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Old Movies

Recently I got into watching a bunch of old movies. I think probably because there haven’t really been any current movies I wanted to see. So I checked the IMDB top 250 and picked a few oldies thinking if they are still popular this many years later maybe they are worth checking out.

Here are my impressions. Maybe you’ll find something to check out yourself. I’m sure if you already seen them some of you will disagree with my opinions. I’d love to hear your insights.

12 Angry Men

This one started off a little preachy I thought. Maybe that was my own biases but after about 10 minutes it settled into a groove and was great all the way through. The story is about a jury. They’ve just watched a murder trial and the movie takes place in the jury room as they attempt to decide on a verdict.

Recommended!

The Conversation

It’s a about a kind if private detective or private spy who is very good at his work. He’s hired to covertly record the conversations of a man and women walking around in a public space. All that happens at the very beginning of the movie. As he uses his eqiupment to piece together the conversation he thinks the people he recorded may have their lives in danger and he’s worried if he turns over the recording he might be helping whoever has it out for them.

I enjoyed the experience of watching it because it’s such a different kind of movie. It was a little slow though.

The Apartment

I thought this movie was just so so but Shirley McLane was a hottie!

It’s about a guy working at a giant generic corporation right out of 1984 or Brazil where somehow the main character played by Jack Lemon has found himself loaning his apartment out to his various bosses for them to meet their mistresses.

What I found most interesting I think was this is a 1960s movie and yet it is arguably so straight about sex. Sure they never show it but at the same time all these bosses are bringing their mistresses over to the main character’s apartment for sex. The neighbors complain about all the noise and appearently are not aware it’s all different people so they all think Jack Lemon has a different sex partner every day, sometimes more than one a day.

Bridge over the River Kwai

This was a great movie. It’s a David Lean movie which means the bigger the screen the better. In fact if you can see it at a movie theater at some special showing that would be best.

It’s about a group of Britsh soliders that are prisoners of war and forced to build a bridge by their Japanese captors. Being Daivd Lean it’s also a LONG movie but it was great all the way through so I didn’t feel the 2 hours and 42 minutes.

Some people probably think the movie is racist since the Japanese General is portrayed as not so smart a leader and the British Colonel wants to show the Japanese how much smarter the British are. But, there are dilbert like bosses in all cultures "The Japanese General" and there are people who make kind of racist statements in all cultures "The British Colonel" so arguably while the Colonel says something to the effect of "let’s show the Japanese our superior British abilities" that doesn’t make the movie racist, only that particular character. And even then, if it was two football teams and the coach of the teamA said let’s show teamB how superior we are that wouldn’t be racist either. In this case the teams are the British and the Japanese.

It also has the very famous song the soliders whistle. It’s great to find the origin of songs that have become this ubiqutous.

When it was over I felt compelled to look up if any of it was true. Apparently there really was a Britsh troop forced to make a bridge over the river Kwai and part of it is still standing. The rest of the details though are apparently made up. It doesn’t matter though, it’s a great story.

Doctor Zhivago

It’s been like 25 or 30 years since I told myself to watch this movie and I only got around to it now. I don’t remember how old I was but I remember when I was a kid asking my Mom what her favorite movie was and she said “Doctor Zhivago” and ever since I thought I should check it out. But, being another David Lean movie it’s 3 hours and 20 minutes long and every time I thought about watching I was like…ugh, 3+ hours? maybe some other time. Well, I guess I finally found that *other* time :-p

To be honest I just didn’t get it. In fact I didn’t enjoy it so much I’d almost call it bad.

The Good Parts: The Russian history. It takes place during the Russian revolution. Maybe this is the part that gets to people closer to that time. I don’t know how accurate the movie is but that part was interesting.

Another part I enjoyed was the contrast of 17 year old girl in the 1940s compared to a 17 year old American girl of 2006. Of course it’s a movie but if 17 years olds used to actually act that mature it’s no wonder getting married much earlier was not considered unusual.

The Music. I’m not sure if it was famous before this movie or not but I’m sure this movie helped make it a very common song.

The Bad Parts: Or, why I didn’t like it.

[spoilers]

Basically I didn’t get it. The movie starts with Lara, who is basically raped by some old man but then apparently falls for him or at least keeps a relationship with him. Separarely Doctor Zhivago is well to do and marries a well to do wife. Some years later during WW2 Doctor Zhivago is sent to the war and Lara ends up as a nurse at the hospital he works at. In like 20 seconds of the movie 6 months pass, the war is over and the Doctor and Lara go their separate ways. No suggestion that they are interested in each other or that they had anything more than a plutonic relationship is suggested.

