Major points from classic or near-classic movies that wouldn't work today (spoilers)

Things that with the passage of time and changing circumstances, were the movie being made today simply don’t function as they once did plot-wise. For example:

All About Eve: Eve ingratiates herself to Margo and the rest by seeing every performance of Margo’s play. Not only in this era of stalkerazzi is it extremely unlikely that she’d be invited backstage, with Broadway ticket prices being so outlandishly expensive there’s no way she could afford it.

Rounders: The recent crackdowns on underground poker clubs in NYC make a good chunk of the setup less likely. Also, because of the extensive availability of online satellites it’s doubtful that Mike would feel the need to risk his bankroll at KGB’s in the opening scene. Even if he did and he still wanted to play the World Series of Poker, he’d just get himself a cheap PC.

Sorry, Wrong Number: Caller ID, *69 etc. would make it ridiculously easy to trace the calls back to their source. The cops might still not believe her but she wouldn’t have to spend all that time trying to figure that part out.

I’m less interested (despite my own last example) in stuff that’s purely technology-driven, like something taking old computers a long time to do where modern computers could do it much faster and so on. Other examples?

Plots that hinge on the discovery that a person is of mixed racial heritage (as in the classic musical Show Boat) lack the impact that they had in times past. The notion that a tiny amount of “Negro blood” might make it impossible for two people to marry seems absurd now that miscegenation laws have been abolished. The concept of “passing” is passé.

That everybody doesn’t get on the plane and fly out of Casablanca is, in part, an artifact of the Code, right?

Along with Sorry, Wrong Number. I’d nominate When a Stranger Calls for the same reason.

One that may not work today is Clash of the Titans. I mean, really, Pegasus?!? Considering how many would see the rest of the story as historical fact, they could pull it off. But a flying horse? There has to be a limit somewhere. :smiley:

My favorite example was an episode of an Ellery Queen TV show (the Jim Hutton revival) that was so dated it didn’t even make sense when they showed it. The clue was that that dying man dialed the letters of the name of the murderer on the phone and called a complete stranger. The killer’s name had only six letters, because, when the original story was written, NY city phones had six-digit numbers. Modern viewers never would have guessed.

It’s not a TV show but I was listening to an old timey radio show of Sherlock Holmes and the major clue was a phone call with a freaky, inhuman sounding voice. To modern listeners, it’s incredibly obvious it’s just a slowed down tape (which was the final deduction) but I guess listeners in the 20s and 30s probably hadn’t had much experience with tape recorders.

Citizen Kane. “Kane Found in Love Nest with ‘Singer’” would not necessarily doom his election campaign. Also, there was no way a news organization would hold a story several days in order to get more background (the basic situation of the entire film).

They only have two passes.

Well that’s good because the thread is about movies.


I dunno, I still think a pol caught in flagrante would instantly become unelectable.

I agree. The classic example is Gary Hart.

I don’t think The Third Man would work terribly well today. The market for counterfeit Penicillin in Vienna is pretty small these days.

Yeah, I didn’t catch that 'cause I was reading the post about the Ellery Queen episode immediately before I posted. Sorry if you wasted 15 seconds.

Which Rick hoarded instead of sharing with, or lending to, the undergrounders. The Great Escape, set in the same time frame, has a flourishing barracks industry of forgeries, using stolen documents as models. Granted, I too would have been tempted to leave ASAP with Ilsa.

Ilsa reminds me of Carmen Sternwood in the 1945-1946 version of The Big Sleep. Carmen is a provocatively-dressed model for photo magazines, and her antics contribute to her family’s troubles. Today, with such materials legal, she would be more like Paris Hilton. Or Pamela Anderson.

Only if he were caught with a dead girl or a live boy. (Who said that? :confused: )

How about a dead boy? Cuz well I thought about running for public office and it… um…might come up.
In theory is all I’m saying.
It didn’t really happen.
Wait…what…prank call, prank call!!!

Actually, they sort-of did this on the recent, (deservedly) short-lived series The Evidence. The victim dials a number on her cell phone as she is dying and the detectives waste a bit of time trying to determine her connection to the place she called before finally realizing that she had dialed the authorization code (or something like that) of a doctor that was illicitly issuing perscriptions for drugs.

(Sorta, it was a bit more complicated than that but…)

How about every movie made before cell phones become commonplace in which characters miss each other at a meeting place, need to tell someone something but can’t reach them, need to call the police but can’t find a pay phone, etc.

Right in the middle of the John Wayne classic The High and The Mighty two of the characters on the plane get in an argument and one pulls out a gun and tries to shoot the other. At the end of the movie, the other passengers even give the gun back (although they keep the bullets.)

I have trouble believing things would have worked out that way even in 1954.

Just about any old movie that relies on sexual mores for a plot hinge wouldn’t work in today’s anything goes mentality. Like “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,” for example – no one would care that Trudy got knocked up one night, and she wouldn’t have to spend the whole movie looking for a husband.

You can still pull this off with a series of technology disasters and/or a character having phone access cut off as part of some devious plan, as in Cellular. Even somebody’s cellphone battery running out (like in Collateral) could be enough, and then like in both movies you have a free exciting storyline to add on about the character trying to get another connection.