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

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 […]

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 […]

When Hollywood (as Gloria Swanson rapturously proclaimed in SUNSET BOULEVARD) “had the eyes of the world,” it also had the power as a Culture Industry to discriminate in representing other forms of American popular entertainment that competed with filmdom’s market share. For example, Putt-Putt Golf was a hugely popular entertainment during the Great Depression, drawing […]

Since I’ve worked over many years in several aspects of the Industry, most of my posts approach a movie as more than an end product:  they also look at the work culture of making a film plus the bottom-line realities of how everything up on the screen had to be paid for one way or […]

Under the leadership of Edward Muhl, the 1950s witnessed Universal Studios’ ascendancy from A-Notch-Above-Poverty Row grindhouse to Top Dawg moneymaker in the movie industry.  While other studios had a restrictive agenda to their films [M-G-M had its family values; Warner Brothers its social conscience; Paramount provided sophistication to the masses], Universal cut and pasted whatever […]

I don’t do Top Ten lists. I think they’re ridiculous.  As a frequent film festival juror, I’ve seen films that never got a commercial release (or sometimes even a festival screening timeslot) that were much better than anything distributed during the year.  A similar scenario:  about a decade ago, J. Hoberman listed Lawrence Brose’s DE […]

I was sitting in Shanghai’s domestic air terminal this week, flipping through a Chinese fashion magazine.  While looking at photos of clothes (an art form that pingpongs between decorative and functional elements, overload and restraint) I decided to grapple with the merits of a lame / fascinating / bizarre / ho-hum movie from 1963. Perhaps […]

I’M NOT A FILM ARCHIVIST but the three-headed monster known as my career (making media, writing and assessing media, managing media) has always kept me one or two degrees away from the field.  So I’m happy to report that I’ll be blogging from the conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, held this year […]

If you love Baz Lurhmann’s AUSTRALIA and want to see an earlier, similar film — OR — if you hate AUSTRALIA and want to see a calmer, more naturalistic version of the movie, Lewis Milestone’s 1952 Technicolor action/romance/drama KANGAROO can satisfy both desires. KANGAROO (which has nothing to do with the D. H. Lawrence novel […]

This post is part of the Robert Wise Blog-a-Thon that Josh at the Octopus Cinema blogsite is hosting during the first week of September. I’ve had a long time to think about how to articulate my admiration for Robert Wise:  I worked in the same building as Wise when I got my first temp job […]

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 […]

The story of short-lived, A-List wannabe studio, Eagle-Lion Films (1946-1951), can be charted by the quirkiness of its output.  OUT OF THE BLUE was one of its first offerings:  a film proving that (just like great improv) a scramble to keep keep the ball rolling can result in flashes of brilliance. Eagle-Lion’s genesis sprang from […]

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.

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 […]

At the Internet Archive I downloaded a 1948 public domain feature called WOMEN IN THE NIGHT, an independent quickie filmed at a hotel in Ensenada (substituting for Shanghai in WW2) about women captured by the Japanese to be their “Comfort Women.” On the Web there are various discussions about how “good” or “bad” the movie […]

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 […]

[OK, so I fibbed last month when I said no more posts about Australia.] Back in November I was at Manly Beach near Sydney, Australia. It was named Manly because when Captain Cook saw the indigenous males on the beach, he thought them ‘manly.’ So, at Manly Beach, all things are Manly: Manly Italian Restaurant, […]

During the holidays, I rented two out-of-print VHS tapes of flawed-but-favorite films:  Sam Wood’s HOLD YOUR MAN and the gothic mystery, THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS, with Humphrey Bogart as a killer and Barbara Stanwyck as his next victim. HOLD YOUR MAN is pure pre-Code MGM:  Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in a comedy-drama scripted by […]

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