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TCM tweets New York Times writer who says he won't watch old movies


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I saw the original Tweet and TCM's reply.  It was awesome.

The original Tweet stated that he won't watch any old movie made before 1975 (not sure if that is the year he was born, or an arbitrary date) and then went on to say that watching Citizen Kane is like trying to read hieroglyphics. TCM referenced the hieroglyphics statement in their response.  Basically a subtweet is talking to someone without talking to them directly. 

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Original Tweet

TCM's Reply

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3 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Thanks speedracer. I agree that TCM's subtweet was well stated.

I noticed that 91 people loved/liked the guy's original tweet.

Yes.  It's fine if someone doesn't want to watch old movies, whatever, that's their loss.  But to be so proud of the fact that you've placed all these arbitrary restrictions on yourself is mind-boggling. Unfortunately, this tweet has served as a catalyst for all these other hot takes on classic film, including one person (a filmmaker, supposedly) who stated that she doesn't watch any old movies, especially b&w, because they're problematic for their sexism and racism. Then proceeded to say that classic film fans are often elitist towards those who don't care for classic film by jumping on them, and called them pretentious "I went to an expensive film school" people.  Then said old movies rarely hold up.   She's been raked through the coals for this take, which in some cases, I don't know if those responding to her are proving or disproving her point. 

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Citizen Kane fans have had to work hard to live down its "snooty" reputation as The Classic Film From Hell, mostly from a lot of Sight & Sound critics who won't freakin' shut up about Orson Welles' Revolutionary Editing or Gregg Toland's Groundbreaking Camerawork.

As a result, every movie watcher under the age of 30 who never went to an expensive film school not only lives in terror of the very mention of the movie, but spits it back as a paranoid insult at anyone who would make them watch "Movies made before 1975".  (Or "Before  1982", depending on which age demographic you ask.)

When really, it's the snooty critics living in the past, of film-school screenings and revival houses--Now that every movie is accessible on cable, disk or digital, every movie is now officially New If You Haven't Seen It, and the only "classic" status is how well it works on the first try.  If you believe classic movies are "written in hieroglyphics", get out from the pyramid once in a while and change your mummy-wrappings.

3 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

including one person (a filmmaker, supposedly) who stated that she doesn't watch any old movies, especially b&w, because they're problematic for their sexism and racism. Then proceeded to say that classic film fans are often elitist towards those who don't care for classic film by jumping on them, and called them pretentious "I went to an expensive film school" people.  Then said old movies rarely hold up.   She's been raked through the coals for this take, which in some cases, I don't know if those responding to her are proving or disproving her point. 

Yep, that's the three official Alibis for Ignorance, in order:

1) "The people who made it are all dead now",

2) "Nobody today SHOULD watch it, everything was offensive back in the old days", and

3) "I don't have to STUDY these for college!"

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7 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

The original Tweet stated that he won't watch any old movie made before 1975 (not sure if that is the year he was born, or an arbitrary date) and then went on to say that watching Citizen Kane is like trying to read hieroglyphics.

I wonder if he won't read any books before then.  Or look at sculpture or painting before then.  Are Boccaccio, Chagall, Cervantes, Twain, Raphael, and--oh, yes, Shakespeare--hieroglyphics?

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I watched a bit of Morning Glory (1933) on TCM this morning. I only watched the first twenty minutes or so.  I had seen the film many years ago.

The film emphasized for me how much more sophisticated movies were in the classic days. It's mostly about the theater and is quite interesting in its talk about acting, with reference to technique, and to some of the greats of the film's recent past:  Ellen Terry, Sarah Bernhardt, and Shaw.

Relative to this thread, I think today's films tend to be much more simple minded, with generally less in the way of characterization and intelligent dialogue. That goes for television shows as well. Just watch an episode of the old What's My Line? show. Those panelists were smart, and had intelligent on-screen conversations. That is mostly lost in today's programs, which seem to emphasize emotion and emoting more than intellect. 

So maybe the old films are too sophisticated for Mr. Rojas.

 

 

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Not watching films made before 1975 is about as silly an attitude as not eating food whose name begins with the letter "P." What magical event happened in '75 to make that year Mr. Rojas' cutoff date? Does he refuse to watch THE GODFATHER (and GODFATHER PART II)? What about THE STING or THE FRENCH CONNECTION? All made before 1975, so I guess he's never seen them. And Mr. Rojas writes for the New York Times? God help the Times.

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He sort of strikes me as an Andy Rooney type, except that Rooney might have declared movies from certain years to be terrible because that is when the stock market went down, the price of gas and food went way up, Texas froze over, people walked around with cardboard stuffed in their shoes to plug up the holes, and nobody thought to get out to the theaters and finance the studios.  But that is why they gave Rooney the last minutes of each show.

