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Will the Age of the Silver Screen Exist in Our Download-From-Your-Couch Future?

Updated on February 25, 2012

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Revolt of the Ants

Do you have an impression where all the current avenues of watching movies is headed?

My greatest concern is that more obscure movies will be harder (if not impossible) to locate on DVD. You remember B. Dalton Bookstores. They typically carried only the best selling fiction/nonfiction along with a few classics and a lot of magazines. There was no comparing it to Boarders. NetFlix seems to be headed down this same aisle where they will be able to offer a hell of a lot of "B" movies, and, if you can wait a few extra months, new releases -- this is the essence of their download plan, which they are pushing very hard

If you are looking for something older but classic, you probably won't find it. Alternative ideas from the competition are just as bad, if not worse.

I don't quite understand the download craze because its such a wild mixture of pure trash and "some" very high-quality flicks. Even the newer films which initially draw a big interest, such as one of the "Transformer" movies, peters out into nothingness in a short time frame -- so one can only wonder if the competitors in this field will continue to be on the menu or not.

The worst case scenario is for the majority of home movie watchers to be satisfied with the top 20 flicks (whatever they may be) and allow all the remainder to fade into obscurity. This was the approach that B. Dalton took, and it didn't work out so well in the long run.

Some segment of the movie-viewing audience still wants to rent obscure films. And what is not obscure today may become antique tomorrow. As with all things, each company or co-op is interested only in the money it can generate in the least amount of time. They don't care about you or me, as an audience. They don't have any feeling toward the older classics. None of these companies are in business to enlighten their audiences by making older films easier to view. The same goes for foreign films.

A dismal future may await us where people are only capable of discussing the top 20 films now on the charts. The onus seems to fall on the baby boomer generation to make a stink about this. Movies morphed drastically from the 50s to the early 70s -- some for the better, and some not, but almost all were built upon productions from 1960 backwards. Some of the best movies ever made are lost in the fog of the late 1930s and 1940s.

I say the onus falls on the boomers because this generation falls in between. Some portion of them have seen these older films and should feel some kind of obligation that they are always kept in circulation. I don't know what this onus implies ... writing letters or emails to various studios or rental services ... boycotting the hot 20 on the billboard ... I don't know. I only know this: All the deals or potential mergers rumored to be in the works are not taking into account the "A" material from the silver screen.

Here is just one odd-ball example. During my youth I had watched a film called "The Long and the Short, and the Tall." I couldn't remember much about it, so I began a search to see if it was available for rent or sale. Sadly, the film never transferred to tape. It seemed like my wishes of seeing the film again were basically impossible -- except -- in searching the title on Google, I came across a complete version of the film available on YouTube for free.

Of course, I had to accept watching the film in a tiny screen format, but under the circumstances, I accepted this in good graces. As it turned out, I basically remembered NOTHING from the film and it was if I were watching the flick for the first time. It's obviously flawed, but it has some intense scenes with Lawrence Harvey, Richard Harris, David McCallum, and Richard Todd. The movie itself is a 61 downer, but I felt triumphant in finding it and seeing it once again.

Will the upcoming media moguls allow us to watch "Night of the Iguana" (1964), or what about "The Naked Jungle" (1954)? I was born in 1953, so you can see, I was at least exposed to a variety of films (once shown on television). Will the next generation be so lucky? If you accept there are few pure hearts at the center of this cinema vortex, all we can do is complain if things go the way of B. Dalton Bookstores. Meanwhile, I am buying my favorite used and new DVDs ... just in case things don't work out to our advantage.

Hopefully, my fears out measure some form of commercial common sense. But, maybe they don't. As we are seeing in the comic book/film industry -- everything must be Kung Fu, Karate explosive with awesome background FX, or the producers don't want to place down their bets. Some number of them have wandered off to try their luck at the independent tables. It's a shaky time for the industry and the new media drivers. I personally don't think they will make the right decisions. I think their shark-live drive for blood in the water will propel them to risk everything on the almighty quick buck. I think they lack long-term vision, wisdom, and much (if any) sense about what their audience really requires -- if only on an unconscious basis.

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