Early reviews of Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans seem to suggest that the film serves as the director’s love letter to filmmaking and classic cinema, which uses several techniques and tropes that aren’t really seen anymore in modern blockbusters and exhaustive franchise projects.
In response, Reddit users have been discussing some of their favorite tropes and trademarks of classic cinema that sadly just aren’t seen anymore, whether that’s because of technical advancements or the ever-changing face of today’s cinematic climate.
Long Opening Credits
Opening credits were much more important in classic Hollywood than they are now, in the age of franchise filmmaking and content creation. Films have to fight much harder to grasp the audience’s attention today, and extensive credits pretty much guarantee that many viewers will lose interest.
Redditor theg721 argues that long credits have the capacity to be even more exciting today “with modern CGI,” but most filmmakers are unwilling to sacrifice this much of their project’s runtime. Today, these kinds of unskippable opening credits are only ever found in TV series, where more time can be spent outside of the story.
In an age where it’s pretty much possible to create anything at all using special effects, the use of handmade practical effects has tragically become much less frequent. But no matter how far technology advances, the immersive authenticity of real practical effects can never quite be replicated.
One Reddit user talks about the “amazing” ways that filmmakers were forced to create illusions before the time of special effects, claiming that this kind of creative practicality just isn’t present anymore. GCI can often look tacky and cheap, despite the amount of money that’s required to make it work.
Big-Budget Comedy Moments
In the past few years, it has become less and less frequent to see big-budget studio comedies playing in theaters around the world. Most of the screens are taken up by franchise films or Hollywood superstars, to the extent that comedy is becoming one of the least sought-after genres in the industry.
But in the days of classic Hollywood, comedy was one of the most popular movie tropes of all. Most of the best comedy movies ever made come from a long-gone era, and several Reddit users such as jrogeroiii are disheartened by the fact that these kinds of movies are “so rare now.”
Black and white cinematography didn’t start off as a creative choice, with colored film not being available to most filmmakers until the 1940s or even 1950s. This meant that most films were shot in crisp black and white, a style that many audiences now find themselves missing greatly.
Black and white is often used in TV episodes to signify something taking place in the past, but outside of this one specific use, this form of cinematography is rarely seen today. Like many fans, Redditor shiver-show misses this particular era and believes there is “something very beautiful” about those films.
Less Plot-Focused Scenes
Particularly with blockbuster movies, it can often feel like stories have very little room to breathe, as every single scene is just setting up the next one and ensuring that the story moves forward quickly. But in the past, it wasn’t uncommon for popular films to have a few scenes that serve no purpose other than letting the audience spend some quiet time with the characters.
Reddit user drummerguy06 claims that these days, most movies are “afraid to take a beat, relax, and breathe,” which is such an important part of most stories. The constant focus on plot and narrative can often be exhausting and prevents the audience from really connecting with the characters.
If a movie today was made with background noise or grainy cinematography, it would be seen as a clear mistake and openly criticized for it. But not only was this commonplace in classic Hollywood, but several filmmakers actually inserted these quirks intentionally to give their films more charm and personality.
Reddit user jay_eye_mboth_why writes that they “miss the noise grain on film,” which was just one of the many imperfections that came along with this popular trope. Whilst technical advancements have been great for the movie industry, they’ve also held films up to a much stricter standard.
Real Action Sequences
Right now, action films are arguably more popular than they’ve ever been, but the very concept of an action film has changed irrevocably over the years – as has the way they’re filmed. Many decades ago, it was common for most action sequences to actually be filmed in front of the camera with organized stunts and doubles, whereas today, a lot is done with CGI.
Reddit user infamous_yoghurt2858 agrees that they “miss big stunt and action sequences” in the way they were made all those years ago. There are still a few famous actors who take pride in doing their own stunts and action scenes, but it’s much less frequent than it was.
Unconventional Leading Actors
The concept of a leading man or woman has meant something completely different in each era, but in today’s cinematic landscape, there seem to be pretty clear guidelines as to who can (and can’t) serve as the face of a major franchise. Meanwhile, in the days of classic Hollywood, the only thing that really determined who could become a star was their acting ability.
Reddit user tjr_88 reflects upon a time when Hollywood stars were defined by their “star quality and media training” rather than their looks and popularity, suggesting that this was one of the most important tropes of classic movies that’s slowly fading away.
Lack Of Sequels & Franchises
One of the main criteria that separate today’s film industry from the classic Hollywood era is the focus on sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. It feels like almost every movie released today is part of a bigger picture, tying into another box office success or fan-favorite series.
Original stories were much more common in the early days of Hollywood, with most films standing completely by themselves as separate narratives. Reddit user fartyfrankfurt argues that classic Hollywood was filled with “quality writing and original stories,” which has sadly faded away and would benefit from making a return.
Although most action movies and superhero flicks still end with a battle between the heroes and the villains, there’s something about classic Hollywood showdowns that just can’t be replicated. Long, extended shots that create tension in contrast to today’s more snappy, action-focused approach.
Redditor studboi69 initially pointed out this contrast, claiming that “nowadays, [showdowns] feel too short and anticlimactic,” which is most likely a result of the flashy editing decisions and unwillingness to let a scene play out for longer than necessary.
NEXT: 10 Great Classic Hollywood Movies Featuring Costuming By Edith Head