Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Classic Film Fan, Who Are You? Survey says....

Last month, over 125 classic film lovers from across the Internet participated in the Cafe's first annual Classic Film Survey. One of the goals of the survey was to learn more about classic film fans. How did they become fans? How often do they watch classic movies? What's their preferred source of vintage favorites? Here are the results:

How did you become a classic film fan?
The answer to this question yielded no surprises. There was no statistical difference between survey respondents who discovered films on their own (61%) or were influenced by family or friends (57%). Many people selected both responses. In contrast, only 12% became fans as a result of taking a college course. So, you don't need a college degree to love classic films!  (On the other hand, an added bonus to a college education is that it converts some folks into classic movie lovers.)

How many classic films do you watch weekly?
Two-to-five films earned the most responses, accounting for 48% of the total. 27% of the survey's respondents said they viewed 6-10 movies weekly and one person even confessed to watching 26 or more every seven days! Foreign-language films comprised a small portion of the movie-watching experience, with 47% of the survey participants stating that foreign-language films comprised 5% or less of the total classic films seen annually. The decreased availability of foreign-language films--compared to English-language ones--certainly impacted the answers to this question.

What is the main source of films you watch?
No surprise here...55% answered Turner Classic Movies. Still, a healthy 25% of respondents rely on their own video libraries. Video service providers, such as Netflix, earned 16% of the votes. That number is unlikely to grow, given that classic film fans still represent a small portion of the total movie rental audience.

If you enjoy reading about classic films, what is your favorite source?
Three sources were statistically tied: the Internet Movie Database; printed reference books; and classic movie blogs written by individuals not affiliated with a film-oriented company. The popularity of blogs may be skewed because I distributed the survey to members of the Classic Movie Blog Association. On the other hand, the enormous number of active classic movie blogs on the Internet would seem to validate that a significant number of them are being read with regularity.

What is your favorite decade of classic films? What is your favorite genre of classic films?
The 1940s dominated over all other decades with a robust 47% of the total votes. The 1930s came in second with a still impressive 35%. No other decade mustered more than 8%. The conclusion: Classic film fans favor the Golden Days of Hollywood when the major studios dominated in the U.S. As for favorite genre, the votes were dispersed among all the choices, with no single genre separating itself from the pack.

Next week, we'll conclude this series by sharing survey results on favorite films, directors, actresses, and actor. If you missed Part 1 of the 2011 Classic Film Survey results, click here.


  1. Rick, I must say I enjoyed reading the results of the Classic Film Fan poll. I'm not surprised that the 1940s ruled, since I think many of us here were either old enough to have seen now-classic films in theaters as kids, or we first saw those classic movies on TV. I look forward to Part 2 of the survey results!

    P.S.: Having recently done a three-part blog about amnesia in the movies in my blog TALES OF THE EASILY DISTRACTED this past October, I was pleased to see This Week's Poll about amnesia movies! :-)

  2. Fascinating material, Rick. It showed me how much we have in common in the classic movie lover community. You know, this is so well-done and informative, you ought to try to publish it somehow - maybe even get paid! Or, if not that dream, make it available to a very wide internet audience. (Also, send it to AMC! Maybe they would remember their roots and turn their horrible programming around again. LOL!)

  3. Becky, I've often wondered how many film fans jumped ship to TCM when AMC quit showing the classics. Dorian, your review of MIRAGE got me thinking about doing an amnesia movie poll, but (truly no pun intended), I forgot about it until this week.

  4. That the '30s and '40s were the dominant decades in this survey is no surprise; what surprises me is that the '40s were favored by a considerable margin. I find forties films on the whole (there are certainly many exceptions) to be overly tarred by sanctimoniousness, in contrast to more forthright '30s fare. There's really no '40s equivalent of pre-Code, for example. By the '40s, Irving Thalberg was long gone, and the false piety of Louis B. Mayer reigned supreme.

  5. Oh, and one more thing: How can you do a "favorite classic film" poll about amnesia without the wonderful Powell and Loy comedy "I Love You Again," where Bill plays a con man who develops amnesia, becomes a Chamber of Commerce booster type, then regains his old sense in the small Pennsylvania town where he's married to Myrna?

  6. CinemaSweetheart, I accidentally deleted your comment instead of my own typo-filled one! So sorry; I blame the iPod. Yes, I have seen the very intriguing MEMENTO, but it's not in the amnesia poll because it's too recent for a classic movie blog. VP, I limit the weekly poll to a handful of films and periodically omit fan favorites. Now back to the classic film poll post: I think the films of the 1940s--because of the Hays Code limitations--were often wonderfully creative. Consider the clever way that Fritz Lang ended SCARLET STREET to comply with the code and still maintain his vision.

  7. As a fan of classic horror, I'd vote for the 30s; as a fan of film noir, the 40s. TCM is the first channel I check every day (other than the Weather Channel), but frankly I watch most of my classic films from my own collection.