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Old films that are tremendous

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    Old films that are tremendous

    Two weeks ago I watched Casablanca for the first time. Mrs Thistle had suggested we buy a "classic" to take on holiday and we picked that one from the DVD rack for a fiver.

    Blimey, it's good. It's funny. It has real depth to the characters. Humphrey Bogart really wore a hat well.

    Tonight we were having an evening in and ended up watching Ghostbusters on one of the satellite channels. Again, what a great film. It's dated by how all the characters smoke continuously, something it shares with Casablanca. But still, it's a fab watch that holds up well decades later.

    #2
    It hurts my brain for you to describe Ghostbusters as old film.

    Casablanca is fantastic of course. Bogart movies are awesome generally.

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      #3
      I watch pre-1960s films regularly (yay for TCM!) Recently they were having a Charles Boyer week and I caught Fritz Lang's Liliom. It's the only film Lang made in France after fleeing Nazi Germany (supposedly the day after Joe Goebbels offered him a job as führer of the German Film Industry.) The story is the same as Rogers and Hammerstein's Carousel but it's way better. Boyer plays Liliom, the handsome, poor, petty crook Carousel barker. He's entranced by, and seduces, näif Julie. Gets shot in a hold-up, goes to heaven, is judged bad and gets sent to the "other place." But he's allowed visitation rights after twenty years to set things right with his daughter who wasn't born when he died.

      Corny as hell right? Wrong! It's wonderful, saved by two things. First, Lang's tongue-in-cheek view of heaven (and authority in general.) The Recording Angel is played by the same actor, and repeats almost the same lines, as the Police Commissioner in Budapest (the story's location). While his secretary is a Busby Berkeley extra wearing a costume that's practically non-existent. Meanwhile a chorus of angels with cardboard wings croon endlessly in the background. Second, Boyer's performance. I've never been a huge fan but here he's great. Liliom is a player, a lad. He can get any woman he wants and does, because they find him irresistible. He's also an obnoxious prick, lazy, violent— he routinely beats Julie — and lives off her earnings as a seamstress. Boyer manages to play both sides of the character convincingly. What's more, by modern standards, 'Bad' Liliom is even more of an asshole than he appeared in the 30s, yet somehow Boyer still makes you believe. The film's only weakness is Julie — not the performance, Madeleine Ozeray is fine — but as character she's just too passive to be taken seriously today I think. Anyhow see it if you can, you won't regret it.

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        #4
        PT, you have dived in with what might be the most perfect film of all time. After that, no film will ever be as good again. But on your next trip to the classics section, get The Maltese Falcon. It's very close to perfect. And it features not only Bogart but also Peter Lorre, of whom we see to little in Casablanca, and Sydney Greenstreet (ditto).

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          #5
          I adore Casablanca. The only problem is that when I first watched it, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen it before. Eventually I realised it was because it has been clipped, copied, homaged and parodied so much that I had practically seen it all in another form. But it is completely tremendous.

          The Big Sleep is another great. Lauren Bacall is just smoking hot in it. And if you can find the Dick Powell version of The Long Goodbye, that is a recommend too. I love old film noir.

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            #6
            May I recommend the 1939 version of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara? Cedric Hardwicke plays a great arch villain.

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              #7
              Speaking of The Maltese Falcon, I've been on a Peter Lorre kick recently. Watched M, Arsenic And Old Lace (again), and Stranger On the Third Floor. Got The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Verdict and Secret Agent in my queue.

              I also share Hobbes's reaction. I think I probably watch more films from before 1980 than after, unless you count stuff I only watch because it's on bad movie podcasts.
              Last edited by Ginger Yellow; 13-03-2018, 07:51.

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                #8
                Renoir's La Grande Illusion is really good. I couldn't get into Regles de Jeu though.

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                  #9
                  You might see a theme here but I'd suggest the Philadelphia Story and North by Northwest.

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                    #10
                    Buy a book about the history of film and look up everything that takes your fancy on YouTube.

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                      #11
                      Rear Window.

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                        #12
                        "Treasure of the Sierra Madre " Bogart in a rare villains role or "A matter of life and death " stiff upper lips all round but wonderful cinematography

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by hobbes View Post
                          It hurts my brain for you to describe Ghostbusters as old film.

                          Casablanca is fantastic of course. Bogart movies are awesome generally.
                          It hurt my head the other day when they said on the radio that Groundhog Day was now 25 years old.

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                            #14
                            I couldn't be bothered to go to work yesterday, so stayed at home and watched Ask A Policeman on London Live. Old Mother Riley Meets The Vampire was on at the same time, so I can't report as to its tremendousness...

