1 (edited by Chuut 2017-10-09 08:39:54)

Topic: They just don't make them like they used to

This weekend I watched 3 films, Sunset Blvd, LA Confidential, and Cat on a Hot Tine Roof.  All very good films I would recommend. 

Sunset Blvd 1950, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958, and LA Confidential which was set in the 1953 and done in that style.  All three dialogue driven with exquisite acting and no reliance on special effects, or worn out recycled storylines.  All three featuring real characters with real dilemmas yet still capturing the essence of a glamour of the times and of human existence.  And all communicating much more than the mere dialogue.

Sunset Blvd, featuring some great scenes.  When the truth comes out about Norma's first husband, the way Joe's meeting with Betty goes towards the end, and the final scene as Norma is lead out with its silent movie quality.  All brilliant

Cat on the Hot Tim Roof, Paul Newman's body language, the secret about Big Daddy's condition...who knows and who doesn't and their reactions before and after knowing, then towards the end when Big Daddy talks about his childhood and his empire.  Maybe the best performance of all was Big Momma not pivotal to the ploy but damn near perfect support work ...as a Southerner I know this type of old lady and she nailed it perfectly.  And the final lines, "Lock the door Maggie" and the casually thrown pillow so much more powerful as acted than a million "You Complete Me's".

LA Confidential although not that old ...1997...did capture much of the essence of the era reminding me a bit of another Film about the era I love Chinatown.  Kevin Spacey leaving the 50 on the unfinished drink,  Danny Devitto's gossip rag,  Kim Basinger, an actress I always felt was long on looks but short on acting was perfection in both this go around, doing largely with looks and body language what she never was able to pull off with dialogue in her other films.  The line " Are you asking me for a date, or an appointment?" was so perfect.  The only criticism I have is at the end of the final shootout as it was a bit too cliche.

All three movies emphasized glamour and even the dirt behind it needed for the glamour industry.  They were about the characters and not the setting but that made it about the setting in return.   They let you take in the environment rather than pushing it on you and feel like you were having everything shoved down your throat to make time for a bunch of special effects or chase scenes.  The filming techniques were brilliant and added to this.  The first appearance of Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the lingering shots of Paul Newman's Blue eyes, Kevin Spacey's style in L.A. Confidential, Kim Bassinger's Shape revealed but not too much like an almost nude stiptease rather than a porno.  The transformation of the pool area in Sunset Blvd as Joe's presence brings it back to life with a nice shot for the ladies of William Holden climbing from the pool to be toweled off, his tuxedo, the cigarette case and Norma's cigarette brand, and that glorious 1929 Isotta Fraschini.

http://pics.imcdb.org/0is167/snapshot20061019223621sv8.6958.jpg

I have to wonder why we cannot have more modern films with a touch of that glamour that are not set in a different era.  Reality has it's place but so does glamour.  I think part of the answer lies in that we have decided to exclude glamour from our culture to a large degree.  We aren't really comfortable with a modern film where the sexes are very distinct and a woman's femininity and her embrace of it is seen as a strength, and the same for a man's masculinity.  The men have to be more sensitive and vulnerable to everyday things, and the women have to be more fierce and strong not only internally as in the days of glamour but externally as well, everyone of them as beautiful as a Lauren Bacall or Veronica Lake but with the temperament of a Katherine Hepburn African Queen.  The modern good guys are nearly always fooled by feminine wiles but rarely if ever wise up on their own or immediately see through them like the harder more masculine lead men of the past, and aside from few modern era gangster films a woman who is slapped by a man never deserves it, like delivered by Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, or by Russell Crowe in L.A. Confidential.  Now I'm not advocating the romanticising of striking women on a regular basis but it needs be something that we are not afraid of letting the male lead do if the female character really deserves it, rather than waiting for the female good guy to come along for a more politically acceptable punch out of the bad female character. 

Just look at any entrance some of the leading actresses of today make onto the set of a talk show, they walk like tom boys for the most part except for any latin ones (who are nearly always (except Rosie Perez) the exception that proves the rule), these are Hollywood stars who seem totally uncomfortable in heels and a dress.  I cringe everytime I see Emma Stone or Emma Watson, or Jennifer Lawrence appear on these shows. Even drop dead gorgeous Scarlett Johansson lacks the old grace.   Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, and company would probably commit suicide the next day if they ever walked onto stage like that unless they were drunk or drugged.  I can think of one non latin exception, Lucy Liu...that woman walks very much like a glamour queen of old.   The men have the same thing although not as pronounced and a few have managed to maintain the old standards...Daniel Craig, Robert DeNiro, Ben Kingsley, and George Clooney (don't like his acting much, hate his politics, but he has a great sense of style) come to mind.   If men are becoming more like women and women more like men, then glamour is dying, in society as well as in the cinema and a bunch of transvestite imitating Lady Gagas playing dress up is no substitute.

Fell free to label me a sexist bastard for the post if you like, just calling it like I see it.

2

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

People seem to demand CGI or PCness at a stupid level. Can you imagine Cool hand Luke being made today without someone of the calibre of Newman and no, "don't worry we will fill all that in later". When they had to act (there was no alternative), boy did they act. No Spencer Tracy's or Hepburn's these days............

This is the bitterest pain among men,
To have much knowledge , but no power.

Herodotus

3 (edited by Chuut 2017-10-09 18:54:55)

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Cesca wrote:

People seem to demand CGI or PCness at a stupid level. Can you imagine Cool hand Luke being made today without someone of the calibre of Newman and no, "don't worry we will fill all that in later". When they had to act (there was no alternative), boy did they act. No Spencer Tracy's or Hepburn's these days............

