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Critical Condition

Critical Condition

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CELEBRATING 39 YEARS OF BRAIN-FRYING MOVIE REVIEWING! “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.” – Harry Callahan , THE DEAD POOL. “Anyone proud of being a critic is a fucking fool.” – Scooter McCrae “You do not choose the Soy S auce . The Soy Sauce c hooses you!” – JOHN DIES AT THE END “Assumption is th e mother of all fuck-ups.” – Everett McGill, UN DER S IE GE 2: DARK TERRITORY
Welcome to the Critical Condition web site. For those of you unfamiliar with Critical Condition, let me give a little background. Critical Condition was started as a small  bi-monthly newsletter in 1982 to alert my friends about the new horror films that were released to theaters. The early 80’s were a boon to the horror business as many home-grown and foreign-made horror films were being released to theaters every month. Some were good but most were bad . Being the horror maven that I am , I started CritCon to separate the cream from the crap. The first CritCon newsletter was merely one typewritten xeroxed page that I passed out to my friends. By 1985 CritCon had mushroomed into a 20 page semi-pro magazine that had a circulation of about 1,000. The year 1985 was a turning point in the horror film business. It was the year that home video became wildly popular and forever changed the way we viewed movies. Cheap horror films were no longer being screened in theaters. Video distributors got wise and started releasing every cheap horror film they could get their hands on. I must have viewed over a thousand horror movies on video in 1985 alone! By 1987, I had burned-out writing about all the horror films that I had watched and ceased publishing CritCon with one final 100 page issue. By this time  there were plenty of other semi-pro magazines on the market that were covering the same market that I was. I took a much-needed rest from the writing game and began to read all these other magazines. For the next five years I kept a low profile but I was also becoming somewhat disillusioned. While some of these magazines flourished and were quite well done , most were merely rants disguising themselves as film reviews. You would be lucky to get the name of the actor who starred in the films they were reviewing. Forget about getting the directing, producing or screenwriting credits because they were non-existant. They seemed more interested in raving about their political views or complaining about some insignificant pimple on their ass. By 1992, I’d had enough and decided to begin publishing Critical Condition on a semi-regular basis. I kept my own politics to a minimum and concentrated on the films and filmmakers themselves. Each issue of CritCon was jam-packed with reviews of films that you probably never heard of along with full cast and crew credits as well as original rare ad mats. CritCon accepted no advertising making it a complete read from the first page to the last. NOTE: After a long and hard look at the publishing business , I will no longer be publishing Critical Condition. It will now be completely web-based. I hope you enjoy this web site. If you do , drop me an e-mail and let me know what you think. Check back often to read the new reviews, news, scans and informative emails. NOTE #2: Now with the advent of “Publishing On Demand” there has been a new proliferation of genre zines flooding the market, some excellent and some self-serving. But bringing print back to horror is always a good thing and I wish these people nothing but the best of luck. I buy a lot of these POD zines and enjoy the hell out of them , but don’t look for me to revive CRITICAL CONDITION in print form. I’m a lazy bastard.
PS: For all of you that have emailed me asking if I sell the films I review, the answer is NO!!!. I do this for the sheer joy of it and would never think of turning a profit off of something I love so dearly. While most of the films I review are available from reliable distributors, some of the films have been out of circulation for years and will probably never get a legal DVD or Blu-Ray release in the near or distant future. If you do not see a link to a distributor at the end of my reviews, I could probably make you a copy of the film on DVD-R if you have films to trade. Email me with your inquiries and I’ll see what I can do for you. These films are to be distributed from one collector to another . Don’t expect crystal clarity as they are being copied from VHS to DVD-R and you may be able to get your hands on a film that you’ve been dying to see for many years. Good luck! To see my VHS and DVD library list , click HERE . You must have Microsoft Excel 2000 or later to view the file.
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ALPHABETICAL LIST OF FILMS HORROR R – Z ACTION MARTIAL ARTS ACTION PART 2 PORNO HORROR B-MOVIE ICON PROFILES   SCIENCE FICTION EXPLOITATION SHORT REVIEWS A – M FANTASY SHORT REVIEWS N – Z FILMS ON THE FRINGE SHORT REVIEWS FOR SUCKY FILMS GUILTY PLEASURES THRILLER HORROR A – C THRILLER PART 2 HORROR D – I TOTAL WEIRDNESS HORROR J – Q WESTERNS ALL’ITALIA!
MAN VS. FILM   Steven Jackson reviews the worst films from his DVD collection.  Who will win this battle for sanity, Steven or the Film? TEN FOOT POLE   CritCon writer Steven Jackson reviews films that I wouldn’t watch, nevermind touch, with a ten foot pole! DTV FILMS: THE BEST AND THE WORST    Page 1   Page 2   UPDATED! N EW REVIEWS   UPDATED! NEW MAN VS. FILM REVIEWS   NEW TEN FOOT POLE REVIEWS   UPDATED! NEWS & PAST OBITS      Page 1        Page 2      Page 3 LATEST NEWS & O BITUARIES UPDATED! EMAILS FROM FAMOUS PEOPLE AND FANS UPDATED! ODDS ‘N’ ENDS – BIASED MUSINGS OF ANYTHING ON MY MIND UPDATED & EXPANDED!             Page 1      Page 2 A VISUAL HISTORY OF 80’S VIDEO COMPANIES
Want To Own Unique Pieces Of Film History? Click HERE and HERE For Amazing Deals!
LAST UPDATED: DECEMBER 26, 2021 Contents © 1982 – 2021 One Eye Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Anyone who says physical media is dead is full of crap. Not everyone likes to watch movies streaming, but sometimes it is necessary. Please feel free to use any scans or images you want , but please ask my permission to use my words. Please, NO HOTLINKING! It hurts all our hard work. Dedicated to Diane Adelman  1956 – 2015. Special Dedication to Gator Adelman & Allie Adelman , the best damn cats anyone could have as family members. Extra Special Dedication to Walter “Arch” Archinski , the best friend anyone could have. Rest well my friend. Extra Special Dedication to Vito Joseph Tafaro . We never understand life and it is even harder to understand death. I kept my promise to you Hinnie. Everyone involved was punished.
DECEMBER 01, 2021: Other celebrity deaths in late-November 2021 include: Lou Cutell , an actor best known for portraying the bald-headed, pointy-eared alien Dr. Nadir in the cult film FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER , as well as appearing in PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE as “Amazing Larry”, and especially as the “Assman” in a 1995 episode of SEINFELD . Other roles included parts in the films YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN , FOUL PLAY , FRANKENSTEIN GENERAL HOSPITAL and MY MOM’S A WEREWOLF , as well as a fairly extensive TV credits list. Lou Cutell passed away from natural causes and was 91-years-old./Australian Aborigine actor David Gulpilil , who made his debut in the rarely-seen, but classic, film WALKABOUT , directed by Nicolas Roeg. He then appeared in the films MAD DOG MORGAN , THE LAST WAVE , CROCODILE DUNDEE , DARK AGE , and THE PROPOSITION , one of the most violent Australian Westerns ever made. Mr. Gulpilil passed away from lung cancer and was 68-years-old./Actress Arlene Dahl , best known to readers of this site as the female star of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH and as the real-life mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas, appearing in his film NIGHT OF THE WARRIOR . An actress since the late-1940s, Ms. Dahl also appeared in the film LAND RAIDERS and the TV Movie THE DEADLY DREAM before going into semi-retirement from the industry. Arlene Dahl died of natural causes and was 96-years-old./Actor-stuntman Tommy Lane , who had roles in COTTON COMES TO HARLEM , SHAFT , SHAMUS , GANJA & HESS , LIVE AND LET DIE , ISLAND CLAWS and director Antonio Margheriti’s final film VIRTUAL WEAPON . Tommy Lane passed away from COPD and was 83-years-old.
NOVEMBER 21, 2021: The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict of “Not Guilty”  on all five counts of murder and attempted murder only shows us how the Trump mentality has infected the judicial system. From a biased judge, who worked the bench as an entertainer would work an audience, to a jurist pool who wouldn’t know right from wrong even on their best day, this was justice in a communist regime, not in a country where evidence outweighs personal feelings. Remember how shocked we were when Rittenhouse shot and killed two innocent people and wounded a third? Apparently, no one in the courthouse did and let this twisted kid skate on all charges. This wasn’t justice, it was a monumental loss of human responsibility. Shame on everyone who had a hand in letting this murderer go free, especially Fox News, who is treating this scumbag as some national hero. I’m sick and tired of this “New Normal”, especially if it means losing your soul in exchange for YouTube and Internet stardom. Rittenhouse wants President Biden to apologize to him for calling him a “White Supremacist”, telling asshole Tucker Carlson that the President defamed his name with “malice”. Are you kidding me? My only hope is that Kyle Rittenhouse spends the rest of his life looking over his shoulder, hoping another him doesn’t take his life.
NOVEMBER 20, 2021: We lost another talented character actor, this time being Art LaFleur, who passed away November 17th of Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 78. Mr. LaFleur is no stranger to this website, as he appeared in many films loved by readers of this site. While he did a lot of television from the ’80s through to the ’10s, it’s his film roles that really stand out from the pack of character actors from the same time period. His first theatrical film was THE HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS , followed by ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN , JEKYLL AND HYDE…TOGETHER AGAIN , WARGAMES , TRANCERS , CITY HEAT , ZONE TROOPERS , COBRA , RAMPAGE , THE BLOB , FIELD OF DREAMS , DEATH WARRANT , THE SANDLOT , MAVERICK , HOSTAGE , SPEED RACER , DAHMER VS. GACY , THE RIG , HOUSE HUNTING , and many, many more. Some of Mr. LaFleur’s TV appearances included roles on LOU GRANT . M*A*S*H , THE A-TEAM , HILL STREET BLUES , NORTHERN EXPOSURE , WISEGUY , TALES FROM THE CRYPT , STRANGE LUCK , ER , JAG , THE PRACTICE , NIGHT STALKER , LAS VEGAS , THE MENTALIST , and too many more to mention. He was also no stranger to TV Movies, making his acting debut in RESCUE FROM GILLIGAN’S ISLAND , as well as THE INVISIBLE WOMAN , THE FIFTH MISSILE , LIVE! FROM DEATH ROW , WAR WOLVES and others that have little-to-no interest to readers of this site. While most of Mr. LaFleur’s roles were small character parts and he was rarely a leading actor, I enjoyed his performances, no matter how small they were. Like George ‘Buck’ Flower, Art LaFleur had that certain “something” that made you stand up and take notice. I will miss him.
NOVEMBER 09, 2021: Sad to report the death of Dean Stockwell, who passed away November 7th peacefully in his sleep at the age of 85. Stockwell, an actor in films and TV since the mid-1940s, gained notice from readers of this site by appearing in such films as David Lynch’s DUNE and BLUE VELVET , as well as having a leading role in the long-running TV Series QUANTUM LEAP . Also of interest to readers of this site are his roles in PSYCH-OUT ; THE DUNWICH HORROR ; THE LONERS ; THE WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON ; THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN ; TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. ; ONCE BITTEN ; BEVERLY HILLS COP II ; MARRIED TO THE MOB ; TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM ; THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE ; DEEP IN THE DARKNESS and many other theatrical films. His TV appearances included THE TWILIGHT ZONE ; NIGHT GALLERY ; POLICE STORY ; JAG ; BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and many more. Mr. Stockwell also appeared in the TV Movies PAPER MAN ; THE FAILING OF RAYMOND ; THE ADVENTURES OF NICK CARTER ; THE LANGOLIERS ; THEY NEST ; and THE DUNWICH HORROR . Dean Stockwell was one of the few child actors to adapt to adult roles when his height and voice changed. He was a hippy at heart and lived that lifestyle until the day he died. A true original who will truly be missed. Goodbye John Stockwell. I will see you “In Dreams”.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2021: Shocking news about the death of comedian Norm MacDonald, who passed away yesterday at the age of 61 after battling cancer for nine years. He told no one about his cancer because all he wanted to do was make people laugh. I happened to love Norm’s sense of humor. His dry delivery would make me laugh out loud, even though some people were known to not like his sense of humor at all. I think he was the best Weekend Update anchor on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE , as he was able to cover the O.J. Simpson trial and the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton sex scandal with acerbic humor, most of it improvised. His spot-on impersonation of Burt Reynolds in those SNL Jeopardy skits were some of my favorite moments on the show. It was said he was fired from SNL in 1998 because of his off-the-cuff remarks about O.J. Simpson, as one of the corporate bigwigs at NBC was good friends with Simpson. But Norm turned that episode in his life into a positive, not a negative, as he did stand-up concerts, starred in movies and TV Series and became a well-respected voiceover artist on many animated TV shows and films . Norm was also well-versed in politics and would become a guest on many political TV shows, using his sense of humor as a weapon against political chicanery. Goodbye Norm MacDonald. You were a welcomed breath of fresh air in a world of stagnant pollution. I will miss you greatly.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2021: Two more deaths of actors to report and one of them was a childhood favorite of mine. That would be Michael Constantine, who passed away of natural causes at the age of 94 on August 31st of this year. The other actor who left us was Nino Castelnuovo, who, even though you probably never heard of his name before, gets several mentions in reviews on this site. He passed away on September 6th after suffering a long illness and was 84-years-old. Michael Constantine was a favorite of mine since childhood, thanks to his performance as Principal Seymour Kaufman in the dramedy series ROOM 222 , but he actually began acting in the late-’50s and throughout the ’60s appeared in a lot of TV series as a guest star, including THE TWILIGHT ZONE ; THE OUTER LIMITS ; VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA ; THE INVADERS ; GUNSMOKE and many others. As the ’70s rolled around, he appeared in such TV series as NIGHT GALLERY ; THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW ; KOJAK ; FANTASY ISLAND ; LOU GRANT and many others. The ’70s also saw Mr. Constantine appearing in many TV movies, the ones that would interest readers of this site include: DEADLY HARVEST ; DEATH CRUISE and CRISIS IN MID-AIR . While continuing his TV work, Mr. Constantine would appear in several theatrical films during the ’80s & ’90s, including PRAY FOR DEATH ; DEADFALL and the role that would give him a lot of recognition to readers of this site: the Gypsy with the large black, cancerous-looking, facial mole who curses Robert John Burke in THINNER . But Michael Constantine’s biggest fame came much later in his life, that being the role of Gus in the popular chick flick MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING and its sequel, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 , which would turn out to be his last acting role. It’s tough when childhood favorites pass away and this year has been rife with them, but Michael Constantine will occupy a space in my heart as long as I am on this Earth. Rest in Peace Michael Constantine. The passing of Nino Castelnuovo barely caused a ripple in the news, but I remember him fondly for the Italian genre films he appeared in. Beginning way back with THE HUNCHBACK – 1961, Mr. Castelnuovo made his mark in several films, including THE CAVERN ; Lucio Fulci’s Spaghetti Western MASSACRE TIME ; PSYCHOUT FOR MURDER ; THE BLOODSTAINED LAWN ; STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER ; STAR ODYSSEY and many others, finally getting some recognition in English speaking countries with his role in the long and boring THE ENGLISH PATIENT . Mr. Castelnuovo always turned in memorable performances and even though he is not widely known here, I will remember him because of those performances. I know many people are not fans of foreign cinema, but they don’t know what they are missing. Nino Castelnuovo was one of the many reasons of why I love Italian genre cinema.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2021: Twenty years. Forgive, but never forget. I use to think that terrorists came from other countries, looking to destroy our way of life, but I was wrong. The past few years have proven that terrorists can be America-born and  raised, especially considering the attack on the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 by our own citizens. Yes, they are terrorists, too, even though they called themselves “patriots”. They were only patriots of the Big Lie and, even today, consider it to be true. For the first time in my life, I was ashamed of being an American, watching Republican sheeple storm the Capitol and calling for the deaths of Democrats and Republicans alike that they believed were traitors to Trump. September 11, 2001 was one of the worst times in American history, but the events of January 6, 2021 came damn close to the sickening feeling we all experienced when we watched the Twin Towers collapse to the ground. Watching our own citizens try to destroy democracy over what was the Big Lie told by the coward Trump, proved to me that no one, not even those born in the U.S.A., are above treason. We need to treat these Republican scum as the traitors they are and not slap them on the wrist when they are judged by a court of law. These two recent dates in history will be in the history books forever, reminding us that democracy is a fragile thing and we must fight to keep it alive. But the fight must be for the right reasons; quit treating lies as the new truth and come to your senses.
AUGUST 30, 2021: Yes, another beloved actor has passed on, this time it is Edward Asner, who died of natural causes on August 29th at the age of 91. Mr. Asner is the only actor I know of who would win Emmy Awards® in two vastly different shows playing the same character. His comedic turn as gruff boss Lou Grant on the 30-minute sitcom THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW earned him three Emmy Awards® and he would win two more playing the same character on the hour-long drama series LOU GRANT , which tackled a lot of hot button political issues of the day . Ed Asner was not only an actor, he was also a political and humanitarian activist, which earned him a lot of distain from his rivals . He also served as President of The Screen Actors Guild for two terms . But let’s talk about his acting roles, as Asner has an amazing 417 credits on his IMDb resumé. He started out doing TV in the late-’50s and appeared on nearly every TV series in the ’60s, including THE OUTER LIMITS ; VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA ; THE WILD WILD WEST and many others. Mr. Asner’s first credited theatrical film was THE SATAN BUG , followed by GUNN ; CHANGE OF HABIT ; THE TODD KILLINGS ; the TV Movies DAUGHTER OF THE MIND ; THE LAST CHILD ; HAUNTS OF THE VERY RICH and DEATH SCREAM and a whole lot more. While working on Mary Tyler Moore’s series, Asner always was acting in other projects, be it TV series, TV Movies or theatrical films. He was the consummate actor. He won an amazing seven Emmy Awards from the years 1971 to 1980, the most of any male actor on TV , a record that still stands up today. Other Emmys included his role as “Axel Jordache” in the mini-series RICH MAN, POOR MAN and his unforgettable brutal role of “Captain Thomas Davies” in the mini-series ROOTS . After appearing in the theatrical film FORT APACHE THE BRONX , Mr. Asner spent the majority of the ’80s & ’90s working on television, either in TV Movies, busted TV Series or on animated series, where his voice was very much in demand. His gravelly voice was perfect for such animated TV shows as BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES ; CAPTAIN PLANET AND THE PLANETEERS ; GARGOYLES ; FREAKAZOID! and SPIDER MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES . As the New Millennium rolled around, it didn’t slow down Ed Asner, as he appeared on such TV Series as THE X-FILES ; CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM ; ER ; THE PRACTICE ; THE DEAD ZONE ; CSI: NY ; ROYAL PAINS ; LAW & ORDER: SVU ; CRIMINAL MINDS ; BONES and many many more. Ed Asner was a workhorse who didn’t know how to slow down. Age meant nothing to him. Farewell Ed Asner. Just being here made a difference in many lives. SOMETHING PERSONAL: If anyone were to ask me what my favorite Asner performance would be, it would be something in which his face is never seen. Yes, I’m talking about Pixar’s UP , a film that makes me bawl like a baby every time I watch it . When Carl Fredricksen flashes back in the beginning of the film about how he and his late wife first met, fell in love, got married and lived together for most of their lives as a deeply loving couple until her death, it is one of the most emotional, heartfelt and devastating pieces of animated cinema ever put to film. If it doesn’t make you cry, you must be missing a few genes. I know that the animation and music added a lot to this flashback, but just knowing that Mr. Asner was portraying Carl made it so much more emotional. A perfect blend of animation and voice acting.
