Qualifying as a Classic

August 29th, 2013

There are so many definitions of a ‘classic movie’. Some will say they are movies made in a specific era, mostly pre 1960 when everything is in black and white (the ones you watch on a rainy day or around Christmas time). Some could class their all time favorite movies as classics. Others see a specific actor cast in the movie, or a certain director, as what makes a movie a classic.

I think the classic movies are those that you cannot forget and that you never get bored of watching. They are the movies that you can (and will) watch again and again, gaining a new perspective each time. Classics are the movies other people hate watching with you because you know all of the lines in the movie and don’t hesitate to say them aloud as your favorite actors do.

To me, classic movies are those that tug on your heartstrings and pull on an emotional chord. The characters in a movie are what make the movie a classic; movies in which the characters are so relatable and familiar. Characters that you can see yourself in, or friends or family. I think it’s happened to all of us at some point- we become way too attached to fictional characters. We laugh with them, cry with them, and we mourn their deaths like they were close relatives! Even after their death, you still spend the remainder of the movie thinking about them, wishing they’d come back or wanting to plan a memorial service in honor of their memory.

Jack from ‘Titanic’, John Coffee in ‘The Green Mile’, Simba’s dad, and the most heart-breaking of all, Bambi’s mom. At their deaths we were mourning a great friend. The use of characters, their storylines, and their predicaments are what I remember most about classic movies. They give the heart and soul to the plot and are the people who carry you through right to the end of the film. We all have our own ideas of a classic movie depending on how they make you feel, or how they are directed or written.

Certain movies spark certain emotions and can speak to your heart- and that’s what makes them classic.

What Is A Classic Movie?

August 9th, 2010

There are a lot of movies out there that are considered classics.  Often, your age might determine whether or not you feel a movie is a classic or not.  For those belonging to the Generation Y group, they believe that as long as a movie was made before they were born, it is a classic, which would put Adventures in Babysitting (1987) in that esteemed category.  Indeed many might agree that Elizabeth Shue’s performance as a poor, inexperienced babysitter who gets herself and her charges in amazing amounts of trouble and manages to get them out of it without harming a hair on their heads is pretty convincing, it does not quite compare to Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind (1939).  And while her constant droning of “This has all just been a big mistake”, is fairly reminiscent of Scarlett’s naivety in her own mantra, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow”, this does not a classic movie make.

So what IS a classic movie?  Some consider the year of production to be what makes a movie a classic.  Movies from the 1960s and going backwards to the very beginning of movie making history often get touted as classics, whether they were honestly good movies or not.  Many others consider the number of awards the film as received as the deciding factor whether or not a movie is a classic.  While there is no set in stone definition of what makes a movie a classic, there are some definite opinions out there.  So how do you know which films would actually qualify to go in a list of “classics”?

Think back to the time when a “love scene” consisted of one heavy breathing, desperately clutching kiss fading away into the dark nothingness that led to the next scene.  There were no characters throwing each other’s clothes off (with the possible exception of a lightly wrapped scarf or image impeding hat).  There were no contracts for nude scenes, because there were no nude scenes.  There were no uncomfortable images of over-revealed skin or people in positions that led children to ask their parents, “What are they doing?”

Think back to a time when the budget of a movie had nothing to do with whether or not it was a success.  When the actors were truly actors, with flaws and a crooked front tooth and an occasionally noticeable stutter; they were not nipped and tucked beauty queens of the male and female variety, nor were they computerized images with actors’ voices.  When an explosion on the screen was truly the work of a master explosive specialist and there might have actually been a little bit of danger in the making of it, not simply a click here and a click there to make a special effects explosion that never left the screen of the computer that created it.

If you are still having trouble discerning what makes a movie a classic, think back to a time when movies and the actors who made them were real.  That, my friends, is a classic movie.

War Films of the 1940s

August 9th, 2010

The progression of the movie industry in the 1940s happened a lot faster than many would have expected it to due to the war going on at the time. Amid the chaos going on in the world, surprisingly, there were many technological advances in Hollywood. Of course, in true Hollywood fashion, many writers and filmmakers used the raging world war as inspiration for myriad of films during the decade.

