Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Genres I just don’t like—but I keep trying

We all have them—whether as as professional reviewers or general film fans (which, hopefully, most professionals are). There are just certain types of movies that inherently do not appeal to us. It’s human nature. Not everyone likes everything. And that’s as it should be. It’s called diversity. Of course, the professional and the film fan differ in one specific—the film fan has more choice in the matter. With the professional reviewer, it’s luck of the draw, and the results can be fairly enlightening for the reviewer, who is apt to be pleasantly surprised by seeing a film he or she might otherwise have avoided.

I make no bones about having little affinity for westerns, war pictures, gangster movies and a good deal of what is loosely termed science fiction. That doesn’t translate into an ability to avoid those genres. And frankly, I think that’s a good thing. Apart from the brief spurt of cute-boys-with-big-guns movies at the beginning of the 21st century—American Outlaws (2001) and Texas Rangers (2001), anyone?—the western genre has been pretty interesting on the rare occasions it’s cropped up of late. Open Range (2003), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Appaloosa (2008) all rated high enough with this non-admirer of the genre to get four-and-a-half star reviews.

Based on that, it might be reasonable to conclude that I really do like westerns despite my claims to the contrary. Yet it’s worth noting that the only westerns festooning my DVD shelves—apart from Laurel and Hardy in Way Out West (1937), the Marx Brothers in Go West (1940) and Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948) and Son of Paleface (1952), which probably don’t count—are Irving Cummings and Raoul Walsh’s In Old Arizona (1929), Cecil B. DeMille’s The Plainsman (1936), Arthur Penn’s Little Big Man (1970) and Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson (1976).  The first is mostly for historical reasons, the second is pure aberration (and a fondness for Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur), and the last two are hardly typical.

No, it’s not from a lack of familiarity with the genre. I’ve seen all the standards from William S. Hart through Sergio Leone. I’ve been through the John Ford and Howard Hawks standards. And I had more than my fair share of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers singing cowboy B pictures when I was a kid. I admire many of the films. I recognize the greatness—and value—of such accepted classics as John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), The Searchers (1956), etc. For that matter, my earliest film memory is of The Searchers—which I saw with my parents when I was two. But admiration is not the same as particularly liking a thing. Something about the genre fails to actually resonate with me. Generally, I prefer Ford’s non-westerns.The same is true of Hawks.

The war film is trickier, since it includes both generic war pictures and anti-war pictures. While there are a number of anti-war pictures that I do like—from Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) to Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H (1971) to Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) to David O. Russell’s slightly ambivalent Three Kings (1999)—I’m coming up blank on a plain war movie that I have much use for. Even among anti-war movies, Ernst Lubitsch’s Broken Lullaby is probably my favorite—and only its first 10 minutes deals with the war itself. For that matter, I don’t tend to like “service comedies.” Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms (1918), Laurel and Hardy’s Pack Up Your Troubles (1932) and Bob Hope’s Caught in the Draft (1941) are among my least favorite films of those comedians.

When I was in high school we would occasionally watch films made during WWII—but only because the propaganda factor was often so ludicrous that they became funny in retrospect. Meaning no disrespect, but it’s simply impossible to take Errol Flynn (in reality a 4-F) winning the war single-handed all that seriously. In the utterly preposterous Desperate Journey (1942), Flynn spends an entire movie outwitting the Nazis at every turn, only to jump aboard a getaway plane and end the movie by saying, “Now, for Australia and a crack at those Japs!” In any case, it wasn’t a situation where I liked these movies. Something about them inherently does not appeal to me.