AUGUST 23, 2021: I know I am a little late posting this, but actor Alex Cord passed away on August 9th at the age of 88 and martial arts superstar/actor Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba went to the Great Beyond on August 19th at the age of 82. The handsome Alex Cord was instantly recognizable sight unseen, thanks to his deep baritone voice and appearing in such films as A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE ; THE LAST GRENADE ; THE DEAD ARE ALIVE ; CHOSEN SURVIVORS ; INN OF THE DAMNED ; JUNGLE WARRIORS ; UNINVITED ; STREET ASYLUM ; C.I.A. CODE NAME: ALEXA ; HOLOGRAM MAN and many others. Mr. Cord was also a frequent TV series guest star, appearing in such series as NIGHT GALLERY ; POLICE STORY ; FANTASY ISLAND ; SIMON & SIMON ; KUNG FU: THE LEGEND CONTINUES ; WALKER: TEXAS RANGER   and many others, including a recurring role as the black eyepatch-wearing “Michael Coldsmith Briggs III” a.k.a. “Archangel” on the popular TV series AIRWOLF . Alex Cord had a deep love for horses and always tried to incorporate horses in any role he played. He was once married to actress Joanna Pettet , but they divorced in 1989 shortly after celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. Cord’s son by Pettet, Damien, died tragically in 1995 of a heroin overdose at the age of 26. Goodbye Alex Cord and thanks for all the entertainment. You can now ride horses in Heaven. Japanese martial artist/actor Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba was making films in Japan since the late-1950’s, but didn’t come into prominence in America until his role as  “Takuma ‘Terry’ Tsurugi” in the ultra-violent THE STREET FIGHTER , which was the first film to be slapped with an X-Rating by the MPAA just for violence Later on, New Line Cinema edited out 16 minutes of violent footage so it could be released to theaters with an R-Rating. This was an unqualified hit in theaters, even with its X-Rating and two sequels quickly followed: RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER and THE STREET FIGHTER’S LAST REVENGE . It should be noted that SISTER STREET FIGHTER is not a sequel, as Chiba doesn’t portray Terry Tsurugi. New Line Cinema renamed the film to ride on the success of the three films that came before it . Suddenly Chiba’s other films became very successful across the world and especially in America. Titles such as KARATE BULLFIGHTER ; THE KILLING MACHINE ; SONNY CHIBA’S DRAGON PRINCESS ; KARATE WARRIORS ; KARATE FOR LIFE ; DOBERMAN COP ; GOLGO 13: KOWLOON ASSIGNMENT ; MESSAGE FROM SPACE ;  VIRUS: DAY OF RESURRECTION and THE BUSHIDO BLADE appeared in theaters and home video and were very popular. Sonny Chiba eventually came to the United States to make films, including ACES: IRON EAGLE III ; IMMORTAL COMBAT ; and CODENAME: SILENCER , but superfan Quentin Tarantino, who referenced Chiba in TRUE ROMANCE and PULP FICTION , really brought Sonny Chiba back to forefront once again as “Hattori Hanzo” in KILL BILL: VOL 1 & VOL 2 . Chiba also appeared in the popular FAST & FURIOUS franchise in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT . Sonny Chiba was an expert in karate, judo & kenpo, but even with those skills there was no way he could fight Covid , as he passed away from Covid complications. Damn, Sonny Chiba, we will all miss your special brand of fighting and your take-no-prisoners attitude. You made it work better than most martial artists could ever hope for. When anyone ever talks about Bruce Lee successors, your name instantly comes to my mind, but there really was no one else like you. You were one of a kind.
JULY 23, 2021: I’m happy to report that B-Movie TV’s guru, Ken “Ace” Brewer, will be premiering his first feature film, DEATH PARK: THE END , at Terrace Cinemas on Thursday, August 12, 2021 from 08:00 to 10:00 PM only. If you are going to be in the Los Angeles area at that time, tickets may be purchased at purchased at the theater boxoffice. This is the final chapter in Ace’s DEATH PARK franchise. The first six chapters were short films, but Ace made the seventh, and final, chapter a feature-length film that is filled with so many bloody and gory killings by the unstoppable killer in a Trump mask , you’ll have to see it to believe it. Ace also managed to get some genre actors to appear in this, including Robert Mukes , Sheri Davis , Doug Waugh , Lilian Mortis and many others. If you are a fan of B-Movie TV , you will notice some familiar faces in this film , as they all host/hosted their own programs on the channel. If you are unable to attend the theatrical premiere, Ace will release the film on Blu-ray with a plethora of extras on his new label, UPDATE: Ken “Ace” Brewer’s new Livid Media label’s first release will be a double feature of late director Ronnie Cramer’s EVEN HITLER HAD A GIRLFRIEND and its sequel THE HITLER TAPES . This 30th Anniversary 2-DVD Edition will be the first time either film has received a disc release and will be available sometime in early-August 2021. Don’t let these hilarious/disturbing films escape you. More information as it becomes available. UPDATE: The two Ronnie Cramer films are available on a double-disc DVD package for $25.00. There is also a deal for a t-shirt/DVD bundle for $45.00. Support Ace by going
JULY 21, 2021: Is it possible we jumped the gun by allowing everyone who was vaccinated for Covid-19 to move freely around the world maskless? Not only are many TV Series and Films being shut down temporarily due to Covid infections on set, but atheletes from around the world are being infected at the Tokyo Olympics and are either being quarantined or sent home. We have also discovered that getting the two vaccinations does not stop people who had the shots from getting Covid, even if they have had it before and it does not stop them from infecting people who haven’t had the shots . Granted, those who have been vaccinated and catch the virus, don’t suffer the most dire symptoms as those who weren’t vaccinated, but it doesn’t stop them from infecting others. Until the majority of the population around the globe are vaccinated, we should be careful who we come in contact with. Getting vaccinated is only the first step in wiping out Covid, the rest is pure common sense. Stay away from people who haven’t been vaccinated and if they refuse to get the shots, stay away from them permanently. No matter how good they are as friends, it is not worth killing people over. The Delta variant of Covid is just one new strain out there, so be vigilant and, most of all, be careful and use your brain when you come in contact with people. And for God’s sake, get vaccinated and wear your masks when coming in contact with a group of people, either indoors or outdoors! Better safe than sorry. We are not out of the woods yet and I would hate to experience another pandemic, yet all these Karens and SovCits think they are above the law and threaten to destroy not only the United States, but the entire planet. Remember: People Are Stupid and their stupidity has no bounds. They only care about themselves. It’s only a matter of time before the governments of the world recognize how dangerous they are and do something about them . Believe in science, not political conspiracy theories that Republicans are dishing out to their uneducated and feeble-minded followers.
JULY 10, 2021: WILLIAM SMITH is dead, passing away July 5th at the age of 88 from unknown causes. I’m speechless because Big Bill Smith was the number one actor I admired most. He could do anything, from appearing in blockbuster films in all genres to starring in minor B-films, yet, no matter what kind of role he had, he always impressed. He had two of the best fighting roles in film history, first fighting Rod Taylor in director Robert Clouse’s extremely violent DARKER THAN AMBER and then having the classic long fistfight with Clint Eastwood in ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN . But I loved Bill for his horror films, including my favorite bloodsucker flick of all time GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE ; an FBI Agent in the mini-classic of the absurd INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS ; a cop in the nudity-filled THE SWINGING BARMAIDS ; the main bad guy, named “Carrot”, who battles Yul Brynner in THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR ; as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father in CONAN THE BARBARIAN ; and one of my favorite ’80s action films, as bad guy Striker in EYE OF THE TIGER . William Smith was also no stranger to television, making his mark as “Falconetti” on the first U.S. television mini-series RICH MAN, POOR MAN . He also had recurring roles on the TV series THE ASPHALT JUNGLE , ZERO ONE and LAREDO ; appeared as “Adonis” on the last episode of BATMAN ; and nearly every detective/western TV Series from the ’60’s to the ’90s, even having a recurring role during the last season of the original HAWAII FIVE-O . Since Bill has over 270 film and TV credits, it would be impossible to list them all , but since he spoke over five languages it often led to him being cast as a foreign bad guy, but in RED DAWN , in which Mr. Smith spoke perfect Russian, he turned in the film’s most memorable performance as Strelnikov, a U.S.A. invader with a soul. Other films William Smith appeared in that are reviewed on this site include: THE LOSERS ; GENTLE SAVAGE ; POLICEWOMEN ; HOLLYWOOD MAN ; BULLETPROOF ; EVIL ALTAR ; ACTION U.S.A. ; LAST OF THE WARRIORS ; DEADLY BREED ; CARTEL ; CHANCE ; THE LAST RIDERS ; MERCHANT OF EVIL and DEADLY MEMORIES .  William Smith was the consummate tough guy with a heart, proving how tough he was by once doing over 5,000 sit-ups and push-ups in five hours. I could go on-and-on about how William Smith improved every film he appeared in, but now I must mourn his passing. The year 2021 is proving to be the most disappointing and heartbreaking time for me. I met Mr. Smith a couple of times while doing security at film conventions and he was the perfect gentleman and a class act all the way. He loved talking about his career. Thanks for all the countless hours of entertainment Big Bill. You will never be forgotten by your legion of fans. My soul is shattered, as I thought you would live forever, but time treats us cruelly. It always has.
JULY 05, 2021: Another sad death to report, although, unlike the passing of Ronnie Cramer, this one is being reported all across the Internet and TV. Director/producer extraordinaire RICHARD DONNER, one of the originators of Blockbuster Cinema , passed away today of unreported causes at the age of 91. Donner, of course, is no stranger to this site, as he directed/produced such popular films as THE OMEN ; SUPERMAN & SUPERMAN II ; LADYHAWKE ; THE GOONIES ; The LETHAL WEAPON franchise ; SCROOGED – 1988; MAVERICK ; ASSASSINS and CONSPIRACY THEORY . The final two theatrical films of his career, TIMELINE and 16 BLOCKS , were generally panned by critics, but they still offered some fun to viewers. Donner started his career by directing commercials for TV  in the 1950s and quickly graduated to directing episodes of ’60s & ’70s television, including six episodes of the original THE TWILIGHT ZONE ; three episodes of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND ; three episodes of THE WILD WILD WEST ; THE SIXTH SENSE ; CIRCLE OF FEAR ; KOJAK and many, many others. He was also Executive Producer on the HBO series TALES FROM THE CRYPT and also directed three episodes. He also Executive Produced the three Tales From The Crypt feature films, DEMON KNIGHT , BORDELLO OF BLOOD and the little-seen RITUAL , which skipped theaters and went direct to video. Mr. Donner’s first theatrical film was X-15 a true historical drama about the creation of rocket-powered aircraft during the Cold War and contained early starring roles for Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore . Donner was also adept at directing such adult films as the affecting INSIDE MOVES and the child abuse-indictment-disguised-as-a-fantasy RADIO FLYER . Mr. Donner also Produced or Executive Produced such films as THE FINAL CONFLICT ; THE LOST BOYS ; MADE MEN ; X-MEN and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE . Mr. Donner was working on producing a remake of THE GOONIES when he passed away. As you can read, Richard Donner was an important part of mainstream cinema and without his involvement, there are many popular films that would have never existed. R.I.P. Richard Donner and thanks for the entertainment.
JULY 04, 2021: Sadly, I was informed last night that multiple award-winning independent filmmaker/musician/artist RONNIE CRAMER passed away July 1st of a heart attack at the age of 64. And nowhere on the Internet will you read about his death besides here . Many readers of this site will recognize the name as director of the very watchable thriller BACK STREET JANE and, especially, the darked-humored EVEN HITLER HAD A GIRLFRIEND and its sequel THE HITLER TAPES , as well as some interesting documentaries [the hilarious HIGHWAY AMAZON – 2001) and shorts . But Mr. Cramer’s real love was music , releasing nearly fifty albums in his career, including a new soundtrack to director Fritz Lang’s classic silent film METROPOLIS . Nearly everything Ronnie Cramer created, whether it be films, music or art in general, either on paper, on canvas or in animated films, has won multiple awards at film festivals and deservedly so , which has me wondering why his credits list on IMDb is so incomplete and why his death is not being reported on any of the major Internet entertainment sites . Mr. Cramer deserved better than that. He was one of the true originals whose work was loved by so many, including myself. My deepest condolences to Ronnie Cramer’s wife and family, as well as his many fans.
JUNE 29, 2021: I just learned that actor Robert Sacchi passed away June 23rd at the age of 89 after suffering a brief respiratory illness. Due to his uncanny resemblance to Humphrey Bogart , Mr. Sacchi portrayed Bogart on film and television, his first acting job being in one-time director Ferdinando Merighi’s excellent giallo film THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS . He then went on to appear in the films PULP , ACROSS 110TH STREET , THE MAN WITH BOGART’S FACE , FUNLAND , COLD HEAT , DIE HARD 2 and THE NAKED TRUTH , as well as many TV Series, including SLEDGE HAMMER! , SIMON & SIMON and TALES FROM THE CRYPT   . Mr. Sacchi’s final acting role was in the film BLAST FROM THE PAST . Mr. Sacchi was also an accomplished musician, having a top ten hit in Germany with the 1982 single “Jungle Queen”. He also toured on Stage with his one-man show, “Bogey’s Back” and touring productions of Woody Allen’s comedy “Play It Again, Sam.”
JUNE 25, 2021: Today is the start of Severin Films ‘ ” Mid-Year Sale 2021 ” , where nearly all their titles on Blu-Ray & DVD are on sale at deeply-discounted prices. And they have also released some new titles, too, including Blu-Rays of Bruno Mattei’s ENDGAME , Ruggero Deodato’s THE RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS and Lucio Fulci’s WARRIORS OF THE YEAR 2072 , as well as a three-disc version of BLOOD FOR DRACULA and a three-disc version of RETRIBUTION , which contains two versions of the film and a CD soundtrack by Alan Howarth. Severin sub-label Intervision Picture Corp. is also offering a Blu-ray of director Mark Savage’s THE MASTURBATING GUNMAN for the first time in the United States. Severin is also offering all these films as part of ” The Nuclear Meltdown Bundle ” for $246.00. That may sound like a lot of money, but it breaks down to a great deal. My wallet is already screaming “Uncle!”, but I would have to be insane not to purchase these films at such low prices. As with all Severin titles, expect copious new extras to keep you busy after the films end. So what are you wating for? Jump on this now before they are sold out!
JUNE 13, 2021: Another important and favorite actor of mine, Ned Beatty, died today of natural causes at the age of 83. He was in so many great classic films, his debut film being DELIVERANCE , where he was made to “squeal like a pig” while being anally raped by the head hillbilly. That line of dialogue is so iconic, it is still quoted today, and Beatty was very proud of it. Other films that Mr. Beatty appeared in with his good friend Burt Reynolds were WHITE LIGHTNING , W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS ; and GATOR , as well as the classic films ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN ; NETWORK ; SUPERMAN ; SUPERMAN II and the TV Movie GUYANA TRAGEDY: THE STORY OF JIM JONES . Ned Beatty also appeared in a lot of genre films, including EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC ; THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN ; THE FOURTH PROTOCOL ; ROLLING VENGEANCE ; THE UNHOLY ; MINISTRY OF VENGEANCE ; REPOSSESSED ; CAPTAIN AMERICA ; ED AND HIS DEAD MOTHER ; REPLIKATOR ; and SHOOTER . Kids and adults alike will recognize his voice as the nefarious “Lotso” in TOY STORY 3 . He was also no stranger to TV, appearing in dozens of TV Movies , as well as appearing as a guest star on such series as M*A*S*H ; THE ROCKFORD FILES; ROSEANNE; and many others. He also appeared as “Stanley ‘The Big Man’ Bolander” in the first three seasons of the excellent HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET . He appeared in so many movies and TV Series that he became known as “The Busiest Actor In Hollywood”. Mr. Beatty was also heavily involved in Stage work, both on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Even though he had not acted in anything since 2013, Ned Beatty was so prolific and excellent that his legend will live on for eternity. Shit, another one of my childhood favorites is no longer with us. If I believed in God, I would demand that he stop this!
MAY 26, 2021: I WISH I WERE A BILLIONAIRE DEPARTMENT: News just breaking that Amazon has purchased MGM and all their films and TV Shows for $8.45 billion! I don’t know whether this will be a good or bad thing for the future of film and television, but I am thankful that I have been a Prime member nearly since it began. The deal should be completed by the end of this year and means that the James Bond franchise will be a Prime exclusive, owning MGM’s 50% stake in the franchise , along with the entire MGM/UA catalogue , which consists of such genre films as FREAKS , KING KONG , THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY , MIGHTY JOE YOUNG , THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER , FORBIDDEN PLANET , VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED , THE HAUNTING , 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY , HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS , SHAFT , NIGHTMARE HONEYMOON , WESTWORLD , THE KILLER ELITE , CARRIE , LOGAN’S RUN , DEMON SEED , INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS , THE AMITYVILLE HORROR , HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE , THE BURNING , POLTERGEIST , A STRANGER IS WATCHING , REVENGE OF THE NINJA , STRANGE INVADERS , RED DAWN , RED SONJA , LIFEFORCE , CHERRY 2000 , CHILD’S PLAY , PUMPKINHEAD , ROAD HOUSE , LEVIATHAN , HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN , SPECIES , DISTURBING BEHAVIOR , STIGMATA , THE CABIN IN THE WOODS , and many, many more. I’ve always been against companies monopolizing TV and films and I thought there were laws in place to stop such monopolies, but since we live in a different time , I am glad that Amazon scored this deal, if only to stop Disney from taking over the entertainment industry. Life isn’t Rated G, PG or PG-13, so why should all of our films be? We all need a little Rated R ingredients in our lives, so let’s quit thinking that all films should be Disneyfied. Only time will tell if this will be a good deal. I’m hoping it is. This deal will probably make Prime the number one streaming service, replacing Netflix as the champion.
MAY 19, 2021: Another celebrity death to report, this time comedian/actor Charles Grodin , who passed away yesterday from complications of bone marrow cancer at the age of 86. While he had a large and varied career in television and film, he made precious few movies that would fit the criteria of this site, but he does have a handful. I loved Mr. Grodin for his appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and David Letterman’s Late Night , where he would adopt a character that was verbally combative at every question asked of him, as if he was pissed to be there. He was not only wet-your-pants funny, he was usually right on target with his answers and both Carson and Letterman loved that, inviting him back countless times over the years. As far as Charles Grodin’s genre film roles are concerned, he first appeared as an uncredited child in Disney’s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and spent the rest of the ’50s & ’60s appearing on Television. His career began to take off when he appeared as a doctor in Roman Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY , followed by CATCH-22 . He then appeared in the 1976 version of KING KONG ; directors Warren Beatty & Buck Henry’s HEAVEN CAN WAIT ; and opposite a then-exploding-in-popularity Farrah Fawcett in SUNBURN . The 80’s found him starring in the unfunny THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN ; the frequently quoted “worst big budget movie of all time” ISHTAR ; and then his probably best-remembered role as “Jonathan Mardukas” opposite Robert De Niro as “Jack Walsh” in the very funny action comedy MIDNIGHT RUN , a certifiable hit both in theaters and home video. Mr. Grodin took that popularity and appeared in a series of unfunny film comedies during the ’90s , before quitting movies and trying his hand as a TV talk show host, which failed. He then became a sought-after guest on many political cable news shows and returned to film in 2006 and TV acting six years later. His final acting role was in director James Toback’s crime thriller AN IMPERFECT MURDER . Charles Grodin may not fit into this site like most genre film actors, but I certainly enjoyed him. He was just as at ease with drama as he was with comedy. His dry wit will always be remembered by me and his many fans. Rest well Charles Grodin. You brought a welcome smile to my face countless times and for that I will be forever grateful.
MAY 15, 2021: Another undeserved and underreported celebrity death to report, this time character actor Blackie Dammett , who passed away May 12th of undisclosed causes at the age of 81. Blackie appeared in many movies, but his most famous role was as a thug in the Christmas tree opening of LETHAL WEAPON , where Mel Gibson beats the snot out of him. Other memorable roles include NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA , where he portrays the bonkers “Alby the Cruel”, a wheelchair-bound drug kingpin who is obviously a homosexual, but keeps a squad of commando women to do his bidding ; and as the murderous pastor in the little-seen THE AMERICAN SCREAM . Other films Blackie Dammett appeared in included: THE LADY IN RED ; DOCTOR DETROIT ; THE LOST EMPIRE ; THE BOYS NEXT DOOR ; A NIGHT AT THE MAGIC CASTLE ; L.A. BOUNTY and many others. He also appeared on many police/detective procedurals and sitcom TV series from the late-’70s to 1990, the year he gave up acting to raise wolves and wolf hybrids and then become President of “Rockinfreakapotamus”, the official Red Hot Chili Peppers fan club. Many people never knew his name, but he certainly left an impression with his looks and acting ability. Like George “Buck” Flower , he was instantly recognizable for both his face and voice. Blackie Dammett was cremated and his ashes given to his family. My condolences to the Kiedis Family and all of Blackie’s fans, of which I am one. He was truly one of a kind.
