They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like That No More- The Rise and Fall of Hollywood
Back in 1974, the Roman Polanski film “Chinatown” was released. It starred Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway and is reveled as a classic… and it is. The following year, another classic movie came out that would ultimately change the course of movie history and the way we see films today.
In 1975, “Jaws” was released. It is also considered a classic and in many ways, it is. So, how did this little underdog of a film… a film that was over budget, over schedule and plagued with problems change the movies? It was because of the marketing and Spielberg’s creative genius that forced him to make decisions to keep the film shooting.
During filming of “Jaws,” the robo-shark built by the special effects team didn’t work the way it was supposed to forcing the young, green Spielberg to shoot around the water-logged and malfunctioning beast. The FX team hadn’t tested Bruce (as he was known to the cast and crew) the shark in the salt water at Martha’s Vineyard. The foam rubber skin would soak up the water like a giant fish shaped sponge, make the robot almost three times heavier and reek havoc on the hydraulic and robotic controls.
The young director had to think on his feet… How do you make a scary killer shark movie with no shark? So, after many days of delays and heartache, he created the “yellow barrel solution,” in which, instead of the shark, the hero’s attach the yellow buoys to the shark via harpoon so that they could effectively “use the shark” without using it. This added to the tension and suspense of the film. Instead of showing the massive killer creature, we were teased as the audience. It created the anticipation and excitement by not showing the shark too much.
This is what clicked with audiences and this is why the movie was as successful as it was. The first SUMMER HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER… then “Star Wars” came and then “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and it snowballed from there. Which brings us to today…
The movie industry is now bogged down by “The Blockbuster.” We have “Blockbuster Seasons” now. We have the “Summer Blockbuster” and the “Holiday Blockbuster” seasons. The summer blockbuster season is practically broken up into each month. It used to start in late May. Now it starts in April with a minor “Spring Blockbuster” season. Unfortunately, nowadays, it’s all about pumping out superhero franchise sequels, reboots, remakes and, my favorite term, “re-envisionings” are classic films we all know and love but, don’t need sequels, reboots or re-envisionings of.
Did I need a sequel to “Blade Runner?” A classic motion picture with a beginning, middle and, dare I say it… a REALLY GOOD END? Fuck. To. The. NO. Was the sequel/reboot/box office disappointment good? Yes. It was. It was a bit too long but, it was good… the point is, DID. WE. NEED. IT? We didn’t. We need to leave at least SOME of the classics ALONE. We are being bombarded by superhero movies. We have what seems like 400 “Transformer” movies. All the big, giant “Hollywood” blockbusters seem to end the same, an over-the-top CGI extravaganza with so many CGI and Visual Effects, you can’t tell what the fuck is going on. It’s SOUR, ROTTEN eye candy. Too overwhelming, loud and ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong… A few of them are still fun but, I’m getting the superhero fatigue badly. I thought Avengers:Infinity War was just OK. Deadpool 2? It was funny at times but, again, it didn’t re-invent anything. It was a movie.
I understand this is still a “BUSINESS” and people are out to make money but, what happened TO the risk takers in Hollywood. Without movies LIKE “E.T.” which most thought would flop, or “Star Wars” which everyone EXPECTED to flop… these movies, made on moderate budgets, at the time were ORIGINAL IDEAS PEOPLE TOOK A RISK ON. THESE were the movies that MADE the “movie season” so why not continue with that tradition? Now we are oversaturated with the same thing, over and over and over and over again. TOO many of one thing. Not enough of the other.
We need that gray area back again too. Either movies are being made for $100,000 dollars or $200 million dollars and up. Where are the 5 million, 10 million, 30 million dollar movies? With original stories? Stories with characters we care about and plot? The origins of the summer blockbuster… the films the studios DID take risks on and became huge successes need to come back. Hollywood is making safe widgets and all of them are feeling the same now. I miss those days of The original “Terminator,” or wacky films like “Night of the Creeps,” “Evil Dead 2,” or “Raising Arizona… films with heart and character and plot. A film you’d go see that was original but, you also didn’t really know what you were getting yourself into. Everything is way too cookie cutter.
The business needs to open its eyes and realize we need more original content. It’s why the movie business is failing and things like streaming services and TV has taken over. The movies need to come back in a big way. It’s a way to bring people together in a world where we need people together the most. It’s a social activity where people are burying their noses in “social media,” in one of the most unsocial things ever invented. It’s an art form in a world where, again, unfortunately, Hollywood is churning out “mass produced hotel paintings” and trying to sell them to us as “originals.” I know the cause of this whole “trend,” is also the solution. We just need to start demanding more from Hollywood and its “executive’s.”
PS…. Photoshopped movie posters SUCK. Get some REAL ARTISTS to PAINT the posters, like the good old days. Poster art shouldn’t be a dying art form but, I’ll get into that at a later post.