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RedRiver
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Re: LISTS

Postby RedRiver » June 1st, 2014, 4:41 pm

The 1960s. The culture changed. Music changed. Promising leaders were taken from us. And the era of classic movies came to a crashing end. Never again (so far) would the quality of American cinema be as consistently entertaining as it had previously been. Films of this decade initiated changes in technique, style and content. Most of it detrimental! The film industry has not yet recovered.

Nonetheless, there were some great ones in this, as in all decades. The best movies of the 60s are just about as good as any others. In order of my preference, and with the assistance of Wikipedia...

THE APARTMENT. One of the great comedies. One of the great dramas. Billy Wilder's finest film.
THE GRADUATE. The ultimate 60s groundbreaker. As effective today as then.
THE HUSTLER. Grim, tense and disturbing. What fun!
CAPE FEAR. If there's a more suspenseful thriller, I don't know it. That's why I rate it even ahead of...
PSYCHO. I assume you're familiar with this one!
DR. STRANGELOVE. Darkest of dark comedy, but so silly you can't get too depressed!
ADVISE AND CONSENT. Shocking in its time; still incredibly well structured drama.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Straightforward telling of one of our great stories.
BONNIE AND CLYDE. Stylized violence has never been done more effectively.
REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT. Small, heartfelt and human. Less is more.

With a tip of the popcorn box to some slightly lesser entries that won my heart!

DR. NO. Most grounded of the Bond adventures. One of the best action films of all.
TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN. Woody Allen's first and funniest effort.
WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? Almost unbearably intense filming of Albee's wonderful play.
ELMER GANTRY. Who says classic drama can't be colorful?

I'm prepared for hate mail from fans of "Liberty Valance". That's simply not one of my favorite Ford films. If it helps, that would be next on my list!

kingrat
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Re: LISTS

Postby kingrat » June 3rd, 2014, 1:29 pm

Thanks for joining the party, Red. We're on the same page about what happens in the 1970s.

ChiO, were your 1960 favorites changed by any of the movies you saw in San Francisco? I appreciate that you're now undergoing major film noir withdrawal syndrome.

As if 1962 needed another outstanding film, Lisa has just bumped David and Lisa from my forthcoming top 10 for that year. 1962 should Lend-Lease some of its great movies to the less fortunate years on either side of it. Those lists will be forthcoming, too.

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ChiO
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Re: LISTS

Postby ChiO » June 4th, 2014, 8:33 pm

1960 is a tough one for me. Lots of non-English language films that are top-notch, but relatively few English language movies really grabbed me. But here goes:

1960

1. PEEPING TOM (Michael Powell) - The travails of an artist trying to achieve perfection, but failing and being rejected. Did Powell know in his heart how this film would be received? A work of genius. And Art, ultimately, does triumph.

2. THE SAVAGE EYE (Ben Maddow/Sidney Meyers/JosephStrick) - When I saw this for the first time a few years ago, I exclaimed: "This is it! This is it! The movie that I want my movie to look like!"

3. THE HYPNOTIC EYE (George Blair) - The first time I saw it, I loved it. Seeing it at the Roxie last week, I decided I was right the first time.

4. THE SINISTER URGE (Edward D. Wood, Jr.) - "Pornography is a nasty word for a dirty business." Thank you, auteur Wood, for letting us in on it.

5. THE SAVAGE INNOCENTS (Nicholas Ray) - Ray moves his Melodrama to the Arctic. I gladly follow.

6. THE RISE AND FALL OF LEGS DIAMOND (Budd Boetticher) - I liked it before. At the Roxie, it got much better.

7. THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Roger Corman) - Corman at his goofiest. And was Jack Nicholson, before he became Jack Nicholson, ever better? "Feed me!"

8. EXODUS (Otto Preminger) - I know, Mr. Sahl: "Otto! Let my people go!" But it's one of the few Epics that I enjoy with each viewing. Bonus points to Preminger for giving Dalton Trumbo a screen credit.

9. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (Wolf Rilla) - Those damned kids scared me then and they scare me now.

10. ELMER GANTRY (Richard Brooks) - Burt Lancaster chews the scenery, but that's okay when John Alton is shooting it.

I feel compelled to explain - not justify - my exclusion of the top pick on the other two 1960 lists. Admittedly, there may be a tad bit of an over-reaction to the acclaim that movie received upon its later release compared to the near destruction of a career my #1 caused, even though I find the one vastly superior. Also, you know how there are movies that you really like that get better each time you see them? The trajectory of that other film, for me, is the opposite.