That’s not been put to the test in the 21st century for the simple fact that I have yet to see a really good war picture this century. And, yes, I include The Hurt Locker (2009) in that. It’s good, but I don’t think it’s great by any stretch—except perhaps for its remarkable ability to play to both sides of the political fence. There have certainly been a number of noble attempts, but no one has struck the gong. And audiences aren’t buying it, which raises the question of whether it’s even possible to make a popular film about an unpopular war? For that matter, can a film about a controversial war effectively be made during that war? There’s perhaps a reason why anti-Vietnam films like Richard Lester’s How I Won the War (1967) and Altman’s M*A*S*H don’t deal with the Vietnam war. (Yes, I realize that a crowd of people turned away and How I Won the War was a huge flop, but here I’m talking artistic viability.)

People seem to dearly love the gangster film. Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) and/or The Godfather: Part II (1974) probably appear on as many “best” lists as Citizen Kane. I simply don’t get the appeal. This is also the reason that I have reservations about some Martin Scorsese pictures. I admire both filmmakers (Scorsese more than Coppola on balance), but the subject matter is occasionally somewhere between uninteresting and off-putting for me. So why then do I find Scorsese’s The Departed (2006) one of the finest films of the decade? In part, it’s the sheer complexity of a film that works on a number of levels at one time. The bizarre strain of black comedy that runs through the film—especially concerning Jack Nicholson’s character—is a plus, and it’s a plus that raises the film out of the realm of the simple (to me incomprehensible) fascination with gangsters.

Has it always been this way with me? Actually, it mostly has. I’m OK with the early gangster films like Mervyn LeRoy’s Little Caesar (1930), William Wellman’s The Public Enemy (1931), Rouben Mamoulian’s City Streets (1931) and Howard Hawks’ Scarface (1932). And I like some of the earlier formative gangster pictures like Josef von Sternberg’s extant examples, Underworld (1926) and Thunderbolt (1929), Robert Florey’s peculiar mix of mysticism and the underworld The Hole in the Wall (1929), and even Archie Mayo’s Doorway to Hell (1930).  Roland Brown’s Quick Millions (1931) and Blood Money (1933) are not without their interest. Unlike the modern gangster saga, these are fast-paced and relatively brief. But I can’t say they’re among my favorite movies.

I really prefer the gangster spoofs like Roy Del Ruth’s The Little Giant (1933), John Ford’s The Whole Town’s Talking (1935),  Lloyd Bacon’s A Slight Case of Murder or even such oddities as Lewis Seiler’s It All Came True and Vincent Sherman’s All Through the Night (1941), the latter proving that (vaguely identified) gangsters were at least better than Nazi spies. I recognize that Michael Curtiz’ Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and Raoul Walsh’s The Roaring Twenties (1939) are good—maybe great—movies, but I don’t enjoy them. And while Walsh’s White Heat (1949) is a genre classic, containing perhaps the most iconic ending of any gangster picture, I find the film a wholly unpleasant experience.

There’s a tendency to lump horror and science fiction into a single category, and that’s at least partly understandable. Things like Frankenstein (1931) and its offshoots kind of stradle the two. So, for that matter, does any version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But the approach to the films is more horror than science fiction. There are also occasional hybrids such as Lambert Hillyer’s The Invisible Ray (1936)—a true oddity where you can see something like the modern science fiction film actually grow out of gothic horror tradition. But in the main, horror and science fiction are distinct entities that are mostly joined by the concept of the “cinema of the fantastic.” By and large, I love horror pictures, but tend to be rather cool toward science fiction—something that does not, however, prevent me from considering Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain (2006) and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (2007) among the best films of the 21st century. Of course, neither film is traditional science fiction, and both are as much mystical as anything else.

With such exceptions as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and The Woman in the Moon (1929), along with such curios as William Dieterle’s Six Hours to Live (1932) and David Butler’s Just Imagine (1930), there’s little that can be called serious science fiction in the earlier days of film. And even those are a mixed bag. Metropolis—for all its flaws—is endlessly fascinating, but The Woman in the Moon merely seems endless. Six Hours to Live is certainly science fiction, but its theme is strictly a pacifist tract. Just Imagine is just plain awful. If the idea of “the world’s first science fiction musical” sounds intriguing, the film itself will quell that notion. There is some nice model work, however, and a really striking laboratory (generally credited to the electrical wizardry of Kenneth Strickfaden of Frankenstein fame, though he’s not listed on the film).

