POSTED May 26 2013

Mr. Potter the banker or Bruce the Shark?

This is how it happened. Glen Macnow, an esteemed colleague, sports radio host and author of the excellent “The Ultimate Guide to Sports Movies,” made a sweeping generalization. He said that the 1970s were the best movie decade ever. And the contrarian in me said back, oh yeah? Let’s test that assumption.

George Bailey fights capitalist shark Mr. Potter on the high seas Bedford Falls

George Bailey fights capitalist shark Mr. Potter on the high seas Bedford Falls

So here we are in Day 2 of what we’re calling Movie Showdown: The 1940s versus the 1970s. Glen nominated Jaws. And because I couldn’t think of a scarum with comparable boo! factor (Cat People and The Uninvited were scary precisely because they didn’t show the scary creature), I thought, well, Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life is kind of a shark. So today’s faceoff is between Spielberg and Capra. Go to my FB site  and vote for what you think is the better film, even though you know this is totally apples and oranges. It’s a different lens through which to look at films.

What’s interesting to me is what movielovers are saying about why they prefer the script- film of the 1940s or the effects-driven film of the 1970s. Some people prefer to be moved by emotion, others by thrill.

So please vote today and over the next month. And share your critical criteria.



  1. For me, the 40s versus the 70s isn’t apples and oranges–it’s fresh apples and rotten oranges.

  2. Caryle says:

    Jonathan: Huh?

  3. Bob Schwartz says:

    I was listening to WIP when Macnow made that observation. It gave me pause. Macnow and Ray Didinger wrote a terrific book that ranks sports movies. It is no doubt true that sports movies of the 1970s are better than those of the 1940s. See Rocky. But Annie Hall and the Godfather to the contrary notwithstanding, overall I get more out of the 1940s.

  4. Miz Val says:

    The films of the 40’s were shot with just as much story line detail as the 70’s.Some movies in the 70’s were so long I was glad I ate lunch. I had the privilege to witness fashion, set design and detail to script when watching a 40’s movie. Both had their share of really bad movies. I mean how many westerns can one studio make(40’s)? Oh the countless number of bad horror, teen drama, musicals fashion (only because we wore it )and near (gasp) nudity I had to bear back then. But I managed to kill a Saturday or Sunday watching some Really great films too. I’m not on Facebook but I hope the outcome of your debate is a draw. As long as you keep watching the movies you both win

  5. Miz Val says:

    Sorry when I referred to bad horror ,teen drama, nudity I had to bear I meant the 70’s

  6. Richard Beckman says:

    Mr. Rosenbaum- Not everything is black and white. I believe Ms. Rickey posed the question because she thought it was a tough call, something much closer in experience than “fresh apples” and “rotten oranges.”

  7. It’s really difficult for me to make an informed call since I’ve so much more for the 1970s (the good, the bad and the in-between) while from the 1940s, the decades have weeded out the lesser ones to some extent. That’s another reason I despise these constant remakes of great classics. With the ever-changing formats for home viewing and the impending death of real film prints, the risk for losing access to ever seeing films from either decade may grow frighteningly high.

  8. wwolfe says:

    I think it was Robin Wood who said that “It’s a Wonderful Life” would have been improved had Edward Arnold, rather than Lionel Barrymore, been cast as Mr. Potter. I agree – Arnold is at once more frightening and more interesting in his villain roles than Barrymore was, in my opinion. Conseqently, I vote for Bruce the Shark.

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