So it goes.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

RedRiver
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Re: LISTS

Postby RedRiver » June 4th, 2014, 9:32 pm

I love VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED! Oddly, I remember almost nothing of the sequel.

kingrat
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Re: LISTS

Postby kingrat » June 5th, 2014, 11:32 am

No need to justify, even explain, excluding or including whatever you genuinely like--or don't. As much as I like Preminger's 40s and 50s films, I find EXODUS talky and stodgy, to put it mildly. But it would make an interesting chapter in that book no one has written about how various directors met, or failed to meet, the challenge of epic films.

RedRiver
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Re: LISTS

Postby RedRiver » June 5th, 2014, 12:32 pm

Next to GRAPES OF WRATH, ELMER GANTRY just might be my favorite adaptation of a widely recognized classic. By that, I mean not counting the great crime thrillers!

kingrat
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Re: LISTS

Postby kingrat » June 9th, 2014, 5:56 pm

Although VIRIDIANA and YOJIMBO showed two veteran filmmakers doing outstanding work in 1961, for me the two most memorable films are by relative newcomers: Bryan Forbes’ first, WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, and Ermanno Olmi’s second feature-length fiction film, IL POSTO. 1961 is not a strong year for English-language films, and I struggled a bit to make the list of ten.

Top 10 for 1961:

1. WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND – Everything had to go right for this film to work, and it did. Moving the setting to rural Lancashire and filming on location helped ground the more fantastic element, as the children believe an escaped convict to be Jesus. The adult actors are good, with Alan Bates as the most beautiful Jesus ever (as Hayley Mills said at one of the TCM film festivals), but the children carry the story, and fortunately, all of them are good, too. Alan Barnes, the local lad who plays our Charlie, couldn’t be more natural, and Hayley Mills has star power without the “on all the time” quality of some professional child actors. A wise film about how people actually conceive of their religious faith. For the first time, but not the last, Bryan Forbes will examine which values come to the fore in extreme situations. Forbes only directed the film when Guy Green was offered five times as much money to direct LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA.
2. WEST SIDE STORY – One of the movies which impressed me the most when I saw it as a child. The music! The dancing! Young love. Fire escapes have always seemed romantic to me because of this movie. I really liked Russ Tamblyn, too. As an adult I have come to see certain weaknesses in the film, but most of what I liked then I still like now.
3. THE GUNS OF NAVARONE – One of my three favorite action movies, along with THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. All three are very well plotted and have memorable characters. Those count for more than special effects.
4. TWO LOVES – Shirley MacLaine as a dedicated teacher of the “free spirit” variety (naturally) who is also a Joanne Woodward virgin (Shirley?). Laurence Harvey is the disturbed soul (naturally) who falls for her. Because this is set in New Zealand, we also have Juano Hernandez playing a Maori leader. Jack Hawkins plays a sympathetic administrator. Very well directed by Charles Walters, and a far cry from the musicals he is best known for.
5. THE INNOCENTS – Jack Clayton directed this handsome re-telling of Henry James’ novella THE TURN OF THE SCREW. Deborah Kerr considered this her best performance.
6. THE GREENGAGE SUMMER (aka LOSS OF INNOCENCE) – I like the original British title much better than the generic one chosen for American audiences. Susannah York makes a strong impression as the girl on the brink of womanhood who has a crush on a charming con man (Kenneth More). Like a number of good films (BLACK NARCISSUS, THE RIVER, INNOCENT SINNERS), this is based on a novel by Rumer Godden.
7. SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS – Kazan said this wasn’t his best film, but it had the best final two reels of any of his films. The bittersweet ending is just about perfect. I like Warren Beatty much better in his early films, where he works harder and seem less like a narcissistic movie star. Having a strong director helps. Perhaps Natalie Wood’s best film, too, and Zohra Lampert provides exactly the right touch of cultural difference.
8. ONE, TWO, THREE – No wonder our friend Kyle picked this when he was guest programmer. One of Billy Wilder’s best comedies.
9. A TASTE OF HONEY – Rita Tushingham isn’t conventionally pretty, but she has that “something” that makes her interesting on screen. Not many of the British New Wave films had female protagonists. If they did, the young woman was usually pregnant and unmarried, as in this case.
10. NIGHT TIDE – Strange film, well directed by Curtis Harrington.

Honorable mention: THE HUSTLER has some strong scenes, but the interminable pool match does not excite me. JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG is a mixed bag; I like the Spencer Tracy and Marlene Dietrich parts best, and, alas, the Montgomery Clift scene least. BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S has some memorable images, and I love Audrey Hepburn in just about anything. VICTIM is not only well-intentioned, with its expose of the British laws which encouraged the blackmailing of homosexuals, but a well-made thriller.