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                              #15
                              GY's mention of Arsenic And Old Lace, one of the funniest films ever, reminds me to punt the virtues of Cary Grant films. His Girl Friday is particularly marvellous before the screwball comedy stuff kicks in. The dialogue is just sparkling.

                              I love the self-referential tone by Grant's character: "The last man who said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat." Archie Leach was Grant's real name.

                              And this one: Referring to his inept love rival, played by Ralph Bellamy (later of Trading Places), he says: "He looks like that fellow in the movies, you know, Ralph Bellamy."

                              But my favourite Cary Grant quote is from Arsenic And Old Lace: "Insanity doesn't run in my family, it practically gallops." A great lone, and also poignant given Grant's experience of his mother's mental illness.

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                                #16
                                See also: Bringing Up Baby, the aforementioned Philadelphia Story, Notorious, Holiday, The Awful Truth, and the best not actually Cary Grant Cary Grant movie, Some Like It Hot.

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                                  #17
                                  I'll throw in some recommendations. Gaslight is a great old film, and as a bonus its title has become part of contemporary slang. Most Hitchcock is worthwhile (a number are mentioned above), but i'd say Vertigo is his masterpiece. And, then there is Citizen Kane, which shouldn't be avoided just because it has a "classic" reputation. Plus while we;re on Welles (and Joseph Cotten), The Third Man is superb

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                                    #18
                                    The Hill As a youngster watching this, it seemed so brutal and real. The Day of the Triffids Wonderful film; remember being allowed to sit up and watch this before Leicester's FA Cup semi-final on MotD with Liverpool in 1971 (0-0 at Old Trafford by the way; my dad went and swore constantly at the TV when he got home watching the highlights, such as they were). The bit where the train hits the buffers was like nothing I'd seen before.

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                                      #19
                                      Oh, and Double Indemnity. Another perfect film. The film every thriller since has aspired to be.

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                                        #20
                                        The Third Man was a good watch, having only seen bits and bobs of it for many a long year and finally catching up with it on BBC4 recently. I will recommend A Matter Of Life And Death to anyone and everyone until my lungs give out.

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                                          #21
                                          I enjoy the Marx Brothers and have a special place in my heart for A Day At The Races as me and my brother nigh on wore out the video of it when we were kids.

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                                            #22
                                            It's no Duck Soup.

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                                              #23
                                              Lang's 'M', amazing but very dark.

                                              Film noir - 'Force of Evil' is great

                                              The original '39 Steps' by Hitchcock.

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                                                #24
                                                Watched Piccadilly (1929) the other night. Mainly because it stars Anna May Wong.

                                                Born above her Fathers' laundry in Hollywood, before it was "Hollywood!," (1905). She began hanging out on the lots as the movie industry grew around her, and picked up small parts as maids, and so on. By her early teens she was working regularly and had gained a reputation as an excellent screen actress. She never got offered a lead however. Frequently white actresses, such as Myrna Loy were given starring roles as Asian women, while AMW was relegated to a minor part. In the 20s she moved to Europe, figuring she'd be better received. She learned German and French and starred in a string of films until the end of the 30s.

                                                Piccadilly was a biggish budget silent movie by British standards at the time. It's interesting more than tremendous. AMW plays a scullery maid in a fashionable London club, who's spotted dancing on a table in the kitchen and goes on to become an exotic sensation. It's a fairly standard rags to riches story with a murder thrown in. Wong is excellent though, charismatic more than beautiful, she carries the film from the moment she appears. There is also one striking parenthetical scene in a crowded pub. Packed with carousing locals as AMW and her impresario lover enter, all's well until a "lady of the night" comes in and begins dancing with a black patron (actually a white actor in black-face). The landlord begins berating both of of them and kicks the black guy out. He continues hassling the hooker who eventually leaves. Throughout the encounter Wong, wearing an expensive fur coat, is turned to face the wall. Shortly afterwards she and her lover leave as furtively as they can. It's very powerful. Partly as a reminder that miscegenation was every bit as illegal in Britain as it was in the US back then (it had a powerful and negative effect on Wong's personal life), but mainly because AMW is able to suggest petrified fear from behind while wearing a heavy coat. That's acting.

                                                The movie could do with more information on the cards, especially in the pub scene. There's a lot more dialogue happening on-screen than is shown on in words. Finally it all looks rather good. The interiors are tinted a warm yellowish brown, and the exteriors — all of night-time London — dark blue.

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                                                  #25
                                                  There is an interesting PBS documentary on Wong

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