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About a Boy

The Beyond the Cover Blogathon is an event devoted to films adapted from novels, hosted by Speakeasy and Now Voyaging. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.About a Boyseen online via YouTubeOkay, so you probably know by now that Nick Hornby is one of my absolute favorite authors. Why do I like him? His style of writing, for one thing: he has a really sharp sense of humor that shows through in his work, and even when he makes references to something British that I ... read more »

These Three

These Threeseen on TV @ TCMSo Paddy and I were talking about These Three the other day. The inevitable comparisons to The Children's Hour came up, of course. Paddy said that the former holds up as well as the latter, even if it is a censored version of the latter. I had said that in my mind, Three can't hold a candle to Hour, since Hour, after all, is the original version.It's important to note that Lillian Hellman, creator of the original stage play that led to both film versions, wrote the screenplay f... read more »

2015 Top 10

Before I begin, let me address the elephant in the room.The Revenant is not on this list. I didn't see it and I don't plan to anytime soon. Perhaps you think this makes my list illegitimate somehow, given all the acclaim this movie has received, and in a way, I can't say I blame you if you did think so.There's something you gotta remember about me and this blog, though: I am not a professional reviewer. I don't aspire to be one. I make conscious choices as to which new releases to see, and I pay to see t... read more »

The link who fell to Earth

Unfortunately, I don't have any interesting stories related to the music of David Bowie. I never saw him in concert, nor did he inspire me to explore my sexuality or anything along those lines. Like many people, I simply dug his music, and I'm really sad to see him departed from this life. As an actor - and he had been one almost as long as he had been a singer - he had an eclectic range of roles, as you would expect from one who took on roles in his musical performances: Pontius Pilate in The Last Tempt... 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 »

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakensseen @ Movieworld, Douglaston, Queens, NYSPOILERSI don't know why I never got into Star Wars as a kid. (Just so we're on the same page: when I say "Star Wars," I'm referring to the franchise in general; when I say "A New Hope," I'm talking about the original 1977 film. And TFA, of course, stands for "The Force Awakens." Got it?) You hear and read so many stories about people who grew up with a Millennium Falcon model or stood in line for Empire on opening day with their older ... read more »

Louis B. Mayer

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, back in the day, boasted that they had "more stars than there are in heaven," and they weren't far from wrong. More than any other studio from the Old Hollywood era, perhaps, MGM epitomized the glamour and the spectacle of American movies, and the crafting of stars was a huge part of their success.There's a quote attributed to MGM head Louis B. Mayer - the second "M" in "MGM" - that I find quite illuminating:The idea of a star being born is bush-wah. A star is made, created; carefull... read more »

The films of John Ford... in haiku

The Grapes of Wrath Moving to Cali, No one gives Fonda a break. Bad times? He'll be there! How Green Was My Valley That's right, it beat Kane, But it's an excellent film, So get over it! The Searchers A word to the wise: If the goal ain't worth the search, it is not to blame. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Legend? Or the facts? In this information age, The former's losing. ------------------- Previously: The films of Howard Hawks... in limericks read more »

Cecil B. DeMille

Did you knowThe Ten Commandmentshas aired on TV every year since 1973? That's almost my entire lifetime! My family and I would watch it when I was a kid, but as a grown-up, and a film blogger, I can look at it with an appreciation I didn't have then, now that I know who Anne Baxter and Edward G. Robinson and Yvonne DeCarlo and Judith Anderson and Vincent Price and Woody Strode are, along with Chuck Heston and Yul Brynner.I imagine that most people tuning in to ABC to watch aren't film nerds, though. I've... 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 »

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 »

Fear the walking links

...and we're back. I got quite a bit done on my novel last month, though perhaps not as much as I would've liked. It's a slow process, at least for me, which is ironic since the first draft was written during National Novel Writing Month (which is next month), where speed is key to success. Maybe I've forgotten some of the lessons I've learned from that event; I don't know, but it's not like I'm writing this under a deadline. I made progress, which is what matters, and I expect to keep going.We've reache... read more »

Saul Bass

In high school, I took a class in advertising and graphic design. It was quite a challenge for someone unused to the rigors associated with the field. I came to think of it as something akin to making art with letters. There was an assignment in which we had to design a logo for a word that would illustrate its meaning at the same time - similar to what this guy does. The word I chose was "hydrant." In addition to freehand-ing the letters of a font I got out of a book, I substituted the "H" with an... read more »

Robert Wise

The timing for this post on Robert Wise is fortuitous: his birthday was last Thursday (the 10th) and he died on this day ten years ago. Once again, I didn't plan it that way. Just happened. Speaking of milestones, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Wise's film adaptation ofThe Sound of Music, and there have been quite a few events surrounding the musical. The cast reunited for a screening at this year's TCM Film Festival. Vanity Fair did a nice piece which includes interviews with stars Julie Andr... read more »

So Big!

