Posted by Richard Harland Smith on March 1, 2013
I saw a headline the other day that read “2013 Oscar Contenders!” Not even three months into the year and already that madness is starting. I failed to see any of this year’s Academy Award nominees or winners, so I didn’t have a dog in that fight. Truth be told, I don’t go in much for new movies. Oh, I see them from time to time and even like some, from time to time, but it’s just not as important to me, as it is with my friends, to keep up with the latest from P. T. Anderson or Kathryn Bigelow or I don’t even know who’s hot these days. The older I get, the more I enjoy the company of older movies. I killed Oscar night watching a film from 1975 and it seemed weird to be watching a movie in color, made less than fifty years ago. Because I write about movies, people are always asking me what’s good that’s new or did I see this new movie? And when they tell me I should see this or that new movie, I feel myself want to ask them…
Is there a scene set in a hobo jungle?
Do characters wear tuxedos to a prize fight?
Do they go to the movies and specifically purchase loge seats?
Do all calls go through the switchboard?
Does Clark Gable waste a dude in the men’s room of Madison Square Garden?
Is exposition disseminated via a series of newspaper headlines?
Is Ben Welden’s happiness in inverse proportion to the well-being of the principals?
Is there a line-up? Is there?
Is there any significant action inside a poor man’s club?
Does Thomas E. Jackson play a police detective or city desk editor?
Is there something for Edward Van Sloan?
Does Aline MacMahon steal anybody’s milk?
Is there a prison riot?
Does anybody yell “This is a raid!”?
Do characters wear bowties to do manual labor?
Does Joan Blondell crack wise?
Is there an Ann Dvorak freakout?
Is the passage of time telegraphed via a swirling of a page-a-day wall calendar?
Is there something for Frank Faylen?
Does more than one character wear a newsboy cap?
Does Joe Sawyer have a good laugh at the misfortune of others?
Does Bette Davis play somebody’s girlfriend?
Does James Cagney play somebody’s best friend?
Does Humphrey Bogart wear one of those barber pole neckties that used to upset Hal Wallis?
Is there something for Charles Lane?
Does George Stone have all the angles covered?
Does Loretta Young die in the gutter?
If the answer to more than half of these questions is no, then you can keep your new movies… and you’ll find me in my loge seat.
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