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Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light

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Mark Suszko
Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Sep 28, 2018 at 2:29:51 pm

Molly Ringwald's talked about what time has done to her and John Hughes' oeuvre. You can point to a lot of films from the 70's and 80's and what was just funny or unimportant then, can seem horrific now, with a new consciousness rising.

Just to pick one movie at random; "Revenge Of The Nerds"... the lovable protagonists in that simple comedy would STILL be in jail for the various sex crimes committed in the course of the plot. But they're the heroes.

Okay, it's make-believe, fantasy, suspension of disbelief, etc. etc. I get it.

I guess my question is; how do we look back at these films now? Do we shrug them off as simply artifacts of a less-advanced cultural period? Do they get a pass for the circumstances and time they were made in? Do we lump John Hughes in with Riefenstahl and Griffith? In film classes, we still study Triumph Of The Will and Birth Of A Nation. We can perhaps dispassionately dissect them in the context of their historical significance in the evolution of film, for their breakthrough techniques as art, while still abhorring and repudiating their messages. And perhaps we need to, to build an understanding of the medium and how it can be put to use for good or ill. It may be a worse thing to just ignore them entirely and pretend they didn't happen.

Revenge Of The Nerds or Sixteen Candles or Breakfast At Tiffany's are not on the same scale as BOAN. But they may be in the same neighborhood, maybe? What do you think?

I love Laurel and Hardy... but then I came across an extended bit where they perform in blackface, and while I try to keep in mind the context, and their apparent intent at the time, which was not focused on race but on creating a comedic quandary - it's still hard to watch, much less enjoy.

Do you have an old movie you used to love, but now feel squeamish about, because of the evolution of our culture?
Have you re-visited one of these movies recently, and how did you feel upon re-watching it?


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Mike Cohen
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Sep 28, 2018 at 3:05:13 pm

Is 2001 considered old? It is 50 years old so based on the fact that Hartford's oldies radio station plays 80s music I think it counts.

I have seen 2001 probably a dozen times on TV, DVD and blu-ray. I recently saw it in IMAX and aside from the few 1960s pop culture references (Pan Am, Howard Johnson) it could have been made in 2018. The story, dialogue, acting style, depiction of technology and attempt at realism are still unmatched by many current science-fiction movies. I think the movie holds up, but I would be curious to hear what people under 25 think about the movie - can they watch it as a film or do they look at it through the lens of film history?

I recently watched Citizen Kane. That is a movie that may be seen by younger people as hokey, but I believe it too stands the test of time in its intent, the attempt to make commentary on a political / journalism motif of its day and the artistry of filmmaking itself that has influenced many films up to the present.

Both of these films I mention are of course drama and not in the same category as 1980s teen comedies.

My wife is a big fan of 16 Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the Breakfast Club, Fast Times and Ridgemont High and the other movies of that era. I think The Breakfast Club holds up 30+ years later - teens still are separated into cliques in school and there is bullying and other social situations that would normally prevent a jock, a nerd, a princess, a stoner and others from spending any time together. perhaps high school has changed, but it probably hasn't. I have watched some recent high school oriented shows such as 13 Reasons Why and it seems things are about the same. I know when I was in school, aside from classes, I had almost no interaction with jocks, stoners or princesses. I was a nerd and so were my friends.

I recently watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High and aside from feeling like I took a time machine back to 1982, for me the movie does not hold up for modern audiences. It is hokey and only useful as a look back in time.

Another 80s movie from the same era is Risky Business. That movie had some very adult situations for a movie starring teens and is in a different class. Other that making Tom Cruise a big star, the movie holds up as not only a coming of age story, but one in which acting like an adult has consequences for the protagonist. Most 80s movies have a coming of age element, but they usually culminate with getting asked to the prom or skipping school - innocuous moments in comparison.

How do younger people view these movies? If you know any younger people please ask them!

Mike


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Mark Suszko
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Sep 28, 2018 at 3:27:58 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Sep 28, 2018 at 3:28:36 pm

A common theme in this kind of discussion is that the films were merely a reflection of the culture at the time. Well, I think that's partly true, but not the whole story; films are a business, and the studios were interested in making a product that would be a commercial success. In terms of chicken and egg, did the films only promote and reflect the already-established cultural norms of that era, or were they reacting to them?

And we have to stipulate that some films in that era may have shown abhorrent themes and scenes as direct social commentary, even satire. Robocop, for example.

Back to one of my initial questions: name a film you used to like from the 70's or 80's that just makes you squirm now, because we see things so differently. Is that movie in any way redeemable?