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Some people don't like the old social norms and mores that are incidental to old movies. I used to live tweet Svengoolie broadcasts with a group of regulars and there would be newcomers now and then popping in when they saw the tag trending. I remember a few who couldn't get over actors who smoked. One lady took exception to Frankenstein's monster not handling his bride's rejection very well. 

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OK, I just watched a 1975 film that says an extremely politically incorrect thing. It rather surprised me. Murder on Flight 502 (1975). Sonny Bono plays a fading rock star and he and his agent are walking to his flight in the airport. The agent stops him and says loudly - "If you are on top you can r*pe Whistler's Mother in Macy's window at high noon!" Nobody in the crowd turns around or stares. Why would anybody want to do that to Whistler's Mother?  And this was made for TV. Will His Royal Wokeness now have to move his limit to films made in 1976 or later? If he does I have some quotes from "Gung Ho" (1986) that will make him move his limit even further.  I can keep this up as long as he can. 

P.S. - It's a shame he'll never see The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) since it falls into his "rejected by virtue of date" category. Outstanding film with great acting by Cicely Tyson. It's hard to believe she was 49 when she made this, because she sure doesn't look it when she is playing young Jane. I have a copy on DVD, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to get a copy now. 

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It's easy to say this writer is wrong, but you have to look at it from the perspective of those who rarely watch old movies, and in this case they are correct. Citizen Kane is not a movie that has stood the test of time because a viewer today looks at it as if there in nothing special to the story. They may not understand the cinematography or anything else, but they shouldn't have to. The movie has to stand on its own without an explanation.

if this movie was released today would it be a blockbuster classic? Uh, no. It is a movie for movie buffs only.

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2 minutes ago, MovieMadness said:

It's easy to say this writer is wrong, but you have to look at it from the perspective of those who rarely watch old movies, and in this case they are correct. Citizen Kane is not a movie that has stood the test of time because a viewer today looks at it as if there in nothing special to the story. They may not understand the cinematography or anything else, but they shouldn't have to. The movie has to stand on its own without an explanation.

if this movie was released today would it be a blockbuster classic? Uh, no. It is a movie for movie buffs only.

I think it depends how said film is marketed. Merchant-Ivory's HOWARDS END (1992) played mostly in theaters located in upscale neighborhoods and grossed $26 million on a budget of $8 million in 1992 dollars. It was considered a bonafide hit and then was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture. It won Oscars in a couple categories. 

I think something like CITIZEN KANE today would have to be marketed that way, as an arthouse film...and as awards bait.

Expecting it to be a blockbuster is quite unrealistic.

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23 minutes ago, MovieMadness said:

It's easy to say this writer is wrong, but you have to look at it from the perspective of those who rarely watch old movies, and in this case they are correct. Citizen Kane is not a movie that has stood the test of time because a viewer today looks at it as if there in nothing special to the story. They may not understand the cinematography or anything else, but they shouldn't have to. The movie has to stand on its own without an explanation.

if this movie was released today would it be a blockbuster classic? Uh, no. It is a movie for movie buffs only.

People can understand a business mogul reaching for political power, even if newspapers are dying a slow death. And yeah I kind of do blame people who cannot or will not consider that the world was once very different, who have no curiosity about how things once were, and who believe nothing of any consequence could possibly have happened before the day they were born. Screw em.

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4 hours ago, skipd55 said:

Not watching films made before 1975 is about as silly an attitude as not eating food whose name begins with the letter "P." What magical event happened in '75 to make that year Mr. Rojas' cutoff date? 

Why, Jaws, of course. The day movies turned "real", and became wide-release watchable populist box-office popcorn blockbusters instead of gritty Oscar-Winning Classics.  🙄

For most kids younger than the writer, 1977 is the cutoff date, except for a generation that never saw Star Wars OT, and now doesn't think populist movies opened before 1982.  (I mean, hey, The Thing and Blade Runner!)

1 hour ago, LuckyDan said:

People can understand a business mogul reaching for political power, even if newspapers are dying a slow death. And yeah I kind of do blame people who cannot or will not consider that the world was once very different, who have no curiosity about how things once were, and who believe nothing of any consequence could possible have happened before the day they were born. Screw em.

Well, true, 1973-75 was the quote-fingers "Death of Hollywood", when MGM was selling off its backlots and going into the hotel business (qv. the funeral-eulogy tone of '74's  "That's Entertainment"), and the cutoff date for the death of the factory Studio System.

Me, I tend to find movies that came from 30's-50's Studio Factories MORE watchable than movies that came from 00's-10's Franchise Factories, since they were made to be disposable every week, and therefore still knew how to make a Mid-Tier genre movie you could see downtown any night of the week.  But also had Louis B. Mayer throwing the new "Bold indie screenwriters" out of his office, saying "This gay road-movie crap'll never make a dime, let's put Clark Gable in it and make him a sea fisherman!"

