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Diminishing Return Law


CaveGirl
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Often I see a movie which was considered the cat's meow in its time and now it is totally forgotten. And I'm not talking about one from the 1930's but as recently as maybe from the 1990's.

 

What creates such a situation? Is it because for a while the film is a cause celebre then loses its momentum? Or does the topical matter just lose appeal?

Hard to believe the latter since "Casablanca"  and its situations are very far from a modern audience's situations yet it holds firm in its appeal.

 

Your opinion and give examples please for extra points!

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Could be "all of the above" as far as reasons go.  It also might have helped if you yourself gave a couple or so examples.

 

As far as CASABLANCA goes, I couldn't explain it's appeal during modern times.  A lot of factors come into play....

 

Some have ALWAYS liked this movie( ME, for example, since I was "single digit" age) and hold onto it nostalgically.  Others (older I'd venture) recall seeing it on some first date perhaps,  and hold it dear for that reason.  Or else they remember living through those times...I couldn't say.  It sounds as if you're assuming certain films had huge appeal for EVERYbody, and then over time that appeal faded for some movies, but remains for others.

 

Like, for CASABLANCA, it's remaining appeal may also be for far fewer people than when it first came out.

 

Sepiatone

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Could be "all of the above" as far as reasons go.  It also might have helped if you yourself gave a couple or so examples.

 

As far as CASABLANCA goes, I couldn't explain it's appeal during modern times.  A lot of factors come into play....

 

Some have ALWAYS liked this movie( ME, for example, since I was "single digit" age) and hold onto it nostalgically.  Others (older I'd venture) recall seeing it on some first date perhaps,  and hold it dear for that reason.  Or else they remember living through those times...I couldn't say.  It sounds as if you're assuming certain films had huge appeal for EVERYbody, and then over time that appeal faded for some movies, but remains for others.

 

Like, for CASABLANCA, it's remaining appeal may also be for far fewer people than when it first came out.

 

Sepiatone

I agree, Sepia "it might have helped" if I had given some examples but my mind is a blank from watching all the TCM films yesterday and also reading the book "1001 Movies to See Before You Die" for like nine hours.

 

That's what got me to thinking about it, but then my movie memory gave out. Sorry!

 

I do like your explanation though for how the first instance of seeing a film might give it cachet.

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I agree, Sepia "it might have helped" if I had given some examples but my mind is a blank from watching all the TCM films yesterday and also reading the book "1001 Movies to See Before You Die" for like nine hours.

 

That's what got me to thinking about it, but then my movie memory gave out. Sorry!

 

I do like your explanation though for how the first instance of seeing a film might give it cachet.

Firstly, a warning about the 1001 book, they don't hesitate to completely spoil the films in the write-ups. If you don't mind, have at it. But I've learned not to read the full entry until after viewing the film.

 

Secondly, as regards your thread topic, some films date more quickly than others. Some that were seen as groundbreaking or controversial have had their subject matter enter into the public consciousness to such a degree that the previously revelatory nature of the original films is either lost or seems naive.

 

As far as modern audiences for film, I read an article recently about the increased disposability of our pop culture, especially film and music. New projects used to be savored and discussed for days and weeks and even years after their initial release. But over the last 15-20 years, it has become more and more about the pre-release hype and anticipation for a film, and once it has been released and tweeted about, forgotten so that the hype for the next thing can begin. People don't discuss what they've seen, only what they're going to see. This mentality is also partially the cause of the decrease in home entertainment sales (dvd, blu ray, digital downloads), as more people lose the desire to revisit something they've already seen. Finally, the sheer amount of content now readily available to a consumer means they have little time for reflection because it's on to the next movie/show or they'll never "get caught up".

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Two examples of eagerly anticipated films from the past:

 

A young person today can scarcely imagine how eager people were to see MY FAIR LADY on screen. It had been a Broadway hit for years. Most people already knew the songs from the cast albums and from television variety shows. Rex Harrison winning the Oscar was almost a foregone conclusion before the movie was even released. The controversy over Jack Warner casting Audrey Hepburn rather than Julie Andrews was something ordinary people talked about, even though they had never seen Julie Andrews on screen (TV, yes). MY FAIR LADY has a great score, lovely sets and costumes, and good performances. It's also a motion picture with more picture than motion.

