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Do "Old" Movies Get Better with Age?


okbuprofo7
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I personally don't think old movies get better with age.

 

But I think that certain old movies get better to us as WE age.

 

For example, I see now that THE SEARCHERS has much more plot and character depth to it than I noticed when I first saw it as a young teenager in 1956.

 

That is because there is a lot of adult dialogue and complex adult situations that were subtly included in movies in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, because of the old Hays Code, that we, when we were younger, did not understand or notice. Such as the "rape" scene in GONE WITH THE WIND (Rhett carrying Scarlet up the stairs).

 

I didn?t get that when I first saw the film when I was about 10 years old in 1953. I finally understood it as a young adult, but even then, I didn?t understand why Scarlet woke up so happy the next morning, after being raped the night before..... until I got a little older and saw the film again and I finally realized why Scarlet woke up so happy. :P

 

I was probably in my 50s for 60s before I understood what Rhett meant when he said, "Do you realize I can divorce you for this?" Well, I had finally learned in life that since Scarlet was a Catholic, she could not get a divorce, but there is a loophole that allows a man to divorce a Catholic wife who turns him away from her bed. I learned it when some famous politician got a divorce that way, that was legal and ok according to the Catholic church (that's what the news reports said).

 

Rhett told Mammy that he wanted Scarlet to have a boy baby next year, but now that Scarlet refused sex to Rhett, specifically so she would have no more babies, that put the situation into that Catholic loophole position so that he could divorce her under Catholic rules.

 

(If anyone here is a Catholic and knows about this, maybe you can explain it to us in more detail.)

 

I would not have understood the Linda scene in I'M A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG when I was a kid, but I did understand it when I first saw it as an adult. So, this film got "better" to me the older I was when I watched it.

 

The same with most of the noirs I saw as a kid. I didn?t know what the girl and guy were doing after a fade out, or when they pulled the window shades down. I thought they were "just friends".

 

As I grew older, I began to understand this stuff, and to me these films "got better" because I understood much more of the details of the plots and characters that I did not understand as a child.

 

And, in fact, there is a lot of stuff about old movies I've learned from people here on this message board, that I never knew before, such as Ethan's previous earlier romantic relationship with Aunt Martha, which was so subtle I had missed it for years. lz pointed that out to me and others on an old thread about THE SEARCHERS. And of course, once you know what to look for, then it becomes obvious, and the entire film becomes more complex and much more realistic.

 

(Edited several times by Fred)

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I agree with all that Fred. But also, many older movies may contain subject matter that at the time was topical and socially foremost, but today might seem quaint and anachronistic. Like that old movie I complained about months ago here in which a doctor was chewing out the main actress's character for being a "career girl" and causing her husband's poor health. Or the socially "relevant" messages in BILLY JACK.

 

Sepiatone

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>Like that old movie I complained about months ago here in which a doctor was chewing out the main actress's character for being a "career girl" and causing her husband's poor health.

 

Yes, that irritates me so much I could scream.

 

Such as in an Ann Harding movie where she is a doctor and that upsets her husband, so she gives up being a doctor to please him.

 

And in ANN CARVER'S PROFESSION, where Fay Wray is a great attorney, but she gives that up because it bothers her husband.

 

I, quite by chance, grew up in the 1950s thinking that women in top professions was just great, because my dad worked for a fairly large company which was often run by a woman, the Executive Secretary of the CEO.

 

So I grew up hearing my dad tell my mother about his most recent phone conversation with that lady (who was based in Los Angeles with the headquarters of the company), and I learned that she was basically acting as a CEO in many decision-making situations. So, a woman as an executive was normal in my young life.

 

In the 1980s I worked with a young lady reporter who I wanted to be our TV station's News Director. She often took charge of situations and handled them in a perfect way, whereas I had already worked under 3 male News Directors who were complete jerks. I would have been happy to work under the lady if she had been my boss, and in fact she was my immediate boss in situations where I was her cameraman and she was the reporter on the story. In a reporter-cameraman 2-person crew, the reporter is always in charge, while the cameraman is not.

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For the most part, movies I liked the first time usually get better, while movies I didn't like the first time only get worse. I guess that's because if I like it the first time I'll be looking on second viewing for nuances and things I missed, but if I didn't like it the first time the irritating parts only get more irritating.

 

There are a few exceptions: For some forgotten reason I didn't like Trouble in Paradise the first time, but now it's one of my favorites. (What could I have been thinking?) Truffaut's Stolen Kisses and Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor also made me glad I gave them a second chance.

 

OTOH I thought I was going to go for The African Queen after hating it 20 years ago, since I love both Bogie and Kate. But the second time around it seemed even more contrived and sappy than ever, and you couldn't pay me enough money to try it a third time.

 

And there are a few movies that after about the 10th showing I just can't watch any more. Casablanca and several other Bogarts, for example. It's not that they're any worse, it's just I'd rather watch something else instead. I doubt if there are more than a few dozen movies I could take more than once a year at the very most.

