Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Great movies you're not watching

Hi kids! This is Charlie Chaplin (THE Charlie Chaplin), writing from the great beyond. Thanks to Ken for letting me guest blog today.  I really love his blog except when he writes about baseball or Patty Heaton.  But I digress.   I realize a lot of you don’t know who I am (or was). I was a silent movie star. You may have seen my little tramp character. Ken has posted a photo. I was really funny back in those days. Lots of sight gags. Like I said, we had no sound. We couldn’t do sparkling dialog like in STAR WARS. I also introduced “pathos” (sadness) to comedy. For the five cents you’d pay to see one of my movies you expected more than just hilarity.

I wasn’t the only big comedy star back then (although I was sleeping with more women). Buster Keaton was a genius. Somehow he could make inanimate objects come alive. And many of his stunts were truly death defying. Again, people were paying a whole nickel. You had to really wow them.

Harold Lloyd was another funny chap (we didn’t use “dude” then). You may have seen the famous scene where he is hanging from a large clock on the side of a skyscraper? (Ken, please provide a photo of that too.) Amazing. And he only had strength in one hand. Most people don’t know that. So all of his stunts were really incredible.

Personally I think these guys were nuts to risk their lives for the sake of a laugh, but we had no WIPE OUT so they were providing a real service. I just saw Buster recently and he said if he had it to all over again, he would have just gone up for romantic leads.  In that case, lose the pork pie hat. 

Anyway, we also had Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy – two very funny gentlemen who made the transition from silent to sound with relative ease. Stan was the comic genius – writing and directing all their pictures – but Ollie was maybe the funniest comic actor of our day. Even now, whenever I’m feeling a little low I just drop a few bricks on Ollie’s head and laugh and laugh. The guy kills me. And I’m dead.

Other funny folks came along. The Marx Brothers (although they were always a little to Jewish for my taste), W.C. Fields, Abbott & Costello, Carole Lombard (and Katherine Heigl calls herself a comedienne), and Cary Grant (Good luck, Buster, going up against that guy for romantic leads. You were better off being dragged by moving trains.).

So why am I here? To remind you that most of our movies are still available to see. In fact, with the internet, they’re even easier to access. If you’re interested at all in comedy you will be exposed to a whole new world. All the hilarious sight-gags you see in Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen/Tyler Perry movies – we all invented them a gazillion years ago. And we did our own stunts and baked our own pies.

But most young people don’t watch us anymore. And why is that? They’re just a click away. The reason is that all of our films are in black and white. First of all, lemme say it’s not like we had a choice. Don’t you think I would have used 3D and CGI and THX if I could? I would have crushed it on Blu-Ray. But black and white was all we had. And drugstores took forever to process the film. 

So what is so off-putting about b & w? Just because we’re not in color, we’re not worth watching? Jokes are only funny in pastels? Only old or dead people are in black and white movies? Comedy wasn’t invented until 2002? Seriously, what is it? All this amazing, inspiring, uproarious material and you kids have no interest because we’re all in gray. I’ve got news for you. Buster Keaton WAS gray.

I invite you to all to set aside your bias and discover the exciting wondrous illuminating world of black and white.  You'll thank me as if I tipped you to BREAKING BAD.  Black and white, my friends.   Black and white.   Sound – eh, that you can live without.

Thanks, Ken.

57 comments:

Jim S said...

Ken,

Forget the silent stars. I was reading a review of the recent Captain America movie on someone's blog and the guy wrote that he and his son saw the picture together. The kid really liked that Robert Redford person and wondered what else he did. The kid never even heard of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The Sting? All the President's Men? Forget it.

Man, I feel old.

Mark Stout said...

My son took a film appreciation, so now he knows this. Considering media's impact on our culture, film study should be one year of high school English requirement.

Hamid said...

Tyler Perry has hilarious sight-gags in his films? Actually, Tyler Perry has anything hilarious in his films?