MAY 08, 2021: Sorry to hear that Actress/Whitesnake music video hottie Tawny Kitaen passed away yesterday of undisclosed causes at the age of 59. She had problems with drugs and alcohol and wasn’t ashamed to admit it, appearing on CELEBRITY REHAB WITH DR. DREW as a rehab patient. Some of the movies Ms. Kitaen appeared in that would interest readers of this site include: GWENDOLINE ; BACHELOR PARTY ; INSTANT JUSTICE ; WITCHBOARD ; WHITE HOT ; PLAYBACK ; DEAD TIDES and director Fred Olen Ray’s AFTER MIDNIGHT . She made appearances on such TV series as SEINFELD ; a regular featured role on THE NEW WKRP IN CINCINNATI ; MARRIED…WITH CHILDREN ; a semi-recurring role as “Deianeira” on HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS ; and a guest-starring role on CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION . Tawny was married to Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale for a short period and then married Major League baseball pitcher Chuck Finley in 1997 until their divorce on 2002. She also appeared on the first two album covers for the hair metal band Ratt. Fifty-nine-years is much too young to pass away and I’m sincerely sorry to hear about it. My condolences to Tawny Kitaen’s family and friends.
APRIL 20, 2021: I just learned that director Monte Hellman passed away today at the age of 91 after suffering a fall in his home the day before. Mr. Hellman began his directorial career by hooking up with Roger Corman and becoming part of Corman’s stable, which also included Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Monte Hellman’s first directorial effort was the strange BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE . He then directed several days on the piecemeal film THE TERROR , where he became friends with Jack Nicholson, directing Nicholson in the films FLIGHT TO FURY , BACK DOOR TO HELL , THE SHOOTING and RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND . As the 1970s approached, Hellman directed the films TWO LANE BLACKTOP , COCKFIGHTER , uncredited directorial work on SHATTER , CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 and some uncredited post-production directorial work on AVALANCHE EXPRESS . Mr. Hellman’s ’80s output included only two films, but they were very strange ones: IGUANA and SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT 3: BETTER WATCH OUT . The rest of Hellman’s directorial career was very sparse, including the horror film short STANLEY’S GIRLFRIEND and ROAD TO NOWHERE , his final feature film. Monte Hellman was considered a filmic poet and was especially admired by Quentin Tartantino, as Hellman was Executive Producer of Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS . Monte Hellman also edited most of his films and was also Editor on such films as THE WILD ANGELS , the Monkees film HEAD , TARGET: HARRY , Sam Peckinpah’s THE KILLER ELITE , SUDDEN DEATH , and GREY KNIGHT . He also directed the pre-credits sequence of CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA , was Dialogue Director on THE ST. VALENTINE’S MASSACRE and was an uncredited Second Unit Director of ROBOCOP . As you can see Monte Hellman had a wide and varied career in the film business. The films he directed almost always had an atmosphere for the weird and surreal, making him a cult figure by fans of his films . So long Monte Hellman and thanks for the entertainment.
APRIL 13, 2021: The bad news never stops coming in, as I learned talented special effects makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi, known as “the Tom Savini of Italy”, passed away April 11th of undisclosed causes at the age of 78. Mr. De Rossi, who had been a makeup artist on films since the early-’60s, really came into prominence thanks to his work on Italian gore films, beginning with director Jorge Grau’s LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE and continuing with Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE , Antonio Margheriti’s CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE and then a series of Fulci films, including THE BEYOND and THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY , as well as THE RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS , CONAN THE DESTROYER , David Lynch’s DUNE , RAMBO III , KILLER CROCODILE , DRAGONHEART , HIGH TENSION and many, many others. Mr. De Rossi even tried his hand at directing, being responsible for the films CY WARRIOR: SPECIAL COMBAT UNIT and KILLER CROCODILE 2 , also co-writing the screenplays to both films. When it comes to reviewing Italian genre films, especially horror films, it would be impossible to do so without mentioning Giannetto De Rossi’s name constantly. Many of these films wouldn’t have been memorable without his special brand of gruesomeness and his touches of the macabre. He was truely one-of-a-kind and will never be forgotten because his work will live on forever. On a related note, Enzo Sciotti, one of the most beloved and prolific Italian horror movie poster artists, also passed away on April 11th at the age of 76. You may not know the name, but readers of this site will definitely know his artwork, as it has graced posters of some of the best Italian and foreign horror films, including the aforementioned THE BEYOND and THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY , as well as CANNIBAL FEROX , Dario Argento’s PHENOMENA , DEMONS , Fulci’s MANHATTAN BABY , SODOMA’S GHOST and A CAT IN THE BRAIN .  He even did posters for such stateside films as CUJO , MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE , BLUE VELVET , NEAR DARK , TWO EVIL EYES , ARMY OF DARKNESS and so many more. His artwork is what sold a lot of these films to audiences and he should be remembered for that. Not many poster artists get the recognition they deserve, yet Enzo Sciotti made a name for himself thanks to his excellent artwork that reeked of an atmosphere of fear and dread. These are two Italian masters who will never fade into the background because their bodies of work were so important to genre cinema. It is with much fondness and sadness that I bid Giannetto De Rossi and Enzo Sciotti farewell on their journeys to eternity.
APRIL 10, 2021: Rapper DMX passed away of cardiac arrest due to a drug overdose at the age of 50 yesterday. The popular rapper-turned-actor was known for his tough guy image in such films as BELLY , ROMEO MUST DIE , EXIT WOUNDS , CRADLE TO THE GRAVE and NEVER DIE ALONE , as well as the horror films LOCKJAW and THE BLEEDING . His music can be heard in the films THE CORRUPTOR , GONE IN 60 SECONDS , THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS , HALF PAST DEAD , DEADPOOL , as well as many TV Series and video games. I’m having a hard time understanding why all the news outlets are not mentioning the drug overdose and are only mentioning he died of a heart attack, but when it first happened on April 2nd, they were quick to mention he was hospitalized due to a drug overdose that caused his cardiac arrest. Thousands of people attended a vigil for a comatose DMX outside the hospital in NYC he was in, praying for him to get better and not once during that vigil were drugs ever mentioned. Is this the message we want to send our children? The death of DMX is certainly a tragedy, but we cannot leave out the truth as to the cause of his death, no matter how much we loved him. Just food for thought. R.I.P Earl Simmons.
APRIL 07, 2021: It’s time again to say goodbye to a genre celebrity, this time it’s James Hampton, who many people from my generation will know as “Trooper Hannibal Dobbs” on the sitcom F TROOP . Mr. Hampton went on to appear in many other TV series and theatrical films from the ’60s to the New Millennium, including his Golden Globe®-nominated role as “Caretaker” in THE LONGEST YARD . Other films Mr. Hampton appeared in included FORCE FIVE , Reynolds’ starrers W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS and HUSTLE , THE CHINA SYNDROME , HANGAR 18 , CONDORMAN , TEEN WOLF & TEEN WOLF TOO , THE GIANT OF THUNDER MOUNTAIN , SLING BLADE and many, many more. He was one of those actors whom, if you didn’t know his name, you could immediately identify him by his voice alone. Mr. Hampton passed away due to complications of Parkinson’s Disease and was 84-years-old. R.I.P. James Hampton. Thanks for the memories.
APRIL 05, 2021: I’m the first to admit that I am not a huge Kaiju fan, but last night I decided to watch GODZILLA VS. KONG on HBOMax since it was being shown simultaneously on that service and nearly 3,000 theaters in the United States . I have to say that I enjoyed the film immensely, as it hit most of the right notes and managed to pay tribute to both King Kong and Godzilla films of the past. While the film mainly pays attention to Kong throughout most of the film, the battles between Kong and Godzilla were done very well, be it the first attack underwater or the battle they have in Hong Kong, completely destroying it. But when Mecha-Godzilla makes an appearance the battle changes completely and it had me applauding on my couch in approval and I even got choked-up a little. A Kaiju film that does that to me can’t be all bad, so if you are sitting on the fence whether to watch it or not, I say go for it, you will probably like it. There are some clichés here , but they are easily overlooked because this film does nearly everything else beautifully, from the remarkable CGI , the wonderful scenery of Hollow Earth to the epic battle sequences. And it doesn’t overstay its welcome, as it runs less than two hours . So does Kong or Godzilla die in this ? All I’m gonna say is watch it for yourself to find out.
APRIL 03, 2021: I learned that genre film jack-of-all-trades Cleve Hall passed away on March 31st of congestive heart failure at the age of 61. Cleve, who was the younger brother of B-Movie director/producer/screenwriter/jack-of-all-trades Kenneth J. Hall , acted in the films TWISTED NIGHTMARE , WARLORDS and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: NECROPOLIS ; supplied special makeup effects to the films NIGHTMARE , ZONE TROOPERS , RE-ANIMATOR , TERRORVISION and BLOODY MOVIE ; Executive Produced brother Ken’s THE HALFWAY HOUSE ; and worked in the background on scores of other genre films, including GHOULIES , TROLL , ELIMINATORS , ALIENATOR , DEMON WIND and many, many more. Cleve Hall was also a longtime member of the Goth Subculture and usually dressed like a Goth , but he used his stature to get many members of the Goth community to volunteer in various charity organizations in the Los Angeles area, proving that looks are not important, deeds are. I will say this: I enjoyed many of the films Cleve was involved with and I send my heartfelt condolances to Kenneth and his family. We lost a good one, folks. R.I.P. Cleve Hall.
MARCH 24, 2021: Jesus, make it stop! Jessica Walter, the sharp-tongued and martini-drinking Lucille Bluth on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT has passed away today of natural causes at the age of 80. I first noticed Ms. Walter as the psychotic Evelyn in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut PLAY MISTY FOR ME and followed her career closely after that. A TV staple from the ’60s right up till the New Millennium , Jessica Walter was equally at home in films such as DR. STRANGE , THE CONCORDE…AIRPORT ’79 , VAMPIRE , GHOST IN THE MACHINE , BENDING THE RULES and many others. She was an entertainer of the highest caliber and will be missed. I have also learned that character actor Richard Gilliland departed from this plane of existence on March 18, 2021 after suffering from a short illness. He was 71-years-old. He was the husband of actress Jean Smart, meeting on the set of Smart’s TV series DESIGNING WOMEN , where he had a recurring role. While Mr. Gilliland worked mostly on TV, he did appear in a few theatrical movies, such as BUG , THE WHITE BUFFALO , AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL , and STAR KID . He was one of those actors you never heard of, but he appeared on TV so many times , his face was instantly recognizable. R.I.P. Richard Gilliland.
MARCH 23, 2021: Yet another death to report, this time celebrated, Academy Award®-nominated actor George Segal, who passed away today at the age of 87 due to complications from bypass surgery. Known today for his role of Albert “Pops” Solomon on the TV series THE GOLDBERGS and for his role as boss “Jack Gallo” on the celebrated sitcom JUST SHOOT ME! , Mr. Segal was also a distinguished actor on many films, many of them well-known to readers of this site, such as THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM , THE ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE , NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY , THE TERMINAL MAN , RUSSIAN ROULETTE , ROLLERCOASTER , WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE? , STICK , JOSHUA TREE , THE BABYSITTER and so many more. George Segal could do anything asked of him, including drama, romance, comedy, science fiction, action and anything else that could come in mind. He was a true original who entertained people from his acting debut in 1960 right up until his death. My condolences go out to Mr. Segal’s family and closest friends, of which there were many. By all accounts Mr. Segal was loved by everyone he worked with, no matter what his role was. A true original who will be missed.
MARCH 16, 2021: Another sad day to report. On March 14, 2021 imposing actor Yaphet Kotto passed away of undisclosed causes at the age of 81. I first discovered Mr. Kotto in director Larry Cohen’s BONE and watched his credits list expand greatly in such films as ACROSS 110TH STREET , the evil Kananga/Mr. Big in the James Bond film LIVE AND LET DIE , the blaxplotiation classic TRUCK TURNER , the unsung and little-seen thriller REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER , FRIDAY FOSTER , DRUM , BLUE COLLAR , ALIEN , the excellent prison film BRUBAKER , FIGHTING BACK , WARNING SIGN , EYE OF THE TIGER , THE RUNNING MAN , MIDNIGHT RUN , MINISTRY OF VENGEANCE , THE PUPPET MASTERS and as “Al Giardello” on one of my favorite TV series HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET . Mr. Kotto basically retired from films and TV after this important TV series, only appearing in a handful of movies and TV guest roles after it ended. Yaphet Kotto had one of those voices that was immediately recognizable. If you heard it without looking at the screen, you would instantly know who it was. Thanks, Yaphet Kotto, for entertaining me throughout the decades. I and legions of your fans will miss you greatly.
MARCH 11, 2021: I discovered that Director Norman J. Warren died today of undisclosed causes at the age of 78. Mr. Warren was best known for the string of horror/science fiction film he directed in the ’70s & ’80s, including SATAN’S SLAVE , ALIEN PREY , TERROR , INSEMINOID and BLOODY NEW YEAR , which I think is his best, but unjustly overlooked, horror film. He also delved into comedy with the films SPACED OUT and GUNPOWDER . Even though Mr. Warren never directed another feature film since 1986, he was still involved in filmmaking, directing music videos, acting in several short films and directing a PSA short that played in British movie theatres telling people to turn off their cell phones in a comically scary way. I always liked most of Mr. Warren’s films and he was my second favorite British genre filmmaker right behind Pete Walker, who is still with us. R.I.P. Norman J. Warren and thanks for entertaining me and the countless other fans of your films. I also just learned that Mexican actress Isela Vega passed away March 9, 2021 of cancer at the age of 81. Ms. Vega came to worldwide acclaim due to her role of “Elita” in Sam Peckinpah’s BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA and readers of this site will remember her for roles in flims such as FEAR CHAMBER , DRUM , JOSHUA , BLOOD SCREAMS and ISLAND OF THE DOLLS . Ms. Vega held dual citizenship in Mexico and the United States, appeared on many U.S. and Mexican TV series during the ’80s & ’90s and worked right up till her death. R.I.P. Isela Vega.
MARCH 07, 2021: I just learned that jack-of-all trades John ‘Bud’ Cardos passed away December 31, 2020 at the age of 91. Mr. Cardos was an Actor , a Stuntman , a Production Manager , a Second Unit Director , a Transportation Driver , and even a Bird Handler , but it is his films as Director that most people remember, including KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS , THE DARK , THE DAY TIME ENDED , MUTANT , SKELETON COAST and ACT OF PIRACY . Everybody that knew him loved him, as he was always funny, caring and, above all, professional in everything he did. Personally, I love KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS , THE DARK , SKELETON COAST and most of his other films. A sad goodbye to a true original. R.I.P. John ‘Bud’ Cardos.
MARCH 01, 2021: The CPAC Republican convention proves to me that Republicans want to overthrow Democracy in the United States. Not only did they create a giant gold statue of Trump , they also allowed the ex-President to give a rambling 90-minute speech where he once again repeated his lies about winning the election, but he and his fellow Communists also put down Dr. Fauci and President Biden, while telling everyone that the COVID-19 pandemic was a hoax , every Republican in the conference applauding, hootin’ and hollerin’ in approval at every single lie that came out of their mouths. This just proves one thing to me: Do we want people like this running our country and making the most important decisions of our lives? I mean, we already put up with four years of lies and misinformation, do we need any more? If it weren’t for the millions of uneducated people who swallow up these lies and believe they are the truth, these seditious idiots would have been kicked out of office a long time ago. When any Republican Governor, Senator or House Representative comes up for re-election, vote for the other guy or gal. Send a message to them that we are sick and tired of being fed lies and we are smart enough to distinguish the truth from outright false conspiracy theories. And to those millions of uneducated assholes who believe this ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag, all I have to say is this: grow up and take pride in your country. The pride you have now is nothing but treasonous behavior wrapped in a lie that you swallowed without hesitation. Use your brain . And one other thing: Support President Biden. He has the empathy that Trump failed to convey at every turn. He’s not perfect, but he is a million times more productive than that idiot former President! This is the first time in my 63 years on this planet that a proven dictator is trying to take over the United States of America and idiotic people are feeding off his lies. I wouldn’t worry so much if it was just a tiny percentage of the population believing his lies, but we are talking over seventy million people who voted for him in the last election. It’s time for action, any legal action to stop this from happening, but we know from experience that these treasonous people don’t care about laws. They will do anything, including murder, to get their way. I always say, “People Are Stupid”, but I should change that to, “People Are Stupidly Dangerous.” It’s up to us intelligent, freedom-loving citizens to stop this insurrection from destroying our Democracy. I don’t know about you, but I have no problem stooping to their level to make sure this never happens. If that’s all they understand, so be it.
FEBRUARY 15, 2021: After stewing in my own juices for the past two days, I have to voice my disgust for all the Republican Senators who voted to acquit Donald Trump of impeachment. They spit on the Constitution while saying the Constitution dictates that it is illegal to impeach a President who is no longer in office. Bullshit! Show me where in the Constitution it says that; the fact is it doesn’t exist and was mearly a weak excuse used by these spineless bastards because they don’t want to admit that they are afraid of the former President and many of them were just as guilty as he was for the insurrection at the Capitol Building on January 6th. By supporting this treasonous idiot who nearly took down our Democracy, it has proven to me one important thing: These Republican Senators should be banned from politics forever. They don’t support their sworn duty to protect Democracy and the American way of life; they support the exact opposite. Remember every one of them when they come up for re-election, especially the two-faced Mitch McConnell, who is nothing but pond scum , delivering a speech after the impeachment that proved what a bold-faced liar he actually is. With these treasonous bastards in the Senate, nothing will get done that doesn’t put more money in their pockets and sets-up Trump for another term as President in 2024. Up next: Trump facing criminal charges for what he did during his Presidency. This won’t be so easy for him since politics don’t play a role in criminal justice . We’ll see. The common citizens who still support him are beyond the pale. Can’t they see he doesn’t give a damn about them? Their blind committment to Trump is what led to the murderous insurrection in the first place. I always think that people are stupid, but to be this stupid even makes me shake my head in disgust. America is in turmoil, but I hope that President Biden handles it in a way that is fair and just. It looks like that is happening right now, but the future offers many surprises.
FEBRUARY 08, 2021: Yes, you guessed it, another death to report, this time famed Italian cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, who passed away yesterday of unknown causes at the age of 97. You may not be familiar with the name, but I am sure you have seen many of the films he photographed, as he not only shot Italian films, but many International and American films, too. Mr. Rotunno had a certain style that added atmosphere and intensity to the many films he photographed, including ON THE BEACH ; YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW ; SPIRITS OF THE DEAD ; CARNAL KNOWLEDGE ; CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 ; Bob Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ ; POPEYE ; THE ASSISI UNDERGROUND ; RED SONJA ; HAUNTED SUMMER ; THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ; WOLF and his penultimate film, Dario Argento’s THE STENDHAL SYNDROME ; as well as over 75 other films, including many of Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini’s films. I’m sure you have seen at least one of these films and can understand the certain style Giuseppe Rotunno added to it, using non-standard camera angles and other strange set-ups to his films , giving them a sense of urgency and a lot of class. In 1966, he became the first non-American cinematographer to be accepted as a member of American Society of Cinematographers , mainly because of his trademark style. He retired from filmmaking in 1997 and taught cinematography at a film school in Rome. Thanks for giving us your special brand of entertainment, Giuseppe Rotunno, something we can enjoy for an eternity.