The William Wellman Blogathon celebrates the life and career of the director, hosted by Now Voyaging. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the link at the website. So Big! TCM viewing I'm used to seeing Barbara Stanwyck playing urbane, brassy types in her pictures, so it was a bit of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, to see her playing a more demure, countrified woman in So Big! But that was part of her great gift - her ability to make a role hers, no matter where she was set or wha... read more »

Raging Bull

Raging Bullseen @ Central Park Conservancy Film Festival, Central Park, New York NYYou certainly don't need me to tell you how great an actor Robert De Niro is, but I haven't talked about him in detail here, so indulge me for a little bit. I don't remember the first movie I saw him in. Might've been The Untouchables. Might've been Midnight Run. Not sure which. I watched both of those movies on cable quite a bit as a kid. The big ones - Taxi Driver, Godfather 2, Mean Streets, and today's subject, Raging B... read more »

Love's labors, linked

Gonna have to cut back on posting this month in order to focus on my novel. I won't be entirely absent: I have a blogathon post in the works, plus another Battle Royal installment, and two more profiles, as per usual. I hope to also do one more Cinematic World Tour post; the movie I had planned to watch last month, Roman Holiday, was an outdoor movie held on a rooftop, and by the time I got to the venue, they had reached capacity and closed it off to any more spectators. A whole lot of people went to see... 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 »

Books: Five Came Back

The 2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge is an event in which the goal is to read and write about a variety of books related to classic film, hosted by Out of the Past. For a complete list of the rules,visit the website.As much as World War 2 continues to be discussed and studied and analyzed today, it's hard for modern generations who never lived through it to fully understand the everyday reality of it, whether as a civilian or a serviceman, which is a big reason why we have it recorded on f... read more »

T-Men

The 1947 Blogathon is exactly what it says on the tin, hosted by Speakeasy and Shadows Satin. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the link at SS.T-MenYouTube viewingT-Men continues my foray into the film career of director Anthony Mann. You may remember my post earlier this year on Raw Dealand, much earlier, Bend of the River. I think what I like about Mann's movies is the direct approach he took with his stories. He didn't fool around with too much in the way of subplots or characteriz... read more »

Books: Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise

The 2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge is an event in which the goal is to read and write about a variety of books related to classic film, hosted by Out of the Past. For a complete list of the rules,visit the website.I had learned about the work of director Ernst Lubitsch almost exclusively through the work of Billy Wilder. I knew that the former was a major influence on the latter, and thus my perception of Lubitsch was filtered through Wilder. To me, Lubitsch was this earlier filmmaker wh... 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 »

Edith Head

Okay, so wasthat character in The Incrediblesactually based on Edith Heador not? According to the Pixar Wiki, Incredibles director Brad Bird denied it on Twitter. Whether or not you believe him is another story, although why would he lie about it? I don't know. (The Wiki cites several other possible inspirations for the character.)In the coming-up-on-five years I've written this blog, I've rarely, if ever, talked about fashion in movies, so what better way to do so than to talk about the industry's most ... read more »

Stalag 17

The Billy Wilder Blogathon is an event celebrating the life and career of one of Hollywood's greatest writer-directors, hosted byOnce Upon a ScreenandOutspoken Freckled. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.Stalag 17YouTube viewingAccording to the book Hogan's Heroes: Behind the Scenes at Stalag 13, in 1967, Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, the playwrights of the original play Stalag 17(and both former World War 2 prisoners-of-war themselves), filed a lawsuit a... 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 »

Tod Browning

Maybe I should have waited until Halloween to write about Tod Browning. Though I didn't know much about the director prior to writing this post, I associate him with films dealing with the macabre and the weird. He spent most of his career in the silent era, when the medium was still very much in its incubation period, but it's his talkies that he may be best remembered for - in particular, two films that may not be as shocking now as they were in his day, but remain memorable and influential over eighty... read more »

Sleeper

Sleeperseen @ Landmark Loew's Jersey Theater, Jersey City, NJI wish I could say that there was a great big crowd at the Loew's Jersey Theater Friday night to hear the news that Friends of the Loew's (FOL), the volunteer organization that has been the theater's caretakers for over two decades, won their court case against Jersey City for control of the theater. The announcement was greeted warmly on social media, and the small crowd of cinephiles in attendance were equally pleased, but FOL head Colin Egan... 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 »

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 »

A fool and his links

So we're a quarter of the way into The One Year Switch and I think I've learned a few things so far. In terms of numbers, after the big January start, the amount of pageviews have settled down and are about on a par with 2014. The CinemaScope Blogathon was a very nice and very unexpected boost, to say the least.One big difference, I find, is that I'm planning posts for a specific date as opposed to before, where I'd post whenever I was ready. With new releases, one naturally wants to get them up in a tim... read more »

