Whatever Happened to the Hollywood Classics?

The majority of movies released today seem to have a sole purpose: to sell tickets. And what types of movies sell tickets? The movies full of gratuitous violence, nudity, sex and special effects.

Every once in a while, however, one might be lucky enough to stumble upon movies worthy of praise, but even these movies do not get the proper recognition they deserve. A good number of noteworthy films are produced by small companies or are independent films and are not well-publicized nor widely viewed. Instead, the films that are produced by large companies, with big-name celebrities, are the most popular, whether the actors can act.

It makes me wonder about what happened to films that were actually good — the great black and white movies that had recognizable plots and talented actors. With vast technological resources and a large pool of willing actors available, one would think that the film industry would be able to produce better films, yet it still can’t.

The lack of good films, with the exception of those that somehow manage successfully to incorporate technology, good acting and a well-written script, can cause one to overlook the films of Alfred Hitchcock or Leo McCarey.

In our society today, many people lack the capability to recognize — let alone appreciate — classic films because of the overwhelming presence of films that are visually dazzling yet completely bereft of any real content. It is sad that some people only know of Alfred Hitchcock for “”The Birds”” or “”Psycho”” and believe that he only made horror movies, or that some people do not even know who Humphery Bogart or Gregory Peck are.

The ’50s were a landmark time in Hollywood history as an interval between present-day technological Hollywood and the historic silent film era. It was during this time that many talented actors and actresses, writers and directors were able to use their talents to utilize the available technology to produce remarkably touching, exciting or long-lasting classics.

Films such as Tennesee Williams’ “”A Streetcar Named Desire”” or “”Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”” showcased popular actors such as Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor in roles that were complex and in films that were disturbing yet remarkable.

In contrast, there are the perennial feel-good classics such as “”Roman Holiday”” or “”An Affair to Remember,”” starring the ever-popular Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Alfred Hitchcock was a genius at combining romance, suspense and mystery in films such as “”Spellbound”” and “”Suspicion.””

In order to preserve these film classics, people must watch them. Many of these classic films are being lost annually because so few care about these films that efforts to preserve them are diminishing. There are only a few organizations that participate in preserving classic films, and they will not continue to do so unless the public actively shows that they want these films to be preserved.

So show these organizations that we don’t want these films to disappear by renting classics like “”To Have and Have Not”” or “”Sayonara,”” or call the cable company and demand Turner Classic Movies.