Just what is it about old films that is so appealing? “Casablanca.” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” “The Sound of Music.” These movies are all considered classics, rewatched time and time again. But why? What is it about these films that makes us love them so, that makes them qualify as our favorites? And do we actually love them, or is it just for show?

These questions, particularly the last one, were on my mind after I learned that the State Theater would be giving away cinema memorabilia this past weekend, ranging from old 35mm trailers to posters from every film the State has screened in the last five years.

I thought about going — really, I did. But somewhere between my being sick Saturday morning and the thought of an overwhelming crowd of pretentious film buffs fighting for a copy of a “Citizen Kane” poster they would probably never even put up made me want to stay curled up in bed. Then the idea occurred to me that it probably wouldn’t even be a crowd of pretentious film buffs, but just a crowd of wannabe pretentious film buffs. Or freshmen.

Needless to say, I decided to nap instead. But as I was lying there, trying to drift off into unconsciousness, I couldn’t help but think about all of the movies that could be there. I thought about “The Graduate” and “Gone with the Wind.” I had dreams of “Dr. Strangelove” and “Blade Runner.” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Shawshank Redemption.” Would they be there? Should they be there?

All these films have made a huge impact on pop culture at one point or another. People have loved them, cried over them. But there is something different about people liking them now — people who weren’t around when they first made their mark. You have to ask yourself whether their interest is genuine or just trendy.

After all, we live in a culture that is Hollywood-obsessed. The films we like say a lot about us. Does your list of favorites include “Star Wars,” or are you more of a “Clueless” fan? Whether in an interview or on a first date, the simple question, “What’s your favorite movie?” can serve as insight into the soul.

And when we are asked that dreadful question, we must confront ourselves. Do I answer honestly? Do I really want them to know just how many times I’ve seen “Uptown Girls”? Most would probably say not. They go the other route and pick something trendy or, more frequently, something classic. They do this to feel more original, which is ironic considering how many people’s favorites said classic has been over the decades since its release.

But then again, that’s not entirely fair. Most of these movies do have a genuine following — they wouldn’t be classics if they didn’t. And I’m not cynical enough to chalk it all up to image. I think it’s more than that.

Just a couple of months ago I really felt like watching an old movie. After much debate I ultimately settled on “An Affair to Remember.” Looking back on that experience, though I do think in part it had to do with the fact that I had never seen the film and I felt I would be a more cultured person if I had, I think my reasoning largely had to do with escapism. I was on break and between schoolwork, dating and applying for jobs — I really didn’t want to think about the real world or real problems. I wanted to get away, to a world that was so different from our own.

So I went to 1957. I stayed glued in front of the TV with a box of tissues, yelling at Deborah Kerr to just tell Cary Grant about the car accident and why she never made it to the top of the Empire State Building. But she sat there and I sat there, and it was painful and glorious.

Now, when people ask me what my favorite movies are and I say “An Affair to Remember” or “A Clockwork Orange,” I know that it sounds obnoxious. Just like when people tell me that theirs is “Pulp Fiction” or “Psycho,” I secretly roll my eyes. But the truth is, no matter how annoying-pretentious-indie-hipster they sound, the love people have for old cinema is legitimate. People love these films because they are great films and because they do exactly what movies should: They give us an experience we couldn’t have had otherwise. They take us somewhere we’ve never been, somewhere far away. They take us back in time.

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