The science fiction of that era is generally science fiction in service of horror, or it finds expression in serials derived from comic strips (the precursor of the comic book movie) like Flash Gordon (1936) and BuckRogers (1939). These have a quaint charm, but they aren’t what could be called good by anyone but the most charitable viewer. But they do set a template to which much science fiction still adheres—the space opera, a term derived from calling westerns horse operas. In other words, they’re basically cowboys-and-Indians affairs set in space. Star Wars (1977) and its progeny are essentially really elaborate space operas. My lack of fondness for westerns probably accounts for my tendency to be resistant to these films. I can admire their craft, but they’re not personal favorites.

On the other hand—and exempting the silly 1950s giant insect fear films—much later, truer science fiction tends to bore me. I blame myself for this, not the films. I don’t, for example, doubt the greatness of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but every attempt I’ve made to watch it for the past 42 years has had more than its fair share of tedium. Much like The Fountain and Sunshine, 2001 contains a good dose of the mystical, which I like, but, good Lord, is it ever floating in an ocean of pure boredom so far as I’m concerned. Something about the genre—be it the space opera variety or the more seriously intended—very rarely connects with me on some basic level.

Those are the genres that I am least likely to respond positively to—with notable exceptions. If we break things down into sub-genres, it becomes more difficult. For example, viewed in its broadest sense, I have no quarrel with dramas. Stick the words “uplifting sports” in front of drama and I run the other way as fast as possible. Qualifiers can make or break anything. A lot of people tend to make a sweeping generalization and claim that they don’t like musicals, but what does that mean? Rouben Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight (1932), Mervyn LeRoy and Busby Berkeley’s Golddiggers of 1933 (1933), Fred Zinneman’s Oklahoma! (1955), Stanley Donen’s Funny Face (1957), Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Ken Russell’s Tommy (1975) and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001) are all musicals (taking the basic notion that any film with four or more songs is a musical), but they have very little in common otherwise.

So what genres—or sub-genres—just don’t do it for you? I have yet to meet the person who, for one reason or another, just doesn’t care for this or that kind of movie.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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34 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Genres I just don’t like—but I keep trying

  1. Ken Hanke

    As far as war films go, I think that Peter Weir’s GALLIPOLI is a near-great film.

    You may well be right. Being that it’s Weir (who is very hit and miss for me) and a war picture, I’ve never felt a desire to seek it out.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Do you not care for Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET?

    Let’s say I admire it.

  3. Ken Hanke

    If you check out Blake Edwards’ DARLING LILI, you get a war film and a musical all wrapped up into one

    I had that experience once, which was enough for me (and, yes, it was the long version).

  4. lisi russell

    But you surely love that sci-fi film where the little boy falls through the sand and his folks and others get drilled with back of the neck spiral personality-implants. . .you’re the only one who knows the name of that film. . .

    Hey, what about the genre of toga movies? Gotta love Spartacus.
    Or toga-monster-horror? Gotta love the 7 Voyages of Sinbad and the Colossus of Rhodes. Unless you’re not 8 years old anymore…

  5. Ken Hanke

    But you surely love that sci-fi film where the little boy falls through the sand and his folks and others get drilled with back of the neck spiral personality-implants. . .you’re the only one who knows the name of that film. .

    Well, I’m the person you usually ask. It’s Wm. Cameron Menzies’ Invaders from Mars (1953). And I do love it in some warped childhood way.

    Hey, what about the genre of toga movies? Gotta love Spartacus.
    Or toga-monster-horror? Gotta love the 7 Voyages of Sinbad and the Colossus of Rhodes. Unless you’re not 8 years old anymore…

    That’s the problem. I’m only 8 years old part of the time. (For Toga-Monster-Horror, I’ll nominate The Minotaur.)

