Classic Movies, On Cue
According to film scholars and enthusiasts, movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood (early 1930’s to the late 1950’s), are considered as classic movies. Movie production within this period followed stricter rules under the old Hollywood studio system. A single studio had dominant control over the actors, actresses, production staff, and crew who signed in as exclusive contractors; this system gave rise to classic movies. Although unethical business methods like block booking (forced bulk buying of movies by independent theater owners) and blind bidding (the “wholesale” purchase of unviewed movies) were mostly practiced by studio conglomerates back then, some say that this system was key in producing high quality movies that have set the benchmark for filmmaking today.
Some film buffs would say that storytelling in modern-day cinema has deviated from the qualities which classics were known for: impeccable compositions, cinematic metaphors, memorable dialogues, and gripping storylines that stirred the hearts of different societies and cultures; these traits are present in Gone with the Wind, one of the best classic movies of all time. This movie was said to be the inspiration behind Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 romance movie, Australia. Nowadays, the use of cinematic devices (meaningful and purposeful camera shots, angles, or perspectives, transitions, metaphors, etc.) have been replaced with pointless explosions, nudity, and crass dialogue to keep people entertained. However, international award-giving bodies like the International Federation of Film Critics and the Cannes International Critics’ Week Section, still judge films based on their depth and quality, and give accolades and merits to noteworthy films like Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together and Roman Polanski’s The Pianist.
Classic movies have also served as creative references for avant-garde movie makers like Quentin Tarantino. Some of the scenes and action sequences from his oeuvres like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill (Volume 1 and 2), and Inglourious Basterds are derived from critically acclaimed classic films, like Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders, and Orson Welle’s Citizen Kane. These classic movies, which are now available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, have also been remastered in high definition.
The technical and creative approach used in classic western movies like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and High Noon was adapted into contemporary western movies like Django Unchained, Cowboys and Aliens, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Stories of cowboys, living quiet, rustic lives in the wild west occupied with the sole task of tending cattle, who are then thrown into a sudden roll of gunfights and horseback races to rescue damsels in distress are popular among the male audience. Action movies are also male-driven, but were not as popular back then as they are today, with the exception of the Metropolis, the Adventures of Robin Hood, and King Kong.
Another influence from the classics can be seen in today’s thriller and horror movies. Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous classic masterpiece, Psycho, has been a “film model” revered by filmmakers of this genre. In 2013, it was adapted into a television series called Bates Motel, which is a contemporary prequel to Psycho. Hitchcock, who earned the title, “the master of suspense,” devised camera and storytelling techniques that were unprecedented during his time. These techniques can be seen in a number of modern day movies like Charade, Jaws, Side Effects, Basic Instinct, and Shutter Island.
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