Some people find many stumbling blocks when getting into older movies. We all know the usual: slow, black and white, no cool CGI, etc. For a long time for me, it was the fact that many and probably most of the actors I was watching were dead. It just bothered me to watch a beautiful woman or virile young man, falling in love or getting into trouble with the law and know that they were now either very very old or long gone. Whether is myself looking at my own mortality and trying not to notice how fast time was zipping by, or if it was just a bummer, but for me, I wanted to see actors who were still alive. Weird no?
Even watching a contemporary film with a late actor can be hard for me. When The Dark Knight came out, I saw it right away, but the pall over the death of Heath Ledger was just so strong for me. Green Room with Anton Yelchin - same thing. Hard to watch. Now imagine that every single actor in a movie from the 1940s that you’re watching are all deceased. I’m probably in the minority, but that threw me off for awhile.
But Burk, a longtime cheerleader for older films, especially film noir, has taught me the error of my ways. These films are full of art, wit, style and, most of all, life. These films zing along, whether we’re following good people getting into trouble, or bad people trying to make good. These films are alive - crackling dialogue, smart action, interesting direction - it’s all there. And the actors - yes they are gone. But they live on in these films. Many actors I’ve never even seen before - I’m touched by that and by the fact that generations later, they still have the power to emotionally effect me. Some of the femme fatales, actresses I’ve never seen before - well, I’ve gotten smitten with them. A truly weird feeling.
Just listen to our latest Cinemondo Podcast offering - we discuss Nightmare Alley and Force of Evil. John Garfield, Tyrone Power and a troup of fine actors help make these unforgettable films sing with life. Dead? Hardly.