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Crash Course: Craig Benzine- The Golden Age of Hollywood: Film History

August 3, 2017
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Source: Crash Course

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

Damn, if Craig Benzine could only talk faster and not have to take breaths in-between words, he could get a lot done. But seriously, this guy must have a year supply of free Red Bull or Starbucks coffee, because he makes speed freaks sound like comatose patients. I’m not saying I’ve never heard someone else talk faster and for a longer period of time, I just can’t name anyone right now. I would have to go through all of my memory banks and cash all them out and I might not be able to come up with another time where I heard a faster longer talker.

I’m not going to cover much of what Craig Benzine said there, because I don’t have slow-mo on my computer and he just went through all of these areas really fast. But the Golden Age of Hollywood really for me goes from the 1940s up until the 1970s or so. It was an era where movies were about writing, plot, directing, and acting. Not who swears the most and loudest and who is the biggest asshole in the movie. Catch phrases that make rookie no names actors stars overnight where everyone in country is using that catch phrase to describe whatever current situation they’re facing.

To succeed in the Golden Age of Hollywood, you really had to be able to write to make it as a writer. Unlike today where phrases and words are borrowed from other shows and movies and used for their shows and movies. The Golden Age of Hollywood wasn’t cookie-cutter, but originalist.

Movies like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington from 1939 with Jimmy Stewart and many others. You can’t really say there was a move like that before and there have been many attempts to make another great political movie and movie about Congress since, but most of them have come up weigh short. Mr. Smith came out in 1939 and almost either years later it’s still one of the best and most popular movies in Hollywood history.

North by Northwest- still my all-time favorite movie and I would argue at least is Alfred Hitchcock’s best movie, even though many others would argue for Notorious instead. There really isn’t another movie like North by Northwest. Yes it’s a Cold War movie involving the CIA trying to catch a traitor they believe is selling U.S. Government secrets to Russia and perhaps other communist states. So that by itself doesn’t make it original. But you have a movie where ordinary people become heroes. Again that doesn’t make it original, but it’s how it was done.

The closing action scene where the good guys defeat the bad guys takes place on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Can’t believe someone other than Alfred Hitchcock would come up with that. And then you have Cary Grant as the lead actor who arguably is the most handsome actor of all-time, but he also happens to be the best actor and also one of the funniest actors with incredible comedic timing. James Mason very similar to Cary Grant as far as what he brought to his parts, as the lead bad guy. Martin Landau playing a supporting role. The beautiful and adorable Eva Marie Saint who was also a great actress, as the lead actress.

It wasn’t a suspense movie. It wasn’t a thriller. It wasn’t an action movie. It wasn’t a mystery. It wasn’t a comedy. North by Northwest was all of those things in an action-packed movie with a lot of humor in it. That again was sell well-written, directed and delivered. Where the actors and crew knew they were part of something really special and wanted to be there and do their best work.

Today where in an era of Hollywood where TV and movies are about style and appearance. Who is up and who is down, who looks and sounds the hippest and has the most pop culture and reality TV appeal. Instead of who can actually act, who can improvise and be themselves and come off as likable and as someone who not only knows what they’re doing, but can bring something different in value that perhaps hasn’t been seen before. Where the biggest jerk (to put it mildly) who not only swears the most and puts people down as the most tends to be the most popular. Even if they’re no better than your average reality TV star as far as their ability to act.

Today if the public likes the performer and they’re so-called viral on social media and the internet, they’ll continue to work and make a good living in Hollywood. Even if all their shows and movies are garbage as far as the material. Their shows and movies will continue to sell even if the critics are beating the hell out of their performances and not taking those performers seriously, let alone respecting their work.

The Classic Hollywood era was anti-reality TV. Of course they loved their beautiful, sexy, and adorable actresses. Women like Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, and many others were all big stars back then. And Hollywood loved their big handsome studs. Actors like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Sydney Poitier, and many others. But the difference being that the Hollywood goddess’s and gods, were more than their beautiful faces and bodies.

If you couldn’t act back then, if you didn’t show up for work, then you didn’t work. It wasn’t an era where Hollywood was trying to sell personality and popularity when it came to their characters, over substance. Classic Hollywood was a professional era where the professionals were in charge which is what makes it so great and classic. As long as reality TV is dominating TV and movies, we won’t see another great era in Hollywood again.

Crash Course: Craig Benzine- The Golden Age of Hollywood: Film History

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