Friday, May 4, 2012


LOS ANGELES – The TCM Classic Film Festival took over the heart of Hollywood last month, highlighting decades-old movies and celebrating stars from the entertainment industry’s beloved Golden Era. So what is the special ingredient in classic films from “Cabaret” to “The Thief of Bagdad” to “Singin’ in the Rain” that's missing today?

“I wish they would clean up some of the movies, make them a little more wholesome,” Debbie Reynolds told reporters. “I think the American public wants that, so we should give it to them.”

Linda Gray, best known for her role as the Sue Ellen Ewing in the prime time soap “Dallas,” said that today’s scripts often don't develop characters and their relationships very well.

“We are used to everything being so fast – next, next, next – so it is lovely for younger people to be able to see the magnitude and magic of old Hollywood films,” she explained. “Films for me they have been all about relationships. I think they spent more time expanding those relationships back then.”

"I wish they would clean up some of the movies, make them a little more wholesome" says Debbie Reynolds.

Woody Allen’s longtime collaborator Tony Roberts misses the Old Hollywood studio system and how it functioned to establish iconic stars.

“In the old studio system [actors and actresses] signed up for seven years or five years, and they made a lot of movies each year. They could still make bad movies, yet they still got parts, because they had a contract and they learned on the job,” he said. “Nowadays, if you are lucky enough to get one or two pictures under your belt, that could be the end of you – and you never grew, you never got that comfortable being a character in front of the camera.”

Roberts said it was this stability that enabled screen stars to really shine.

“When you think of the old actors and the movies they made each year, they finally had a chance to be great when they got a great script. You can't remember 80 pictures, but you remember five or four because they were good scripts and knew what to do with them,” he said. “That's what is missing today.”

As for Liza Minnelli, who was feted alongside co-star Joel Grey for her work in “Cabaret” during the festival, embracing all that is new is what keeps her motivated to keep on entertaining the masses.

“Some of what is coming out is brilliant today,” she added. “Something (exciting) will always happen tomorrow, you have got to stay curious. Luckily, my phone always rings.”



  1. Well, I am certainly with Debbie Reynolds!!! The trashiness of the majority of today's films is the precise reason I watch almost zero current fare. Whereas in the classic era, movies were passionate and sensual without throwing nudity and graphic sex at us, today's films for the most part have that in our face all the time. Since I don't want to feel like I've been watching a porn flick, I've pretty much written off movies made after 1970. I'll watch a current film occasionally, but only after I've heavily researched it (through Plugged In and/or other movie review sites) to be sure it's not filled with stuff I don't want.

  2. I watch a few modern movies but none with nudity or excessive violence. One of my all time favorite movies is BIG FISH (2003). I think another problem with the movies today are that most of the stars do not have talent - at least not the talent that Jimmy Cagney or Spencer Tracy had.

    1. Oh, I agree with you. In fact, I have said that same thing myself many times. Stars today don't have to have the ability to act...they have wow-factor special effects that make the movie for them. (Or sex, excessive violence, and an overabundance of bad language.) All of those things overshadow their lack of talent; but since those old actors/actresses didn't have those things to rely on, THEY had to carry the movie...with talent and ability.

  3. Great points! Not to say I am a prude, but sometimes it is sexier just how some of those old actresses looked with their eyes and movements than today's stars that just show it all. Regarding today's stars I have two words to demonstrate a truly great of our current years... MERYL STREEP.

  4. I think films have become too commercialized now. Everything is about demographics and what will bring spenders into the theaters. As such, quality is often overlooked.