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When you watch an old movie, do you --


MyFavoriteFilms
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- think about how many are dead or still alive?

- think about the actors' private lives and who was having a behind-the-scenes romance during the making of this film?

- think about other film performances or TV performances that a featured actor has done?

- think about the way clothing and hairstyles looked then?

- think about whether or not you want a copy of this movie for your personal collection?

 

*What do you think about?*

 

Or maybe you don't think, you just concentrate the story itself and let it move you...

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Depends on how often I might have seen the movie.

If it's the first time & the movie truly engages me on some level it would be the last you mentioned.

If I've seen the film before, I'll probably ruminate on some or all of the items in the first group.

 

But, truth to tell, I spend so much time writing about movies, I often find myself trying to determine how I'm going to phrase my observations... and then I catch myself & remind myself that i don't have to write about _this_ movie...

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I know exactly what you mean. I feel compelled to write about each film, but I don't think it's possible. LOL

 

I do think about the life spans and the career spans of these actors...while watching the story, we are also watching a part of history. For instance, when you see THE MORE THE MERRIER, you do consider what it was like for there to be a housing shortage during the war-- that was a very real issue, even though it's done in a humorous way by Hollywood.

 

And when I watch film noir, I think about the popularity of nightclubs during the post-war era.

 

I try not to think too much about the scandalous aspects of a performer's private life...I am more interested in the technique used to convey the story and this slice of life on screen.

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Ah, yes, if the movie deals specifically with concurrent societal situation, I do find myself thinking about it (as oppsed to thinking about Elizabethan England while watching ELIZABETH AND ESSEX). THE MORE THE MERRIER is a good example (and heavens, do I love that movie! What a cast).

 

As to the scandals... well, damn few stars didn't have something - they're only human. But unless there's something about the role that calls to mind their private life (like Errol Flynn portraying a playboy) I rarely think of them. One recent exception was while watching a film with Barbara Payton & thinking what a shame it was that she basically flushed her life down the drain because she was actually a pretty good actress.

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> *What do you think about?*

 

I wonder why Cathy doesn?t love me, unless we are at Penistone Crag.

 

I wonder why Queen Elizabeth treats me so badly, even after I defeated the Spanish Armada at Cadiz?

 

I wonder if I?m going to get lost while trying to cross the great Grimpen Mire.

 

I wonder if I spend the night in Ms Wonderly?s apartment, will she murder me in my sleep.

 

I have so many things to worry about when I watch old movies.

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If there's some untrustworthy woman, wandering around soliciting the detective services - I said the detective services - of private eyes, pretending to be honest decent ladies when in fact they're a walking blueprint for deceit and entrapment, not to mention ruthlessly using all those around her for her own dubious purposes and using my name, well, all I can say is...I'll sue.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Sep 3, 2010 3:47 PM

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> - think about how many are dead or still alive?

> - think about the way clothing and hairstyles looked then?

 

I know for a fact, this is what goes through TikiKid's mind. She still can't figure out why I prefer to see an OLD movie rather than rush out for the newest blockbuster.

She's obsessed with the idea these people are dead, and will often ask me if even the ANIMALS are dead, like Trigger in Son of Paleface.

And she uses the clothing & hairstyles to figure out *how* old the movie is, clever girl. I think classic film is a great window into history.

 

> - think about whether or not you want a copy of this movie for your personal collection?

 

I definitely think about this if I'm really enjoying it. Sometimes I just want to copy it to share with someone else who may have never seen it either. Very rarely do I want to go out and buy it for myself. My shelves are full!

 

Another thing I often think about while watching a film is it's construction; the costume design, why that lighting or camera angle was chosen or how did they create that illusion? (I watch a lot of musicals, esp Busby Berkeley)

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Good post.

 

It's interesting to hear certain phrases or slang expressions used on film and to see how it reflects a given era. I think the word 'chiseler' was used a lot in films of the 40s to refer to someone who was crooked or not above reproach. I love that word! But you don't hear people use it that much today, if ever. Also, I was watching CROSS COUNTRY ROMANCE and the cop pulls them over and says he's putting the 'pinch' on them. I think in that context, 'pinch' means 'to be arrested.' You would never hear an officer say that now. It's funny.

 

And yes, the clothing and hairstyles are always fun to look at in movies. Even movies from the 1990s have a kind of dated look to them now.

 

As for animals, I was watching TRIBUTE TO A BADMAN and some Johnny Mack Brown westerns...there were scenes where the horses had been injured and needed to be put to death. That made me think about the animals and how long they actually did live after filming was completed. They probably did not live as long as their human costars. But they have managed to achieve some sort of screen immortality just the same.