Jeremiah Avery said...

I grew up watching videos of some of the great classic comedies. Chaplin is one whom I've enjoyed for many years - "City Lights" is one of my top ten films (his short films "The Immigrant" and "Easy Street" are also favorites).

All the other ones you list (plus The Three Stooges) get regular viewing from me as well via an extensive amount of DVDs I own.

I have never understood why some people refuse to watch black and white movies. Most of my favorite films are in black and white (and I'm in my early 30's). Such great dialogue and performances can be enjoyed - more so than whatever passes for comedy nowadays.

Johnny Walker said...

Indeed! I plan to go back and watch all these classics. One that's supposed to really stand the test of time is Buster Keaton's "Sherlock Jr.". A short comedy piece.

Luckily you can watch it for free here.

Charlie, a couple of questions: Is it true that 'Modern Times' went $500 over budget? And what about the rumours about you and Mary Pickford?

(Fun Chalin fact: Self-educated, he learned a new word from the dictionary every day, ending up with a larger vocabulary than many of his university educated peers.)

Pat Reeder said...

Ken, thank you a million times for this blog post! I've never understood these young whippersnappers who won't watch a black-and-white movie. When I was a kid, I fell in love with silent movies and collected them on 8mm from Blackhawk films (I still have those). I didn't care that they weren't in color, or even that they didn't have sound. With a few notable exceptions such as WC Fields and the Marx Brothers, both comedy and political discourse have been going downhill ever since actors were allowed to talk.

I was just reading an article this week about how Hollywood is making fewer comedy movies since they bringin less money because they don't play well in non-English-speaking countries. Funny, Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd never had that problem (I'll also throw in a plug for Harry Langdon). My theory is that they aren't making as much money because most of them righteously suck. I looked at a list of the top-grossing comedies of 2013: "The Hangover 3," "Grownups 2," "Scary Movie 5," "Tyler Perry's A Medea Christmas," the Ben Stiller remake of "Walter Mitty," etc. etc. What a collection of crap. Is there anything there you'd seriously consider buying on DVD and filing alongside "Blazing Saddles," "Duck Soup" or "The General?"

Jerry Seinfeld once said that when he thinks of modern movie comedy, he thinks of two guys looking each other in the face and screaming in unison as their car goes over a cliff. The only advancement that's been made in recent years is that thanks to the Farrelly Brothers, they now crap their pants in unison, too.

KING OF JAZZ said...

Bless you for this column. I'm "only" 58 yet feel increasingly stranded in my awareness of all the comic gold we have from even a hundred years ago. How can you not at least give these older movies a chance? I read of recent screenings such as SAFETY LAST, which still gets screams if you give it the opportunity--and young people in attendance too. What a wonderful discovery for them.

Jeannie said...

I prefer Keaton to Chaplin. Keaton was never sentimental, yet every bit the physical comedian Chaplin was without that "wringing tears out of your ducts" aspect of The Little Tramp character. For that reason alone, I think Keaton's work feels much fresher than Chaplin's. For someone new to Buster, I would recommend any of his early shorts and 3 of his features: "The Cameraman," "Sherlock Jr." and "Steamboat Bill, Jr." I know "The General" is supposed to be Keaton's masterpiece, but somehow, it leaves me with the same "meh" reaction that "Citizen Kane" does. And please avoid anything Keaton did after 1928 -- MGM, talkies and booze were not kind to him.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Johnny: Chaplin was smart in all kinds of ways. I remember reading that in 1929 he looked at the level of US unemployment, decided the stock market levels weren't sustainable, and sold out well before the crash.

What I loved about the Marx Brothers was their spontaneous wit - you have to be *really* funny to be able to improvise the way they did.

wg

Charlie said...

Oh my -- The Gold Rush.
My, oh my, Georgia Hale.
:-)
At the Berlin opening, they stopped the movie and replayed the 'dancing rolls' scene...

