They just don’t make ’em like they used to.
How many people have heard this claim and wondered if it could possibly be true? For seemingly every cultural format–books, music, television, and especially films–a crusty, dark-browed curmudgeon lurks waiting to insist that the product of yesterday far outweighs what we read, listen to, and watch today. For most avid film fans, the curmudgeon’s reaction is a tempting one. When movies like “Shrek 3: The Filmes Netflix Search for More Kids to Exploit” and “Pirates of the Caribbean 3: We Promise Johnny Depp Isn’t Dead” top the box office charts, it’s easy to retreat into a warm bath of nostalgia … with extra Audrey Hepburn bubbles.
This sense of nostalgia shouldn’t go unquestioned. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” may be a great film, but it’s also marked by mind-boggling racism. “The Searchers” showcases a top-notch performance from John Wayne, but the film is about a guy who plans to shoot his own niece because she’s been kidnapped by Native Americans … then we’re proud of him when he doesn’t. Movies like “The Thing from Another World” made plenty of money fifty years ago, just like movies like “Big Momma’s House” make money today. And today’s best films still hit the mark every so often.
The irony of the curmudgeon’s cry is that his insistence on a stark contrast between then and now actually drives many people away from the films of the past. (It’s that and the total lack of movies about battle droids pre-1998.) Inexplicably, many of my friends simply avoid old movies as voraciously as Mike Meyers avoids movies that aren’t sequels.
The advent of Netflix and its imitators, however, has changed the rules of the game. If you want to watch a “vintage classic” film but don’t have the gumption to take action, here are five films you might want to consider adding to your queue. I’ve tried to avoid the obvious recommends, like “Casablanca” and “Gone with the Wind.” But feel free to add those too. The five below, however, promise to give contemporary moviegoer copious as they delve into the past.
The Third Man (1949): If you’ve seen “Citizen Cane,” you’ve probably heard of Orson Welles. He’s that guy who supposedly made only one good movie and then threw his life away. “The Third man,” however, provides an impressive if brief dose of young, un-thrown away Orson-Welles-ification. It takes place in Vienna in the aftermath of World War II and centers on the mysterious death of Harry Lime (Welles). Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) resolves to find his friend’s killer.
Read more about it here:
All about Eve (1950): If you are looking for a classic that doesn’t star Humphrey Bogart, Kerry Grant, or James Dean, consider “All about Eve,” a pure masterpiece starring Anne Baxter, Celeste Horn, and Bette Davis. Often cited as one of the film industry’s truly great achievements, “All about Eve” centers on an aging stage actress who takes an overzealous fan under her wing.