Doctor Zhivago gets back home after the revolution to find that all his wealth and even is home our now property of the state. He has no status and the locals hate him because he was well to do at one time so he leaves with his wife and son. They end up in some town in the middle of nowhere hoping they can live happily. Just
by chance Lara happens to live in the same town. He comes up to her place and in moments they are ripping each other’s clothes off. Up until this point at no time has it been suggested he’s interested in Lara or she in him. All we know is her life sucks ass and he has a wife and kid it seems like he loves.

My guess is the director thought the woman that plays Lara is so beautiful that everyone would just get that any man would want her. Otherwise none of it explained and you just have to except that they hit it off even though it’s never shown.

The ending was weak as well. There’s a wrapper story. A solviet solider finds a worker in a dam and thinks she might be the daughter of Zhivago and Lara. He tells their story (the movie) and after it’s finished he asks the girl if she might be their daughter. But, it doesn’t matter one wit so what’s the point. This girl will not be saved, or inherit something or come to some long lost understanding or resolve some emotional issue. Nothing. In fact she walks off like it’s nothing. I guess it was all for the General but bah, it didn’t work.

[end-spoilers]

Lots of people seem to find this movie romantic. I didn’t find one single thing about it even remotely romantic. I can only guess people maybe find the two main characters, Lara and Docter Zhivago attractive so they want good things for them. Otherwise, where were the romantic parts? I must have missed them.

Sunset Blvd

This movie is basically out of date. I suppose at the time it was interesting but it just doesn’t really work anymore. Maybe there have been too many movies that use similar themes.

It’s about a crazy old silent movie star who is the stereotype of the spoiled, always have to get their way, star that is desparate for attention.

Maybe back then that kind of thing was more common. Certainly stars were more revered back then. Sure there are fans today but it’s nothing like it was back then and that’s probably why it doesn’t work for me

Harvey

This movie rocked! If you havent’t see it it’s probably the best movie on this list.

On top of it just being interesting, at least for me the acting was incredible. Most of the people in the story ignore each other and start talking before the previous person is finished. I found that amazing because most dialog is one person talking then one person responding, back and forth. This movie though since they are not responding directly to each other it had to be way harder to keep their lines up. Maybe that’s getting too technical. I did find it frustrating that no one was listening but that didn’t stop it from being a great movie. It works more like a play than a movie which probably contributes to its timelessness.

Path to Glory

I had never even heard of this movie but it was on the list and sounded interesting so I thought I’d check it out.

It’s about the French Army in WW1 and some generals who give no thought for the soldiers, almost like they are live stock.

It’s only 80 minutes and it’s pretty intense all the way through. It’s also directed by Stanly Kubrick if that helps you decide to check it out. Fully recommended.

The Maltese Falcon

Here’s another very famous very well loved movie that I didn’t get. I think maybe I was just too slow. A million things happen, the movie jumps all over introducing new characters left and right often just in dialog. I was lost. I couldn’t tell what was really going on. Maybe I should try it again in 5 or 10 years but for now it didn’t work for me.

North by Northwest

I haven’t seen that many Hitchcock movies so if they are all this good I’m probably in for a treat. I guess you might call this a suspence movie. It was pretty intense all the way through and mostly kept me guessing. I thought the last 10 minutes were a little cheesy and cliche but they didn’t ruin the movie. Recommended

The Third Man

Kind of intersting. The best part is the historical part. It takes place in Vienna after WW2 with the city split into 4 districts run by 4 different countries. The main character shows up for a job from a friend and when he arrives he finds out his friend is dead from a car accident. Some guy who saw the accident mentions he saw 3 people dealing with the body just after the accident but only 2 can be indentified so most of the movie is about the main character trying to find out who this thrid man is and maybe find out if his friend was murdered.

Another part I thought was well done is showing a foreigner deal with getting by in a city where he doesn’t speak most of the languages being used. Maybe my memory is failing me but I don’t remember any other movie really doing this part well. Most of the time the movie is all in one language, if there is a foreign group they quickly switch to English for dialog. Some people brought up Lost In Translation but to be honest I found that kind of fake.

The music is extremely famous and it was great to know where it came from and to hear the original version which is the best IMO but, overall I didn’t find this an amazing movie worthy of top 250 status. It was just kind of okay.

Deliverance

This is probably the newest one on my list of old movies. For some reason I never saw Deliverance. It’s pretty intense and fairly disturbing. I don’t know what the closest current movie is. Probably The Descent.

Deliverance is about 4 guys who set off to ride some canoes down a river in the south for fun, similar t
o the way in The Descent a bunch of women decide to go cave exploring. Then everything goes wrong. Deliverance stays in the real world where as the Descent has it’s fictionalized creatures. I think that makes Deliverance not necessarily better but still more disturbing.