  6. arlene

    I tend to concur with you on westerns and war films. I can recognize the greatness of The Searchers, but I saw it once because I thought it was an essential film. I watched Flynn single – handedly win WWII because- it was Flynn. I’d watch him in anything, including Cuban Rebel Girls.

    Fairly lukewarm on most gangster films, but I have always enjoyed the early Warner’s efforts. High Sierra and White Heat also rank fairly high. Not my favorite films, in general, but watchable films.

    I seem to like sci-fi more than you, but I have no love for the oaters- like Star Wars and it’s progeny.

    I don’t think there are any other genres I try to avoid at all coast. Although it took me years to warm to costume dramas. I think Dragonwyck turned the tide for me. Or perhaps Elizabeth and Essex (Flynn, again)

  7. Ken Hanke

    I watched Flynn single – handedly win WWII because- it was Flynn. I’d watch him in anything, including Cuban Rebel Girls

    Yes, but that sounds like a glandular thing, which is fine.

    High Sierra and White Heat also rank fairly high.

    You see, now those are films that only depress me. I don’t — in principle — mind being depressed by a movie, but the movie needs a better reason for doing so than those films have.

    Although it took me years to warm to costume dramas

    Even though I understand Hitchcock’s complaint (in the era he made it) about being unable to believe that people in costume pictures go to the bathroom (I have the same problem with Doris Day, and he cast her!), I don’t recall ever disliking such films. Maybe it was early exposure to Max Ophuls’ The Exile (there’s a film I’ve wanted to see again since 1968). Of course, if you live long enough, the films of your youth kind of become costume pictures in their own right.

  8. Dionysis

    I’ve never cared much for musicals, with a few exceptions (the specter of a “science fiction musical” sounds as appealing as ‘The Terror of Tiny Town’, the all-midget musical Western). I remember as a kid having to go with the family and see ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’; I couldn’t wait till it was over. Ditto for most animated films. I don’t care for sappy films in general, which include many ‘chick flicks’, religiously-oriented ‘message films’ and most any film with with squalling, obnoxious kids in it.

    I do like some Westerns, although of all my titles, I probably only have 12 or 15, mostly those considered classics (High Noon, Magnificent 7, The Long Riders).

    I’m with you on war movies in general; a couple of my favorites (although they’re somewhat bleak) are Wolfgang Peterson’s ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘The Tin Drum’ (I guess they’re of the anti-war war film type).

    I’ve always been partial to both horror and science fiction (liking sci-fi more than you), including the cheesy giant mutated bug films from the 50s. What could be more fun than watching locusts crawl up enlarged photos of Chicago skyscrapers as in ‘Beginning of the End’ (I’m glad to see someone else thinks Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey’ was boring). While I do like action-oriented sci-fi, I also like those that require a bit more thinking (such as ‘Moon’, which I just saw a few days ago) and the noir-ish ‘Dark City’, to name a couple.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I remember as a kid having to go with the family and see ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’; I couldn’t wait till it was over.

    That’s one of those movies I’m supposed to like, but I don’t. It’s a kind of musical that holds no appeal for me — the fact that it combines the musical and the western probably factors in. But it’s mostly because I am weirdly resistant to most 1950s musicals.

    I’m with you on war movies in general; a couple of my favorites (although they’re somewhat bleak) are Wolfgang Peterson’s ‘Stalingrad’ and ‘The Tin Drum’

    I’ve not seen Stalingrad, but The Tin Drum is just too unpleasant for me to like, even while I can admire the attempt.

    What could be more fun than watching locusts crawl up enlarged photos of Chicago skyscrapers as in ‘Beginning of the End’

    The Giant Claw?

    While I do like action-oriented sci-fi, I also like those that require a bit more thinking (such as ‘Moon’, which I just saw a few days ago) and the noir-ish ‘Dark City’, to name a couple.

