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How good were 'classic' movies?

  • 19-11-2019 6:02pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,931 ✭✭✭ bobbyss


    Saw From here to Eternity a few days ago. Burt Lancaster Frank Sinatra. Deborah Kerr.
    Is this suppossed to be a classic? Or do we judge things differently because they are old films? I thought the acting was poor. Laughable in parts. Lightweight Sinatra throwing a punch at Ernest Borgene was pure comedy.
    Are these types of films vastly overrated?


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Comments

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,235 CMod ✭✭✭✭ johnny_ultimate


    Your opening question, with all due respect, is broad enough to be impossible to answer.

    I’ve never seen From Here To Eternity, but with classic cinema generally (as foolhardy as that is given the astounding range and variety of cinema):

    There are films from every era of film - from the silent era onwards, across continents and genres - that remain essential, compelling viewing. There are others that aren’t. Same as it ever was and ever will be.

    Acting and storytelling styles have changed in all manner of ways over the past decade. Sometimes for the best, sometimes not. We have to watch with the knowledge of how things were, but also what we can learn and admire about older methods of filmmaking.

    Films age, of course they do: they’ve been made over a turbulent, ever shifting century or so of history. They’re also invaluable historical documents, and rewarding insights into time periods we’ve never experienced.

    For every cheesy melodrama there’s a piece of radical political cinema; for every western an experimental oddity. One film cannot come close to capturing that... a thousand films barely come close to capturing that :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 32,141 ✭✭✭✭ is_that_so


    Like films of any era some people will take to certain films more than others. From Here to Eternity is not one I'd return to very often even though it got stacks of Oscars. OP should look up lists of great films and then choose from within those, films that might appeal to them. Randomly choosing one may end in disappointment.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    Watch Some Like it Hot (1959) and tell me it's not a brilliant comedy.

    Some "classic" films age badly and they sure don't need to be 60 years old for that to be apparent.

    Some films are timeless because they deal with themes that do not fall victim to trends and some films become great later (when the proper version is finally stitched together!).

    Of course person A might just not like film B regardless of reputation.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,149 ✭✭✭ Tammy!


    Not sure how you can define classic but older films, I like Cool Hand Luke, Gone with the Wind, 12 Angry Men, The Great Escape etc.

    I use to watch a lot of black and white movies with my mam when I was a kid which were before her time too. I can barely recall them now though. She liked Bette Davis. All about Eve and later Whatever happened to Baby Jane. I can kind of remember watching a film called Laura aswell.

    I have never seen It's a Wonderful Life but I've been told I should watch it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 826 ✭✭✭ El Duda


    I rarely watch the oldies, but the ones I have seen have all been great. A few that come to mind...

    Casablanca
    Citizen Kane
    The Apartment
    A Man Escaped
    12 Angry Men


    My parents always recommend Some Like It Hot and To Kill a Mocking Bird which are next up on my watchlist.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,936 ✭✭✭✭ Joe_ Public


    Always check the free film channel listings to see if one of the old classics is coming up and will settle in for a relaxing afternoons viewing.

    A few i have watched recently:

    Ice cold in Alex
    Lawrence of Arabia
    For whom the bell tolls
    The misfits
    On the town (dont normally like musicals but enjoyed this one, as i do the wizard of oz).
    The Producers

    I find as a general rule, the old films tend to have better plots and scripts, but are more slow moving and require bit more concentration to follow. Very rewarding in the end, though.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,535 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Dades


    Classic movies are like classic cars. Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's gold.

    I watched the original Flight of the Phoenix some years back and was utterly compelled by it. Casablanca, too, is one that lives up to it's reputation.

    But I absolutely hate It's a Wonderful Life.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,149 ✭✭✭ Tammy!


    Dades wrote: »

    But I absolutely hate It's a Wonderful Life.

    Scrooge :P


  • Registered Users Posts: 626 ✭✭✭ Wedwood


    Movies like From Here to Eternity we’re basically melodramas and had stylized theatrical acting, so they’re going to look dated in comparison to modern movies. More realistic acting styles (method) didn’t arrive until the likes of Marlon Brando and Paul Newman headlined movies like On the Waterfront and the Hustler.

    Every era’s movies eventually get dated and if you look at more recent movies from the 80’s like Die Hard, the acting there looks a bit OTT by today’s standards but you accept it as it the style of acting for the time and appropriate for the movie in question. Same goes for the older movies.

    Another example is Psycho. Made in 1960, it remains a classic but clearly of its time with it’s melodramatic acting as preferred by Hitchcock. Gus Van Sant made a shot for shot remake in the late 90’s using current acting styles and it was awful.

