Are The Old Movies Better Than The New Ones?

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Are the old movies better or worse than the new movies ? Back in the the day a movies special effects were made by hand. Make up, car explosions, buildings falling down, thousands of space ships, storms, etc....all these things had to be done without computers overlaying images. To some people the old movies were classic. To some people the old movies were cheesy. To some people the new movies are awsome with special effects. To some people the new movies are just becoming remakes of the old ones with computer aided graphics because Hollywood is running out of ideas. What do you think ? Are the old movies better or worse than the new movies ?



Sure there is nostalgia involved and I tend to think that older films focused more on characters and storyline and on and on than most modern cookie cutter flicks, but there is nothing wrong with using todays technology to make a good film. In the end I like a good story, I do not care when it was made or filmed. Story and acting first, the rest is gravy.
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There's no blanket statement. It depends on the movie. There are far less "movie stars" today than there used to be, and I miss the Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz dialogue, but there were plenty of lousy movies "back in the day" and some of the movies even considered "the worst" today aren't really so bad.
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I was talking with a friend the other day on this and we both started thinking about movies that have changed either in the remake or the re-edit.
A good example was when we were talking about Star Wars. If your old enough to remember or actually saw the original Return Of The Jedi at the end it showed Obie Wan, Yoda, and Anakin after they became one with the force. The original had Obie Wan as an old man, Yoda as an old Yoda, and Anakin as an older man that looked kinda like Louie Nie. When they did the re-edit all of the sudden Anakin was young like he was in the 3rd episode Revenge of the Sith. It kind of lost it's meaning to me when they did that and it didn't feel the same at all.



Are the old movies better or worse than the new movies ? Back in the the day a movies special effects were made by hand. Make up, car explosions, buildings falling down, thousands of space ships, storms, etc....all these things had to be done without computers overlaying images. To some people the old movies were classic. To some people the old movies were cheesy. To some people the new movies are awsome with special effects. To some people the new movies are just becoming remakes of the old ones with computer aided graphics because Hollywood is running out of ideas. What do you think ? Are the old movies better or worse than the new movies ?
There are good films and poor films in every era. But films made in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, had some advantages that are lacking today. For one thing, many movies then were taken from books, the classics or modern best sellers. Today, they're taken from comic books, many with dark or violent themes.

2. Some of the most noted writers of that day actually worked in Hollywood either adapting their own or others books or writing new stories for film. Many of the scripts from that era sparkle with wit and some of the best dialogue ever written.

3. Many of the directors working back then also were experienced writers. Preston Sturges wrote his own films from his unique point of view. John Huston started off as a playwright and wrote for years before he became a director who often wrote or rewrote the scripts he was shooting.

4. Many of the directors back then had experienced life--bummed around, boxed, fought wars, did real manual labor--and they drew on that experience in their films. The same can be said of many actors who broke horses, sailed ships, flew planes, boxed, were in the military.

5. The studio system of the early years turned out more films with their directors and stars who were on salary. So the best of them turned up in a broad variety of films and characters.

6. The studio system also had cadres of experienced character actors on hand who would turn up in small to supporting parts to add their special bits to the film--people like Marjorie Main, Gilbert Roland, Arthur Hunnicut, Eve Arden, and others

7. Stars looked more like real people back then--fat, skinny, old, young, ugly, pretty, all over the place. Some like Lionel Barrymore were even crippled, but kept making movies. Today most movie stars look like Ken and Barbie. If James Cagney had started his career within the last 10 years, do you think he'd ever make it as a leading man, much less a star? Even Clark Gable's ears stuck out. As for an actor named Fatty Arbuckle ever becoming a star today, forget it!

8. Many actors and directors had spent years in the theater honing their skills before live audiences, developing personnas and tricks of the trade they later took to Hollywood.

Many comics like Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, WC Fields, Charlie Chaplin came out of Vaudeville or even burlesque where they played some tough crowds and often learned the hard way what would or wouldn't work with an audience. They learned a great deal about the timing of a joke under those circumstances.

Moreover, a lot of the stars around the 1930s had broad experience in radio where all of their acting was just their voices.

9. Under the studio system, if an actor wasn't working, often he or she were going to school--learning to ride, to dance, to sing, preparing them for any possible part they would be called on to play. So if they put the actor on a horse, he really could ride it, not just bounce up and down.

10. Special effects were simple and low-key for the most part, not a major part of the movie script as they are today with computer imaging. Today you need a supporting actor to lose his legs, you use a computer to cut them off. Yet 60-70 years ago, Ronnie Reagan got good reviews in a film where he simply acted as if his legs had been cut off. Even the stunts were lower key back then, with fewer extended car chases and multiple vehicles exploding.

In short, earlier actors and directors had more experience in both their craft and their lives on which they could draw. The studio classes taught many how to move on the screen. For the most part, they looked more like "real people" instead of beauty-contest winners so it was easier for the audience to identify with them. And they made more pictures year after year which helped develop their skills and careers. And it all shows up there on the screen.



will.15's Avatar
Semper Fooey
The quality of most movies from major studios these days are abysmal.

If it is not based on a comic book, videogame, TV show, remake, or a low budget horror movie or comedy, it doesn't get made (by them).



It depends on what you mean by "new." If you split the history of film into two equal halves, I'd say it's pretty close. But if "new" merely means the last decade or two, then old films are probably better in the sense that there are more good/great ones, if only because they're drawing from a longer period of time.

We can't really measure them with a decade-by-decade average, either, because the economics of moviemaking has changed in ways that I'm sure would skew any such rating.