    Moon is very good, though it’s not something I see myself revisiting. Dark City I only saw part of so can’t weigh in on.

  10. Arlene

    < <<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Point well taken. Mt tolerance for Errol Flynn war movies doesn’t reside in my cerebral cortex.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Point well taken. Mt tolerance for Errol Flynn war movies doesn’t reside in my cerebral cortex.

    Well, it’s not as if he’s only eye candy. He’s personable, charming and his best films are probably the best of their kind.

  12. brianpaige

    I am largely uninterested in 1930s “women’s pictures” for the most part. As in glossy MGM produced Garbo, Crawford stuff. I can watch movies like Queen Christina or Grand Hotel, but I’m not overly thrilled.

    (Ken, you’ll hate me for this but I’m also not huge on the Dietrich/Von Sternberg films either.)

    There are films of every genre that I have just never been as into as most people are. High Noon was mentioned here, and that is a movie that seems to get a little worse on repeat viewings. Perhaps it is the Leone/Eastwood revisionist era westerns but the whole movie has basically no point. To me, High Noon should be about 5 minutes long: Will Kane hears about Frank Miller getting out of prison, goes down to the station, sees Miller’s men….shoots them all. Miller arrives and gets off the train, Kane shoots him. The End. In the wake of guys like Eastwood or Bronson this sort of moral dilemma junk just doesn’t fly with the modern viewer. Even within the same 1950s era, Randolph Scott would have simply gone down to the station and shot those guys, haha. Scott or Wayne neither one would have worked very well in High Noon…being scared just wasn’t their schtick.

    Shane is another western that for whatever reason has just never done it for me. The whole shades of gray aspect with the villains not being THAT bad actually kind of hurts the film. Only Palance emerged from that heel side with any credibility.

  13. Ken Hanke

    I am largely uninterested in 1930s “women’s pictures” for the most part. As in glossy MGM produced Garbo, Crawford stuff. I can watch movies like Queen Christina or Grand Hotel, but I’m not overly thrilled

    You happened to pick two that I do very much like, but in the main — if we’re talking MGM — I probably agree. However, if you include such things as Stahl’s Imitation of Life, I very much don’t.

    (Ken, you’ll hate me for this but I’m also not huge on the Dietrich/Von Sternberg films either.)

    I don’t hate you, but you’re just…wrong. I shall now look askance at you. Can you notice it from there? Look quick. I can’t hold this pose for long.

    High Noon was mentioned here, and that is a movie that seems to get a little worse on repeat viewings. Perhaps it is the Leone/Eastwood revisionist era westerns but the whole movie has basically no point.

    I always figured what was wrong with it could be summed up in two words — Fred Zinneman.

    In the wake of guys like Eastwood or Bronson this sort of moral dilemma junk just doesn’t fly with the modern viewer

    I’m not interested in defending the film, but I’m not altogether sure that that doesn’t say more about the modern viewer than the film — and perhaps not in a positive way.

  14. brianpaige

    Maybe I need to check out the Dietrich movies again sometime? It’s been forever since I saw Scarlett Empress, but I remember it being truly bizarre (more bizarre than entertaining). Morocco mostly just bored me, but perhaps more due to not caring much for Gary Cooper in early talkies. Shanghai Express is one I probably liked the best, but Clive Brook had all the appeal of a damp rag. Oland was fun in it though.

  15. kjh.childers

    Ken
    Recently watched “Inherit the Wind” (c.1960).
    Blew me away for a film with a great cast …
    pushing the envelope in the heart of the Cold War.

    Your thoughts on this one?

  16. Ken Hanke

    It’s been forever since I saw Scarlett Empress, but I remember it being truly bizarre (more bizarre than entertaining).

    The problem — perhaps insurmountable — is that you have to be a fan of stylization to start with and to be tuned into Sternberg’s aims. And in sympathy with them. This doesn’t convey it all, but I don’t know if you’ve read this —

    http://www.mountainx.com/movies/review/scarletempress.php

    Morocco mostly just bored me, but perhaps more due to not caring much for Gary Cooper in early talkies.

