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Safety Last!

Safety Last!TCM viewingWhen Tom Cruise scaled the Burj Khalifa in Dubai for a scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, it got a whole lot of attention, and rightly so. At 2722 feet off the ground, it's the tallest building in the world, and the fact that Cruise was willing to do the entire stunt himself likely enticed audiences to see the movie in large numbers. It was a rare feat achieved by one of the world's biggest stars who, by many accounts, is a great perfectionist and diligent worker. It was ... read more »

Footlight Parade

Are Ruby and Joanie supposed to be nudein this poster? Sure looks like it!Footlight Paradeseen @ Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre, Jersey City, NJA long time ago, when they used to be shown in venues opulent and lavish enough to be worthy of the name "palaces," movies used to be preceded by live stage shows called "prologues." As I understand it, they were the brainchildren of exhibitors, who put them on as a supplement to the movie, a kind of stage-setter, as it were. Imagine seeingBatman v. Supermanat Ra... read more »

High Sierra/On Dangerous Ground

High SierraOn Dangerous GroundTCM viewingsSo the common denominator in both High Sierra and On Dangerous Ground is actress-director Ida Lupino. (That, and they both end with dudes falling off of mountains.) TCM devoted a day to her last week and I took advantage of it to watch a couple of her films as an actress. Alas, I wasn't able to check out any of her directorial efforts that day. I'd like to at some point.I'd seen Sierra before. It still holds up - although in watching it again, something new occur... read more »

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)seen @ Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre, Jersey City, NJOkay, so even if you're not a hardcore cinephile, chances are you've heard the story of how Lana Turner was discovered. Maybe you never quite believed it. Maybe you thought it was just Hollywood legend, an exaggeration of the truth. I mean, after all, how many actresses get discovered simply sitting around in a malt shop in LA at age sixteen?Can you imagine trying something like that today - just plucking someone o... read more »

The File on Thelma Jordon

The Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon is exactly what it says on the tin, hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. For a complete list of participating blogs, visit the link at the host site.The File on Thelma Jordon(AKA Thelma Jordon)YouTube viewingIt took me awhile to really get into The File on Thelma Jordon. For one thing, I was expecting a noir and it started out as a romance - and with a drunk man who was not that great looking to begin with. I would've thought Barbara Stanwyck had... read more »

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kanefrom my DVD collectionThey say you can't take it with you - when you die, that is (whoever "they" are; there's always some "they" saying something) - and that's one cliche that happens to be true. Ours is a materialistic culture. We like having things and we like ascribing a value to them, whether real or imagined. Sometimes, though, we get carried away with them. Sometimes things matter more than they should.You all know I come from a background in comics, not just as a collector and a creat... read more »

Border Incident

Border IncidentTCM viewingBorder Incident was a pleasant surprise in the sense that it was perhaps the first time I had seen an Old Hollywood movie about the lives of Latinos, starring a Latino actor. I know this is far from the first classic film to focus on people of color, but it's nice to know that they exist, and they were made.It was especially nice to see Ricardo Montalban in a leading role while he was still a young man. I kind of recognized him when he first appeared, but I wasn't sure until he ... read more »

Watch on the Rhine

Watch on the RhineTCM viewingThe work of playwright Lillian Hellman continues to inspire the modern theater. An online search leads to the following sampling: Toys in the Attic played in midtown Manhattan in 2007; The Little Foxes was revived in Chicago earlier this year; and The Children's Hour played in London in 2011 with, among others, Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss, Carol Kane and Ellen Burstyn. As a Hollywood screenwriter, Hellman adapted some of her work and wrote original material as well, and s... read more »

Spartacus

[I'm going through some computer problems right now, so some posts are gonna be bare bones for awhile. When I get it fixed, I'll go back and add banners, photos, links, etc.] The Criterion Blogathon is an event examining the films within the Criterion Collection of films, hosted by Criterion Blues, Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. Spartacus from my DVD collection I first collected Criterion DVDs back when I worked video retail, in the late 90s-early 00s. It was my co-workers' fault. They were much... read more »

No Way Out

No Way OutYouTube viewingJoseph L. Mankiewicz is one of the most successful triple-threats - producing, writing and directing - in Hollywood history. Chances are you've seen his two biggest hits as a writer-director, A Letter to Three Wives and Best Picture winner All About Eve. As a producer, he was behind such big hits from the 30s and 40s as The Philadelphia Story and Woman of the Year, among others. In addition, his brother Herman co-wrote Citizen Kane with Orson Welles, the highlight of a long caree... read more »

