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Does the history behind a movie matter or should it stand on its own?


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Does the history behind a movie matter or should it stand on its own?

 

Movies should stand on their own.   e.g. the personal lives of the actors,  how different the movie is from the book,  the problems on the set,   if an actor had to be replaced,   problems between the actors and the director,   etc..    

 

While I find all of that stuff interesting because I'm interested in the studio-era movie making process,  the actors, directors, etc..  it doesn't impact how I view the final product.

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Movies should stand on their own.   e.g. the personal lives of the actors,  how different the movie is from the book,  the problems on the set,   if an actor had to be replaced,   problems between the actors and the director,   etc..    

 

While I find all of that stuff interesting because I'm interested in the studio-era movie making process,  the actors, directors, etc..  it doesn't impact how I view the final product.

Nor should it. But the history behind the movie matters if you are interested in film history, as I believe most people on these boards are.

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Nor should it. But the history behind the movie matters if you are interested in film history, as I believe most people on these boards are.

I agree with both views.  The movie stands by itself and the background of movie does interest and enjoyment, to a movie, especially if it is one I truly like and want more information about.  I read quite a few movie books ( actually have three shelves worth) including biographies of actors and directors plus the moguls and some of the producers.  The book about the Arthur Freed Production Unit was a fantastic read and now I will refer to the book after watching a MGM musical to go over some pertinent facts. And I found a fantastic book about Fred Astaire's movies that breaks down the dance sequences in each of his movies and what it took to choreograph them and produce them...absolutely fascinating and hard work.. Fred earned every nickel he received.

 

I really like Now Voyager and The Man Who Came to Dinner but the background of the making of the movie does not really interest me..but Casablanca that is a different story, I want to know all there is to know.

 

I think the interesting "bon mots" that Ben and Bob throw out plus the guest presenters are interesting and in some instances will make me watch a movie a totally different way.  Take for instance "Old Acquaintance"  I knew Marion Hopkins and Bette Davis didn't like each other but until Ben said something about Bette Davis and Marion's spouse, Anatole Litvak having an affair, well then I watched the movie from a whole different perspective in respect to the relationship portrayed on the screen. 

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Of course it matters! I find it difficult to relate to comedies such as SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL because the basis of their humor is now almost lost in time; a full explanation of what is supposed to make them funny is very necessary. Plus there are propaganda movies such as those of Eisenstein, which take historical events and then distort them to the point of turning those same historical events into falsehoods. Brian de Palma may have been very impressed by the Odessa steps sequence of THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, but in point of fact that event never happened; it was all a fabrication.

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Ultimately, in spite of drama, personal problems, hookups, etc. the film should stand on its own.  Casablanca stands on its own as a good film--even if one was not aware of the script drama, Bogart/Bergman not being the first choice, the Oscar drama, etc. Knowing that the actors and crew were basically working with an ever changing script that was never complete until the last scene was filmed makes Casablanca even more interesting to me, because it's amazing that they were able to pull together such a fantastic film when it wasn't clear what was happening during filming.  However, a viewer shouldn't have to be knowledgeable of all the behind the scenes trivia/gossip in order to like/appreciate a film. 

 

For me personally, I make it a point to read the trivia on a film on imdb, tcm and listening to Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz's introductions make the film more interesting.  If there's trivia behind a specific scene in the film, for example, it's fun to look out for the scene knowing that x happened.  Like many on this board, I like to read about actors, movie making, behind the scenes about a particular film, etc. When watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and having read about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's feud in countless sources, knowing how much they loathed each other makes Bette Davis' actions in the film even more deliciously sinister. 

 

There are also historical anecdotes about films that can make them notable, even if the film itself is lackluster.  Knowing that The Misfits*, for example, is Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe's last full length film is an interesting piece of trivia to consider when watching the film.  Seeing Move Over Darling, knowing that it is the eventual end product of Marilyn Monroe's final, unfinished film, Something's Gotta Give, also adds some intrigue to the experience of watching this film. 

 

*-I'm not saying The Misfits is lackluster, actually I quite enjoy this film.

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Does the history behind a movie matter or should it stand on its own?

If the movie is about an historical event, unless it's Shakespeare it certainly does matter whether or not it presents the basic events with historical accuracy.

 

If you mean do the "politics" between the actors and the directors / producers matter, then my answer would be "no".  All that matters there is the finished product we see on the screen.

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I find fascinating the backstories to movies, whether they were trouble plagued, budget busting, restarted epics like FOREVER AMBER or CLEOPATRA (1963), or more modestly envisioned films. This is one of the reasons I particularly enjoy studio era films, and reading about this era, because a business about the bottom line, marshalled armies of artists, artisans and craftsmen, to create many sublime movies, or mostly, enjoyable films.

 

Of course the films stand on their own, but the stories behind them can add to their enjoyment.

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Does the history behind a movie matter or should it stand on its own?