Scooter Schechtman said...

TCM shows silent movies every Friday night, and black & white is a common fetish. The late 60s-early 70s is the true Lost Era. I know from bitter experience that I'm alone in this opinion.
So many "new" movies are based on old ones from the Lost Era, and the young uns have no idea of their origin.

Charles H. Bryan said...

I think sometimes it's not just the monochrome issue that's an obstacle to watching older films/TV, it's the pacing, production and acting. I recently watched Duck Soup again -- hadn't seen it in years -- and it just seemed soooo slow. And this is the Marx Brothers!

I've had a similar experience with some classic movies and television -- the story might still hold up, but the standards for acting were different (tending to the more melodramatic and/or exaggerated) and the production values were frequently horrible and cheesy compared to what we're used to today. Those elements now are distractions from the story. We're used to more naturalistic performance, high quality sets/props/costumes, stunt choreography, faster editing, and, shit, we're used to shaky hand camera cinematography.

I would still encourage people to watch the classics, if only for academic purposes, but I don't know that I'd expect them -- no matter their age -- to be as fully immersed in the material as the original viewers.

Toby said...

I've never forgotten a very short-lived late '70s sitcom with Michael Keaton and Jim Belushi that had the nerve to swipe that bit from Harold Lloyd of hanging from a clock high up on the side of a skyscraper, which is one of the most famous, most frequently reproduced images to come out of the silent comedy era.

Even taken at face value, that Keaton was on a sound stage in front of an audience, just a foot away from the floor robbed the scene of any genuine "thrill factor."

AAllen said...

That photo of Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock always seems off. If you follow the curb line and the edge of the building, they collide just outside of the frame. The building could be on a T intersection (or an offset intersection), which means there could be another roof just below view. I've been trying to find the intersection on Google Maps but with no luck. Can any locals help out?

Michael said...

Jeannie, Buster Keaton's final film appearance, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. That is one sound picture he's involved in that's worth seeing, as well as his scene in Limelight with Chaplin, who reportedly edited much of it out because Keaton upstaged him.

Trivia time, Ken. When Chaplin came to the U.S., it was as part of a British comedy troupe. His understudy in the lead role, and his roommate, was Stan Laurel, who did Chaplin imitations in vaudeville and was apparently the best. Since he was the best at everything else, that should be no surprise. And when Laurel would watch his old films, he always would watch Hardy, not himself.

Don Barksdale said...

Re: Harold Lloyd and the location of filming, here is an excellent resource.

http://silentlocations.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/how-harold-lloyd-filmed-safety-last/

Kirk from Kansas City said...

@AAllen If you watch the film, you can see that the clock is not mounted flush against the side of the building. It's actually on a wedge-shaped mount that sticks out from the building at the corner (and wraps around the corner where there's a second clock). That's why the perspective seems off compared to the street below.

Nevin ":-)" said...

While I'm not a local, information on the clock set from Harold Lloyd's Safety Last can be found at http://silentlocations.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/how-harold-lloyd-filmed-safety-last/

Trivia said...

W.C. Fields was often reported to have disliked Chaplin, dismissing him as a "goddamned ballet dancer."

Fields also said that the Marx Brothers were the one stage act he'd never have dared follow.

blinky said...

My senior project in college (UF Gators) was a book honoring Charlie Chaplin. My girlfriend collected quotes and commentary and I took photos (on 35mm film no less) of recreations of scenes from his movies. We found old Model T Fords and other period things to stage the shots. Our upstairs neighbor who was a law student looked enough like CC to fake it with a tiny jacket and top hat. Got an "A".

ScottyB said...

The Ritz Brothers are highly overlooked these days, too. As are quite a few character actors who were the cat's ass in their day. Edgar Kennedy comes to mind immediately.

John Mansfield said...

My children are very fond of Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers, but they don't quite believe me that Alec Guinness is really funny.

