There are many reasons that people give for not wanting to watch a film that wasn’t a recent blockbuster smash. But they don’t realize that by discounting decades of movie history they’re missing out on some truly wonderful entertainment.
- “We paid for a colour TV. Why would we watch a movie in black and white?”
This is word for word a reason my dad gave for not wanting to watch an old movie. And I get it. Black and white seems dull. And boring. That’s why they started making colour movies in the first place.
But when you think about it, what does colour actually add? Are the stories better? Are the jokes funnier or is the action more exciting? I don’t think so.
In fact, black and white cinematography can be beautiful and atmospheric.
And everyone looks good in black and white. Even smoking looks good in black and white.
2. “I’ve already seen the remake.”
I think everyone agrees that 9 times out of 10 the original is far superior. So if you liked the modern version, chances are you’ll love the classic version.
3. They’re so cliché.”
“I coulda been a contender,” “I’m ready for my closeup,” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
These are lines we’ve heard a thousand times before, repeated over and over again until they seem to lose all meaning. But their origins lie in the classic films that most people haven’t seen. And they should. At least once. At least to give context when someone jokes about not being in Kansas anymore.
4. “They’re so hard to find.”
My favourite thing to do is to check the listings of my local independent cinemas – they often play classic movies once or twice a month. Nothing makes classic films more enjoyable than being surrounded by people who also appreciate them.
If you’re looking for a specific, obscure title than you might have a little trouble tracking it down. But Netflix consistently has an assortment of classic films and TCM is a treasure trove (you can search for a title to see when it will be playing next). And anything that’s in the public domain can be found online for free.
5. “The stories aren’t relevant anymore. They’re ancient history.”
It’s important to know your history. Movies made in the Great Depression or WWII, for example, are a reflection of what people were thinking and feeling at the time.
After the stock market crash of 1929 the movies became a form of escapism and films often focused on wealthy playboys and society girls, who lived life in tuxedos and slinky gowns. After the end of World War II, movies like The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) depicted the reality of soldiers returning home from the front.
When you watch an old movie, you are watching not only a piece of history that was shaped by its era but also a piece of work that had influence over an audience long ago…and continues to today.
6. “The acting is stiff and unbelievable.”
Not entirely untrue (although the same could probably be said for many actors working today). Especially in early films, everyone – actors, directors, studios – was making the transition from stage to silent films, and then silent films to the talkies. This ushered in a completely new acting style: less showy, more realistic. Some failed to make a smooth transition, while many more found stardom.
It may take some getting used to but after a little while you won’t even notice.
7. “They’re so old.”
And you know what they say: “Everything old is new again.”