Converting the Masses

As a classic film devotee, one feels this pressing desire to share the glory that is the world of classic cinema with the uninitiated in one’s real life. I particularly succumbed to this in my first baby years of classic film appreciation, right before I started this blog. However, months of dropping Bogie references with my Halo-worshipping/Indie band snob acquaintances proved only demoralizing and exhausting to me and made no headway on converting any of them. At last, I vowed to keep my black and white treasures to myself and my online pals and never mention my love of the classics with real life people anymore.

In the years since, my vintage hair and clothes have evoked a host of questions about my reasons for choosing that style. Most stem from genuine interest and some are just plain ludicrous, like the questions I regularly field when I wear my 40s snoods about whether or not I am Amish… But still, aside from dropping references¬†only I understand in daily conversations, I don’t discuss my zealous love for Douglas Fairbanks Jr, low budget Noirs and Shirley Temple’s teen films with the people I talk with everyday.

The funny part of all this is that in my own quiet way, I actually have been slowly converting people. One of my clients asked me what my favorite film was (Fair warning: don’t ask this of a classic film fan and expect to be home for dinner) and when I responded with two*, he actually made an effort to find them and watch them. And then, (thrill of thrills!) one of my favorite real life people asked me to create a list of starter classic films to watch. The challenge of choosing films for a first time viewing so excited me, I set about making my selections the very next day. The 10 I chose are below, if you care to peruse and comment. My ideas behind the films I picked were to create a good mix of genres and eras with some of my true favorites thrown in. I refuse to suppress my bias. ;)

-:-
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Carefree (1938)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Gunga Din (1939)
The Narrow Margin (1952)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Stagecoach (1939)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
-:-

So tell me, do you actively attempt to convert your real life friends? Are you known as the classic film kook in your circles? Please share below!

*The Best Years of Our Lives and The Quiet Man

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16 Comments

Filed under Classic Movies

16 responses to “Converting the Masses

  1. I love converting people into classic film fans! I volunteer at a library with a pretty decent film collection, and whenever patrons ask me for recommendations I steer them toward classics. One patron in particular has really developed a love for them. She first asked me for a recommendation two summers ago, and upon hearing that she liked crime films I recommended The Maltese Falcon. To this day she asks me for a suggestion whenever she comes to the library during my shift!

  2. Most of my real life friends tend to be fans of classic films as well. Oddly enough my sister (who’s old enough to be my mother) is the one person I can’t convert. The only classic films she will willingly watch are Westerns and a few Sixties comedies (which probably aren’t classic to her, given they were released when she was young)!

  3. Love your list and there are a couple there I haven’t seen. eBay here I come! I have a DVD projector and sometimes have dinner and a movie. Everyone so far has loved seeing the classics on the big screen. I think the first film I would show to someone with no knowledge of the greats would be Mildred Pierce. If they don’t like that, I don’t like them ! (Only joking).

    Jenny x

  4. That’s a wonderful list! Especially as SEVEN BRIDES is my favorite movie. CAREFREE is a great choice, I like that it’s got a screwball comedy attitude and think it’s a good intro for someone new to Fred & Ginger before moving on to SWING TIME and the others.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

  5. What a fabulous story, thanks so much for sharing, Lindsey! The Maltese Falcon is a great choice for a first time viewer. So many character actors that will lead you to other quality films. Thank you for stopping by and chatting!

  6. You are quite lucky, Terry. I always seem to be surrounded with classic film newbies who can’t understand my references. ;) Although the fact that I am the only one who gets them sometimes makes it all the more hilarious. Thanks so much for joining the conversation!

  7. Thanks so much, Jenny! I’m honored that you would search out my selections. Would love to hear what you think when you find them. What a great idea to play the films on a projector! If only I had thought of that while in college, we had them in every darn room. Mildred Pierce is a perfect choice. And I agree with you, if they can’t like that one, there is no hope for them! Thanks for commenting!

  8. Seven Brides is one of my top favorites, too, Laura. Ah, those quilt dresses…*sigh* I always have this plot to use my fabric scraps and make a skirt like those. Thanks on the Carefree choice. I think Carefree has some of the best toe-tapping songs of any of the F&G films. Plus, the scene where Ginger goes nuts and tries to shoot Fred like a dog is one that is guaranteed to get someone laughing out loud. Her comedic genius is spot on for that. And then The Yam dance always has me up and dancing along, so I am a bit biased there. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Recently I was watching a dance clip with some other Lindy Hoppers and the teacher explained -‘That’s Fred Astaire’. The response to this?!:
    ‘Who?’ one girl asked. ‘You know, we’ve seen a clip of him once before’ her friend replied. I felt particularly ancient after this exchange! And sad that such wonderful films are passing out of the public conciousness..

