After a bad take regarding classic films surfaced on the internet the other day, I was thinking about how I got into watching these movies. I personally think my method was great and opened my eyes to so many different actors, directors, genres, what have you.
Here goes: When I was 14, I decided I wanted to watch Audrey Hepburn movies. I don’t really know how I found her or what truly prompted this, but that was my goal. And in 2002, this goal was made easy by the fact that AMC, formerly known as American Movie Classics (AMC used to show old movies! Without commercials at one point too!), was showing her movies once a week that summer. My first classic film (that I can officially track) was Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Now, I know the film is problematic with its use of yellowface. It’s not my favorite Audrey movie either. It’s fine. The clothes and “Moon River” really do me in. And Holly Golightly is an interesting character. But what really got me was Audrey. She was stunning and showed such vulnerability in the role.
A great way to start with classic films is to pick one actor and branch out from there. That’s exactly what I did with Audrey. It helped that she worked with some of the greatest actors from that time period: Gregory Peck, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Albert Finney, and Peter O’Toole to name a few.
I honestly tried to make a flow chart of how this happened for me, but ultimately it got too messy. I will say that I think my method works really well, but I did have a lot of help because my parents encouraged me to seek out more films.
Like Billy Wilder had passed away around the time this happened, so they brought me Some Like It Hot and Sunset Boulevard. Because I liked Gregory Peck and Cary Grant, my mom took out the movies they did with Alfred Hitchcock. Katharine Hepburn passed away a year later and again, thank you Cary Grant, that’s how I watched her films. With each new film, I found yet another actor or actress to follow. It’s a neverending cycle and I’m still surprised when I find something I’ve never seen before.
Please don’t ignore classic films because you think they’re boring or not relevant. It is important to see how this industry started and I have never regretted doing this as a teenager. I have my blindspots (I don’t watch westerns; I really need to start watching silent films; my noir knowledge is poor) but because I love movies so much, I don’t mind taking the time to seek out whatever I can. And if you love movies too, you should want to do the same.