I watch old movies again the way I see the same things in a museum again, or read a book again. Movies are the definitive art of the era. Before long, only collectors and museums will have them. Holograms, virtual reality, and robotic interaction will flood the entertainment market.
These transitions away from two-dimensional media will be commonplace within a couple of human generations – maybe just one. When our retiring Baby Boomers were born, the personal computer was unthinkable, and FM radio not yet on the market. I could easily live another thirty years. The first IBM PC hit the market thirty-five years ago. In 1999 someone told me it looked like a ’57 Chevy, in its outmoded style, size and structure. What will we have in our pockets in a couple of decades?
If they let me, I’ll continue enjoying the mostly passive entertainment in movies. Whatever machine I play them on, I don’t want to kiss movies goodbye.
Old movies never die. When I see an oldie, I might study a character closely, and its actor’s skill. This is how I landed on the angel and the bartender as my favorites in It’s a Wonderful Life. I pay attention to the music credits. If a flick has a great composer behind it, it’s a great flick. Some of my favorite CDs are movie scores and themes. There’s also the scenery, the cinematography, the costumes. I notice the buildings and vehicles, the picture on the wall in the stairway, the realism or lack thereof. Usually best of all is the dialog. It’s a wonderful life in the movies.
I love the dialog lines that make me laugh out loud when they are not meant for humor. There’s kitschy philosophical baloney, perfectly put ponderous punditry, poignant or pretty prose in narrators’ silky voices, and sometimes profound wisdom memorably said. There are classic romantic lines — or ones I think should be classics — that I wish I had thought of, because I think they’d actually work, whether tongue in cheek or out, such as this John Wayne & Maureen O’Hara catchy verbal foreplay:
Her: Aren’t you going to kiss me goodbye?
Him: I never want to kiss you goodbye, Kathleen.
This is from the 1950 movie, Rio Grande, with post-Civil War U.S. Army Cavalry Colonel Yorke (John Wayne) going off to fight clever Indians who keep escaping into Mexico, now reunited with his formerly estranged wife, Kathleen Yorke (Maureen O’Hara). This rough-and-tough romantic duo once again love it up in another of their five movies together, where Wayne beats the crap out of somebody and O’Hara beats the hardness out of his heart.
How do they say it with a straight face? They’re actors, and I love them for it.
Sometimes I think I see something in the performance betraying their struggle to say it with a straight face. Go to this video clip and look at the emergent grin on Eli Wallach’s face in the last second of his despicable line about the villagers that he routinely robs and victimizes, before the view changes back to Yul Brynner: YouTube movie clip from The Magnificent Seven (this link opens in a new window/tab).
If God didn’t want them sheared he would not have made them sheep.
Did the editor clip it just before Wallach cracked up laughing?
You may think that it was an evil grin intended to go with the evil statement. Maybe. I can see that, too, as another smart touch by this marvelous artist. Or did the director ask for the grin? I wonder about these things in movies. That makes them more than movies.
Wallach’s line was just the icing on the cake. In that scene, Steve McQueen’s line bowls me over every time.
We deal in lead, friend.
The great thing is that such lines are serious, certainly not meant to be comedy, but they crack me up. The irony is the gift. This is largely about the nature of the viewer, too, not just the nature of the art.
Ever wish that a character would have said something else that you know is a better line? Here’s a little dialog I wish I could see in the movies, made up by Yours Truly for a short story now “under construction:”
Him: Being strangers, I can’t decide how to start a chat with you. Can you help me with that?
Her: Not if you keep lying to me. How many times have you used that line?
Him: Oh good. I knew you could help. Now you tell me a lie.
Got one? Go ahead. Play dialog writer for a minute. Or learn how in free online courses.
I have looked at dozens of blogs about movies. I never found one that I would subscribe to, or even bookmark. However, while poking around in the topic area, I found a single blog post that I liked about movies: Old Favorites: Best Classic Movies. It’s a great walk down memory lane in the movies, with video clips for each, and some favorite lines shared, and other nifty comments. There’s probably an introduction to one or two you didn’t know was a great classic that you should see. There were for me. The author has great taste in movies.
But it’s not a blog about movies, and I did subscribe, just because the posts are interesting reading, from an interesting person. I like her take on things. It’s the blog Sonia G Madeiros; In the Heart of the Labyrinth. In addition to a fun, casual blog on random topics (as in dkhometree), Sonia writes fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She’s the author of more than a dozen short stories and flash fiction pieces and is working on her first novel. As with my blog, she will not flood your inbox when you subscribe. She will just drop you some fresh ideas to ponder and discuss now and then, presented in a pleasantly readable way.
Like Sonia’s husband, I don’t “get” horror. I assume she sees something there that some of us are just blinded to. I like intense thrillers, though. Does that count?
What’s one of your favorite movie lines or scenes, something that you’ll never forget, and probably will mention to several people during your life, or use in things you write?
Maybe you’ll even use the line for a real purpose in a real relationship. Have you ever done that? Would you say, “I never want to kiss you goodbye,” if asked for a goodbye kiss? Are you in a relationship where you could both have fun using it as a pet phrase?
Do you have a pet phrase between you that you picked up in a movie?