I recently watched After the Fox, which I knew nothing about other than that it had Peter Sellers in it. Just a disposable trifle from 50 years ago, but so funny that I looked at the credits. Script by Neil Simon plus music by Burt Bacharach.

Dan Ball said...

There's no better feeling than being schooled by B&W. It wasn't until high school that I realized B&W movies weren't always inferior to color. I used to think a B&W movie was always cornier and less advanced than a color film because sensibilities were different back then and you couldn't show as much. It's been nice to be proven wrong pretty often over the years and to find that a B&W movie from even the early 1930s isn't corny at all and has a lot more sophistication than most color movies.

A great example, aside from the works of Keaton and Chaplin, has been Fritz Lang's "M". I watched it a couple of years ago and couldn't believe how new/modern and nuanced it felt. Before I'd watched something that old, I'd had a similar experience with later Hitchcock. I always thought people regarded his movies as classics in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way because they were so corny and old-fashioned. Then I actually watched NORTH BY NORTHWEST and while it certainly owed much of its style to the 50s, it had more class and timelessness than I expected. Especially Bernard Herrmann's score. (Yowza!)

I don't really know how to fix the problem that younger generations aren't being exposed to this stuff. When I have kids, I'm probably going to make sure they get exposed to everything--good and bad. A lot of bad movies engage me just as much as the good ones, but it's better than not being engaged at all. Part of me just has faith that something will give societally and we'll get back to some kind of healthy groove before we turn into Mike Judge's IDIOCRACY.

ClioBC said...

In my neck of the woods (Boston) we are spoiled by regular screenings of silent films, particularly at the Somerville Theater, which is in the middle of a summer series - this weekend is Orphans of the Storm, can't wait. I saw Lloyd's The Freshman there, and it was fantastic to see so many kids and teens in the audience, completely into it. A further blessing about the area is that occasionally you'll get to see a silent film with musical accompaniment, thanks to Alloy Orchestra being based in Cambridge. If you ever get a chance to see them do their thing (they toured with Metropolis a few years' back), run don't walk!

-bee said...

One good thing about being a baby boomer, growing up, afternoon TV was a mish-mash of shows and movies from many eras, from The Little Rascals and Laurel and Hardy on up to the present day.

As all other kids were watching the same material, there was no stigma about enjoying stuff from way before our time.

It makes me feel sad that there are many generations now who have turned up their noses at older shows/movies for fear of being marked as uncool. They don't know what they're missing.

Ted said...

@Dan Ball:
I have two daughters and have done my best to expose them to a wide variety of classic film and television, but to this day they find black and white an instant turn-off, making an exception only for I Love Lucy.

Thomas said...

As a member of the youth of today, I'd just like to say I watched The General just a couple weeks ago. It proved to be better than Source Code, the other train disaster movie I watched while on a train.

jbryant said...

Can't argue with this post, Ken, but I will point out that even though Stan Laurel was the driving creative force of the Laurel and Hardy films, the directors of record weren't necessarily slouches -- certainly not the great Leo McCarey, who is often given much credit for helping the boys create their unique style, and who went on to make many great features on his own.

Cap'n Bob said...

Harold Lloyd had a platform under him so if he fell it would only be a few feet. Still, a classic scene.

I'm the opposite of the modern kid: I prefer black & white movies/TV. I have no tolerance for shaky cameras, flash cuts, floating cameras, and all the other MTV effects that jam a flood of images at me with no purpose other than the director thinks it's hip.

Steve said...

Toby, the sitcom you're remembering was WORKING STIFFS, which ran for about a month in September-October 1979. Basically,.CBS went to Paramount, pointed to LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, and said, "We want that." Sometimes that works (Sidney Sheldon said I DREAM OF JEANNIE came about because NBC asked Columbia for a sitcom modeled as much like BEWITCHED as possible), and sometimes it doesn't.

W.C. Fields rules, by the way. Been watching a set of his Paramount and Universal pictures that I picked up at Walmart the other day. Funny, funny stuff.

