They don’t make ’em like they used to

Having been housebound for the past ten days or so with what might have been swine flu,  I have realised that older films are infinitely better made than the modern ones,  all the special effects and such notwithstanding. I watched one made in the 1950s last week,  set during the Korean War with Robert Mitchum and a very young Robert Wagner.  Very basic sets, but very good camera work.  Then I watched  Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which I already knew, enjoying the fashions, the cat and of course Moon River all over again.  Today’s was A Lonely Place with Humphrey Bogart.  A film noir, with a very good story line and some sharp dialogue and no happy ending.

I did not watch the remake of Brideshead Revisited last night. What’s the point when I remember perfectly the original ITV production?  I have no intention of watching the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit. Again I just don’t see the point, and I like John Wayne movies.

Is this a sign of old age?  Or perhaps it’s a sign of improving taste and discrimination.

26 thoughts on “They don’t make ’em like they used to”

  1. I go to cinema about once a month. I was about to say that most of the films I’ve seen with my wife have been pretty good – then I tried to recall one. Films that I remember are like yours ‘golden oldies’. Outside of those, I have watched Moonstruck a number of times and would watch it again. I like foreign films, I thought that the Chinese film Assembly (sub titles)was good and that the DVD cover was totally misleading.

  2. I’m not sure that the films I mentioned with Robert Mitchum and Bogart were “golden” oldies, PB. Just ordinary, well-made movies which seemed to be the norm in the 50s and 60s. I am hoping that The Lincoln Lawyer, due out in March, will be worth watching because I enjoy Connelly’s books.

  3. I too hate modern remakes, always totally travesties.
    I would have watched Brideshead Revisited for the production values. It can be fun to watch for anomalies.

  4. Hi Sheona,
    Hi Sheona,

    Some stand the test of time and others don’t. There were many UK propaganda films made during the war and other good ones made just after the war. Here are just a few that I could/can watch time and time again. There are of course plenty more.

    Goodbye Mr Chips the (1939 version)
    Ice Cold in Alex
    Tiger Bay
    Tunes of Glory
    Mrs. Miniver
    The Third Man

    They do make good films today as well. Here are just a few that have impressed me. In no particular order.

    Master and Commander: The Far side of The World
    The Shawshank Redemption
    The Godfather
    Saving Private Ryan
    The Usual Suspects.

  5. Hiya, Sheona. A ten-day bout of flu is beyond swine flu or even man flu and may well be bordering on the incipient stages of wolf flu, in which case my deepest sympathies.

    I hear a remake of ‘Dambusters’ has been in the offing for two or three years. Granted the special effects regarding the raid itself might be better, but I can’t see them improving on the spirit or the actual flying sequences of the original. And what are they going to call the dog? The name of Gibson’s black labrador is a matter of fact, so are they going to change history? I’ve been to RAF Scampton years ago, saw the grave (although this is not my own photograph), stood in Gibson’s office, even seen his hat. All very moving and real.

    Recently, I’ve also seen a couple of rushes from the remake on Youtube. Barnes Wallis seems to have acquired a slightly American accent.


  6. Toc – Go and see ‘The King’s Speech’. A seriously, seriously good film worthy of all the bawbees it has received. 🙂


  7. – and for some reason the dog is no longer called “Nigger”. In actual fact it was probably called “Niger” in line with his classical education. But given the P.C. times in which we live, we can’t be having any of that Latin rubbish as an explanation for calling a black dog, black!

  8. CWJ – ‘Niger, adj, with comp. nigrior and sup. nigerrimos, black, sable, dark, dusky’. And I’ve seen the River Niger too. It’s green. 🙂


  9. O Zangado :

    Toc – Go and see ‘The King’s Speech’. A seriously, seriously good film worthy of all the bawbees it has received. :-)



    I will se it when Sky release it. It must over twelve years or more since I went to the cinema.