Creature From the Black Lagoon

The Universal Blogathon is an event celebrating the films of Universal Studios, presented by Silver Scenes. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the link at the host site. Creature From the Black Lagoon YouTube viewing In the grand tradition of Universal movie monsters, one of the greatest, and at the same time, one of the least understood, is the amphibious terror known only as the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In this rare and exclusive interview conducted over Skype, I had the o... read more »

Plan 9 From Outer Space

Plan 9 From Outer Space YouTube viewingLet's start with the question everyone asks: is it really the worst movie of all time? Friends and neighbors, I have seen a lot of movies in my life, but I haven't seen nearly enough to even be remotely qualified to answer that question. Personally, I think the "all time" label, while it's certainly well-earned, is also part hyperbole, a gimmick used to get people to willingly engage in what they believe to be a "campy" experience that they can tweet about later.I'... read more »

Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro

Hollywood's Hispanic Heritage Blogathones un evento dedicado a celebrar los logros de los latinos en la industria del cine a lo largo de la historia, organizado porOnce Upon a Screen. Para obtener una lista de bloggers que participan, por favor visite los enlaces en cualquier sitio.Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro (AKA Samson vs. the Vampire Women)YouTube viewingLong before the Rock, Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura or Rowdy Roddy Piper, there was El Santo - a professional wrestling legend from Mexico who parlayed... read more »

Little Shop of Horrors: 1960 vs. 1986 (and also...

The They Remade What?! Blogathon is an event in which the goal is to compare an original film with its remake, presented by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the host site at the link.It's common knowledge now that Little Shop of Horrors began as a semi-obscure Roger Corman movie from the sixties, if for no other reason than it was one of the first screen appearances of Jack Nicholson. How did it inspire a hit Broadway musical and a film adaptation of that... read more »

The Old Dark House

The Old Dark HouseYouTube viewingThe Old Dark House was less of a horror movie than I expected, but it wasn't bad. I should have expected as much from director James Whale. Let's talk about him for a minute or two.Whale's movies really stick out from other films from the dawn of the sound era in Hollywood. For example, he wasn't afraid to move the camera for purposes other than following the physical action. There's a scene where the camera pans across a dinner table and back, focusing on the diners and ... read more »

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

House on Haunted Hill (1959)YouTube viewingThe original House on Haunted Hill was better than I had remembered. We don't see any actual ghosts in the story, but the possibility that they exist isn't entirely ruled out, either. The plot doesn't quite hold up under closer scrutiny, but it's still entertaining. It's a William Castle movie, so you know it's meant to have an audience-related gimmick: in this case, it was "Emergo," a giant glow-in-the-dark skeleton that hovers over the audience during the film... read more »

Lawrence of Arabia

The Blind Spot is an ongoing series hosted by The Matinee in which bloggers watch and write about movies they've never seen before. For a list of past entries,visit the home site.Lawrence of Arabiaseen @ The Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria NYIn my writing group, there's this delightful woman named Jennifer who is not only a very good writer, but is a big old movie fan. As you can imagine, we've become pretty good friends. Hitchcock is her particular favorite director, but her tastes are pretty wide-r... read more »

Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bombseen @ "Movies With a View" @ Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn NYIf I were to pick one word to describe the films of Stanley Kubrick, I would pick "tense." Even in a comedy like Dr. Strangelove, there's a palpable sense of tension that Kubrick always knew how to generate. I've always thought it was the result of his cinematography - the way he framed certain shots and then held them, shooting long takes with minimal cross-cutting. It look... read more »

#TCMParty: Monkey Business (1931)

So last Friday night, the 14th, marked a return for me to the #TCMparty, the Twitter feed in which fans of the classic film network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) congregates virtually to live-tweet during movies aired by TCM. As I've said before, I'm of two minds about live-tweeting: I dig the social aspect of experiencing a movie online with other movie fans, but I don't like dividing my attention between my TV and my cellphone - and while I enjoyed taking part in it, I'm afraid my attitude on this hasn't... read more »

Portrait of Jennie

The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon is an event devoted to the legacy of the Barrymore clan, one of the most prolific acting families in film and theater, hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the link at the host site.Portrait of JennieYouTube viewingAnyone with a passing familiarity with Greek mythology will know who the Muses were: nine goddesses who brought the gift of inspiration to artistic minds. Surprisingly, there wasn't one for vis... read more »