FEBRUARY 05, 2021: My God, is 2021 the year of celebrities who died in their nineties? The latest being superb actor Christopher Plummer, who passed away today of natural causes at the age of 91, the actor with the smooth-as-silk voice who starred in many A-List films, , as well as appearing in many genre films that we know and love. The strange thing was, Mr. Plummer never became a world-reknowned A-List actor , yet everyone knew him, because he stood out no matter how small his role was and didn’t mind appearing in some low-budget genre flicks to pay the bills. He did win an Academy Award® and Golden Globe® for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in the film BEGINNERS , making him the oldest actor to ever win those awards and won two Emmy Awards® for his work on television. We here at CritCon recognize him immediately for his roles in such genre films as THE PYX ; THE DISAPPEARANCE ; THE SILENT PARTNER ; STARCRASH ; MURDER BY DECREE ; my favorite time travel tale SOMEWHERE IN TIME ; THE AMATEUR ; DREAMSCAPE ; VAMPIRE IN VENICE ; CRACKERJACK ; DRACULA 2000 ; and many, many others. Another excellent actor has left this mortal plane. Let’s hope there are no more on the horizon. We are going to miss you, Christopher Plummer, and the good things you added to every film you appeared in.
FEBRUARY 03, 2021: In another shocker that is quite hard to take, Hal Holbrook passed away on January 23rd of natural causes at the age of 95. Not only was Mr. Holbrook an Academy Award® nominated actor , making him the oldest actor ever to be nominated for that award, he also won an Emmy Award® four times and a Tony Award® for his nearly lifelong portrayal of Mark Twain in the stage play MARK TWAIN TONIGHT! . One thing I loved about Hal Holbrook is that he didn’t shy away from appearing in genre films, always giving his professional best no matter how low the budget was, appearing in THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS ; MAGNUM FORCE ; RITUALS ; CAPRICORN ONE ; THE FOG ; THE KIDNAPPING OF THE PRESIDENT ; CREEPSHOW ; GIRLS NITE OUT ; and THE UNHOLY . Mr. Holbrook was also no stranger to TV, appearing in scores of TV Series, including recurring roles in THE BOLD ONES: THE SENATOR ; DESIGNING WOMEN ; EVENING SHADE ; replacing a deceased Raymond Burr in three ’90s PERRY MASON TV MOVIES , not portraying Mason, but a lawyer called “Wild Bill McKenzie”; the failed TV Series THE EVENT and SONS OF ANARCHY . There was no character that Hal Holbrook couldn’t play , as he was the consummate professional. Rest easy, sir, and thanks for all of your memorable performances. Enjoy your eternity with Dixie Carter in Heaven, knowing that you will be terribly missed here.
JANUARY 28, 2021: Even more bad news: Supreme actress Cicely Tyson died today of natural causes at the age of 96. Even though she lived a very long life, this news still hurts. She didn’t appear in many genre films that would be reviewed on this site, but her steady portrayal of strong black women made her a grand dame that anyone with a heart would respect. I know I did. Some of her genre films include: THE CONCORDE…AIRPORT ’79 ; DUPLICATES ; RIOT IN THE STREETS ; HOODLUM ; ALEX CROSS and THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA . She had guests role on such TV series as THE OUTER LIMITS ; LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT ; HOUSE OF CARDS and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER . She was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Actress in the film SOUNDER and won an Honorary Oscar® for her remarkable body of work in 2019. She received three Emmy Awards® and was nominated an additional twelve times. We are going to miss Ms. Cicely Tyson because she opened doors for many of the black actresses today and influenced many other people with her performances. I remember watching her in the TV Movie THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN and bawling my eyes out at the age of seventeen. I’ll never forget that; it was the first time I cried when watching a film. She had that kind of hold on you and she was truly one of a kind. She was one person I wished would live forever. She never failed to give me goosebumps of joy with her performances.
JANUARY 27, 2021: It’s unfortunately time to say goodbye to Cloris Leachman, who passed away in her sleep last night at the age of 94. Ms. Leachman was not only a great actress, winning an Academy Award® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW , she  also excelled at comedy, winning five Emmy Awards® for her role as  “Phyllis Lindstrom” on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW   and PHYLLIS and, later, four more for her guest roles in the TV Series PROMISED LAND and MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE . She was also nominated for an Emmy an amazing additional twelve times. Ms. Leachman started her career on television in the late-1940’s and appeared on such TV Series as THRILLER , THE TWILIGHT ZONE , ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS , THE SIXTH SENSE and hundreds of others, right up to her passing. Cloris Leachman was no stranger to the genre films we love here at CritCon, appearing in the films KISS ME DEADLY ; HAUNTS OF THE VERY RICH ; DILLINGER ; HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, LOVE GEORGE ; DYING ROOM ONLY ; YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN ; DEATH SCREAM CRAZY MAMA ; HIGH ANXIETY ; THE DEMON MURDER CASE ; THE LONGEST YARD and many, many others. Cloris Leachman had a voice like no other, which is why she was in demand as a voiceover artist for many animated TV shows and movies . Thanks, Cloris Leachman, for a long and varied career that never diminished and always entertained. We will miss you.
JANUARY 25, 2021: It is my sad duty to report that Italian producer Alberto Grimaldi passed away January 23rd of natural causes at the age of 95. You may not know his name, but he produced many films you do know, such as the Clint Eastwood starrers FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY ; as well as DESERT COMMANDOS ; FACE TO FACE ; A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY ; SABATA ; the controversial films LAST TANGO IN PARIS and SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM ; ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES ; BURNT OFFERINGS ; GANGS OF NEW YORK and dozens more. According to IMDB: ” Alberto Grimaldi founded Produzioni Europee Associati , in Rome, Italy, that became known for a number of low budget action movies in European co-productions with Spain and West Germany. The company remained active until the early 1980s, even through the decline of its films distribution to the American market.” Mr. Grimaldi was an important part of getting Italian genre films to America and should be remembered fondly for doing that. R.I.P. Alberto Grimaldi. You had a long life on Earth and now you can enjoy an eternity in Heaven.
JANUARY 22, 2021: Another day, another crop of celebrity deaths. Yesterday, stunt driver and vehicle stunt coordinator extraordinaire Rémy Julienne passed away at the age of 90 from Covid-19 complications.  Mr. Julienne and his team of stunt drivers were responsible for many of the iconic car chases in films, including chases in THE ITALIAN JOB ; SUMMERTIME KILLER ; THE MAGNIFICENT DARE DEVIL – 1973; SHOOT FIRST, DIE LATER ; STRANGE SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM ; LOVE AND BULLETS ; the James Bond films FOR YOUR EYES ONLY , OCTOPUSSY , A VIEW TO A KILL , THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS , LICENCE TO KILL and GOLDENEYE ; MAXIMUM RISK ; DOUBLE TEAM ; WAKE OF DEATH and over 200 other films. Rémy Julienne always delivered when it came to car stunts and no one did it better, especially when it came to low-budget genre films, as well as big-budget blockbusters. Mr. Julienne’s career hit a roadblock in 1999, when a stunt he was performing on a French film resulted in the death of a cameraman. He was made to serve a six month jail term, even though the legal case against him was later reversed. His career never rebounded after that. Another useless death due to Covid, but at least Mr. Julienne lived lived a long life. Also passing away was actor Gregory Sierra, who was a favorite of mine during the ’70s & ’80s. He portrayed “Det. Sgt. Chano Amenguale” on two seasons of BARNEY MILLER , which is where I first noticed him. Even though he was a guest star on many TV series during those two decades , he also appeared in the films BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES ; THE CLONES ; THE TOWERING INFERNO ; MEAN DOG BLUES ; LET’S GET HARRY ; DEEP COVER ; and John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES . Gregory Sierra passed away from cancer and was 83-years-old. Rest In Peace, gentlemen. You entertained us more than you could possibly know.
JANUARY 20, 2021: After four years of tyranny, treason and dangerous self-serving actions, the United States is under new management and the dictator formerly known as Trump is no  longer in charge. Don’t expect this country to get better immediately because the people who praise this former dictator still believe that he is President and will cause all kinds of trouble, much of it deadly. My only hope is that President Joe Biden deals with them with an iron hand, not allowing them to spread their lies and continue to infect America. If justice still exists , Trump will get his due and will be put in prison for the many crimes he committed, some against the country he was sworn to protect and much of it to the honest people of this country, who were only trying to survive, but were lied to constantly. If anyone deserves major jail time, it is him. But for now, let’s bask in the glory of a new beginning. A country where the pandemic is treated properly and the citizens are finally recognized and praised for all they did to help this country during these dark times. The medical profession as a whole should be recognized for their selfless acts to treat the infected and comfort them even though they could become infected, even dying. And a lot of them did. It is acts such as this that make me proud to live in this country. For the first time in four years, I feel renewed. I feel like an American again.
JANUARY 19, 2021: I just learned today that English actor John Richardson passed away January 5th of complications from Covid-19. He was 86-years-old. Mr. Richardson came into prominence after appearing in the Hammer Films Production version of SHE and opposite Raquel Welch in ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. . He then began appearing in numerous Italian film productions, many of them reviewed on this site, including FRANKENSTEIN ’80 , TORSO , EYEBALL , REFLECTIONS IN BLACK , NINE GUESTS FOR A CRIME , COSMOS: WAR OF THE PLANETS , BATTLE OF THE STARS , MURDER OBSESSION and THE CHURCH . Mr. Richardson quit acting in the late-’80s and became a world class photographer, whose photos were highly sought after by collectors. He was once married to actress Martine Beswick after co-starring with her in ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and JOHN THE BASTARD . They divorced in 1973. John Richardson succumbed to Covid-19 just two weeks short of his 87th birthday .
JANUARY 14, 2021: Shit, the beginning of year 2021 is turning out to be terrible when it comes to deaths of celebrities. Case in point: B-Movie actress and Scream Queen Julie Strain has passed away at the age of 58 of dementia on January 10th. Many may remember the reporting of this former Penthouse Pet Of The Year’s death in 2019, which turned out to be an Internet hoax, so I took care this time to make sure her death was real and sadly it was. Some of the films Ms. Strain appeared in were: REPOSSESSED ; the Steven Segal film OUT FOR JUSTICE , THE UNNAMABLE II: THE STATEMENT OF RANDOLPH CARTER ; PSYCHO COP RETURNS ; SORCERESS ; HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER ; BLOOD GNOME ; and many others, including the majority of late director Andy Sidaris’ “Girls ‘n’ Guns” sexploitation actioners during the ’90s. I should also mention that actor Peter Mark Richman passed away today from natural causes at the age of 93. Some of the films and TV Series Mr. Richman appeared in included: THE TWILIGHT ZONE ; THE OUTER LIMITS ; AGENT FOR H.A.R.M. ; PSI FACTOR ; JUDGEMENT DAY ; FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN and many more. Peter Mark Richman spent most of his career on America Television, appearing as a guest star or series regular on countless TV Series during the ’60s through the ’90s. Please God, make this stop!
JANUARY 11, 2021: This is a year that just keeps on giving…bad news. I have just learned that director Steve Carver passed away from a heart attack at the age of 75. Mr. Carver gave us such entertaining films as THE ARENA , BIG BAD MAMA , CAPONE , DRUM , the Chuck Norris films AN EYE FOR AN EYE and LONE WOLF MCQUADE , the Gary Busey-starrer BULLETPROOF , RIVER OF DEATH and others. Also passing away during this New Year was British director Michael Apted, who gave us such memorable high calibre films as the Loretta Lynn biography COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER , GORILLAS IN THE MIST , my personal favorite THUNDERHEART , the James Bond film THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH and many others. Mr. Apted was 79-years-old and his cause of death was not reported. Two great directors with totally different styles are no longer with us. This should make us all sad.
JANUARY 09, 2021: I just learned that actor Antonio Sabato Sr. passed away on January 6th due to Covid-19 complications. If you follow this website, you know that Mr. Sabato was the father of actor Antonio Sabato, Jr., who starred in many genre flicks during the ’90s to the present day . Antonio Sabato Sr. appeared in many Italian genre films dating back to the mid-’60s and a lot of his work gets mentioned here in reviews or image pages, including HATE FOR HATE , TWICE A JUDAS , BARBARELLA , THE MAN WITH ICY EYES , SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS , GANG WAR IN MILAN , THE MANIAC RESPONSIBLE , RETURN OF THE .38 GANG – 1977; THE NEW GODFATHERS ; BRONX WARRIORS 2 ; THUNDER , TUAREG: THE DESERT WARRIOR , THE WILD TEAM , and many others. I just loved his face, especially his eyes. Once you saw him you never forgot him; he was one of those actors that always left an impression. Most of my favorite Italian genre film actors are gone now, so all we have are the films they appeared in to keep us entertained. Mr. Sabato left acting in 2006 after appearing in several episodes of an American soap opera , but I never forgot about him thanks to my love for Italian genre films. Mr. Sabato was 77 years-old. Rest well, Antonio Sabato, and never forget that you have fans down here who admire your work. Only nine days into this New Year and it is already turning out nothing but bad news. It doesn’t give me much hope that the rest of the year will be any different.
JANUARY 06, 2021: Never in my life did I think I would regret being an American, but today made me think otherwise. The actions by Donald Trump and his followers in Washington D.C. are nothing short of treasonous behavior. With Trump’s permission, thousands of his followers gathered and rioted at the Capitol Building to violently protest the disproven time-and-time-again “fradulent” Presidential election, which resulted in one innocent woman being shot and killed by police after illegally storming inside the Capitol Building. President-elect Biden called on Trump to tell his followers to cease and desist, but Trump’s response was a one-minute rant where he told his followers to “go home” and “I love you” and then railed against the fixed election, giving his followers a very mixed message. If Trump doesn’t face severe criminal charges for this murderous stunt, then there is no justice in this country. He has proven himself to be anti-democracy, so let’s give him a taste of what democracy does to any person who incites a riot where people are killed. Instead of a taste, we should give him a seven course meal in democracy justice. And while we are at it, let us also charge all the Republicans who tried to void Biden’s elections results by trying to block the Congress from certifying the election, especially in the States that Trump swore he won. The delusions by these Republicans and Trump have ruined this country for a long, long time and was only done because Trump doesn’t like to lose and his Republican cronies are too afraid to go against him . It’s also going to make it tough going for Biden when he takes office on January 20th, but if anyone can straighten out this total mess, it is him. Unfortunately, this is not a time to talk about films, but a time to put Trump in his place. A prison would be perfect. A firing squad would be better . Trump thinks he is made of teflon. Let’s prove him wrong.
JANUARY 04, 2021: I was about to report the death of actress Tanya Roberts, since it was incorrectly reported over nearly all of the news sources, but it turns out she is still alive and in “dire condition” at the hospital ICU, according to her manager. I hope she makes a full recovery, even though her manager is not so sure she will. But this first week of the New Year still brought us two celebrity deaths, the first one being actor Gary Klar, who made an impression as “Steel” in George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD . He also appeared in A STRANGER IS WATCHING , MIAMI BLUES and a whole bunch of television appearances. Mr. Klar was 73-years-old. The next to pass away was actress Barbara Shelley, who appeared in such memorable horror films as BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE , VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED , THE GORGON , DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT , as well as over a hundred TV appearances. Ms. Shelley passed away from Covid-19 related symptoms and was 88-years-old. Another unnecessary death, thanks to anti-maskers and idiotic people who refuse to follow pandemic rules because they believe it infringes on their “freedom”. They don’t care, as long as they aren’t the ones who die. They are the ones who are keeping the pandemic alive. It should have ended months ago. UPDATE: I’m sorry to report that Tanya Roberts did pass away tonight from a urinary tract infection that spread to her kidneys, liver and bloodstream. Some of the genre films Ms. Roberts appeared in include FORCED ENTRY , an R-Rated remake of the extremely nasty 1972 porno film of the same name and her film debut; THE YUM YUM GIRLS ; THE PRIVATE FILES OF J. EDGAR HOOVER ; TOURIST TRAP , the film that got her noticed ; director Don Coscarelli’s THE BEASTMASTER ; the Italian sword & sorcery flick HEARTS AND ARMOUR ; SHEENA , a film that failed spectacularly at the boxoffice, only to become a home video favorite; the James Bond film A VIEW TO A KILL ; BODY SLAM ; PURGATORY , a WIP film that should get more attention than it does now; NIGHT EYES ; and many others. But it was TV that made Ms. Roberts famous, including joining the cast of CHARLIE’S ANGELS in its final season and then as the sexy “Midge Pinciotti” on nearly the entire run of THAT ’70s SHOW . Tanya Roberts was 65-years-old. Farewell, beautiful soul, you will be missed, but we always have home video and TV reruns to remind us how beautiful and talented you were.
JANUARY 01, 2021: Now that the new year is upon us, can we all agree that 2020 was a year we would rather forget and regret the stupid things people did? This world will always be populated by people with very few brain cells, but never in my life did I ever think they would show themselves en mass and do stupid things like refusing to wear masks, keep proper distance away from people and spread lies like most intelligent people try to spread the truth. These people cannot be ignored if we want this planet to be back to “normal” again, because if we allow them to run rampant, all we are doing is contributing to the downfall of Earth. This is why I have decided to “go dark” this year, not allowing any of these idiots to get away with their deadly stupidity. If you see these retards doing something that contributes to the deadly pandemic, do something about it, even if it means using your gloved hands against them. It’s the only thing these anti-maskers understand, so speak their language and fight back for the preservation of life as we know it. We have tried everything else, so it is time to take it to the next level. This is a call to arms, so to speak.
DECEMBER 24, 2020: As this year is finally coming to an end, I would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to Edwige Fenech , the most beautiful woman in Italian genre films. She still looks stunning today at the age of 72 and I hope she is enjoying her life to the fullest. Some of the films Ms. Fenech appeared in were TOP SENSATION , FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON , THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH , ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK , THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS , YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM… , MEAN FRANK AND CRAZY TONY , STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER , SEX WITH A SMILE , PHANTOM OF DEATH and HOSTEL: PART II . I consider her the Queen of Giallo films and if you have seen her in any of those, or the many Italian sex comedies she appeared in, you will immediately know what I mean. She not only had a body to kill for , she had eyes that could melt you like butter at a summer picnic. I instantly fell in love with her the first time I saw her and I bet many other men feel the same way. She not only has a kickin’ body, she could also act with the best of them, which is why she has had a long career in films. Happy Birthday, Edwige Fenech, and I wish you many more!
DECEMBER 11, 2020: Jesus Christ, this is the worst year ever. Not only is Covid-19 ravaging the planet, but people I admire are dropping like flies. The latest example is actor Tom Lister Jr., better known as  Tommy “Tiny” Lister. This brick shithouse of a man, with a physique many men would kill for, appeared in countless films and was one of those actors who was instantly recognizable, not only for his physical attributes, but also for his shaved head and scary voice. If you needed an inmate, criminal or bad guy who was imposing, Mr. Lister was the man you would hire for your film. This ex-basketball player-turned-actor was also known for his role as “Zeus”, a wrestler on WWE during the late-’80s to the early-’90s, before taking small roles  in films and on TV, before graduating to bigger roles in  films, such as IMMORTAL COMBAT , THE FIFTH ELEMENT and, especially, as the hulking “Deebo” in the films FRIDAY and NEXT FRIDAY . Mr. Lister was equally adept at drama, comedy or whatever was thrown his way. He always turned in a good performance, no matter if the film was good or bad . Tommy “Tiny” Lister died of unknown causes and was 62-years-old. Rest in peace, Gentle Giant, rest in peace.
DECEMBER 05, 2020: This was a terrible week for celebrity deaths. We lost Hugh Keays-Byrne, who is known for his roles in MAD MAX , THE BLOOD OF HEROES and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD ; character actor Warren Berlinger from THE CANNONBALL RUN , OUTLAW FORCE and hundreds of TV series appearances; and David L. Lander, who made his mark as “Squiggy” on LAVERNE & SHIRLEY , as well as appearing in the films PANDEMONIUM , FUNLAND and STEEL AND LACE . It’s rough when actors you admire pass away suddenly. It reminds us that life is fleeting, as all three of them entertained me through some tough times earlier in my life. R.I.P. gentlemen. You will be missed.
