Friday, December 19, 2008

Another one gone . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

Actor Van Johnson died recently at the age of ninety-two. NINETY-TWO??? Wait, he can't be more than forty, can he? I remember his old movies with actress June Allyson. They were some of my favorites. I still watch them every chance I get.

Truth is, most of the stars of the wonderful forties and fifties movies are now gone. A whole generation passing . . . quickly. And those that are left are practically too old to breathe. But thanks to modern technology, those great old movies are still available to us on DVD, movies on tape having quickly gone the way of the dinosaur just like eight track tape players. Yikes, I can't keep up with the changes in technology. I buy something new, learn how to use it, start using it, and zing, it's gone, replaced by something else new.

Recently I watched part of BLACK WIDOW, a movie I'd somehow missed seeing when it was new and I was young, in the fifties. Picture it, Jean Tierney and Ginger Rogers (retired from dancing but still making movies) in full color, wearing some of the most fabulous gowns I've ever seen. I've gotta order a copy of that movie to watch again (and again.) It's a mystery and my kind of movie.

Also watched THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, a movie we gave our son for last Christmas and borrowed back. The special effects were amazing. What computers can do nowadays to movie scenes blows my mind. And the fact that we are facing an ice/snow storm as I write this blog post does not make me happy. Last year we were trapped at home for several days due to an ice storm. Not as bad as the storm in that movie but still not fun. But I must say, this wasn't my favorite movie of the year. Meaning you REALLY had to suspend disbelief in some areas.

Times they are a'changin'. Not only have most of the old movie stars passed, but the most of the wonderful old movie theaters are gone as well. The beautiful old theater in Metropolis had an unusual rounded roof that collapsed into the building over the years. Plans are to tear it down and make a parking lot. Sigh.

New theaters are now huge buildings with several theaters located inside showing various movies. Movies are still fairly reasonable but the food costs an arm and a leg, and heaven help you if they catch you sneaking in your own snacks.

Thankfully, we can buy movies, or rent them, and watch at home, with our own popcorn and sodas. With the advent of large screen television and remastered movies, it's almost as good as being at the theater. Maybe better with no noisy audience around us. And don't even get me started on the luxury of being able to buy my favorite television series on DVD to watch whenever I want.

I have a cabinet full of old movies, and for me they are sort of a comfort watch. And a history lesson, looking at the clothing and vehicles of that time. Which reminds me, have you ever noticed how you can tell the difference in color of a seventies movie from modern day movies? Of all the differences in modern day technology, I think the making of movies has to be one of the biggest changes. Fascinating to watch.

Anyone got a favorite movie, possibly one you own multiple copies of . . . just in case?


Joyce said...

This time of year, my favorite old movie is "White Christmas." (When my sisters and I get together, we can do a pretty mean rendition of the "Sister" song from the movie.)

Another old movie I love is "Casablanca."

We were supposed to get freezing rain last night here in Pittsburgh, but so far it's just plain old rain. Almost makes me wish for snow--at least snow isn't gray!

Darlene Ryan said...

Miracle on 34th Street--the original with Natalie Wood and in black and white. And this makes my friends shriek in mock horror--or maybe I'm wrong about the mock part--but I've always loved Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I haven't seen it in a very long time and I'd love to see it again.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Joyce, I LOVE White Christmas and that Sisters song. And then Crosby and Kaye doing it while the sisters run away. A true classic.

Darlene, I've missed Santa Claus Conquers the Martians??? I'll have to look that up. Sounds like it might be on par with The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Last year Sams had the colorized version of Miracle on 34th Street with Natalie Wood. I love that and the B&W version.

Julia Buckley said...

I liked Van Johnson in Brigadoon.

But I'm with the Christmas movie ladies--I loved White Christmas, Holiday Inn, actually any movie that Fred Astaire or Danny Kaye were in. And I am a big fan of Doris Day's old movies.

Sandra Parshall said...

I have to confess that I was surprised when I heard about Van Johnson's death, because I thought he was already dead!

Another confession: I don't like Christmas movies. New or old, I try to avoid them all. But I do love many old movies, especially the Hitchcock films, and Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood are the only actors left who can really wow me. Most of the young actors today don't impress me.

melanie said...

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Rex Harrison & Gene Tireney) and His Girl Friday (Cary Grant & Rossalind Russel) are two of my favourites. Oh - and Charade (Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn). Those are movies I watch again and again because I do have copies of them.

I'm 32 but I agree with you about some of these modern movies. The Day After Tomorrow was really too much and my scientist husband was just angry after we watched it. The old movies may not have the special effects but the DIALOGUE is pheonmenal in a lot of them.