know the subject that you used as your example, and wanted to clarify things, as I wish people would correct any factual errors in the things I post. Your ideas hold more weight when the details are right.

But I know what you're talking about, re: competing properties. More relatively recent examples would be the dueling lava movies Volcano and Dante's Peak, or the competing asteroid movies Deep Impact and Armageddon. There's also the two biopics Capote and Infamous, or the two announced Janis Joplin biopics that seem to have finally canceled each other out of production.

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