Life With Father

Life With FatherTCM viewingThere's a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. It means that when the stakes are life and death, people are more likely to turn to God for comfort. That might have been true once, back when humans knew little about the world and their place in it, but times have changed, and besides, not everybody worships God in the same way - or at all.William Powell's character in Life With Father isn't an atheist, but he might be the closest thing to one I've ever seen in a studio... read more »

The Sheik/The Son of the Sheik

The SheikYouTube viewingThe Son of the Sheikseen @ Celebrate Brooklyn, Prospect Park, Brooklyn NYSo what was the big deal about Rudolph Valentino? It's hard to imagine how big he was during his brief life as a silent film star, because apparently he was HUGE - like Brad Pitt in his prime, Justin Bieber, Beatles-in-'64 huge. And it's not even like he was that great an actor. Acting was kinda beside the point for someone like him.In her book Silent Stars, Jeanine Basinger attempts to justify the Valentino ... read more »

The Given Word

The Given Word (O Pagador de Promessas)YouTube viewingLast month I wrote about the movie Black Orpheus, a popular and beloved movie known around the world. I think it's terrific. It's superbly filmed, with a fine cast featuring people of color in a remarkable reinterpretation of the Orpheus myth that showcases the beauty of Rio de Janeiro, and I would happily recommend it to anyone.But it never occurred to me how actual Brazilians regard it.You've seen me write about Le for quite awhile; for one so young... read more »

Cinematic World Tour: The Young Girls of Rochefort

The Young Girls of Rochefort seen @ Battery Park, New York NYGreetings from...Rochefort?!Where on earth is Rochefort, you ask? It's a seaside town on the west coast of France. See, I was flying to Paris to watch the Tour de France, but Freddy, my pilot, ran into some engine trouble, and we had to set down on an airfield about fifteen miles outside of Rochefort so he could take care of it. You don't wanna know how scared out of my mind I was!I shouldn't have been, though. Freddy's flown all over the worl... read more »

Lady in the Lake

Lady in the LakeTCM viewingYou turn on the television and see the movie Lady in the Lake will start in ten minutes. You're intrigued; you've heard of the movie before, but you've never seen it. You know the gimmick: it's a film shot subjectively, from the point of view of the main character. You're impressed that an Old Hollywood film could be this experimental. One could almost say it borders on being an art film - or what passed for an art film in 1947. You decide to watch.The Christmas carols in the o... read more »

Double Indemnity in one scene

The "...And Scene!" Blogathon involves close analysis of a single scene from an Old Hollywood film, hosted by Sister Celluloid. For a complete list of participating blogs, visit the link at the site.I've talked about Double Indemnity before, and I think we all agree that it's a terrific movie. (Did you know that it was inspired by a real-life murder that took place here in Queens?) For this blogathon, we're gonna try something different, namely, taking a closer look at one scene in that movie. The scene ... read more »

Broken Blossoms

Broken Blossoms, or The Yellow Man and the GirlYouTube viewingHow do I talk about D.W. Griffith? How do I talk about the guy whose innovative directorial techniques revolutionized film, yet left an indelible stain on that medium with a movie so toxic in its racism? (I don't need to invoke its name, do I? We know which film I'm talking about.) It so happens that 2015 marks the centennial of That Movie, and Time wrote a piece earlier this year to commemorate the occasion.I have written here before, when ta... read more »

Cinematic World Tour: Black Orpheus

Black Orpheus YouTube viewing Greetings from Rio!I had gotten an invite from my pal Le to a party to celebrate her new book. So my pilot re-fueled the jet, loaded up the bar, and we flew down to her neck of the woods in Brazil! The party was great! I was really excited to meet Le in person for the first time. But then she told me that Carnaval was about to go down in Rio in a couple of days.* I said, well, hey, as long as I'm already down here - let's go! Incredible city, Rio. As bustling and full... read more »

The Endless Summer

The Beach Party Blogathon is devoted to the grooviest and swingingest beach-related movies around, hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the link at Speakeasy.The Endless SummerNetflix stream viewingI've never had any great interest in surfing. When I think of the beach, I'm reminded of my days in summer camp as a child, and we did a whole lot more splashing around and dunking each other than we did surfing. I vaguely recall experimenting with a b... read more »

Village of the Damned (1960)

Village of the Damned (1960)seen on TV @ TCMFor this post about Village of the Damned, I will speak in a British accent. What do you think? Is it convincing? I admit, I'm no Meryl Streep, but I don't think a British accent is too hard to pull off. You can't tell, can you? Okay, wait a minute, let me try something...centreneighbourhoodanar-kystHow about now? No? Well, I tried.This was one I had wanted to see for a long time. I already knew the premise - demon-seed Aryan kids take over a town with their me... read more »

