This is a new category I’m creating at Willceau Illo News to share the movies I can’t live without. These are the movies I would hope to have with me if I were trapped on a desert island. They are the cinematic equivalents of comfort food in that they are movies that stand up to repeated viewing and never get old. For that reason, I have purchased the films on physical media i.e. DVDs so that I can watch and enjoy them any time I want. I tend to buy the disks used from sellers on eBay. A number of the sellers are charities such as Goodwill so the prices are fair and it’s going for a good cause.
It seems that I can’t rely on streaming channels to simply offer a classics section filled with films from Hollywood’s golden era. For reasons unknown, some of the top streaming channels I have tried either have a very loose interpretation of what is considered a classic or the subject is avoided all together. It seems that one has to do an awful lot of digging in order to strike gold, and there are tons of dirt in the way of those nuggets. There may be a genuine classic here and there, but it is surrounded by low budget, direct-to-video garbage prominently featuring an actor who needs the money. Is it too much to ask for a section that has genuine classics? Bogart? Bacall? Jimmy Cagney? Howard Hawks? A lot of them were made before I was born, but I grew up watching and loving these movies on UHF television and occasionally on the screens of repertory theaters.
There are a number of channels that have old material that has entered the public domain, but the quality is hit or miss, and a lot of the titles seem to exist to teach me the lesson that just because something is old doesn’t make it good. There were a lot of rotten movies made in the good old days which may explain why a lot of these movies lapsed into the public domain. Nobody wanted them.
Otto Preminger’s Laura which was released to theaters in 1944 is one of my most recent purchases. It’s a movie that has been remade in one form or another and has been countlessly referenced in any number of movies, detective fiction as well as in song. In case you are unfamiliar, the synopsis is basically: A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating. If you have not seen it, giving away any more would be criminal!