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TCM and particularly 1930's films have ruined modern movie watching for me


Jymn
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I've not been enjoying movies of the last couple of decades. I walked out of both "Tree of Life" (bored of the creepy voice-overs and syrupy music) and "Zero Dark Thirty" (sledgehammer direction, wooden acting, one-dimensional writing). I rarely watch anything post early 40's anymore. I blame TCM.

 

Movies from the 30's integrated perfectly nuanced music with adept writing and articulate direction. Films of this era are works of art, practiced by artists in all fields. "Trouble in Paradise," "My Man Godfrey" etc etc. Rarely a false note anywhere.

 

Don't get me wrong. I grew up in the 60's. I like a lot of movies across all generations until lately. Where is the art? Where is the story-telling. Why is the music so overwhelmingly loud and clunky?

 

No, I'm sticking with TCM and esp. its 30's collection. That way, I'm not bored nor jarred by ill-fitting dialog and music.

 

 

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I'm not quite as completely turned off by all modern movies as you seem to be, but I will say that the exceptions are getting harder and harder to come by, unless you go to the art houses. It's as if nearly every movie has to feature hyperkinetic gun battles, car crashes, gimmickry animation, or just about anything that turns our attention away from the story to the special effects. It's pathetic, and like you, I say thank God for the existence of TCM, which shows us every day what movies can be like when they pay attention to the fundamentals of storyline and acting.

 

And as for the syrupy music and other assorted auditory annoyances, the less said about them the better.

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While the 30's is my favorite decade of the studio system era, the decade produced a lot of programmers; i.e. really cheap pictures just cranked out by the studio system. Now these same studios released more movies during the 30's than any other decade. Thus with this volume one can find more gems than in other decades but also many 'false notes' as well.

 

 

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Interesting thread and welcome to the Message Boards!

 

Even the 1930s had a few clunkers (every decade does)...but I agree that it is not so easy to find really well-made modern-day classic films. It is everyone's loss.

 

Sometimes when I watch something like IF WINTER COMES (which aired on TCM yesterday), I think why can't today's studios make something like this now? Do the studio execs and producers really believe that a simple, straightforward story about love and war with mature performances and finely crafted characterizations will not sell tickets?

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}Interesting thread and welcome to the Message Boards!

>

> Even the 1930s had a few clunkers (every decade does)...but I agree that it is not so easy to find really well-made modern-day classic films. It is everyone's loss.

>

> Sometimes when I watch something like IF WINTER COMES (which aired on TCM yesterday), I think why can't today's studios make something like this now? Do the studio execs and producers really believe that a simple, straightforward story about love and war with mature performances and finely crafted characterizations will not sell tickets?

Short answer: Just look at what they're putting out. Actions speak louder than inner conflicts.

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>Short answer: Just look at what they're putting out. Actions speak louder than inner conflicts.

 

Best answer so far in this thread, Andy.

 

And to expand a bit upon it, I'm sure it comes to nobody's surprise that because unlike in the earlier era mentioned and when the demographic of the movie going public was a wide spectrum of all ages, today's movie going public is dominated by the 16-24 year old crowd, and a demographic which has never, even in the "old day", been inclined toward introspection and the enjoyment of viewing a character's "inner conflict".

 

(...btw Jymn...I also bid you a welcome to the boards)

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Does anyone really need to be reminded that the movie making business is, well a business, where the goal is making money for stockholders. It is NOT about 'art'.

 

Thus the answer to the 'why' question is the same old answer. The movies released are those that the producers believe the majority of the movie going public are willing to pay for. This was true in every decade.

 

 

 

 

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As jamesjazzguitar (JJG) just said, ultimately it is all about making money, giving the public what it wants, or what one thinks the public wants. That has always been the case since day one. I do believe that in the old days the studio bosses did try to elevate the product to raise public awareness of certain issues. In the 30's there were a lot of films that adapted classic literature stories to the screen. Films (even the pre code ones) did highlight many moral issues . Sometimes these films made some sacrifice in their box office sales totals but they also raised the stature of the studios , and their bosses. Today we don't have that influence, its all about chasing the buck, and going for the lowest common denominator. There are still some very good quality films being made today (which I consider a minor miracle), hopefully the public will always acknowledge those efforts and reward them accordingly.

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>Does anyone really need to be reminded that the movie making business is, well a business, where the goal is making money for stockholders. It is NOT about 'art'.

 

I would say that is true about most films, but what about movies like THE THIRD MAN? To me that is pure cinema art, and the director/producer specifically designed it that way, even to the extent that they took a big chance using that zither music for the entire sound track. I love it, but it is the only zither film I know of, and I wonder what other movie viewers at that time thought of it?