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Yep, I think it does all depend upon the movie, as some movies do "get better" in our eyes and some don't, and in fact may even begin becoming somewhat "clunky" in our eyes once the viewer might begin recognizing some of the manipulative aspects of the particular film in question.

 

This topic reminds me of my first viewing of "The Exorcist" when it was first released to the theaters in '73. I was all of 21 y/o and I thought that it was THE scariest film I had ever seen.

 

Fast forward to just a few years ago when I happened to catch it again on television, and I began chuckling to myself with the thought of how could I have been SO scared while watching it back then, when now I'm almost laughing at its "over-the-top-ness"!

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I don;t know if movies get better, but as someone said, our perceptions can change. Sometimes the way society percieves a film or star changes over the years. A classic example is Bringing Up Baby . A flop on release, it's now considered a classic of its kind.

 

Edited by: traceyk65 on Dec 31, 2013 6:40 PM

That's weird--how did the titles get mixed up??

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>I don't know if movies get better, but as someone said, our perceptions can change. Sometimes the way society perceives a film or star changes over the years. A classic example is Bringing Up Baby . A flop on release, it's now considered a classic of its kind.

 

And in this vein, here's an interesting list compiled by the Movietime website of now recognized classics that flopped at the box office:

 

http://www.movietimetv.ca/galleries/1363028965424/12-classic-films-that-flopped-at-the-box-office#1

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> I, quite by chance, grew up in the 1950s thinking that women in top professions was just great, because my dad worked for a fairly large company which was often run by a woman

 

I grew up with the same attitude I think because in the '50's, I was raised by a single mother.

 

Some movies we like no matter how many times we see them. Some we USED to like, but over time they lose their luster, and some we start out hating but over time, they somehow grew on us.

 

There's no definite formula for explaining it, and it differs from person to person.

 

Sepiatone

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Woody Allen's splendid Radio Days is a classic of nostalgia. Not surprisingly then, it seems to get better with age. I won't be specific but the next time you watch this movie, play close attention to the very last line. It's rather moving considering the passage of time.

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There is a flip side to this, it has to do with special effects, more notiable are computer graphics in old movies. Take the crude wire frame graphics in "2001" (1969) or "Star Wars" (1977). What about the laughable dials and gauges in the space "B" flicks during the 1950's when one ask themselves today who is the plumber?

 

One of the smartest directors is George Pal when he did "War Of The Worlds" (1953) by NOT showing the *inside* of the Martian hovercraft. It added years to the film and by the way has not grown old.

They do give us the historical perspective of the evolution of SFX's :)

 

Computer displays in "2001"

danube15.jpg

 

"Star Wars"

displays2.jpg

 

swgraphics.jpg

 

starwars-graphics.png

 

"Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan"

ST2.jpg

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Of all those archaic movies, the graphics of 2001 hold up the best. They compare well with what modern fighter jet displays look like. And for all the technical brilliance we have today, the trip to the moon sequence put together by Kubrick and Trumbull is still the greatest special effects tour de force in film. It's not just technical ability, it's vision, and artistry.

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It's difficult for some to envision "future" technology. The best they can do is use current technology as a base, and try to work from there. How many people have you heard, over the years, say something wasn't possible because it can't be done NOW?

 

I agree with you ham, about the alien craft in the old "War of The Worlds". Showing the inside might have ruined it's timeless aspect. But every once in a while, someone thinks what seems impossible and displays it in a movie.

 

A bunch of us sat around one day trying to figure out how we would "update" THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. We bounced around the idea of having the spacecraft look similar to how they were presented in movies like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and the STAR WARS franchise. Gort would resemble something out of I ROBOT and crap like that. Then it hit us!

 

They already made it all flawless to begin with. The smooth, seamless spacecraft made of an undetermined metal alloy. The spare interior with controls requiring no actual touch. The robot made of the same material as the ship, with no discernable joint seams. It turned out the only "improvement" we could make was to correct the flaws in the storyline and it's presentation.

 

OTOH, it's often the cheezy effects that make those old sci-fi flicks fun to watch!

 

Sepiatone

 

Edited by: Sepiatone on Jan 2, 2014 12:01 PM

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OTOH, it's often the cheezy effects that make those old sci-fi flicks fun to watch!

 

Exactly. You can't improve on those giant ants in Them!, or the Walks Under Mushrooms-sized character in The Incredible Shrinking Man.

 

And if you get into the related realm of monster movies, how can modern technology ever top the lumbering hulk of the ape in King Kong ?

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Sepiatone wrote:

<< It's difficult for some to envision "future" technology. >>

 

Another aspect of "The War of The Worlds" is that the craft themselves are not spacecraft and had to be enclosed (they said in groups of threes) inside re-entry vehicles that were designed to be one way. Ironically that's how we send rovers to Mars today. Talk being right on the money - having us doing what the Martians in the movie accomplished. (re-entry wise) Remember this was before Sputnik.

 

*War of The Worlds re-entry opening*

war_worlds_pal_2_x.jpg

 

*Mars Rover re-entry*

310px-Mer_entry.jpg

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