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How does one start on Classic Movies?


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If you haven't seen The Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind, I think those are two early blockblusters that are universally known and watched. From there, if you like Judy Garland, then watch some of her movies. Same with Gable, de Havilland, Howard, McDaniel or Leigh. Of course, I'm 51 years old so I grew up on old movies on TV. But my suggestion amounts to finding a star you like watch their films and then maybe watch films of their co-stars and from there it just kind of avalanches into a full blown obsession.

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That's the idea. Watch old movies the same way you would read books. If you read a book by an author you like, you want to read more of his books, right?


Same thing with the movies. I started out looking for Al Jolson's movies. When I saw Jolson in GO INTO YOUR DANCE with Ruby Keeler, I started looking for her movies. When I saw Keeler in FOOTLIGHT PARADE with James Cagney and Joan Blondell, I sought them out, too. And so on, and so forth. Let one interest spark another.


The deeper I got into classic movies, I found out that writers and directors shaped them more than the stars in them, so I started looking for their names, too. The key is to take note of who or what you like in any one movie, and seek it out elsewhere. Chances are you won't have to seek far. And just let it mushroom from there.

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You say you're a 'youngin' but you don't say whether you're a male or female one....


If you're female, then start with "The Women" (1939) and then branch out with all the stars from that film - Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell etc.


And, if you're male, then go for "The Oxbow Incident" (1943) and give Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews a try.


Of course the other suggestions are excellent, too.....



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I agree with whoever suggested the gangster movies or the horror genre - they are 'fun' type movies and almost anyone would enjoy them as opposed to starting with a certain actor/actress that you may or may not like. I'd suggest starting with The Maltese Falcon, White Heat, and Little Caesar for gangster flicks and Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, Dracula (Bela Lugosi version) and The Wolfman for horror movies. (Yes, you'll laugh at what they used to call horror, but that's where it all started.) Or if you prefer romance and espionage one of the best movies ever made is Casablanca. Of course you can never go wrong with Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz, already suggested. Just my 2 cents. Happy viewing!

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Welcome to the wonderful world of classic movies!


I sugget that you start by watching as many films of different types as you can. The more you see the more you'll know what interests you. With TCM, don't just watch the famous films that run in primetime watch what they show at other parts of the day too.


Follow up by reading about movies, and stars and directors. No doubt your local public library will have many books on classic movies.


One other thing, some of you're friends will laugh at you and tell you that watching old black & white films is "uncool". Ignore them and you'll be the one having the "Last Laugh" which by the way is the title of a great silent film you should check out. Good luck and enjoy.




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I'm not sure if you are a 'youngin'' figuratively or literally. Either way, I will suggest films that I found exciting & exhilarating when I was a 'youngin' and when great movies were shown on Sunday Nights on network television.


One can start a good appreciation of classic film by beginning with the films of Alfred Hitchcock. They are great stories on first viewing but have many layers of interest beyond the narrative (plot) to be studied later on.


If you are still a youth, I would suggest starting with "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956). A child plays an integral part to the plot and that was what hooked me (along with wanting to hear 'Que Sera, Sera'.)


Follow it with 'North By Northwest', 'The Birds' - but not if you are susceptible to nightmares - and 'Rear Window'. All are fantastic films that young people will still find entertaining and adults will enjoy too.


Another film I would eagerly anticipate in reruns is 'The Bridge On The River Kwai' (David Lean - 1957). It gives one plenty to talk about afterwards with its themes of Duty/Honor/Heroes. And there is a pretty impressive explosion too. Follow it up with 'The Train' (John Frankenheimer - 1964) and you've got a great double feature about the futility of war.


'Captains Courageous' (Victor Fleming - 1937) is also a wonderful film that has aged well. It's young male lead is perfect for youngsters to identify with. 'The Adventures Of Robin Hood' (Michael Curtiz - 1938) is also a great adventure for all ages and it is in color if B&W is an impediment to what you choose to watch.

Their strong linear narratives and techniques are excellent examples of pre-Citizen Kane filmmaking. (And I think it is important to see a few 30's features before seeing 'Citizen Kane' so one knows what is so revolutionary about what Orson Welles created in 1941.)


Here, in no particular order, are some other great films that make for a strong "classic film" foundation to grow on and are necessary to have seen when discussing other classic films -

'High Noon' (Fred Zinnemann - 1952)

'A Place In The Sun' (George Stevens - 1951)

'Laura' (Otto Preminger - 1944)

'Red River' (Howard Hawks - 1948)

'It Happened One Night' (Frank Capra - 1934)

'Sunset Blvd.' (Billy Wilder - 1950)

'Casablanca' (Michael Curtiz - 1942)


There are some excellent documentaries on filmmaking that can lead you in a new and exciting direction when you feel undecided or overwhelmed -


'Visions of Light - The Art of Cinematography'

'George Stevens - A Filmmakers' Journey'

'American Cinema' - 10 part PBS film course you might find at the library.


