I love old movies. Perhaps it’s the almost literary quality of the camera shots. For example, there’s nothing like watching the shadows of Errol Flynn’s sword duel in Robin Hood. Or, in the midst of the verbal cacophony of His Girl Friday, when Cary Grant drolly accuses his girl of having been seen with Archibald Leach (Cary Grant’s real name).
But, I think I really fell in love with old movies when I was in high school—this was when videos were a rare and prized possession to be rented, before the VHS-Betamax war. An old local theater decided to have a Hitchcock revival. Every week they’d show a new movie. This was one of the old theaters with balustrades and pilasters and a real, fringed velvet curtain. And people “dressed” for the theater. It was like being in an old movie. I wore a white dress, white hat, and white gloves. It was a wonderful mix of teenagers and old people. We saw Rear Window the way it was meant to be seen—on a huge screen where Raymond Burr loomed over you. Grace Kelly filled the screen in her gold gown in To Catch a Thief—Cary Grant couldn’t help but fall in love with her. And agoraphobic Jimmy Stewart dangling from a building in Vertigo. And the tension in Rope! The film was shot in real-time like a play without a lot of angles or scene changes, and the body was in the center of the screen in a box, which was used as a buffet for a dinner party. Ewww. Every time a character noticed the box, you’d think “Oh, no, they’re going to find the body!”
Of course, good tense movies still are being made. What about Wait Until Dark? Although since that was made in 1967, I guess that qualifies as old. But I think it’s one of the scariest movies ever. Or Deceived (1991)—I guarantee it’ll make you jump. Try watching these movies, especially with the lights out. Have fun!