    For me it’s the least of the films, and it requires some patience. I have to ask — at what point do you start liking Cooper?

    Shanghai Express is one I probably liked the best, but Clive Brook had all the appeal of a damp rag

    For me, this is Sternberg’s masterpiece, but I have a hunch — based on your statement — that you will never like Sternberg, because that is the performance that Sternberg wanted, the one he demanded (“This is the Shanghai Express, everybody must talk like a train,” he told Brook). In that regard, Brook is perfect for the film and its reality. What other approach would work with the lines he’s given? (“What good is a watch without you?”) It’s that dry, monotone that makes it work — or not, if you can’t, won’t or don’t go with it.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Recently watched “Inherit the Wind” (c.1960).
    Blew me away for a film with a great cast …
    pushing the envelope in the heart of the Cold War.

    Your thoughts on this one?

    To be honest, it’s so very many years since I saw it that I wouldn’t dare to weigh in on it without watching it again. I remember thinking it was good and being in sympathy with it, but I couldn’t go beyond that very general assessment right now.

  18. DrSerizawa

    Sports films. If anything will send me screaming from movieplex it’s an array of sports films. While I do like the occasional sports films like “Remember the Titans” the genre leaves me entirely cold. Perhaps it’s because the movies pretend to be “true life”. It seems the sports films have too much a fascination with Nietzsche’s kicked-in-the-head ideas of “ubermensch”. Plus, I remember the jock jerks in High School.

    Another area of lack of interest to me… the High School flick. Except for the over-the-top unintentional humor the genre inspires like High Schools populated with 25 year olds.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Sports films. If anything will send me screaming from movieplex it’s an array of sports films

    I would concur, though I put the qualifier of “uplifting” on the sports film tag. But come to think of it, I’m not sure there’s any other kind — at least not in modern times.

    Another area of lack of interest to me… the High School flick. Except for the over-the-top unintentional humor the genre inspires like High Schools populated with 25 year olds

    In the main, I agree, but there are a few exceptions that come to mind like Hairspray (more the Waters original than the musical), Brick and Eurotrip. The first two are, however, hardly your standard high school movie.

  20. Bennett Hipps

    As for whether there are any modern, non-uplifting sports films – there’s Any Given Sunday… Just throwing that out there.

  21. Bennett Hipps

    As for whether there are any modern, non-uplifting sports films – there’s Any Given Sunday… Just throwing that out there.

  22. DrSerizawa

    I would concur, though I put the qualifier of “uplifting” on the sports film tag. But come to think of it, I’m not sure there’s any other kind—at least not in modern times.

    I don’t recall many non-uplifting sports movies in recent decades. Well, maybe “Every Which Way You Can” which was a sort of boxing movie featuring an orangutan. But as you have stated any movie can be improved with the addition of an orangutan or a stampede of monkeys. And AWWYC centered on corruption of the sport like the old Noirs.

    I think those sports movies pretty much died out with the Noir era. Back then they were dramas that centered around sports, mostly boxing IIRC. The sport was the framework for the story rather than an end in itself or some vehicle for personal enlightenment. I guess I never found getting my face ground into the mud to be very enlightening.

  23. Ken Hanke

    I think those sports movies pretty much died out with the Noir era. Back then they were dramas that centered around sports, mostly boxing IIRC. The sport was the framework for the story rather than an end in itself or some vehicle for personal enlightenment. I guess I never found getting my face ground into the mud to be very enlightening.

    The boxing movie is almost a genre unto itself — and boxing matches have found their way into all sorts of odd places like Chaplin’s City Lights and Ken Russell’s Valentino. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that it’s the most inherently cinematic sport (if it is a sport). Interestingly, boxing was rarely depicted in a particularly good light, e.g., King Vidor’s The Champ, Rouben Mamoulian’s Golden Boy, Anatole Litvak’s City for Conquest. In the first Wallace Beery wins his comeback fight and then expires, in the second Wm. Holden accidentally kills his opponent in the big fight, in the third James Cagney is partially blinded.

