Love it or hate it: Old movies

by Patty Templeton

Love itI’m not gonna say all old movies are rad. Jesus H. Look at “Birth of a Nation” – what a piece of S. BUT! OMG. So many old movies are good. And really, what counts as an “old movie?” Is it anything over five years? Ten years? Only black-and-white movies? WHAT IS OLD!? For my purposes, I’m reaching back to 50+ years old. That takes us to pre-1967.

Do you know what comes before 1967? Nick and Nora’s brilliant, comedic bickering and sleuthing in “The Thin Man.” Stanley Kubrick’s “Spartacus,” starring Kirk Douglas with a script by Dalton effing Trumbo. The cinematic gorgeousness of every frame of “Night of the Hunter” – let alone, Robert Mitchum’s Love/Hate knuckles. The German expressionist wonderland that is “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” We haven’t talked about Alfred Hitchcock. I mean, he may have, supposedly, been a real douchetroll to his actors, but holy f – “Psycho”? Come on! So good! And the music and other films that film has inspired? LOVE IT!

Constant reader, I still haven’t touched on the Universal monster movies. “Dracula,” starring Bela Lugosi, is a thing of beauty. The soundtrack that Philip Glass created for it 68 years after it was born is equally GD beautiful. Lovely friends, then there is my adoration for VINCENT PRICE!

I just. I can’t even. There’s too many.

::swoons beneath the weight of lovely old movies::

— Patty TempletonHate itNo, I’m not talking about classic old movies, your “Citizen Kanes” and “Casablancas,” the movies that have stood the test of time because their stories are so universal, their themes so timeless. I’m talking about the old, forgotten movies you happen upon in the wilds of bad cable at 1 a.m.

I need movies that stimulate my brain in a modern way, that address problems and issues to which I can still experience, with quick pacing and streamlined stories. I need a more sophisticated sensibilities in a movie. The great movie decade of the 1970s managed this, speaking to modern issues in a more relevant way, with an awareness that didn’t exist before. They became more personal in the characterization, in the issues they were willing to broach. The storytelling became more point of view, more identifiable.

I can’t handle the contrived acting of old movies, the actors who seem to shout every line, the over-dramatics that take you out of the moment, and the sappy music drowning out dialogue.

It’s the same with visual art. Of course, there were monumental works before 1920. But for me, it’s mostly uninspiring before then, as it fails to spark me with ideas and images I can apply to my work in a modern world.

David Holub


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