Monday, January 30, 2006


The beauty of our DVD age and Netflix (I can’t seem to say enough good things about it can I?) is that a lot of very old films are now digitally restored and available to view for a whole new generation. Videotapes could only go so far, and the quality of most films on tape was pretty awful. Worse still, was that a lot of old movies were not even available on tape.

Now that I’m a wee bit older, more mature hopefully, and more aware of how life works, I am trying to make an effort to watch really old movies, from Hollywood’s Golden Age. It’s like a new discovery for me, because growing up I really didn’t watch old movies, but what was current at the time. As a kid, the thought of watching anything in black and white was boring.

Well, not anymore! Just recently, I watched Bette Davis give an amazing performance in All About Eve. Heard about the film for years, but had never seen it. The film is a little outdated, but very interesting nonetheless. Even superior to that though, was my first viewing of a true classic: Sunset Blvd. Alls I can say is: WOW. Both All About Eve and Sunset Blvd. were released in 1950, but the latter is the very best out of the two for me.

Sunset Blvd. is dark, witty, creepy, disturbing, sad, and just plain entertaining. Seeing footage of Hollywood back in 1950 was utterly fascinating as I have navigated those very streets they mention in the movie dozens of times. William Holden was a very handsome man and a fine actor in this film, and Gloria Swanson as the troubled has-been actress Norma Desmond is nothing short of perfect in her role. I really really enjoyed this film, seeing it for the very first time fifty-six years later after its release. A biting, scathing, and tragic look at how the industry itself destroys the very people it helps to become stars from a brilliant director, Billy Wilder.

I shall be watching more and more of these old films as soon as I can get them. What strikes me most is that as wholesome as they say times were before the 1960's cultural revolution, Hollywood was already tackling some very serious dark issues in its movies way before.

I’m impressed to say the least, and while our movies today are much more realistic and technically superior, the old stuff is just as compelling and the beauty of these old pieces of celluloid lies in the attention given to the scripts. And who can forget that they are also laced with our glorious actors and actresses from yesteryear.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Hooray for Hollywood indeed.


G-Man said...

I've never been a fan of older movies. I think it's just something that I'm so used to modern special effects. editing, music, and acting styles that they've just been completely foreign to me. But I like your post. I think that has to stop for me. Last summer, I rented Citizen Kane for the first time. It was a challenging film to watch, and I can't say i appreicated it right away, but after reading up on it, it stuck with me for a long time.

Mario said...

I never saw Sunset Blv., but now I am really curious about it. Like a month ago I watched all about eve and absolutely loved it. I think some old movies from Hollywood are simply superb. The screenplays for some of them present dialogues so well written... you don't see those in average Hollywood movies anymore.

Bill German said...

Billy Wilder's "The apartment" is a classic too. Just finished watching Anne Bancroft in "The Miracle worker". What an amazing performance. It will really make you think about how lucky you are to have vision and hearing.

WAT said...

G-Man: Citizen Kane is quite a bore! It's got great camera techniques and crap, but there's much better older movies out there! Do check them out please!

Mario: You will love Sunset Blvd. If ya liked All About Eve, you're in for a real treat.

B. German: I added The Apartment and The Miracle Worker to my Netflix list. Thanks for the suggestions.

Bill German said...

The miracle worker really blew me away. We complain about our lot in life and bitch about this and that and just think about not being able to hear and see and grow up to graduate from harvard. Mrs Robinson is awesome