Monday, February 2, 2015

The thrill is gone

The baby-boomers 1946-1964, me included watched movies differently than the following generations, Gen X and arguably the Millennials (there's a few rogues in between but they're not important). 

Some of you might hear boomers say that movies aren't as good as they used to be, or the actors aren't good or the stories seem to always be about CGI effects and zombies.

In truth they aren't as good, at least for us. The reason is simple, we've seen every possible plotline in thousands of plotlines. It's hard to find a movie that isn't like something else. But there's also something missing.

We really believed in movies.

Coming out of WW2, the studios began to face that evil empire known as television. And they really didn't know what to do. Movies began to look like bad TV. They had giant wide screens but the content wasn't enough.

And Elizabeth Taylor helped close the studios down.

She made Cleopatra for $1 million salary. This was the first big price ever. Before every actor worked for a studio and not negotiate for a part. Liz changed all that. Of course there were others doing it but her's was the biggest. And it flopped.

Some people say it still hasn't made it's budget.

So what did we  believe?

We believed that there really were a thousand extras on the wide shots because there were real people standing so far away from the camera you needed binoculars to see them.

It was real.

Okay, there were some special effects in movies, big studio movies like War Of The Worlds. But even then, if we didn't believe it all, we believed it could happen. Aliens attacking Earth. Of course the cold war made us feel that the aliens could well be Russians.

And then there was morality. Morals. Meaning bad guys get their just fate and good guys always win. Naturally that's not the case in real life but movies are not real life either. 

We even had cartoons where someone or something died. You should watch Lady And The Tramp from Disney, everyone cried. And Shane, the great western (although a little bit too long) where Shane the gunfighter rides away from a small boy and off to die after a shoot-out. And the boy shouts after him in echoes. 

Every kid cried at that movie.

And in the late 60's we got The Graduate, which spoke directly to us boomers in our teen and early 20's times. We examined society and that led to a lot of things including sexier movies and of course, Viet Nam. Which brought rebellion and marching against the war. 

It all worked more or less until the early 1980's. Something new came out on TV.

Entertainment Tonight.

Up to then, the general public knew little about how movies are sold and what actors are having feuds and what is an agent or a manager. We knew nothing of these things. 

And the biggest thing to happen -- happened.

The weekly gross of current movies.

Suddenly we all begin to see what happens that isn't on the screen. We learned how much actors got paid and how much a movie made, and if it was a flop or a hit and who was in trouble and everything we didn't know about movies.

And I said to a friend; "This is the end of movies as we knew it."

From now on the smoke and mirrors we used for movies to make the movies real suddenly were exposed. Sort of like when the magician tells you how he really made a rabbit disappear. People now knew how movies were made.

They knew how much movies cost, who was hot and who was not and a thousand things they never knew before.

The magic was over. Movies were fake now, because the audience knew how they were made.

So what happened next?

More Friday...

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