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Where does "classic" draw the line?


classicsluver
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I have only one fear when it comes to television viewing, and it is that my beloved Turner Classic will someday soon go the way of American Movie Classics ... anybody out there remember the days when AMC used to show the stuff we love, and now shows every installment of "Friday the 13th" and Keanu Reeves movies ad nauseum?

 

This fear creeps into my psyche every time I see movies like "Moonstruck" and "Mask" make their way onto the TCM schedule, as they do tomorrow (Sunday) evening. Now, I'm not disputing that both are quality films, and I'll admit that I'm not such a classics snob that I can't watch any film made after, say, 1965 (a topic in itself); on the contrary, I love any and all movies! But some part of me wants TCM to remain a sort of safe haven of truly classic films of a bygone era, and save the more modern fare, the "Masks" and "Moonstrucks" of the world, for AMC, TNT or the thousand other cable channels. Because at the end of the day, should Bette Davis and Joan Crawford jockey for position with Cher on the TCM schedule?

 

So the question, and I'm ready for the criticism: Am I wrong? Or does anyone else out there feel the same?

 

Thanks for listening!

Laurie

 

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Well for me any film over ten years old could be considered a classic. However, I understand your concern. I remember when AMC was a great a channel as TCM, yes there was a time eons ago, when it showed great classic films all the time, and was even commercial free like TCM. Now its seldom I run across a film that worth watching on AMC and then of course I have to endure the commercials while doing so. I really don't mind films like Moonstruck and Mask being shown on TCM, but at the same time I want them to continue to show the much older classics as well. After all if they kept to films that were done only before 1965 we would be seeing some movies more then we already are, I have only been an advid watcher of TCM since February, yet I can't count how many times they have shown The Philadelphia Story, or The Magnificent Ambersons in that time, good films but shown way too much. At the same token there are other movies I have only seen air once during that time. It seems that TCM has good library of films but they really need to utilize it better.

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Well, I definitely agree with you about the idea of "spreading the wealth" in their programming. I guess I wouldn't be so concerned about TCM showing stuff like "Mask" and "Moonstruck" if a) the Turner people didn't already have a history of changing programming on us as they did with AMC, and B) if older films were as readily available on other channels as they are on TCM. As it is, TCM is pretty much the only game in town for black-and-white films (PBS showing the ever-great "Mrs. Miniver" tonight being an exception), and I'd hate to see that slowly (but surely) disappear ...

 

 

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I see that you two are new to the boards. We've worn this subject out---several times. I know some people don't care for the programming here, but I believe the tcmprogrammer when he says that the option AMC took is not on the horizon for TCM. Maybe there's some reason they're honoring Cher tomorrow night and they couldn't pick two better films of hers, especially Mask (I know she got the Oscar for Moonstruck but I like Mask better.) I think on the weekends they tend to show more commonly known movies to get a younger demographic. I don't blame them. I watch a lot during the week since I don't work and they show tons of movies I've never even heard of, much less seen before. So I'm happy with what they're doing. But to each his own.

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Hello Laurie.

 

I don't think one should 'draw a line' on defining a 'classic'. Hopefully some film will come along every few years that will be watchable twenty years from now. And I think 'Moonstruck' is one of those films.

 

A few years ago when tha AFI did the 100 Greatest Love Stories I included it on my personal Ten Greatest because I believe the film is the very best ethnic romantic comedy/love story ever filmed. Its Italian family/neighborhood setting was so honest and truthful and that set it apart from so many other films that have come before. (And it was refreshing to see Italians that weren't gangsters.) Also, when a new film is just an imitation of one that has come before, the original should be given consideration as a classic. (Would I be wrong to think 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' owes a lot to 'Moonstruck'?)

 

I share a lot of my classic films with younger folks I work with just to show them that there a very few new ideas in films these days and too many film makers just rip off those that came before them.

 

Spike Lee steals from 'Night Of The Hunter' in 'Do The Right Thing', Quentin Tarantino steals from 'Taking Of Pelham 1,2,3' in 'Reservoir Dogs'. Any time a 'dead man' narrates a film, someone needs to thank Billy Wilder and 'Sunset Blvd' or a 'murder victim' is revealed to be alive, it is just another version of 'Laura'. And every 'male-buddy film' owes a huge debt to 'Gunga Din'.

 

Some may call it an homage but I think it is often just laziness...and it is seldom done as well in later films as was in the original. (I'll never forget hearing co-wokers "quote" 'Blazing Saddles' not knowing they were actually quoting 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre'.

 

That's not to say some films following a familiar path of those that came before aren't enjoyable but 'Foul Play', 'Silver Streak' and 'Charade' are merely diversions while 'North By Northwest' is the classic.

 

So, I put forth that 'Moonstruck' is worthy of consideration of being a classic. 'Mask', on the other hand, is just an appropriate companion piece to fill out a double bill on "Cher Night". And that is OK - though I might have preferred 'Silkwood'.

