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

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 […]

If I were using the old rule of judging a book by its cover, I shouldn’t be able to tolerate this movie. For most of the studio era, Twentieth Century-Fox generated tons of awful musicals, with listless plots, sexless dancing, and brassy orchestrations.  When Veronica Lake told Joel McCrea in SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS that “musicals hurt […]

Star vehicles can be a twonky trip when you know zip about the star it’s carrying.  Worshipful costuming, dramatic entrances and exits, and deifying lighting plans can help you interpret what kind of characters this actor generally plays, what fantasy audiences project upon him.  Indeed, few things illuminate Marshall McLuhan’s axiom that “the medium is […]

“No matter when one lives in Hollywood, one brings one’s own mental furniture along.”      — Otto Friedrich,  journalist / cultural historian The final (and rarest) episode of director Jacques Demy’s Lola film trilogy has made its home video debut this month.   Unlike the first two, MODEL SHOP was in English and shot in Southern […]

On a British site, I read that the mid-sixties surf film RIDE THE WILD SURF had a Gay following. That was news to me, so I gave it a look. The film is more naturalistic (if you can call a movie that is 50% rear-projection ‘realistic’) than the cartoony Frankie-and-Annette beach party films cranked out […]

Milos and the gang at FACETS have scored big-time by unearthing this film, cleaning it up, and releasing it on DVD. ANOTHER SKY is the only film directed by screenwriter / novelist / Hollywood-biographer Gavin Lambert, made in Morocco on a budget of £25,000.  The movie was made during Lambert’s days as editor of the […]

It’s easy to get confused. Some folks mix up El Salvador and San Salvador.  Others can’t differentiate between Monique van Vooren and Mamie Van Doren. For me, two ‘big status’ Westerns from the 1950s have always been interchangable in my mind.  I’d never seen either one, but their window-dressings are similar:  both starred Gary Cooper, […]

It’s May:  a time when degrees are bestowed.  It’s the season of commencement ceremonies. Which reminds me of the first words I uttered as I graduated from film school in Los Angeles in 1980.  As it sank in that I finally had a bachelors of cinema in my hands, I — in true film lover […]

I’d like to add my name to the roster of cineastes who viewed the recent DVD release of Busby Berkeley’s classic 1943 Technicolor dementia THE GANG’S ALL HERE and afterwards asked, “Hey, where did all the colors go???” Despite my advancing years, I wasn’t around for this film’s first release. But in the 1970s, when […]

Here’s another example of studio roulette: Warner Home Video has released DANCE, GIRL, DANCE, a neglected and challenging RKO movie from 1940 which was the penultimate feature film directed by

How can it be?? BELLS ARE RINGING:  a butt-ugly, proscenium-bound, stand-and-deliver musical film directed by that most polished, chic, and painterly of all studio-era filmmakers, Vincente Minnelli??? In this delish-ly digital DVD, the glaringly phony sets and the consciously theatrical performances almost kill the pleasure of viewing this film.  I say almost because despite its […]

Recently, my friend David was excitedly looking forward to the DVD release of M-G-M’s 1945 THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, directed by Albert Lewin.  That got me thinking of the next collaboration by the DORIAN GRAY creative team: an independent film called THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI (1947). Lewin startled THE PICTURE OF DORIAN […]

Allan Dwan made over 400 movies during a fifty-year period.  When he started directing, there was no such thing as an American feature film:  movies lasted 20 minutes, tops.  He was making movies before Chaplin.  Dwan’s debut behind the camera came only a few months after the East Coast-based movie industry had relocated to a […]

I currently live in a city that has no Major League Baseball, which (next to grand opera) is my favorite spectator event. So while the World Series has been underway, I’ve sublimated my baseball hunger by purchasing a DVD of PRIDE OF THE YANKEES for three dollars at BigLots! and giving it a look. Despite […]

I’ve been on a Brain Food Diet that has kept my thinking processes in overdrive this week.  Even when my body would scream “No more!!” my brain would keep barreling down the highway with a cinder block on the accelerator. In order to chill, I spent Columbus Day morning sipping red wine and watching CIMARRON […]

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