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Site of the Week: Classic Cinema Online

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Some websites specialize in analyzing classic movies. Others specialize in reviewing the classics. And then there are websites that just play the damn things.

Sandra Doolin’s Classic Cinema Online focuses on streaming full-length movies from “Golden Hollywood” — a catch-all term she developed for films of all genres that are at least 30 years old. “It was such a classic time,” she says. “We had different ways of looking at life. Classical movies really left more to the imagination. They just don’t make them like that any more.”

Since launching a little over a year ago, the website has become a
treasure trove of hundreds of movies dating from the dawn of cinema all
the way through the mid-1970s — all high quality features that play
instantly on your computer. This is made possible by the fact that many
classics have been around long enough for their copyrights to expire,
which places them in the public domain.

Sandra posts between 4 and 12 new films a week, depending on how many silent and foreign films she happens to find in addition to Hollywood favorites. And make no mistake, these are the favorites: A random sampling of movies currently on the site include King Kong (1933), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Dr. Strangelove (1964) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

Says Sandra: “I’ve never been a big movie buff with modern movies. I don’t find those as entertaining. The music is different, the scripting is different, the whole personality of the films are different. I think classical movies have historical value. They give us a picture of how life was for our parents, our grandparents.”

Cinema Classics Online does more than play movies. In its third week, the site drew about 800,000 people. Traffic has since tapered off to 200,000 a month, but a robust viewership is evolving nonetheless, and Sandra has created a forum where readers can discuss the films, request future postings, and even download movies. And it’s all free.

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