Back to Basics

A couple of weeks ago, a co-worker was telling me about a movie she’d recently seen. It was a romantic comedy, but she found it difficult to get involved in the story. I suggested she try some older films and gave her a couple of titles. I started wondering if maybe that’s a good idea in general for us movie fans. Perhaps there are times we think there’s nothing new that we want to see, even though there are dozens and dozens of excellent films released every year. We get cynical and start sounding like Barenaked Ladies song It’s All Been Done.

So during those moods, perhaps we should go back to the beginning – or “the basics.”  Where the movie industry began and gave us early examples of the genres we still love. These days we tend to believe that current movies give us the ultimate experience. Incredible special effects! THX sound! 3-D IMAX presentations! You’ll feel like you’re in the heart of the action! But we should remember that the story is what really keeps us in our seats.

Will the couple get together? Will they stay together?
Will the mystery be solved? Will the cops catch the killer?
Will the good guy win? Will he or she even survive? Will the bad guy pay for his/her crimes?
Will the husband/boyfriend/son/brother come back from the war? Will he adjust to being home?
Will the hero get out of this ridiculous, hilarious situation?

All of these basic themes have been in films from the beginning. To see where your favorite genre started, check out some of these titles.


Romantic Drama

Romantic Comedy




Supernatural Thriller

War and Coming Home

Slapstick/Outrageous Fortune
Almost any movie starring the following people:

So if you think there’s nothing new to see, just remember that everything old is new again. I’m sure you’ll find these films and others from the first decades of Hollywood will remind you of that and even reignite your interest in the current crop of films. In fact, you probably have your own suggestions. Please let me know.


Oh, thank heaven. The New

Oh, thank heaven. The New York Times ran an article the other day about the new crop of violent young movie heroines -- a truly depressing prospect, to my way of thinking. Better we should all watch Barbara Stanwyck and Jean Arthur, both of whom made some interesting (and at times provocative) dramas and tasty romantic comedies. I was glad to see you'd included Ball of Fire, in which Stanwyck loosens up starchy grammarian Gary Cooper, with a little help from an array of character actors (S.Z. Sakall, Henry Travers, Oscar Homolka, Richard Hayden, and various others).

I understand what you mean.

I understand what you mean. We tend to forget that heroines in older movies were pretty tough, sometimes through sheer will. Now that I think about it, was anyone tougher -- or funnier -- than Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday? I should have included that title in my blog. So I will now. 

Thanks for writing!