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Movies That Age Well...Or Not At All 
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Burning Godzilla
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I was watching the disc extras on my copy of Silence Of The Lambs and the costume designer mentioned that she deliberately went for clothes that were as classic, bordering on anonymous, as possible so that the characters could avoid looking out of date as time went on. It struck me that it's quite an important reason that film is still as fresh today as it was on the day it came out.

In contrast, consider the painfully 1970s sideburns on Antonio, Emperor of Seatopia in the not-quite-immortal Godzilla vs. Megalon, or anything worn by anyone in Deadly Eyes. Quite apart from the killer rats, this story was a nightmare of striped bellbottoms and houndstooth blazers. And do I even need to mention the granny dresses and bishop-sleeved, butterfly-collared shirts we remember so well from Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things?

misty watercolor meeeeemreees...

But there are other reasons a movie does, or doesn't, age well. Timeless outfits are a helpful factor in Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight, but the filmmakers also avoided using too much slang (which instantly dates a movie) and they made a point of using dang fine special effects that look as good now as they did when the movie was released in the early 90s.

Another factor that really counts is good acting. Actors that are a little lame when a new blockbuster comes out look much lamer after a decade or so, when the newness has worn off. Think of the child actors in the Jurassic Park franchise.

What do you notice about a movie that really, really lasts? What makes your cringe about a movie that doesn't?

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Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:52 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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Hmm. Big topic.

It may just be me, but silent film star Louise Brooks looks very modern.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... 17_AL_.jpg

Biggest thing that makes me say "This is out of date": People smoking all the time.

Of course, anything from the 1980's on up is "new" to me anyway, so that's a factor.

Some of the pre-Code stuff from the early 1930's seems more modern than anything from, say, the late 1930's to the early 1960's.

Really old stuff doesn't seem as out of date as moderately old stuff, if you see what I mean. The jazzy music scores of film noirs from the 1940's, for example, sounds a lot more timeless than the stuff in early rock 'n' roll musicals.

This is all very subjective.

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Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:37 pm
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The Police Academy movies didn't age well in the sense that I found them funny as a child, and then watched part 4 again when I was 22 and wondered how I could have found something so stupid to be funny.

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Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:58 pm
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Timelessness is certainly objective. Historical dramas and fantasy movies, especially those that stick to some basic traditions, have something of an advantage over dramas set in a "contemporary" time. I have a feeling the Lord of the Rings trilogy will stay fresh for awhile. Still, I cannot much watch the fantasy Ladyhawk because of the conscious choice to have the Alan Parsons Project compose the film score....even when the movie was released, folks were right to criticize that "bold" decision.

I have recently started to re-watch the Republic serial, Commando Cody and Radar Men From the Moon. There is a sea of anachronisms and terrible science in that serial, but even amid all the dreck, the set designs and clothing (not the costumes, mind you. The regular dress) are either somewhat steam punk or are just good looking clothes. It does not strike me as being dated in any sense that affects its quality.

Science Fiction, on the other hand, can really get dated. Logan's Run is mind-boggling in its disco 70s look. So is the laughable Saturn 3. (Both featuring Farrah Fawcett. Coincidence?!) As goos as it is, the 70s Invasion of the Body Snatchers has a pretty strong whiff of 70s styles and its hip trendy reliance on bullcrap psychoanalysis - The I'm OK, You're OK nuttiness Leonard Nimoy spouts. There is a strong element of datedness in 2001: A Space Odyssey and in A Clockwork Orange in terms of clothing and set designs. It does nothing to affect their power as movies, but for my money, Kubrick's least dated-looking works are Dr. Strangelove and The Killing. The Shining manages, but barely.

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Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:15 pm
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I'd say Alien, due to the industrial-fused-with-futuristic production design of the ship and costumes. That interstellar refinery would be at home in any age.

I can come up with faaaaaaar more examples of the opposite.

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Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:53 pm
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Charnelhouse wrote:
I can come up with faaaaaaar more examples of the opposite.


As can we all, my friend. As can we all.

One factor that always confounds me is the attempt to make a movie hark back to an earlier era or anticipate the future. Reconstituted noir released in the 1990s, a movie that was clearly made in the 1970s but was set in the 1950s, a movie made in 1965 that is supposed to be happening in the unimaginably distant year 2000. The filmmakers generally mishandle that.

