Anyone who has ever seen more than five films probably has a list of buzzwords — things that immediately attract you to a film. Even though my motto is “I’ll watch anything once,” there are definitely certain things that attract me to some films over others. If I were to compile a list of all of mine, it’d probably be about a million items long. But I’ll spare you that torture; here are the first ten that come to mind (in no particular order)!
- Cary Grant – Nobody should be surprised by this one. I’ve written of my love for Cary on many occasions. I’ll literally watch anything that he’s in, even if he’s got a bit part.
- 1940s musical – I love musicals, and the 1940s is my favorite decade of them. On the Town, The Harvey Girls, Meet Me In St. Louis, Cabin in the Sky… I could go on for days.
- Pre-code – The pre-code era is interesting to me, because it gives a more realistic peek into what life was like in the early to mid-20th century. Once the censors swooped in and began dictating what could and could not be shown in films, everything got a bit more sugar-coated and cheery. I can only imagine how scandalous some of the pre-code subject matter may have seemed at the time, because so many of the issues discussed were usually kept private.
- Sisters – My older sister is more than my only sibling — she’s my favorite person in the world, and my very best friend. For this reason, I’m always interested in stories about sisters. I can usually relate to them, or at the very least compare my own experience of sisterhood to them.
- Period piece – My mind is stuck in the past. Classic films aren’t even the half of it — I’m a complete history nerd as well. Period pieces are great to watch if they’re historically accurate, and great to make fun of if they’re not. You really can’t lose.
- Suspense – I’m not a fan of most horror simply because I’m highly prone to queasiness, but I love a good suspenseful film! Hitchcock is obviously a favorite of mine because he did what it seems like no filmmaker is capable of nowadays – achieving high levels of anxiety and suspense in the viewer without gimmicks, gruesome basement amputations or over-the-top gore.
- “Based on the novel” – This is especially true if I’ve already read and loved the novel, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. I love books just as much as I love films, so it’s always fun to read and then watch (though the film usually doesn’t compare to the world I construct in my brain while reading).
- “Based on a true story” – I love reading about and watching screen-adapted versions of wacky, out-of-the-ordinary stuff that happens to people. This probably stems from the fact that my own life is fairly mild (read: uneventful, boring).
- Animals – I’ve always loved animals, and as a result have always loved seeing them on screen. I’m fascinated by the natural world in general, but animals and their social structures/evolutions/daily lives most of all. Toss a documentary about primates (or even a copy of The Lion King) at me and I’m a happy camper.
- Journalism – Both intentionally and unintentionally, I seem to gravitate toward movies about journalism. If I see words like “journalist,” “newspaper” or “editor” in a synopsis, sign me up. But I don’t always choose movies this way — I often choose them when no mention of journalism is made in the synopsis, but end up finding a journalistic character present anyway. When I started keeping track of my movie-watching a few years ago and made a catalog of my DVD collection, I was both surprised and amused by the number of films I own/love that have prominent journalist characters. Maybe it’s simply because journalistic characters are common, but I like to think of it as fate telling me I’m headed in the right direction.
Share your own buzzwords in the comments!
Ed. note: I got this idea after watching BookRatMisty’s “Buzzwords and Deal Breakers” video on YouTube. She discusses the things that will either attract her to a book or cause her to put a wall up and enjoy it less, so I’ve decided to adapt her idea and apply it to film. Keep an eye out for the deal breakers post soon!
Watching as many Cary Grant movies as I could get my hands on was how I was first introduced to Katharine Hepburn. There are a few other actors/actresses who I will go to see, regardless of the film itself (Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, to name a few of my favs). I also have this thing about sister or sybling movies – don’t know why. In the Hepburn canon, this includes LITTLE WOMEN (1934), A WOMAN REBELS (1936), and HOLIDAY (1938). The rest of your list is really awesome too – wish you lived next door so we could hang out and watch TCM together!