Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Are movies too long?

Here’s a Friday Question that became a whole post.

Michael Dorsey wondered:

Question: You mentioned in your review of "Licorice Pizza" that the film felt too long. I find that this is true about most movies released nowadays. Do you find this as well, and do you have any theories as to why?


I have been mocked on numerous occasions for harping on this subject, but YES, I think most movies are too long.   Especially comedies.  Comedies over two hours wear out their welcome.  People get tired of laughing (assuming it's good and they laugh at all).   A 90 minute comedy is perfect.  

When you think about sitcoms being a half-hour (and today they’re more like 19 minutes), 90 full uninterrupted minutes is plenty of time to tell a story and get in your laughs.  

Why are movies so long these days?  I think you can answer that by asking this question instead:  Why weren’t movies longer in the past?   

By “the past” I mean before streaming and cable and video rentals.  

Movies lived and died by how well they did in theaters (remember those?).  The longer the movie; the fewer the daily showings.   If your movie was under two hours you could squeeze in one more showing a night.  More people in the theater meant more concessions sold, which is really how theater chains make their money.  That $9 tub of popcorn you bought cost $.09 to make. 

So a lot of theaters and studios put pressure on filmmakers to keep their running times down.  In many instances, the studio retained final cut, and if the director didn’t deliver a film with a suitable running time the studio would hack away.  Lots of good movies were destroyed that way.  

Over time and with other ways studios could profit off their releases, that became less critical.  Plus, we went through a period where directors commanded more power and creative control.  Indulgence began to creep in.  

Today, the only movies having any real impact at the box-office are comic book superhero flicks.  They’re expensive “event” movies and since they charge ridiculous prices to see them, studios are allowing longer films so the audience is fooled into thinking they’re “getting more for their money.”  

And if a movie is streamed, who cares how long it is?  It’s not like you’re programming something behind it.  

Sometimes now on blu-ray they’ll feature “the director’s cut,” which is always way longer.  How many of those are actually better?  (Some yes, but I submit most no.) 

LICORICE PIZZA is waaaaaaay too long.  And as a reader pointed out, most of the scenes in the trailer aren’t even in the movie.  I bet the first cut was 3 1/2 hours or more.  So to Anderson, the movie was cut way down.  But did he need twenty minutes of people running?   I would rather have seen some of those omitted trailer scenes. 

There are some movies that do warrant a lengthy running time.  Usually they are big sagas with scope.  BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.  But not KNOCKED UP.  

And I’ll leave you with this truism in the theatre, usually spoken during out-of-town tryouts:  Take out twenty minutes and the show runs two years longer.

67 comments :

Jeff said...

I enjoyed Don't Look Up a lot more than I expected to, but this is another one that needed at least 20 minutes shaved off it. I am sure there are ways to not cut scenes out entirely but make them shorter so that the overall running time decreases.

Daniel said...

The interesting thing about this discussion is how many norms in popular artforms were determined for reasons that have nothing to do with the artform itself.

As you mentioned, theatrical films have an average run time of two hours in order to squeeze in as many showings per day as possible.

Whereas streaming shows run for as many episodes as they do because the streamers want you bingeing and not turning off the service (the longer you're engaged in the story, the longer you'll watch).

Plays have intermissions to allow for smoke breaks during the days when people smoked.

Songs are three minutes long because that was the maximum length of one side of a 78 rpm record.

When determining and evaluating things like length of a story, one should always question the origin of some of the norms that we accept and ask whether they are still relevant.

Sung said...

I just googled "funniest movies with longest runtime" and got to this link:

https://screenrant.com/longest-comedy-films-ever/

The number one movie is "It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" at a whopping 3.5 hours! I actually have never seen this movie but now I feel like I must. How did Mel Brooks manage to make a funny movie that is this long?!?

It's also funny another PT Anderson movie is on this list - Inherent Vice. Which was not that funny and also entirely too long.

David Simpson said...

I've said it for years that the perfect length for a movie is 87 minutes.

Why don't they release the short version to cinemas, the long version (Extended! Director's Cut!) on home video, then get another bite at the cherry from a home video release of Original Cinema Version! Then everybody's bladder remains happy.

Jeff Boice said...

I imagine the rise of the multiplex theater made epic-length features more palatable to the theater owners, since the epic was now just one of several films playing. Back in the Classic Hollywood days, theater owners in rural America hated being forced to run "prestige" films because they were long, plus they had to pay a minimum to the studio which guaranteed they wouldn't make a profit. They preferred John Wayne movies.