 

And all the Dutch tilts, and all that expensive night lighting of several city blocks, and washing down the streets to add more lighting effects, and all that artistic stuff in the sewers. That is the best and most artistic underground/tunnel film ever made. And what about that very long final scene? One of the best final scenes in movie history.

 

I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just asking why are some films so un-artistic and films like this are so artistic?

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...why are some films so un-artistic and films like this one so artistic?

 

Obviously, someone put their heart and soul into THE THIRD MAN and money 'be damned'. No doubt they let their passion rule and were more concerned with the end result rather then the 'box office results', as it shiould be !

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

> Does anyone really need to be reminded that the movie making business is, well a business, where the goal is making money for stockholders. It is NOT about 'art'.

>

>

>

>

>

>

That's why 'mavericks' like Orson Welles and Erich Von Stroheim (as a director) were anathema to the Hollywood establishement. And also it's why 'their art' has stood the test of time because it was created without the commerical concerns of Hollywood. $$$

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But James, are you aware of the long held belief that if you feed starving people garbage, and nothing BUT garbage for a long enough period of time, they will come to think of it as gourmet cuisine?

 

 

THAT, I think, explains both the movie business AND the problem with popular music these days.

 

 

Sepiatone Oh, yeah...Welcome to the boards!

 

 

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>Obviously, someone put their heart and soul into THE THIRD MAN and money 'be damned'.

 

Yes, I agree. But I wonder how an artistic director gets "permission" to do this?

 

Generally, the "producer" of a film is the money man. He raises the money or begs the studio heads for the money, and the studio heads mainly only care about making money. But some times a good director will concentrate very much on art in making a film and I wonder how he can talk a producer into letting him get artsy. Or maybe he just does it without asking.

 

Gone With the Wind was an interesting exception, since David O. Selznick was the producer, and part cameraman, director, dialogue writer, etc., and he made the film as artistic a possible. It was all HIS film, and he did a great job. Think of his great costumes, for example, there are museums in this country that still display some of the films costumes and reproductions of them, and that is a 74 year old film.

 

With Citizen Kane, Orson Welles was clearly in charge of that entire film and he added so many creative elements to it, photography, dialogue, sets, even down to the reflection of actors in glass windows.

 

His long extended "lap dissolve" during the Joseph Cotten at the nursing home sequence was totally unique. Welles began the dissolve, and lowered the lights on 1/2 of the scene, with lights lowered on the other hhalf of the next scene, so the dissolve gradually became a double-exposure and a split screen for a while, and then it finally fully dissolved into the next scene. No one had ever done that before, and I've seen the effect in only one other film. Very unusual and very creative.

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I have been saying for months now that what I would like to know more about related to Studio Era movies is the interaction between the studio boss, producer and director on specific projects. I think this relationship is key to the creation of high quality movies and that we, as a group here, haven't explored this aspect of the movie making process enough.

 

There are many examples where the director stood up to the 'suits' so the movie would remain true to an artistic vision. But at same time one cannot expect a studio head or producer to support directors that consistently make movies that don't make a profit.

 

 

 

 

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The '30s are my favorite film decade too -- and yes, as somebody said, there were an awful lot of "programmers" produced by the studios, some good, some mediocre, a few worse than that. But the sheer volume of movies made in that decade meant Hollywood wasn't always going to hit 1.000. (Remember, films then were in most theaters for two, three days at the most; if you didn't like what you saw, you waited a few days and hoped for something better. By mid-decade, most studios had established departments specializing in second features.)

 

Let's not forget that this era was before television, which would not only drain movie attendance (it would no longer attract general audiences), but steal plenty of creative talent -- writers, actors, directors -- from the movie industry.

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The following commentary is brought to you by OpinionsRUs B-)

 

To me there've been three or four peak periods of movies.

 

1. The silent era

 

2. The early sound era (pre-Breen code)

 

3. The iconic noir era (~1944-1958), which also had some of the best non-crime drama movies ever made, which in turn made up for too many musicals and too many westerns

 

4. The separate but related era of foreign films from Italian neo-realism to the French New Wave.

 

Overrated: The mid-30's through the mid-40's. Great for screwballs and romantic comedies; not so great for anything else; way too much censorship and way too many noble priests

 

Overrated: The Pauline Kael era (mid-60's - late 70's) Too much generational narcisscism and too many mawkish musical soundtracks.

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To me 30's films are historical artifacts- they freeze a distant moment in time. Viewing them is the closest you will ever get to time travel. They are a time machine.

