Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Don't be deeply vexed...

...but there's no episode of Best Pictures From the Outside In tomorrow. We know you were ready to pump your fists for all that mansweat on the high seas (Mutiny on the Bounty) and in coliseums (Gladiator) but you'll have to wait. We don't want to risk too much in the way of your collective imperial wrath so Nick, Mike and I will work valiantly to bring you two episodes within the next 7 days so we can get back on track. By next Wednesday we'll have relived Gladiator, American Beauty, Mutiny on the Bounty and The Great Ziegfeld.

I on the other hand am deeply vexed. In my Film Experience bubble I sometime forget that the vast majority of peoples don't know anything about movies and don't care very much about them beyond maybe how awesome Batman is or how good two hours of air conditioning can feel in the summer whilst watching things blow up. I was telling a new co-worker a funny story about watching It Happened One Night (prev post) on the train on the way to DC last week and she became so distracted by what I was watching that she missed the whole story. Her face just went blank.

"It Happened One What?
"From the 1930s !?!?!?"
"You mean, like, a black and white movie?"

This wasn't even the point of the story (which was about some stranger watching the entire thing over my shoulder) but the movie itself made this into the most bizarre story she'd heard. Every muscle in her normally animated face seemed to grow quiet with the unasked question 'Who rents seventy-five year old black & white movies?'. We get along great but at that moment I swear she thought I was from another planet.

To further burst my cinephile bubble, I was trying to rent Mutiny on the Bounty here in DC (Netflix was having problems) and I can share with you that none of the highly skilled workers at DC area Blockbusters had ever heard of it. Two of them even asked me to spell "Mutiny".

What a world.


Anonymous said...

Mutiny on the Bounty? Blockbuster? I guess even the Marlon Brando version would be considered old-timey for some people.

Hope you have time to visit the National Gallery while in D.C. Meanwhile, here in Denver I get amused seeing the preparations for the DNC and outside events.

Tonio Kruger said...

"Who rents seventy-five year old black & white movies?"

Er, I do. Of course, I usually have to go to the local library or indy video store to do so, but I usually find it more worthwhile than renting the usual "new release" on Blockbuster.

And to think there was a time when I was very young when I would try to deliberately avoid black-and-white episodes of certain TV shows...

What a world, indeed.

elgringo said...

I used to work at Hollywood Video. It's really hard being the only person working at a movie store that knows anything about movies. Really, really hard.

There's no talking about movies with your co-workers. ALL the customer questions get forwarded to you. That's fine, except that the majority of the customers want to know which is better: Dumb & Dumber or Dumb & Dumberer.

J. Ro. said...

Come work with me, Nathaniel! Then we can talk bout Claudette Colbert and raw carrots all day looong! And so what's the funny story?

J. Ro. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ctrout said...

I remember going into a Blockbuster back at the beginning of the decade (it was the first time I'd ever been in one) and wanting to buy or rent some movie that I thought might be letterboxed, but I wasn't sure. I asked one of the clerks if she happened to know the aspect ratio of whatever movie I wanted and she looked at me blankly. I repeated the question and she said, "Is that, like, a movie?"

That was the first and the last time I went into a Blockbuster.

Anonymous said...

I taught a class where I used bits of films to illustrate points of the course's (admittedly dull) subject matter. My feedback was that if I showed another bit of black and white movie or movie with subtitles, they'd leave. (So I moved on to the classic 1950s Westerns).

But you know, I was surprised by the freshness of their responses to the B&W material. They weren't expecting much and thinking of it as boring school stuff, so ironically they had no received opinion. There were tears in their eyes at the end of Chaplin's "City Lights" (actually they were shocked by the depth of emotion in it), they were angry at the social iniquities shown in Jean Renoir.

So the old stuff still reaches people WHEN they see it. It's not that they are immune to it - although yeah, they still think it's weird, but it's kind of like the first time you see "Metropolis" or Max Schrek as the vampire. "Other", not yours, but can't forget.


J.Ro. when do i start? and do you offer medical and dental plus 401K... cuz if i can get all that talking about Claudette Colbert, I'm TOTALLY there.

theduckthief said...

I watch 75 year old movies all the time. The majority of the time they're much better than what's in theatres.

It's frustrating sometimes though because most people I know have never seen a black and white movie. I can imagine silent movies would create a similar response.

I haven't seen the Brando version of "Mutiny" but I have to believe that the Gable version is superior simply for the fact that Charles Laughton is in it.