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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 »

And the Children Shall Lead: Two Nimoy docs

The death of Leonard Nimoy continues to be felt throughout Trek fandom and the world at large, over a year later. Now, his children have chosen to honor his legacy with two different forthcoming documentaries. Adam Nimoy, an experienced actor, director and author, is helming For the Love of Spock, a doc that started out as a meditation on the Spock character and his impact on the world, but after Leonard's death, it morphed into a much more personal story about Adam and his relationship with his father.... 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 »

Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Skyseen @ City Cinemas East, New York, NYEye in the Sky deals with a relatively new and unusual form of combat, namely, drone warfare. Pilots fly planes by remote control and target people or places via surveillance cameras. There's a lot of debate as to how America has used drones, and whether or not they even should, and if you wanna see the arguments on both sides, just look at this.How do I feel about it? Well, as far as I understand it, the technology is being used by other countries alre... 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 »

All Our Yesterdays: William Shatner's 'Leonard'

Most of the time I don't bother with the personal lives of celebrities. One, it's not my business, and two, 95 percent of the time it's presented in the most sensational manner possible. Still, I'm like anyone else in that I'm curious about certain people. As a Trekkie, I'm particularly interested in the Trek stars. I own Nichelle Nichols' autobiography Beyond Uhura and William Shatner's Star Trek Memories, as well as other books that provide details about the cast of the original Star Trek series along ... 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 »

Creed

Creedseen @ Cinemart Fiveplex, Forest Hills, QueensWhen Creed first began doing gigs around their hometown of Tallahassee, Florida, grunge rock had started to become played out. They had to settle for playing in family restaurants. They played mostly cover songs, but all the while they were writing original material for what would eventually become their 1997 debut record My Own Prison, which they initially released on their own Blue Collar Records label. According to manager Jeff Hanson, fourteen labels... read more »

I still miss John Candy

The 2016 O Canada Blogathon is an event devoted to Canadian actors and films, hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. For a list of participating bloggers, visit the link at Speakeasy. I remember being dragged to see Uncle Buck when it first came out. I forget which group of friends I was with; it was probably my high school friends. I have absolutely no idea why I didn't think I would like what was a relatively harmless comedy. My movie tastes were still vague and unformed back then. On the other h... 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 »

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 »

Where will you leave Jimmy Stewart? pt. 2: The ...

One of the very first posts from the Switch last year was inspired by a theory put forth by screenwriter William Goldman that for certain classic movie stars, the big ones especially, we each have one role and one moment of theirs in which we "leave" them in our minds. The choice depends on when we first saw them, whether early or later in their careers, and on how big an impact that role left on us. It's an interesting theory, and I was pleased to see that some people agreed with it when I passed it on.... 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 »

Laugh, Clown, Laugh

Laugh, Clown, Laugh TCM viewingLoretta Young was without question one of the all-time great beauties of the silver screen, in an industry not exactly lacking in great beauties. An Oscar winner for the film The Farmer's Daughter, she also had a long-running, multiple Emmy-winning television show that is still remembered fondly. Seeing her in the silent film Laugh, Clown, Laugh at the tender age of 14, I was mesmerized not only at her breathtaking looks, but at what was a remarkable and deeply sympathetic... read more »

Frank Sinatra's Hoboken, then and now

The Sinatra Centennial Blogathon is an event devoted to the life and career of Frank Sinatra on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, hosted by Movie Classics and The Vintage Cameo. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.I think the first time I visited Hoboken might have been after I started seeing movies at the Loew's Jersey City, which would've been several years ago. On the PATH train, Hoboken is the first stop in New Jersey from Midtown Manhattan,... read more »

Fred Astaire

When I was somewhere around ten or eleven, I went to a bar mitzvah for this kid I knew, Howard. Our fathers were co-workers and mutual friends. There was a reception afterward, in which there was much music and dancing.Howard and I were friends, too, though we rarely saw each other. He had a sister, Susan, though for once I wasn't attracted to her. I doubt I even thought of her in those terms, though if memory serves, she was good-looking.Anyway, at this reception, I felt like letting my hair down for on... read more »

Shelley Winters

The What a Character Blogathon is an event devoted to the great character actors of classic Hollywood and the often memorable supporting roles they played throughout film history, hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken Freckled, Paula's Cinema Club. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at any of the host sites.Does Shelley Winters get a bad rep sometimes, you think? She's a double-Oscar winner, who worked with some of the greatest stars and directors of the Old Hollywood era,... 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 »

Free-range organic links

Stolen from Page's collection. Don't tell her.So I went to see Bridge of Spies at my local neighborhood theater, the Jamaica Multiplex, and I found that they have begun to search bags. To my knowledge, in the decade-plus that I've been going there, I don't recall them ever doing this before. Why now? The manager couldn't give me an answer other than "orders from high above," but I think we can take an educated guess. Anyway, I submitted to it, and I really regret doing that now. I think my reasoning was ... read more »

Vincent Price

Darkness falls across the land The midnight hour is close at hand Creatures crawl in search of blood To terrorize y'all's neighborhoodVincent Price didn't always do scary movies, but he did enough of them over the years to be considered pretty much the embodiment of the genre for generations of film fans. I think his appeal lies in how many of his characters seem to take a gleeful delight in evil. On-screen, he comes across as a gentleman, a cultured man of breeding and refinement, but you know it's o... read more »

Prom Night

Prom NightYouTube viewingOne of the many nice things about the first Scream movie is how it is, among other things, a love letter to Jamie Lee Curtis. There were other actresses who built their reputations on horror movies before her, but Curtis, more than most, is not only primarily associated with the genre, she managed to transcend it as well, and become a more complete actress, appearing in comedies like A Fish Called Wanda and Trading Places, as well as action movies like Blue Steel and True Lies. C... read more »