Five more movie/TV characters that deserve statues

So I spent last Friday in Philadelphia (traveling by BUS, permit me to point out), hanging out with friends, and while I was there, I decided to visit some of the prominent movie-related landmarks around the City of Brotherly Love. I was walking, so I didn't get to see as many as I had hoped, but I saw some: the church that was in The Sixth Sense, and the deli where Denzel Washington ate in Philadelphia. I wanted to find Eddie Murphy's street corner from Trading Places, but I didn't have time.The biggest... read more »

Ray Bradbury and vintage science fiction films

Guest postby Maria Ramos Few science fiction authors have had the influence on the genre that Ray Bradbury has. His penchant for the strange and mysterious, coupled with evocative, lyrical prose, made his works readily accessible for adaptation into television shows and movies. Bradbury felt acutely the fears and anxieties that many Americans experienced during the Cold War and this is reflected in many of his works. Themes of identity and persecution tied directly to McCarthyismand the Red Scare, whil... read more »

Pather Panchali

Pather Panchali(AKA Song of the Little Road)seen @ Film Forum5.8.15Pather Panchali was yet another film I saw for the first time during my video store days in the 90s, when all I knew about it was that it was an Important Movie. I remember liking it, but I never had the inclination to revisit it or any of the other films in the so-called Apu Trilogy - Aparajito and World of Apu. So I was pleased to see that Film Forum was gonna show all three films this month, although this is probably the only one I'll ... read more »

Desk Set

The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon is exactly what it says on the tin, hosted by Margaret Perry. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the link at the host site.Desk Setseen online at YouTubeloading...545459153021056165640587410390255548562110141212354134211231021347789653120586163645208483356647894565205620054646665489847001313520123123International Business Machines Corp.Electronic Brain Version 1.0Electromagnetic Memory and Research Arithmetical Calculatorcolloquial referent "EMARAC"... read more »

They Drive By Night

They Drive By Nightseen on TV @ TCM4.20.15It was said that Ida Lupino referred to herself as the poor man's Bette Davis (even though they were both women, duh!). After seeing her in They Drive By Night, I can understand why. The movie is about the hard lives of truckers, in particular two brothers, George Raft and Humphrey Bogart, who dream of making it in the business. Lupino plays the wife of a trucking owner who has the hots for Raft, but he won't mess around with the wife of a friend. Besides, he's a... read more »

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hoodseen on TV @ TCM4.7.15There's something about Old Hollywood movies shot in Technicolor, aside from the obvious fact of them being in color in a black-and-white medium. The coloring process gives those movies a heightened sense of realism, but they tend to look realer than reality, if that makes any sense. The colors pop in a way that they usually don't in most modern color movies, and the effect is startling, to say the least. I suspect it was part of the effort to make movies... read more »

Our Man Flint

The CinemaScope Blogathon, hosted by myself and Becky from ClassicBecky's Brain Food, goes on all this weekend. Check the list of participating bloggers to find out who's writing about what. Once again, a big thanks to everyone for joining us for this. The turnout has been incredible and I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm for this event!Our Man Flintseen online via YoutubeI'm fairly sure I had seen Our Man Flint once before, during my video store days, but that was a long time ago and I didn't remember t... read more »

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) from my VHS collection Okay, don't get me wrong, I still like The Day the Earth Stood Still as a movie. It's ambitious, it's better written and acted than most alien-invader movies of the period, it has that awesome Bernard Herrmann score, and in the grand tradition of classic science fiction, it attempts to say something important about the world we live in. That said, I think I have a serious problem with it, and the problem lies with Klaatu's departing speech ... read more »

Raw Deal (1948)

Raw Deal (1948)seen online via YouTubeSo I'm continuing with my Anthony Mann kick, and I've liked all of the movies of his I've seen so far, including the crime pic Raw Deal. It's as noir as films got back in the day: hardened jailbird escapes prison, and with the help of his girlfriend, sets out for San Francisco, but is forced to take his social worker along as an unwitting hostage. Meanwhile, the big boss man who betrayed him is scheming to bump him off before he reaches Frisco.What do we know about M... read more »

The Furies

The Furiesseen online via YouTubeGiven her early days as a Brooklyn showgirl turned film star of urban dramas and comedies, Barbara Stanwyck probably didn't seem like a natural for Westerns at first. The future Big Valley TV star, however, took to them fairly well. According to this Movie Morlocks piece, she had always had an interest in them:...A political conservative, Stanwyck did not take on these roles to make a point about her gender, and she would likely be uninterested in a feminist interpretatio... read more »

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbirdseen on TV @ TCM2.18.15My copy of To Kill a Mockingbird looks like the kind you'd get in school. For one thing, it's got "Property of the Board of Education of the City of New York" stamped on the first page. I don't remember what grade I read the book in, but I imagine it must have made an impression on me if I kept it. Also, it's got a hardcover that binds the pages so tight, the gutter comes very close to swallowing the text, so I have to turn the book around a little in order to ... read more »

Steamboat Bill Jr.

