Old Classic Movies; What makes a classic movie

Old Classic Movies; What makes a classic movie

Not all old movies are classic old movies. Just like not all old things are antiques, they are just old. There are even some who would suggest that all old movies are “classic”. I don’t believe that though.

Even experts don’t agree on which movies should be “a classic movie”.

I am going to try to explain what makes a classic movie a classic in my mind’s eye.  This is not an all-inclusive breakdown, because emotions and upbringing etc. tend to overshadow objectivity.

It has to be well-made…

  • With great acting:
    • Gregory peck’s portrayal of General Savage in Twelve O’clock High (1949) is a great example. You can “see” his authority.
  • Great music:
    • The soundtrack to The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) would be an excellent choice to illustrate use of music to highlight what is being portrayed.
    • Also, the Third man Theme from the movie The Third man underscores the movie’s suspense.
  • Outstanding dialogue:
    • An outstanding example is from The Third Man (1949) in which Harry Lime (Portrayed by Orson Wells) says “Don’t be so gloomy. After all, it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.”

It has to be believable

It has to be believable enough so that you become absorbed in the movie so much that you become part of the story yourself. You become an eye-witness to what is going on; you are at the scene.

And it has to have memorable scenes…

Memorable scenes have a beginning, a middle and an end.

The last scene in Casablanca When Rick is telling Ilsa to get on the plane with Victor, her husband instead of staying in Casablanca with him. The beginning is when he tells Ilsa what to do, the middle is Rick explaining why, and the end is when Rick says “here’s looking at you kid”. You must see it if you haven’t already.


In reality, there is no conclusion, because “What is a great movie” is in the eye of the beholder. You can get lists of what are the greatest movies of all time, etc. But every list carries biases and opinions. I like my ideas, but I can only make suggestions as to what is a classic old movie, from my own perspective. I hope my ideas spark some of your own.

5 thoughts on “Old Classic Movies; What makes a classic movie

  1. Great memories Dane you just brought up man, it has been a while I didn’t watch those classic movies, I guess we should try to go back to them one awhile.
    Thank you for being still honest with old and classic movies Dane.

  2. I have to say that you brought up some memories of the old classics. I remember sitting in front of the tv watching Gregory Peck, Humphry Bogart, Orson Wells, etc etc etc. Thanks for taking me back there. I’m going to watch some of those classics.


  3. My husband and I were discussing classic movies this morning after we learned they are planning to remake Goonies. I do not believe classic films should be remade.

    As you said, a true classic is a combination of elements that combines to make a movie timeless. Remaking a classic film, runs the risk of damaging cinematic perfection. We tried to imagine a remaking of Casablanca and could not picture it.

    What is your opinion remaking a movie that was awesome the first time?

    1. In general, I agree with the notion that a classic should not be remade.
      However, some really good movies that may be considered by some to be a classic have been remade.
      My opinion is that most well-made movies are never improved in a remake. Some remakes are far worse.
      One notable exception to this thinking is Sabrina(1954){I considered it to be a classic} was remade under the same title in 1995 and was dramatically improved.

  4. I agree with you about the age of the movie not determining if it makes it a classic or not. I actually consider newer movies to be classic only because of the impact they have had. Music plays a big part in critiquing any movie.
    I like the direction you are heading, now my recommendation is to start importing visual content.

    Keep up the good work!

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