Earlier this year, Universal re-released a 3D version of Steven Spielberg’s brachiosaurus-sized 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park to theatres in conjunction with the film’s 20th anniversary. When I first heard of the studio’s plans, two thoughts sprang into my mind. The first was “Boy, I hope this doesn’t mean Steven’s desperate for money” (Lincoln not getting the Best Picture Academy Award may have hurt his wallet). The second was, “Wait a minute. Jurassic Park is 20 years old already!? Didn’t I just see that on the big screen a couple of summers ago?”
One thing I’ve noticed since the onset of middle age is that the turning of the calendar pages does indeed seem to pick up speed, and events that feel like recent occurrences are further back that I imagined. The same thing can be said, apparently, for my movie recollections. For example, along with Jurassic Park, 2013 also marks two decades since Schindler’s List, also directed by Spielberg, made its debut, along with such “new releases” as Mrs. Doubtfire, Groundhog Day, Philadelphia, and Sleepless in Seattle (Tom Hanks’ son must be doing his own online dating profiles by now). Looking further down Memory Lane, it’s been a full quarter-century since audiences learned Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 30 years since the world first learned of thirtysomething angst courtesy of The Big Chill, and a full 40 since little Linda Blair raised…heck in The Exorcist. All these ’70s, ’80s and ’90s titles that I still look upon as “recent movies” are now old enough to be filed in the Classic Hollywood section of your local video store…or they would be, if you still had a local video store.
And yet, when I stop to think about my all-time favorite films, I find that precious few made since the Nixon administration have worked their way onto the list. My three top picks remain unchanged since my high school days: Casablanca from 1942; the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Charles Laughton; and 1955′s Marty. All three are classics, and all three are older than me. Going further down the top 25 or so (I won’t bore you with them all now, unless I’m asked, of course) I can only come up with four pictures made since I turned 30: Field of Dreams, Ed Wood, Pulp Fiction and Fargo. Now, I don’t think of myself as an “old fogey” (people who work with me may, but that’s another story); I still go to at least one or two films a month at the nearby multiplexes, and watch even more on home video. But it seems to take quite a bit for a movie to work its way past the “golden oldies” that I grew up watching on UHF TV and at rep cinemas in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
What about you, MovieFanFare readers? Does your favorite film predate you, or did you follow it from planning stages to premiere and grow to love it? Are you a fan of the motion pictures you saw as a teen, or a twentysomething, or beyond? Are you one of those types who hold that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to,” or do you think that “movies are better than ever!” ( a phrase I believe ad men came up with back in the 1950s)? Sound off in the comments below, and let us know when your top titles date from? And silent cinema buffs, we’d really like to hear from you!