The Buster Keaton Blogathon is an event saluting the silent film superstar, hosted by Silent-ology. For a list of participating bloggers, visit the link to the site.Steamboat Bill Jr.seen online via YouTubeIn the spirit of this blogathon devoted to silent film, I'm going to attempt to make this a "silent" post, i.e., images only, intercutting stills from the film with pictures that will more or less represent my thoughts on it. To sum it up, I didn't think the film was that great until the final act. Hop... read more »

The Smiling Lieutenant

The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon is an event devoted to the actress, hosted by Silver Screenings and A Small Press Life. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.----------------A bit of explanation for the newbies: City Mouse is a cartoon character I created in 2008 when I was living in Ohio and have since brought over to WSW more or less intact. Click on the label "cartoons" over in the sidebar if you wanna see more.I wasn't planning on taking this approach for this pos... read more »

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sunseen on TV @ TCM1.14.15SoA Raisin in the Sun was revived on Broadway last year, and after seeing the film version again, I kinda wish I had seen it live as well. Denzel Washington might be too old for the part, but I have absolutely no problem imagining him stepping into Sidney Poitier's shoes. The revival did very well: it won three Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play, and even the President and First Lady went to see it.Raisin is a play that has enjoyed a long shelf life, b... read more »

Nothing Sacred

Nothing Sacredseen online via YouTubeWatch enough Old Hollywood movies and read enough stories about that era and sooner or later you'll come across the name Ben Hecht. He was a screenwriter, as well as a playwright and novelist, among the other hats he wore, whose career covered almost the entire studio era and a little bit of the silent era as well. He was one of the first Academy Award winners, and would gather five more nominations and another win before his career was through. And although his name ... read more »

My Reputation

My Reputationseen on TV @ TCM11.21.14There's been a great deal of discussion over the past few years about the decline of the romantic film, whether comedy or drama. (Earlier this week, The Dissolve was the latest film site to have a discussion about it.) When I addressed the matter a couple of years ago, I talked about how many of the industry's biggest leading men have been reluctant to appear in romantic movies (comedies in particular), a problem that didn't exist to anywhere near the same degree back... read more »

Sunrise (1927)

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humansseen on TV @ TCM11.17.14I first saw Sunrise in my college film history class way back when. I don't recall what my reaction was. It was without a doubt one of the very first times I had seen a silent movie, for what it's worth. As a movie, it's good, if somewhat melodramatic (to say the least). I like how it's almost entirely reliant on the visuals. There are few title cards, and the ones it has are used in unusual ways. There is, of course, the way the line "Couldn't she get... read more »

Hungry links

Good news: I've got an ETA on the next issue of Newtown Literary which will include my short story "Airplanes." It'll be released in December... and that's about as specific as I can get right now. For those of you in the New York area, the magazine is available at Astoria Bookshopin Queens, a fine literary establishment which I heartily recommend.As for the WSW anthology, I admit I've slowed down on this because I've never published an e-book before and I'm kinda nervous about getting it right (although... read more »

Singin' in the Rain

Singin' in the Rain seen @ Landmark Loew's Jersey Theater, Jersey City, NJ 9.27.14And now, five things I thought about while watching Singin' in the Rain:1. There's just something about musicals. When they're done right, that is. I don't seek them out, most of the time. It's not like I'm crazy for them or anything, but the best of them have a way of making you just feel good about life, as silly as that may sound. And while there are modern musicals that I adore, such as Dreamgirls and Hedwig and the A... read more »

Ninotchka

Ninotchka seen on TV @ TCM 9.10.14I think it was sometime in the mid-to-late 90s. At least, I'm fairly sure it was around then. I don't remember if I was channel surfing and discovered it by accident or if I knew about it in advance. I distinctly remember seeing it though: PBS aired a bunch of Greta Garbo silents. They may have been clips or they may have been full-length films; I don't recall.The point is that I remember watching them on TV and being mesmerized by them. Part of it has to do with the w... read more »




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