  • Foreign Correspondent (1940): Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, with the screenplay written by Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison, it starred James Hilton and Robert Benchley alongside a brilliant and long list of cast members.
  • Dive Bomber (1941): Directed by Michael Curtiz and whose screenplay was written by Frank Wead and Robert Buckner.
  • A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941): Directed by Henry King and a collaborative written effort by story writer Darryl F. Zanuck and screenplay writers Darrell Ware and Karl Tunberg.
  • Sergeant York (1941): Directed by Howard Hawks and another collaborative effort by writers Abem Finkel, Harry Chandlee, Howard Koch, Justin Huston, Alvin C. York, Tom Skeyhill, and Sam Cowan.
  • 49th Parallel (1941)(Also known as The Invaders): Directed by Michael Powell and written by screenplay writer Emeric Pressburger.
  • One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1941): Directed by Michael Powell Emeric Pressburger and also written by Emeric Pressburger.
  • In Which We Serve (1942): Directed by Noel Coward and David Lean, it was written by Noel Coward.
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942): Directed by William Wyler and based on a book by Jan Struther. Screenplay was written in collaboration by Arthur Wimperis, George Froeschel, James Hilton, and Claudine West.
  • Wake Island (1942): Directed by John Farrow and written by W. R. Burnett and Frank Butler.
  • The More the Merrier (1943): Directed by George Stevens, the screenplay was written by Robert Russell, Frank Ross, Richard Flournoy, and Lewis R. Foster.
  • This is the Army (1943): Directed by Michael Curtiz and written by Casey Robinson and Claude Binyon.
  • Guadalcanal Diary (1943): Directed by Lewis Seiler, which was adapted from a book written by Richard Tregaskis. The screenplay was written by Lamar Trotti and Jerome Cady.
  • Bataan (1943): Directed by Tay Garnett and written by Robert Hardy Andrews.
  • Destination Tokyo (1943): Directed by Delmer Daves and written by Delmer Daves, Steve Fisher, and Albert Maltz.
  • Sahara (1943): Directed by Zoltan Korda and written by Philip MacDonald, John Howard Lawson, Zoltan Korda and James O’Hanlon.
  • Edge of Darkness (1943): Directed by Lewis Milestone, the novel was written by William Woods, with the screenplay written by Robert Rossen.
  • The North Star (1943): Directed by Lewis Milestone and written by Lillian Hellman.
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943): Directed and written by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
  • Winged Victory (1944): Directed by George Cukor and written by Jerome Cady and Moss Hart.
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944): Directed by Mervyn LeRoy , book written by Ted W. Lawson and Robert Considine, and screenplay written by Dalton Trumbo.
  • The Purple Heart (1944): Directed by Lewis Milestone, story written by Darryl F. Zanuck, screenplay written by Jerome Cady.

As you can see, during the time that the US participated in World War II, the country’s mind on war, it seemed a natural to produce movies about the topic.

Top 10 Classic Movies

August 9th, 2010

Of course, what makes a movie special enough to go on a top 10 list is generally up to personal preference; as is the classification of what makes a movie a classic. But there are some movies out there that just jump out at people. There is no getting around the fact that there are films that stand out as being simply amazing. This is a list of those movies.

  • The Birds: Released in 1963 and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this movie brings goose bumps to the skin of even the heartiest of thriller watchers.
  • Gone With the Wind: This movie was released in 1939 and was directed by Victor Fleming, with the un-credited assistance of both George Cukor and Sam Wood. It is an epic story of love and war with love losing in the end.
  • It’s A Wonderful Life: Released in 1946 and directed by Frank Capra, this movie turns the tables on a man thinking the world would be better off without him.
  • The Godfather: This movie was released in 1972 and was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. While there are mobster movies that were released before and many since, NO mobster movie is quite like this one.
  • The Exorcist: Released in 1973 and directed by William Friedkin, this movie gives new meaning to the word horror. Amazing and rather graphic scenes of a child possessed by Satan have haunted all those who have seen it.
  • Casablanca: This movie was released in 1942 and was directed by Michael Curtiz. This is another epic love story that ends in a manner not quite expected by the viewers.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: Released in 1962 and directed by Robert Mulligan, this is not only a great movie, it is also an incredible book. It has been used by schools in both forms to teach great literature and film to its students for decades.
  • The Great Escape: This movie was released in 1963 and was directed by John Sturges. Revolving around one of the most heart wrenching wars of all time, it is a nerve-wracking tale of the lives of World War II Prisoners of War who attempt to escape a prison camp in Germany.
  • Wizard of Oz: Released in 1939 and directed by Victor Fleming, this time with the assistance of three unaccredited directors, this movie has become a family favorite, replaying once a year when all of the parents and kids gather around to watch. From the beginning in black and white, to the middle in amazing Technicolor, to the end where we return to black and white, this movie is completely unique in every way.
  • It Happened One Night: This movie was released in 1934 and is another directorial feat by Frank Capra. Intrigue and love come together to make this a memorable movie for all viewers, no matter when they were born.