    So bottom line is a good movie has nothing to do with its age. Watching a restored classic movie is usually preferable to watching the likes of the modern soulless franchise movies !


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,489 ✭✭✭✭ Princess Consuela Bananahammock


    I'm of the opinion comedies have declined greatly since the so-called "classic" era.

    Do NOT ask me how I define the terms "man", "woman", "male" or "female" when you reply to this post. You know the answer and it's probably irrelevant to the discussion :)



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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,536 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    The greatest difficulty with the question is the lack of any sort of consensus of what constitutes a 'classic' film, making the term a thoroughly misleading one, resulting in much disappointment with its use. Aside from dumping the term, for it to be of any use it should be mandatory to have a warning attached saying- "has stood the test of time for many, without necessarily being that good". IOWS, nostalgia clouds many judgements.
    My bugbear would be with the "5-star treatment" by reviewers of films that were great in their day, or were better appreciated over time, but for varying reasons are simply done better by contemporary film-makers (and maybe appreciated by more discerning viewers exposed to better craft over the years). Nostalgia, innovation for its time, relevance for its time etc; these all relate to time, and the most relative time is now.
    A different approach might be to limit the term to genres, where a classic star rating might relate to the amount of influence a particular film had on that genre, alongside a current rating from a contemporary analysis. Never going to happen- just a thought; though maybe a website or two or some bloggers might be doing it.
    Personally, the majority of so-called classics I have watched I haven't thought were particularly good; I can appreciate how well made they were for their time, but lacking the dramatic punch of many contemporary films.


  • Registered Users Posts: 143 ✭✭ BillyBird


    Watch Some Like it Hot (1959) and tell me it's not a brilliant comedy.


    I've seen it. It's not a brilliant comedy.

    Of course person A might just not like film B regardless of reputation.


    :D


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,232 ✭✭✭ Sonics2k


    BillyBird wrote: »
    I've seen it. It's not a brilliant comedy.

    Baffling. Truly baffling. :pac:


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,582 ✭✭✭✭ partyjungle


    I think Birth of a Nation is a little bit racist


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,808 ✭✭✭ xieann


    For the resources at the film makers disposal, Very good

    1930s: Frankenstien, King Kong, Gone with the Wind.

    Huge cast of extras.

    The 10 commandments.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,517 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Sad Professor


    If you haven't watched many classic films, OP, I'd suggest watching others. Keeping in mind (as already said) that some of the genres are no longer made and the styles were different and this takes some getting used to. Melodramas had probably become foreign to mainstream audiences by the 70s never mind now, but a lot of them were excellent and far superior to most modern films that target female viewers. Audiences in the '50s would have found a lot popular films from our era silly as well if not outright incomprehensible and stupid.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,536 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    If you haven't watched many classic films, OP, I'd suggest watching others. Keeping in mind (as already said) that some of the genres are no longer made and the styles were different and this takes some getting used to. Melodramas had probably become foreign to mainstream audiences by the 70s never mind now, but a lot of them were excellent and far superior to most modern films that target female viewers. Audiences in the '50s would have found a lot popular films from our era silly as well if not outright incomprehensible and stupid.
    Insightful post. I doubt this scatter-gun or dragnet approach would work though, given the OP's post (single post on the issue, that is). Considering the complexity of the issue, with all its variables and factors, one of the most important factors to consider is how a film deals with its central theme. So in terms of how a script deals with a theme (assuming dialogue and acting passes modern muster) the crucial element would be the director; how the director frames the script.
    My suggestion would be to find a director that makes films the way you like films made, working on a theme that strikes a chord. If a film speaks to you, its generally not the dialogue, acting etc that moves you; its the way the director has packaged it all for you. Going by someone's list is far too subjective, time-consuming, and- going by the post- not working. Undoubtedly there are some fantastic 'classics' out there, but 'ya gotta have a system'.


  • Registered Users Posts: 29,358 ✭✭✭✭ NIMAN


    I remember seeing Bladerunnner when I was an impressionable teenager, and loved it. Seen it again in my 20s probably, again thought it was good.

    Watched it in the last year or so, thought it wasn't great and had dated terribly.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭ Mezzotint


    It took a while for movie technology to become less intrusive. The early movies tended to be limited by need for extremely bright lighting to ensure films exposed correctly and very primitive sound recording technology that often necessitated very loud speech and ultra clear diction that hampered dialogue. The actors also took a long time to move to away from treating it like a stage performance.

    That doesn’t mean they’re bad films. It’s just a totally different genre.

    Early TV is even worse as the cameras and technology was even more limiting.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,343 ✭✭✭ tigger123


    I would agree with most mentioned previously, and add Sunset Boulevard to the list. It's fantastic.