Actually I think there are, they just aren't allowed to that much.  There are some modern stars that with the right roles can match the stars of the past.  Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, Cate Blanchett, Sally Field, Judi Dench, and maybe a few others have some mad acting skills, they just don't get to show them off so much, and certainly few of them could be considered glamourous in the old time sense.  I would put Ben Kingsley a level ahead of nearly anyone past or present with the exception of perhaps DeNiro.  The funny thing about him is that he usually plays a supporting actor, yet when he got the lead role he took home an Oscar, then went back to supporting roles and even very small roles for film and TV.  Yet no matter the part I have never seen him be less than good and he is usually great or better whether it is Gandhi, Itzhak Stern, or the Master of the Unsullied on Game of Thrones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=713jvsRdIy4

So while I agree with you overall, I don't think it because of a lack of acting talent, I think because of a lack of writing and directing talent and maybe a societal demand for CGI and the like we are denied the chance to see much of the acting talent that is there, and even more so the potential glamour.

4

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Those who you mention are "old" and of the past in effect.

Producers, produce what they think is wanted and what they think will make a profit. cerebral films, or even good acting it seems do not make money theses days. I have no doubt the talent will be somewhere but it is not being utilised.

This is the bitterest pain among men,
To have much knowledge , but no power.

Herodotus

5

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Cesca wrote:

Those who you mention are "old" and of the past in effect.

I get the point, but I will point out that many are still making films...so not quite in the past yet.

6

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Cesca wrote:

I have no doubt the talent will be somewhere but it is not being utilised.

I would say underutilized.  But I also want to distinguish between good acting and glamour as the two are not identical and my main focus was on the glamour aspect although the two do bleed together a bit.  For example Jimmy Stewart was a fine actor but not glamourous and the settings of his films were not usually either.  John Wayne was not glamourous but his pictures were often in glamorous settings.  Carey Grant and Clarke Gable were glamourous.  One the female side Katherine Hepburn was perhaps the greatest actress ever but not glamourous, Marilyn Monroe was glamour personified, in the middle you might have someone like Elsa Martinelli.

7

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

One other observation, when you care about acting more than CGI it really only means 1 thing......you are getting old.

8

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Chuut wrote:
Cesca wrote:

I have no doubt the talent will be somewhere but it is not being utilised.

I would say underutilized.  But I also want to distinguish between good acting and glamour as the two are not identical and my main focus was on the glamour aspect although the two do bleed together a bit.  For example Jimmy Stewart was a fine actor but not glamourous and the settings of his films were not usually either.  John Wayne was not glamourous but his pictures were often in glamorous settings.  Carey Grant and Clarke Gable were glamourous.  One the female side Katherine Hepburn was perhaps the greatest actress ever but not glamourous, Marilyn Monroe was glamour personified, in the middle you might have someone like Elsa Martinelli.

Agreed, the CGI of old was vast panoramas of the West or Africa etc.

This is the bitterest pain among men,
To have much knowledge , but no power.

Herodotus

9

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Chuut wrote:

One other observation, when you care about acting more than CGI it really only means 1 thing......you are getting old.

Agreed smile

This is the bitterest pain among men,
To have much knowledge , but no power.

Herodotus

10

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

I love old movies I watch them all the time, some of it is nostalgia of course, but sometimes watching Spencer Tracey in Captains Courageous, or John Wayne in one of the Horse soldier trilogy, etc, is vastly more entertaining AND rewarding than any amount of CGI.

This is the bitterest pain among men,
To have much knowledge , but no power.

Herodotus

11

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Well to be honest I am discovering some of the oldies for the first time.  I saw a couple I had seen before a few months back and realized that there might be others I should have seen before.  It has been a real treat for me.

One additional observation..... these old movies were done at a time where there wasn't much competition from television and they don't have the feel of rushed projects.  Maybe because most of the talent went to film instead of being split between TV and film (of course there was the stage as there is now) the product turned out better in some ways.  Glamour was a way that fashion was advertised in film not so much television commercials, people dressed up to go to the movies and it was a social event as much as an entertainment (save maybe the serial westerns and such during the daytime for the kiddies).  They could make the epics in those days because people didn't have attention deficit disorder from watching too much TV and flipping through hundreds of channels.  Movies required better scripts that could capture wider audiences rather than niche marketing. 

In short the whole approach seems quite different in many ways.

12

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Interesting piece

11 Things We No Longer See in Movie Theaters
http://mentalfloss.com/article/52164/11 … e-theaters

13

Re: They just don't make them like they used to

Chuut wrote:

Interesting piece

11 Things We No Longer See in Movie Theaters
http://mentalfloss.com/article/52164/11 … e-theaters

All of this is spot on!

The Curtain.

On Saturday mornings staying at my Nanas, age 7 I walked into town alone, accross a park, cross a bridge and walk down the High street of Chippenham. I would pay 1s (a shilling probaly the  equivilent of a 1/4) and for 4 hours from 9-1.00 I was entertained. Actually mesemerised.

I would stare intently at the curtain waiting for the heavy red velvet to part to show the next layer of pleated silk and finally the screen.................

The kids were feral, but a combination of Flash Gordon, Casey Jones, Champion the Wonder Horse, Flipper, The Lone Ranger plus cartoons and a feature movie silenced the mob until appropriate laughter, indignation, horror, sorrow or wonder leapt in unison from the throats of the enchanted.

The only adults were the usherettes selling icecreams etc who had the power to grab you by the ear and eject you forwever and consequently wielded great power.

Kids just had fun.......................

This is the bitterest pain among men,
To have much knowledge , but no power.

Herodotus