 

Kyle in Hollywood

 

p.s. The powers that be at TCM that respond on here from time to time have given us every assurance TCM has no plans to ever emulate AMC...and they won't stick around if it ever came to pass. Hope you can sleep better knowing that.

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To hlywdkjk-(if you don't mind, just curious per usual. What are origins of your handle?)

You can write me more easily at: spencer64@ij.net & I thank you

 

Plus, I tend to agree with you in this topic. When it comes to an automobile, it's of course 20yrs to be a classic.

 

I've long held the belief that a motion picture, should -(just my opinion) a quarter of a century in age, to oficially be classified a "Classic"-(25 years or more)

 

However, as I said, I agree that some genuine greats of recent years>"*Platoon" (1986)/ "GoodFellas" (1990)/ "Pvt. Ryan" ('98) & what is thee single finest new release I reviewed in doing this since: 1982>*"Schindler's List" (1993)-(Also, #9 on "AFI's 100 years...100 Movies" list)

Plus, despite it having it's detractors.-(I also tend to think that had to do with media & B.O. overkill at time of it's release & OSCAR aftermath) 1997's *"Titanic"

 

They obviously show the-(& very rare discretion in our era) of airing likes of "Raging Bull" (1980) after midnight as well-(on a much lighter note. TCM aired 1982's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" at 2am last week & of course uncut)I truly thought many TCM-ITES would be furious at that one. However, it was aired at that time.

Make no mistake though, it's never going to be a classic, like: "American Graffiti" ('73)-(they were only doing a theme night)

& as u cited, 1987's terrific: "Moonstruck"-(1 of my OSCAR handicapping highnote yrs by the way. Hitting 20 categories on the $$$ But, who ever speaks of: *"The Last Emperor"-(9 victories!) anymore?)

 

But, on the deal of other filmmakers stealing from others. That has for the most part, been going on-(it really kicked-in with college filmmakers, that cut their teeth on Hollywoods Golden Age Cinema & started doing own work in late 1960's for the most part-(even Scorsese steals a wee-bit)

 

You hit a "Bullseye" that many may not be aware of on here. With "Do the Right Thing" & the brilliant 1955 thriller "Night of the Hunter"-(LOVE AND HATE)

 

But, *Tarentino mostly-(& admittedly) stole, or was inspired for his debut-(from LA video geek/clerk) "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) By Kubrick's 1956 crime-drama "The Killing" (***1/2) & not "Talking of Pelham,"-(yet another they are re-making?)

 

Good going & I thank you

 

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I beg to differ with you on Fast Time at Ridgemont High. Just look who was in that movie--Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Eric Stolz, Judge Reinhold, Anthony Edwards not to mention Ray Walston's great performance at Mr. Hand. While you may not consider it a classic, I think it's one of the best movies about high school that's ever been made. Penn's character, Spiccoli, is known by just about anyone--at least anyone under the age of 60. I'm 51 and I think it's a great film. Just wanted to stand up for it.

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And another thing, I happen to think The Last Emperor is a fine film. I've seen it many times. It gave the West a glimpse of early Chinese history. It's rather long so maybe that's why people today don't watch it. I don't think many people under the age of 40 care much about Schindler's List, which was a fine film too (although I have a little trouble with the overwrought ending.) I'll stop now.

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What does 'classic' mean? When most people call a film 'classic' they're generally referring to something like Citizen Kane or Casablanca. They're not thinking about Havana Widows or Sins of the Children. Most of the films TCM plays aren't classics but are called such because of their age. I think a good film is a good film regardless of when it was made, whether it's in colour or black-and-white, whether it has sound or doesn't, and even bad films can be good films if viewed in the right light. I don't see Moonstruck as being a classic as much I think Greed is but maybe it's just the name Turner Classic Movies that inspires one to think all their programming should consist of vintage titles when it's actually refreshing to see an obscure silent film directly after a modern film. It appears TCM sees little difference between 'classic' films and recent-to-contemporary films. In our visually-hyperactive, consumer-driven society, at least there's the option of TCM (that is, if you live in America) to remind us violent, sexual oriented, special effects-laden drek was not always what filmmaking was about. It's just the 'classic' bit that's confusing.

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> maybe it's just the name Turner Classic Movies that >inspires one to think all their programming should consist >of vintage titles when it's actually refreshing to see an >obscure silent film directly after a modern film.

 

I agree with this. On how many other channels could you watch Mask (1985), and then right after that watch Tess of the Storm Country (1922)? None that I can think of.

 

 

 

 

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Well, I think they try to appeal to a greater audience that's why they would show the mask and then tess of the storm country. also, classics are movies that left an impression on its audience and that are enjoyed by generations, not just because it's ancient. how closed minded it is to refuse a movie the title of classic just because it is younger than you are.

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Personally I have always thought of TCM as a channel that gives us movies that, because of their age or other factors, might otherwise be forgotten. Sure, "Moonstruck" is a fine movie with stellar performances. but you can find it at any corner video store anywhere in America. granted, the same can be said for alot of the classics such as "Mildred Pierce" or "Citizen Kane" (which would be found, most likely, in the Classics section) but, as another poster mentioned, the bulk of the films shown are ones that aren't as easy to find.