I have trouble picking favorite performances this year; usually they jump out at me. George C. Scott as Best Supporting Actor in THE HUSTLER is the one which does jump out. Best Supporting Actress would be either Beatrice Kay (UNDERWORLD USA) or Zohra Lampert (SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS). This would have been a good year for Oscar to have chosen Paul Newman for THE HUSTLER, though I would also be fine with Spencer Tracy (JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG), James Cagney (ONE, TWO, THREE) or Laurence Harvey (TWO LOVES). Maximilian Schell played a supporting role in JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, not a lead. In the Best Actress category, flip a coin between Natalie Wood (SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS), Audrey Hepburn (BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S), Deborah Kerr (THE INNOCENTS), Piper Laurie (THE HUSTLER), or Rita Tushingham (A TASTE OF HONEY). Sophia Loren’s excellent work in TWO WOMEN belongs to the previous year, but Oscar nominates foreign films in one year, performances and other categories the following year.

RedRiver
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Re: LISTS

Postby RedRiver » June 10th, 2014, 12:37 pm

GUNS OF NAVARONE is an exceptional action film. It's one of the few movies I've seen by J. Lee Thompson, who directed my beloved CAPE FEAR!

kingrat
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Re: LISTS

Postby kingrat » June 10th, 2014, 12:50 pm

CAPE FEAR might be turning up on a best of 1962 list in the near future. That movie is really intense on the big screen.

J. Lee Thompson started out as a very promising director in England--I'd love for TCM to show some of those films--came to Hollywood, hit it big with GUNS OF NAVARONE, but his career path went downhill much too soon. RETURN FROM THE ASHES is worth seeing, but it won't make you forget CAPE FEAR.

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ChiO
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Re: LISTS

Postby ChiO » June 12th, 2014, 5:45 pm

For 1961, six movies jumped to the top. Of the next tier, three stood out. As for the 10th, darn near a pick'em.

1961

1. BLAST OF SILENCE (Allan Baron) - Film noir. Nihilism. Lionel Stander as the Voice of God. Or the Anti-Christ.

2. SOMETHING WILD (Jack Garfein) - What is on the screen is enough. Then there is Garfein's history. And his marriage. And, this, his second and last movie.

3. THE CONNECTION (Shirley Clarke) - Can the line between documentary and fiction be any blurrier?

4. THE EXILES (Kent MacKenzie) - Yes, maybe it can.

5. THE HUSTLER (Robert Rossen) - George C. Scott scares me. Jackie Gleason proves that to be a comic actor means you are a great dramatic actor. Paul Newman is. And, thank you, Eugen Schufftan.

6. NIGHT TIDE (Curtis Harrington) - As if the movie isn't bizarre enough, there's Dennis Hopper. And Curtis Harrington.

7. WEST SIDE STORY (Robert Wise) - Okay. I'm tired of the grief I catch from film-fanatic friends who are amazed that I like this. Yes, it's the beginning of the end for a sometimes interesting director who enabled the destruction of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, but...There's a place for us./Somewhere/A place for us. It just works for me.

8. THE LADIES MAN (Jerry Lewis) - Laaaaady! Like it or not, he's an auteur and this shows it.

9. UNDERWORLD, U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller) - Corruption. Vengeance. Fuller.

10. THE CHOPPERS (Leigh Jason) - This slot could have been as easily filled by about eight others, but I'll go with this. Arch Hall, Jr.'s first movie. And a reasonably significant role by Bruno VeSota. Good enough.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

RedRiver
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Re: LISTS

Postby RedRiver » June 13th, 2014, 11:13 am

I saw THE HUSTLER on TV when I was about 13. I've been in awe ever since. It's the best acting by Newman, Gleason, Scott and Piper Laurie. And let's not forget the wonderful characterization by Myron McCormick as Eddie's partner. I have only recently learned that the real life Minnesota Fats adopted that name from the movie. I assumed it was the other way around! This is one of the best small scale dramas I've seen.

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fxreyman
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Re: LISTS

Postby fxreyman » June 14th, 2014, 3:32 pm

RedRiver wrote:The 1960s. The culture changed. Music changed. Promising leaders were taken from us. And the era of classic movies came to a crashing end. Never again (so far) would the quality of American cinema be as consistently entertaining as it had previously been. Films of this decade initiated changes in technique, style and content. Most of it detrimental! The film industry has not yet recovered.

