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why are so many old black and white movies considered to be classics?


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Old 24-03-2013, 04:04
fender101
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I only ask because I use the Radio Times website to see what's on, and their film reviews are star rated. It seems to me that every film made in the 40s or 50s automatically gets a 5 star rating. While any film since then, unless it's the Godfather or Apocalypse Now or something, gets at most a 4, and usually a 3 or less.

I emailed them and asked and they said it was because the old films being shown are shown because they are classics. Like don't question it just accept it.

Maybe they were considered classics back then. But a lot of the acting seems wooden, contrived and formulaic. No one would deny The Dambusters, for example, a 5 star rating but it seems that any old dross made back then is now considered a classic.

Is this based on true artistic appreciation? or is this based simply on nostalgia? Maybe I have a different interpretation of the term 'classic'. For me it is an artistic achievement, a masterpiece in story telling, acting and directing. Not just some old rubbish that appealed to the masses at the time.
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Old 24-03-2013, 09:25
ironjade
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As far as the BBC is concerned old = classic. They apply it to most of their rubbishy, ancient sitcoms too.
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Old 24-03-2013, 10:32
gashead
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I only ask because I use the Radio Times website to see what's on, and their film reviews are star rated. It seems to me that every film made in the 40s or 50s automatically gets a 5 star rating. While any film since then, unless it's the Godfather or Apocalypse Now or something, gets at most a 4, and usually a 3 or less.

I emailed them and asked and they said it was because the old films being shown are shown because they are classics. Like don't question it just accept it.

Maybe they were considered classics back then. But a lot of the acting seems wooden, contrived and formulaic. No one would deny The Dambusters, for example, a 5 star rating but it seems that any old dross made back then is now considered a classic.

Is this based on true artistic appreciation? or is this based simply on nostalgia? Maybe I have a different interpretation of the term 'classic'. For me it is an artistic achievement, a masterpiece in story telling, acting and directing. Not just some old rubbish that appealed to the masses at the time.
Doesn't that kinda make sense though? Out of all the 1000's of films that were made in B & W, it stands to reason that the ones still being shown 40 or 50 years later are those that have stood the test of time. Whether they're 'classics' is subjective, but regardless of personal opinion, there's a reason why the likes of Citizen Kane, Casablanca and It's A Wonderful Life are still shown. Why would any broadcaster spend money and clog their airtime showing films that were shite back in 1946? They show the films they know are still popular precisely because of their quality, hence why the vast majority of them get high ratings.
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Old 24-03-2013, 10:38
stud u like
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I love old films. Claudette Colbert is my favourite actress.
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Old 24-03-2013, 10:41
soulboy77
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Doesn't that kinda make sense though? Out of all the 1000's of films that were made in B & W, it stands to reason that the ones still being shown 40 or 50 years later are those that have stood the test of time....
Precisely. Ignoring the technology of the time there are many old films that have been well crafted, scripted and acted that put a lot of films of today to shame.
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Old 24-03-2013, 10:46
jackbell
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I love old films. Claudette Colbert is my favourite actress.
Indeed.

I like the old Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyk film noir movies too.
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Old 24-03-2013, 11:04
tiger2000
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As far as the BBC is concerned old = classic. They apply it to most of their rubbishy, ancient sitcoms too.
1 Star for this comment
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Old 24-03-2013, 11:21
Mr Perks
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It's an age thing. I find the older I get the more I like old films I once wouldn't mhave paid any attention to. For example, I am currently deeply fascinated by Astaire & Rogers films, things I would have avoided like the plague a few years ago. It seems Swingtime is being shown on rotation at the moment and great it is too - killer songs, killer dance routines and a strangely unlikeable character played by Fred Astaire. What is there not to enjoy?
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Old 24-03-2013, 11:37
rhynoGB
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I watched nosferatu,a few hitchcock films,vincent price's movies..all sorts from the black & white era over the last few months.
Well written,well acted & well paced..love black & white films

although nosferatu was hard going
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Old 24-03-2013, 11:41
stud u like
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Indeed.

I like the old Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyk film noir movies too.
As do I.
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Old 24-03-2013, 11:44
stud u like
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It's an age thing. I find the older I get the more I like old films I once wouldn't mhave paid any attention to. For example, I am currently deeply fascinated by Astaire & Rogers films, things I would have avoided like the plague a few years ago. It seems Swingtime is being shown on rotation at the moment and great it is too - killer songs, killer dance routines and a strangely unlikeable character played by Fred Astaire. What is there not to enjoy?
They are beautiful. I love "Top Hat".
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Old 24-03-2013, 11:58
Johnny Clay
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As far as the BBC is concerned old = classic. They apply it to most of their rubbishy, ancient sitcoms too.
Indeed. And they'll apply it to their rubbishy newer sitcoms once they've squeezed several increasingly feeble series out of it.
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Old 24-03-2013, 12:38
Mark A
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Maybe they were considered classics back then.
I wonder at what point classics cease to be regarded as classics? Is it even possible?

