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

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“Who was Frank Ryan??” I’ve been asking that question for a decade and haven’t come up with an acceptable answer. Ryan co-directed a comedy at RKO, then helmed four features at Universal.  One of the few verified facts I’ve found on him only increases the Ryan Enigma:  he died a few weeks after his 40th […]

Over the years, I’ve often wondered what the story was behind the Rochester-based creative team of Watson and Webber, who made experimental, avant-garde films in the 1920s and 30s.  James Sibley Watson was an M.D. with connections to early 20th Century modern poets such as E. E. Cummings and Marianne Moore.  The less-documented Melville Webber, […]

I’m not joking:  GODZILLA vs. THE SMOG MONSTER is a multi-layered, supremely heightened movie experience that can bless an appropriately receptive viewer with enormous gratifications by the final fade-out. However — the producer of the Godzilla series, Tomoyuki Tanaka, disagreed.  Hospitalized during the film’s production, Tanaka went virtually apoplectic when he saw the finished work, […]

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 […]

[This review is dedicated to the gifted show business survivor, June Havoc, who passed away March 28th. –DB ] In Hollywood many years ago, I heard stories of life on the set of movies directed by W. S. Van Dyke.  One story went that every afternoon a portable cocktail bar was rolled onto the soundstage and […]

While in New York recently, I caught the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.  In addition to the staggering displays of prized artifacts, MoMA hosted a screening series of Burton’s favorite films, including Disney’s post-War animated delectation THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD, the 1974 all-star disaster (in more than one […]

At her excellent website Ferdy on Films, etc. Marilyn Ferdinand has called for film bloggers to list their 15 favorite dancers.   CLICK HERE TO READ MY LIST. Doug / PoMo Joan

As with all culture industries, the Third Reich’s movies had genres to reinforce values and control popular sentiment.  Those films were frequently categorized as Heimat (“home / homeland”) movies which emphasized the cozy feeling of families and home, Blut und Boden (“blood and soil”) films which promoted pride and romantic feelings about one’s lineage and […]

I saw BRÜNO last month. The film’s duality of performance and cultural observation, documentary and manipulation, agent provocateur and farcical comedy led me to think about its relationship to certain aspects of the Warhol / Morrissey output in the late 1960s such as BIKE BOY. The camera of 1967’s BIKE BOY recorded the codes of […]

Over 50 people were killed in the Leftist Riots of Hong Kong, which exploded on its streets in the Spring of 1967.  Fueled by the fervor of the mainland’s Cultural Revolution, pro-Communist demonstrations and bombing attacks destabilized the city’s social and economic fabric.  In order to restore the status quo, a concerted effort by the […]

For a couple of decades, producers in Turkey cranked out unlicensed ripoffs of Hollywood movies:  RAMBO, STAR TREK, E.T., THE EXORCIST, STAR WARS, etc. Aysecik ve sihirli cüceler rüyalar Ülkesinde (literally, Aysecik in the Land of the Magic Dwarfs) was the Turkish take on THE WIZARD OF OZ.  It’s pretty primitive filmmaking:  there’s even a […]

This Sunday, Turner Classic Movies will be screening George Cukor’s MY FAIR LADY. To enhance the experience, you might want to take a look at a think-piece I published on the movie at this blog’s parent site, PostModern Joan. The piece can be found here.

During my misspent youth, I played piano in a bar.   A great friend of mine was also a piano player.   Our styles and tastes were nowhere compatible, but we truly respected each other’s artistic choices and temperament when we’d sit down and play. Several years after becoming friends, Jane Campion’s film THE PIANO […]

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 […]

OK, so it’s late at night and you’re the owner of a flea circus who has just witnessed a gangland murder, and have to dispose of the body of William Bendix.  Back at home, Jerry Colonna has moved in with your adolescent son and is giving him repressed memory therapy.  Oh, yes, and you owe […]

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