Kate said...

I grew up in a small town in the 80s. We had 4 (5 with PBS) networks. The local affiliates often filled air-time holes not taken up with Ron Popeil commercials with old tv shows and movies. We didn't have cable available until I was 14, and I was most excited not by MTV, but by the classic movie channels. I'm the only person my age that remembers Dobie Gillis, and my husband will only watch black and white movies if Cary Grant makes a joke in the first five minutes. I'll wear him down yet.

Hank Gillette said...

You can tell that there are shenanigans going on in Safety Last by the fact that the background buildings during the climb change. It’s still a brilliant piece of film making though, and considering what’s going on, who is going to pay attention to the background buildings?

Lloyd was probably never about 15-20 feet above a solid surface, but that’s still plenty high enough to get badly hurt, and he was doing the climbing while missing the thumb and forefinger of his right hand.

The documentary Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius goes into detail about how Safety Last was filmed, and at least part of it is available on YouTube.

Pat said...

Speaking as someone who doesn't even like to climb on a chair to change a light bulb, 15 to 20 feet is stil, to me, a very impressive distance to be from solid ground.

Pat Reeder said...

There was also the slight problem that if Lloyd fell 20 feet and hit the mattress, he could have bounced off and fallen a few more stories.

DBenson said...

"The Third Genius" is included in its entirety on the Criterion "Safety Last." It covers in some detail how they shot those scenes. Lloyd is more than a stunt comic. A lot of the film involves his department store job: Facing sale-crazed women; sneaking in late; and convincing his girlfriend he runs the place.

The same people did a similar three-part show, "Unknown Chaplin", which can still be found on DVD. That one is built around Chaplin outtakes and experiments. Very, very cool stuff: Among other things you see a film about Charlie as a waiter in an artsy restaurant evolve into "The Immigrant."

"Buster Keaton Rides Again" is a Canadian documentary following Keaton and his wife as he shoots a sort of travelogue ("The Railrodder"). You get to see Keaton smiling (with the crew but never in public); laughing as he describes a Laurel and Hardy routine; and discussing gag setups with his director.

It's now possible to own, fairly cheaply, bonus-stuffed DVDs of Chaplin's, Keaton's and Lloyd's features and a goodly number of their shorts. Also the less heralded Harry Langdon and Charley Chase, and the solo work of Oliver Hardy (an impressive all-purpose comic) and Stan Laurel (strange and wild in his early days).

My advice is to stick to the brand name versions -- Kino, Image, Criterion, New Line, and such labor-of-love outfits as All Day Entertainment. Once you've seen a really sharp print of "The Adventurer" with a good musical score it changes your whole perception of silent comedy.

chuckcd said...

"Only old or dead people are in black and white movies?"

Uhhh...yeah.

McAlvie said...

Good post, Ken. I'm an old movie buff, and have had discussions regarding b&w movies before. What a lot of people miss is the artistry and skill involved in getting a message across in shades of gray. Back then they used it quite artfully to strike a mood, an atmosphere. By comparison, using color film almost seems like cheating.

And the old comedians! Yes, they had a skill and talent that few today can really match. Imagine getting laughs without language, let alone profanity and blue jokes! And the physicality of it is pretty breathtaking. And the Abbott Costello routines are classic for a reason. Back then, comedians built a comedy routine as carefully as a house of cards. They would have you laughing before they even got to the punchline!

Lord Smurch said...

Ken, small quibble (and it's only because I've been proofreading way. too. long in my life): I think you - excuse me, I think Mr. Chaplin means "too Jewish", not "to Jewish" with respect to the Marx Bros.

Other than that, this is a delightful post!

Anonymous said...

Watch Gleason and Carney together on The Honeymooner. Not quite Laurel and Hardy but pretty damn close.
Two of the greatest comic actors ever on television. And both were superb dramatic actors as well.

proofreader extraordinaire said...