I envy you. There are so many joys awaiting you in seeing these films for the first time. Sometimes I wish I could erase the memories and experience the thrill of a 'first viewing' of these all over again. I bet I wouldn't feel that way if contemporary films were building on the tradition these films created and not just wasting the legacy they have been given.




Kyle in Hollywood

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Hello fellow youngin!


I am also very young, but grew up with old movies (thanks grandma)!


I think all of the suggestions so far are great. I would start with the Oscar Winners, then branch off into their other roles. That is what I have done but with my movie collection. I see one film by one actress then do some research and try to watch as many of the other films....in the end I end up buying most of them.


this is also a great place, as I have found out, to get feedback. People are talking about a different movie everyday...which might compel you to go out and rent the title ( if available) and add your two cents....I would also recommend some of the classic movie websites...


Find an actor or actress that draws you in and expand from there- that is what I have done.




Gone With The Wind- Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh

The Thin Man- William Powell and Myrna Loy

It Happened One Night- Claudette Colbert and Gable

Since You Went Away- Claudette Colbert and Jennifer Jones

You Can't Take It With You- Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart

Alfred Hitchcock


those are some of my favs!

Have fun viewing!


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Hi there, "Youngin", and welcome to our boards! I'll have to chime in with others who have already replied and encourage you to start out by watching Classic Movies that you're pretty sure will appeal to you to begin with, and then "branch out" from there. There are many "genre's" to pick from: Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, Drama, Horror, War, Gangster, Mystery, Westerns, Musicals, Silent Movies, etc.,etc.,etc., and TCM will offer you movies from every genre in their excellent programming on a continual basis. Thus, I also suggest that you download TCM's Monthly Schedules so that you can see what's coming up and select movies that appeal to you.


Others may "recommend" movies to you, and many of them will be what we think of as "essentials" and are certainly worth your time to see, while just as many will be more likely to reflect what the person recommending the movie values as a personal favorite, but possibly not your "cup of tea". For this reason, it would be helpful to you and to us if you would also tell us which of the "genre's" appeal to you at the present time so that we can give you a good listing of movies from those genre's to start you off.


If you already have a few movie stars from the Classics Era that appeal to you, look for as many movies as you can find that they have starred in, and as Coffeedan says, you will suddenly start becoming interested in other actors that you see in these films. Along the same lines, you will also start to identify certain Director's whose work appeals to you the more of it that you see, although probably not at first...so don't worry about that now.


There is a lot of discussion on our boards about what makes a movie a "Classic", and in particular, what years are we talking about when we talk about Classic Movies on these boards. The general "rule of thumb" that most of us seem to follow concerning the years the movies were produced, is that they begin in the late 1920's and continue through the 70's, and maybe even through the 80's...with most of the focus on the years between the 30's and the 50's (what many of us refer to as "The Golden Era"), and all the actors within that time frame. But, this certainly doesn't mean that some very good movies haven't been made since the 1990's, and you will find many that are even "Classics" by anyone's definition.


Anyway, please do post again and let us know which of the Genre's and actors appeal to you, and we'll do our best to make some good recommendations for you. The best way to start, is simply to start...so make it fun and enjoyable, and you can't possibly go wrong. :)ML

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My sister is new to classic movies also, it started with her walking in on ones I was watching. Then she saw Montgomery Clift in "The Heiress" ( I like it for Olivia DeHavilland ) but she was smitten with Montgomery Clift and then had to see all his movies, then while watching "A Place In The Sun" she saw Elizabeth Taylor, and so Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. and so went on from there, it sort of snowballs. Find an actor you like,and by seeing their movies, it introduces you to other actors and so on. That's one way anyways.

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You've certainly got a lot of great feedback thus far, and we'd love to hear more from you such that "we" can refine our answers.


Absent that, if 'youngin' meant 'little one', and The Wizard of Oz (1939) doesn't do it for you (or yours) like it did for so many of us, I'd also second The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), since it's also in COLOR.


And, if you aren't opposed to B&W films, as NONE of us are, you might also try The Mark of Zorro (1940) or any one of a number of great family Musicals like Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Oklahoma! (1955), The Sound of Music (1965), Oliver! (1968) or even My Fair Lady (1964). My kids love all of these, and many other classics, though they tend to prefer the ones in COLOR.