Mike Doran said...

I think you're just a little bit older than I am.
I'm a Fifties Kid - born in '50, saw my first movies on a boxy old Muntz (in B&W, of course), with commercials and all, generally in a 90-minute-or less time slot ...
Back in those ancient times, an hour and a half was considered a long movie.
And that was without commercials.
Hell, I'm old enough to remember double features - when you went to the theater and saw two movies, usually an hour and a quarter or less - plus a cartoon and some trailers - your family made an evening out of it (those were the days).
When Fifties Kids like me started seeing Old Movies on the tube, we never even realized that the originals were not much more than an hour-fifteen - if that long.
The Challenge-To-The-Kidneys epics came later - and in the early going at least had intermissions (but that's another story ...).
This is turning into Old-Man Talk, so maybe I ought to stand down and let the Young Whippersnappers have at it ...

Keith R.A. DeCandido said...

Couple other factors at work, I think....

One is the rise of the multiplex over the last 25 years. If a movie is particularly long, it can wind up playing on more than one screen when you've got 13 of them to choose from. That means the theatre can still get more showings in by spreading out how many screens it shows on. In the 1970s and 1980s, your average movie theatre had 1-3 screens, but that is not the norm anymore.

Another is the fact that several longer movies in the late 1990s and early 2000s (Titanic, The Matrix, the Lord of the Rings trilogy) were incredibly long and also big hits, which opened the door for other movies to do likewise.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido

maxdebryn said...

To the best of my knowledge, Mel Brooks had nothing to do with "It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World".

whynot said...

I enjoyed "No Time To Die" but it, along with the last several Bond movies, are so ridiculously overlong for no reason that it effects my reaction to the WHOLE movie. I don't think we should contribute to the dumbing-down of people and make every movie 65 minutes, but enough is too much.

Keith R.A. DeCandido said...

There are a couple of other factors at work here, I think.....

One is the rise of the multiplex over the last 25 years. In the 1970s and 1980s, your average movie theatre had 1-3 screens. But when you've got 10-20 screens in your gigunda AMC theatre, you can show your mega-long movie on more than one screen and still get multiple showings per day.

Another is that there were a bunch of movies in the late 1990s and early 2000s that were a) really really long and b) monster hits (The Matrix, Titanic, the Lord of the Rings trilogy), which opened the door to more mega-long movies.....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido

Lance said...

Shorter is almost always better, regardless of genre (superhero flicks could just be a five minute loop). I think what's really missing is strong editing. Writers/directors are not good at self-editing - who wants to cut out their favorite joke or reduce a lovely minor character to three lines? In the past it seems that for better or worse the studios wielded a heavy hand, but in the current environment who really cares enough to say "take that five minutes of exposition and change it to 30 seconds of action"?

Buttermilk Sky said...

Nitroglycerin. It was a component in celluloid and high explosives and was rationed during World War II. I grew up on the movies made during that era, which were seldom longer than ninety minutes because of the celluloid shortage. Directors learned to tell complex stories in a limited amount of time. Any movie longer than THE MALTESE FALCON makes me start checking my watch.

kitano0 said...

@Sung
re: "It's a Mad Mad...World"

A terrible movie that does not hold up...lots of "wacky" physical humor and I personally wanted to strangle Ethel Merman before it was over. IMHO, of course.

Call Me Mike said...

Yes indeed, every time I see one of these bloated runtimes I think there must be an editors strike or something. Comic books aren't Russian novels. Get a grip, people.

Roger Owen Green said...

Ah, Licorice Pizza was a comedy? OK. It was interesting, but I just didn't laugh much.

Covarr said...

I feel like there are some movies that absolutely need to be that long (Lord of the Rings), but it sure isn't most of them. I also don't think it's a coincidence that an era of increasingly long comedies is now being followed by an era of far fewer comedies being made. It's the standard executive thinking: follow a trend that shouldn't be a trend (even if it happened to work for a couple movies), then when box office numbers decline, instead of taking a critical look at the particular movies that didn't do as well, just assume nobody wants comedies anymore.

And eventually another comedy is gonna come along, and it's gonna be a big hit, and I 100% guarantee that the studio response won't be "more comedies", but rather, "copy some random surface-level element of this specific movie." You know, exactly the same reason the mid-to-late 00s had so damn many penguin movies.

