The CMBA profiles a member’s classic movie blog each month. This month, we’re featuring Rick Gould of Rick’s Real/Reel Life.
CMBA: What makes a film a “classic” in your opinion?
RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: A classic to me is a film that still has a strong emotional resonance for audiences years or decades later.
CMBA: What genres do you favor?
RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: I like a good comedy, whether it’s smart or silly, as long as it’s imaginatively done. I watched “Moonstruck” recently, after not having seen it for a few years. The film is still one of the smartest, warmest, modern romantic comedies, in my book. All thanks to screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, director Norman Jewison, and that fabulous cast, right down to the bit parts.
I’m always in the mood for a good drama. I discovered the heist noir/race drama “Odds Against Tomorrow” recently. The film came out in ’59, considered one of the last true film noirs (which isn’t my fave genre, btw), and it felt like a realistic snapshot of late ‘50s New York City. Harry Belafonte starred and produced, with Robert Ryan utterly chilling yet pathetic, as the racist villain.
I don’t like horror, but I love suspense, which is why I am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s films. “Rear Window” and “North by Northwest,” I could watch over and over—there’s always some little detail that’s new, or something to savor over and over again. Conversely, I’ve only seen “Psycho” once!
And I love me a good courtroom drama. It’s like curling up with a favorite book, for me. “Anatomy of a Murder” is still terrific, stylish but realistic. I’m not at all prejudiced because the movie is based on a case that took place in Upper Michigan, where I was born and raised. Otto Preminger chose to shoot the entire film on location up here, the first director to do so.
Three of my all-time fave flicks are black comedies: “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” I am also a sucker of the “so bad it’s good” kind of movie, and always wonder, “What were they thinking?!” You can find many of them reviewed on my blog!
CMBA: Why should people care about “old” black and white movies?
RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: They should watch because it’s a look back at a way of life, or of an era’s social attitudes. I’ve always found movies fascinating for that reason. Even if there’s that glossy movie lens on a particular topic, it’s still interesting, sometimes even more so—i.e., how Hollywood often idealized our country, and audiences in turn often wanted to believe what they saw onscreen.
CMBA: What classic films do you recommend to people who may not have seen many older films?
RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: Movies are so subjective, even more so in today’s niche entertainment era. I had skipped many movies in the ’70s and early ’80s, because I was out living it up in my younger days. But when I saw “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Three Days of the Condor” for the first time in recent years, I was amazed at how fresh and modern they still are. And I think that younger audiences would be surprised, too.
As for movies going further back, I think today’s audiences might find themselves pleasantly surprised at the imagination and style of classic films. Like, how utterly delightful Marilyn Monroe was. Or what a stunning, empathetic beauty Elizabeth Taylor was in her youth. They might be shocked that Bette Davis was such a badass. Or see how modern actors like Dana Andrews or William Holden were for their era. Or enjoy the witty movies Billy Wilder made. Or be impressed by what strong, straightforward dramas William Wyler and John Huston directed. Or discover what a naturalistic comedy AND dramatic actor Carole Lombard was in her era. Or raise a collective eyebrow at how risqué pre-code films were. Or be jolted at what a punch some films from previous eras still pack: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “A Face in the Crowd,” “The Days of Wine and Roses,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” This is just for starters, with so much to discover.
CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging for you?
RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: Since I do this for free, positive reinforcement is always nice, I won’t lie!What are really great are the readers, when they share their thoughts or stories about movies. I’ve received some great anecdotes. And heard from folks who used to work in the biz! Why, just the other day, I received a friend request from Mamie Van Doren. Perhaps she was prompted by my Marilyn Monroe post, I have no idea why! But it tickled me, just the same.