    Wasn’t there a boxing kangaroo movie called Matilda?

    I’m hard-pressed to think of much in the way of serious sports movies — that aren’t boxing — from the “golden age.” There was a 1933 Universal programmer called Saturday’s Millions that I saw a long time ago. It was about college football and I don’t think it was a comedy. Most sports movies from that era seem to me to be comedies — Lloyd’s The Freshman, the two Joe E. Brown baseball comedies Elmer the Great and Alibi Ike, etc. I think you have to hit biopics like Knute Rockne: All American and The Pride of the Yankees for serious — and, say, they’re both on the uplifting side, too.

    As for non-uplifting sports movies today, I will concede Any Given Sunday to Mr. Hipps, though I’ve never seen it.

  24. LYT

    This probably isn’t much of an issue in Asheville, but my personal least favorite type of movie is the foreign-language documentary. Early in my career, I was assigned quite a few (presumably because nobody else would take them), and when you get a doc on a subject you are not interested in (let’s say, children who are good at playing classical music) and it’s entirely in Russian, well, I was thankful they were available on screeners, so I could drink while watching them.

    Not to mention there tends to be a new Holocaust documentary every four months, minimum, and I am already aware that Nazis are bad.

    Of course there are always exceptions — I adore Waltz With Bashir. Its being a cartoon probably helped on that front.

  25. I don’t really dislike any genres, it’s more that there are some I like a lot – to the extent that I’ll be far more tolerant of less than great exercises in them.

    I’ll quite happily sit down and watch a half-decent whodunnit, but a Western has to be fantastic before I’m even remotely interested. But I have no objection to movies starring people with cowboy hats and six-shooters. The same goes for sports movies. I don’t care about sport – at all. 98% of sports movies hold no interest for me. But I really liked THE DAMNED UNITED and was entertained by INVICTUS.

    When we get into subgenres, there are definite dislikes here. For example:

    I love horror movies. I hate torture porn pictures.

    I love romantic-comedies. Sandra-Bullock-romantic-comedies have me running for the hills.

    I love musicals. 50s musicals and anything akin to Andrew Lloyd Webber will keep me out of the cinema.

    Some genres I don’t even think are genres. The idea of ‘biopic’ as a genre seems silly to me. Or ‘comic book movie’ for that matter. These merely indicate the source material. A biopic could be a sports movie, a musical, a thriller, a romantic-comedy, etc. Just because the events in the film are (to an extent) based on events that occured in real life doesn’t seem to indicate any story properties.

    Same for ‘comic-book movie’. Are SUPERMAN II, ROAD TO PERDITION, KICK-ASS, SIN CITY, WANTED, FROM HELL, WATCHMEN and CATWOMAN in the same genre? You don’t see DRACULA listed as ‘Novel Movie/Horror’.

    There may be one subgenre that is completely without merit, in which I cannot think of a single example I enjoy – the romantic drama. This is the dark corner of cinema that Nicholas Sparks movies inhabit.

  26. Ken Hanke

    This probably isn’t much of an issue in Asheville, but my personal least favorite type of movie is the foreign-language documentary.

    Not so much a problem, but every so often there’s some kind of human rights film festival that will want me to review a few of their best titles. I say, “Give me three,” they give me six. Now, I understand these folks and know they’re doing something worthwhile and well-intended, but, you know, after six of these in rapid succession, I’m ready to go out and oppress a Third World country myself.

    Of course there are always exceptions—I adore Waltz With Bashir

    I do not understand the actual appeal of this movie. I recognized that it was good and unusual and all, but I had trouble staying awake in it.