Ted. said...

Watching a movie in a theater is a genuinely immersive experience that everyone goes through from beginning to end. But since we watch most things at home now, that's different. I'm much more likely to stop viewing with the intention of watching the rest later, or give up on a film entirely if I get bored. (With "Don't Look Up," I just fast-forwarded to the last 20 minutes, because I knew people would be talking about it.) That kind of viewing works well with, say, Judd Apatow comedies, because their rambly character-study nature (which is what some people think makes them too long) means they're easy to view in two or more parts. (It's also worth pointing out that some entire seasons of streaming TV shows take just three hours to watch -- the length of a long movie -- and somehow they keep us bingeing all the way through without even noticing it.)

Pat Reeder said...

Absolutely agree that most modern movies are too long. I sometimes edit them in my head as I watch, picking out scenes that could have been cut with no harm to the plot and a big improvement to the film.

I've also noticed that many movies these days are remakes of earlier movies that invariably run much longer than the original but aren't as good. For instance, the new version of "Nightmare Alley" is a butt-numbing 150 minutes and has a Metascore of 69 with critics and an IMDB rating of 7.4 out of 10. The original is 110 minutes and has a Metascore of 75 and IMDB rating of 7.8. Maybe the difference is that unnecessary 40 minutes.

Michael said...

A couple of notes.

One, Eric Idle said he wrote Spamalot with the idea that it could be easily cut to 90 minutes so it could play on the Las Vegas Strip. Steve Wynn sat next to him on opening night and, early in the show, grabbed Idle's leg and said, "I want it." Idle said he wasn't sure what to make of that. Knowing what we know now ....

The other is that I study Lincoln, and loved Spielberg's movie. But it was 20 minutes too long because he couldn't figure out how to end it, and kept padding. The perfect ending would have been him leaving to go to the theater, and fade out.

kitano0 said...

“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough."---Roger Ebert

MikeKPa. said...

It was said that Jack Warner (of maybe it was Harry Cohn) would know the right length of a movie when his butt would get antsy. However long the picture was at the point, the director would need to cut to it. Gives a new take on flying by the seat of your pants.

Kaleberg said...

This isn't a new complaint. There was a lot of movie bloat in the late 1960s and through the 1970s. I remember going to the Star Wars premier and coming out pretty impressed with the special effects adding to what was essentially a very good World War II movie. My friend, the serious film fan, was impressed too, "Wow, and in only 90 minutes."

SueK2001 said...

The one movie that I watched recently that seems long is "Almost Famous". I adore that movie and even adore the director's cut but they could have cut out the stares between Penny and half the guys and added some of the deleted scenes to make it more fleshed out.
I also love "That Thing You Do!" but even that one sort of lingers a bit too long at the end.

I recently rewatched Grumpy Old Men and found myself loving it and the length was perfect for it.

Still, every time I see a new movie that interests me, I check the running time...anything over two hours is a pass..even with streaming.

On a different note, I did finally sit down and watch "Being the Ricardos" and gave up after ten minutes. Watching people yell and insult each other for no real purpose made no sense to me. I never did buy Javier and Nicole as Lucy and Desi.

One final thing and maybe this is a Friday Question. Apparently, there is a new bio-pic being made of Weird Al. Daniel Radcliffe to start. I think they will make it a comedy. Would you be interested in writing that?

blinky said...

The longest movie overrun of all time is The Irishman. The last half of the movie is De Niro aging to his death in REAL TIME. You can actually see the hairs in his nose growing.

Laurent said...

"getting more for their money" is a human kneejerk truism will always be a factor. The nuances of art just don't enter into it.

Movies and books. Novels in the last decade-plus are boat anchors because people twitch at buying a 200-page novel when they could have 500 pager for the same price. "Quality"? "Skill of the author"? Doesn't enter into it.

I personally witnessed two women leaving a charity art auction, each carrying a purchase. The one woman was quite smug that she got the better deal because her painting was bigger than the one of her friend.

Philly Cinephile said...

I agree with the Roger Ebert quote posted by kitano0. A 4-hour epic, done well, will fly by, while a bad movie under 90 minutes will seem to drag on forever.