NOVEMBER 26, 2020: I am saddened to report that Daria Nicolodi passed away today. I know most people don’t know who she is, but readers of this site are well aware how important she was to Italian cinema, especially Italian genre cinema. She wasn’t just an actress and mother to actress Asia Argento, she was a longtime partner of Dario Argento and appeared in many of his films , including DEEP RED , SUSPIRIA , INFERNO , TENEBRE , PHENOMENA , OPERA and MOTHER OF TEARS . She also appeared in many other Italian genre films, such as Francesco Rosi’s MANY WARS AGO , Elio Petri’s PROPERTY IS NO LONGER A THEFT , Mario Bava’s SHOCK , Lamberto Bava’s DELIRIUM: PHOTO OF GIOIA , Luigi Cozzi’s PAGANINI HORROR , Enzo Castellari/Luigi Cozzi’s SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS and many others. When Steven Jackson emailed me with the news of Ms. Nicolodi’s passing, it hit me like a ton of bricks because I have been enjoying her performances for years. Daria Nicolodi was only 70-years-old and her cause of death was not reported at press time. To say I am gutted is a vast understatement. R.I.P. Daria Nicolodi.
NOVEMBER 20, 2020: As the pandemic rages on across the world to very serious and deadly levels, I have to address a certain group of people in my country who refuse to wear masks. You are fucking idiots, as well as murderers! You think this Covid-19 pandemic is a hoax? Then you are simply fooling yourselves and committing murder for your psychotic beliefs! I only hope that people like you are arrested for manslaughter when you are tested for the virus and come up positive.  You may not feel sick, but that doesn’t mean you are not passing on the virus to people just for the simple reason you are not wearing a mask. You can have your insane beliefs , but not when it comes to infecting other people, which could lead to their deaths. I caught the virus from such a person in June and I am still suffering from the effects of the virus, even though now I no longer am infected and have tested negative for it. As Mark K. once said to me in a Facebook post, “If I can blow smoke through a mask, what’s the use of me wearing one?”, totally ignoring the basic reasoning for wearing masks in the first place. If everyone wore them, the pandemic would be long over, asswipes! It’s not just you wearing a mask, it’s infecting everyone you come in contact with , which then has a domino effect. You may be able to blow cigarette smoke through a mask, but if you were wearing a mask like everyone else, your chances of infecting anyone are greatly reduced . My hope is this: Don’t wear a mask test positive for virus = time in prison for manslaughter. Fuck your First Amendment Rights and your liberty, you are killing people! Maybe a few years in prison will make you see the light, but you will go down in the history books as people who killed thousands upon thousands of people just for refusing to wear a mask. You don’t deserve pity, you deserve all the scorn that is coming to you.
NOVEMBER 08, 2020: R.I.P. to JEOPARDY host and all around nice guy Alex Trebek, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer today at the age of 80 . According to his family, he passed away early this morning peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Alex, who was not an actor, appeared in countless movies and TV shows, usually portraying himself , since he was an iconic figure on TV and instantly recognizable around the world. He also had a voice that was perfect for documentary narration, doing several for PBS and other networks. The world is worse off without him and his final hosting duty on JEOPARDY will air on December 25, 2020. He was a consummate professional who continued working while dying from cancer until the very end. He filmed the last batch of episodes on October 29, 2020, just a week before he passed away. People like him are very rare these days. We will miss you, Mr. Trebek, and I hope you don’t have to test the knowledge of all those people in Heaven. My condolences go out to Mr. Trebek’s family and to everyone who watched him religiously on weeknights. “What is emotionally saddened and already missing you, Alex?”
NOVEMBER 07, 2020: The people have spoken and Joe Biden is now our President Elect, Kamala Harris is our first woman Vice President Elect and they won in a record amount of voters ever for a Presidential election ! Like it or hate it , that’s the way it is going to be for the next four years. I will never forget what Trump and his supporters nearly did to this country and I will never forgive them. They are the true traitors. What I do know is that Biden will treat everyone equally, whether they voted for him or not. He is a much better man than me. If I had my way, I would have all of Trump’s supporters go back to school and learn what being a true patriot really means. It’s not carrying guns and rifles to vote counting centers or shooting innocent people because they think Black Lives Matter, it’s about making America a better country than it was before. That includes treating everyone equal no matter their skin color, religious convictions or sexual preferences. When you start understanding that, you will become a better person. That is what America is really about! Emotionally, I’m a complete mess and it was beginning to affect me physically, too. Now let’s get back to what this web site is really about: MOVIES!!!
NOVEMBER 06, 2020: Donald J. Trump is a worm of the highest order, still trying to destroy this country with his blatant lies and refusal to submit to the will of the people. He is incapable of understanding how to lose gracefully and will spout lies until his contemptuous inbred hillbilly followers brandish weapons and storm vote counting buildings shouting “Stop Counting Now!”, knowing full well that counting these mail-in votes are the law of the land and they are only in place due to Trump’s criminal mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. There would hardly be any mail-in voting if people weren’t scared to vote in person, afraid of contacting the virus from Trump supporters, who refuse to wear masks because, in Trump’s words, “It’s a hoax” . Trump is also scared of spending the rest of his life in prison, not only for defaulting on hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, but also for the treasonous way he and his Republican cronies have treated the United States to such favorite Trump dictators such a Vladimir Putin and that short scuzzy-looking dictator from North Korea, Kim Jong-un . Sorry, you orange-skinned bastard, the majority of the people are done with your deadly nonsense and want you to leave office come January 21st, 2021. If not, expect an armed escort to take you out of office, either willingly or kicking and screaming, yelling for your dead father to reach out and save you, like he did hundreds of times when he was alive, bailing you out of legal trouble for your failed business dealings. You see, America is not a business, it is a democratic government. People only elected you because they wanted to see how a businessman and a “celebrity” and not a politician would run our country. Now that we know, we can’t wait for you to leave office and leave this country, as you have repeatedly said you would should you lose. Goodbye, loser. Don’t let the doors hit you in the ass on the way out. Now you will know how it feels to be an “illegal alien” when Putin welcomes you into his country . I hope you suffer! Next stop: Getting rid of Trump’s cabinet of equally scuzzy lying Republican bastards. Mitch McConnell, keep looking over your shoulder. Your time is coming!
NOVEMBER 04, 2020: I am bitterly disappointed with people in the United States. I know this is a genre movie review site, but some events are more important than films. This is one of them! So much for “Every Vote Counts”. UPDATE: It seems every vote does count, especially those mail-in votes!
NOVEMBER 03, 2020: No matter how the Presidential election turns out, I need to say something that is important to me. The year 2020 has been the worst year in my 63 years on this planet, thanks to the horrifying way Trump has treated the United States and the people who live in it, so IF YOU ARE A TRUMP SUPPORTER AND/OR BELIEVE IN THE STUPID THINGS QANON SAYS, YOU ARE NO LONGER WELCOME ON THIS WEBSITE! I know this really doesn’t matter to you, because I cannot stop anyone from reading this site , but Trump supporters and Qanon followers are destroying this country. I know I usually shut down any mention of Hitler or the Nazis whenever having a conversation with anyone, but the parallels between Hitler’s rise in Germany and Trump’s rise in America are remarkable. Hitler was able to convince much of Germany’s population that those with non-Aryan blood were inferior and must be eliminated, which led to the worst massacre of Jews or anyone with Jewish blood in them in modern history. Germany is still reeling from this over eighty years later and for good reason. Trump is basically doing the same thing in America, calling all “illegal aliens”, especially Mexicans and Muslims, “murderers”, “rapists” and “pedophiles”, taking their children away from them, locking the young kids in metal cages and ruining their lives forever. Trump’s supporters have shot and killed innocent people simply because they believe Black Lives Matter and Trump supports all this, even refusing to condemn racism and racist militia groups because they support him. Trump supporters are even forming roadblocks to voting places so they cannot vote Democratic and they even stand outside voting booths threatening voters if they will not tell them who they are voting for. If Trump wins a second term , it will be the end of the U.S.A. and I think everyone sees that, but people are stupid and follow a man who is incapable of telling the truth. Every word that comes out of his mouth is a lie and if he repeats it enough, these feeble-minded inbred rednecks, with nothing to look forward to in their miserable lives, start to believe him and praise him for his racist values. His supporters are the new Nazis and I cannot in good conscience abide by that, so if you are one of these despicable people, please do not support this site as I hate you with all my heart and soul. I believe in facts, something you never seem to understand . Trump supporters are what is keeping Covid-19 alive, as their refusal to wear masks and throwing huge parties are what is killing thousands of people weekly. I know I am going to catch a lot of flak for this, but my doctor told me if I didn’t find a reasonable outlet to release my anger , my life would be over very soon. I have survived two bouts of leukemia, broke my back when I was younger and had a growth removed from my neck that led to months of rehabilitation to learn how to speak again, but that is all child’s play when compared to the year 2020. I love my country and will do anything to return it back to its former glory, but stupid people are ruining it with their constant beliefs in unprovable conspiracy theories and racist attitudes. If you are one of these people and are friends with me on Facebook, please delete me, because I have nothing but contempt for you. I’m done with you for now, but it’s not over by a longshot. I’d like to thank all who believe in me and who have supported me through these very tough times. One of the reasons I haven’t posted any new reviews recently is because of the state of mind Trump and his supporters have put me in, but, hopefully, that will end very soon. If not, I will find a way to survive. I always do.
OCTOBER 31, 2020: R.I.P. to Sean Connery, dead today at the age of 90. Mr. Connery was not only the original theatrical James Bond, he improved nearly every movie he starred in, be it THE OFFENCE , ZARDOZ , HIGHLANDER , THE UNTOUCHABLES , INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE , THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER , RISING SUN , DRAGONHEART and THE ROCK . Mr. Connery hasn’t appeared on screen since 2003’s disastrous THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN , which made him quit show business . He always brought a sense of class and a wink towards the humorous to his roles, even in the James Bond films . He passed away after suffering from a long, unknown, illness. Goodbye to a true class act.
OCTOBER 2, 2020: Roku-only streaming channel B-MOVIE TV is now having its 5TH ANNUAL HALLOWEEN MONTH MARATHON. They are showing nothing but horror and sleaze movies 24/7 for the month of October, no repeats! For the past two years, I watched nothing but this channel for the month of October and I plan to do the same thing this year. This channel seems to be streaming’s best kept secret and I urge everyone to buy a Roku streaming player and give this channel a try. Once you view it, I can almost guarantee you’ll be hooked for life. Their enthusiasm is infectious and that is all due to Ken “Ace” Brewer, the mastermind behind this channel. His love for everything B-Movie, especially ’80s & ’90s action films, has no bounds and for an old fogey like me, it’s a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere polluted by multi-millon dollar “blockbusters” that lack the charm and sense of playfulness found in low-budget cinema. This year, Ace has some new movies up his sleeve and not the same old Public Domain films. The weekly hosted segments are also all new this month and we will be welcoming back a hostess that we all missed, Kaitlin Kinner, who will alternate hosting duties with Rebecca Martin on SATURDAY NIGHT TERRORS at 10:00PM every Saturday. This is going to be an epic month full of horror, sleaze and more than a few surprises, so watch B-MOVIE TV or be damned to an eternity in Hell! UPDATE: At the end of the marathon , Ace will be premiering his DEATH PARK 6 , where the Trump mask-wearing killer murders 16 people in a little over 30 minutes! Be there!
SEPTEMBER 27, 2020: What the fuck has happened to YouTube? It seems YouTube has a new commercial policy and it’s downright stupid and annoying as hell. It seems that they insert commercials into every movie and shortform video on the platform, sometimes inserting commercials at a time that is very intrusive. It doesn’t matter how short the video is, you can be sure that there will be commercials, not only at the beginning of video, but also during the video. To show you how ridiculous their new policy is, I was watching a two minute movie trailer and YouTube just had to insert a commercial in the middle of it! Why the fuck would they do that? I’ll tell you why: They know that most people are trapped in their homes during this pandemic and they know their audience is captive, so they ram commercials down our throats. This is not only annoying, it’s downright insane! I’m calling for a freeze on YouTube, just to show them that we are not going to take it any more. People have said to me, “Fred, but they are only six-or-fifteen-second commercials, what’s the harm?” I’ll tell you what’s the harm. I have to keep my finger on my Roku’s remote control “OK” button continuously whenever I watch something on YouTube, just to skip the commercials after five seconds of play. If I don’t, I could suffer through a three minute commercial for some new prescription drug for a medical condition I never heard of that uses a re-recorded popular song from the past. Yes, I watch YouTube on my Roku , so there is no way for me to use the ad removal software that I use on my computer. YouTube knows this, therefore they stuff as many commercials down my throat as they can . Fuck them. I am not going to use the ‘Tube any more until they change their policy. If you are also experiencing this, please do the same thing. Send them a message. Don’t get me started on how YouTube forces channels to edit their films of nudity and violence, under fear that, if they don’t, YouTube will terminate their channel permanently . While I am on the subject: Facebook’s “New” look is also the most memory intensive program on the Internet. I am not using it until they revert back to their old look. I can’t even use Facebook and my web program at the same time because the New Facebook eats up most of the memory on my computer! There are also several sub-programs that run in the background that search your hard drive so they can send you ads that caters to your taste. It is the most intrusive, privacy-stealing program on the web. I am also through with it. The Internet is not the same any more, not since “businessmen” took it over.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020: Happy Birthday to Henry Silva, 92-years-old today. I hope he lives forever, as even the Grim Reaper would be scared of his steely stare. To say I’m a fan of Mr. Silva is a vast understatement! He is one of the original bad guys of the silver screen .
SEPTEMBER 12, 2020: Everyone who reads this site knows that I love streaming channel B-MovieTV. It’s the only streaming channel that caters to my many needs. The channel’s guru, Ken “Ace” Brewer, is always finding new ways to improve the channel, but this time he has outdone himself. He has created a separate channel, THE B-MOVIE TV VIDEO ON DEMAND CHANNEL, where you can watch movies and hosted shows that you missed when you had to do something else . Ace has once again outdone himself and I have to ask myself: “How in the hell can one man do all this?” Well, I stopped asking this question when I found out that Ace was actually an alien , who does everything he puts his mind to. The VOD channel has approximately one third of the films shown on the channel as well as past and present hosted shows, some I came to the channel too late to enjoy. He also has three pro wrestling series and a lot of extras that you need to see to appreciate. If you have a Roku streaming player and a Roku account, just click HERE to install and enjoy entertainment like you never experienced before. Prepare to be blown away!
SEPTEMBER 11, 2020: Never forget. Nineteen years is still far too soon to forgive.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2020: Actress Diana Rigg died today of cancer at the age of 82. Dame Diana is very special to me because she was my very first childhood crush and that is something you never forget. I can still picture her in that sexy black leather outfit when she starred in THE AVENGERS in the mid-’60s with co-star Patrick Macnee. Not only was Dame Diana a very sexy woman, she was also a great actress, winning many awards for her thespian talents. Like Honor Blackman, whom she replaced on THE AVENGERS in 1965, Ms. Rigg went on to co-star in a James Bond film, one of my favorites, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE . She went on to star in such films as THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU , THE HOSPITAL , THEATRE OF BLOOD and EVIL UNDER THE SUN , just to mention a few. Fans of GAME OF THRONES will recognize her as “Olenna Tyrell”. I followed her career closely and since she appeared quite often on my local PBS station on MASTERPIECE THEATRE , she was the sole reason why I pledged money to the channel. I don’t want to sound crass on this very sad day, but Diana Rigg was the first woman to give me an erection at my very young age. That’s also something you never forget. Rest well Dame Diana.
SEPTEMBER 03, 2020: Just a reminder that my favorite series of 2019, THE BOYS , returns to Amazon Prime tomorrow for Season 2. If you want to know why it is my favorite series of 2019, even though I really despise superhero shows, click HERE to discover the answer. This is one crazy-ass action series, with many scenes of blood, gore and sex that you never see in any ordinary superhero series. Some scenes from Season 1 still stand out in my mind , not only because of the action, but also for the acting. This is a first class show all the way and I can’t wait to see what Season 2 holds in store for the viewer. It should be kick-ass! The first three episodes will be available on September 4th, with the remaining five episodes being released weekly.
SEPTEMBER 01, 2020: I was saddened to hear that porn star/genre film actor Ron Jeremy has been charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office with over twenty charges of rape and sexual misconduct. I have been a verbal supporter of Jeremy’s genre acting career , but if these charges are valid, I can no longer give him any support. Here’s how it reads: “Prosecutors added another 20 sexual assault counts against porn star Ron Jeremy the L.A. County DA’s Office announced . Jeremy faces 6 counts of sexual battery by restraint, 5 counts of forcible rape, 3 counts of forcible oral copulation, 2 count of forcible penetration by a foreign object and 1 count each of sodomy, assault with intent to commit rape, penetration by a foreign object on an unconscious or sleeping victim and lewd conduct with a 15-year-old girl.” If these charges are true, I hope Jeremy gets the full punishment that the law allows. It’s unconscionable to think that a man of his stature would think he could get away with it, but I’ll reserve my opinion until I hear what Jeremy has to say about it. A lot of careers have been destroyed by false accusations and I hope that this is another example and not the actual truth. Yet a part of me believes the charges to be true. I hope I’m wrong.
AUGUST 28, 2020: I am finally Corona Virus-free! After nearly six long weeks, I was finally told I could leave my apartment and enjoy life once again. Those of you who believe that this virus is nothing but a hoax don’t get any sympathy from me. You can believe what you please, but don’t you let me find you not wearing a mask in public, especially when other people are nearby. I’ll punch your lights out because you are putting many innocent people’s lives at risk. Being one who survived the virus, I can tell you it wasn’t easy and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but if you are stupid enough to go outside or into public places without wearing a mask, because you don’t “believe” in them , expect someone to tap you on the shoulder. That will be the last thing you remember for hours . It’s time we all started acting like thinking, breathing human beings who actually care about each other, not Trumpeteers who care for nothing except themselves. Stop acting like idiots! Full Disclosure: I caught the virus when videotaping a Black Lives Matter rally in my town. I always wear a mask when outside, but there were some Trump supporters protesting against the rally. And none of them were wearing masks. When I passed by them, a few of them tried to grab my camera away from me, telling me I had no permission to film them, causing me to push their skanky, disease-ridden bodies off me. It’s the only way I could have caught the virus because I am always careful about what I do.
AUGUST 01, 2020: I know I have fallen behind in most things on this site, such as reviews and keeping up with the obituary section, due to me being infected with Covid-19, but I can’t help report that director Alan Parker and actor Wilford Brimley have passed away. Alan Parker was a genius director who excelled at musicals, such as FAME and PINK FLOYD: THE WALL , as well as intriquing dramas, such as MIDNIGHT EXPRESS and MISSISSIPPI BURNING , both films in which he was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Director, not to mention the seriously fucked-up supernatural horror film ANGEL HEART . Wilford Brimley needs no introduction to CritCon, as he starred in James Bridge’s THE CHINA SYNDROME , John Carpenter’s THE THING , Ron Howard’s COCOON and John Woo’s HARD TARGET , among many other films. I often joked that Mr. Brimley was born old, as he has played old men for many, many years on screen. 2020 is becoming a year of death and pestilence, one of the worst years of my entire life and Alan Parker and Wilford Brimley leaving this planet only makes the year all the more worse. Goodbye gentlemen, it was nice having both of you around on this sick planet. UPDATE: Proving that Saturdays can be deadly, charactor actor Reni Santoni, who appeared in such films as THE STUDENT NURSES , DIRTY HARRY the TV movie PANIC ON THE 5:22 , BAD BOYS , COBRA and too many guest spots on TV Series to mention , passed away today at the age of 81 after being “sick for quite a while.” This is proving to be the worst year for celebrity deaths ever. I know I say it for most of the years I have been writing obituaries, but I really think this is a year like no other. And a completely awful August 1st.