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I think about some of that stuff you mentioned. I'm in my mid 50's and to me an old film is anything older than me. A lot of movies made when I was a kid and after don't seem so old and I have a "it looks like it happened yesterday" memory that causes me to reflect how fast time is flying.

 

Young people in their 20's and under that thinks movies of the 70's and 80's are old, makes me feel like I need to go out and buy a walker, lol.

 

I like looking back on old technology in movies and we sometimes take things for granted. This hot summer got me to thinking about the 1920's 30's time period and I shutter when I see on film, office workers in a stuffy room without *air conditioning* in the middle of August.

smiley-hot.gif

 

The one thing I think about the most is the motion picture itself, in that we can see the entire lifespan of a person from toddler to very old age, never before was this possible. One great example is Shirley Temple showing how time does fly by way too fast. That scene in "Curly Top" when she is dressed up as an old woman in a rocking chair - did that had to come to past that fast?

 

I like to post this little old tech trivia about the 1930's time period in which some workers was FAXing their daily work. Doesn't look so new now does it? This was a newsreel showned in theatres back then. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=dde_1179420596

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Hilarious (the part about a walker!)...as for the air conditioning, I remember reading a book about Desilu Productions and there was a chapter that mentioned Lucille Ball's friendship with Ann Sothern. Ann's production company (Anso) teamed up with Desilu for her second sitcom, The Ann Sothern Show. Ann insisted that the warehouse they were using to film the series be entirely air conditioned. She was the first person to do that. This was in 1958. Reading this made me think about how a lot of TV shows (and movies) up till that time had been filmed in the sweltering California heat. We take a/c for granted now, until our electricity goes out...but back then, it was a big deal when Ann Sothern filmed her show in an air-conditioned building.

 

As for technology that we see on screen, the phones are most interesting to me. Especially the old style rotary phones...now, we touch buttons all the time and don't have to wait for the dial to return to the original position before doing the next number. Everything is faster now, but not necessarily better.

 

Also, I watched WILDCAT BUS yesterday. There were two pictures on the wall in one of the office scenes: the first was a stagecoach; the second was a bus line. A character commented on his family being in the transportation business for fifty years. Well, 1940 minus 50 years is 1890. Imagine living in an era that went from stage coach to motor coach. The scenes where we see the buses on the highway seem a lot like they are now...so from 1940 to 2010, roads and buses haven't changed too much.

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Stage coach to motor coach, how about stage coach to space travel? I still remember vividly about a news reporter in 1969, speaking to a man that was 100 years old, he was a special guest to the launch of Apollo 11 and the reporter asked the guy, could he beleive this was happening. He replied, nope!

 

I still have a Princess style rotary phone, I don't use it and got is stored in a safe place. Bought it back in the 1970's and it is built like a battleship!

.

That got me to thinking, anyone who is caught text messaging while driving should be sentence to text "I will not text messaging while driving" 100 times on a rotary phone.

 

Edited by: hamradio on Sep 4, 2010 3:17 PM

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Coffee pots in old movies get my attention, too. And of course, cars.

 

It's fun to watch a period piece...something set in the past but made by Hollywood in a later era, and to spot the anachronisms. When I watched THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED, I couldn't believe the director allowed a younger male actor (Jon Provost) to keep his shaggy, longish 60s-style haircut. The story is set in the 30s, and boys did not wear their hair that way...at least, I don't think they did.

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When I watch an old movie I try to identify every single person I can, actors and behind the scenes people alike, then I analyze it to death. I analyze every aspect. How good or bad or interesting is the acting, yes, but also, the writing, directing, art direction, costumes, lighting, editing, sound, music, etc etc etc. That's what's fun to me about film. If I'm really tired I won't analyze it so intensely but I will still analyze it to a degree. I will often think about how obvious it is that it is from that era.

 

You can often hear phrases like this coming from us as we watch a movie:

"That collar is so 50s!"

"Wow. They sure had really art deco furniture in Jane Austen's day."

"Why can makeup and hair never get on the ball?"

 

In the case of film music, we identify composers so easily, so we will sarcastically say something like "Gosh. I can't tell who wrote this," or "Oh, Elmer."

 

In the case of classic and modern Disney animation we will analyze it so intensely that we often watch passes of animation a couple times frame by frame. This is when you hear things like "AAAA!! It's so realistic!!" But sometimes we can tell who animated who, and can see an animator's hand as well as someone can identify a voice. Sometimes it's so obvious to us we'll say, "That is SO Milt Kahl!" or "Oh, Andreas. You can't hide from us."

 

For modern Disney animation the most common phrase you can hear is, "Thank you, Jim Cummings."

 

If a movie is bad we analyze it differently, but we will still analyze. We will analyze in comedic ways, a la MST3K.

 

We're nerds. And we love it.