  27. Ken Hanke

    I don’t care about sport – at all. 98% of sports movies hold no interest for me. But I really liked THE DAMNED UNITED and was entertained by INVICTUS

    But it could be argued that neither of those are about sports.

    I love romantic-comedies. Sandra-Bullock-romantic-comedies have me running for the hills

    Yeah, you sit through The Bounty Hunter you’ll see what a fine film Two Weeks Notice is.

    I love musicals. 50s musicals and anything akin to Andrew Lloyd Webber will keep me out of the cinema

    I’m pretty much with you on the 50s musicals with three exceptions. And I do like JC Superstar and Phantom, but that about does me with ALW.

    The idea of ‘biopic’ as a genre seems silly to me.

    Well, yes and no. It is at least a partial classification that lets you know that it’s biographical in nature. The subject should clue you in on the kind of biopic, i.e., (to give it its full onscreen title) Ken Russell’s Film on Tchaikovsky and the Music Lovers is probably a composer biopic. There are certainly different styles of biopics — historical romp, high-minded high school level, warts-and-all, etc. — but they’re all biopics broadly speaking. That’s fairly true of most genres. Animal Crackers and White Chicks are both comedies even though they couldn’t be more different.

    Same for ‘comic-book movie’

    No good can come from me pursuing this…

    You don’t see DRACULA listed as ‘Novel Movie/Horror

    Well, you’d have to call it “19th Century Epistlatory Novel Horror Movie,” but the fact is that it is based on a novel and that is germane. “Horror” is shorthand. “Literary Based Horror” would be nearer the mark.

    There may be one subgenre that is completely without merit, in which I cannot think of a single example I enjoy – the romantic drama. This is the dark corner of cinema that Nicholas Sparks movies inhabit

    I think Nicholas Sparks movies are perhaps a genre to themselves. But the term “romantic drama” could be applied to an awfully broad range of movies from Shanghai Express to Imitation of Life to Casablanca to Vertigo to Women in Love to Brokeback Mountain.

  28. Fran

    If you had asked me what genres of film I tended not to like before I read this I would have said number one was Westerns. Now and then I have somehow been lured to watch and even get caught up in a Western, like Two Mules for Sister Sara, or one that depicts Clint Eastwood in a place where the a stranger enters a town and by the end of the movie the town folk, with the exception of one kind man, end up being punished for having allowed this man to be tortured …I don’t even know the name of the film and I may be mixing two films in my mind.
    The second would have been the really bloody horror type movies.
    I’m not sure I would have thought of the genre of gangster movies but would have agreed once the idea of that as a genre found purchase in my mind.
    I also would have said I pretty much avoided any war films, except that now I work at a VA Medical Center and I sometimes find them, especially the more protest type ones, helpful for getting some specific notion or feeling that a Veteran has tried to articulate.
    So, mostly I am saying I find myself in the same place as you. But I have fun thinking about the question.

  29. Ken Hanke

    Now and then I have somehow been lured to watch and even get caught up in a Western, like Two Mules for Sister Sara, or one that depicts Clint Eastwood in a place where the a stranger enters a town and by the end of the movie the town folk, with the exception of one kind man, end up being punished for having allowed this man to be tortured …I don’t even know the name of the film and I may be mixing two films in my mind

    Two Mules for Sister Sara is a very offbeat sort of western, so I can see where it might hold a different appeal. I’m sure someone here can identify the other film, but while it sounds awfully familiar (it almost sounds Japanese), I can’t place it.

    The second would have been the really bloody horror type movies.

    I don’t in the least mind the bloody, but I do have a problem with what we’ve come to call torture porn.

    But I have fun thinking about the question

    And that’s as it should be — this sort of question ought to be fun to think about. Not sure there’d be much point to playing with it otherrwise.

  30. Ken Hanke

    All of this sidesteps a question that keeps plaguing me in all this in modern film — just how useful or even necessary is a genre classification with so many movies being multi-hyphenate in nature, crossing genres with little or no concern?

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