"Short Circuit" was such for me. Fisher Stevens' portrayal in that was as racist as Mickey Rooney's Japanese character in Tiffany's.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Sep 28, 2018 at 6:40:00 pm

I feel like we can have two themes here:

1. Does an "old and outdated" film make you squirm now because it simply just doesn't hold up?
2. Does an "old and outdated" film make you squirm now because of the way we view "political correctness" which makes the film inappropriate?

I personally believe most people don't ever watch films created before they were born. And becomes of that I think a persons age is the benchmark for what is "old and outdated" for most people. I grew up in the 80s and have been really enjoying the TV show The Goldbergs since it takes place in the 80's and has lots of nostalgia for me. Nostalgia is really popular right now.

As for 2001 Space Odesy. I couldn't stand the film. It was sooooooooo slooooooooooow. I watched the whole film in fast forward and it was still too slow. I sware the Ape scene at the start is 20 minutes long. The film reminded me of Independence Day. When I watched that film in the theater it was the coolest film I have ever seen in my life. When we purchased it on VHS and I watched it the 2nd time I didn't care for it. What changed? The first time I was blown away by the incredible visual effects. The 2nd time I watch the film I have already seen the visual effects and was now only focusing on the story. Space Odesy has cool visuals that still hold up today but has terrible pacing.

Speaking of pacing. To me, that is one thing that has really change in storytelling. I remember an episode of Leave it To Beaver and they showed an establishing shot of the home. Then an establishing shot of the school. And the show bounced back and forth between the two locations several times during the episode reshowing the establishing shot each time. You would never see that today. For me the thing that makes a "classic" film feel dated is the pacing and sometimes terrible special effects.

I've really been enjoying introducing my kids to some of my favorite films as a youth.

Here are my thoughts for things that might have been okay and are now no longer politically correct. In general Hollywood has always been pushing the "immoral" boundaries. It feels like every year films have more nudity, violence, and bad language. My point is I don't think Hollywood should be considered the moral compass. How many films such as Indian Jones, Zoro and more do we have the good guy forcing himself on a woman? And in those two examples, the good guy is presented as awesome while doing it. No wonder Hollywood has serious issues with sexual harassment, assault and even with child sex abuse. Please don't get me wrong. Hollywood makes incredible films that have entertained and given people a better worldview. Not sure if my wondering thoughts make any sense but this really is a loaded topic depending on how you view the question.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Chris Wright
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Sep 30, 2018 at 1:21:57 am

I've also noticed a lot of films have started to become cringe worthy as well. james bond in particular. you have to put your suspension of disbelief into high gear and add in a dash of anti-chauvinistic pepper to cover the blandness of being of out touch with modern society.

james bond is deep in this predicament. also, so are horror films. how many have a female Jason slasher character. or in thrillers, how many have a female holding men hostage. strong female characters should not become mary sues to compensate for switching roles around and neither men becoming useless. the best way to move forward is to respect the character's flaws and attributes beyond old film roles so that either could play the same part in a script. In the force awakens, poe almost was a certain role and then they switched him out of fear in the last jedi. will james bond ever be a girl? doctor who is.

some arguments about motherly instinct for certain roles will certainly play out in many scenarios. public opinion about female soldiers still hasn't reached maturity even in the real world with the army just starting to admit then to infantry positions. movies can't become mainstream until society does; as movies need to please the majority of film-goers to make a profit.


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Bob Cole
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 23, 2018 at 11:11:59 pm

I enjoyed the prom dance scene from Back to the Future. But the last time I watched it, I was struck by the big joke that Marty introduced Johnny B. Goode to Chuck Berry (via Berry's brother).

"White Teen Teaches Black Musical Icon how to rock and roll."

I know there is no logic to anything involving time travel. The counter-argument is that Marty was just repeating what Chuck Berry had already recorded - but of course, if Marty had time-traveled, then Chuck Berry COULD have learned it from Marty, even though... The whole time travel thing gets very stupid very quickly and I still enjoyed the scene a lot. But I wonder whether a studio would approve such a scene today.

Bob C


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 24, 2018 at 7:10:53 pm

I've never seen Blazing Saddles, but was shown a clip the other day and yikes. That would never fly today but yet this is a beloved film. Of course Mel Brookes said this film could never get made today: https://www.thedailybeast.com/mel-brooks-looks-back-blazing-saddles-could-n...

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 24, 2018 at 7:46:15 pm

I think "Blazing Saddles" as a specific example may be an outlier here, because the jokes in that movie require context to work correctly, as intended, and if you hadn't seen the entire movie, yes, you would get a very wrong impression from seeing just one joke or gag excerpted from it. The entire premise of the film is that it's a take-down of racism, mocking the stupidity of racists and their belief systems. And a more effective film for that would be hard to find, especially one that uses satire. That was also the premise behind The Producers: you attack Nazism and Fascism by skewering it, making it ridiculous.