As for Millennial hostility/uncuriosity about Things Before They Were Born, remember, everything was Bad and Wrong in the 20th Century....That's what they were taught at school every day.  If you don't believe they think so, just try asking one to watch Gone With the Wind as just a movie.

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28 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

His objection is to moviemaking style, not content. 

Actually, that is probably a worse reason for not watching a film than having your sensibilities offended. 

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23 hours ago, MovieMadness said:

It's easy to say this writer is wrong, but you have to look at it from the perspective of those who rarely watch old movies, and in this case they are correct. Citizen Kane is not a movie that has stood the test of time because a viewer today looks at it as if there in nothing special to the story. They may not understand the cinematography or anything else, but they shouldn't have to. The movie has to stand on its own without an explanation.

if this movie was released today would it be a blockbuster classic? Uh, no. It is a movie for movie buffs only.

That's certainly one way to look at it.  But I don't see Citizen Kane as only for movie buffs, even though we've been told for years that it's so great that you have to be a movie buff to enjoy or understand it.

Maybe I see it that way because I wasn't a movie buff when I first saw and enjoyed Citizen Kane.  In about 1975 (by coincidence), when I was 15 or 16, Kane  was on the late show in Cincinnati, where I grew up.    It was interrupted constantly by commercials, and I'm sure the print wasn't very good.  Yet, I loved it, thought it was a great story.  I certainly didn't think it was great because of the cinematography, the editing, or the non-linear plotline -- I knew nothing about any of those things.  And I certainly didn't think it was great because critics from film magazines I'd never heard of put Kane at the top their polls.  I just knew I enjoyed the movie.  If I was influenced by anything, it was probably by the occasional mentions of Kane in the "Peanuts" comic strip, of which I was an avid reader.   Charles Schulz loved the movie and watched it over and over.  This strip from Dec. 9, 1973 is one that I undoubtedly read a couple years before I saw Kane (SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen the movie):

19731209.jpg.55345f480aa3e65351016d11c894e46f.jpg

Kane wasn't the only "classic" film I first experienced on Cincinnati's late show or afternoon movie program.  Psycho, The African Queen, The Glenn Miller Story, Sunrise at Campobello, and many, many others that I remember seeing back then were just old movies that I watched because I loved good story-telling, whether it was comedy or drama or a bio or something pretty strange, like The Birds.  

I was one of those kids that Eddie Muller describes in the TCM promo, going to school and talking about watching The Birds on TV.  I'll bet he was referring to the same broadcast that I saw -- we're about the same age.  I distinctly remember talking about that movie with my friends -- both before it was broadcast ("Are you going to watch The Birds?"; "Will your parents let you watch The Birds?")  and afterwards ("Did you see The Birds?").  We were probably in about 4th or 5th grade and somehow knew that a Hitchcock movie was worth watching, even though none of us had probably seen one.  Maybe someone's older sibling clued us in.  Or maybe some of us remembered Hitchcock's TV show.  But I can assure you that none of us watched The Birds because Hitchcock was a "great" director or because The Birds was a "classic."  (Heck, the movie was probably about 5 years old at the time.)

I'm sorry that movies have been put in categories that turn off some potential viewers before they've even seen the movie.  That certainly wasn't my experience, watching the late show -- I just watched whatever was on.  But now, "old movies," "classic movies," "great movies," black-and-white movies, "cinema" -- these and other terms tell some people that you "should" like this movie, but tell others to avoid the same movie.  It's a shame that people can't see movies with fresh eyes, unaffected by the opinions of others.  Would that NY Times writer really not like Bonnie and Clyde, or Lawrence of Arabia, or hundreds of other entertaining "classics" just because they were made before 1975?  I doubt it -- like everyone else, he'd probably like some of those movies and not like others.  But telling yourself that pre-(choose a year) movies are in a language I can't understand -- you're only cheating yourself.

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1 hour ago, LsDoorMat said:

From Twitter:

"I refuse to watch movies made before 1975. I don't watch any movies made after 1975 either. In my household, we only watch two movies: BARRY LYNDON and SALÒ."

...Oo, the DARK EDGELORD of Mordor!  🙄

That's the "hostility" I'm talking about:  Those Old White Non-Internet-Using Parents who want to make you curious about past culture are your enemies, because they represent the Old Ways, and must therefore be trolled by the Enlightened New Generation, united in their resolve to shut their ears to such vile racist/sexist indoctrination.

Still, at least he watches Barry Lyndon (he says), and doesn't use THAT as the usual all-purpose dismissive straw-man codeword for, quote, "boring" three-hour big-budget Oscar-nominated mid-70's period movies.  And, refreshingly, knows that Kubrick actually directed another movie besides Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange or The Shining....Not many do.

