When You Get Really Close to a Movie Screen, Film Emulsion Looks like…
Boiling Sand

This post is in conjunction with For the Love of Film:  The Film Preservation Blogathon III, which this year is raising funds for online access and a commissioned music score to 1923’s THE WHITE SHADOW.  Alfred Hitchcock was screenwriter, film editor, and production designer on this film, so the blogathon’s focus is on his work.  […]

The closest thing produced in the History of Cinema that could approximate the hamfisted, insinuating and obsessively repetitive rhetoric of this year’s U.S. Republican presidential candidates must be Columbia’s 1965 scandalous hootenanny of liquor and sex, LOVE HAS MANY FACES. This movie, lensing lusty and hustling lifestyles of Acapulco expats from beachbums to millionaires, brings […]

So this is ATLAS SHRUGGED. I have to confess that I never read Ayn Rand’s epic tome on selfishness:  I’m a glacially-slow reader, so a commitment to wading through a 1,000+ page book (whose prose style has been given just qualified praise by even her most devout acolytes) would last longer than some of my […]

Cross a Nebraska homecoming queen with Simone Signoret and what do you get?  Mary Beth Hughes! And seldom did she get to merge those two sides as in the go-for-broke, nil-budgeted film noirs she did for PRC Studios at the end of World War 2, such as I ACCUSE MY PARENTS and THE LADY CONFESSES.  […]

Hollywood studios in the 1950s — when its underpinnings of entrenched success eroded — yielded a number of fascinating films.  Their culture of work, aesthetics and storytelling was looking down an abyss inconceivable a decade before as some of the best and brightest descended in free fall.  To keep a foothold, the dream factories introduced […]

Memory comes like a rope let down from heaven, to draw one out of the abyss of unbeing.          — Marcel Proust Not long ago I was sitting at a bistro in an upscale mall on the South China Coast where I had coffee with a former lover. Ours wasn’t a great romance, no great chemistry […]

This post is part of a Loving Lucy Blogathon at True Classics:  The ABCs of Classic Film, celebrating the 100th birthday of Lucille Ball.  For more articles from this site on the early film work of Ball, CLICK HERE. When Carol Burnett spoke at the arts college where I was teaching, she stated her TV […]

This is written in conjunction with Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear‘s MONSTER MASH blogathon.  The rule is simple:  write about a movie made between 1950 and 1959 that centers on a monster… By 1957 Roger Corman had produced and/or directed enough movies, and his screenwriting partners had generated enough scripts, that they knew how to hook […]

As it is with the aesthetic concerns of postmodern performance art, the persona of Joan Crawford is also a time-based collage of constructed moments which could not exist without the engagement of its audience.

Poor Henry Blanke. He had the sisyphean task of selling the world on a two hour suspension-of-disbelief in which the über-fey pianist and entertainer, Liberace, had two dishy babes madly in love with him…and in which Lee (as friends called him) reciprocated those mating urges. Blanke was sort of the St. Jude / Patron of […]

A great many fans of Elizabeth Taylor declare that 1974’s THE DRIVER’S SEAT is her worst film.  It isn’t — but it’s probably the least middlebrow thing she ever did. It’s a pedigreed package:  based on a Muriel Spark novella, filmed by a Neopolitan opera director with images burnished by master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, featuring […]

In film school, one teacher explained the curious connection between Thomas Edison inventing the movies in New Jersey at the same time the Lumière Brothers were doing the same thing in France and William Friese-Greene in Britain by giving the mytho-poetic explanation, “There was something in the air.”  He went on to state similar synchronistic […]

One of the mystical, personal treasures of loving film is the cyclical timing of the appearances and reappearances of movies.  It can take many forms:  a feel-good favorite from your early years can show up on cable; a movie you saw in an empty theater 20 years ago –one that everyone else avoided — can […]

Where has this film been all my life? Like a lobotomized Vincente Minnelli shooting CHILDREN OF PARADISE on a Roger Corman budget, this movie’s first half-hour wraps delirious yet barely-syntactical filmmaking around reams of metered, self-consciously crafted text. Like CHILDREN OF PARADISE, Carl Dreyer’s GERTRUD, or THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE, this is a film […]

Ever since that train arriving at the station was etched onto emulsion by the Lumière Brothers’ new invention, film has been a time capsule. Film documents the everyday.  Even film fantasy puts on record the tastes and technology of an era.  But more importantly, the method its creators used to conceive and present its subjects […]

From its first shot, IN JENEN TAGEN grounds the viewer in both a mental and physical landscape that exists beyond resignation, where simple automonous acts of manual labor give the screen’s characters the sort of renewal and liberation that humankind must have experienced when they first used the wheel.  It’s a Rubble Film, an early […]

BOILING SAND participates in the FOR THE LOVE OF FILM (NOIR) film preservation blogathon this week with its post on Edgar G. Ulmer’s CLUB HAVANA.  You can DONATE here to the Film Noir Foundation to contribute for the restoration of Cy Endfield’s 1950 sleeper THE SOUND OF FURY, and have your name put in a […]

It was one of those days the expats where I lived called a “Bad China Day.”  This was a day when the commonly high-strung population of our city on the South China Coast seemed unusually aggressive in their pushing and shoving and shouting on the streets — like the crowd of extras clustering to jump […]

For the first time since elementary school, I sat in front of a TV and watched ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN recently. According to my calculations, the first time I saw the movie was the year Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published; and the movie had its theatrical release a good half-decade before.  […]

Even the title connoted admission of having lost one’s relevance.

In the most recent Sight and Sound international critics’ poll to name the ten best films ever made, critic Jack Stevenson put Warner Brothers’ 1965 psychothriller BRAINSTORM on his top ten list. That choice has an air of critical braggadocio and contrariness in its statement, but this is a film that does have a certain […]

The center was not holding.  It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled even the four-letter words they scrawled.  It was a country in which families routinely disappeared, trailing bad checks and repossession papers.  Adolescents drifted from […]

Back in high school, did you ever take a test for which you hadn’t studied and had absolutely no preparation?  Let’s say for example a history teacher gave you a fifty-point question asking to explain the effects of the Hundred Years’ War.  You open up your response with a generic cover-your-ass statement such as, “First […]

Blame it on Paramount. As the mobilization of private and corporate life in America in the first frenzied months of World War II mushroomed, and the message repeated that all members of U.S. society must pitch in together, the Movie Industry made this symbiotic call-to-arms concrete by having all stars under contract at each major […]

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