I think that attention span is another factor. I had a friend who complained that every film was too long. Didn't matter what the actual running time was -- 2 hours, 4 hours, 85 minutes, a 2 1/2 minute trailer. I had to stop going to movies with her because of her constant shifting in her seat and loud exhalations.

Kevin B said...

For any movie longer than 90 minutes, the patron should get $1 back for every minute over.

A tip for directors: We don't need to see everyone traveling to their destination. "Let's go to the cabin this weekend!" shouldn't mean five minutes of a car driving through the mountains, past a small town, winding through hills... We know where they're going. We know how people get places. There, I just saved everyone five minutes.

Mitch said...

If you haven't noticed, the movie run time is 2.5hrs. But the movie is 2 hours, and credits are .5 hours.
Do we REALLY need to know who supplied the water and dish for the dog in the movie???

But we need more award shows

DBenson said...

On TCM you'll notice a lot of old movies clocked in at 75 minutes or shorter. In olden days programs were bolstered by short subjects, cheap potatoes to fill the plate next to a small steak, so you went home feeling full despite a short main attraction. Go back to silent days and you'll find several classic features by Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd wrapping up in an hour or less.

In time shorts began to give way to B pictures, thrifty feature films intended for double bills. Many of these programmers were cranked out by major studios utilizing contract talent and in-house resources, so they had a surface gloss despite low budgets and short schedules. The top-billed A pictures were expected to deliver from 90 to 120 minutes of entertainment, while Bs could get away with less than an hour. Series such as Universal's Sherlock Holmes and Fox's Charlie Chan, despite their popularity, were designed as Bs and held to shorter run times.

Disney's animated features were always on the short side. "Sleeping Beauty", pushed as a big movie, was just 75 minutes, and "The Jungle Book" a mere 67 minutes. Boomer kids will recall how Disney tended to package these with live action "featurettes", usually True Life Adventure nature films, to deliver a sufficient serving of Disney-branded diversion. The return of the potatoes.

Unknown said...

I alaways thought the perfect ending of Lincoln would have been to fade from DDL to Obama sitting in the Oval Office. As it was it just ... sputtered to a close.

Darwin's Ghost said...

I blame David Lean. He made so many long, award winning epics, some directors have the entrenched notion that lengthy running times equal profound and serious. It's no accident that Spielberg's Oscar bait films are never less than 2 and a quarter hours minimum. He said Lawrence of Arabia is what inspired him to become a director.

That's not to say it's never justified. Heat, Casino, JFK, Schindler's List, Blade Runner 2049, Boogie Nights and The Master are legitimately long.

On the other hand, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, Trainwreck, Midsommar, and pretty much everything else by PT Anderson are not.

Anthony Hoffman said...

Depends. No comic book or comedy movie should be 2 full hours long.

Breadbaker said...

I think intermission allowed people to piss. I believe they still do that now.

Jahn Ghalt said...

I tend to agree that 90 minutes is about right for a comedy. I first thought of Wilder's Some Like It Hot - which struck me as well-edited.

Surprise! Wikipedia lists its "running time" as 121 minutes.

if a movie is streamed, who cares how long it is?

A prime example on Netflix - the 'extended' Hateful Eight. Cut up into four "episodes" - it clocks in about 3:45. Fine by me, since it has more of what I like about QT films.

If he decides to do a longer version of his Hollywood fable, I'll sign up for that, too.

Max said...

I'll just note that my two favorite feature-length comedies of all time, DUCK SOUP and THE BANK DICK, clock in at 69 and 72 minutes respectively.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I'm old enough to remember the DOUBLE FEATURE. Back then it made sense for movies to be shorter when you were going to sit through two movies at one showing. And if you were going to sit through them a second time (Remember when you could do that?) length was even more important.

On the other hand, remember the old saying, "Time flies when you're having fun."

M.B.

Mike Bloodworth said...

P.S. It reminds me of the scene in "Amadeus" when the emperor tell him that his opera was too long because it had "too many notes." It's very subjective. If you don't like a film it really doesn't matter how "good" it is.

M.B.

Paxton Q said...

I'm reading Mel Brooks' autobiography "All About Me." It's a good read for Brooks fans. In it he says his original cut of "Young Frankenstein" ran 2 hours and 20 minutes. The preview audience was not enthused. Mel got up and said "Ladies and gentlemen, you've just seen a 2 hour and 20-minute bomb. I invite you back in three weeks to see a 95-minute success." (Or words to that effect.) Actually, it took him three months to cut it down, but when previewed again at a shorter length, people loved it. He said it was painful to lose a lot of what he thought was good funny stuff, but ultimately it was a much better movie and a resounding success without that 45 minutes. Just out of curiosity, I'd love to see the longer version, but I suspect it no longer exists.