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That is the silliest question anyone could ask. You do or you don't. When I watch a great movies I don't just plan to watch it. Those movies come on when you lest expect it. I woulddn't worry about how to start, and don't go about trying to see them all wheres the surprise in that?

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I think if you talk alot about a certain movies to whomever,that may grab their attention and they may want to see what all the talks about.my son (12yrs.) who lives in another state(divorce stinks)is always asking what I'm watching when we talk on the phone and 90% of the time it's TCM. I also told him about IMDb.com and now he is on that site constantly.we now talk about John Wayne,Bogart,Flynn ect.and his interest peeked. I purchased him a book (sorry I don't remember the author) called "1001 movies to watch before you die". We where in Manhattan and he wanted "The cabinet of Dr.Caligari" 1919. He read about it in the book,His first black and white and it's silent to boot. So now we have a common interest in old classic movies,and I have a family member to share (not counting you guys)my classic movie passion. vallo

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I think that if a film endures, is always welcomed by viewers who want to see it again and again, and the film stands up to time and to other films that come out like it but just not it--then maybe the film might be mentioned as "classic." Certainly, The Wizard of Oz would, in my book, be considered a classic. But you have to apply strict criteria to a film, such as I have mentioned, before it can be considered a "classic." Sue

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Youngin, when my kids were little (I have 3, all grown now) I used to watch old movies and encourage them to watch with me. My oldest son Jere watched "Arsenic and Old Lace" with me and although he was a rather stoic type who rarely showed any emotion, even laughter, he was almost rolling on the floor at that movie and was laughing so hard he was crying. From then on he couldn't get enough old movies -- especially Cary Grant movies, and although Jere's 24 now and in the Army he has a huge classic movie library, with an especially large section on...you guessed it...Cary Grant. :-)


My middle son Josh scoffed at the notion that ANY movie in black & white could be good. He refused to watch movies with us. That was fine, but then he started making fun of Jere for liking old movies, calling him a nerd and a geek and all kinds of other unflattering things, so I sat Josh down and said "You've never seen a black and white movie, and until you do you have no right to talk like this." Then I made him watch a B&W movie. The movie was "Captains Courageous" with Spencer Tracy. Josh grumbled and fussed, but watched the movie. By the time it was over he was in tears. Next thing I knew he wanted to see B&W movies -- but only if they included Spencer Tracy. So his next movie was "Boys Town." He loved that one as well -- and added Mickey Rooney to the list of movies he would watch. One movie led to another, one actor led to another. Soon he was watching all kinds of old movies. He's in the Army now too, and once made a commotion in the barracks when he brought in some movie posters and hung them on the walls in his room. A crowd of guys presently appeared at his door, saying "We heard you got posters from HUSTLER on your walls, we wanna see!" Josh said okay and let them in...and they saw posters from the movie "The Hustler" with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason shooting pool! ;-)


My youngest son was always pretty easygoing and laid-back, and we started him off with Abbott and Costello. He loved them, and so I was amazed to discover last year that the extremely romantic and idealistic "Casablanca" is actually his favorite movie. He told me once that he watches it whenever he's depressed and it always makes him feel better "because the problems of 3 little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world"!


The moral of the story is simple: all roads lead to Rome. The movies I got my kids to watch were very different because my kids were very different, but regardless of how each one started, he ended up loving the whole notion of old movies. Pick a genre you like or an actor you have heard is good, and watch how one thing leads to another. Hope these suggestions are helpful to you!



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:( Boy, I sure goofed on my answer to the question. LOL It's hector getting old and missing an important word in a sentence. I agree with all who have posted so far. That's how I got baptized. And I'm still at it so my DVD/VHS library is eventually going to take over my apartment--guess I'll have to pitch a tent somewhere..... :) Sue

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Check out the AFI (American Film Institute's) 100 Greatest American films for a quick primer on many great U.S. films - though they barely touch the wonderful silent era. (They also don't really cover most British films, except a few coproductions.) AND....after you've seen a lot of great English language films, check out some great foreign films!


Some suggestions (relatively recent films):

Life is Beautiful (Italy)

Amelie (France)

Run Lola Run (Germany)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China)

Character (Netherlands)

My Life as a Dog (Sweden)

Burnt by the Sun (Russia)

Kolya (Czech Republic)


And some great older classics, like:

400 Blows (France)

Bicycle Thief (Italy)

M (Germany)

Seven Samurai (Japan)

Panther Panchali (India)


Your local video store should have most of these, and many more...


Good luck, and happy viewing!



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