JULY 25, 2020: I just learned that great actor John Saxon died of pneumonia today at the age of 83. Mr. Saxon needs no introduction to readers of this website, as he appeared in many films loved by everyone, be it Horror films , Actioners , Italian Eurocrime flicks , Giallo films , Science Fiction , too many TV guest appearances during the ’60s, ’70s & ’80s to count, and, of course, ENTER THE DRAGON . And let’s also not forget Mr. Saxon’s only directorial effort, the 1987 horror film DEATH HOUSE . John Saxon was one of those actors I thought would never die because he had a very tough exterior that would scare even the Grim Reaper. At least we have his tremendous film and TV output to entertain us in the years to come. Goodbye John Saxon. I was one of your many loyal fans and I will always remain one. Oh, by the way, Regis Philbin also died today at the age of 88 of natural causes. There was a time about 20 years ago when you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing Mr. Philbin. He hosted game shows, had his own morning talk show and was a frequent guest on many TV series and late night entertainment programs. He had no problem making fun of himself, which is what made him popular with audiences, including myself. This is a very sad day in history. R.I.P. John Saxon and Regis Philbin. God is going to have his hands full with you two! UPDATE: Even more bad news on this awful Saturday. Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving cast member of GONE WITH THE WIND , passed away today at the age of 104. Ms. de Havilland won the Academy Award® two times and recently was involved in a lawsuit against the makers of the TV mini-series FEUD: BETTE & JOAN for the bitchy way she was portrayed in the series, which she found unfair and libelous . Nonetheless, Olivia de Havilland was a courageous woman who supported our troops during World War II and was involved in many humanitarian causes. Readers of this site know her primarily for her roles in LADY IN A CAGE , HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE , AIRPORT ’77 , THE SWARM and the TV Movie MURDER IS EASY .
JULY 13, 2020: More sad news to report. Actress Kelly Preston, the wife of John Travolta for nearly 29 years, has passed away after battling breast cancer for the past two years. She was only 57-years-old. I really don’t care what you think about John Travolta , as he has been through some very rough times, losing his and Kelly’s son Jett after he suffering a seizure in 2009 at the age of sixteen and also losing his girlfriend, actress Diana Hyland, to cancer in 1977. Mr. Travolta has been through a lot and I send my condolences to him, his family and Kelly’s family at this most sad time.
JULY 6, 2020: It is with extreme sadness that I report that music soundtrack master Ennio Morricone passed away today at the age of 91. Mr. Morricone taught everyone that a proper music score actually enhanced the film experience, as he scored over 500 films. Everyone has their favorite Morricone score, from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY to John Carpenter’s THE THING , right up to his Academy Award®-winning score to Quentin Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT . My favorite Morricone music score was for Sergio Leone’s DUCK YOU SUCKER , which was one of the most romantic music scores my ears ever heard. I watch this film at least once a year and the score never fails to tug at my heart. Mr. Morricone was nominated for an Academy Award® another five times and was awarded an Academy Award Honorary Award® in 2007 “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”, which was well deserved. His contributions to film scoring were unsurpassed. He always managed to give the film music he scored a “hook” that would become earworms to all film and music lovers and he worked on many films that were made memorable by his music scores. He scored everything from A-list Hollywood films to many Italian genre films that most people would consider “minor” . Everything he touched was greatly improved by his music. I could go on and on about Mr. Morricone’s film scores, but I’ll leave that for his obituary, which I am working on at this moment. We lost a musical genius today and the world will never be the same, especially when it comes to film music scores. Rest In Peace, Ennio Morricone.
JULY 3, 2020: In the mail today, I received my 3-disc Blu-Ray box set titled FORGOTTEN GIALLI from Vinegar Syndrome . I was quite impressed with the box set, as the box itself is hard cardboard and not that cheap thin cardboard that many other companies consider as a “box” set. Inside the set are three little-known giallo films, only one of which I heard of before . The films in this set are THE KILLER IS ONE OF THIRTEEN ; THE POLICE ARE BLUNDERING IN THE DARK and Leon Klimovsky’s TRAUMA , all available on home video for the first time in the United States. The set was a little expensive , but well worth it. All-in-all, a nice little package and since this is Volume One, I guess I can look forward to other sets in the future if this one sells well, so get over to Vinegar Syndrome’s website and order yours! I look forward to reviewing the films very soon. Well done, Vinegar Syndrome, well done!
JUNE 28, 2020: Amazon bares their greedy teeth once again. Not only did they ruin the look and feel of IMDb, as their homepage is a horrendous mix of blocky images and useless links, now they have made their images proprietary. No longer can you copy and paste any images that you find connected to any film title, as they have taken away that “luxury”. I find that highly greedy and superflous because many of their images have come from my website and I make all my images freely available to everyone should they need them for any reason. Maybe I should have my lawyer send a cease and desist letter to Amazon, forbidding them to use any of my images? I mean, it’s only fair, since they “steal” images from my site and don’t make them freely available to anyone who would want them. Not only is Amazon ruining IMDb, they are turning it into a store rather than a website full of valuable information. Amazon, come to your fucking senses and stop ruining the Internet with your greed! Don’t you make enough money as it is? And, really, all I have to do is a Google search, where I can grab your images there. it’s an extra step for me, but you are not getting away with anything. It’s just pure corporate greed, plain and simple. UPDATE: Amazon apparently saw the error of their ways and reverted back to their old selves when it comes to images. This after one day! I guess they got the message. UPDATE #2: It’s proprietary again! This time it looks permanent. Fuck you Amazon.
JUNE 26, 2020: Once again, I must take issue with YouTube’s new commercial policy. Last night, I was watching TEN DEAD MEN on YouTube, a violent and bloody British actioner, and it was interrupted fifteen times for 5-second and fifteen-second commercials! Some people have told me that they haven’t been experiencing this practice yet and I only wished I was them. Not only are these short commercials intrusive, they appear without any rhyme or reason, most of them happening in the middle of a fight scene, taking me right out of the film. I know YouTube has to make money, but they are becoming much worse than Network TV with their commercials. Sure, they are shorter, but they are just as bothersome, if not more so, than the longer commercials on Network TV, because they appear much more frequently . YouTube, get your act together or you are going to lose a very good customer in yours truly. Why is it that these “new improvements” are only good for the company and not the viewer? Because YouTube want’s to become another network channel, that’s why! It’s the user who suffers, not YouTube. First YouTube “cleaned house”, deleting a lot of excellent long-standing movie channels on their site and now they are doing this shit. Wise up YouTube and quit ruining the Internet! JUNE 20, 2020: I would like to thank Steven Jackson, CritCon’s newest reviewer, for being so influential to me the past few years. He was the main reason why I switched to reviewing EuroFilms, mainly genre films from Italy, thanks to his humorous writing style and knowledge . I could never hope to see the sheer amount of films he has seen from the country shaped like a boot. I always wanted him to write for Critical Condition, yet I was always too scared to ask him . A couple of weeks ago, I finally pulled the trigger, asked him and he accepted! Steven decided to write reviews to films that were not in my wheelhouse. In other words, films I wouldn’t touch with a TEN FOOT POLE . If you want to learn, laugh and wet your pants , read Steven’s reviews of films very few people have seen. He covers all the genres I usually don’t write reviews for, be it Animation, Comedy and films about Sports. He also writes about films in genres I do cover, including Horror, Action, Sci-Fi, Martial Arts and Westerns, but they are films that I would never think of reviewing for reasons only known to me and Steven . Steven has a “voice” unlike any writer today and if you don’t laugh when reading his reviews, then you, my friend, have no sense of humor at all. I would like to welcome Steven to Critical Condition. He adds that extra “something” missing from this website for the past twenty years. You’ll know what that “something” is when you read his reviews.
JUNE 10, 2020: I know I’m going to catch some flak for saying this, but I feel it must be said. While the murder of George Floyd is a worldwide tragedy, I believe we have taken it a little too far in the protest department. TV Shows such as COPS and LIVEPD have been taken off the air or canceled, GONE WITH THE WIND has been deleted from HBOMAX and people are getting fired from TV shows or their jobs because of past “racially offensive” tweets from years ago, all because of the George Floyd murder. It reminds me of what happened after 9-11, when songs were banned from radio, movies showing the World Trade center were taken off TV and people were scared for their lives, blaming all Muslims for the crimes. Different circumstances, same mindset. I don’t believe defunding the police or even going as far as to delete police departments from cities is the answer, because, believe me, there are criminal elements out there who live for these situations and will take advantage of them. No police means lawlessness. And lawlessness means more loss of lives. Let’s train our police officers to be a little more racially acceptive. Not all officers are like the ones who murdered or assisted in the murder of Mr. Floyd. Let’s not punish the masses for the sins of the few.
JUNE 5, 2020: I would like to thank Ken “Ace” Brewer and Meri Gyetvay for mentioning my name and the name of my website on MERI DETH’S SUBBED AND DUBBED HORRORFEST tonight on B-Movie TV when they aired the film MAGDALENA – POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL ! It was the first time my name and the name of my website were ever mentioned on any TV channel and also the first time my website address was flashed on screen! It came as a complete surprise to me and it is just another reason why I love this channel so much. Meri even pronounced my last name correctly, one of the very few people to do so. This just proved to me that no matter how old you are , you can be pleasantly surprised by the kindness of people. If you have never watched B-Movie TV and you have a Roku streaming player, you don’t know what you are missing!
MAY 31; 2020: Is anyone surprised by the protesting and violence caused by the unnecessary death of George Floyd? People have been cooped up in their houses for two months and this one single violent action caused them to leave their homes and protest. Yes, some of the protests have turned violent and I blame that on people who are using this as an excuse to loot and pillage. They always come out during times like this, but this is actually a once-in-a-lifetime experience for this planet. People have to remember that COVID-19 is still not on the wane and their protests may bring a spike in the virus for a second round. I have seen many protesters not wearing masks and that is wrong. This isn’t fake, as the President and the Republican majority wants you to believe, this is real and many innocent people are dying from this virus. If you are going to protest the death of George Floyd, please remember that the person next to you not wearing a mask may have the virus and when you go home, you will spread it to your family and friends. This virus doesn’t attack indiscriminately, it affects everyone, so please be careful and wear a mask when you are outside. This way, everyone is protected. The last thing we need is the protests causing more unnecessary deaths. Also, please remember that not all police are as violent and unfeeling as the one who put the knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. The vast majority of them are actually doing it for the sake of the innocent. They care about people. But, I still defend the right to protest, because, as they say: “To be silent is to be complicit.”
MAY 29, 2020: A big “FUCK YOU!!!” to YouTube for forcibly inserting commercials during any program you watch. I’m use to seeing commercials before or after a program, but to insert them willy-nilly during any film or short-form program you may be watching is inexcusable, making YouTube no better than network or basic cable TV. There seems to be no rhyme or reason in their insertion of commercials. I was watching a 12-minute paranormal program and it was interrupted 3 times for commercials! And any film I may watch on YT is interrupted at least a dozen times. I know programs like YouTube are privately owned companies, but their greed and passion for making money off the backs of honest people just trying to entertain us is beyond the pale. A few people have told me that they haven’t experienced it yet, so this may be a pilot program, but, even if it is, there is no need to force commercials on anyone, earning YouTube a second big FUCK YOU!!! And here’s another big eff you to YouTube for permanently deleting long-standing channels such as “Giallo Realm”, “Eurocrime Realm” and “Horror Realm”. Why delete the channels permanently? If they are showing films they don’t have a license to, block those, but don’t completely delete the channel! That’s putting the cart before the horse. I use to enjoy YouTube, but now it’s becoming too much of a chore to endure. And it’s not gone unnoticed by me that they did it during the COVID-19 pandemic, fully knowing that they have a captive audience. Bad medicine, YouTube, bad medicine.
MAY 28, 2020: After several months of posting nothing but short DTV reviews, due to my internet connection being spotty because everyone is working from home, I’m glad to report that I have finally posted my first full-length review, this one being for the film SPECTERS ! My internet connection has been stable for the past week, giving me the impetus to start posting new reviews every other day. I have at least fifty new full-length reviews that need to be posted, since I never stopped writing reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. I literally have two 150-page notebooks full of new handwritten reviews, all of them for Euro or Italian genre films, some you may have heard of and a lot you haven’t! I’m a little rusty at this, so please be patient with me as I get myself re-acclimated to posting long reviews again. And, as always, thanks to my veteran readers for sticking with me. I know it wasn’t easy during this time of uncertainty, but I appreciated your emails, especially when they are full of information that may have skipped my attention. So thanks, Steven, Michael, William and everyone else out there that took the time to write me. Oh, and this message is for Edward J. McKenney: Thanks for your postcard, but I don’t have a DVD catalogue to send you! I never take money for any film I review. It keeps me grounded and honest.  I do have a library of films that just passed the 7,000 mark, but none of those films are for sale. I’m a collector and always will be! It’s both a gift and a curse. Any collector can understand that. I will continue posting shorter DTV reviews, but not with the regularity that I have been doing for the past few months. In other words, I’m back to normal business, baby!
MAY 16, 2020: I am saddened to learn of the passing of Fred Willard yesterday, one of my favorite deadpan comedians of all time, dead at the age of 86 from natural causes. The mutiple award-nominated Willard got his start with the improvisational comedy troupe The Ace Trucking Company and worked his way to a career as a comedic actor and even a dramatic actor. But it was his deadpan humor that won me over, especially when he was allowed to rip with his improvising. No one did it better and he could make you laugh so hard, you would have to change your pants because you peed yourself. No one could deliver a joke like him, no one. I was surprised to read that he was 86-years-old, because he seemed ageless to me. He kept on working until the day he passed away, even after losing his wife of 50 years, Mary, in 2018. I send my condolences to Mr. Willard’s family. He was one in a billion and can never be replaced. R.I.P. Fred Willard, with over 500 film and TV credits to his name. You will be missed greatly.
APRIL 25, 2020: A very special Happy Birthday to one of my favorite people in this entire fucked-up world, Ken “Ace” Brewer , the genius creator of the Roku-only streaming channel B-Movie TV, 53-years-old today. Being trapped in my apartment for the past four weeks, Ace and his channel has kept me from going stark raving mad, thanks to the choice of films he plays all hours of the day and night. As readers of this site know, B-Movie TV has replaced most of my TV watching, keeping me focused on films from the ’70s, ’80s & ’90s. I know I’m always singing B-Movie TV’s praises, but it’s not something that I do lightly. There is NOTHING like this channel streaming today; it’s a trip back to kinder, more wilder, times that brings a rush of nostalgia to a senile old brain such as mine, reminding me of things that happened in my life that I thought I have totally forgotten. And for that I say this to Ace: I consider you a brother I wish I had when growing up. I really can’t say more than that. Enjoy your day, Ace, and I hope you enjoy a thousand more birthdays to come. You are my hero.
APRIL 18, 2020: The last thing I want to do is sound like an alarmist, but for three weeks I, and everyone in my apartment building, have been under forced quarantine. We are not allowed to leave our apartments. While I understand why this is being done , the fact of the matter is we are not allowed to go grocery shopping, depending on grocery stores to deliver. We only have one grocery store in our town that delivers, ShopRite, but since everyone is self isolating, delivery times have been backed up for over two weeks and we can’t get an open stot for a delivery. Even if we can, nearly 3/4 of our order will be out of stock, so we must go to the store and pick out alternatives, but we are not allowed to, as we have police cars parked outside the front and back of our apartment building, stopping people from going in and stopping people from leaving. Here’s my conundrum: I don’t want to act like those idiotic protesters in Michigan, who are causing traffic jams and putting other people’s lives at risk, but if we are put under forced quarantine, the least they can do is feed us, not let us starve. And we are going hungry . Personally, I can only eat one meal a day, so I can ration the food I do have and I am tired of having pizza and sub sandwiches delivered from the only restaurant in town that will deliver . All we are asking is to be treated like human beings, but we are being ignored by everyone , like we are disposable. Never in a million years did I ever consider that we would be treated this way , but if one family in this building suffers, there will be hell to pay and I would be more than happy to dish it out. If things don’t change and soon, things are going to turn ugly. We are The Forgotten during this strange time in our planet’s history. This should never happen. We are not asking for a handout, we are asking to be treated like ordinary people.
APRIL 16, 2020: For Christ’s sake, will someone make this stop? Not only have I been trapped in my apartment for three weeks and I just got notice that I will be here for three more weeks before allowed to leave, but I then find out that one of my favorite actors, Brian Dennehy, passed away yesterday, not from the virus, but of “natural causes”. Mr. Dennehy turned in many excellent performances and was a Golden Globe® and Tony Award® winner, so it’s sad to lose him at such an awful time in the world’s history. I will be giving him his due in an obituary I am currently working on, but it will take a couple of days to complete it. I remember almost crying at his performance on a LAW AND ORDER: SVU episode titled “Scheherazade” back in 2007. I, and a whole lot of people around the world, will miss him, because he never turned in a bad performance. R.I.P. Brian Dennehy, dead at the age of 81.
APRIL 14, 2020: R.I.P. Joel M. Reed, director of the infamous BLOODSUCKING FREAKS , dead at the age of 86, another victim of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Too many people are dying from this virus and it never had to be this way, but I’m not going to make Mr. Reed’s death a political statement. It’s hard to believe he only directed six films, but he’s done so much more than make films. Look for an obituary tomorrow.
APRIL 13, 2020: Remember when I mentioned Full Moon’s new film CORONA ZOMBIES , which was released streaming on April 10, 2020? Well, those who are looking for a worthwhile new film have a big surprise coming. My friend Michael Prymula emailed me to share this important bit of information about the film: “You thought the idea of this film couldn’t get any worse? Well guess what? The “film” is almost nothing but footage of HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBIES VS. STRIPPERS with terrible overdubbed dialogue thrown in and only about 5 minutes of original footage like seriously what a fucking rip-off! I can’t remember the last time ANY film pulled a bullshit stunt like that, like when the film was announced I was willing to give it a shot because I don’t think any subject should be off limits for a film, but once I found out what a rip-off and lie this movie was…… So I’d recommend letting people know about this rip-off of a film on the front page as a PSA so people don’t get fooled into wasting money on this, much as I love Full Moon this feels depressingly cynical and calculated on their part and I hope they don’t do it again in the future.” So there you have it, Charles Band, once again, is pulling a scam on his audience! Show your disapproval by not renting or buying this film! Shame, shame on Charles Band and Full Moon for pulling the old bait and switch on an audience hungry for a new film. Taking advantage of an audience trapped in their homes is unforgivable and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. Thanks for alerting us to this scam, Michael! UPDATE: So what’s next for Charles Band and his rip-off company? That’s right, a “sequel” to this film, titled BARBIE & KENDRA SAVE THE TIGER KING , set to premiere May 15th. I wonder what Italian cannibal films Band will steal footage from? UPDATE #2: According to my Facebook friend Stephen Burt, the films this movie cribs footage from are TERROR IN THE JUNGLE and LUANA, THE GIRL TARZAN .