Nonetheless, there were some great ones in this, as in all decades. The best movies of the 60s are just about as good as any others. In order of my preference, and with the assistance of Wikipedia...

THE APARTMENT. One of the great comedies. One of the great dramas. Billy Wilder's finest film.
THE GRADUATE. The ultimate 60s groundbreaker. As effective today as then.
THE HUSTLER. Grim, tense and disturbing. What fun!
CAPE FEAR. If there's a more suspenseful thriller, I don't know it. That's why I rate it even ahead of...
PSYCHO. I assume you're familiar with this one!
DR. STRANGELOVE. Darkest of dark comedy, but so silly you can't get too depressed!
ADVISE AND CONSENT. Shocking in its time; still incredibly well structured drama.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Straightforward telling of one of our great stories.
BONNIE AND CLYDE. Stylized violence has never been done more effectively.
REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT. Small, heartfelt and human. Less is more.

With a tip of the popcorn box to some slightly lesser entries that won my heart!

DR. NO. Most grounded of the Bond adventures. One of the best action films of all.
TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN. Woody Allen's first and funniest effort.
WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? Almost unbearably intense filming of Albee's wonderful play.
ELMER GANTRY. Who says classic drama can't be colorful?

I'm prepared for hate mail from fans of "Liberty Valance". That's simply not one of my favorite Ford films. If it helps, that would be next on my list!


I agree somewhat with your opening paragraph, except when you say the following: "Most of it detrimental! The film industry has not yet recovered."

What did you expect to happen? By the mid 1950's the Hays Code began to be changed based on cultural change in America. And with increased competition from television and foreign films which did not have to adhere to the code, the Hays Code started to recede, at first little by little. In the late 1940's, the Paramount vs. the United States court decision effectively ended the anti-trust laws the eight major studios had been using via vertical integration. This integration was the control by those studios to not only control the films they produced and distributed but also showing their product in theaters that they owned.

After this landmark Supreme Court decision the studio system began to start to crumble. Following this decision which ultimately led to an influx of foreign films plus the growing popularity of television also started the slow descent of the Hollywood studio system. Eventually as the culture changed, so did the Hays Code. In 1956, parts of the Code were rewritten to accept subjects such as interracial marriage, adultery and prostitution. By the late 1950’s more explicit films started showing including Anatomy of a Murder, Suddenly Last Summer, and Psycho. The MPAA granted approval of these films eventually but not before the producers had to make certain cuts to them. After Some Like It Hot did so well at the box office, the Code was weakened further.

By the mid 1960’s the Hays Code was on it’s last grasp of air. Many films now being released dealt with adult subject manner to the point that the code was dismissed altogether. It all came apart in 1967 to 1968 when on November 1, 1968, the MPAA established the film rating system with four ratings: G, M, R and X. By this time some mainstream Hollywood productions still featured old world production values, especially those starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, but violence even in their films were on the rise.

I think that eventually things were going to change anyway. And with the despise of the Hays Code and the establishment of the Ratings system, Hollywood began to go back to it’s roots as was the case before 1934 when the Hays Code was established. Lets face it, what do you think would have happened had the Hays Code not been established? Well for one thing more films like DeMille’s Sign of the Cross and The Blue Angel would have possibly started to show more and more and what happened in the mid to late 1960’s could have been seen in movie houses during the mid to late 1930’s.

I agree that many films from the 1960s like the ones you listed were great films, but don’t you think the 1970’s and 80’s, 90’s and now the 2000’s have seen additional great films?

Detrimental? To whom? The movie going public or the producers of the films?

I think that the quality of films being produced today are at least as high as those that were made before 1960. Now there is a back and forth argument over on the TCM Message Boards that has over the years derailed quite a few threads because of the ensuing arguments, but would you not agree that actually a larger amount of badly made films existed before the demise of the Hays Code in the mid 1960’s than afterwards? More films were being churned out before 1960 than after. So the law of averages works against pre-1960 films.

I am sure with all of the list making going on here one could easily find film years where it is hard to find 10 quality produced films for a given year and compare those years to the post 1968 time period. Sure, there were some lean years for Hollywood, especially in the 1980’s but on a whole, I think the past 24 years or so there has been a resurgence of film making here in the United States and elsewhere…

RedRiver
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Re: LISTS

Postby RedRiver » June 14th, 2014, 4:49 pm

I don't challenge your opinion, or anyone else's. It's a matter of personal preference. By detrimental, I mean to the overall quality of movies released. Yes, there were plenty of bad films in every year, every decade. But films by Ford, Hawks, Huston and the likes were more likely to get to the point. The point being the story. Not psycho/sexual hang-ups. Not graphic violence and vulgar language. Certainly not people thoughtfully wandering through fields of daisies as music by Strawberry Alarm Clock played in the background!