Lord Smurch,

Ken new that.

DwWashburn said...

I discovered silent movies when I was in college. Buster Keaton is my favorite silent comedian and Clara Bow is my favorite silent actress. Glad to see that someone else recognizes that old movies still have a lot of entertainment value.

Chris said...

Friday question: we've all seen the pilot where one of the main characters gets in a fight with the others and is about to move away but then they get him to stay and that's the start of the series.

Could this be considered a premise pilot?

Jim said...

All the comedians you've mentioned here are great, but why no love for the ladies, as the saying goes. Some of the best women comedians (and some of the best writing for women) was back in the B&W era.

Start off with the German, Ossi Oswalda, who starred in all the best silents that Lubitsch made in Germany. Then try a bit of Olive Thomas, a sort of Proto Lindsay Lohan, who unlike the real Li-Lo actually did manage to top herself before her career went to shit.

Then you can move on to the real geniuses of the silent era, Colleen Moore and Clara Bow. Bow's reasonably well known, but Moore not so because her films are a bit harder to find. She kept a copy of every single one, then later in her life passed them on to a library to archive. Who for reasons best known to themselves stuck them all in a cardboard box and left them to rot in the rain.

Going from there to the talkies, keep going first of all with Clara Bow. Forget what you might have been told, her voice was great. And start with one that's ostensible not a comedy, Call Her Savage. It's like every eighties airport novel you skimmed through to find the dirty bits rolled into one. What film even today would start with an eight year old kid asking "Where's Daddy?" and get the answer "He's out back with his fancy woman." And that's before you get to the five minute long riding and whipping scene that's only there to tell you that she's not wearing a bra.

Carole Lombard of course is great, but so too is Ginger Rogers. Actually I reckon she's better in her movies without Fred. Or am I exagerrating a bit. Not sure, try some and see what you think.

Pat Reeder said...

To Jim:

I second Clara Bow and Colleen Moore, and don't forget Mabel Normand. And if we're getting into talkies, hunt up the Thelma Todd-Patsy Kelly short subject series that they made for Hal Roach during the same period as the classic Laurel & Hardy, Our Gang and Charley Chase shorts of the early '30s.

Ginger Rogers made some great non-dancing films in her wisecracking dame persona. My favorite is "Roxie Hart," the first movie version of the play that the musical "Chicago" is based on. I'll bet most people who watch that couldn't believe something so dark, cynical and contemporary-feeling about the media was actually made in 1942.

Barry Traylor said...

I had a friend once that would not watch Casablanca because it was B&W----then it was colorized and she watched it. Idiot.

Hank Gillette said...

Ginger Rogers was wonderful in Gold Diggers of 1933, especially when she sang a chorus of We’re in the Money in Pig Latin!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIXNSoACp5A

estiv said...

There's a set of early Chaplin shorts on Netflix, mostly the ones that made his reputation in 1914-15. The image quality is sometimes mediocre at best, the musical accompaniment is borderline random, the plots usually paper-thin, the sets often recognizably the same from film to film, but wow. Just wow. The brilliant moments, and there are many, are amazing. Chaplin's use of callbacks alone should be studied by anyone who loves comedy.

KING OF JAZZ said...

There was CHICAGO from 1927, starring Phyllis Haver--THAT one should be duly noticed. It's hilarious. Supposedly ghost directed by producer Cecil B. DeMille, who had just directed KING OF KINGS and didn't want any controversy about such contrasting titles.

VP81955 said...

Before my comments, a word from the lady in my avatar:

"Thanks for the compliment, Charlie, though I still wish you hadn't turned me down for the female lead in 'The Gold Rush.' Did you really think I was 'too pretty' for the part?

"But you neglected to mention my first husband, William Powell -- especially when he worked with two great pals of mine, Kay Francis (you'll adore 'One Way Passage') and Myrna Loy (whether or not they played Nick and Nora). Delightful stuff."