If you've only ever seen the WGN broadcast TV edit of "Blazing Saddles", you haven't seen the movie. Not really.


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Bob Cole
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 2:17:51 am

There's another issue: A lot of movies allude to then-current concepts, celebrities, or events - and newer audiences simply don't have a clue what they're talking about. Sometimes it doesn't matter, but often the debt to external sources "doesn't get paid" because the reference falls flat.

Great essay by John McPhee about this, called "Frame of Reference," in the New Yorker in 2015. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/09/frame-of-reference-john-mcphe...

Bob C


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 3:25:09 pm

Are you guys saying if Blazing Saddles was never made and Mel Brookes made it today it would still get made today just like it was?

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Scott Roberts
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 3:30:23 pm

[Stephen Smith] "Are you guys saying if Blazing Saddles was never made and Mel Brookes made it today it would still get made today just like it was?"

I'm assuming that you haven't seen Django Unchained then... ☺

This was a super interesting thread, by the way!


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 3:38:51 pm

Scott, I guess both Mel Brooks and I disagree with you: https://www.thedailybeast.com/mel-brooks-looks-back-blazing-saddles-could-n...

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Scott Roberts
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:01:01 pm

That seems to be a change in tune from 2013/2014 when he said he wanted to make a Blazing Saddles musical (while jokingly referencing Django Unchained):

http://www.mandatory.com/fun/203069-mel-brooks-says-django-unchained-cleare...

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Mel-Brooks-Says-BLAZING-SADDLES-Will-...


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 5:48:07 pm

My article was from 2016. Here is another article where he basically says the same thing again in 2017 and the article says it is from a recent interview. https://www.avclub.com/mel-brooks-says-he-couldnt-have-made-blazing-saddles... He said this, "It’s also a work full of elements that can make it hard for modern audiences to fully embrace it, thanks to the numerous racial slurs in the script, and jokes that not only mock, but occasionally invoke, harmful stereotypes. According to Brooks, it’s a film that would be impossible to make today, thanks to what he called our current “stupidly politically correct” society in a recent interview with BBC Radio 4."

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Bob Cole
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 8:16:34 pm

Okay... OT, and treading on semi-dangerous ground here, but here goes. Which of the "GREAT MOVIES" do you now consider not-so-great? I'm not talking about racism, or political correctness. Just plain "good movie."

I was taught, and I believed, that certain films were "great." But I have to admit that I rarely watch them. OTOH, whenever "Dumb and Dumber" or "Animal House" or "Airplane" are on a random tv screen, I stop in my tracks, at least for a few minutes.

When I force myself to watch a "Great Film," I enjoy it and appreciate it. But it is a bit like medicine. Good for you, not what you would really choose if no one were around to see you.

I don't think we have anything close to the "Great Films" list yet. Film is a bawling baby among the art forms. And I don't have, any more, a list of "Great Films" which I could honestly say I love in their entirety. But I could, with some effort, create a list of "great scenes" from a whole, unlikely list of films, some but not all of which are the "Great Films" list as well.

Bob C


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Mark Suszko
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 9:59:33 pm

As far as "great" films that didn't move my needle, I recently watched the original Antonioni film "Blow-Up". I got frustrated by the lyrical pacing (by today's standards) but also because the plot seemed to spend so much time setting up so much, story-wise, but it never paid off. It's a film that's all first-reel, first act stuff, and no real denouement. For me, anyhow. You're supposed to just enjoy it for the setting and camerawork, I guess. Plot-wise, I found it weak.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 11:32:19 pm
Last Edited By Scott Roberts on Oct 25, 2018 at 11:38:32 pm

[Stephen Smith] "My article was from 2016."

Right, that's why I said he must have changed his tune from 2014 when he was very gung-ho about making a Blazing Saddles musical. Political correct culture must have swayed him otherwise at some point in the last 5 years?

And I don't think it's that he *couldn't* make Blazing Saddles in 2018, I think it's that he doesn't *want* to deal with making it. However, there are still very un-politically correct comedy TV shows that are successful right now (South Park, Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and they do their offensive humor in a clever, satirical way that people (who can handle it) love. Those are done in a funny, smart way. I think something like Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman (which came out this year) is a good example of a smart comedy that tackles race issues, that "softer" audiences might not be able to handle (though it was a moderate box office hit). And again, in the right context, something like Django Unchained proved you can use the N-word in a modern script (many times) and have it work. In context. (Django was a huge box office hit) Get Out would probably be another good example to mention.

