Musing on disappointment with classic films

Here's the place to talk about DVDs (or VHS) films and movies you have seen on television and recommend or don't recommend. Discuss actors and scores, too.

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Musing on disappointment with classic films

Post by jbuck919 » Thu May 27, 2010 8:22 am

This is prompted by my having watched From Here to Eternity for the first time last night on TCM.

I have my list of what seem to me timeless classics like everyone else, but if Casablanca is a museum piece the way a painting by Rembrandt is, then I propose that many old movies are such the way the Horn and Hardart Automat on exhibit at the Smithsonian is: Curious and reminiscent and maybe worth knowing about, but it doesn't feed me anymore.

I'm not pretending to break any new critical ground in commenting on FHTE, but I found the movie disappointing, boring even. So predictable and hackneyed, its adaptations for the sake of passing censorship clumsy and lacking in the sophistication of which Hollywood was capable in older and sometimes steamier movies. Only two really good acting jobs (Deborah Kerr and Montgomery Clift), and Clift was acting not only against type but against the limits of a completely wooden character of pulp fiction parts rather than real depth. And there I'll stop.

Even if you disagree with my assessment of that film, have any of you found that old movies tend to disappoint? There are more than enough awful new movies too, needless to say, but there's never been much in my Netflix queue that was from before 1980, most much newer, including classics I know I'm supposed to have seen if I consider myself a movie fan. And the main reason is that when I do watch one, I am more often than not disappointed.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Musing on disappointment with classic films

Post by John F » Thu May 27, 2010 8:52 am

It depends on the old movies. Chaplin's 2-reelers never disappoint me, or the Marx Brothers' best, or Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and "M," nor for that matter "Casablanca" and "The Wizard of Oz." I'm by no means a fan of the Hollywood studios' commercial products of the '30s, '40s, '50s, or whatever; mostly I don't bother with them, to me they're usually shlock. But some friends with excellent taste revel in the movies of Howard Hawks, John Ford, and Billy Wilder, so I guess it's just my own blind spot.
John Francis


Re: Musing on disappointment with classic films

Post by Brendan » Thu May 27, 2010 5:45 pm

A number of movies I loved years ago turn out to be very disappointing when I watch them now.

Not so with Dogs in Space. I was expecting to be disappointed, and it was even better than I remember. But you had to be there or thereabouts to "get" what a great movie it is, utterly unlike anything else (it inspired 2nd rate stuff like Trainspotting, which doesn't come close).

I understand that to many, Dogs in Space does not rate as a classic - but if you were there, there's nothing in the world like it. So glad that someone took a snapshot of it all.


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Re: Musing on disappointment with classic films

Post by smitty1931 » Fri May 28, 2010 4:06 pm

If you were disappointed with the film version of From here to Eternity, you should try to watch the TV version. It was superior in many ways and Natalie Wood was far better than Deborah Kerr. I would say it was the finest thing she had ever done.

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