I’ve loved movies since I was old enough to understand what they are. Movies were a part of my life before reading, drawing, comic books, music, teaching, running, and all the other things I enjoy in my life. You’d think watching the Oscars would be obligatory for a movie fan like me. But I didn’t watch the show last night, haven’t watched it for years, and probably never will again.
Classics of the Silent Screen: A Pictorial History (1959) Joe Franklin
The Citadel Press
Hardcover, 249 pages
Writer Joe Franklin (1926-2015) was listed in the Guinness World Records as “the longest running continuous on-air TV talk show host,” beating Johnny Carson’s run by more than a decade. Franklin hosted a TV show on New York station WABC-TV called “Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane.” After that, he hosted a radio show on WOR-AM. Franklin certainly knew his stuff as well as a lot of people, having guests on his shows such as Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and many, many others. Franklin also knew an awful lot about silent movies. This wonderful book covers the silent era’s 50 greatest films and 75 greatest actors as chosen by Franklin. Whether you’re a silent screen expert or a novice, Classics of the Silent Screen is indispensable.
March looks to be a slim month for film noir and neonoir, offering little that we haven’t seen before in one form or another. But since February has been been pretty tough on our wallets, the scant offerings in March might give us time to catch our breaths before April. Here’s what I found for next month:
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Produced by Nicholas Ray
Screenplay by Philip Yordan (Ben Maddow and Nicholas Ray, uncredited)
Based on the novel by Roy Chanslor
Cinematography by Harry Stradling
Edited by Richard L. Van Enger
Music by Victor Young
Costumes by Sheila O’Brien
Olive Films Blu-ray (1:50)
Nobody really knew what to make of Johnny Guitar when it was released in 1954. Martin Scorsese says as much in his introduction on the Olive Films Blu-ray edition of the film. Audiences “didn’t know what to make of it, so they either ignored it or laughed at it.”
I figure I’ve seen The Maltese Falcon (1941) at least 10 times, but last night was the first time I’d seen it on the big screen (at the Annapolis Harbour 9 as part of TCM’s 75th anniversary of the film, delighted to be joined by my friends Dana, Patrick, and Karen). You’d think the screen size wouldn’t make that much of a difference after having seen the movie so many times, but the revelations were stunning.
Here’s what I’ve watched so far in February:
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Produced by Edward Lewis (John Frankenheimer, uncredited)
Screenplay by Lewis John Carlino
Based on the novel Seconds by David Ely
Cinematography by James Wong Howe
Edited by David Newhouse, Ferris Webster
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
YouTube (black-and-white; 1:37)
Before the Criterion Collection’s release of Seconds in 2013, the other two films in Frankenheimer’s “paranoia trilogy” – The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964) – were no doubt seen and discussed more frequently due to the nature of their subject matter (political assassination and the Cold War, respectively). Yet Seconds transcends (but does not necessarily discount) politics and national issues, focusing on concerns primal, universal and eternal. As unlikely as it may seem right now, there may come a day when we don’t have to worry so much about the issues raised in the first two “paranoia trilogy” films, yet those raised in Seconds have the potential to haunt us to our last breath.
Over the next few days, I hope to post a review of a film I haven’t been able to stop thinking about, John Frankenheimer’s Seconds (1966) plus the next film in my Blindspot series, Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954). In the meantime, I have a little film noir news for you:
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) Henry Levin
Twilight Time Blu-ray (2015 reissue) (2:12)
I’ll unapologetically admit that I love Henry Levin’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (which is also my favorite Jules Verne novel), offering no justification or defense of the film other than the fact that it reminds me of what it’s like to experience pure wonder and joy while going to the movies. I know that probably sounds trite and old-fashioned, but I don’t care. I also know that the film is often silly and I further admit that a little Pat Boone goes an awfully long way. And yet this is a film that I’ll watch over and over.
Knowing everything that I’ve just told you – and knowing that the last Twilight Time Blu-ray release of the film in 2012 sold out – I decided to purchase the 2015 4k restoration of the film as my “audition” of Twilight Time.
We’re getting close to the time of year when Criterion normally holds one of their 50% off flash sales. I’m always tempted to pick up something I haven’t seen (and sometimes do), but would like to trim my choices down to films I have seen and want to own.
But of course, I’ve seen none of the films on this list!