 

You can scarcely imagine how excited some people were to see Barbra Streisand on film. We had seen her TV specials, and of course those in New York had had the chance to see her on Broadway. I knew two young women who went to the first show of FUNNY GIRL in our town, and when the curtains were pulled back to reveal the screen--the movie hadn't even started yet--they burst into tears. Doesn't happen much these days when people see FUNNY GIRL.

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Another aspect that contributes to the "talk" about a film that then fades away, is the unholy awards season hype machine. Unlike summer movies, which get huge pushes for being "a fun-filled rollercoaster ride", those same publicists push the "relevance and importance" of their nominated films, something that upon closer inspection isn't really present in the hyped movie.

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To the OP, one example I can think of right away is Tough Guys (1986), starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.  Someone here told me it has been tied up in rights issues.  It might have been released on VHS years ago, but it hasn't been on DVD, and as far as I know not on TCM (click on my signature for further details). 

 

It is a funny movie though, one which parodies the 80s in a similar manner to the way "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" parodies the late 60s.  Styles that were in and out like like a flash.  Plenty of 1980s leg warmers shown here.  I am also reminded of Roller Boogie (1979).  A product if its time, which makes Tough Guys a prime candidate for TCM to show sometime.

 

I do appreciate the rarities from the late 20s through mid-to-late 30s that they have been showing lately.

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Firstly, a warning about the 1001 book, they don't hesitate to completely spoil the films in the write-ups. If you don't mind, have at it. But I've learned not to read the full entry until after viewing the film.

 

Secondly, as regards your thread topic, some films date more quickly than others. Some that were seen as groundbreaking or controversial have had their subject matter enter into the public consciousness to such a degree that the previously revelatory nature of the original films is either lost or seems naive.

 

As far as modern audiences for film, I read an article recently about the increased disposability of our pop culture, especially film and music. New projects used to be savored and discussed for days and weeks and even years after their initial release. But over the last 15-20 years, it has become more and more about the pre-release hype and anticipation for a film, and once it has been released and tweeted about, forgotten so that the hype for the next thing can begin. People don't discuss what they've seen, only what they're going to see. This mentality is also partially the cause of the decrease in home entertainment sales (dvd, blu ray, digital downloads), as more people lose the desire to revisit something they've already seen. Finally, the sheer amount of content now readily available to a consumer means they have little time for reflection because it's on to the next movie/show or they'll never "get caught up".

Thanks, Lawrence! So far there are not too many films in the book that I've not seen. Since I am a movie purist, I decided to go look at all the contributors list in the back of the book first. Then I read all the critiques of films I have already seen and admire and wrote down the initials of the contributor who it seemed was writing about said films. Then after doing that for the whole book, I discounted films that some yahoo [who I've never heard of or who seemed to be less a knowledgeable film critic than the majority of people here] raved about. This separated the wheat from the chaff and helped me in judging if some films were being praised by basically uninformed and self-professed "film aesthetes" with no true credentials to speak of, therefore making my list of films I should still see, a much shorter list. Boy,am I a pain, but a pain who does not believe in anything till I research it!

 

Thanks for your most astute take on my original question.

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I would suggest Saturday Night Fever (1977), but I'm not certain of the film's appeal with younger audiences today. The film is often quoted as being the favorite of critic Gene Siskel, along with his subsequent purchase of John Travolta/Tony Manero's iconic white suitThe primary reason for the film's dating and loss of appeal would certainly be the subject matter. The era of disco was brief in the states, sandwiched between the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of punk rock's popularity. The best the film could hope for now is a cult following with a whimsical nostalgia for the 1970s as a simpler time. 

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I would suggest(and at the peril of having CaveGirl's thread here being sidetracked into a discussion of it and it alone) that GONE WITH THE WIND would be a prime example of her thread's premise, as up until fairly recently and whenever certain lists were made of "the best classic films of all time", GWTW had always been listed near the top of these sorts of things, but its "legacy" has seemed to be on the wane recently with many a modern "re-evaluation" of its content and presentation.

 

(...but remember here folks, I SAID "at the peril of having CaveGirl's thread being sidetracked into a discussion of it and it alone"...and YEAH Jake, THIS means you DON'T have to now "defend" this "sacred" movie of yours by now posting some freakin' still photo from this flick and with maybe some one short little line conveying the less-than-subtle message that "the South will rise again"!!!)

 

LOL

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I have to agree with LAWRENCEA's assessment a bit. 