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His hair is a little on the thick side but not long. "This Property is Condemned" was made in 1966 just before the hippie fad. There were slight variations during the 1930's

 

This is Jon Provost in "This Property is Condemned". His hair is no longer than the kid in "The Little Rascals" (center right 2nd photo).

ThisProperty.JPG

 

spanky_&_the_gang1233264455.jpg

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There is a shot towards the end of the movie when we see him over the shoulder, on Mary Badham for a close-up. The side and back of his hair looks too 'modern' for me and it took me out of the story...thinking 1960s, not 1930s. I am not saying hippie-ish, in fact I did not state that in the earlier post, but I think he should've had a cleaner cut or they should've put a cap on him.

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> This is Jon Provost in "This Property is Condemned". His hair is no longer than the kid in "The Little Rascals" (center right 2nd photo).

 

Yeah, but the kid?s hair is not razor cut, styled in Beverly Hills, or held in place by hair spray.

 

Small town country people didn?t have these Beverly Hills hairstyles in the 1930s.

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Very interesting thread idea. What do we think about when we watch an old movie? I think it depends, for me anyway, very much on the film. Many factors come into play -think about it, we don't necessarily think the same things every time when listening to music or reading a book. It's the same with movies. Every one is different.

For instance, if it is a film I've seen many times, then presumably I'm watching it yet again because I like it very much. If that's the case, I'm not thinking so much about the plot or the interaction of the characters because I'm familiar with those aspects of the movie. I'm more likely either thinking about certain aspects of the film that I may not have noticed the first or second time I saw it, things such as the lighting, angles, technical details like that (although I like to think I notice lighting,anyway, even the first time I see a film.) But probably everyone who watches a movie more than once has had the experience of going " Hey ! Look at that ! (person in the background, weapon lying near character, symbolism of mirror or window or whatever) I never noticed that before!"

 

The other thing I think about if it's a film I've seen several times, is, how much I like it. (I must, or I wouldn't be watching it yet again ! ) It's like seeing an old friend whom I trust, I savour the things about it that I like; Ingrid Bergman's lovely face, the tension in the music of a Hitchcock film, the sound of Mitch saying "Baby, I don't care", the play of shadow and light of venetion blinds or railings and stairs in a film noir. These things make me smile; I'm usually thinking about how much I love the movie.

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I sometimes wonder what the filmmakers themselves think about a film when they watch it again years later...or what their families think (if the actor or director is deceased).

 

When I read Mary Tyler Moore's autobiography, she describes what it's like for her to watch reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Her son died of a gunshot wound years later, and she said that when she was on that sitcom in the 60s, he was just a kid and often came to the set. When she watches old episodes, she is haunted by the thought that he is there, just on the other side of the camera, outside the frame, watching her. Of course, not everyone has a dramatic reaction to old film or television series like Mary Tyler Moore does...but I'm sure that many of them think of what went into a particular scene, take or shot...and how they remember the process of filming it.

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Part 2 (I worry about making one post too long)

 

When watching a classic film I've never seen before, I'm usually just concentrating on the overall experience. It's like listening to a piece of music for the first time -I just let the general impression wash over me. I know I may not always be impressed the first time I see a film or hear a song, but sometimes you have to work a little to appreciate something, sometimes the music you love the most is the music you didn't even connect with the first time you heard it.

With a film, I'm mostly following the plot and getting a handle on the characters. If it's a genre I particularly like, such as film noir, I pay attention to the setting (Is it a studio or location shots?) the shadows, the night scenes, etc. It's these aspects of noir that I especially enjoy, so I 'm going to be thinking about them.

If it's a director I'm familiar with, I'm noticing the hallmarks of his style ("oh, Siodmak always does that..."). If there are actors in it I like, I notice and kind of savour their idiosyncracies ("hey, Richard Widmark's being intense again").

I also notice, as others have said they do, the look of the era the film was made - how people dressed, the cars, the buildings, the way they speak ("Gimme a cup of coffee, will ya? And make it snappy.") It's partly this window into history that I love so much about old movies. It's a cliche to say they are a kind of time machine, but it's true. I'm fascinated by the 20s through to the 50s, a time when I didn't exist . What a great way to at least get a sense of how life was then.

 

What I rarely notice or think about is the background of the actors and others involved in the making of the film, the technical flaws, (the person I watch movies with the most is always barking out "Painted backdrop!" when one appears, or " Rear screen projection!") I don't care about stuff like that -if the film is good enough, if it's taken me into its world, then I'm absolutely compliant with the "suspension of disbelief" phenomenon that is part of the movie-watching experience for me.

 

Unless the film is bad, in which case no amount of technical proficiency will allow me to, Alice-like, enter the magical world the movie is offering.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Sep 4, 2010 5:01 PM

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