Movie Trivia of the 1930s

August 9th, 2010

The 1930s was a time of big change for the movie industry.  Although most movies were still made in black and white during this decade, the change to color had just begun.  There were a lot of revelations in the industry with movies going from being silent films to “talkies”.  This made a huge difference in both the history of movies and the future for some actors and actresses.  Movies made during this time period have a special place in the hearts of classic movie lovers.  Indeed the list of movies from this decade that be classified as classic is myriad, here is list of some them.

  1. John Wayne’s first big acting part was in a movie called The Big Trail, released in 1930.  Before that, he was just a bit part actor in some low budget films.  This movie, although his first major role, was not very popular and did not do much for his acting career at the time.  His next chance for a major role did not come until a movie released in 1939 called Stagecoach.  Once this movie hit the big screens, a star was born.
  2. Jean Harlow, one of the greatest female movie stars of all time, got her starring role in 1930, in the movie Hell’s Angels.  This movie was the movie that made her a household name.  Her career soon took off and almost overnight, she became the bombshell that many continue to think of her as today.
  3. The very first newspaper that focused on the world of movie making, was called The Hollywood Reporter.  The first copy was released in 1930 and was sold daily.  Although still in production today, but no longer on a daily basis.
  4. The talented and beautiful Katharine Hepburn was in her first film ever in 1932.  This movie was called A Bill of Divorcement and it is this film that propelled her to stardom, practically the moment it his theatres.  Katharine Hepburn is such a huge part of Hollywood, a movie of her life story was produced.  This, while possibly very awkward, could very well be one of the most flattering things that could happen to an actor or actress.
  5. The very first Three Stooges movie ever was released during this decade as well.  Woman Haters, hit theatres in 1934, is the movie that began the over 20-year history of this hysterical comedy team.  One more interesting fact:  Woman Haters was entirely comprised of rhyming dialogue.
  6. Spencer Tracy won the Oscar award for Best Actor two years in a row for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938) respectively. This is highly unusual for both that decade and any before or since.
  7. There are a lot of interesting facts that revolve around filmmaking of the 1930s.  It was an ideal time for movies and for the men and women who were involved in creating them.  The writers, actors, and directors, not to mention the producers, crew and set and costume designers, should be commended for their work in this decade.

The Highest Earning Classic Movies

August 9th, 2010

These days, how much a movie makes at the box office is often how people determine how good a movie is. In the past, during the days of truly classic movies, it mattered little to moviegoers as much as did the storyline, the dialogue, the directing and the acting. Today money talks and the public listens. Although a sad commentary, but the movies to come out in the last few years have been more about special effects and less about substance. Fortunately, we have some great movies to pick from in the category of highest earning classic movies.

  • Gone With the Wind: Released in 1939, this movie is arguably one of the best movies ever made. It shows up on almost every trivia list about classic movies, from Top 10 to Best Cast to Greatest Quotes. It remains the top-grossing movie in the US, once inflation has been adjusted into the equation. That is a pretty good record.
  • The Sound of Music: Released in 1965, this movie shows up as number three on the list of top grossing movies of all time in America, after adjusting for inflation. This is well above many of the other more modern high grossing films that are so popular these days.
  • The Ten Commandments: Released in 1956, this movie comes in at number 5 on the list. Year after year, it still airs on television in nearly every city across the country. Surely this must be a sign of a great classic movie.
  • Doctor Zhivago: Released in 1965, this movie sits at number 8 in our list of all time highest grossing movies in America. Often referenced in other films, both movie producers and fans alike continue to count it as a classic.
  • The Exorcist: Released in 1973, this movie is number 9 of all time in America. An extremely popular film, it has been remade and a sequel produced in the last decade. Who knew all that would come out of a little pea soup?
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Released in 1937, this movie is on the list at number 10. This is the highest grossing animated film on the list, once inflation has been taken into account. Given its competition and the fact that it was up against films with live actors, this is indeed quite a feat.

