Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ah, The Classics!

Greetings, fellow castaways.

As I write this, the Keith Household is settling down to watch one of the most rock-awesome movies of all time, the original Dracula, featuring none other than Bela Lugosi in the lead role. I am a huge fan of some old movies. I know, acting and special effects have come a long way since the 1930's, but there are still some stories that remain timeless in their form as pure masterpieces of the art of cinema.

It's been years since I've seen Dracula. Like, when I was a kid. I finally took the liberty of reading Stoker's novel last year (it came free on my reader), and I can tell you, as bone-chilling as the movie was, the book is even more so. I just wish Stoker could have written an action scene worth a darn.

But anyway, what I was trying to say is that there are some old movies that are head and shoulders above their younger versions. I think Hollywood has become so dependent on special effects, they have compromised an essential element of movies, and that is the use of our own imagination in interpreting the story. I don't need to see the Count ripping someone's lungs out through their ear, thank you. I can get a stronger impact from the suggestion that he's ripping someone's lungs out through their ears, and I don't need to get grossed out by watching him do it. Horror is so much more than a cheap slasher flick (cheap is cheap, even though the budget may have been a hundred times as much on extra blood, pig guts and various gross effects).

Okay, call me old-fashioned. Go ahead. Say it. There, I know ya could. I am a little old-fashioned. There are actually few oldie movies that feel this way about. Many of them are primitive, poorly written, and flat out boring. My soft spots are reserved for those brilliant gems who stand out as ground-breaking and timeless.

Among them, I count the Count (muahahaha!) and a few others like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Wizard of Oz, Modern Times,  and The General.

I do have some modern favorites as well.  The Fifth Element and Aliens, and some little-known movies like Walking Across Egypt and The Last Legion (one of my new faves).

But it does seem like Hollywood has experienced a dearth of original stories lately. How many movies came out this year as remakes on older movies? Just this year, we've seen another Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, yet another version of Dracula called Stoker, The Great Gatsby, The Lone Ranger, numerous sequels, and a plethora of what promise to be movies founded on splashing blood, copious amounts of sex, sermonizing, belittling morals, and any other of a number of reasons to not leave the house.

I like a movie that actually encourages me to use my brain once in a while. Okay, I slip in some Three Stooges once in a while. Ya can't take yourself too seriously, ya know.

I'd be interested in knowing what your favorite classic movies are. Post a comment, let me know.


  1. And the director of Dracula, Tod Browning, was born in Louisville. :-)

    Favorite classics? Where do I begin? Safety Last, The General, Battleship Potemkin, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Casablanca, Sunset Boulevard... I love silent film and movies of the 30s and 40s. This also includes classic radio, of which I'm glad episodes are available online.

  2. My favorite classic movie is "To Kill A Mockingbird." That's to it, I became a big fan of Gregory Peck.

  3. I saw a movie called The Enemy Below with my dad that has been such a strong influence on my writing style. It had Robert Mitchum as a destroyer captain, and he was engaged in a one-on-one battle against a a German U-Boat. We got to see them try to outguess each other, develop from a common hatred to respect, then admiration. Boith ships ended up sinking, but the survivors were picked up, and the two captains ended the movie sharing a cigarette on the fantail of the rescue ship. I loved being able to see the conflict from both points of view.

  4. I have to agree with you on "The Wizard of Oz," but I'm afraid I have much lower tastes when it comes to movies in general. Anybody ever seen "Hamburger: the Motion Picture" or "Stewardess School" or the "Porky's" flix? Just went back and re-watched "Airplane" and "Airplane II."

    I will, however, share your outrage at some of these remakes. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was a classic, the remake was to barf at!

  5. Interesting post, Cyrus. I'm not very good with remembering titles of movies. But I have scenes that are still in my head from older movies. I believe one is Elephant Walk with Elizabeth Taylor and I can see those giant beast plowing through the jungle and trampling that gorgeous home and most all within. I have no clue what movie the scenes of an earthquake opening up and swallowing a town and most of those within came from. But to this day, I'm terrified of earthquakes. The sinkholes we have in some parts of the US are reminiscent. (Shudder!) Then there's a scene with Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne and a desert and him ravishing her in a tent. Surely, I was too young when I saw that, but I sensed it was bad.
    For whole movies, you can't beat It's a Wonderful Life or Singing in the Rain. I really lean toward HEA. I am after-all a romance writer. :)