Ruby Dee

Last year, there was a 25th anniversary block party celebration in the Brooklyn neighborhood where Do the Right Thing was filmed. Absent the building where "Sal's Pizzeria" stood, it's more or less the same now as it was in 1989. On that day there was a stage at one end of the street, flanked by booths down the block and banners hanging from the gates and fire escapes of the surrounding brownstones. There was one banner devoted toRuby Dee, who had died in June. It hung from a front gate; it was a recent ... read more »

Horror Express

Horror ExpressYouTube viewingSo Christopher Lee left this world for a better one earlier this year, and while I knew little about his life and career at the time, some of the things I've learned have been quite surprising - none more so, perhaps, than his recent sideline as a heavy metal singer!What I've always found to be the hilarious thing about classic metal, especially British metal, is the way they took the most preposterous, over-the-top, apocalyptic lyrics and performed them so sincerely. Bands l... 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 »

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 »

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 »

'Preacher' and John Wayne

The TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon is a month-long event corresponding with the Turner Classic Movies annual presentation, in which each day in August is devoted to the films of a different classic film star. The blogathon is hosted by Journeys in Classic Film. For a complete list of participating blogs, visit the host site.Preacher was one of the greatest comic book series of the 1990s, acclaimed by a wide variety of pop culture critics and one of the titles that firmly established the fledgling D... read more »

Gloria Swanson

The Anti-Damsel Blogathon salutes inspirational women filmmakers and characters throughout film history, hosted by Movies Silently and The Last Drive In. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.When I wrote about the film Sunset Boulevard, I had said that I used to think all silent film characters were like Norma Desmond, the iconic, fictitious movie star brought to life by Gloria Swanson. I might not have been too far off the mark when I wrote that. The nature of th... 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 »

Douglas Fairbanks

I've talked here before about Douglas Fairbanks as an actor. It's remarkable to see how much athleticism, verve, and charm he had in his movies. As one of, if not the first, action movie star, he brought a vitality to his films that's refreshing to see and rare to find in the modern, CGI-enhanced incarnation of the action film.By way of a for-instance, I watched The Mark of Zorro in preparation for this post, and he brings much of the same joie de vivre here that he did in the first movie I saw him in, T... read more »

Thelma Ritter

Oh, boy, how I've been looking forward to writing about Thelma Ritter! You know how there's always that one actor you see over and over again in movies and/or TV that you like, but can never remember their name? This was more of a thing in the pre-Internet days, when information about a given movie or star was not always at one's fingertips. Anyway, Thelma was the embodiment of this trope for me back in my video store days. I'd see her in something - always as a supporting character, never as a lead - an... read more »

Joel McCrea

For a long time, I underestimated Joel McCrea. I never disliked him, but I never saw him as anyone particularly special, at least not compared to more dynamic actors like Jack Lemmon or William Holden or Burt Lancaster. McCrea always struck me as kinda vanilla by comparison.At first, there were his films with writer-director Preston Sturges, Sullivan's Travels and The Palm Beach Story. At the time I watched them, I remember knowing more about Sturges than McCrea, so it's possible that I was more caught u... 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 »

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 »

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 »

Blyth Spirit: The Jacqueline T. Lynch Q-and-A

In the long history of Hollywood child stars, there are few who grew up and sustained their early success into a long and fruitful career: Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, and Kurt Russell immediately come to mind as examples. Another among that number is Ann Blyth, who at age sixteen, went toe to toe with the formidable Joan Crawford in the original Mildred Pierce and earned herself an Oscar nomination. She went on to make a string of stirring dramas and light comedies, with only occasional but memorable... 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 »

William Powell

From what I've seen of him, William Powell was distinctive from other actors of the 30s in that he was a charmer, but his style of charm came with a measure of tough-talking swagger to it. Not unlike his character in My Man Godfrey, it was as if someone had taken him off the street and turned him into a "gentleman," but they couldn't completely scrape away all of the rough edges to him.It's funny, but even though the bulk of his career was in comedy, I don't necessarily think of him as a comic actor. To ... 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 »

Ethel Waters

I wonder how well Ethel Waters is remembered today by most people. As a Hollywood actress, I'm guessing she's probably not as well known as, say, Hattie McDaniel or Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge, and as a blues/jazz singer, she may not be as well-remembered as Etta James or Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald.Hers was certainly not a name I remember from my early childhood, which was steeped in soul, country and disco from the 50s, 60s and 70s. She wasn't someone I learned about during Black History Mont... 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 »

Mama said there'd be links like this

"...alligators have the right idea. They eat their young."Newtown Literary's Queens Writes Weekend went well for me. Friday night was the author reading at Astoria Bookshop. I was one of five featured authors, and once I got past my trepidation over reading a work of mine in public, I got through it okay. The host said he liked my speaking voice!I was also the only non-poet. In fact, this one woman preceded her reading with a tongue-in-cheek rant about this article in The Washington Post that asserted th... 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 »

James Dean

Earlier this month, I came across this post, which reproduces the eulogy given for James Dean in his hometown of Fairmount, Indiana in 1955. It provided me with a completely different perspective of the actor who died so horribly young. I knew he had to have come from somewhere, but I didn't know he was raised in a small Midwestern town, and from the sound of it, they were extremely proud of their favorite son, whom they knew better than anyone else:...we find it hard to be charitable with publicity hung... 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 »

Joan Blondell

The Pre-Code Blogathon celebrates the films made from 1930-34, before the institution of the Hays Code in Hollywood films, which placed restrictions on what could be depicted in movies and how. While not as permissive as modern movies, Pre-Code films generally were more explicit in their use of adult themes and situations than American films had been to that point in history. The blogathon is hosted by Pre-Code.com and Shadows Satin. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the links at eith... 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 »




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