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Sunday 28 December 2014

They Just Don't Make Them Like That Anymore.

Over these past few days I have had the sudden urge to watch a few classic black and white films, all from the 1940's as it happens.
I don't really know why that is, but after watching the first, "It's a Wonderful Life" (well it was Christmas Eve), I've found myself watching a couple more. Yesterday it was "Casablanca" and today "The Third Man".
If you know any of those films, and if you don't I suggest you rectify that straight away, you'd probably agree with me that films don't come a lot better than that.
I've seen these films many times before, but as I said to someone yesterday, not having watched any of them for a few years, it was like being reunited with an old friend.
I must admit that I don't consider myself to be that much of a film buff. As much as I appreciate the artform and the entertainment provided by films, personally I'd much rather listen to music. But there does come a time when I have that sudden urge to watch a film, or two, or three. In fact, I remember thinking to myself a while ago now, that if I ever had the time to spare I'd like to watch a film a day. I don't expect that to ever happen, except over short periods, so maybe I appreciate films more than I think?
Having said that, the last thing I'd want to do nowadays is to watch a film in a cinema, those days are almost certainly gone. The thought of sitting listening to people eating, slurping drinks, talking on and fiddling with their mobile phones, while trying to concentrate on that film and having to pay for the privilege fills me with dread.
I'd much rather sit in the relative comfort of my own home and watch a film of my choice, at my leisure and with who I want, or even alone if the fancy takes me.
Anyway, back to my original point....
After posting a Facebook update yesterday about having just watched "Casablanca", I became involved in a discussion about these classic black and white films and why they still have so much appeal.
For me one of the main reasons is that, generally, films from that golden era are around 90 minutes long and never seem to outstay their welcome. Everything that needs to be said is crammed into those 90 minutes, with not a minute of film wasted. Many films today don't do that and quite often go on for far longer than necessary, usually well over 2 hours, a point often made by reviewers.
Then there is that aspect of those films being like old friends that you can return to again and again and never be let down. We all like to be entertained, or maybe even challenged by the new, but there's something about the familiar that is comforting and reassuring. Most of us will reach for the familiar if we want to chill out and relax.
During that Facebook conversation I made the comparison between those 1940's films and the classic three minute Pop song. That may seem like a bit of leap of the imagination, but neither outstay their welcome, they just get stuck in, do what they have to do and get out again, before anyone starts to shuffle uncomfortably in their seat.
Maybe I should start thinking about that when writing blog posts? Hmm........


  1. Three great films. I also just watched Wonderful Life on Xmas Eve, and try to see Casablanca every few years. It's been a while since I've seen Third Man, but also a classic. But isn't that one well over 90 minutes? Or maybe there's two different cuts out there?

    As to going to the cinema now, I try to go off-hours, when we have the theater mostly to ourselves (and it's cheaper). Can't stand to be crowded in by rude people, but we've managed to see several wonderful current films this holiday, including Theory of Everything and Imitation Game (who would have ever guessed that odd Cambridge professors would become a trending film genre?).

    I do see your point about the 90-minute film and the 3-minute song, with notable exceptions... Gone With the Wind, Hey Jude... Going long does not make a film epic or classic, it's classics that allow us to put up with going long.

    While you're in a b&w classic mood, may I suggest an Orson Welles triple feature? Citizen Kane, Lady from Shanghai, and Touch of Evil.

  2. The Third Man is 100 mins. It's a Wonderful Life is just over 2 hours, but doesn't waste a minute. That was my point really, they didn't have any filler.
    I totally agree with you comment about "classics that allow us to put up with going long". I'd put Once Upon A Time In America in that category.
    Love Citizen Kane & was only thinking about that today as it happens. I don't own it though, yet.... :)