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lights! camera! boot camp!
a beginner's guide to classic film by Diana Goodman |
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continued from page 2

Step 4 | Good job, folks. That should have been easy. If not, go back and try again with the other film, or consult the Film Snob. Next step is another film from the mid-sixties through early seventies, this time, a drama with few or no action sequences. Try Chinatown, The Graduate or (for advanced attempts and Sopranos fans) The Godfather. Yes, The Godfather's three hours long with a massive number of characters. But you can do it. Especially if you happen to be a guy, in which case you've already seen it. Guys love The Godfather.

Step 5 | Give your buddies a pep talk if they're flagging. Support is crucial If you're all at the abandon ship point; ask the Film Snob for the sexiest movie they can think of made before 1977, and rent that. Give yourself a libidinous perk-up. 

Step 6 | North by Northwest or To Catch a Thief. Time to get acquainted with the late '50s, Cary Grant and Mr. Alfred Hitchcock.

Step 7 | A late '50s or early '60s comedy, preferably with Marilyn Monroe in various stages of undress. Some Like it Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or The Seven Year Itch. Contemplate how she could break any supermodel over her knee like a twig.

Step 8 | A black and white drama, 1950 or later -- Anatomy of a Murder, All About Eve, To Kill a Mockingbird. Psycho is exciting enough to keep even the most avid black and white hater in their seat.

Step 9 | If you're slipping again (Jeez! You just watched Psycho and you're bored! Arg!), ask Film Snob for the movie with the coolest character ever, again, pre-1977. Watch that. Bonus points if it's James Dean or Marlon Brando.

Step 10 | If you've made it this far, you obviously care about classic movies, and this dedication is really all you need to continue your education in classic film. 

Classic films, like alcohol, are frequently an acquired taste: if you have the will, try, try and try again. At first, it may not go down so easily. And now I'm going to tell you the big secret why: 


Yep, Jaws. Jaws is really a B-movie by classic standards; a cheap shocker about a monster fish. It's good, don't get me wrong, it's a damn good film. But Jaws made a lot of money. It made way more money than a killer fish movie ever should. As the first real modern blockbuster, Jaws showed studios they could make more money with a killer fish movie opening in thousands of theaters all at once than they could with something artsy-fartsy like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Godfather (which both also made a ton of money…but not like this.) And then to nail the point home, we get Star Wars a few years later. It's simple, it's action-packed, it appeals primarily to kids (of all ages). It's easily made into a breakfast cereal; its parts (actors, director, setting) are interchangeable. It's a pre-sold product; people will see it no matter what, good or bad. (For reference, see Phantom Menace, Pearl Harbor, Harry Potter, etc.)

don't stop: still more this way!

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