Mike Bloodworth said...

You are correct. "DUMBO" was only 64 minutes long.

M.B.

Liggie said...

Musicals are probably exempt from this length guide, because the song-and-dance numbers automatically chew up a lot of time.

In a regular movie, a guy saying "I love you" to his girl takes a couple of seconds.

In a musical, the guy sings a love song of 2-3 verses, and dances an exquisitely choreographed number with her during the interlude before he belts out the last chorus; that's at least four minutes. You're pretty much guaranteed at least two hours run time. And that's with modern musicals; "Singin' in the Rain" and "My Fair Lady" had intermissions.

And then you have those Bollywood epics, where the format and audience expect a three-hour run time.

It's about time expectations, like how soccer games always end in two hours, hockey and the NBA 20 minutes more, the NFL at least another hour, who knows how long for baseball, and sometimes five days for cricket.

Chuck said...

To each his own, of course. I saw Mad, Mad... World" on TV as a kid. Loved every minute of it (and still do) even though I had no idea who any of the comedy legend stars were at the time. The criminal who gets the story going literally "kicks the bucket" for hysterical sake!

Oh, and you seem possibly unaware that during the course of the movie and certainly at the conclusion, every character wanted to strangle Ethel Merman. They had to settle for an accidentally yet perfectly tossed banana peel.

I have to give special mention to Dick Shawn as "Sylvester!!!" Just simply a brilliant performance from initial slo-mo dance scene to "Did you all hear what Momma said?" to crying out for his hurt Momma (Ethel) at the end.

A very long comedy and not one minute to cut.

Honest Ed said...

I often think that the problem is that we pay to get in to movies - so they have our money when we sit down, when we should pay to get out. The first half hour of a movie is free, then on a sliding scale we pay more. 50% of the ticket price if we stay an hour. 75% if we make 1 hour 20 minutes. 100% if we make it to the end credits. That'd incentivise writers, directors and producers to not waste a frame and keep us engaged, no?

Chuck said...

Mel Brooks was not involved with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". Stanley Kramer produced and directed. If you take a look at a list of films he produced and/or directed prior to 1963, you'll know how he got to make this movie. Though, considering all those other films, how Kramer managed to make a "funny movie" that was so long is a bit of a wonder.

Incidentally, one of Stanley Kramer's later misgivings about the film, is that he didn't add a fifth "Mad" to the title. He thought that a fifth "Mad" would have given the title just that bit more emphisis!

Darwin's Ghost said...

Funniest quote of the day. Lena Dunham in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter:

"I’d love the next decade to be less about apologizing and just about openly making art."

Art. Police Academy 6 has more artistic worth than anything this pathetic full time professional edgelord has ever made. If she wants to spend less time apologizing, maybe she should stop saying stupid shit in a sad, desperate attempt to appear edgy.

maxdebryn said...

Most of the Marx Brothers' still funny movies are about an hour and twenty minutes.The longest ones are about 90 or so minutes. I saw the allegedly funny PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, and bailed on it after about twenty minutes.That one was 95 minutes. I think that I have overused the word "minutes," and apologize for that.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Most of Billy Wilder's films run long, just under two hours. But they're so well crafted with excellent production values that they're seamlessly entertaining. I can watch The Apartment at the drop of a hat. Interesting that Wilder didn't have a finished script when he started shooting but completed the script as filming was underway. Shirley MacLaine said she often didn't know what was going to happen next with her character after a scene was shot.

Tom said...

Remember how many stories were packed into the epic "Pulp Fiction"? Tarantino's next film, "Jackie Brown," which was WAY less ambitious in scope, is six minutes *longer* than "PF." OMG.

JoeyH said...

Film stock was expensive. All those prints. No with digital distribution there's no extra cost for extra "reels."

YEKIMI said...