Now that Carole's had her say, my thoughts:

* "Safety Last" is great Lloyd, but "Girl Shy" (made in 1924) may even be better. The multi-modal chase scene through the streets of Los Angeles -- using everything from streetcar to chariot -- is sublime.

* Two other silent comediennes of note are Marion Davies ("Show PeopleTh" is one of the best movies about the movies ever made) and Constance Talmadge (who, like Moore, was a forerunner to Lombard in romantic, non-slapstick comedy; like Moore, her work is hard to find, but worth it).

* You can't go wrong with Ernst Lubitsch, either. Try "The Smiling Lieutenant" on for size (jazz up your lingerie!).

And since Carole was reluctant to give herself a plug, I'll do it for her. Lombard will be the featured performer for 24 hours on TCM's Summer Under The Stars (one day after Powell gets the honor for the first time). She may have been gone for 72 years, but thousands still fall in love with her.

VP81955 said...

Carole's gently laughing at me for neglecting to list her SUTS day on TCM. It's Aug. 10 ("To Be Or Not To Be" is the Essentials Jr. selection), while Bill Powell will be featured Aug. 9. Check out his "Jewel Robbery" that day fordrug humor, 1932 style.

Jim said...

Kay Francis deserves a mention for her diary if nothing else. In an age when everyone else seemed to be writing one for self-important, literary reasons, it takes some guts for a grown-up woman to fill page after page with stuff along the lines of "Maurice came round for the afternoon. Did it four times. Three stars."

Andrew Gilmore said...

I'm 27 and I do watch Chaplin, Keaton, Fields, the Marx Brothers, etc. on a regular basis, and love them all. Sadly, I'm an exception, and on behalf of my generation, I apologize for our crappy taste in comedy today.

CHAPLINFORTHEAGES said...

What bothers me most, Hollywood does not even acknowledge the one's that came before them. The foundation they laid. It almost seems at times Hollywood only started in 1930.

I revere Chaplin, through him I have had my eyes open to all his contemporaries. I have to say being on tumblr (where many are under 25, I don't include myself of course :), there are many younger people that embrace black and white films and Old Hollywood.

Alan C said...

"It almost seems at times Hollywood only started in 1930."

1930? Try 1980!

I was just watching National Lampoon's Vacation. It's a funny movie, but I was thinking about how in some quarters Chevy Chase is (or at least was) considered a great physical comedian. He's certainly no Keaton or Harold Lloyd.

VP81955 said...

And do young people realize there were talented, gorgeous and sexy actresses before Monroe? It's as if she's obliterated everything.

Laura Enright said...

Nice piece though I have to I think part of the reason kids aren't watching these movies anymore is because they're not actually just a click away. I grew up in the 70s. I was introduced to these movies by late night "late shows" or early mornings on Sundays. Maybe Saturday afternoon viewings. ABC in Chicago used to have the 3:30 movie every day. That's when I first saw King Kong. I watched it cause quite honestly them was the only thing on, and I ended up liking them. Kids don't have that anymore. From the late 80s and 90s late night and afternoons were filled with infomercials or bad talk shows. The chance to just wander onto an old movie was gone. Yeah, you have Turner Classic movies channel. Maybe a few other places. But the amount of places where these films are shown has gone down dramatically. Kids just aren't as exposed to it and there's a lot more competing for their attention.

cadavra said...

You think kids today know who "Monroe" is? Ha! In 1989--I repeat, 1989--I was at a screening of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS at the Dome. At one point, the guy next to me whispered to his date, "That's Bo Derek's husband." And she replied, "Who's Bo Derek?"

BTW, there are still directors who work regularly in B&W; Guy Maddin and Larry Blamire, to name two, and Guillermo del Toro has said his next film will be B&W as well. Oh, and me: we're shooting more shorts with the '30s comedy team of Biffle and Shooster even as we speak!