    Great list! I’ve converted my boyfriend to classic film -he was pretty open to it though to be fair! I additionally had particular success with these films:
    ‘Brief Encounter’ -one of my all time favourites -so terribly British dahling! Oh that Rachmaninov score!
    ‘All about Eve’ (or pretty much anything with Bette Davis -how he squirmed through Baby Jane -and how i revere her!)
    ‘Dead of Night’ -a fantastic Ealing Studio horror -is there anything creepier than Redgrave + ventriloquist’s dummy?!
    ‘The Ladykillers’. Naturally!
    ‘Some Like it hot’. Well, obviously an instant success with the boyfriend. He nearly fell out of his seat when he first laid eyes on Marilyn with her ukulele.
    ‘A night at the Opera’. Or ‘Duck soup’ -or any Marx brothers for that matter!
    ‘Bicycle Thieves’. A very difficult watch. Harrowing -but brilliant.

    Tragically i have had absolutely no success with ‘Gone with the Wind’!

    I think i was very lucky that my father raised me to appreciate great film. When i was a child, he would sit me down and talk me through why these films were brilliant -whetting my appetite without spoiling them -and leave me desperate to watch them. At the time, ‘Bicycle Thieves’ and several of the Marx brothers films were extremely difficult to find. However over time i hunted them down and consider myself much richer for the experience. Its wonderful to (very occasionally) find people still open to the classics and be able to pass my film knowledge on to others!

    -Selina x

  10. None of my friends understand my film references, but fortunately my boyfriend loves classics as much as me (and has probably seen more than me as he’s 10 years older). I would give a newbie a selection of films featuring Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis as I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t like them! I reckon It’s A Wonderful Life and Adam’s Rib might be a good starter package.

  11. I love classic movies but my husband feels the dialogue is so unnatural he hates watching them. I keep telling him to look past some of that and enjoy the movie as a whole. Anyway, loved your list. I would absolutely add the classics ‘Mildred Pierce’ and of course ‘All About Eve’. And then there’s my other favorites ‘Leave Her to Heaven’ and ‘The Women’.

  12. david eagle

    Hello “classic” fans from here in Britain! Some fascinating comments and choices listed here. One thing that surprises me is that I didn’t spot any mention of films starring the legendary Ronald Colman, one of THE stars of the “Golden Age”. Colman was the epitome of dash and style on the screen, and should anyone be looking for some examples of where to start when looking for his films, may I suggest MGM’s “Tale of Two Cities” (1935), “The Prisoner of Zenda” and “Lost Horizon” (both 1937), “Talk of the Town” and “Random Harvest” (both 1942), and “A Double Life” (1947; Oscar for Best Actor).
    Of course, Colman fans will need no telling from me. To everyone else not so familiar with the work of this Hollywood giant, find and enjoy!

    Regards

  13. Emilia

    i am usually moved to recommend ‘Citizen Kane’ as it’s undoubtedly one of the best movies ever made (not sure if this is true film noir or not) … with Hitchcock as a close second, ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ being a personal favorite. ‘The Maltese Falcon’ was one of the first film noir movies i ever saw as a little kid and loved it (joel chairo made me laugh so hard) … i think it’s a great introduction as well. great list … great comments … thanks for all the recommendations!

  14. Christine

    Awesome list! I have slowly been converting my husband and teenage son. They used to make fun of “Mom and her old movies” and but suddenly the war, gangster, hitchcock and noir films are interesting and cool to my son as he is learning about different eras in school. My husband has grown to love many of them as well. btw – I am part Hungarian as well! ;0 Love your blog!

  15. I am definitely the crazy classic film fan in my group, whose movie references are lost on everyone but my sister. You chose a great list! But I’d choose The Maltese Falcon over The Big Sleep (though it’s great!) and I think Roberta or Top Hat over Carefree. Don’t forget Cary Grant’s early comedies!

  16. EmilyAnn Frances

    I haven’t converted anyone but have met one big fan–the owner of a local deli where I buy coffee and bagels. He doesn’t have much time to see the movies but he was happy to get my collection of Dashiell Hammet stories. I haven’t seen any of the Mike Hammer movies yet but one day when there’s time I will.

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