43 minutes ago, BingFan said:

This strip from Dec. 9, 1973 is one that I undoubtedly read a couple years before I saw Kane:

Yes, we know what you're trying to say, but please cut it immediately--Watching the "First Reactor"-verse on YouTube, it's amazing what movies a generation HASN'T seen but will watch on a triple-dog-dare, and if you think "everybody knows" the Big Twist from "The Empire Strikes Back", boy, have about two dozen reactors I've counted so far have news for you.  (Half of them already did, but didn't have a clue what context it had to do with.)

So far, only one has been brave enough to consider watching Citizen Kane (he hasn't yet) so...don't be a Lucy trying to comment on other Lucys.

43 minutes ago, BingFan said:

Kane wasn't the only "classic" film I first experienced on the late show or on Cincinnati's afternoon movie program.  Psycho, the Marx Brothers, Holiday, The African Queen, The Glenn Miller Story, Sunrise at Campobello, and many, many others that I remember seeing back then were just old movies that I watched because I loved good story-telling, whether it was comedy or drama or a bio or something pretty strange, like The Birds.  (I was one of those kids that Eddie Muller describes in the TCM promo, going to school and talking about watching The Birds on TV the night before.  I'll bet he was referring to the same broadcast that I saw -- we're about the same age.  I distinctly remember talking about that movie with my friends -- both before it was broadcast and afterwards.  We were probably in about 4th or 5th grade.)  

I ran across The Birds and Psycho--and the Vincente Minneli musicals--back when PBS re-ran the "Men Who Made the Movies" film-school documentaries during afternoon filler.  Imagine tuning in on Mrs. Bates, the crows at the playground, or Fred Astaire's "Shine on Your Shoes", with NO context whatsoever, while waiting for The Electric Company.  😳

The lack of movies on TV has taken away our ability to run across an old 30's-40's movie at random, and keep watching to figure out what we're seeing--We don't know the name, or what year it was made, something just hooked us when we were off guard.   (I remember watching the Frederic March/Charles Laughton 30's "Les Miserables" on a local NYC station just hoping it'd explain what one was.)

As for the Marx Brothers, I first saw a double feature of A Night at the Opera/A Day at the Races at the local theater four blocks away, back when theaters were local and independent and threw their own Saturday kiddie matinees together out of what was cheap enough to rent...That's how I first saw "The Music Box" and "The Fatal Glass of Beer", too.  Later, another local theater had a prepaid 10-ticket pass, and frequently showed classic revivals (this was before the VHS era), so it was exactly as easy to go see Duck Soup or Harold & Maude on a Wednesday night as it was to see the big Friday-night opener:  If there's no difference in the venue--as there isn't with disk or streaming--there's no difference in the age of a movie.

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16 hours ago, MovieMadness said:

if this movie was released today would it be a blockbuster classic? Uh, no. It is a movie for movie buffs only.

Now, try telling people it's a story about the ruthless rise and karmic fall of a insecure loved-and-hated billionaire, who tried to control everyone and everything just to be loved, but in the end, couldn't control his own fallible childish personal-demons, and ended up a reclusive prisoner of his own now-crumbling getaway estate...How "out of date" does THAT sound?

The reason Kane has the image of a "snooty film-school" movie is not only the embarrassing academic press it gets, but also the cultural Casablanca Factor, dating back to the mid-70's.   What is (or was) the Casablanca Factor?...Why is it called that?  Because say "Classic film fan", and there's a 1 in 3 chance you're picturing Woody Allen staring rapturously at the end of Casablanca in a half-filled run-down NYC revival house, in the opening of Play It Again, Sam.

Back before the VHS Renaissance (ie., mid-70's, before '82-'83), we didn't know Old Movies, because we joked about them playing cheap stations at 2am with used-car ads.  Anyone who would go out of his way to see a classic 30's-40's or foreign film on the big city arthouse/college-revival screen was either depicted as a snooty intellectual elite, or--more often--some mousy nebbish who wanted to escape the mean, harsh, gritty world to live in the tinsel dreams of Fred Astaire and Humphrey Bogart, and escape their poor nothing lives.  Usually, in movies or sitcoms, we saw the poor, rapt, screen-illuminated soul sitting alone with his popcorn in the half-filled seats, whose other patrons are either makeout teens ignoring the movie, or dozing homeless bums, as most full-time occupants of run-down city revival houses were, back in the Nixon era.

It was a popular dismissive image back when old movies were "demonized" in the early 70's, and then condescendingly sentimentalized in the mid-70's.  And if that's what the author is still picturing when he imagines "Citizen Kane" fans, then, in the words of the Deadpool character..."****, you're old."  😅

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