Friday, January 28th, 2022

Why Are We Still Watching ‘Old’ Films? Why Are They Important And So Fascinating?

Why Are We Still Watching ‘Old’ Films? Why Are They Important And So Fascinating?

For most of us, the film industry’s beginnings are not so long ago. Yet the films created during those early years are now the industry’s antiques; objects that have survived a natural selection as being the very best of examples. They are a vibrant part of contemporary culture, a culture that has embraced the all-encompassing accessibility of the Internet. As a result, the antiques of the moving image are widely available and have become incredibly useful reference tools, whether for their relative simplicity and naivety, for a cinematic method or effect that has been employed that cannot be accomplished today or could today be done with far greater sophistication, or simply for an actor or director who has since become famous. There can be no bad movies when they all offer up such rich material. An old movie so, becomes part of a vast archive, a film history from which we can draw influences and ideas. Filmmakers today make reference to past films; they reconfigure them into remakes, homages, and even sequels.

Outside the celluloid realm, creative minds have been ดูหนังออนไลน์ similarly inspired. Much art and photography has arisen from the influence of these young antiques. Not yet completely relegated to the dark dusty corners of our memories, they have become beloved objects, constantly being dusted down and replaced in places of honour. We catch them in a new light, and re-appraise them for their production values, vast sets, inventive lighting and use of the film medium.

We smile at the cute and now old-fashioned overacting. We delight at the locations and examine how different they were in years past. We are disapproving but understanding of attitudes expressed that would make us shiver with disbelief and embarrassment today. We boil with indignation that people had to live under such blatantly bigoted cultural mores.

A Frank Capra film, “It Happened One Night” demonstrates this. Starring Clarke Gable and Claudette Colber, it is a romantic “screwball” comedy, a phrase coined to describe an emerging style of comedy that takes the viewer out of reality. This film, made in 1934, is today famed for the number of scenes that have gone on to be deemed “classic”.

The screenplay, which was co-written by director Frank Capra and Robert Riskin, was itself thought to have been influenced by two short stories by Samuel Hopkins Adams, “Night Bus” and “Last Trip” from Cosmopolitan (August 1933) and Colliers (March 1945 and 1956). “It Happened One Night” in turn became the source of inspiration for two musicals as remakes, “Eve Knew Her Apples” (1945) starring Ann Miller, and “You Can’t Run Away From It” (1956) with Jack Lemmon and June Allyson.

“It Happened One Night” followed a road trip by bus, car, foot, and thumb. There were locations such as bus depots or interiors of buses, the open road, the auto camp bungalow, scenes from the ” Walls of Jericho” movie, and scenes considered to be the most classic ever made. It poses as a unique example of the power and prevalence of influence, both as a source and as an end result.

The film was extremely popular in 1934, performing a valuable escapist social function in the depression era. But it affected more than just the “picture-houses” profits too. Gable’s scene of taking off his shirt to reveal his bare chest sent the sale of vests plummeting. And even later, as the vests went out of fashion, more women began travelling by bus.

The well-known animator, Friz Freleng, suggested in his unpublished memoir, that the film and its cast inspired several of his cartoon characters. Bugs Bunny’s fast-talking character was partially based on Oscar Shapeley (Roscoe Karns) in “It Happened One Night”, and Gable’s mention of an imaginary hit man named “Bugs” might point to its influence as the character Bugs Bunny’s name. Alexander Andrews (Walter Connolly) was the inspiration for the character Yosemite Sam. Freleng also suggested that, King Westley (Jameson Thomas) inspired the character Pepe LePew.

We can further muse on the effect of the Internet and how it has encouraged a huge interest in the artistic endeavours of previous generations. Classic Films, rare movies, silent films, classical music, seventies music, classical music, they are much easier to source nowadays. We can download, rent or buy old movies, just as we can purchase, download or listen to a tune or album.

There is a new huge interest in the bands of the seventies; they are returning to the stage and being attended by many young people of this generation. Musicians happily reel off their influences as if they are credentials. Even classical music does not escape attention, becoming the category of downloads which has the biggest sales.

The Internet is a fast-growing organism, feeding on anything it can get hold of, eating up creative ideas that it comes into contact with. It assimilates information and then itself becomes the material for reinvention, cannibalising itself to create even newer, mutated forms. This, and the millions of human minds that feed into it every day, results in a speeding up of creativity, until we reach a place where even last month’s ideas are swallowed up and spat back into popular culture in a new way.

In this environment, nothing is sacred. Not art, fashion, photography, animation, interior design, makeup. Not even hairstyling. And certainly not film, because film utilises so much of all of the above. Film and Classic Movies are an endless source of inspiration, whether that inspiration is cinematic techniques, styles, and plot treatments, or simply hair, makeup and set dressing. And the fact that films are now so easily sourced just makes the process all the more inevitable.

In “Death of the Author”, a theory put forward by Roland Barthes that all art and culture is simply a reworking of what has gone before, and so can never be truly be original. If all ideas come from influence it is natural that there will always be interest in what has gone before. It is thereby easy to understand the new and strong interest in the vintage film industry.

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