I love old black and white movies. There is just something about them that appeals to me. I especially enjoy movies from the 1950s and early 1960s. I watched a movie the other night that I had never seen before, "Sweet Smell of Success." It was made in 1957 and starred Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Lancaster portrayed a powerful but unethical Broadway columnist who coerces an unscrupulous press agent, played by Curtis, into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.
I watched this movie with my 10-year-old daughter in the room. Now, she was not watching the movie, but was playing a game on her iPad. This was a unique experience in my home because my wife closely monitors what our child watches. If something is deemed "inappropriate" my child cannot be within earshot of the television or I will catch a scolding. For something to be labeled "inappropriate" does not take a lot. For years, the cartoon "Sponge Bob" was on the list. It was not until my child reached the age of 8 that the sea sponge was allowed to be viewed in our home.
I was able to enjoy the entire Lancaster movie with my child in the room. Believe me, the movie contained plenty of adult themes. There were several elements presented, from prostitution to blackmail to police corruption to physical assault. What kept this movie from landing on the "inappropriate" list? All of these elements were presented with sophistication, tact and subtlety. Only an adult would understand the references made in the movie. Nothing was blatantly portrayed on screen. Even when Tony Curtis' character was collaborating with a crooked cop to arrest the jazz musician on trumped-up charges my child was none the wiser. That is because the story was presented with the understanding that a knowledgeable adult would comprehend what was happening without having to see every gruesome detail.
Why can't movies be done this way anymore? Have we become so unsophisticated as a society that we need to hear the bones break and see the blood? Do we have to have each character tell us in great detail exactly what they are thinking and why they are thinking it?
There seems to not be a dividing line between adult movies and children's movies anymore. It appears like weekly we are treated to a new superhero movie filled with mindless violence from the latest collection of spandex-wearing Hollywood A-listers. These movies have the subtlety of a freight train being driven through the Empire State Building. Oh wait, I think that was the plot of one of the 17 "Avengers" movies or maybe I am confusing it with the storyline of one of the eight different "Batman" movies featuring a different actor portraying Batman each time.
I am an old guy and I understand that Hollywood does not make movies for me anymore. But I have to believe there is still a large portion of America that would enjoy a movie with wit, charm and style where adults act their age and don't need to carry around giant hammers or flaming arrows or iron suits to be relevant.
However, until Hollywood changes, I will be over here enjoying Robert Mitchum, Cary Grant and Gregory Peck movies. Too bad they are in such limited supply. They sure don't make 'em like that anymore.
Editorial on 11/24/2019
Print Headline: The sour smell of Spandex