This is like asking if the Mona Lisa should stand on its own, without taking into account any of the variables that helped shape is creation and the on-going appreciation of it by scholars and the general public.

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This is like asking if the Mona Lisa should stand on its own, without taking into account any of the variables that helped shape is creation and the on-going appreciation of it by scholars and the general public.

Of course the history behind a movie matters. I used to like Lee Marvin, now that I know he's a ****, I won't watch anything he is in. Ditto Robert Blake. Here come all the posts telling me I am wrong, because of course I might change my mind. :D:lol:

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Of course the history behind a movie matters. I used to like Lee Marvin, now that I know he's a ****, I won't watch anything he is in. Ditto Robert Blake. Here come all the posts telling me I am wrong, because of course I might change my mind. :D:lol:

Well the point is that these works do not just magically appear out of thin air. There are forces surrounding it that help bring it into being (boy does that sound philosophical but you get what I'm saying).  Also, not only is there the work history of the individual artists-- but there is world history at large, and usually the themes of a work of art (or film) are reflecting that, whether consciously or subconsciously.

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Well the point is that these works do not just magically appear out of thin air. There are forces surrounding it that help bring it into being (boy does that sound philosophical but you get what I'm saying).  Also, not only is there the work history of the individual artists-- but there is world history at large, and usually the themes of a work of art (or film) are reflecting that, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Of course you are correct, TB, and of course I get it. All films are part of their time and part of the history of the filmmakers and actors in them. Think of the moguls, whom we now know were misogynistic megalomaniacs. IF they were not, they would not have had the stones to start the studios they did, with little regard for anyone but themselves. Thanks to them, we have catalogs of movies that utilized actors whom they wanted, and because it was their time, they ignored and were able to disregard actors they did not want. Today they would have been hit with lawsuits of racism and sexism and many other -isms.

 

Ditto on the patriotic pictures, which except for a very few examples, painted a picture of a country which wasn't true.

 

I absolutely see the bigger picture, TB. However, I have reached a stage where I have been there, done that, stood in awe of the philosophy of movies and movie making. Hence, my wish to view only movies from MY Golden Age. Barring that, I try to limit what I watch so that I won't be disappointed. I won't watch most of the garbage that passes for current movie making, and I won't watch movies with actors I hate.

 

I assumed it was a rhetorical question, since there wouldn't have been eons of film classes and movie studies if the history of film wasn't absolutely important to them.

 

Meanwhile, I can't even remember what I called Lee Marvin, but it wasn't bad, that's for sure. He is far worse than whatever I called him. What a mor - onic censor filter is on this site.

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Of course you are correct, TB, and of course I get it. All films are part of their time and part of the history of the filmmakers and actors in them. Think of the moguls, whom we now know were misogynistic megalomaniacs. IF they were not, they would not have had the stones to start the studios they did, with little regard for anyone but themselves. Thanks to them, we have catalogs of movies that utilized actors whom they wanted, and because it was their time, they ignored and were able to disregard actors they did not want. Today they would have been hit with lawsuits of racism and sexism and many other -isms.

 

Ditto on the patriotic pictures, which except for a very few examples, painted a picture of a country which wasn't true.

 

I absolutely see the bigger picture, TB. However, I have reached a stage where I have been there, done that, stood in awe of the philosophy of movies and movie making. Hence, my wish to view only movies from MY Golden Age. Barring that, I try to limit what I watch so that I won't be disappointed. I won't watch most of the garbage that passes for current movie making, and I won't watch movies with actors I hate.

 

I assumed it was a rhetorical question, since there wouldn't have been eons of film classes and movie studies if the history of film wasn't absolutely important to them.

 

Meanwhile, I can't even remember what I called Lee Marvin, but it wasn't bad, that's for sure. He is far worse than whatever I called him. What a mor - onic censor filter is on this site.

 

I don't view the question as rhetorical.   To me the question meant that when one does know the history behind the making of a film and \ or the director,  actors,  writers,  producers etc... of the film does that impact how would views (experiences) the film.  e.g. how one would 'rate' the film or actor?

 

e.g.  the thread on George C Scott and how he beat this girlfriend.   Some people will not view films that Scott is in.   Clearly they are letting their knowledge of Scott as a person impact their viewing.    Other may watch films with Scott but the knowledge of his personal actions distracts them (i.e. they are thinking about that while watching his performance).

 

While I'm very interested in film history I try to NOT let this knowledge impact my viewing of the film,  but as TB noted  subconsciously there is an impact.   I just don't want to admit it!      

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I don't view the question as rhetorical.   To me the question meant that when one does know the history behind the making of a film and \ or the director,  actors,  writers,  producers etc... of the film does that impact how would views (experiences) the film.  e.g. how one would 'rate' the film or actor?

 

e.g.  the thread on George C Scott and how he beat this girlfriend.   Some people will not view films that Scott is in.   Clearly they are letting their knowledge of Scott as a person impact their viewing.    Other may watch films with Scott but the knowledge of his personal actions distracts them (i.e. they are thinking about that while watching his performance).