APRIL 01, 2020: This is no April Fool’s Day joke, folks, as I have decided, for the time being, to stop posting full reviews and concentrate on posting short reviews in my DTV Section , which I have been ignoring for a long time. The reason I am doing this is simple. Since everyone is working from home during this time of the COVID-19 crisis, my internet speed has been drastically reduced and is downright spotty at times. When I try to upload one of my usual long reviews, it stops mid-upload, causing the page I uploaded the review to to be incomplete and I have to recreate it, which takes a lot of time. It doesn’t happen with shorter DTV reviews, though, which is why I am now concentrating on them for the moment. Don’t worry, I have literally dozens of DTV reviews to post, so keep checking those pages for updates, where you can read my reviews for THE MYSTERY OF LOVECRAFT: ROAD TO L. , THE WICKEDS , DEVIL IVY , FREAKSHOW , DARKPLACE , THE EXPEDITION , KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE , DR. SLEEPLESS , ONE-EYED MONSTER , SPRING BREAK MASSACRE , THE HORSEMAN , TEN DEAD MEN , S.N.U.B! , ROOM 33 , SINNER , SMILE , BACKLIGHT , THE BUCKS COUNTY MASSACRE , THE PENITENT MAN , LIZARD BOY , MANBORG , THE HAUNTING OF FOX HOLLOW FARM , BLOODY BLOODY BIBLE CAMP , VENOM , ALIEN EXORCISM , DIABLO , MASKS , INBRED , CHEMICAL PEEL , HOUSE HUNTING , PARANORMAL ISLAND , SPECTER , 6 DEGREES OF HELL , SORORITY PARTY MASSACRE , WRATH OF THE CROWS , THE BELL WITCH HAUNTING , ANTISOCIAL , ALIEN HUNGER , THE HIVE , IF I TELL YOU…I HAVE TO KILL YOU , THE EDITOR , DOLL FACTORY , the LAKE FEAR trilogy , BLOOD MOON , 13 SINS , PICKAXE , THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN , THE SCAREHOUSE , CHARLIE’S FARM , UNION FURNACE , CONTRACT KILLERS , INNER DEMON , CIRCUS OF THE DEAD , THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT , BAT OUTTA HELL , KUNG FU KILLER , THE QUIET HOUR , INSANE , CHATTER , DEATHGASM , CHILD EATER , BONE TOMAHAWK , CONTAINMENT , AFTERDEATH , HELL HOUSE LLC. , BEYOND THE GATES , DEATH’S DOOR , THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET , THE CHAIR , ENCOUNTER , BUDDY HUTCHINS , FURY OF THE DEMON , MOONTRAP: TARGET EARTH , 911: OFFICER DOWN , GHOSTLINE , WELCOME TO WILLITS , TERRIFIER , HAUNTED , BOONE: THE BOUNTY HUNTER , THE SHADOW PEOPLE , THE EVIL WITHIN , RED CHRISTMAS , PHANTASM: RAVAGER , ONE BY ONE , I HAD A BLOODY GOOD TIME AT HOUSE HARKER , HOTEL OF THE DAMNED , DEVIL’S GATE , MY LITTLE SISTER , PATIENT 62 , ISLAND ZERO , THE BARN , BRACKENMORE , RANGE 15 , CAROUSHELL , PATIENT SEVEN , I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE , RAVENSWOOD , ALL THE WRONG FRIENDS , BLOODRUNNERS , OUIJA 3: THE CHARLIE CHARLIE CHALLENGE , CHECK POINT , SURVIVAL GAME , LOST & FOUND: THE TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY OF SILVER SCREEN CINEMA PICTURES INTERNATIONAL , COLD GROUND , BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 , THE NIGHT WATCHMAN , MOM AND DAD , SIGHTINGS , THE UNWILLING , CIRCUS KANE , ULTIMATE JUSTICE , DIE IN ONE DAY , WOLF WARRIOR 2 , FIRST HOUSE ON THE HILL , WISH UPON , DEAD ANT , ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM , GHOST STORIES , DEVIL 2.0 , EAT LOCALS , DAVE MADE A MAZE , THE TERROR OF HALLOW’S EVE , THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT 2 , MADAM YANKELOVA’S FINE LITERATURE CLUB , RED EYE – 2017, ONE NIGHT IN OCTOBER , THIS OLD MACHINE , THE FOLLOWER , GHASTLIES , BOOK OF MONSTERS , HALLOWEEN , CLOWN MOTEL , HEREDITARY , BUS PARTY TO HELL , STRANGE NATURE , THE PUNISHED , OVERLORD , BLACK WAKE , SUSPIRIA , EXPOSURE , ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST FILM EVER MADE , HIGH MOON , BLOOD FEST , CLOWNADO , ROAD TO HELL , HALLOWEEN AT AUNT ETHEL’S , IT CAME FROM THE DESERT , ENCOUNTER , BLOOD BAGS , ANNIHILATION , CLINTON ROAD , FLIGHT 666 , POSSUM , DEATH KISS , THE JURASSIC GAMES , DEAD SQUAD: TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD , PUMPKINS , THE LEASE , THE MUSIC BOX , ABRAKADABRA , H0US3 , PARANORMAL DEMONS , MIMESIS: NOSFERATU , WEST OF HELL , WARNING SHOT , US , CANDY CORN , THE PRODIGY , THE NIGHT SITTER , 3 FROM HELL , THE BUTCHER , LITTLE MONSTERS , GAGS THE CLOWN , THE DUSTWALKER , THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA , TRICK , ITSY BITSY , KNIVES OUT THE TOMBS , GLASS , PET SEMATARY , GUNS AKIMBO , VIVARIUM , DEVIL’S REVENGE , BIG TOP EVIL ,  AGRAMON’S GATE , BUTT BOY , UNDERWATER , READY OR NOT , TABERNACLE 101 , THE HUNT , ART OF THE DEAD , CRAWLERS , REDWOOD MASSACRE: ANNIHILATION , STUCK – TRAPPED IN THE DARK , UNCLE PECKERHEAD , ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK , ATTACK OF THE UNKNOWN , CANNIBAL TROLL , DOLL HOUSE , BARNEY BURMAN’S WILD BOAR , DETECTION OF DI RENJIE , MALIGNANT , HALLOWEEN KILLS , and many others. The majority of these titles can be found streaming on Amazon Prime or other pay streaming services . I will  get back to posting full reviews when this pandemic goes on the wane, which I hope is very, very soon. Until then, stay at home and watch lots of movies! UPDATE: April 4, 2020: Many more titles added! UPDATE: April 6, 2020: Even more titles added! UPDATE: APRIL 11, 2020: A lot more titles added! UPDATE: April 30, 2020: Even more titles added. Nearly 100 new reviews in less than a month! UPDATE: JULY 18, 2020: I’m still adding even more titles to this list. The pandemic is not over yet, but I am also posting full-length reviews, too! UPDATE: AUGUST 15 2020: I’m still at it! UPDATE: OCTOBER 26, 2020: Ditto! UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2020: It doesn’t look like the pandemic is going to end any time soon, so I’m going to keep adding them. I love doing it, no matter how good or bad they are! UPDATE: DECEMBER 2020: The pandemic rages on, so I do, too . You are all getting spoiled! UPDATE: MAY 2021 : Thanks to President Biden and the organized rollout of the vaccine, we seem to have the pandemic under control, but I’m still going to list all the new DTV flicks I review right here. People seem to like it, so why should I change? Enjoy! UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 2021: Still churning ’em out!
MARCH 27, 2020: I would like to thank Aaron M. Poe, a.k.a. “Mr. Poe”, for giving this website some exposure on his podcast A PODCAST FROM BENEATH . Mr. Poe’s podcast is one of the very few that I subscribe to, as it is very informative and downright enjoyable to experience. Aaron and cohorts Carey and Billy talk about all types of genre films and he also has his own show on B-Movie TV, “Mr. Poe’s Sci-Fi Sideshow”, every Sunday night at 8:00 PM, where he airs some classic Sci-Fi films. Do yourself a favor and tune into his podcast using your app of choice and watch his show on B-Movie TV . You will not be disappointed!
MARCH 24, 2020: Here is a message to all people: Quit hoarding food and think of those less fortunate than you. I went to two grocery stores today and I could find nothing of substance to eat on any of the shelves in both stores. They were sold out of nearly 90% of stock and didn’t know when they would be able to restock. All I was able to pick up was some soda and milk. I couldn’t even find any breakfast cereal or eggs. Hey, I’m not one of those “less fortunate” people, so I will find some way to buy food, but we have to think about those who lost their jobs and have very little money to spend on things they need, such as food to stay alive. Not being able to pick up what they need at the local grocery store is going to stretch their very thin budget to the breaking point. As a society, we have to stop being selfish and stop hoarding. We all will survive if we just think about everyone, not just ourselves. Shop like you normally do and quit shopping like the Apocalypse is coming. If we all do this, we all survive. STOP BEING SELFISH!
MARCH 17, 2020: I received this badly-worded email yesterday tagged “MESSAGE FROM JOHN”: My name is John Blair i am 20 years of age and a professional NFL player, I have tested positive for the coronavirus presently on isolation under the supervision of professional doctors, my girl friend and best friend died last week no family left and just yesterday the doctors confirmed i have a couple of days left. Therefore i am in search of an honest, reliable and sincere person, to help me give my life savings of US$4.6 Million to all the coronavirus isolation control hospital this is to help in the fight against this virus. Although i only got your contact from the internet but i ask if you can be trusted to do this because it took me a little time to make up my mind to contact you and to offer you this proposal which many life depends so if you can help get back to me as quickly as possible. Thank you…John. Anyone who falls for this disgusting act of cyber crime deserves to be picked clean. And “John” should be hung by his short hairs and set on fire for delivering a new version of the Nigerian Prince scam during this scary time. Most level-headed people would not fall for this, but, as my country has proven time and time again, there’s not too many level-headed people left. People, just don’t fall for this shit. I shouldn’t have to tell you that, but in this time of uncertainty and fear, I thought it was my duty to make you aware of it. Peace. UPDATE: If that’s not bad enough, look what Charles Band and Full Moon Pictures are releasing in the very near future: CORONA ZOMBIES ! No one ever accused Band of having good taste.
FEBRUARY 28, 2020: Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before the coronavirus begins infecting people in the United States. Over 65 people have already been diagnosed with it here and more cases are being reported daily. But, if we are to listen to our psychotic President, it’s not such a big deal, as, according to him, only 15 people in the U.S. have been infected with it and nearly all of them are getting better. He seems more interested in the Stock Market falling due to the coronavirus outbreak than he is in human lives . We have to stop listening to his lies, because he thinks if he keeps repeating those lies long enough, people will believe him. And some people loyal to him are! He has put a muzzle on the CDC and other health organizations, including his own health czar, so they cannot tell us the truth. It will be at least twelve to eighteen months until we have some type of vaccine to combat this , so be careful out there, but don’t be like our President. Don’t believe a word he says because he is incapable of telling the truth. The United States has sunk to a country of despair thanks to this President . He doesn’t care about human lives. He only cares about money, as the Stock Market falling means less money for him and his businesses. President Liar is incapable of running a country during a crisis, or even without a crisis. Remember this come voting time, that is, if we survive until then! I’m not kidding about this, folks! UPDATE: Over 180 people have been infected in the U.S. with nine reported deaths so far and it is increasing exponentially every passing day. While President Liar sits on his orange hands, residents across the country are panicking, surgical masks and hand sanitizer is sold out at every store and people are making hard decisions, such as the newest James Bond film being moved back from this coming April to November , sports outings are being canceled, schools closed, nightly live late-night programs being taped without an audience and yearly film festivals are being postponed or outright canceled, all because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. President Liar has put the least qualified person, Vice President Dunce, in charge of this disaster , as his record on health care is abominable , and the President keeps going on TV and lying to us all, giving us wrong numbers, wrong “facts” and wrong decisions . Quit listening to this man or we all are going to die! Trust yourself to make the right decisions. This virus is going to grind this country to a halt, as it is already doing to other countries around the world. This is our wake-up call. Answer it!
FEBRUARY 24, 2020: A jury has found sleazebag Harvey Weinstein guilty of of sexual assault and third-degree rape, which could get him 29 years behind bars, yet the jury also decided not to believe Annabella Sciorra’s testimony that Weinstein had raped and assaulted her at her Gramercy Park apartment in the early 1990s. I believe this is nothing but the jury trying their best to seem “fair and balanced”, even though they knew Weinstein actually did rape Sciorra and would put the scumbag behind bars for life. Juries have to realize that there is no such thing as partitioning their “fairness”. Weinstein was a pig, who used his fame and wealth to rape and assault women, including Sciorra. At least the judge in this case is making Weinstein stay in prison until his sentencing hearing in March of this year. Let’s hope he serves the maximum  and gets the same treatment in prison that he handed women when he was free. I just hope his money doesn’t earn him a minimum sentence. My heart goes out to Annabella Sciorra, who was brave enough to tell the truth, yet made to look like a liar by the jury’s split verdict. I only hope this doesn’t stop women from testifying in their own rape cases. I also hope that Weinstein’s vicious lawyers never get paid. Their treatment of Sciorra and other women who testified can politely be called inhumane. UPDATE: Harvey Weinstein complained of chest pains while being driven to prison and was instantly hospitalized…in a prison ward of the hospital. Oh, no, Harvey. You don’t get off that easy. Your pain will be much greater in prison, but the pain will not be in your chest . UPDATE #2: March 11, 2020: Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison, even though his scumbag lawyers were asking for five years, citing Weinstein was involved in many charitable organizations while awaiting his trial. Thankfully, the judge presiding over this case didn’t buy this load of horseshit and sentenced the rapey Weinstein to nearly the maximum sentence. Even Weinstein’s closing statements to the judge and his victims was a weak mea culpa. Weinstein will probably die in prison, but are we to feel sorry for him? Hell no! My faith has been restored in the U.S. justice system, even though Weinstein’s scumbag lawyers plan to appeal the sentence.
FEBRUARY 19, 2020: LIFE IS STRANGE DEPT.: For those who have read my review of the incomplete workprint of GRIZZLY 2: THE PREDATOR and thought to yourself, “Man, I would love to see that film completed!”, I’ve got good news for you. Believe it or not, the film’s original producer, Suzanne Csikos Nagy, finished the film! It’s now called GRIZZLY II: REVENGE and had it’s world premiere theatrical showing in Los Angeles on February 17, 2020! From what I have read, only fifteen people showed up for the screening and half of them were crewmembers who worked on the film, but that can be blamed on poor marketing. If you want to read more about the filming of the missing scenes and a re-worked screenplay, you can go to the official website here: www.grizzly2revenge.com . When it is officially released on Blu-ray and DVD, look for a revised review. Until that happens, just remember this: Sooner or later, everything gets completed, even if it takes nearly 40 years! .
FEBRUARY 10, 2020: Ken “Ace” Brewer, who runs the always entertaining Roku channel B-MOVIE TV, has given it a major update, adding new shows and streaming a lot of films new to the channel. I know that I am always praising Ace and his baby, but this time he has outdone himself. If you haven’t experienced the greatness that is B-MOVIE TV, all you need is a Roku streaming player to watch this fantastic channel. There is some great shit airing here, including hosted series that show martial arts films , action films from the ’80s & ’90s , Subtitled and English dubbed horror films , regular horror films science fiction flicks softcore sex and sleaze films with a touch of topless nudity and even Ace’s long-running series . There’s always something new on every day of the week , so what are you waiting for? Catch the wave that is B-MOVIE TV!
FEBRUARY 05, 2020: I mourn the passing of Kirk Douglas, dead today at the amazing age of 103. Kirk Douglas was, hands down, one of my favorite actors of all time, his dimpled chin and razor-sharp eyes reaching through the screen and either grabbing you by the throat or by the heart with his amazing performances. And not just in genre films that I mention or review on this site, such as 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA , HOLOCAUST 2000 , THE FURY , SATURN 3 , THE FINAL COUNTDOWN or EDDIE MACON’S RUN , but also classic films, like OUT OF THE PAST , DETECTIVE STORY , LUST FOR LIFE , GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL , PATHS OF GLORY , and SPARTACUS . Douglas was an actor who could do anything and do it with flair. Later in his life, after having a major stroke and being paralyzed on the right side of his body, losing his power of speech , Douglas became a best selling author with the release of “The Ragman’s Son”, an autobiography of his life and several more books. I give my heartfelt condolances to the entire Douglas family , including son Michael Douglas, on the loss of a great man and humanitarian. Look for an obituary very soon. UPDATE: It is also my sad duty to report the deaths of actors Kevin Conway , Robert Conrad and ILSA, SHE-WOLF OF THE SS herself, Dyanne Thorne , who passed away in late January, but I just found out today. Her death wasn’t reported in any of the entertainment websites or even in Variety itself. It’s a shame when we forget the people who entertained us in our youth. One thing you can count on: I will never forget!
JANUARY 20, 2020: Well, folks, IMDb has done it again, only this time they didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot, they also put the pistol to their temple and pulled the trigger. Yes, these wonderful folks at IMDb have “improved” their homepage so that it looks like a bastardized version of Netflix, or better yet, it looks like some teen tech puked it up after drinking too much Mountain Dew. IMDb seems to be going all digital , which is strange for a site that thrives on printed information and what use to take one click of the mouse , now takes three clicks. Will someone please tell me how this is an improvement? I have just one thing to say to IMDb: Wise up, idiots! They put a newbie IMDb employee on the boards to deliver this news , so, of course, she will be the sacrificial lamb, but people who are a whole lot smarter than me can see where this is headed. IMDb wants to pull in the youth market, you know the ones, young adults who watch movies on their phones , and throw out all the veteran users of the site. Don’t let this happen. Voice your displeasure and let IMDb know that change doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of their home page. There’s change and then there’s CHANGE. How long before the entire site follows suit? UPDATE: Rather than complaining to IMDb , I urge everyone to take their complaints to Amazon, IMDb’s parent company, and tell Customer Service that you will give up your Prime membership if they don’t revert the homepage back to its previous incarnation. Customer Service will say that they can’t help you in this matter, but if enough people complain, they will have no choice but to listen and respond. IMDb now thinks of us as “customers” rather than “readers” or “users” and that is purely Amazon’s doing. Don’t let them turn IMDb into a streaming video service, rather than an informational movie database!
JANUARY 12, 2020: This new year is starting off on the wrong foot and if we don’t stop thinking like idiots, this could be the end of our planet. I am, of course, talking about people backing their party line, no matter how wrong it is. With the recent shooting down of a Ukraine airliner by Iran using Russia missles, how can this not be traced back to “President” Donald Trump’s actions regarding Iraq and Iran? Yet, Trump cronies keep insisting that their “savior” Trump is doing what any President would do. Really? Would any President do such a thing to get the peoples’ mind off his impeachment by having people “accidentally” killed? Wise up people and face the facts. Trump is nothing but a disgusting businessman who wants you to watch his right hand while his left one destroys the United States in ways we have never seen before. We are becoming a joke to the world and people hate us in ways we have never seen before. Think before you act or speak. Only common sense will defeat such an evil. It’s Trump’s worst enemy. I hate talking politics on this site, but it’s time to for me to speak my piece before my country and the world is destroyed by evil, twisted minds. And, yes, I am talking about the people who back Trump, no matter what he does or says. They are more dangerous than Trump himself, because they give Trump a feeling of invincibility. That is where his power lies. Lies ARE NOT the new truth! UPDATE: After the Senate hearings into Trump’s impeachment, all I have to say is this: Shame, shame on Republicans! This is no longer a country of truth and justice. It’s a country more interested in following party lines, letting a criminal get away with his crimes. Have you no shame? I hope people remember this treachery come election time, not only for the Presidency, but for every House and Senate Republicans’ careers. They have no place in this country, other than to destroy it. President Trump and Fox News have brainwashed a new generation of people who will believe everything that they say. It is a real sickness that needs to be wiped out, not by violence, but by instilling common sense back to their brains by whatever means possible.
JANUARY 04, 2020: My heart goes out to all my readers in Australia who are victims of the devasting bushfires that are happening there . Not only has it cost an unacceptable amount of human life , it also caused the deaths of countless amounts of wildlife indigenous to the area. It is estimated over 500,000 koala bears lost their lives in the fires and over half a billion other animals also perished. That alone makes these fires one of the worst events in the world in recent memory. I hope these fires are brought under control before it turns into something apocalyptic in Australia. For those who think this is no big deal: Shame on you! If you can, donate to the charity of your choice and state that you would like your money to benefit those affected by the bushfires. It’s the humane thing to do.
DECEMBER 28, 2019: After retaining control of this website, I have discovered that some images are missing and some sections are basically in ruins. I will try to fix all of them, but the ” A VISUAL HISTORY OF 80’S VIDEO COMPANIES” is shut down until f urther notice because nearly 50% of the images are missing and it will take me weeks, if not longer, to repair it. I can trace this back to ” T he G reat Hard Drive Failure of 2009″, where I lost tens of thousands of images. That day, I learned to back up all my data on media not a permanent part of my computer . So be patient with me. I’ll get to fixing all the errors as soon as possible. As always, if you see any errors, please email me and I’ll get to fixing them immediately! UPDATE: Everything is now fixed and up and running! Thanks for your patience.