  10. I rarely bother going to the cinema – partly because Bearsy and I have such different tastes in what we want to see.

    I’m inclined to think that film-makers rely far too much on whizz-bang, special effects technology at the expense of a good story.

    I watched an interesting program some time ago which said that Studios were loathe to try new ideas because of the high-cost of film making and the fear of failure. Thus, they tended to churn out one film after another based on very much the same story-line. That might well explain why they are so keen on re-makes of old successes.

  11. Toc – Honestly, the last time I went to the flicks was taking the cubs to see ‘The Return of the Jedi’ back in 1980 something. The NSW, however, is an avid cinema-goer and, having resisted for nearly a year, I have to admit that big films are much better on the big screen. ‘The King’s Speech’ was ace. Having said that I was also dragged along, kicking and screaming, to ‘Black Swan’, which is a girlie psycho-drama that had me gnawing my own leg off in boredom and praying for death.


  12. Yes, I think in many instances it is the good story that is missing these days and that can’t really be covered up by special effects, no matter how good.

    I usually enjoy a Clint Eastwood film, except for the one with “the other woman” Meryl Streep in it. Eastwood too likes a good story line.

    I am hopeful that this is not wolf flu, OZ, and that life can soon return to normal. I haven’t seen granddaughter for two weeks! Not even Clint can compensate for that.

  13. The bulk of films made today are forgettable. Sometimes, simply out of curiosity, I re-watch films made during my younger years which seemed cutting edge and brilliantly produced at the time only to see that they became quickly dated. The acting was usually forgettable, the production equally so. The scripts were usually underwhelming if not utterly banal. One of the best comparisons is “From Here to Eternity” with Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift and “Pearl Harbour” with Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. “From Here to Eternity” still ranks as one of the best films ever made, the acting still raw and believable. “Pearl Harbour” showed its age very quickly and never received that much praise. For that matter, “A Street Car Named Desire”, “A Brief Encounter”, “Tokyo Story”, and “Wild Strawberries” are still considered some of the best films ever made. What made today comes even close? There are still on occasion some things worth seeing, but it seems that those are made by people getting up there in years — Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, usw.

  14. Why do they keep making remakes, is it because they have no imagination?

    I hear they are going to redo Blade Runner(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick) why, the original was good so why spoil it?

  15. ricksrant :

    Why do they keep making remakes, is it because they have no imagination?

    I hear they are going to redo Blade Runner(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick) why, the original was good so why spoil it?

    The best writers and actors are already dead so in order to justify keeping studios open they have to re-make something that was actually good and original in hopes of trying to at least make a small profit.

  16. Whatever you see on a screen, or read, or hear on radio, no matter how good, always starts with a little fizz of electricty in someones noddle. It all starts with the writer. The director will make his input on what you will see, together with the lighting cameraman, and the sound recordist/engineer will influence what you here. With CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) there is now an enormous influence wielded by the creative director. But all of these very highly talanted and very well paid people would be staring at their P45’s if it was not for the writer.

  17. Surely one reason for remakes is that the young generation of film-buffs insist on their own stars on screen – just as we do/did. And take the Stieg Larsson Millenium series. Their raw horror is now to be sanitised by Hollywwod with Daniel Craig et al starring. OMG’s right – it’s atribute to writers that the same story is made and remade. And why not?

  18. Surely the younger generation of film-buffs would prefer to see their own generation of stars in original movies, rather than knowing that a certain proportion of the audience is making a comparison with an earlier version. There are lots of books still being written.

  19. I have recently started subscribing to LoveFilm (DVD rental by subscription). I started with some Hitchcock’s and, having got so used to the flab that passes for a thriller these days, that I was amazed plots tighter than Grace Kelly’s dresses. I think a lot has to do with the having to fit things into 90 minutes. Studios seem much more indulgent of their directors now and the sprawling time limit seems to lead only to the sprawling action on a flimsy plot.

    Working a different genre than Hitchcock, I do rate Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola (with the exception of Marie-Antionette) as story-tellers.

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