 

Personally, instead of seeing more and more easily-accessible "modern classics" like "When Harry Met Sally", I would much rather see more foreign films. Friday nights at midnight simply isn't enough....

 

why not bring more attention to wonderful, older foreign films such as "Boccaccio '70" and "The Rules of the Game"?

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I guess that's ultimately the point I was trying to make: I don't dispute how great a movie "Moonstruck" is (and I'm not THAT much older than it), but how often have we seen it on TNT, AMC or one of the pay-cable channels? Meanwhile, how many of them are showing "Now, Voyager" (OK, maybe once in a blue moon on HBO2 or 3) or "Tess of the Storm Country?" They'll throw "Gone With the Wind" onto TNT every once in a while (likely 'cause it's Ted Turner's favorite), or "Wizard of Oz" between "Law & Order" marathons, but nothing else when it comes to older films. Like I said, if they hadn't slowly changed AMC's programming, I'd let "Mask" and "Moonstruck" slide -- but five years hence, what could the TCM schedule look like? Will "Meet the Parents" or "Legally Blonde" be someday dubbed a "classic"? Either could have the legs that "Back to the Future" did, which already has shown on TCM. An all-night showing of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy?

 

What will happen to the great silents or the B&Ws of the 30s, 40s and 50s as they slowly get shunted aside amid an increasingly crowded field of more modern "classics"? I guess that's what DVDs ultimately are for (hey, it's lucky that TCM sells those, isn't it?). Just kidding about that last part -- but for me there's a small delight that comes with flipping through the channels and, like an old friend, happening upon "To Have and Have Not" or "Mildred Pierce," a feeling you just can't get with popping it into the DVD.

 

Call me a purist, call me naive, but that's how I feel ...

 

 

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I agree about the "classic" concern, but I also disagree with TCM's fairly new programming idea of showing certain films 2 or 3 times in one month, as if they have NOTHING else to show.

 

The early talkies still get shunted to the "wee hours" if they are shown at all, and there are still hundreds of silent films they never show. I remember seeing The Silver Chord on TCM..... shown ONCE about ten years ago!

 

and the early talkies of Betty Compson, Dorothy Mackaill, William Haines, Ricardo Cortez, John Gilbert, Richard Barthelmess, Bessie Love, Corinne Griffith etc get buried.....

 

 

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Laurie,

 

I completely agree with you on this subject. I don't know about anyone else on here who's around my age, but I have certain restrictions on what I'm allowed to watch. That includes TV shows as well. I remember the days when I could flip the channel to AMC and watch whatever that was being shown. Because the films were all "the stuff we love." All of those wonderful, innocent oldies. I can't tell you the last time I watched anything on AMC. It really makes me sad. I hate it. American Movie Classics.

 

If they are going to continue to fill AMC with "The Mask," "Moonstruck," and all of those films, then I agree that they strictly keep them to AMC and any other channel but TCM. I seriously think I'll cry if I begin to see more made-in-the-80s-and-90s films creep into the TCM schedule. I love "true" classic films with a passion, and you can only find so many certain oldies at your local libraries. Believe me, I know. I go to the library every single week for a bag-full of classics. I'm not kidding. Can't we just leave TCM filled with the beautiful Golden Age?

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"how closed minded it is to refuse a movie the title of classic just because it is younger than you are."

 

Well said! I also agree with Johnny, who said that the great majority of films shown on TCM aren't classics, just old. You can be one without being the other.

 

I don't think it's fair to expect any one person to love every movie TCM shows. I guess they're doing a good job of presenting something for everyone. Silents, newer films, sci-fi, Westerns, epics, mysteries, series, the list goes on and on. My advice would be to enjoy when they show your favorites or new discoveries, and watch something else when they're not.

 

BLU

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I am also concerned about all the newer movies TCM has chosen to air. I don't consider them classic because they have not stood up to time. A movie that stands the test of time should be considered classic. That's why, betweem TCM shopping and Amazon.com, I am populating my library with the true classics of this day just in case TCM decides to show more newer films as time goes on. Change is inevitable, but when one really likes a genre of films that might be shoved aside sooner or later, the best thing to do is collect them so you have them when they DO get shoved aside.JMHO :) Sue

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Dear "Getoverit718" ...

 

I'm awfully curious as to how old you are that you have restrictions on your television viewing. I ask because I'm hoping you're young enough to be in perhaps what TCM considers a more desirable demographic -- seemingly one of the reasons they're showing newer films -- and yet you still love the older films.

 

For the person who mentioned "how closed-minded it was" to say something negative about a film because "it's younger than you are," I feel compelled to point out that I'm 38 -- or about 20 when "Moonstruck" originally hit theatres, and while I saw and enjoyed it then and now, I'll still take Bette Davis or Humphrey Bogart any day.

 

Perhaps before TCM assumes that more modern fare might lure a younger viewing audience, they might do a little research into the wide range of ages that enjoy -- and in some ways count on -- the unique offerings of this very special channel.

 

 

 

 

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