I WISH a tub of corn cost only .09 cents to make. Let me break it down [at least for my theater] Largest tub for popcorn cost us .53 1/3rd cent per bucket, 300 buckets to a box. 2 years ago the cost was .25 cents Popcorn oil 5 gallon can is now close to $100 [price went up by more than 1/2], I can go through a can a week if we're busy Popcorn butter can cost anywhere from $7.00 a gallon [and that shit tastes like motor oil] up to $15-20 a gallon, and that's 6 gallons to a box. Popcorn kernels are the cheapest to buy, anywhere from $25-32 for a 50 pound bag. Then about 1/8th to 1/4th of the kernels remain un-popped so the actual price would be more. We try and ration out how much butter we put on corn 3-6 squirts depending on size but these morons half the size of the Goodyear blimp start screaming for more and aren't happen unless each kernel is individually buttered or want half a cup of butter on the damn thing. The cost of EVERY concession item we buy has doubled and in some cases tripled. Tried to hold the line on cost increases for customers but we increased everything by .25 cents and by their reaction you would have thought we were robbing Fort Knox.
Yes, movies are too long. The longer the movie, the longer employees have to stay and that drives up business costs. Not that the movie companies care, they're going to get their 60% or more of the box office come hell or high water. And what they have been trying to do for a few years now is demand a cut of the concession money we make. That's sorta died down when most theaters said "Fine, who do we send the bill to for the portion that YOU'LL owe of what it costs to buy the supplies?" The big chains had the clout to get most of that tamped down but the smaller mom & pop theaters are still battling that.
The "Super Hero" movies actually did horrible at our theaters the last two years. In 2020 most theaters moved their movies to late fall/early winter or to this year. Surprisingly, the 30-40 year old stuff they jammed down or throats as replacements actually outperformed the few current ones that had been released [mostly by small independent studios] sometimes as much as a 4 to 1 ration. I saw enough of Ghostbusters, Back To The Future, Goonies, Gremlins, etc. decades ago, didn't think I'd have to go through the horror of having to deal with them again for weeks on end. 2020 turned out to be one of our best years. 2021...throw it in the dumpster, worst year we had in 40+ years.
One laugh I got was when they decided to stream their movies was that an hour after one of the studios streamed one of their new big tentpole movies, it had been pirated and was already posted on at least 5 torrent sites where people could see it FREE! All of a sudden the theaters weren't looking too bad to them.

YEKIMI said...

I made the mistake of going to watch a movie at a big chain theater recently and it gave me a reminder of why I quit going to them: showtime advertised 7:30. 7:30-20 minutes of commercials begin. Commercials over [I thought] 7-8 trailers/previews @ roughly 2 minutes 30 seconds each-17 1/2 to 20 minutes----and they threw another commercial in halfway through the previews! Then little slides of shut up/shut off your cell phones/no farting loudly/we know it's a long movie, don't piss on the floor, etc. ACTUAL start time of the movie-8:15 and the movie was 2 hours 28 minutes long. Total time in and out of theater 3 hours and 15 minutes give or take 5 minutes. Since chain theaters have concession prices so outrageous and making a profit WAY beyond what their actual costs and profit markup price is, I didn't buy anything. Didn't want to have to fill out a loan application to do so.
Amazingly, the costs to buy a ticket was a lot less than I thought it would be, I can only assume they're trying to get people back into the theater post-pandemic and beat how much it would costs to stream.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Those two movies also tops for me but just slightly prefer the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business (77 min) and W. C. Fields's It's a Gift (73 min). Those vaudeville guys and gals knew how to keep it fast and funny and wind up before they got the hook.

Johnny Carson once played a clip on his show of the porch scene from It's a Gift where Fields is trying to sleep in while the whole neighborhood seems to conspire to wake him up. It got some kind of record for the longest spell of audience laughter on the show.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

On the Porch:

https://youtu.be/41SFTn9xHus

DyHrdMET said...

On the flip side, how short is too short for a movie?
I'm sure the example I'm thinking of is not a normal case, but Duck Soup (the Marx Brothers classic film) is only 69 minutes long. They told their story, had their jokes, but it barely feels like I'm sitting down for very long in order to watch it.

VincentP said...

The 1937 Carole Lombard gem "Nothing Sacred" (the first three-strip Technicolor comedy) was but 77 minutes long. Was it kept relatively short because of the cost of color film, a mere two years after "Becky Sharp"?

And to PaxtonQ, going back to black-and-white: I'd love to see a longer version of "Young Frankenstein"...if only to see more scenes of the gorgeous Teri Garr.

Mike Doran said...

