In Praise of the Good Old-Fashioned Movie

By Jeannè Sigler
Thursday Review
Contributing Editor

Last night my husband and I were getting ready for bed watching the weather forecast. With remote in hand, I decided to casually flip through the channels before turning off the TV for the night.

When I got to the old movie station, I felt compelled to stop. A film was just beginning. "I've never seen this one," I hollered to my husband, who was just brushing his teeth. "Oh, it's a classic," he replied as he turned off the tap.

"This one plays the bad guy." Michael's words intrigued me, and now I was hooked. So, we snuggled under the bed covers, dimmed the lights, and settled in for the duration.

Ah, those were the days. The characters were all called by colorful monikers. The policemen were 'coppers,' the detective was a 'flatfoot," and of course the female was the 'dame,' the 'broad' or the 'skirt.' Now that was real film-making.

Boy met girl, boy lost girl, and boy found girl again. And ultimately, the butler was the most likely suspect for the murder. The criminals all wore black fedoras and said: "Yeah, see" and "You, Dirty Rat!" a lot.

I especially like these overly dramatic, unrealistic tales. No matter how fake we know deep down they are, they still manage to make us laugh, cry, and get nostalgic.

Christmas has to my favorite time for the classics. No matter how many times I watch Tiny Tim utter, "God bless us, everyone" or see Kris Kringle win his court case proving he really is Santa Claus, I'm overwhelmed by that fuzzy warm feeling. Those fun black & white stories make the holiday season just a little bit jollier.

From the very beginning, I had the ending figured out. "He's going to get double-crossed," I said, confidently. "Just watch the movie," Michael answered. The drama intensified. The music swelled to a crescendo. I clutched my blankets with clenched fists.

In decades past, creative filmmakers got the same messages across without stooping to the use of a boatload of profanity, scantily-clad women with enhanced body parts, and other 'mature situations.' This particular 1944 classic kept us intrigued and entertained with nobody even undressing or cursing once. Imagine that.

As the credits rolled and I reached for the remote to turn off the set, my husband tried out his best Edward G. Robinson voice. "Hey, Baby, I think you're a swell dame. Plant one right here," he said pointing to his lips and making 'kissy' gestures. "Cool it, Toots," I answered. "or I'll call the coppers."