Who Dislikes Classic Movies? Why?

When Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, asked his teammates to watch five classic movies so they can "get on the same page with me," the teammates did not find his choices entertaining, but they trudged through. The thirty-seven year old refers to a generation gap in the team that he wants to bridge with films, "[We] don't speak the same language because we don't know the same favorite movies."

Manning resurrected a question that has troubled me for many years: Why do people dislike old movies? 

I can't remember a time when I disliked them; my own background is of no help. I turned to Yahoo Answers,Google, blogs, etc. and found a variety of responses to that question.
They don't like classic movies? Inconceivable!

One cannot explain why she doesn't like the classics.

"I don't know what it is about old movies that creeps me out.  And really, I don't even know the exact definition of 'old' as I use it here.  I'm thinking like, pretty much anything recorded earlier than say... the 1970s.  (So like, pretty much anything older than me.  Ha ha!)  But yeah... something about them just gives me the creeps. " - A user at Experience Project

Another one finds the acting distracting.
"I was having a discussion with my father-in-law awhile ago about a disconnect that I'm experiencing with "old movies"...

The conclusion that *I* was reaching was that the "acting" was worse than a Jr. high drama class would offer. Hear me out. I'm noting this with MANY old movies.

You've seen the scene: The female lead's eyes dart about as though tracking a fruit fly. Oh wait!! He said something awful; (her close-up, bite bottom lip, press hand to mouth and spin around away from him. Stare at the floor. Stare...there's that fly again... Now spin back with a constipated look. The cigarette (over) used as a dramatic prop with the lead (male) waving and gesturing and squinting through the smoke to convey frustration. Then (too obvious to ignore) stride across the stage and "hit the mark". Cue the sit-partially-cross-legged-on-the-corner-of-the-desk-pose, folds his hands in his lap...Good! (We HAVE our movie poster).

NOW, he doesn't like what she's saying; makes a big show of folding his arms. Wince, (close-up on him) glance about nervously (now the fruit fly is his) and then stands up, rush to his mark and grasp her arms between the shoulder and elbow as she looks painfully at your camera-side hand, and CUT we have our dramatic interaction.

Try that in a 2008 movie and we'll throw M&M's.... " Awf Hand at Reelviews.com

And on it goes.

Summarizing all of the answers I've found, these seem to be the problems:

"Too old."
"They are older than I am!"
"They are not in color."
"Too long and slow-paced."
"I tried to like it, but the acting is weird/stilted."
"They are irrelevant."

This is not empirical data or anything. However, I noticed another pattern. The ones who voice their complaints are watching Bogart, anything noir, Gone with the Wind, Singin' in the Rain, Hitchcock thrillers in the classroom or The Wizard of Oz with granny.  They watch wonderful, but over-hyped, features and come away disappointed because they just don't understand why it's such a big deal to everyone else.

Then some feel as if the classics are something they are obligated to like (because of peer pressure) instead of something they've come to enjoy on their own. They weary of us telling them they don't know what they're missing.

If these are the reasons, then we'd do well to connect the current with the past, to connect that foreign entity -the old movie- to something in that person's life to help others appreciate that classic movies are very much relevant today.
Don't like classic movies,eh? Engarde!

Some movie watchers will be beyond reach; they don't like old movies and that's the end of it. However, many simply need a guide. Someone to be that bridge between then and now.

I met a school teacher who often pauses classic movies during a salient plot point to discuss with the students what is going on, what they believe will happen next and what they would do if they were the characters. This helps the kids find a connection with the movie. Everyone is eager to express an opinion.

When West Side Story ran in theaters recently, the students -who before were completely blasé about old films- were eager to go! They were so excited afterwards, they began snapping their fingers and leaping about in the parking lot, just like the Sharks and the Jets in the film. 

Reaching beyond our classic movie fandom can be done. They might not become the fanatics that we are, but they might come away with a better appreciation of these historical gems.

Now I turn to you. On the sidebar to your right is a poll on this question. Click the answer you think best captures why people hate old movies. You can also answer in the comments section below.

Why do you think people dislike old movies?


  1. I used to teach HS teen girls and I slowly introduced classic film to them in various different ways. Of course many lived in their own worlds and own bubbles so the thought of watching a black and white film was over their heads. Many of them just were turned off by watching a black and white film...many were impatient. I can tell you also that many ended up LOVING the films I showed so its about getting to their level and showcasing it in a way that they can relate too. I hope to teach young people about classic film one day. Oh and calling it "old" def. turns them off LOL xox


  2. Ha! Yes, calling it "old" will just reaffirm that they don't want to watch it.

    Thanks for the story.

    As for teaching young people about classic film, you already do, in a way, on your vintage fashion blog with classic film actor spotlights. You're making the clothes people would wear originally while watching classic films before they were classics.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    - Java


Thanks for your contribution to Java's Journey.


About Java

"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email: java-rush@hotmail.com


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