No matter how important gross profit is these days, these classic movies stand up to even this test. If a movie is a classic, it is a classic. It does not matter when it was made, how much was spent to make it or how much money it made at the box office. What matters is quality, and all of these movies have that…and more. When looking for a great movie to watch, try one of these instead of whatever is on the top ten newly released films or already on DVD. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much you enjoy these movies that are considered to be classics.

Classic Movies – Shirley Temple

August 9th, 2010

Shirley Temple is an actress that everyone in the world recognizes on sight. She was born in 1928 and began staring in very short films in 1932 before her fourth birthday. This was exceptionally young for a major actress during this time, but she definitely lived up to her fame. She performed in forty-four full length films and eighteen short films by the time she was 21. This is an amazing number of films for someone so young, especially when you consider that she took a break after her 12th birthday, during which she attended high school. She became a household name very shortly after her first full-length feature film, The Red-Haired Alibi, in which she actually had a very small part.
Stand Up and Cheer! was the first film in which Shirley Temple was actually given publicity for. The film was released in 1934 and became a real stepping-stone for her. Shortly afterward, in June of the same year, she began building an even bigger fan base with the film Little Miss Marker. Her crowning achievement of the year 1934 was the end of year release of Bright Eyes, which was a film written specifically to exhibit the numerous talents of this little girl. She was able to act, sing, and dance in this movie, and won the hearts of many who had not been won over before. This led to her receiving an Oscar in 1935 specially made in a miniature size for her, due in whole to the films she was a part of during the 1934 filming year.
Many films followed this one and they are watched by young and old to this day. There are collectible pieces of Shirley Temple dolls, various plates and other dishes, as well as clothing that are still being created and sold decades after her film performing career ended. After her retirement from film making, Shirley Temple was the star of her own two television shows: The Shirley Temple Show and Shirley Temple’s Storybook. While there were many people who found these shows extremely enjoyable, the star seemed to attract personal drama of her own, which prevented the shows from running long term.
While Shirley Temple may be a name from decades long past, the image of her singing and dancing her little heart out will stick with us all forever. This in itself makes her movies classics. They are popular and enjoyable even now to children and adults, no matter their age or generation. Her curls and sassy attitude make each of her movies entertaining and her sweet and compassionate personality warms the heart of anyone watching them. One of the guideposts of classic movies is their ability to last and still retain popularity over time. Shirley Temple, young though she may have been in her heyday, definitely accomplished that with what seemed like amazing ease. What little girl has not at some point or other wanted to have her curls, if not those adorable dimples?

Classic Movie Trivia

August 9th, 2010

Movie trivia has been around as long as movies have. Most people love a good trivia game, and it is exciting to get together with your friends and see who knows more about the movies we all love to see! It is fun to throw out the questions that we know the answers to and stump our friends. Of course, the best part is when we get to bask in the glory of being the only one who knows the correct answer! With movies, there are so many things that can be turned into trivia.
Who played Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind? What great actress starred in the movie Casablanca? What movies had Shirley Temple in them, but never gave her credit for her roles?
Questions such as these are a lot of fun when playing trivia games. After you ask the question, you get to enjoy looking at your friends’ faces contort while they try to figure out the answers! There are so many classic movies to choose from, and for every classic movie there are at least four or five famous cast members. Trivia like this can keep you entertained for hours!
There are so many wonderful quotes from the classic movie genre! For true classic movie buffs, the dialogue from the movies produced before the 1970s consist of lines with more feeling, more meaning, and more true writing talent than any movies produced after. Often, however, the quotes get a little mixed up over time and some people never even realize it. For example, one of the most famous movie quotes of all time is from the movie Casablanca. “Play it again, Sam” is known far and wide, even by those who have never seen the film. But did you know that the line was never actually said in the movie? It began as one line and was altered over the years by people who saw the movie once or twice and then never worried about it again. This is a sad but true fact of the modern American movie watching public.
The director of a classic movie is often one of the least known people in a film. This is kind of hard to imagine, when the talent of the director can easily make or break a movie, no matter how good the actors and script are. It takes a real lover of classic movies to be able to recall and share the names of the directors of even some of the most popular films. Do you know who directed The Great Escape, released in 1963? Or who directed For Whom the Bell Tolls, released in 1943?
Movie trivia is one way that people are able to share their love of great old classic movies. There are many online groups focused on this pastime. Remembering the past is one way of paying homage to those who made a movie great. Since movies have always been a part of the history in many countries, movie trivia just makes sense.

