life should be in black and white

Do you like classic movies? No, wait a minute. I don’t mean movies made in the 80’s that are somehow now appearing on AMC. I definitely liked AMC better when it didn’t accept advertising. (However, they do provide entertaining horror reviews on the website thanks to Mr. Sigler.)

No, I mean real classics. Movies made during an era where a story was needed and characters were rarely transforming robots.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are definitely movies that have been made during the last three decades that are classics. No doubt about it. Jaws immediately leaps to mind, simply because I have watched it with my wife so many times. (And I still love how she closes her eyes and gets closer and those perfect moments.) The original Alien broke new ground. So many really good movies. No doubt.

Tonight however, I’m thinking about movies, that for the most part, were filmed in black and white and who’s stars were under contract to the big studios. I am talking about men like Cary Grant, James Stewart, John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart and numerous others. Women like Audrey Hepburn (who is almost as pretty as my wife), Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and many more. And don’t forget the master’s of the movie making art. Men like Howard Hawks, Anthony Mann, Frank Capra and the master of suspense, the incomparable Alfred Hitchcock.

I’ve enjoyed so many of these movies over the years and can honestly say that I have been touched by more of them, in different ways, then all the movies made in the last two decades.

Cary Grant in Mr. Lucky. Little known film, but an amazing study, full of warmth and light, cynicism and greed. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to find it on VHS and my copy is getting worn. But wow.

Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. If you haven’t seen it, don’t bother renting it, just go buy it. Yes, it is that good. (I know Tee probably enjoyed Disturbia more, but the original is still the best.) (Yes, that was sarcasm)

Another less well known movie I would have to recommend would be Rebecca. One of Hitchcock’s earlier with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. This one has a special remembrance for me and my wife. June, 2001. We had spent the whole day moving into our house. We had boxes everywhere, no real furniture and it was late. We were both exhausted. I set up the little 21″ TV and for some reason plugged it into the cable, although we hadn’t had it connected. Little blessings are sometimes the best. The previous owner hadn’t had the cable turned off yet, and we sat there in the dark, on the floor, holding hands and watched a movie that is amazing.

There are many, many more I could write about, but instead I want to think about what made theses movies the treasures they are. Yes, the actors are handsome, the actresses beautiful, and the directors amazing. But it is the stories and the writing that made them what they are. Are today’s audiences too jaded to sit through a character’s development? Would they rather be fed pablum then eat steak? I don’t know, but I miss movies that are also really well told stories. That is probably why I am convinced Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy is among the best movies ever filmed (yes, I’ve read the series at least 15 times, but we all know I’ve got geek cred).

What about you? Do you have favorite classic movies? What are they? Why should I watch them? Or do you think I’m wrong? Are current movies superior? Let me know what you think!

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