One movie that never ages for me is Angel Heart, because for once someone DIDN'T mishandle it. Even though the movie is set in the 1950s, the filmmakers didn't make the usual mistake of saying, well, this is set in 1956, so every car, household appliance, slang expression and pair of shoes is going to be something people were seeing in the newspapers in that year. Hardly anyone in this movie has a new car, so the street looks like a typical range of people are parking their vehicles there. Only a few people are wearing the latest thing, and they're not only in trendy poodle skirts; they wear all the different outfits you'd expect on a real street, like pedal pushers with high heels and a long ponytail next to a 1940s fedora and trenchcoat ensemble, and next to them one of those lumpy dress-and-overcoat-with-a-frumptacular-hat looks ladies wore in the '30s. Similarly, not all the buildings look as if they were built, or even freshly repainted, in 1956; some are much older and rattier. That keeps a film from ageing. Somehow, I am more willing to accept the wrongness of the sets when the movie comes out, and with successive viewings I see more and more of those flaws.

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Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:12 pm
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Bergerjacques wrote:
Science Fiction, on the other hand, can really get dated.

I suspect the chief reason for that is that the production designers so often just extrapolate the trendlines of their own era out to the temporal horizon. So "Star Trek" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1967, Glen Larson's "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1979, and so forth.

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Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:23 pm
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Victoria Silverwolf wrote:
Biggest thing that makes me say "This is out of date": People smoking all the time...


Yes! Jaws has aged excellently, except for that moment when we see Murray Hamilton smoking. In a hospital. And nobody even mentions it.

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Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:52 pm
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El Santo wrote:
Bergerjacques wrote:
Science Fiction, on the other hand, can really get dated.

I suspect the chief reason for that is that the production designers so often just extrapolate the trendlines of their own era out to the temporal horizon. So "Star Trek" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1967, Glen Larson's "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1979, and so forth.


Star Wars has managed to avoid feeling dated from its beginning to its current iteration.

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Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:41 pm
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Bergerjacques wrote:
Star Wars has managed to avoid feeling dated from its beginning to its current iteration.

But it has definitely not managed to make the prequels look like they come before the original trilogy.

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Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:30 pm
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Bergerjacques wrote:
El Santo wrote:
Bergerjacques wrote:
Science Fiction, on the other hand, can really get dated.

I suspect the chief reason for that is that the production designers so often just extrapolate the trendlines of their own era out to the temporal horizon. So "Star Trek" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1967, Glen Larson's "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1979, and so forth.


Star Wars has managed to avoid feeling dated from its beginning to its current iteration.

Star Wars is also a conspicuous exception to that "extrapolate to the horizon" principle. Its only obvious link to the fashions of the late 70's is Luke's shaggy, amorphous haircut.

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Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:23 pm
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El Santo wrote:
Bergerjacques wrote:
Science Fiction, on the other hand, can really get dated.

I suspect the chief reason for that is that the production designers so often just extrapolate the trendlines of their own era out to the temporal horizon. So "Star Trek" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1967, Glen Larson's "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" imagines a future that keeps looking more and more like 1979, and so forth.


It went further than that. I've read the guidelines the ST:TOS producers gave to prospective writers explicitly instructed them to write characters as contemporary people rather than extrapolating what they'd be like 300 years into the future. Hollywood experience told them audiences needed to connect with characters more like them. So even though Roddenberry suggested progression - Uhura on the bridge, an alien first officer - we were looking at 'modern man transported into the future.' Women still needed 'protecting' and were never shown in command, and Kirk's solutions more times than not were steeped in 'The American Way.'

ST:TNG was a lot better about extrapolating - their characters were part of a explorational culture that no longer needed money or material wealth. Women, minorities and aliens could command vessels. The Prime Directive was far more important.

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Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:29 pm
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You know, it struck me that two of the best movies that never age are Jaws and John Carpenter's The Thing.

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Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:34 pm
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The 70s James Brolin film The Car holds up really well.

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Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:15 pm
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Huh. I haven't seen that one since it first came out. Gotta look into that!

I cannot make another post so soon after my last.

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Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:28 pm
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