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Questions about Movies/Was the initial run of a film all an actor could expect?


Do you think that, prior to the introduction of UHF television stations, film actors and makers ever thought that their efforts would last and be seen longer than their initial run? I know some films were rereleased after a time and some, like the Disney movies would do so for decades. But how about the 99% of films we now call classics and can recite the dialog?
I've been involved in live theater for years and know the actors' and crews' thoughts on the fleeting glory of a performance. How about Clark Gable? Do you know if he knew “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” would be quoted 70 years after its release?

Great question!  There are a number of documented interviews with actors, writers, and directors who said that they had no idea their films would have a life beyond the initial run in the theater, going back to the silent era.  However, your example of Gable's line from "Gone With the Wind" was probably an exception as the book was a sensation and the producer, David O. Selznick, was known to be rather grandiose in his ambitions.  Another story from the same year (1939) and same director (Victor Fleming) has always intrigued me.  Initially, there was a song in "Wizard of Oz" called "The Jitterbug."  You can see outtakes of the number on some of the DVDs.  But they ended up deciding not to include it because they were beginning to feel that the film would have a life beyond its immediate era and did not want to have any signifier to a particular dance craze of the moment.  By that time, the film industry had been established for a few decades.  Though color and sound were still relatively new, film had moved along on that same trajectory as other popular arts like comic strips and jazz (and, centuries before, theater), to be considered art as well as entertainment, in part thanks to critics like James Agee and Gilbert Seldes.  While the idea of television was still a decade into the future (and 1939 is still considered by many to be the apex of Hollywood film-making, before first WWII and then television), the idea that some films were good enough to be taken seriously as art and re-watched by future generations was already taking hold.

On the other hand, in the 1950's, while old movies were getting a new life on television, as they would again on video and DVD, Warner's decided all of the original drawings and cels from the Bugs Bunny cartoons were taking up too much space, and they just burned them all.  Today they would be worth a fortune to collectors.  

Thanks for writing!

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Nell Minow


Movies, especially classic movies, current movies, family movies, and movies for families.


I am the movie critic for Beliefnet and radio stations across the country. I have written about movies for USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, Parents, Family Fun, Child, Slate, and Daughters. I am the weekly movie critic for radio stations across the US and in Canada and write weekly parental advisories for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Kansas City Star. I have appeared on Fox Morning News, the ABC Evening News, CBS This Morning, and NPR, and been profiled in the NY Times, Washingtonian, Chicago Magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. My book, The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies, was published by Avon in April 1999 and is now in its second edition. I can answer questions about movies for special interests, especially family concerns, handling questions from kids like "What do I do when he says everyone else has seen it?" to "My daughter got nightmares from a movie --how can I help her?" or "Why does my child want to see the DVD over and over?" to "What's the deal with Pokemon?" I am pretty good with trivia questions about movies, too, not as good with made-for-TV movies or miniseries. And I don't know much about horror/slasher films, sorry.

Broadcast, Online, and Washington DC film critics associations

The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, The Practical Guide to Practically Everything

film critic for high school and college papers before becoming a professional movie critic

Awards and Honors
Roger Ebert's "Thumbs Up" award, presenter at Ebertfest and the Tallgrass Film Festival, member of the Online, DC, Broadcast and women's film critic/writer associations.

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