    IMDB have a top 250 list of all time. There's some classic era movies on that if you're looking for something along those lines.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,676 ✭✭✭✭ beauf


    bobbyss wrote: »
    Saw From here to Eternity a few days ago. Burt Lancaster Frank Sinatra. Deborah Kerr.
    Is this suppossed to be a classic? Or do we judge things differently because they are old films? I thought the acting was poor. Laughable in parts. Lightweight Sinatra throwing a punch at Ernest Borgene was pure comedy.
    Are these types of films vastly overrated?

    Some of these films had an impact that impossible to recreate in a modern context.

    Take the impact of star wars, saving private Ryan on release. The impact on film will be entirely missed by a modern viewer.

    I'm a big fan of classic movies. Recently watched rear window and jaws with my kids. One of them gets them. The other doesnt have the patience. Zero attention span.

    I also watched black Rain recently. Still love that movie but i could see why a modern viewer would see it as very dated and a bit ott in terms of acting..

    I'm not sure modern movies, modern tastes, have much subtlety to them in general. You get the of exemptions for sure.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,676 ✭✭✭✭ beauf


    NIMAN wrote: »
    I remember seeing Bladerunnner when I was an impressionable teenager, and loved it. Seen it again in my 20s probably, again thought it was good.

    Watched it in the last year or so, thought it wasn't great and had dated terribly.

    Again I think it's suffers in a modern context. But it's an interesting comparison with the sequel. The sequel didn't have the same impact but its a very unmodern movie. I liked it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,650 ✭✭✭✭ whisky_galore


    Mezzotint wrote: »
    It took a while for movie technology to become less intrusive. The early movies tended to be limited by need for extremely bright lighting to ensure films exposed correctly and very primitive sound recording technology that often necessitated very loud speech and ultra clear diction that hampered dialogue. The actors also took a long time to move to away from treating it like a stage performance.

    That doesn’t mean they’re bad films. It’s just a totally different genre.

    Early TV is even worse as the cameras and technology was even more limiting.

    Probably explains why early RTE luvvies were so 'shouty'.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭ Mezzotint


    Probably explains why early RTE luvvies were so 'shouty'.

    Well early TV production was pretty stage like and also Ireland's actors would have mostly come from a stage, not television, background, as there was very little film or TV production in those days.

    You see the same in some UK and even US production. I mean take a look at something like Are You Being Served or even 1980s Keeping Up Appearances. They're stage acting and take influences from music hall. If you go back further, take a look at someone like Lucille Ball. It's all very theatrical.

    The big change now is that with HD and UHD TV production and cinematography are increasingly similar, so the whole way TV is shot is changing from rapid cutting between shots and closer shots to use of much less camera movement and wider shots + focus, lighting etc become far more important.

    Interesting to watch these things changing though. I just think with old productions it's like looking at an oil painting Vs a water colour. The tools are different. You just have to see them in their own context. What makes a good film or TV programme is how it tells a story. The technology is secondary.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,676 ✭✭✭✭ beauf


    Mezzotint wrote: »
    ...The big change now is that with HD and UHD TV production and cinematography are increasingly similar, so the whole way TV is shot is changing from rapid cutting between shots and closer shots to use of much less camera movement and wider shots + focus, lighting etc become far more important....

    I think modern movies suffer from an excessive of movement . Not just the shaky cam stuff.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,585 ✭✭✭ Man Vs ManUre


    I’m no fan of avengers or most of these other superheroes films, but most old films are absolutely rubbish. The actors are always shouting their words. And the women are mostly not very sexy in them.
    The only black and white films I ever watch to the end is Schindler’s List, It’s a wonderful life and The man who wasn’t there.


  • Registered Users, Subscribers Posts: 47,108 ✭✭✭✭ Zaph


    And the women are mostly not very sexy in them.

    What's that got to do with how good or bad a film is? :confused:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    Not seen Rita Hayworth singing Put the Blame on Mame then I take it! :D


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭ Mezzotint


    beauf wrote: »
    I think modern movies suffer from an excessive of movement . Not just the shaky cam stuff.

    Yeah. That's kinda wearing thin. Directors go through fads too.

    One thing to remember when watching old movies is that they used to use asbestos as snow! The lights were hot and cotton fluff was a fire hazards, so they used fluffy asbestos!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,936 ✭✭✭✭ Joe_ Public


    Classic film on bbc2 later tonight, Kubricks Paths of Glory with kirk douglas in the lead. I love war films and cant think of any recently made war film that betters it. Though maybe anti-war film is a more accurate way to describe it.


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