 

While I'm very interested in film history I try to NOT let this knowledge impact my viewing of the film,  but as TB noted  subconsciously there is an impact.   I just don't want to admit it!      

But then, james, the issue of to whom does it matter enters into the mix. I didn't see the question as how the movie mattered to me, I was just being snarky as per my usual, but how it matters in the scheme of life.

 

If an actor is good, beloved by many, but was a insertyourownexpletivehere in real life, and is in a very good movie that is artistically and financially successful, and the movie stands the test of time, then that movie matters, does it not?

 

I'm not sure Fatty Arbuckle was in any great movies, but I would never see anything with him in it. I won't watch anything with Julie Andrews, but her movies matter, correct? Ditto on John Wayne, and Lee Marvin, but I'm sure they made movies that matter in the history of film? Some films just don't matter to me.

 

So, I guess if I read the question correctly, then all films matter, even Song Of The South.

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But then, james, the issue of to whom does it matter enters into the mix. I didn't see the question as how the movie mattered to me, I was just being snarky as per my usual, but how it matters in the scheme of life.

 

If an actor is good, beloved by many, but was a insertyourownexpletivehere in real life, and is in a very good movie that is artistically and financially successful, and the movie stands the test of time, then that movie matters, does it not?

 

I'm not sure Fatty Arbuckle was in any great movies, but I would never see anything with him in it. I won't watch anything with Julie Andrews, but her movies matter, correct? Ditto on John Wayne, and Lee Marvin, but I'm sure they made movies that matter in the history of film? Some films just don't matter to me.

 

So, I guess if I read the question correctly, then all films matter, even Song Of The South.

 

Well I viewed the 'does it matter' question to mean does it 'matter to ME'  (but of course I'm always thinking only about ME!).

 

If the 'does it matter' relates to the overall scheme I would view that question as rhetorical,  since as you noted 'then all films matter' and there really isn't anything to discuss related to that. 

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Does the history behind a movie matter or should it stand on its own?

 

I think all movies should stand on their own.

 

HOWEVER, if a film has an interesting history, that makes it much better in my mind.

 

Examples:

 

CITIZEN KANE

GONE WITH THE WIND

KING KONG

MOST CLARA BOW MOVIES

 

AND, I am always delighted when I watch a great film 20 - 50 times and I discover some new detail in it, such as the first time we see the little snow globe in CITIZEN KANE, which I didn't notice during my first 30 years of seeing the movie over and over.

 

When Ted Turner first started TNT and TCM with a showing of GONE WITH THE WIND, he followed the film with a new 2-hour documentary about the film and that has always been a great documentary that made the film even more interesting.

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At this moment TCM is broadcasting THE APARTMENT. Jack Lemmon is still charming, but everything else in that movie is perfectly mystifying. What is so funny about an office employee renting his apartment for illicit liaisons? And the women look so HIDEOUS in those tight dresses in which they can barely move and those puffy hairdos that look like birds' nests!

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At this moment TCM is broadcasting THE APARTMENT. Jack Lemmon is still charming, but everything else in that movie is perfectly mystifying. What is so funny about an office employee renting his apartment for illicit liaisons? And the women look so HIDEOUS in those tight dresses in which they can barely move and those puffy hairdos that look like birds' nests!

I took the history part of the question to mean the story behind the making of a film. On the other hand, movies from decades past are a window and a reflection of the contemporaneous world, whether it was accurate it not, and even when it spotlighted outdated notions and prejudices. However, I find fascinating looking at then current trends in cars, furniture, appliances and, especially in women, clothing and hairstyles. This is one of the great incidental pleasures of watching a film like THE APARTMENT, even with it's archaic view of salacious behavior and the misogynistic view of objectification of women.

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I took the history part of the question to mean the story behind the making of a film. On the other hand, movies from decades past are a window and a reflection of the contemporaneous world, whether it was accurate it not, and even when it spotlighted outdated notions and prejudices. However, I find fascinating looking at then current trends in cars, furniture, appliances and, especially in women, clothing and hairstyles. This is one of the great incidental pleasures of watching a film like THE APARTMENT, even with it's archaic view of salacious behavior and the misogynistic view of objectification of women.

 

I assume Matthew Weiner,  creator of Mad Men,  watched The Apartment a few times.   

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I took the history part of the question to mean the story behind the making of a film. On the other hand, movies from decades past are a window and a reflection of the contemporaneous world, whether it was accurate it not, and even when it spotlighted outdated notions and prejudices. However, I find fascinating looking at then current trends in cars, furniture, appliances and, especially in women, clothing and hairstyles. This is one of the great incidental pleasures of watching a film like THE APARTMENT, even with it's archaic view of salacious behavior and the misogynistic view of objectification of women.

Some movies WERE a reflection of that world, but others such as costumers and Westerns, were not.

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