On the flip side of quality, I could argue that most crappy, new Adam Sandler movies (including *his* western comedy The Ridiculous Six) are FULL of offensive stereotypes and homophobic/insensitive/crude/racist humor that no one cares about because the target audience for them probably don't really care. And the politically correct people who would complain about it don't really watch dumb Adam Sandler movies.

So... do I think that a random nobody director could make Blazing Saddles in 2018? Probably not, no studio would take the risk. Could comedy legend Mel Brooks make something like Blazing Saddles in 2018 if he really wanted to? Yeah, I bet he could, and (many) people would find it hilarious. And many other people would find it very offensive and write think-pieces about it. That's how things work now.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 25, 2018 at 11:40:05 pm

But who says it would have to be re-made for movie theatres today? Netflix or Amazon would fight a death match to get the rights to that property.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 29, 2018 at 3:47:30 pm

In regards to which of the "GREAT MOVIES" do you now consider not-so-great? Here is my list that Mel Brooks would also agree with me on...but unfortunately I can't prove it this time ☺

I think Batman falls in this camp. As a kid I think Batman with Michael Keaton was a loved film. It went downhill from there and Batman 4 clearly had something to do with the franchise ending I imagine. Does this mean Batman 1 was a bad film? No, but when Christopher Nolen introduced us to Batman Begins I feel he elevated the franchise so high it made the other Batman films not as great as they where. And don't get me wrong. Batman 4 was never great.



Another film I loved as a kid was Rocky 4. USA Versus USSR was a big thing when I was growing up and there wasn't any bigger enemy than the Russians. I wanted to introduce my wife to the film a few years ago and she hated it. Viewing it from adult eyes it really wasn't that good of a film.

I've been introducing my kids to films I've grown up with and I think in general a lot of the 80s classics I loved still hold up as I remember them. I think it has a lot to do with particle effects versus computer graphics. Have you watched Star Wars 1 The Phantom Menace recently? Wow, the computer graphics look really dated and bad in some places. Whereas Star Wars a New Hope I think still holds up really well.

I've found this to be a really hard question since I thought I would be able to list a lot more films.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

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Mark Suszko
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 29, 2018 at 4:03:54 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Oct 29, 2018 at 4:04:16 pm

It's never been about the quality of the effects. They elevate good material, but they can't save bad material. if the script and acting and everything else is good, the audience overlooks the FX.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 29, 2018 at 4:18:55 pm

Mark, I agree 100%. But I think there are exceptions to that. Sort of. When I first watched Independence Day I was blown away and loved the film. When we purchased it on VHS and I watched it for the 2nd time I was no longer focusing on how amazing the VFX where and how they did all sorts of crazy cool visual effects. The 2nd viewing I was just looking at the overall story. Which really isn't very good.

The same thing happened with Avatar for me. It was the first film to really utilize 3D. It was insane. The 3D had infinite layers of depth. I was blown away at how cool the 3D was and gave a pass to the overall story which I personally think is lame. If 3D was commonplace, which it is now I would have never paid to see the film in the theater.

As for movies like Tron, I just can't watch it today.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Bob Cole
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 29, 2018 at 4:22:53 pm

re "Great Films" that you no longer consider great: I didn't see your list in your post.

Maybe I should have said "Great Films that I don't honestly enjoy watching." It's like going to a Shakespeare play: I am not eager to do it, though I know that it's great.

Great Films that I still actually enjoy, from start to finish? Hard to say: I haven't watched any of them lately! Hmmm. Wonder why? I'm guessing: Rules of the Game, Stagecoach, The Searchers, Citizen Kane, Some Like It Hot, Olivier's Henry the 5th, Frenzy. But that list could get bigger if someone here clues me into another one - and the list could shrink if I actually re-watched any on my list.

Mediocre Films that have incredible moments? Tons of them. Check out 13 Rue Madeleine!

Bob C


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Stephen Smith
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Oct 29, 2018 at 4:28:41 pm

Films I would add to Great Films that I still actually enjoy, from start to finish would be Charade, North by Northwest and Dr. Stangelove. I've seen them somewhat recently and I would say they all still hold up.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Michael Haley
Re: Loved then, loathed now: 70's and 80's movies seen in today's light
on Dec 14, 2018 at 12:32:08 am

As far as old movies go, I am fascinated by the Dollars Trilogy- "A Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More" & "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ". The storytelling, action, drama, twist & conclusion there are far better than most modern films. And, the music tracks are beyond any compliment. I have watched all of them multiple times which I can't say for any recent films except for a few. Still today, every time those music hit I get goosebumps.


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