There’s something special about sitting down and watching an old movie. No, some some flick from the mid 1970’s, but something farther back. Go back a few more decades, to a time of black and white or right when color pictures started, catchy tunes, and riviting dialog. Granted, not that there’s really anything inherently wrong with the movies of today, but they just don’t see to have the heart and soul that the older movies have.
Today if you want action you add some pyrotechnics in and blow something up. If you don’t like to final result, just keep tweaking it digitally until you get the result you want. Maybe you’ll have a massive shoot out, but even then, you’ve got to add explosives. Otherwise modern audiences will quickly get bored with the movie. Action back in the golden age of movies though was more subtle. It was all about new camera angles that had not been used before, closeups of the actors so you can feel the action through their emotions, implied actions which left the full picture up to your imagination rather than showing every bit of what a director wants you to see.
Looking for suspense? Go no further than Hitchcock. That man knew how to string an audience along and keep them on the edge of their seats well past the end of the movie. After Psycho came out there were people who would never take a shower again. North By Northwest, with Cary Grant, kept viewers guessing as to what would happen next right up to the very end. Suspense didn’t always mean that something terrible would happen once the music of heavy violins and violas reached a certain volume. Suspense was throwing out twists and turns which made you want to scream out to the actors what they should or shouldn’t do. Good suspense meant that no matter how many times you’ve seen the movie and know what comes next, you’re still on the edge of your seat and surprised when those twists and turns occur.
Dialog is a dying art in movies today. Certainly there’s memorable one-liners in every movie, and there are still dramas out there that have strong dialog that help progress the plat. However, there are fewer and fewer movies now which have such good dialog and still appeal to a wide range of viewers. Movies like the Thin Man series have a little something for everyone and are still clean enough for children. There’s witty banter and a solid dialog that keeps the plot rolling.
Of course, only time will tell if any of the movies of today make it to a “classic” status that gets rediscovered by generation after generation to come much like the “classics” of today such as those mentioned above as well as others such as White Christmas, The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, and many others.