Every once in a while, I take a look at something that I really liked when I was a kid and am surprised by how much that thing influenced me without me even realizing it. For example, I was a big fan of Pink Panther cartoons when I was a kid. Not too long ago, I got a DVD collection of Pink Panther cartoons and sat down to watch them for the first time in well over a decade. After watching a few cartoons, all I could think is, “Wow, no wonder I ended up being such a big fan of silent films.” So many of those cartoons were straight-up Chaplin. I had never made that connection before, but it makes a lot of sense that spending so much time watching Pink Panther cartoons as a kid planted the seeds for me to appreciate people like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton now.
A couple of weeks ago, I got on a 90’s music kick, so I spent some time watching music videos I liked when I was younger. Once again, I was quite surprised to realize that a lot of those music videos were pretty good indicators of what my taste in movies would be like later on.
Queen and David Bowie: Under Pressure
I know this one isn’t actually from the 90s, but I always liked the song. This video features clips from a lot of silent movies, like Nosferatu, Flesh and the Devil, and The Big Parade, some of my favorite movies. When I first saw those movies, I recognized those scenes and thought, “Hey, I know that scene from the Queen and David Bowie video!”
Pretty much everybody mentioned in this song makes my list of favorite actors/actresses.
Smashing Pumpkins: Tonight, Tonight
I thought this video was amazing when it first came out, but now that I’ve seen A Trip to the Moon, I appreciate this video even more. I love all the theater-style scenery and how the ship at the end is named the S.S. Melies. One of the best music videos of all time, as far as I’m concerned. The Smashing Pumpkins also get points for naming one of their albums after Lillian Gish.
Soundgarden: Black Hole Sun
No wonder I grew up to dig David Lynch:
Green Day: Longview
Features a clip of The Blue Angel and the go-go dancers remind me a lot of the opening sequence in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
I can’t find that particular clip of that scene from The Blue Angel, but it’s the scene where this song is performed.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Aeroplane
I can’t embed it, but it has an Esther Williams/Busby Berkeley inspiration. That’s right, of all the musical acts to come out of the 90’s, the one to do an Esther Williams tribute was The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
And then there’s the show Daria, MTV’s one and only attempt at intelligent programming. A lot of that show’s staff had to have been fans of classic movies. Throughout the series, the characters talk about wanting to see movies like Rope, Gone With the Wind, and La Dolce Vita. One of the characters, Tom, has a poster of The Third Man hanging in his room. And then there are the alter egos. If you’re not familiar with the show, at the end of each episode, there were drawings of the characters dressed as various movie characters and celebrities that ran alongside the credits. Some of the classic film alter egos included: Marlene Dietrich in Morocco, Nosferatu, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Carmen Miranda, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Bette Davis in both Jezebel and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. I’m not counting on MTV ever having another show that has references to Nosferatu and where teenage characters talk about Fellini films.
And if you like your camp cult classics…