Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New To Classic Film? 6 Movies To Get You Started

If you're a member of Gen Y, it's pretty easy to know absolutely zilch about classic films. Unless they were played in your house growing up or you cultivated the interest on your own, you might never have been exposed to them.  We've put together a list of 6 films that can serve as an introductory set to the Golden Age of Hollywood.  These 6 were chosen not just because they are great films, but because they'd make an easy transition for a viewer not used to the style of classic filmmaking.  So if you'd like to see more of Casablanca than just the parts featured in When Harry Met Sally, read on.

North By Northwest (1959)
Alix says--  A good introduction to Hitchcock. The mystery keeps you in suspense and keeps the film at a good pace. Also a good classic color film for those leery about black and white.

Lindsay says--  Tons of interesting locations, lots of action sequences, a vibrant Herrmann score, and the legend that is Cary Grant.  

All About Eve (1950)
Alix says--  One of my all time favorites. The characters are memorable and it has a fantastic script that shows off classic film dialogue at its best.

Lindsay says--  Scripts don't get much better than this.  We quote this movie all the time and you have too if you've ever said "buckle your seatbeats..."  A
fantastic cast.

Casablanca (1942)
Alix says--  This film has it all: romance, comedy, drama, and suspense. Lots of great acting, one liners, and excellent use of black and white film that will leave you wanting more.

Lindsay says--  There's a reason this is the classic movie.  I find more humor in this film every time I view it.  Watch this so that next time you hear someone say "Here's looking at you, kid", "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship", "Round up the usual suspects", or "Play it again, Sam" you'll know what they're talking about.  And then you can be a know-it-all and tell them that "Play it again, Sam" isn't actually the line.

On The Waterfront (1954)
Alix says--  Watching this film will make you want to see more of Marlon Brando. A simplistic plot but it keeps your interest and is never boring.

Lindsay says--  A compelling film.  The characters still seem so modern, even though it was made decades ago.  Like Al said, you will be hooked on Marlon Brando after watching this movie.  

Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Alix says--  One of the best uses of black and white film, perfect for someone who isn’t used to it. The characters and film background will pique your interest in classic film culture.

Lindsay says--  A film noir with style.  Shot in a similar style of today's films, with intrigue and tension from the very first frame.  

The Thin Man (1934)
Alix says--  A very funny film even 75 years later and a great introduction to classic comedies.

Lindsay says--  A murder mystery with a sophisticated sense of humor featuring a new kind of detective.  Witty banter, a dog named Asta, and a cocktail (or two...or three...) for good measure.  


Jay said...

Good cross section of films--how did you choose the final six? It's hard to believe you didn't choose a different Hitchcock though. Vertigo is hard to beat!

Lindsay said...

A valid argument, Jay. In fact, Vertigo has always been my very favourite Hitchcock film. However, we selected these films not just on artistic merit, but also palatability for a viewer not accustomed to the distinct style and pacing of classic films. Specifically, we selected North By Northwest over Vertigo for a couple of reasons.

NxNW feels a little less dated to us. Parts of Vertigo like Jimmy Stewart's head floating among the shocks of color or the dolly zoom - while I appreciate them as part of the film, a person new to old movies might find them jarring. Secondly, NxNW seems to have a more consistent pacing. The external nature of the conflict allows for more action and excitement, contrasted with the largely internal conflict in Vertigo that leads to more subtilities.

I would encourage anyone to watch Vertigo - it is, in my opinion, Hitchcock's masterpiece. But we had to cut out lots of great films in order to find ones we thought would be easiest for a new viewer to appreciate. My favourite film of all time is the epic Gone With The Wind, but at a running time of 222 minutes I'd hesitate to recommend it to someone giving classic films a try for the first time. Our hope is that in making these six suggestions, someone might find these entertaining enough to put aside any reservations they might have had and take a deeper look into the wonderful world of classic film.

Krysta said...

I love North by Northwest! Have you two seen Mildred Pierce?! That's one of my favorite classics!
-Krysta (formerly Lamb) Matt :)

Lindsay said...

Hi Krysta!! I have seen Mildred Pierce and liked it very much. Parts of it were filmed very close to where I live now.

I think it was the first Joan Crawford film I ever saw. I have it in a collection along with Humoresque, The Women, The Damned Don't Cry, and Possessed. Have you seen any of those? If you're a Crawford fan, I specifically recommend Humoresque and Possessed. Humoresque has an interesting conflict and Possessed features stunning cinematography.