Last night my wife and I decided to watch Robin Hood, the old Errol Flynn version. I love it. She loved it. I find it hard not to appreciate how great a film it is, especially when you take the time to learn how much work went into making it.
The composer for the film, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, wrote the music to be in the same key as the voices of the actors while they were speaking.
The sets included the great hall of a castle, built from scratch - no CGI or special effects to make it seem larger.
Every arrow shown striking a target was fired by Howard Hill, unofficially known as "The World's Greatest Archer." Any cast member who had to be hit wore a sheet of balsa wood under their costume and Hill shot them, past every other person on set, right in the middle of scenes. Again, no tricks, no special effects. If you see a character get shot in this movie, they were actually shot, with perfect accuracy, by hill. And apparently, even with the balsa wood to protect the actors, it still packed a whallop.
It's only really now, as an adult, that I can appreciate the amount of work and craft that went into a movie of that scale. It was a different time for filmmaking. Everything was experimental. But even then the core elements of performance and scriptwriting were the foundation for the story. It's incredible to look back and see how people took on those challenges to manage what must have seemed impossible in order to tell the best story they could, to see how many things have changed and what has stayed the same. And also, perhaps, to compare what we've gained in filmmaking to the things we have lost.
What about you? What are some of your favourite classic movies?