Now there’s Netflix and Amazon Prime, Hulu and On Demand. There’s streaming and downloading. There’s a smart TV or a dumb one – which if it’s dumb renders most of the above options useless. Oh, and what’s a Fire Stick? There’s the DVD player, Blu-ray player, Xbox, and laptop. There’s DVR. There’s even YouTube. But, above all, there’s the knowledge that being what you are – an Old Hollywood film buff – you’ll likely be chasing down obscure movies, that can only be watched on obscure TV channels, and at obscure hours, or alternatively, you’ll wind up dancing around media devices in your living room like a loon-lady. “Maybe if I plug in this, and what’s the password for that?” I have often felt like a little kid playing Operation. ZAP!!!
Being an Old Hollywood film buff isn't easy. It requires patience, resourcefulness – and sometimes a sense of humor. I once set my alarm for a 3am showing of “The End of the Affair” (1955). I once tried to watch the enchanting black and white horror film “The Innocents” (1961) at my sister’s house, with her feisty robo Alexa continually misspelling it as “Innocence” as she joined us in our quest to reach old movie heaven – or hell – on a random Saturday night. “How my night has devolved into chaos!” Being an Old Hollywood film buff is downright tough. And trying to share my passion with loved ones is even tougher. I swear that the far-off world I am endeavoring to show my family and friends is beautiful, rich – and worthwhile to see. If only we could get there. Old movies are a glitzy, dusty, breathtaking gateway to our parents’, grandparents’, and even our great-grandparents’ generation. There is not only aesthetic beauty, but value that can be gleaned from seeing how our physical world and collective psyche used to be. All of this amazing historical culture is reflected through film.
What were the dreams of our grandparents? Cue “traditional mom and pop family” movie theme. How did they envision the year 2001, for instance? Cue “magically imposing space odyssey.” And how has the world changed since 1940s World War II? What were our hopes and fears back then – and do any of those same rainbows and shadows still exist today? Or have we slayed some dragons? I hope so. Then technically speaking, what’s CinemaScope film? And Technicolor? There have been so many changes to even the art of filmmaking. Even Old Hollywood moviemaking is now a far-off world. I remember the night I woke up for “The End of the Affair” (1955) at 3am. It was the middle of winter – and so I slipped into my thick pastel-blue robe before cozying up on my couch. As I watched this sweetly sad black and white romance film unfold, I not once yawned or regretted my decision to be a night-owl. Instead, I was there in early 1940s London – the film’s setting. There was Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson working through their tender, tortured emotions. I felt such compassion for these two lovebirds, meanwhile I marveled at how exciting a romance movie could be without all the trappings of a modern-day love flick. There was no nudity, no salacious kisses. We all know the prudish qualities given to Old Hollywood romance movies. Still, this movie was hot. I said it. This movie was a big old lava-filled volcano. Think “Passion” – with a capital P. This film lit up the screen with comparatively little. It had two people, two colors – and a romance that sizzled even as it made you cry.
Now incidentally that’s exactly how I feel about being an Old Hollywood film buff. Sometimes just trying to watch an old movie makes me cry. My sister and I never made it to watching “The Innocents” (1961) as it wasn’t available on any of her streaming subscriptions – which we tried on her TV, then my nephew's Xbox, and finally his laptop. Blast! What a hard-to-find movie. I think I’ll have to purchase the Blu-ray. All I remember from that night was me sadly muttering – “What’s a Fire Stick again?” Tears roll down, undoubtedly in black and white.