 

"Revisiting" things does seem to be a bit on the wane, but so is that concept.

 

I'm seeing more and more YOUNGER than the ones who disdain "revisiting things" actually wishing to.  To whit----

 

I have one nephew, 40 year old, and a hapless "gadget zombie", who dumped( and otherwise got rid of...) his respectable sized video "library" because he felt that between his phone, iPad, Kindle, laptop, and some other "device", his collection wasn't neccessary.  It's really not working out for him so far, and due to increased fees and his reduced hours at work, he had to drop his DVR service.  He has a 21 year old son however, who's snapped up his dad's discarded collection( much of it anyway) and is enjoying it immensly.  There's not much in it that might interest many of us in HERE, but you get the drift.  He says it seems much easier to him to just push a tape in a slot, or place a disc in the tray than to "push" or tap all the "apps" and such just to watch a movie or TV show on something the size of a business card.  "And besides", he says, "You CAN see more on a 40" screen than a FOUR inch one!"  Well, I've often said, "Just bcause you can, doesn't mean you should." 

 

As for "revisiting", I used to get ragged by some about my tendency to RE-READ some books now and then.  For example, I'm now re-reading "The Last Angry Man" for the first time in some 20 years.  I've re-read it three times already.  Same with "Sometimes A Great Notion".  I give IT an annual re-read. Same with "Winterdance".  I'll be picking it up for IT'S annual re-read next month.

 

People have asked me, "How can you read a book you've already read?  You already know how it ends, so what's the point?"

 

I usually get them back, especially if I know they have a collection of movies on tape or disc.  "You already know how them movies end!"  I'll assert.  Same goes for collecting music on disc, in an iPod or back in "the day" on vinyl.  "You already KNOW how those songs end, so what's the point?"  B)

 

Sepiatone

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I have to agree with LAWRENCEA's assessment a bit. 

 

"Revisiting" things does seem to be a bit on the wane, but so is that concept.

 

I'm seeing more and more YOUNGER than the ones who disdain "revisiting things" actually wishing to.  To whit----

 

I have one nephew, 40 year old, and a hapless "gadget zombie", who dumped( and otherwise got rid of...) his respectable sized video "library" because he felt that between his phone, iPad, Kindle, laptop, and some other "device", his collection wasn't neccessary.  It's really not working out for him so far, and due to increased fees and his reduced hours at work, he had to drop his DVR service.  He has a 21 year old son however, who's snapped up his dad's discarded collection( much of it anyway) and is enjoying it immensly.  There's not much in it that might interest many of us in HERE, but you get the drift.  He says it seems much easier to him to just push a tape in a slot, or place a disc in the tray than to "push" or tap all the "apps" and such just to watch a movie or TV show on something the size of a business card.  "And besides", he says, "You CAN see more on a 40" screen than a FOUR inch one!"  Well, I've often said, "Just bcause you can, doesn't mean you should." 

 

As for "revisiting", I used to get ragged by some about my tendency to RE-READ some books now and then.  For example, I'm now re-reading "The Last Angry Man" for the first time in some 20 years.  I've re-read it three times already.  Same with "Sometimes A Great Notion".  I give IT an annual re-read. Same with "Winterdance".  I'll be picking it up for IT'S annual re-read next month.

 

People have asked me, "How can you read a book you've already read?  You already know how it ends, so what's the point?"

 

I usually get them back, especially if I know they have a collection of movies on tape or disc.  "You already know how them movies end!"  I'll assert.  Same goes for collecting music on disc, in an iPod or back in "the day" on vinyl.  "You already KNOW how those songs end, so what's the point?"  B)

 

Sepiatone

 

Dear Abby,

I have a buddy who is really into small consumer tech gadgets, anything he can carry around.  He normally carries around a smart phone, an Ipad-type device, and now a smart watch.  All at once....  The other day he was gnawing my ear off about his new biometric "smart watch", and how it can replicate just about anything his "smart phone" can do.  Including streaming music to a wireless bluetooth headset, displaying GPS coordinates via the smart phone, and displaying flight arrival and departure times.  Also biometrics, so he can do a mediocre job at watching his vitals.  Mind you, I have never handled a smart phone before, and he is fully aware of all this.  I only carry a decent laptop, a small flip phone, and not one bit more with me at any given time.  Umm, help?

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