22 Unwritten Rules of Old Black-and-White Movies

By Christine Lorraine Morgan

Nothing paints a delicious gray-scale landscape like a juicy old movie, and the older the better. If you watch enough film classics, over time, there are certain common cinematic denominators which begin to surface.

This film-inspired list of humorous observations might be amusing to those who are captivated by watching vapor-prone ladies of yesteryear, or who revel in observing silver-screen men engage in aggressive sword-fighting and random pillaging.

With that in mind, enjoy this unofficial list and see how many of your own observations you can add to this comedic collection.

1. If a woman is considered “loose,” a muted trumpet will play sexy music during her scenes.

2. Artists wear berets and live eccentric Bohemian lifestyles.

3. Police shoot at you if you run away from them. Period.

4. If there’s a sweeping staircase someone will a) fall down it painfully or b) slide down it playfully or c) both, but usually not in the same scene.

5. “Dick” means detective.

6. “Gay” means happy.

7. As heard in squad cars, police dispatchers are male and hold their noses when they speak.

8. Live telephone operators are shapely, pretty and prone to listen in on private conversations.

9. “Swell” means neat-o, keen, cool or to be admired and has no sexual connotations.

10. Taxi drivers speak with either New York City or Boston accents.

11. If someone is of Italian heritage, their mother is overweight.

12. Getting “stoned” or “high” means drinking too much.

13. Waitresses are flirtatious, sassy and usually available.

14. People who are “absent-minded” do not take ADD meds.

15. Doctors come to your house to treat you and if you’re really broke, you can pay them with small live animals.

16. Trains go to every town, everywhere.

17. “Making love” means saying romantic things out loud.

18. If a girl gets pregnant without being married, it means that her immediate family members, distant relations, close friends, and anyone she ever talked to will live out their lives in ruin and disgrace.

19. If you stare at Betty Davis close up long enough she will kiss you.

20. You could get arrested and sent to jail for what is known as “shacking up” in today’s terminology.

21. All men wore hats.

22. No one went to the bathroom. Ever.






About xtinethewriter

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2 Responses to 22 Unwritten Rules of Old Black-and-White Movies

  1. Very fun post! Here’s a few more movie regulations:
    #1 really loose and up-to-no-good, they may break out a saxophone
    #2 artists also hold their cigarettes in strange, uncomfortable ways, then wave them around while they talk, and blow the smoke out slowly, often in a vertical stream
    #4 faced with a sweeping staircase, you can also float down the stairs in an incredibly big dress, like a six-person tent, or discover that you’ve been walking around in tap shoes, and dance down, clicking really loudly
    #11 Italian heritage also equates with severe five o’clock shadow
    #21 If the guy takes his hat off and tosses it onto a piece of furniture, you’ll probably be hearing the muted trumpet from #1 and then the scene fades out.

    • Oh yeah, almost forgot!
      If it’s cold, it’s always jake if you park a 55-gallon drum in the middle of the sidewalk, gather your hobo friends, and start burning trash. Everybody was smoking all the time anyway, so they don’t mind the flaming obstacle and a few more fumes

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