We get asked from time to time about what makes a movie a “classic.” It’s really a tough question, and one if so inclined one can get lost in the philosophical byways of why this particular film — and not that — deserves the designation.

The French have a phrase — chacun a sa gout (everyone to his or her taste) — that explains much of the question.  But not all of it.  We, the classic movie chat guys, prefer concrete explanations. Here’s one:

Even though you’ve seen the movie a hundred times, even though you know the dialogue by heart, if it’s on and you can’t turn it off, then it’s a classic.

There’s a channel on cable TV called Retro and naturally it runs old films. Our only complaint is they keep running the SAME old films. Some can be watched again, but not REPEATEDLY, such as 1960’s Ocean’s Eleven, directed by Lewis Milestone and costarring the original “rat pack” of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. 

One film that they have been running repeatedly, and that cannot be turned off so easily is Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard  costarring Gloria Swanson and a young William Holden.

Even though that film is over 63 years old, Yes, think of it — 63 years old — it is still one of the most riveting films ever made. Yes, that’s our personal opinion (our “gout” if you will), but also we believe it to be a “fact,” something that a classic movie lover cannot avoid.

Is it too harsh to say that you’re not a classic movie fan if you aren’t hooked on Sunset Boulevard?  Let us know what you think.

What are the films YOU can’t turn off?

By the way, Joe and Frank got into a heated discussion recently about the correct billing of Sunset Boulevard.

Joe favors this full title but Frank pedantically noted that the movie is also listed under Sunset Blvd., which he even admits is Godawful. Joe made his case, and we now both come down firmly on the side of Sunset Boulevard. 

Coming attractions:  Gloria Swanson’s silent movie period will be highlighted in an upcoming blog on Monday (Sept. 16).  So, stay tuned. Need we say that that’s Gloria above with William Holden?


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