 

Whatever the quality of the script, direction, acting etc., you are getting a glimpse of a bygone era as revealed in: clothes, music, decor, cars, fashion, mores and zeitgeist. These are the elements that can't be duplicated. Of course some modern films can cleverly duplicate the era by trotting out a few old cars, dolling up the women in period clothes etc. but the result is NEVER a 1930's film. It's a modern film creating a 30's atmosphere.

 

I have always appreciated old films for the contrast they present with contemporary culture in the styles of the time. I never have appreciated films from purely a film school perspective, or from the standpoint of critics. I can enjoy "bad" films from that era. Show me a period gown, show me a Duesenberg car, show me the art deco sets and let me hear the incredible period music played by a studio orchestra- and I feel my time has been well spent. It all boils down to those who can appreciate the historical context and style of the time, vs. those who are oblivious to it

 

speakthelma.gif

 

 

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FredCDobbs wrote;

 

Generally, the "producer" of a film is the money man. He raises the money or begs the studio heads for the money, and the studio heads mainly only care about making money. But some times a good director will concentrate very much on art in making a film and I wonder how he can talk a producer into letting him get artsy. Or maybe he just does it without asking.

 

*In the case of "Citizen Kane", Orson wa**s in charge of production and George Schaefer was the executive producer who was uncredited. So bascially, Orson was his own boss and he had final cut of the film. That's why it turned out the way it did.*

 

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> {quote:title=ThelmaTodd wrote:}{quote}To me 30's films are historical artifacts- they freeze a distant moment in time. Viewing them is the closest you will ever get to time travel. They are a time machine.

>

> Whatever the quality of the script, direction, acting etc., you are getting a glimpse of a bygone era as revealed in: clothes, music, decor, cars, fashion, mores and zeitgeist. These are the elements that can't be duplicated. Of course some modern films can cleverly duplicate the era by trotting out a few old cars, dolling up the women in period clothes etc. but the result is NEVER a 1930's film. It's a modern film creating a 30's atmosphere.

>

>

> I have always appreciated old films for the contrast they present with contemporary culture in the styles of the time. I never have appreciated films from purely a film school perspective, or from the standpoint of critics. I can enjoy "bad" films from that era. Show me a period gown, show me a Duesenberg car, show me the art deco sets and let me hear the incredible period music played by a studio orchestra- and I feel my time has been well spent. It all boils down to those who can appreciate the historical context and style of the time, vs. those who are oblivious to it

>

> speakthelma.gif

>

.

 

I agree wholeheartedly. I really don't pay much attention to critical review of 30's films. If they are still remembered and shown 80 years later, that's fine by me. Every film can't be Citizen Kane and if they were, it would get boring. And even a bad film can have some good or interesting moments. I catchy tune, some well know actor just starting out or maybe a pretty gown or tux. There is always something.

 

We're in an era similar to the 1970's when t.v. is superior to current movies. Its a cycle. I just watch what I like whatever the medium. Life is too short .

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To me 30's films are historical artifacts- they freeze a distant moment in time. Viewing them is the closest you will ever get to time travel. They are a time machine.

 

Whatever the quality of the script, direction, acting etc., you are getting a glimpse of a bygone era as revealed in: clothes, music, decor, cars, fashion, mores and zeitgeist. These are the elements that can't be duplicated. Of course some modern films can cleverly duplicate the era by trotting out a few old cars, dolling up the women in period clothes etc. but the result is NEVER a 1930's film. It's a modern film creating a 30's atmosphere.

 

I completely agree, but why wouldn't all of what you've written be just as true for the movies of any other decade?

 

Films set in their own time period are always going to be reflective of the fashions and mores of that period, at least among the particular group or sub-group that's being portrayed. Sometimes we forget that many TCM viewers don't have to go back to the movies of the 30's to get a glimpse of what to them are strange and exotic times. For some of them who've only been in New York City since the dawn of the 21st century, Al Pacino's The Panic In Needle Park might be every bit as revelatory to them as any film of the 1930's.

 

I have always appreciated old films for the contrast they present with contemporary culture in the styles of the time. I never have appreciated films from purely a film school perspective, or from the standpoint of critics. I can enjoy "bad" films from that era. Show me a period gown, show me a Duesenberg car, show me the art deco sets and let me hear the incredible period music played by a studio orchestra- and I feel my time has been well spent. It all boils down to those who can appreciate the historical context and style of the time, vs. those who are oblivious to it.

 

Very well put, Thelma. It's been said that the past is a foreign country, and with this in mind, has there ever been a better travel guide than TCM?

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