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rockfan's avatar

What are some old films for people who hate old films?

Asked by rockfan (11973points) June 30th, 2015

This (somewhat) egotistically worded question comes directly from a message board on IMDB:

“We’ve all encountered people who say that they don’t like older films, for one poor reason or another. Even though I shouldn’t be, I’m always a little bit surprised by this attitude, since it should be obvious that a film’s age shouldn’t in and of itself determine its quality, and it seems crazy to me to lump all “old movies” together as uniformly “bad” or “not my taste.”

What are some films from, say, 1960 and earlier which you would recommend to people who are convinced that old movies suck? In other words, which films do you think could change their minds and help them see the error of their ways? So, don’t just list great movies, try to name films that would make someone who hates old movies admit, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool.”

Here are some I would personally recommend:

Singin’ in the Rain
Sunset Boulevard
The Apartment
All About Eve
Strangers on a Train
The Day the Earth Stood Still

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25 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

Citizen Kane.
Out of the Past.
Rear Window.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Recommendations would depend upon what they currently think are great films, as well as what genre they prefer. Are they interested in great scripts, great acting, great cinematography, historical accuracy? If I want to convince someone that old movies are great, if not better than some of today’s, then I need to sell them based upon their preference.

Darth_Algar's avatar

“it should be obvious that a film’s age shouldn’t in and of itself determine its quality, and it seems crazy to me to lump all “old movies” together as uniformly “bad” or “not my taste.”

That might seem obvious, but films (particularly mainstream) from a certain era do tend to reflect certain trends and styles. Not to mention that films made during the Hays Code era (1934–1968) were written and filmed to reflect mainline American Christian morality, which thus limited filmmakers creatively (notice the sudden explosion of new, previously taboo, subjects, tone and language in films from the late 60s – mid 1970s).

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

That’s a really tough question. It depends on why the person dislikes old films. I know people in their 30’s who won’t watch a minute of film if it’s in black & white. Maybe they think the acting is phony. Maybe they can’t make the connection between historical/cultural context and the time in which the film was made for lack of a knowledge base. Maybe they won’t buy into the naiveté of the average viewer of the 1930’s – 50’s, the blatant romance, the apparent puritanism, and the hypocrisy (as they might see it) of all the code words, double entendres and insinuations. I know some who can’t watch them simply because they judge the times harshly; as racist, etc., and this preys on their mind while they watch white people have a good time. There is also the lack of violence, explosions, fantastical special effects and cgi to feed their endorphin addictions.

I don’t know where to begin with these people.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus ” It depends on why the person dislikes old films.”

Yes, this is really important.

I think a lot of classic films should be avoided for this purpose – for example, I would never recommend that a person who hates old films watch Citizen Kane. We appreciate Citizen Kane because it was a pioneer in filmmaking. And yes, the writing and the acting are good, but the story is pretty slow-paced. Where is shines is in camera and lighting techniques, editing and sound. We’ve had several decades of film in which people have borrowed and refined those techniques, making Citizen Kane less special. It’s hard to appreciate it as a first-time viewer, and especially so if the viewer doesn’t like old movies.

I would recommend the two genres that were done best (in my opinion) by old movies. The “fast-talking dame” films and film noir. And maybe screwball comedies. Some of my favourites have already been mentioned (All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Laura). I would add movies like:

His Girl Friday
The Philadelphia Story
Double Indemnity
The Women
To Have and Have Not
The Maltese Falcon
Arsenic and Old Lace

For good measure, add some Marx Brothers. And who can resist Audrey Hepburn in anything? Roman Holiday and Sabrina should help.

zenvelo's avatar

Cat Ballou. My personal favorite for top ten films of the Sixties.

Help. Can’t be hateful with all the great music, plus it is funny.

ucme's avatar

We could sit here & list old movies all day long, but it’s not going to get us any further forward.
How can anyone possibly know what films, genre even, would potentially entertain someone so stubbornly set in their ways. I don’t know if I could be bothered to even waste time on them.

josie's avatar

My father and grandfather’s favorite movie.
One of mine too.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The 60s? The Hustler, Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, the Wild Bunch, A Dandy in Aspic, Bullitt.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@stanleybmanly God, I love Lawrence of Arabia. I can always call up a line from that film when I need inspiration in any given situation.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s just crammed with great one liners. It’s a remarkable film for so many reasons, and though romanticized, there are a lot of poignant examples of the difficulties involved with Western understanding of the Middle East. The film should have been required viewing for policy wonks in the Bush administration.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@stanleybmanly Haha. Indeed. Or anyone who aspires to a position of power, really.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

White Heat, James Cagney. Campy but fun.

rockfan's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I don’t think White Heat is campy at all

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@rockfan Cool, another Cagney fan?

rockfan's avatar

Yeah huge fan

Pachy's avatar

I’m especially passionate about films of the ‘30s (“Dodsworth”) and ‘40s (“The Best Years of Our Lives,” The Red Shoes”, “White Heat” and other film noirs)—and there’s a silent masterpiece from ‘28, “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” that I’d stack up against any film ever made for photography, acting and a plot that never fails to keep me engaged even though I know how it turns out. You don’t want to get me started on why I love old films, and you certainly don’t have the time or interest to read my list.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Count me in the Cagney camp. And I agree that the movie is campy. The whole thing is just packed with wonderful but absurd imagery, like luscious Virginia Mayo slinking around in that cabin, and Cody’s ma, hard as a new nail. Then there’s Cody himself- psychopath (the constant debilitating headaches are our guide to his condition). I’m sure that little fact had to be included to get the film past the censors. White Heat is just so over the top, that I can’t watch it without grinning. Just the bullets through the trunk scene alone is a showstopper, and that closing “top of the world ma” finale will never be topped!

Pachy's avatar

Agree, it’s a campy movie… BUT WHAT GREAT CAMP !!! I love it when Cagney knocks Mayo off chair. But maybe my favorite bit is when Cagney, while munching on a chicken leg, pumps rounds into the trunk to give the poor guy inside “some air.”

How good Cagney and Mayo were in everything they did.

sahID's avatar

In order to provide the best suggestions, it seems like the types of current movies they enjoy needs to be the point of departure.

If the person enjoys political dramas, then Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a great intro to older films.

If the person is into comedies (the sillier the better) then the Marx Brothers & Abbot & Costello are excellent points of departure. In the same vein, I would recommend 1938’s You Can’t Take It With You.

At one time in my life, I was in the “I don’t like old movies in black & white” camp. Then I happened to watch Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights on TCM followed by several from the 1930’s. Ever since, I have been hooked.

Pachy's avatar

…proving something, @sahID, which is a soapbox of mine, that one should never take another person’s opinion of what a good or bad movie or movie genre is—not even that of a professional movie reviewer. I once thought I never liked silent movies until I discovered “City Lights” and then saw the even earlier silent mentioned above, “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”

rockfan's avatar

I think White Heat has intentional dark comedy in it. Doesn’t necessarily make it campy

stanleybmanly's avatar

I suppose we’re going to need a working definition of campy that we can agree on.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Campy: intentionally exaggerated thematic or genre elements

jca's avatar

The In Laws (Peter Falk Alan Arkin version)

Born Free

Harry and Tonto


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