On The Waterfront

This movie, possibly even more than Sunset Blvd is dated. It was clearly written in a time where the majority of the people watching it were expected to be devout believing Christians. The movie is about a young guy who gets sucked into a mob like gang. There are parts where the preacher is trying to convince people to do stuff because it’s the right thing to do and Jesus is watching them but that kind of talk would never work now a days. (did it even then?)

[spoilers]

Plus, at the end the big deal is the main character has a fight with the mob boss. After losing the fight we are supposed to believe that if he manages to get up and walk into his work area, against the will of the mob boss, that everything will be fine. That no one will listen to the mob boss anymore having been stood up to once and he’ll just slink out of their lives. But of course in the real world the mob boss would just kill the guy and then threaten everyone else with more of the same unless they obeyed. So, I just couldn’t get into this movie.

[end-spoilers]

The Treasure of Sierra Madre

This kind of story has been done several times in the last 10 or 15 years. In a very simple way it’s about people that come into a lot of money and how they change. I really liked this one though. There were lots of things I learned in this movie. Apparently what digging for gold is really like. How hard it was to do, especially out in the middle of nowhere.

While I was matching this movie I couldn’t imagine how they shot most of it back when it was made. It must have been hell to go into the places the show and shoot film.

Recommended

I’m not sure what’s next. If you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them.

  • http://sandmich.blogspot.com Sandmich

    Don’t you have a job?  That’s more movies than I’ve seen in the last five years! :)

  • http://brian.wanamaker.com/mybicycle/blogger.html bwana
    no kidding

    I am wondering where you found the time as well, but then again, you’ve just shipped a major project and hopefully they gave you some time off.

    I have been meaning to do something like this for some time. Old movies are from a simpler time; many of the movies from previous decades were just as much crap as Hollywood is putting out today, but at least it wasn’t as crazy expensive to make or see. The classics that have stood until this day have done so for a reason. I wonder what movies from the 90s and 00s will hold up over time.

  • anonnanana
    Classic movies

    I still have Das Boot, Rebel without a Cause, and Gone with the Wind gathering dust..some day I’ll watch them.

    I did crack open Fast Times at Ridgemont High recently…is that a classic?

  • moovees
    Good ones

    Hitchcock – Rear Window

    Lynch – Mulholland Drive

    Anderson – Magnolia

    Cocteau – Orpheus

    Jonze – Being John Malkovich

    Allen – Stardust Memories

    Hess – Napoleon Dynamite

  • amypiper

    how about

    The Thin Man (all of them), The Maltease Falcon, My Man Godfrey and the always wonderful Breakfast at Tiffanys or Charade. Or what about Topper or The Berkleys of Broadway.  OR Mr Blanding Builds His Dream House. OH OH OH OH GASLIGHT!!!!!  Sorry about the spelling and the caps my daughter is helping me type but the movies are all top choices.  Piper says the Wiggles but they are not “old” and I would not recomend them for the above 8 crowed unless there is a lot of alochol involved.

  • http://blog.greggman.com greggman

    Das Boot ROCKS but watch it when you can be uninterrupted and watch it at night with the lights off with good sound or else you’ll ruin the experience.

    Gone with the Wind is on my list but I know they show it in LA at the Cinenarama Dome once a year so I’m waiting to see it on the big screen someday.

    I need to check out Rebel without a Cause

    For some reason (I probably just have no taste), Rear Window didn’t do it for me. Mulholland Drive, Magnolia, Being John Malkovich and Napoleon Dynamite are all interesting though.

    I can also recommend The Thin Man Series. They are great.

    I’ll have to check out all those others.

  • moovees
    More movies

    A couple of documentaries I saw recently were great:

    Berkeley in the Sixties – really interesting and describes how some great idealism and enthusiasm eventually gave way to some chaos and corruption

    The Fog of War – insight in to Robert McNamara and JFK and LBJ, insight in to firebombing of Japan in WWII, the futility and waste of Vietnam conflict, and more…

    Other good old films…

    The Trial – probably hard to find but great, Orson Welles does Kafka

    Touch of Evil – another great Orson Welles film

    Blood Simple – the Coen brothers first film is great

    Fargo – I think a little bit of Blood Simple creepiness shows up in this more recent Coen brothers film, Fargo is a masterpiece of style and acting

     

  • http://www.confessionsofamanunitedfan.com ruth087

    The last old movie that I watched was “The Godfather” and it was way back 2 years ago.

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a good one too.

    But I personally recommend “Somewhere in Time”.