1984’s entertainment editor takes a closer look at how we got to modern cinema and why it’s so exciting


Jennifer Hill, entertainment editor

Hey!!! What ever happened to the good old days when boy meets girl, sailors sung songs and the belle of the ball dances the night away with her Prince Charming? Well, the film industry has come a long way since the old classics including “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Babes of Broadway,” “Anchors Away,” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” (These films are practically zero competition for such “premo” films like “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Joy of Sex,” and “Sheena.”) During the Depression, people existed in a society deprived of economic luxuries readily available in the roaring 20s. The nation was in desperate need of hope and glamour whereupon the birth of movie musicals was obtained.

By the 1950s, conveniences such as the newly devised television became the central gathering place for the nuclear family. However, this affected the money market of the movie industry, according to Patrick Taggart, film critic of the Austin American-Statesman. During the 50s, rock n’ roll made its way into the American teen scene. 

It was Elvis Presley that, during this time, reigned as the king of rock n’ roll. Presley made several movies during his successful career. Among some of them are “Harum Scarum,” “Spinout,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

While Presley was busy with his short acting career; the Beatles invaded America. Even the Fab Four had something to offer movie goers. Throughout the 60s they brought us such films as “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help,” and the animated “Yellow Submarine.”

Recently, such movies as “Breakin’,” “Beat Street,” “Streets of Fire,” and the ever popular “Purple Rain” have been released. These films have been designed as no-talk two-hour videos. Although they lack, in most cases, first rate dialogue and storyline, critics have given them the credit they deserve. “In fact, most critics give them more credit than they deserve,” Taggart said.

This raises the question as to whether or not the young movie goers have neglected the fine dramas and comedies that have graced the movie screens of America. However, box office hits in the past five years have proven that dramas and comedies have not and will not be underestimated as fine films. “Ordinary People,” “Terms of Endearment,” and “Kramer vs. Kramer” are among these. “If anything, rock movies will go before dramas,” Taggart said.

The video industry has had a great impact on the viewing audiences’ demands. Bob Pitman, vice president of MTV, feels that music videos are responsible for making young people read faster and think faster. Therefore, many movies today are focused on a fast-paced audience. The two highest grossing movies of this summer, “Ghostbusters” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” Have emphasized another aspect in the success of the movie industry. Undoubtedly, a primary role in the success of these films is special effects. “They are (special effects) meant to capitalize on the young rock oriented audience.” Taggart said. 

It is yet to be known if the majority of people paying to see breakdancers on the big screen or a Prince glide across a stage actually like what they are paying for.

This story was originally published in The Shield on Sept. 28, 1984.