I take great pleasure in watching old movies on TCM and enjoying movie classics – both ones I have never seen and ones I am revisiting for the first time since I saw them in the 60’s or 70’s. (Note to anyone 40 or below: we did not have rental movies or DVR’s or even videos or YouTube back then as I blogged)
Sometimes even if you appreciated something as a youth, you appreciate nuances of the film so much more as an adult with your mature adult brain and the years of life experience behind you. Then of course, there’s the nostalgia angle – we long for the less complicated time of our youth when we could go to the movies, throw back our heads in laughter and NOT think of the deeper meanings of things.
To give an example of just a few movies I recently watched:
The Graduate. (1967) I saw this as a kid and remember thinking it was a love story. As an adult I have watched it many, many times. In fact, one summer my daughter and I watched it ten times as it played on continuous loop on one of the cable stations. I just watched it the other day and EACH time I see the movie, I get a bit more out of it. It is truly a complex tale with so many psychological things going on with the characters who are excellently acted. Not only that, but I actually enjoy it more each time I see it. I laugh a little louder at the funny parts and study the characters a little deeper in the serious parts. (That’s the amateur psychologist and student of human nature that I am)
To Sir With Love: (1967) This of course was one of my favorite movies when it first came into the theaters in my era of Junior High. I wanted to be a teacher in those days, and I knew of a few rebellious types like the characters in the movie. But the thrill originally for me was the mod London students and Lulu’s singing and watching the teenagers dance to groovy music. Of course I cried back then at the poignancy of the relationship that Sidney Portier developed with his students, but I didn’t appreciate it fully at the time. Watching it recently and having had a stint as a teacher of at-risk students, I had so much more life experience to more deeply understand this story. It made watching it both a relate-able experience, and an emotional one. I truly understood how “Sir” taught his students self-respect – at a time when few educators infused their lessons with any of that. I cried buckets at the end. The nostalgia for those mod-London-hip 60’s days made it enjoyable as well.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
: (1963) I was just a little tyke back then but remember seeing this with my parents and laughing out loud with them. Just about every comedian (and great star like Spencer Tracy and Ethel Merman) of the era was in this film, including comic characters that were lesser known, such as Rochester from the Jack Benny Show and Arnold Stang and Jesse White of the commerical – the latter – Maytag repairman fame. This movie represented broad physical comedy along with slapstick comedy at it’s finest and I of course couldn’t appreciate that as a 6 or 7 year old. This time I drew it all in, and laughed my head off. I was particularly tickled at the broad “beatnik” comedy of Dick Shawn. (who I later enjoyed in re-watching the original “The Producers” movie -see below) who made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes. No, I definitely could not appreciate all of these exaggerated characterizations when I was a little girl. Take a watch now and you will agree with me on this one.
The Producers: (1968) I did not know the concept of Mel Brooks back when I first saw this. My bad. So of course, I could not enjoy it the way I recently did watching it on TCM. As funny as the Broadway show was, as funny as the updated movie might have been, nothing could match this original. Zero Mostel was HILARIOUS, as was Gene Wilder. Dick Shawn as “Hitler” was hilarious too – again playing the exaggerated beatnik character as Hitler. (SIDE NOTE ABOUT DICK SHAWN – I have a tendency to Wiki people in movies and shows that interest me and I looked him up, having enjoyed him so much in two recent movies. It turns out he died of a massive heart attack during a stage performance, and people in the show didn’t believe it was real, and kept laughing as they thought it was part of his act. What a way to go Dick Shawn, RIP)
Any Alfred Hitchcock movie: Anyone needing a lesson on how to make a stylized thriller just need to watch a marathon of these great movies. I appreciate them so much more as an adult.
If you want to spend an enjoyable evening, go back and re-watch some of these great movies from our youth. You will see so much more in all of them, and appreciate them that much more.