Did you ever wonder what truly makes a movie a classic?
We think about that a lot, and have come up with a credo of our own. That is, if a movie is good, will it be good five years from now and even better 10 years from now. A movie classic is impervious to time – it was good when it first came out and even better now.
So many times it pays to avoid rushing out to catch the latest new release. Our advice – consider waiting a while to let the cinematic wheat separate itself from the chaff. It will be easier on your pocketbook and your eyeballs.
Another way to look at this is to ask yourself how many times you’ve seen a film you remember was so terrific when you first saw it — but is now a total snore. Aren’t you amazed to find that was once so great is 10 years later a dated bore.
That’s not to say that such a film can’t have an incredible impact on the public when it first comes out, sometimes changing the ways movies are made and even the movie business itself. Our favorite example of this is 1969’s “Easy Rider,” which is dated to the point of being un-watchable today. However, the movie’s place in Hollywood history is secure as a groundbreaking film. But that hardly makes it a classic.
A classic is a movie you can see over and over and over again, always finding something new and interesting about it, always marveling at its ability to “hook” you.
Sure, the film may be a period piece but it is never dated. It lacks references caught in time. It has instead universal themes (passion, greed, hubris) representing universal human emotions reflecting the universal human condition.
“Sunset Boulevard” came out 70 years ago, but its representation of Hollywood ambition and delusion is as relevant today as it was then. (Frank’s favorite line: desperately broke screenwriter William Holden calls for a loan to “a yes-man at Metro. To me, he said no.”)
Both of us have prints of Sunset Boulevard. A must in any collection.
There is just no question that it is so much easier to be a vintage film buff and film collector these days. But like a lot of you we are old enough to recall the days in the 40’s, 50’s and even the 60’s when it was difficult to view old films. Unless you lived in a big city, which sported a revival theater, you were out in the cold.
How did you get to see your favorite classic before it was released on video?
Let’s hear from you.