Old Movies

I’ve been on an Old Movie kick the last few weeks. This happens to me once in a while, usually during re-run season, which has started already, much to my dismay!

Yes, I’m addicted to my television. I spend as much time watching it as I do writing—probably even more. I’ve heard a lot of writers say this is a bad thing, that television sucks your creativity, there are much better uses of time, but I strongly disagree. The mindlessness of sitcoms, made for television movies, crime dramas, to me, is all fodder for creating.

But I digress. The last couple of weeks has been a Turner Classic Movie marathon for me. Well, I’ve been DVR’ing them watching them alone or with my daughter, who I’m very pleased to report loves the old movies too.

I grew up with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas in my living room. My dad was a huge fan of both, and as far as I can remember, besides The Wonderful World of Disney and 60 Minutes every Sunday night, and Dallas on Fridays, westerns were all we watched.

First naked butt I ever saw on a movie was Kirk Douglas jumping out of a rain barrel bath—yes, it was a big thing, I think I was only about eleven years old! Not so big of a deal this day and age; my daughter saw more than that by that age, I’m sure, but I’m a good Catholic girl from Alaska. We didn’t see naked man butts on network television, which was all we had. No cable.

We got our first color television when I was nine or ten, and my dad got our first VCR soon after that. He rented movies on a regular basis, and it was always the old westerns he’d loved from his younger days. We also watched Lawrence Welk on Sunday afternoons—can’t forget that! I’m wondering if we even watched television on any other day than Sunday. Oh, and Falcon Crest, which was on the same night as Dallas, I think, or maybe the next night. My mom was hooked on that one. I find it funny, because my parents thought soaps were a horrible thing, and they watched the most popular ones ever! *grin*

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was channel surfing, getting sick of re-run this or re-run that, and stumbled across North To Alaska. It was a John Wayne I’d never seen…which is weird, since I am from Alaska and my dad was such a huge fan. It was a Saturday afternoon, and my daughter was watching it with me, but she had to go somewhere halfway through, and asked me to record it for her. Hmm, that was interesting. Never though she’d get into John Wayne. I mean, she listens to music that makes me want to rip my ears off. It was a John Wayne marathon going on, so I recorded a few others. Then we got into Cary Grant, who is my all time favorite actor ever, and recorded everything they were playing with him in it. This past week was Doris Day. So Saturdays the last few weeks have been devoted to my daughter and I watching old movies.

The other night I watched one by myself before bed called Green Mansions with Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins, and it dawned on me why watching moves that predate the ‘60s really does something for me spiritually. First, watching anything with John Wayne or Kirk Douglas brings back good memories of my childhood, and these were the first movies I was ever exposed to. We were poor and going to the movie theater, ever, was out of the question. I think I saw 2 movies in the theater as a kid, both with my mom, but I couldn’t tell you now what they were. I do remember my brothers being forced to take me to see Sleeping Beauty, and I remember they took turns sitting in the theater with me while they swapped out going to some other movie they actually wanted to see. I think they were being punished or something. *grin*

Again, I digress. The second reason I am so fond of old movies is the imagery. Though Green Mansions was shot in color, we’ve been watching a ton of black and white movies, but it never seems to matter. Even the B&W have more backdrop than most modern movies. I’m not knocking modern movies by any means, I love movies of all kinds. But those long shots of the Badlands, or the dark sparkle of a magical wonderland in the rain forest, or the New York city street in the forties with men and women dressed in their Sunday best—or what would have been considered Sunday best where I grew up. There really is a sense of wonder in the older movies, and I find myself able to just let the magic happen, involve me and evoke more emotion than most modern movies. They are relaxing and rejuvenating to watch, in my opinion.

Also, what I find intriguing, is the sense of passion the romantic movies portray when all we see on screen is one rather lame kiss. That’s writing and acting at its best! And now that I know my daughter likes them, too, it’s one more thing I can share with her.

Spring is here in the Lower Mainland, and the flowers are in full bloom. Walks in the cool evenings are back on my to-do list, and daughter and I have been enjoying them, even if I must take a shot of allergy nose spray before I can leave my house. *grin*

Anna Leigh


4 responses to “Old Movies

  1. Green Mansions the movie was based on a book that I have four different copies of — all because I read a comic book based on it. It’s an amazing book, and the movie, while interesting, couldn’t come close.

  2. We have a Roku and my wife has been downloading virtually every series ever made—all of Lost, the British Midsomer Murders, 24—everything!

  3. I have been studying the movies my whole life, I was nearly born in a movie theater. I never get tired of the movies and I never tire of the classics — I can watch them over and over again.


  4. Of course movies never live up to the books, and in most cases I don’t bother to cross over. If I saw the movie first, I don’t bother with the book, and too often I’ve made the horrible mistake of expecting the movie to be just as good as the book.

    The only one I can say I think even comes close is True Grit. The John Wayne version was REALLY close to the book – I both read and watched the movie within the same week in high school – and when the new one came out with Jeff Bridges, I went the first week it opened, and I don’t normally do that because I hate crowds. It was one of the best remakes I’ve ever seen. I now own both on DVD *grin*

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