Bernard Herrmann

900th POST!Everyone remembers Bernard Herrmann as Hitchcock's composer: Psycho, North By Northwest, Vertigo, etc. - all memorable, all epic, and NONE Oscar nominated, which is insane. You may know he composed the scores to Citizen Kane and Taxi Driver as well. But a large portion of his career was also spent composing scores for sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies and TV shows as well. Long before guys like Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino and Danny Elfman (who was a huge fan), Herrmann was practically the g... read more »

Frank Capra

Frank Capra always struck me as one of those directors who were almost too good to be true. His films were polemics, coming from a specific point-of-view, and yeah, sometimes they were preachy - I don't think one could dispute that - but they were products of their time as well, a time of tremendous economic hardship followed by a period of world war.Capra was the perfect filmmaker for the New Deal era of President Franklin Roosevelt. FDR entered the White House during the heart of the Great Depression a... read more »

QWFF 2015 Day 3: Sentimental journeys

My first night at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights was a relatively short one. It was also Parent-Teacher Conference night, so the Queens World Film Festival activities didn't get under way until around 9:30, but it was worth the wait. All four movies I saw were good:- Dollar Night. The ancient projectionist of a movie theater on its last legs tries to bring back the patrons with a promotional event. Shamelessly saccharine and manipulative, with a way-over-the-top score specifically designed to tug at your hea... read more »

QWFF 2015 Day 1: Parental guidance

Five years may not seem like a big milestone, but for the Queens World Film Festival, it's a sign of rapid and remarkable growth. From its humble beginnings, it has drawn together the Queens film community at large and linked it up with filmmakers worldwide, giving independent films of every stripe an opportunity to shine.Credit, as always, must go to the dynamic duo who put it all together, Don Katha Cato. The amount of energy and passion they put into this festival, as well as the truckloads of genuin... 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 »

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 »

#TCMparty: Annie Hall

This is a type of post I've never attempted here before, so bear with me if it doesn't work quite right. I've written before about live-tweeting movies and TV shows, as well as about the Twitter hashtag #TCMparty and my experience with it. Since I've committed to spending 2015 exploring classic movies in greater depth than usual, it seemed appropriate to spend some time live-tweeting a movie with the TCM fans on Twitter, but this is the first post I've devoted exclusively to the experience.In the past, I... read more »

2014 Top 10

No fancy introduction this year; let's just get right down to it...Have to give an honorable mention to the short film Recursion, a trippy, frenetic time-travel story that does more with its small budget and limited visual effects than many Hollywood movies. It's like nothing you've ever seen before and is a lot of fun as well. 10. Beyond the Lights. I get the feeling that this film slipped through the cracks, even though I saw ads for it everywhere, and if so, that's a shame, because it was a genuinely... 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 »

Selma

Selmaseen @ AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, New York, NY12.26.14Love and hate. You can't have one without the other, and ever since the dawn of time, it seems like they've gone at each other like battering rams. We try to use love to rise above our baser instincts, but hate inevitably does its best to drag us down.Are we forever doomed to be locked in this cycle? I certainly hope not, but for every step forward we seem to make in the struggle to transcend ignorance, intolerance and bigotry, we end up taking... read more »

Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights (2004)seen on TV @ AMC12.5.14It's hard for me to think of Friday Night Lights as a successful TV show or movie much of the time because I always think of the book before anything else. I remember buying the book, written by H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, after reading an excerpt in Sports Illustrated (you know this was a long time ago if I was still reading SI).I've never been a huge football fan. I rooted for the Giants and Jets growing up, naturally, and I was excited when the Giants had th... read more »

Interstellar

Interstellarseen @ Bow Tie Cinemas Ziegfeld Theater, New York, NY11.6.14Is film - the physical medium - dead? Hollywood studios have endorsed digital photography as the cheaper way to go, and movie theaters have been forced to compensate by installing digital projectors, at great expense for some. A small-but-growing number of filmmakers, however, have asserted that they have every intention of keeping celluloid alive for as long as they can. Many of them have gone on the record about this, and the reaso... read more »

The Drop

The Dropseen @ Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, Queens, NY9.23.14This post on the movie The Drop goes out to my pal Page, who, as I discovered last week, is a big Tom Hardy fan.[audience]"Hooooow biiiiig IS she?"[/audience]She's such a big Tom Hardy fan she sat through This Means War. The movie that made him swear off rom-coms forever. And can you blame him?Anyway, Page compared him to Paul Newman. She saw Locke earlier this year - really wish I saw that one - but she says it was boring. Also, she wants... read more »

The Learning Tree

The Learning Treeseen on TV @ TCM9.18.14The Learning Tree was the first studio movie from a black director, Gordon Parks Sr., and it's not bad. It's kinda treacly in places, and the acting is what I would call earnest - meaning it feels like the actors, especially the two young male leads, are trying very hard to act instead of just be - but at the same time the film comes across as quite sincere and authentic as well.What I wanna talk about is the climax, which presented a fascinating moral dilemma, so,... read more »




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