This somewhat ties into what will just said. I don't think movies are worse now overall, I just think studios make a ton of movies these days. Numerically, we have more good (and bad) films than ever, because the industry can accommodate more of both to varying degrees.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that older films were better because they had to be; they didn't have special effects to lean on. But I think this is only a mildly compelling argument. People were still wowed by spectacle back then, even if their standards for what spectacle was were different than they are now. And it could be said that today's filmmakers have a major advantage over those in the past, because they have a much greater pool of classics and cinematic history to draw and learn from. They might be far more technically proficient, as well, which certainly matters. Just as an ignorant person today would still know much more than someone far wiser 200 years ago, today's filmmakers get to stand on the shoulders of cinematic giants right from the get-go in all sorts of disciplines.



Sorry Harmonica.......I got to stay here.
Sadly, I find a majority of today's young actors unmemorable and mostly just eye candy. Try to find a Humphrey Bogart or a Bette Davis in the bunch.
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There seems to be a growing feeling that George Clooney's going to look a lot like this generation's Bogart or Cary Grant when all's said and done, which I can certainly envision.

But I think the key word is "majority." We can't sift through them now, because they're everywhere, but over time we'll remember the good ones and slowly forget (or ignore) the bad ones, and people will probably think in 40 years time that all of their actors are vapid and they just don't make-'em like Anne Hathaway any more.



I do love old films and it's incredibly hard to recapture their spirit.
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I am one of those folks that can sit down and enjoy a new film and get just as much enjoyment out of it as an older flick. That said, I prefer to think and talk about the concepts in the older films, as well as the film techniques of yesteryear. Avatar is allegedly a technical marvel in some ways, but I am much more interested in the lighting in The Asphalt Jungle or how they managed to do the mirage in Lawrence of Arabia.

If a film can blend both old and new successfully, it might become a fast favorite. For instance I love film noir and consider the classic noir cycle to be definitive of the genre and in some ways definitive of my taste in general, but Blade Runner is my favorite movie.

I think you will find most folks on this site tend to like good film, and dislike bad - regardless of the period it was made.
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It is rather unfair to compare oldies to the modern movies. Each have their pros and cons. I'd rather go genre wise if I had to compare movies over different decades.

Genres where I find Modern movies generally better:
Action, Animation, Sci Fi, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror

Older movies:
Comedy, Drama, War, Romance, Musicals, Mystery, Crime

Equivocal:
Sports, Film noir



will.15's Avatar
Semper Fooey
I agree animation is better now because for many years the only studio that did did it well was Disney and the economics of it meant it would take several years for one to come out.

I'm not a fan of a lot of contemporary action movies because they rely too much on CGI, which I think should be used sparingly. Too much of it doesn't look real, which kills suspense and tension. An action movie isn't better simply because it has more action. It's more effective if the filmmakers have taken the time to create believable characters we care about and know how to tell a story instead of just staging a lot of explosions.



Rufnek makes some excellent and thoughtful points, particularly the observation that yesterday's generation of filmmakers spent a good deal of time learning about life, while today's have spent a good deal of time learning how to make movies.

Yet, I also agree with the general sentiment that you have to judge movies one by one, on their own merits, in the context of their own times. It's interesting to compare, say, the acting, writing and direction of Judgment at Nurenberg with The Reader. But I have to leave the philosophical discussion of whether we can use them to draw broader comparisons about the quality of films of each era to the academics. Even if one side of the argument could be proven to be unequivocably "correct," would that change what I'm watching tonight?

Nope.
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Are the old movies better or worse than the new movies ? Back in the the day a movies special effects were made by hand. Make up, car explosions, buildings falling down, thousands of space ships, storms, etc....all these things had to be done without computers overlaying images. To some people the old movies were classic. To some people the old movies were cheesy. To some people the new movies are awsome with special effects. To some people the new movies are just becoming remakes of the old ones with computer aided graphics because Hollywood is running out of ideas. What do you think ? Are the old movies better or worse than the new movies ?
Many of the older movies, especially the classic movies, are better than much of what's coming out in the way of movies nowadays. Older movies had more style, more substance, more of a plot, and more of a story to tell. Special affects were done by hand, rather than by computer, and the films made prior to 1970 were not photographed with the use of pixels and the use of CGI's, as the newer movies of today are.
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It's not so much about old vs. new as it is that the commercial focus has shifted. Back then there was more of a necessity for great movies, but plenty of worse movies were still being made, and they'd fade into obscurity without big budgets until revivals pertaining to late cast members arise or until they end up on MST3K. Besides, many of the greatest films ever are still being released today. There are four movies I give 100 to in the year 2017 alone, and Soul made my top 50.



*Looks at date of thread creation and date of last thread post prior to today*
WTF? Who resurrected this decade old thread?
*Sees answer*
Oh.
*Reads resurrector’s custom user title*
Accurate.



I am one of those folks that can sit down and enjoy a new film and get just as much enjoyment out of it as an older flick. That said, I prefer to think and talk about the concepts in the older films, as well as the film techniques of yesteryear. Avatar is allegedly a technical marvel in some ways, but I am much more interested in the lighting in The Asphalt Jungle or how they managed to do the mirage in Lawrence of Arabia.

If a film can blend both old and new successfully, it might become a fast favorite. For instance I love film noir and consider the classic noir cycle to be definitive of the genre and in some ways definitive of my taste in general, but Blade Runner is my favorite movie.

I think you will find most folks on this site tend to like good film, and dislike bad - regardless of the period it was made.
Enjoying and watching a new film: Depending on the subject matter, and the way in which a new film is produced, I can and do very occasionally watch a newer film