“Frankly, My Dear…”: Personality Types Who Don’t Give a Damn about Old Movies

Here’s looking at you, kid. There’s no place like home. I coulda been a contender. Rosebud. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Many of us have heard these lines before. Maybe you can name the classic Hollywood films in which they were first spoken. Maybe you even throw quotes from old movies into everyday conversation. There’s a good chance that you’ve at least encountered all-time-greatest lists like AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes (where, you might’ve guessed, Rhett Butler’s famous declaration in Gone with the Wind of just how little he cares about Scarlett O’Hara’s problems grabs the number-one spot.)

But as iconic as these classic movies have become, how many of us have actually watched Casablanca or On the Waterfront or Citizen Kane? How many of us care to?

After all, old movies are, well…old. Unlike the movies we’re used to now, which are often action-packed or fully loaded with special effects, old movies are slower-paced, more theatrical than realistic, and centered on the screenplay (or script). They’re often black-and-white. In some cases, they may portray cultural attitudes or stereotypes that are uncomfortable or offensive to us now.

For many people, it’s exactly these differences that make old movies unappealing or downright boring. But for many others, a classic film from the golden age of Hollywood can’t be beat.

To explore how personality type may influence our film preferences, we asked our community whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “Old movies do not interest you.” The results might surprise you: only 34% of readers agreed overall, indicating that the vast majority are at least open to (if not necessarily aficionados of) old movies. And while we did not see much variation between traits, two personality aspects stood out: Energy and Nature. 

Read on to learn where different personality types stand when it comes to old movies and to find some film recommendations that just might suit your personality!

Roles

Sentinels and Explorers (37% and 36% agreeing)

Agreeing at the highest rates, the two Observant Roles – Sentinels and Explorers – showed the least interest in old movies. Down-to-earth and practical as they are, Observant personalities may be turned off by the theatrical aspects and exaggerated acting style that many old movies tend to favor, preferring instead realistic story lines and more believable, lifelike acting, sets, and effects. Sentinels and Explorers may ask themselves what practical value is to be found in old movies and wonder, How is this relevant today?

This is especially true of Logisticians (ISTJ), who agreed with our statement more than any other personality type (41%). Pragmatic and goal-oriented, Logisticians may find it difficult to sit and watch a slow-paced old movie when there is other pressing work to be done. A classic film featuring a hardworking protagonist determined to stand up for what’s right might intrigue them – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) or In the Heat of the Night (1967), perhaps. But many Logisticians would probably choose a current documentary or a movie based on a true story, rather than a decades-old drama.

That said, the majority of Sentinels who are interested in old movies are likely drawn to the classic traditions and values that they represent. There are certainly many entertaining yet instructive classic films that Sentinel personalities can turn to, whether they’re looking for something focused on themes of ethics and justice, like 12 Angry Men (1957); morality tales, like It’s a Wonderful Life (1946); or family-oriented fun, like The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Although Explorer personalities may crave more action than many old movies have to offer, there are still plenty of thrilling adventures to be had, such as The Great Escape (1963), Jaws (1975), or vintage James Bond flicks like Dr. No (1962) and Goldfinger (1964). Explorers who are attracted to celebrity may want to check out movies that star Hollywood icons like Clarke Gable, Vivienne Leigh, and Elizabeth Taylor, while those drawn to aesthetic beauty might appreciate lavish, visually elaborate productions, like Gone with the Wind (1939) and Cleopatra (1963).

Analysts (34%)

Analysts are slightly more interested in old movies than Sentinels or Explorers due to their Intuitive trait. Attracted to novelty, innovation, and films that push boundaries, Intuitive personalities like Analysts may be better able to appreciate the elements of classic films that were groundbreaking in their time (even if they are outdated now).

On the other hand, Analysts’ core Thinking trait can make old movies problematic for them. As rational thinkers, many Analysts draw a line when it comes to anything that’s overly emotional, melodramatic, or sentimental – common characteristics of many old movies.

Films that are intellectually challenging, that keep the viewer engaged with logical yet surprising twists and turns, and that demonstrate technical innovation are likely to be most appealing to Analyst personalities. Think Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), or any of Alfred Hitchcock’s other psychological thrillers. Given Analysts’ reputation for rebellious independence, films that feature complex, compelling antiheroes are likely to be attractive too, like The Godfather (1972), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and Citizen Kane (1941).

Diplomats (29%)

The combination of Intuitive and Feeling personality traits makes Diplomats the most interested in old movies. Not only are Diplomats gifted at understanding themes, symbolism, and deeper meaning in movies, but they also appreciate the sense of connection to past generations.

Some Diplomats may feel that old movies are too far removed from the social, political, and cultural issues that face the world today, preferring contemporary films that take on these challenging subjects. With their capacity for empathy, however, most of these personalities can easily get lost in the emotional experiences of the characters and are relatively open to dramatic acting styles in old films. 

Diplomats have often been called idealists, romantics, peacemakers, and advocates for social change, and classic films that deal with any of these themes are likely to capture their interest. Consider as examples West Side Story (1961), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). 

Of all the personality types, Protagonists (ENFJ) were the least likely to agree with our statement (28%). As their name implies, Protagonists are strong, charismatic leaders who are all about inspiring others and making the world a better place. Naturally, they’re drawn to films about larger-than-life, timeless characters doing heroic things, as well as films that portray personal struggle and triumph, both of which are well-loved tropes in old movies. Spartacus (1960), Norma Rae (1979), and The Miracle Worker (1962) are just a few examples of movie classics that may inspire Protagonists.

Strategies

There was little variation in the responses of the Strategies, Social Engagement (35%), Constant Improvement (34%), Confident Individualism (32%), and People Mastery (30%).

The marginally higher agreement of the two Turbulent Strategies might suggest that the inherent perfectionism of Social Engagers and Constant Improvers draws their attention to old movies’ flaws, like conspicuous backdrops or continuity errors, and away from their merits. Assertive personalities might be more willing to overlook the “stage effect” of old movies and appreciate the screenplay, acting, and effects of early Hollywood films for what they are.

Conclusions

Our study indicates that most people are interested in old movies, but a closer examination of various traits – especially the Intuitive–Observant and Thinking–Feeling traits – suggests that factors like genre, plot, characterization, and technique have a lot to do with just how much different personality types enjoy old movies. The same is true of contemporary film, of course – different personalities will have different interests and turnoffs when it comes to movies.

If you think old movies aren’t for you, perhaps trying out one of the movies suggested in this article will change your mind – or at least open it. Of the thousands of movies that Hollywood has produced over the last 100 years, there’s bound to be something that could catch your fancy!

Are you a classic film buff or do old movies make you want to turn your screen off? Share your thoughts (and your movie recommendations!) in the comments below!

Further Reading

“We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes”: Horror Films and Personality Type

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. Please also consider participating in our Member Surveys!

1 week ago
As an INFP my favorites are usually more modern fantasy and sci fi, but I’m not opposed to the classics (2001 is one of my long time favorites). I’m surprised more Sentinels didn’t love classic movies. My mother is a Sentinel (ISFJ), and she enjoys watching classic dramas while knitting. She was born in the 50’s, though, so it could also be a nostalgic thing, as my generation likes to do with ‘80’s movies.
2 weeks ago
I... don't watch movies... at all. But it's good to see that most people are actually "open minded" to old movies. Keeping the classics alive!
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