A DVD edition of Young Frankenstein has a lot of deleted scenes as an extra.
Much of it comes from early in the picture, and involves Richard Haydn as the Frankenstein family lawyer - and since this was Haydn's final feature film appearance, that always struck me as unfair ...

Dave Dahl said...

==if only to see more scenes of the gorgeous Teri Garr==

"Oh, sa-a-ank you!"

Jeff said...

I dislike overlong movies as much as the next guy, but in their defense sometimes those old movies are too short. I finally watched Elaine May's The Heartbreak Kid last night and it is considered a classic but I was somewhat put off by how quickly it just dropped you into the movie without explaining who these people were, how long they were engaged, even who the parents of the groom were and who the parents of the bride were.

Sung said...

Why in the world did I think Mel Brooks made It's Mad...World? I think I confused that with History of the World, Part 1, which is a very smart 92 minutes long. I'm sorry, Mel!

Despite the lukewarm responses here, I think I'll still give it a shot, at least the first 30 minutes...

Leighton said...

@ Kaleberg

"Star Wars: A New Hope" clocks in at two hours and one minute, according to IMDB, - of course that includes probably five + minutes of credits. The Special Edition may have added a few seconds. It is NOT a "90 minute" movie.

Anonymous said...

There was a vogue around here for very - slow - moving - Hong Kong movies a couple of decades ago, in the wake of "Croucher Tiger, Hidden Dragon" I think, and I saw a couple of them. One of them was called in Chinese "Yi Yi" which was translated as "A-one and a-two"; but after seeing it I thought surely meant "Yawn Yawn". Another exquisite gem was called "In the Mood for Love", about two people who fall in love after learning that their respective spouses are having an affair. (There's also something in there concerning rice cookers.. someone needed a rice cooker because theirs was broken...) I came out of the theatre thinking I'd been in there for three hours. But no, only the standard hour and a half had passed.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Way before Lean were the silent epic films that ran two, three hours or more. They were grand theatrical events that drew mass audiences with spectacular effects. Many were brilliant and told dramatic stories that deserved the grandeur, like Cabiria, Thief of Baghdad, and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. But some got carried away with their vision and out of touch with what audiences could stand. One of Irving Thalberg's first tasks was to shut down Erich Von Stroheim's endless production in progress, I think it was Foolish Wives, and cut it to shreds.

I found it grueling to try to watch "Lawrence of Arabia," and when I think on it I just get the MAD Magazine "Flawrence of Arabia" parody in my head.

The Mirror Has Two Faces used the film's length as a joke when Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges spend the first awkward night of their no-sex marriage:

(Rose) - You want to watch some TV?
- Sure.
- I have some old movies. "It Happened One Night," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Now, Voyager"?
-How about "Lawrence of Arabia"? lt's nice and long.
- Okay. "Lawrence of Arabia" it is.

VincentP said...

Sung: "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" isn't a bad film, but it's wildly uneven despite the cast's vast array of talent. At least Dorothy Provine is both fun and lovely to look at (although you can also find her in the superior "The Great Race," made two years later).

David said...

Just in: "The Batman" reportedly will run 2 hours 55 minutes, including credits. That would make it the second-longest superhero movie ever to run in theaters, behind "Avengers: Endgame," which ran 3 hours 1 minute... and is second on the all-time global box office chart.

BGVA said...

Seems like the trend of making movies longer started with all the superhero stuff of the last decade or so. I loved Don't Look Up, but they could've shaved 20 minutes off without taking out anything significant. I find myself checking my watch a lot during movies, even classics. But it usually happens more with recent stuff, and it makes me wonder were those couple of extra scenes really necessary. The latest Scream movie runs at 114 minutes, a few minutes more than the 1996 original. That's just right IMO.

Robert S. said...

Ms. Haim is a very good runner and I enjoyed all the scenes of her running. The others, not so much.

JS said...

Movies ARE too long. The newest Batman is 3 hours. I just can't do it. The last movie I saw and enjoyed was "Game Night". It wasn't 3 hours.

MaxK said...

Of the 15 top-grossing movies, only 2 run less than 2 hours - "Frozen 2" and "The Lion King" (by 4 minutes!). That seems to make the risk of marathon movie worthwhile.

Of course, that includes the 10 minutes of credits that are required these days. Does a producer ever say, "So that's who those terrific honey-wagon drivers were!"