No one would deny The Dambusters, for example, a 5 star rating.
Well, much as Dambusters is considered a great war film I'm not sure it's considered a classic in the same way that say Citizen Kane is considered a classic. Then again we all have opinions on what is or isn't a classic.

but it seems that any old dross made back then is now considered a classic.
I think you'll find that a very small percentage of all the films ever made get elevated to 'classic' status. And remember that being shot in black and white is neither a bar, nor a prerequisite to the status.

Regards

Mark
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Old 24-03-2013, 12:54
Yuffie
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I wonder at what point classics cease to be regarded as classics? Is it even possible?



Regards

Mark
I wonder more about how old a film has to be to be regarded as a classic ??

A Decade ? Are The Lord of the Rings classics ?

Looking back at 20 years ago, at films like Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and the likes, I think they're classics at this stage.
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Old 24-03-2013, 13:07
stripedcat
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It's probably because film was in its infancy then. A lot of those early films created the rules of narrative film-making.
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Old 24-03-2013, 13:10
Inkblot
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I think you'll find that a very small percentage of all the films ever made get elevated to 'classic' status. And remember that being shot in black and white is neither a bar, nor a prerequisite to the status.
Absolutely. There were an awful lot of films made in black and white which will never be seen again because they are not worth watching. Likewise many colour films won't turn up TV because no one wants to watch them.

There are probably two kinds of classic film: those that are consistently voted as the best films of all time, and those that are good examples of the style of film-making of a particular era. A "classic 1940s film noir" doesn't have to be an outstanding work of art, it can just be a film that displays all the characteristics that make up a good film noir.
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Old 24-03-2013, 13:33
elnombre
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If a movie has endured to the point that people are still watching and discussing it several decades after it was made, then it is a classic. Trash gets forgotten.
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Old 24-03-2013, 14:05
Johnny Clay
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I wonder at what point classics cease to be regarded as classics? Is it even possible?
I think it's more of a case that they fall by the wayside. We can probably all name 'lost classics' that don't so much deserve more recognition of being a classic, but just more recognition full stop.

Then again, these days films get so over-praised to the point of being an 'instant classic' (a dreadful term), that it's here the status can fall away in the end. Just as the passage of time can underline a film's true qualities (and warrant its classic status), so it also shows up the weaknesses we perhaps weren't always aware of at first light.
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Old 24-03-2013, 14:53
grimtales1
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I wonder more about how old a film has to be to be regarded as a classic ??

A Decade ? Are The Lord of the Rings classics ?

Looking back at 20 years ago, at films like Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and the likes, I think they're classics at this stage.
Yeah, I think the likes of T1/2, Groundhog Day, The Usual Suspects, Toy Story trilogy, Fight Club etc are modern classics
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Old 24-03-2013, 15:30
Walter Neff
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Indeed.

I like the old Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyk film noir movies too.
What great taste!

Barbara Stanwyck is my all time favourite, I have 87 of her 88 films, and met her in 1981. She was everything that I had expected her to be, a lovely gracious lady, and so different to the black widow spider she so often played on screen.
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Old 24-03-2013, 15:31
Muttley76
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I think the key point here has been made already - that to truly be required a classic requires that a film has endured over the course of the years. There are films that were not fully appreciated at the time of their release that have acquired classic status (It's a Wonderful Life), while others that were highly regarded at the time have faded in subsequent years.

I'd also note that of the thousands if not tens of thousands of films that were made in the black and white era, how many of them are actually regarded as classic? A pretty low percentage actually, it's just that peoples recollections of these other films is far more limited than of contemporary cinema.
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Old 24-03-2013, 15:48
jackbell
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What great taste!

Barbara Stanwyck is my all time favourite, I have 87 of her 88 films, and met her in 1981. She was everything that I had expected her to be, a lovely gracious lady, and so different to the black widow spider she so often played on screen.
You can't buy an experience like that.

I truly envy you. What a great memory to have.
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Old 24-03-2013, 20:06
Walter Neff
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You can't buy an experience like that.

I truly envy you. What a great memory to have.
That's one of the consolations of being old.

When I told her that I had flown all the way from London to attend her tribute at The Lincoln Centre in New York, she put her arm around me and said,
"Well, after coming all that way, we must have a photo taken together." That certainly is a great memory.

Other great memories are seeing Katharine Hepburn dressed in a white pants suit, marching down Charing Cross Road in 1959. She was over here filming Suddenly Last Summer at Shepperton.

Then standing up at The National Film Theatre in 1971, shaking in my shoes as I asked Bette Davis of she would ever like to direct a film. She thought for a moment then said,

"No, but I like the idea of producing, I rather like the idea of ordering all of those men around."
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Old 24-03-2013, 20:09
Big Boy Barry
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But a lot of the acting seems wooden,
They had a more formal style. Not a wooden one

contrived and formulaic
They were formula setting
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Old 24-03-2013, 20:57
rfonzo
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Not all of them are considered 'classics' but there is a high proportion of films that have been made with in a stylistic fashion like Rebecca, Citizen Kane and The Third Man. Films from the 40's and 50's were made with a type of decadence and they are polished in their screenplay.
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