When Derek McLellan first built The Golden Age of Hollywood in 2004, he really just wanted to create a movie message board where people could discuss any genre of movie, from horror to musicals and everything in between. “I wanted to create a community where people could talk about film in a pleasant environment,” he says. “I decided to focus on the Golden Age because there were already so many sites that went the other way. But people still discuss more modern films, and even the latest ones, on my site.” What started as a modest community, however, soon became much more: McLellan’s website provides visitors with a multimedia experience that captures almost every aspect of the classic film era.
Any way you can deliver content online, The Golden Age of Hollywood has most likely exploited it. In addition to his message boards, which have recently spawned a MySpace-like community, McLellan’s site features picture galleries of classic movie posters, essays on the rise of cinema and archived movie reviews. “It’s always interesting to compare what people thought back then with our views today,” he says. “People sometimes make allowances about technology, but I try to see the basic idea and story. You need a good script whether the movie was made in 1928 or 2008.” Need more visual stimulus? The Golden Age also features a constantly updated “Virtual Cinema” that features everything from shorts to movie matinées to documentaries.
For audio entertainment, McLellan hosts a weekly podcast, where he discusses classic films and specific stars. Also available on the site is a 24-hour Internet radio station, on which he plays everything from classic movie scores to tunes from the era’s musicals. Recent scores that he finds particularly poignant have even been known to slip in, like the theme from 2000′s Gladiator.
The Golden Age of Hollywood is as comprehensive and multi-faceted a guide to classic movies as you’re likely to find on the Internet. “I believe there is a tendency to underestimate anything more than a few months old and dismiss it,” says McLellan. “But human emotions don’t change, and for that the classic films are well worth discovering.” His website is a good place to start.