Classic Film Memorabilia

August 9th, 2010

Films have been around for a long time now…over 100 years! Because of this, people have had a long time to get used to the fact that some people in this world have talents that others most definitely do not posses. Fans of films and movies have spent a goodly amount of time watching and deciding what they like and what they do not. This process is really how actors become famous…not because of their movies, but because of their fans. These same fans have made a huge business out of collecting items that were either in a movie they loved or in some way related to the actor or actress that they favored in the film.
Autographs have always been an extremely popular way of getting close to someone famous. For a true movie fan, having the autograph of your favorite actor is a huge deal! Unfortunately for some of us, we were not around when all of the classic films that some of our favorite people starred in were being made and shown the first time around. Some of us were not even born while our favorites were even alive. Luckily, there are many people over the years who have been collecting autographs from fans all over and who are willing to sell them…for a price. For those looking to purchase an autograph, there is one thing you should always remember. It is very hard to tell if an autograph is real or fake. You never want to end up spending money on an item that is not authentic. Be sure to go to an authorized dealer that has a good reputation, someone you feel has proven to be trustworthy…otherwise you might end up with a Clark Gable autograph signed in the back room by a guy named Fred.
One of the most expensive types of collectible movie memorabilia is the costumes used in films. You can often find auctions that are being run where the main item up for bid is a beautiful dress worn by a famous actress in an amazing movie during the 1930s. Unfortunately, finding this item and buying this item are two totally different things. Very few of us have the money to just go out and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a costume. As much as you may treasure the idea of owning the dress Scarlett O’Hara wore in the barbeque scene in Gone With the Wind, you may find that having a place to live is a little more important. There are shops where you can find smaller costume items that may be a little closer to your price range. If you are not satisfied with these, another option is to try to get photographs of the original costumes when they are on display or for sale somewhere. At the very least you will have a great picture of what you know is an authentic costume worn by someone whose movies you adore. This can be a great keepsake to have.

Changes of the 1960s

August 9th, 2010

The movie industry went through a lot of changes in the 1960s. The 1960s were a time for change all over the world, in nearly every country, and in most every medium. Revolution was on its way, and the film industry was not going to just sit back and let it pass them by.
One of the biggest issues that the film industry faced during this decade was the problem of money. Films were costing more and more to make and the public was unwilling to fork over the difference. This caused a lot of problems for many movie studios and was the reason myriad of films found themselves on the editing floor, never even made. This means that quite possibly several great films that could now be considered classics were never given life and the American public has probably missed out on seeing them.
Many of the best directors, many of whom made their mark on Hollywood with several of what could be described as blockbusters, had left this life behind and gone to the big studio in the sky. Without benefit of their movie making techniques to guide them, this made it much harder for the up and coming directors to make movies deserving of the title of “classic”.
The Invention of the Multiplex
However, a more positive change that came to the industry would be the building of the very first multiplex, allowing people a choice of movies to see, all under one roof. Kansas City would see the first multiplex built in 1963, thanks to Stanley H. Durwood. The opening of this was considered to be state-of-the art in building and was seemingly the beginning of the end for the opulent movie houses of old, also known as Theatre Palaces. This, as it turns out, was really a good step for the industry and allowed movies to play to a wider audience, thus garnering the attention and acclaim they were due. Prior to this, many movies that were shown in smaller theatres, with limited seating, just couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted to see it.
Movie Disasters of the 1960s
The Cleopatra Disaster, as it came to be known is 1963’s Cleopatra, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, was supposed to be a huge hit for 20th Century Fox. The movie had big name actors and actresses, including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, a tremendous storyline; it was filmed in Rome, with an unprecedented budget of $44 million (which, adjusted for inflation, would be about $300 million). Costumes for Taylor alone cost Fox $200,000. It could have been considered an epic film, with a running time of 4 hours; it had all the signs of a potential hit and huge moneymaker for the studio. Instead it is considered a huge flop!
The 1960s saw big changes in movie making and Hollywood, for better or worse, learned from its collective mistakes. As movie goers began hankering for less dialogue and more special effects, for movies like Cleopatra, it may have been a little too much too quickly. But through it all, the industry has survived, indeed more accurately, it has thrived, despite wars, downturns in the economy, deaths of beloved directors, actors and the whims of the theatergoers (who ultimately decide what gets made after all).