Noirvember 2016, Episode 16: A Double Life (1947)


A Double Life (1947) George Cukor (2x)
Republic DVD – library


Everyone remembers A Double Life for Ronald Colman’s Oscar-winning performance as stage actor Anthony John, but many tend to forget the film’s other fine performances by Shelley Winters, Signe Hasso and Edmond O’Brien. They also often forget that the script was penned by husband and wife Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon and further forget that the score was written by the great Miklós Rózsa. As much as it may be remembered as such, it’s not a one-man show.

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The Great Movies, Episode 7: Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Last night marked the six-month (oops – actually seven-month) anniversary of our Great Movies series at the Severna Park Library and it was our largest crowd yet: 45 people in attendance. For the first time, we had people arriving quite early, asking when we were going to open the doors. Ten minutes before the movie started, we had more than half the seats filled.

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Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) Tim Burton


Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) Tim Burton
Warner DVD – library (1:30)

I watched a lot of movies in the mid-80s, but Pee-wee’s Big Adventure wasn’t one of them. Maybe that’s because I was hearing “Tequila” on the radio every five minutes or watching one of my junior high band students doing the Pee-wee dance as they were walking down the halls. But after hearing about the new movie Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, I decided to try the original, 30+ years later.

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Love Comics? Come See Us!


I haven’t posted much comics-related news or reviews lately, but I did want to talk briefly about two upcoming events in Anne Arundel County, Maryland:


First, I will be presenting a program called “What Are Graphic Novels?” on Monday, May 9 at 7pm at the Severna Park Library. This program is aimed at adults (teens are also welcome) who either don’t know what graphic novels are or think of them only in narrow terms, i.e. “They’re just for kids” or “It’s just a bunch of capes and tights.” We want to show that there’s literally something for everyone.

We’re going to be (briefly) discussing the history of comics and graphic novels, how they have emerged into the culture (particularly in movies), and how they’re much more than just superhero stories. More importantly, we’ll take a look at how comics and graphic novels have helped struggling readers as well as people seeking to speak English as a second language. Plus we’ll have lots of great books you can check out at the event.

Second, the Anne Arundel County Public Library is having its first Comic Con on Saturday, May 14 at 10am at the Odenton Regional Library. “Spend the afternoon exploring comic books and literacy through panel discussions, interactive workshops, crafts for the kids and a costume contest.”


You can find out more information here. I’ll be at the con talking to several young readers, asking them about the types of books they’re reading, what they like, what they want more of, etc. I plan to put those mini-interviews together for an upcoming episode of The Comics Alternative for Young Readers, a monthly feature that I host with my good friend Gwen Tarbox. Although we’ve been discussing comics for young readers for several months now, this will be the first time we’ve actually heard from young readers themselves. Very exciting! I hope you can join us at both events as well as Free Comic Book Day at various AACPL libraries.




The Mesrine Films (2008) Jean-François Richet


Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008) Jean-François Richet
Music Box Films DVD, library (1:53)

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (2008) Jean-François Richet
Music Box Films DVD, library (2:14)


In Mesrine: Killer Instinct we see the end from the beginning. In an opening that recalls the brief but unmistakable split-screen craze of 70s cinema, we see a man and a woman carefully exiting a Paris building, taking great care to make themselves aware of their surroundings. For several moments, these split-screen shots are photographed simultaneously from different angles, watching the characters’ every move, until an act of brutal violence ushers in what would normally serve as the finale of a crime film. Yet we’re just getting started. We never really understand why this split-screen technique is used until we arrive at the very end of the second film, Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, where we come full circle. In between these scenes lies one of the best crime films I’ve seen in a long time.

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