Pacing suffered a blow as these changes took effect. Compared to CHINATOWN, MALTESE FALCON is a roller coaster. STAGECOACH storms across the screen more efficiently than any western directed by, or starring Clint Eastwood. Why must everything take so long these days? Do they think we're getting more for our money? We're not!

don’t you think the 1970’s and 80’s, 90’s and now the 2000’s have seen additional great films?

To be honest, I can't comment on the last 20 years. Most of what I watch is so disappointing I'm not inspired toward increased viewing. As for the 1970s and 80s, there were good ones. There were great ones. But the work of Altman, Scorcese and Spielberg doesn't entertain me as much as that of their predecessors. And the trend toward filler rather than story has gotten progressively more dominant. It's as if someone's thinking, "Put it on the screen and they'll watch it. It doesn't have to mean anything. Just put it there!"

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: LISTS

Postby Rita Hayworth » June 15th, 2014, 8:51 am

RedRiver wrote:don’t you think the 1970’s and 80’s, 90’s and now the 2000’s have seen additional great films?

To be honest, I can't comment on the last 20 years. Most of what I watch is so disappointing I'm not inspired toward increased viewing. As for the 1970s and 80s, there were good ones. There were great ones. But the work of Altman, Scorcese and Spielberg doesn't entertain me as much as that of their predecessors. And the trend toward filler rather than story has gotten progressively more dominant. It's as if someone's thinking, "Put it on the screen and they'll watch it. It doesn't have to mean anything. Just put it there!"



I totally agree with you on this ... :)

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fxreyman
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Re: LISTS

Postby fxreyman » June 15th, 2014, 1:13 pm

RedRiver wrote:
To be honest, I can't comment on the last 20 years. Most of what I watch is so disappointing I'm not inspired toward increased viewing. As for the 1970s and 80s, there were good ones. There were great ones. But the work of Altman, Scorcese and Spielberg doesn't entertain me as much as that of their predecessors. And the trend toward filler rather than story has gotten progressively more dominant. It's as if someone's thinking, "Put it on the screen and they'll watch it. It doesn't have to mean anything. Just put it there!"



I don’t know if I would disagree with your opinion that many of today’s films trend toward filler rather than story, many are, but there are many that are not. As far as yesterday’s film directors are concerned, yes for the most part there were better stories, better acting and in many cases just better produced films.

Today one can produce a film with a hand held camera. Just look at the Blair Witch Project. I think due to technical film advances as in cameras, lighting and other aspects like special effects, the film industry has changed. Thereby allowing many different ways of getting film into a mainstream audience. Now we have films appearing on the internet and other forms of distribution channels.

I agree that we will never see the likes of Ford, Hawks, Huston again, although we might. They were true artisans who worked with their screenwriters and producers and technical staffs to get the very best out of them. But that is the same as today. The differences are that many film directors of today have other avenues to go to to direct. Many not only direct film but also theater, television and cable, areas where Ford and hawks could not even dream about.

Who is left? Not many great directors as there were back in the 1930’s to 1950’s. But there are a few...

Ethan and Joel Coen
Ang Lee
Clint Eastwood
Ron Howard
Robert Zemeckis
Jonathan Demme
Barry Levinson
Milos Foreman
James L. Brooks
Richard Attenborough
George Roy Hill
Franklin J. Schaffner
Mike Nichols

The one thing that the 1930’s to early 1950’s directors did not have to compete against was something called television, at least not until the early to mid 1950’s. Movies had a stranglehold on the American public for over thirty years, from the mid 1920’s until the mid 1950’s. Quite a long time to get the very best stories to the silver screen. Add to that the stranglehold that the Hollywood film studios had over almost every aspect of filmmaking.

Then you had the Hays Code which was in and of itself a powerful player in the film business. More like the studio bosses themselves, the Hays Code had it’s fair share of a stranglehold on the film industry.

So a lot has happened. Yes I do agree that the film directors of old and their stories were classic, many never to be repeated again. Just like the actors and actresses who are long gone. Many things from the past are never going to appear again, but we will always have them thanks to places like TCM and on dvd and vhs. Eventually the directors of today who may never reach the amount of films directed or produced like Ford and Hawks, but they too will be remembered and that is the way it ought to be.


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