Archive for the ‘Pictorial Reviews’ category

LINCOLN: A Modern Hero

As a nation we began by declaring that all men are created equal. We now read that practically to say all men are created equal—except Negroes. Soon, it will say all men are created equal except Negroes, foreigners and Catholics. When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty. To Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” – Abraham Lincoln

As you’ve might have guessed by this point, I’m something of a history nerd. And history nerds tend to ruffle a bit at the assumption that history is dull, preachy, or worse: irrelevant. This is almost certainly due to the fact that all of us hated our freshman year history teachers, only to hate our sophomore history teachers even more, and third period American history was more or less along the lines of Chinese water torture.

Which is totally unfair.

As the passion, fervor, and gut-wrenching agony of the last two weeks of this Election year proved, history in the making makes for tremendously entertaining theatre. Why on earth wouldn’t we think that the moments recorded in our history textbooks were any less passionate, fervent, agonizing. Read more ►

San Francisco (1936) and The Art of Disaster

Strictly entre nous: I’m not a fan of MacDonald.  I am a fan of opera, thank you very much indeed (I begged–and won–for my parents to take me to see Le Nozze di Figaro at the LA Opera at age 16) but I’d much rather listen to Irene Dunne’s falsetto’s than the fluttery MacDonald’s. (MacDonald’s voice is superior, but Dunne’s has personality.) MacDonald, however, is the leading lady in the 1936 melodrama San Francisco, alongside Clark Gable  and Spencer Tracy (big fans of both, for the record), and she delivers a solid performance. But that is not the point of this post. The point here is that San Francisco features a very famous disaster sequence that I have long admired, and have decided take a closer look at it here. Read more ►

James Cagney in Blonde Crazy: The Ultimate Bad-Ass

I love bad-asses. No, not this newfangled generation’s overinflated sense of importance that has managed to give every Tom Dick or Harry the belief that, because of the number of Facebook friends they have or the number of people who follow them on Twitter that they are bad-asses.

No. You’re not. You know why?

Because THIS guy could knock the stuffing out of your designer-label-wearing LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME I’M SUCH A BAD ASS narcissistic kisser. Read more ►

The Birth of an Actress: Marilyn Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock

This post is in conjunction with Sittin’ On A Backyard Fence’sSummer Under the Stars Blogathon”—a month-long celebration of the film icons being spotlighted each day, all day, on Turner Classic Movies. Today, the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the tragic passing of Marilyn Monroe, I am dedicating this post to the Blogathon and, more importantly, to Monroe. A tormented woman of strength and talent that, five decades on, still shines… and inspires.

Perhaps one of the many reasons I have such a deep admiration and respect for Marilyn is due to the fact that the first film I saw of hers, or rather, the first film I remember watching start to finish ( Marilyn’s films are so rooted in our cultural subconscious that someone can feel as though they’ve seen her films even if they haven’t) was not her  fluffy, fun, frivolous light comedies that immortalized her. Read more ►

The Misfits and the End of an Era

Another public apology, this time to the marvelous Shadowplay blog– a longtime Pictorial favorite. I agreed to participate in their recent The Late Films Blogathon: a week long look at the final films of directors, actors and writers. A fascinating concept and I was psyched to participate and… absolutely bollocked it up. More than a week overdue, here’s my entry. Major apologies to Shadowplay– one of the best damn blogs on the web.

By 1961, the Hollywood Studio System had begun a slow rot from the inside out which would, by decade’s end, see to its total collapse thus ending the Golden Age of classical Hollywood. The Misfits, directed by John Huston and penned by Arthur Miller, is a fascinating relic from those years in flux that bewildered its audiences just as much as it bewildered the execs. On paper, the words Clark Gable (the king), Marilyn Monroe (the queen) and Montgomery Clift (the rebel) looked like box office magic. The result is a mixed bag that would be Gable and Monroe’s final film, and one of Clift’s last. Read more ►