Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Classic Film

There is something really comforting in that old stand by, the classic film. It's that film you have seen a half dozen times at least, or you flip on the TV and there it is and you sit down and watch it even though you have things to do, and before you know it the dishes aren't done and it's past your bedtime.

A bunch of films come to mind- just about anything by Billy Wilder- Sunset Boulevard, or any of his Matthau/Lemon films. Thinking of Walter Matthau takes my mind to Charade, where he is a good bad guy, and Charade lands me on both Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Who is the modern day equivalent of Hepburn and Grant? Julia Roberts and George Clooney? Even as I type those names I think, wha? As they say, they don't make them like that any more.

When I was making Victimless Crimes we worked six-day weeks, except for two days when we transitioned from shooting during the day to three weeks of night shooting. I had a serious head cold and settled down with a bowl of matzo ball soup and flipped on the TV. I had been trying to avoid films because I didn't want to "accidently, " borrow any ideas, but I was tired and had a cold and North by Northwest was just starting so I couldn't help myself. I watched it for probably the 10th time and when we came to the cornfield scene I sat up and noticed, really for the first time, how Hitchcock (will I ever be known as a director by just my last name?) put together the sequence.

I took stumbling on NxNW as a sign from the film Gods, so I began redesigning shots for the next scene we were going to shoot. There are no crop dusters in Victimless Crimes, but I can tell you exactly what shots were influenced by watching a classic film.

And my cold went away. Never deny yourself the chance to re-see a classic film.



John Murray said...

Hitchcock's name is so ubiquitous that some just use the first syllable of his last name.

This post gives good advice. For me, it's Desk Set, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Hitch's first American film Rebecca.

I'd enjoy looking at a "classic" movie list generated by your film students. In music and film sound, I've found a fair amount of discrepancy with the lists of my students, but the dialogue between us is always interesting.

PeterH said...

A classic movie list from my film students would probably include very little (until pushed) pre-Star Wars. Lots of Pulp Fiction, Lots of The Fight Club, The Lord of the Rings, sure.

I'll ask.