DECEMBER 27, 2019: If you were wondering why this site was down for two weeks, it’s because my hosting site, Infinology, whom I was with since 2002, went out of business without giving anyone advance notice! Yes, these bastards took off with my money and just skipped out, closing all accounts, emails and everything else that goes with hosting, leaving every website they hosted in the lurch, just a few days before Christmas. I never really had any complaints about them in the past but what they did to everyone whom they hosted is an insult, as well as illegal. I sent them over a dozen “tickets” complaining about my site being down, all of them going unanswered. I only found out they skipped town from other websites who were also hosted by them. I hope I have more luck with my new website host, DreamHost, as they were very helpful migrating my site to their servers . I guess only time will tell, but their tech help was beyond reproach for me . Fuck, I’m just glad to be back! I was lost without this “little” website .
DECEMBER 06, 2019: What’s up with IMDb’s new “look”? Why did they feel that they had to fix something that wasn’t broken? Not only is their new look hard on the eyes for people with vision problems , they’ve also omitted some long-standing features, such as their poster gallery, which was one of my favorite features! I tried contacting techs at UPDATE: IMDb just closed my message board about the poster section, saying, “This conversation is no longer open for comments or replies.” A double “Fuck You!” IMDb! UPDATE #2: Well, they reverted their searchbar back to black type on a white background , but still no poster gallery.
NOVEMBER 30, 2019: For all my readers in the United States: Hulu , as they only play before the movie starts and after the movie ends, never during the movie. This is a terrific deal, especially if you are a movie lover. I just watched the insane Nicolas Cage film MOM AND DAD as well as the pretty good Hulu Original Movie LITTLE MONSTERS , which paid for my subcription alone for the month, as the Cage movie is on Amazon Prime for $3.99 and the Hulu Original Movie is only offered on Hulu . Jump on this offer as quick as you can, before it’s too late!
NOVEMBER 25, 2019: I know I always joke about how actress Tiffany Shepis is “My Girl”, but I have to get serious for a moment. A. Michael Baldwin, the actor in PHANTASM and its sequels notified everyone on Facebook that Tiffany Shepis-Tretta and husband Sean Tretta’s young daughter, Mia, was wounded in last weeks gun violence at Saugus High School in California. She is recovering nicely, which is, of course, good news, but many children, including Mia’s best friend, did not survive the shooting. Not only does this senseless gun violence have to stop, it shouldn’t have even happened if spineless politicians on the NRA’s payroll would just realize that human lives are more important than gun rights. Contact your State’s politicians and call them out on this. Make them understand that you will not give them a vote come election time if they don’t do something about gun violence, especially in our schools, where children should feel safe, not scared out of their wits. Make them understand the harm they are doing to our children by not growing a backbone and standing up for our children’s safety. The answer is not posting cadres of police to stand guard at our schools. The answer is keeping guns out of the hands of people who don’t care about anyone’s safety. Make them understand this as clearly and succinctly as possible. They will no longer be in office unless they take a stand about gun violence. Let our children grow up not afraid of our school system. In other words, let our children have normal childhoods! My thoughts and prayers go out to Tiffany and her family, as well as the parents who lost their children to sensless gun violence. I hope to live to see the day when this senseless violence is abolished for good.
OCTOBER 28, 2019: The 4TH ANNUAL B-MOVIE TV HALLOWEEN MONTH HORROR & SLEAZE MARATHON ends this week and I want to personally thank Ken “Ace” Brewer for delivering a great month of horror and sleaze movie madness like I have never seen before. This one even beats last year’s marathon, in my opinion. For people who have no idea of what I am talking about, let me say this: Buy a Roku streaming player and add B-Movie TV to your device through the Roku Channel. Once you do, I guarantee you will never look at TV the same way again. You will not get this channel on any other streaming device, only a Roku, so spend $25.00 and purchase a Roku Express. As always, you can thank me later.
OCTOBER 15, 2019: Halloween is quickly sneaking up on us and, as I have been doing for over 30 years, I will be watching PHANTASM , my favorite Halloween movie of all time, on Halloween Night . I found another film which may very well also get play every Halloween, a little independent film titled THE BARN . I’ve had the Blu-Ray for over three years, but I just viewed it a few days ago. It’s very low-budget and horribly acted, but it has a certain ’80s charm that just won’t quit, as well as being gory as hell. Look for a review in my DTV section very soon. A new tradition is born!
OCTOBER 14, 2019: I’m calling bullshit on Roku for not having customer service of any type. Recently my Roku Express was automatically updated with new version 9.2.0 and ever since it was automatically installed, it kicks me out of whatever I watch after 30 minutes and takes me to the home screen. Since I use my Roku to basically watch B-Movie TV and films on YouTube and Amazon Prime, it’s frustrating and annoying getting kicked out of what I am watching and I have to log back on. After doing some research, I found that this is a problem with the new update with Express players only. Since I use my player with a tube TV next to my computer , I use it a lot and to have this problem is unacceptable. The lack of customer service is especially depressing. I even went to the Roku group on Facebook and they are about as much help as tits on a rock. Since B-Movie TV is a Roku-only channel, I want this problem fixed as soon as possible, but Roku keeps ignoring my DMs or tells me to go to their web site, which is basically worthless. Roku, wise up, or you are about to lose a customer! If anyone has a workaround for this problem, please email me. I’m at my wit’s end! UPDATE: I joined the Facebook Roku Codes, Tips And Tricks Group and when I asked about this problem, my posts were deleted! WTF is going on here? UPDATE #2: Like most remotes, the one I use for my Express has a “Secret Menu” that is accessed by pressing multiple buttons in a certain order. Using this Menu, I was able to revert my player back to the previous release version, solving my problem once and for all without any help from Roku. Fuck them!
OCTOBER 12, 2019: Some really sad news this week. We lost both Academy Award®-nominated actor Robert Forster and director/special effects wizard Ryan Nicholson this week, both due to brain cancer. Forster was a longtime favorite of mine, appearing in many films that I love, including the TV Movie THE DEATH SQUAD , ALLIGATOR , VIGILANTE , WALKING THE EDGE and personal favorite PEACEMAKER , among many others, including his Oscar®-nominated role in Quentin Tarantino’s JACKIE BROWN . I first noticed Ryan Nicholson with his film GUTTERBALLS , but my friend Mario Dominick, who wrote all the reviews of this site’s FILMS ON THE FRINGE section and alerted me of Nicholson’s death, was a fan long before then, supplying me with a review of Nicholson’s LIVE FEED and alerting me of his other accomplishments, including being a very good special effects artist. He not only supplied the effects to all of his films, he also did some for a lot of A-List films, including FINAL DESTINATION , BLADE: TRINITY and, one of my favorite indies, IT STAINS THE SANDS RED . Both Forster and Nicholson were tops in their field and they will be sorely missed. Robert Forster was 78-years-old and Nicholson was only 47 when they passed away. Look for obituaries very soon
OCTOBER 11, 2019: Here’s some good news. Make that great news. According to The Playlist : Without hesitation, horror fans will likely include filmmaker Dario Argento among the very best directors to have ever graced the genre. And not only is he one of the most iconic filmmakers in horror history, his films, such as SUSPIRIA , DEEP RED and TENEBRE revolutionized the giallo subgenre and introduced it to audiences all around the world. However, in recent years, Argento has been relatively quiet. Well, according to a new report, the filmmaker is stepping behind the camera once again for a new TV series titled LONGINUS. DRACULA 3D . Throughout the years, Argento has also dabbled in TV projects, with his most recent small-screen effort being a couple of episodes of the anthology series, MASTERS OF HORROR . Recently, while at Fantastic Fest, the filmmaker hinted that he had another film on the docket, as well, but there has yet to be a formal announcement. Obviously, LONGINUS is still in the early stages of development, with no network or streaming platform announced as a partner. However, you have to imagine that the first project from Dario Argento in almost a decade will attract plenty of buyers.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2019: Roku-only streaming channel B-Movie TV is now having its 4TH ANNUAL HALLOWEEN MONTH MARATHON. They are showing nothing by horror and sleaze movies 24/7 for over a month, no repeats! Last year, I watched nothing but this channel for the month of October and I plan to do the same thing this year. This channel seems to be streaming’s best kept secret and I urge everyone to buy a Roku streaming player and give this channel a try. Once you view it, I can almost guarantee you’ll be hooked for life. Their enthusiasm is infectious and that is all due to Ken “Ace” Brewer, the mastermind behind this channel. His love for everything B-Movie, especially ’90s action films, has no bounds and for an old fogey like me, it’s a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere polluted by multi-millon dollar “blockbusters” that lack the charm and sense of playfulness found in low-budget cinema. All I am asking is to give it a try. Any fan of this website is bound to catch the wave that is B-Movie TV!
SEPTEMBER 26, 2019: Could this be the end for Donald Trump? He believes he did nothing wrong by asking the new President of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, but what he was asking for is simply horrendous. He wants a foreign nation to investigate one of his Democratic challengers for the 2020 Presidency. This not only reeks of collusion, he also held back military spending to the Ukraine until the new President investigated Biden. He did nothing wrong? C’mon now! I’m very interested to see whether his Republican lemmings will back him now. If they do, I hope their States vote against them because they are backing a criminal who is abusing his power. Impeachment seems imminent. It’s about time.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2019: I just learned that Sid Haig passed away Saturday, September 21st at the age of 80 and I feel just awful. He was an important actor in exploitation cinema, dating back to the early-’60s. I met him a few times at various conventions and he was always a kind person with a really humorous attitude. This is a big loss to exploitation cinema and his next-to-final film, Rob Zombie’s 3 FROM HELL is bypassing the theatrical route and going straight to DTV, both on VOD and an Unrated Blu-Ray/DVD in October. This is a sad time in genre cinema. There was no one like Sid Haig. R.I.P. You can read my obituary HERE .
SEPTEMBER 23, 2019: Congratulations to Peter Dinklage for winning a record-breaking fourth Emmy Award® for Best Supporting Actor on GAME OF THRONES . Dinklage may be small in stature, but his talents know no bounds. In my opinion, it was him and him alone that made THRONES such a blast to watch. He never let his size get in the way of challenging anyone and he did it in such a way that was riveting to watch. Congratulations, Mr. Dinklage! It should also be noted that Broadcast TV only won 14% of the awards this year, as the majority of wins went to cable, pay cable or streaming series, meaning that Network TV is on its way out, unless it does something drastic to once again pull in viewers. Could this mean the end of Network TV? Other Emmy News: It warms my heart that HBO’s CHERNOBYL won the coveted award for Best Limited Series as well as winning Writing and Directing noms. This was an important, as well as spellbinding, take on one of the world’s worst man-made disasters and how politics nearly destroyed the world.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2019: It seems everyone wants a piece of the streaming pie and it’s the customer that loses. More and more streaming services are being developed, each one costing the customer more and more money, pricing streaming out of nearly everyone’s pockets. Companies such as Disney , NBC , Universal and Apple and streaming channel Quibi are forming their own streaming services, each one of them costing about $12.00 a month on average. The biggest problem I have with this is that most of their programming should have ended up on Network TV, but companies got greedy and decided to compartmentalize TV, charging the viewer to watch something that they should have gotten for free. Throwing a few “fucks” into the dialogue is no reason we should have to pay for something that we should have gotten as part of our monthly TV bill. The only thing we can do is not subscribe to these channels and tell the money-grubbing executives that we are not going to have any of this. Streaming is now no better than having a $200 monthly cable bill. As a matter of fact, it will now cost more to get everything you now have on cable to what you will receive streaming. Once again, business destroys something that was meant as an alternative to cable. We can’t let these “businessmen” win! Vote with your wallet.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2019: My mantra has always been “Once on the Internet, always on the Internet” and today once again proved that to be true by the firing of Shane Gillis as a new member of Saturday Night Live because of his “unacceptable” language in the past. Just like many times before, people with way too much time on their hands dug up some past statements Gillis said and posted them online, just to get him fired. And like all the times before, he was fired. I only have one problem with this and it’s a big one: What ever happened to freedom of speech? While Gillis’ remarks were said in jest , they take on a whole new meaning when taken out of context and this whole new meaning is why he was fired. Stop this insanity! We all said something off color in our past . Would you want those words revealed today? I wish these online trolls the worst of luck, just so they can feel what it means to be on the other end. The Internet has created a new kind of enemy: The unknown, unseen keyboard warrior. Fuck them!
SEPTEMBER 15, 2019: The passing of another September day brings more bad news: The death of musician Ric Ocasek, the rail-thin singer and guitarist for the ’70s & ’80s band The Cars. He not only mixed pop with electronic music , creating a new brand of New Wave music, he later became a successful music producer of such bands such as Weezer, Bad Brains and The Killers. Thinking back, The Cars were a band that meant a lot to me in the beginning days of New Wave and their sheer amount of hit tunes during the decade they were a band will be hard to beat and also shaped my life during a really hard time. Damn, I hate when my music heroes begin passing away. It makes me think of my mortality. Ric Okasec was found dead in his New York apartment, the victim of heart disease and he was 75-years-old. My condolences to his family and fans.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2019: Since today is FRIDAY THE 13TH , I guess we all expect some bad news, so I’ll give you some. We lost Eddie Money today, the singer-saxophonist of such ’80s staples as “Baby Hold On”, “Two Tickets To Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight”, among others, who passed away peacefully early this morning. Eddie Money was different than most singers in the ’80s for many reasons, the main one being his facial twitches and jerky body movements when he sang, making watching his music videos on MTV such a joy to our eyes and ears. Besides his songs being real earworms, he was an entertainer at heart and he did it in such an unusual way, he will never be forgotten. Eddie Money was 70-years-old. It’s now time to entertain God, Eddie. Give him a good show and know you will be missed.
SEPTEMBER 07, 2019: When people ask me what films I wish I had if I were trapped on a deserted island, I would answer them PHANTASM , TORSO and ALICE, SWEET ALICE , besides asking them how I could watch them on a deserted island, when I would need electricity to do so! I have to commend Blu-Ray of ALICE, since it is a remarkable pristine print , looking better than I remember seeing it in theaters back in the day. This is the perfect American giallo film, lensed in my backyard of Paterson, NJ. I remember watching them film it on the streets and I even had a short conversation with director/co-screenwriter Alfred Sole, who was as gracious as he could be. It then disappoints me that in the many extras supplied on the disc that Sole mentions that he never watched a giallo film before he made this film, because I remember him telling me that he was a fan of Dario Argento. I know this was over 40 years ago and memories may be foggy, but my journal tells me otherwise. But that makes no mind, because this “proto-slasher” is as close as you can get to a giallo film. The Arrow disc also contains a booklet and a poster, only available for the first pressing. For those who order the disc too late , I have scanned the booklet HERE for your reading and visual pleasure. No one does Blu-Rays as well as Arrow and I thank them for giving us this film. It is a remarkable, if overlooked, foray into mystery and terror, told with a scathing religious subtext, something you won’t easily forget once you see it . Personally, I have seen this film at least a dozen times and on every viewing I pick up something new to discover, making this film 100% re-watchable. So hop onto Amazon or whatever site you use for DVDs and Blu-Rays and purchase this film ASAP! You won’t regret it. Hey, have I ever steered you wrong? Now, if I only could find the unedited version of Sole’s freshman film, the porno flick DEEP SLEEP , a comedy/horror tale about necrophilia! It only seems to exist in a heavily edited form, the original unedited version considered lost, but we all know that nothing is ever lost forever, right?
AUGUST 17, 2019: The death of Peter Fonda yesterday at the age of 79 from lung cancer has hit me hard. Yes, I was a child of the ’60s and EASY RIDER opened my mind to the fact that there were different ways to live your life. I could live like my father, who worked the same job for nearly 40 years, but seldom smiled, or I could live life my own way, enjoying every day just for the little things, making new friends and trying things I thought I would never try. The film was an eye-opening experience for me and the ending hit me very hard. You see, “adults over 30” never understood this way of life and what they didn’t understand they destroyed. That’s what this film was all about and it is thanks to Peter Fonda, who not only starred, but co-produced and co-wrote this important counter-culture film, that hit teens and young adults with the impact of a cannonball to the stomach. Goodbye, Mr. Fonda, and thanks for changing my life and the lives of millions of people. Some of us may have forgotten you, but there’s no denying that you impacted our lives like no other film before or since. I’m not a religious person, but I hope you and Hopper are showing God what Heaven should be like!
AUGUST 07, 2019: Three mass shootings in as many days? Now is the time to ban guns of all types in the United States, no exceptions. And don’t give me the old standby that any object can be turned into a deadly weapon, because I would rather be worried about a psycho coming at me with a knife than him pointing a pistol or automatic weapon at me! At least I stand a chance to survive. The United States is a country full of political cowards who would rather have its people scared than enact any new gun legislation. You know, the kind that saves lives. UPDATE: Our President once again proves what an ignoramus he is, blaming movies, video games and TV for the recent mass shootings, rather than blaming our very loose gun laws. Since Trump is relatively comfortable with the NRA, it only stands that he would take their side. But Universal Pictures decided to pull one of its films, called THE HUNT , from its late-September theatrical release, a real cowardly move, basically telling Trump that he is right. They didn’t delay its release, they permanently pulled it, never to be shown in theaters ! I don’t see anyone pulling HOBBS & SHAW from release, because it is a monster hit. This reminds me of 9-11, when songs on the radio were banned, films showing the World Trade Center were banned and certain movies were not allowed to be shown on TV, all done for “the people.” Bullshit! This was done to cleanse the minds of politicians, who have no idea on how to deal with violence in society, especially gun violence, rather blaming music, TV, video games and films for it. When will we learn, as a society, that this is wrong? Trump doesn’t care what we think; he will do the thinking for us. Is he the right person to do this? Hell, NO!!!
AUGUST 01, 2019: I just got done binge-watching all eight episodes of Amazon Prime’s THE BOYS . While I am not the biggest fan of superhero shows, this may be my favorite new series of the 2018 – 2019 TV Season! To read why it is, click HERE for my review.
JULY 29, 2019: The more web sites and YouTube channels I look at, the more I see that they want you to become a “patreon” of their site, if you want to see more of the same. That’s just another word saying to send them some money if you want to see more of the same content on their site or channel. I would never ask anyone for money to do what I do because I ENJOY it. This web site is now 20-years-old and I never get sick of posting reviews or doing what I do because I know I will never grow tired of it. If I did this for the money, it would seem like a job and that’s something I never want this site to become. Yes, I know some sites and YouTube channels are jobs for the personnel behind them, so good luck to them. Just know that I will never ask you for money. This site is my baby and mine alone. It has never accepted advertising and it never will because I don’t want to be beholden to anyone; or worry about my content or writing in any way, afraid that it will upset advertisers . So, if you want to see more of the same from my site, just log in on a different day and keep your credit card in your wallet or purse. You won’t need it here.
JULY 24, 2019: I just heard that Rutger Hauer , one of my favorite actors of all time, passed away at the age of 75 after a short illness. What is weird is that he died on July 19th, but we weren’t told until he was already buried. Mr. Hauer will always be an important actor to me, as well as a nice guy in general. He was one of those actors who improved any film just by being in it. There are too many films to mention here, but look for my obituary for a full filmography, along with my thoughts of them. Rest well, Mr. Hauer, rest well.
JULY 15, 2019: If it’s one thing I love, it’s a good real-life mystery, whether it be unexplainable, paranormal or just a bunch of bunk. You can find all that on YouTube, as many channels there have footage of unexplainable events, such as “cryptid” sightings, ghost videos or just plain weird things happening on video. As much as I want to believe , it is rather easy to see that the majority of these videos are nothing but CGI-enhanced footage, with off-screen narrators trying to get us to believe what we are seeing is real. While some of the footage is really spooky and may be real, most of the footage is nothing but fake crap, with people having too much time on their hands creating this footage and trying to make it look real . I’m not saying that strange shit doesn’t happen, because it does. What I am saying is that some people spoon-feed us this footage and try to get us to believe it is real, but there are some good channels out there on YouTube, who call a spade a spade and a fake a fake. Channels such as and are my favorites, followed by and , but there are too channels out there that try to pass off fake footage as real . If you want to be entertained and creeped out, or if you just want to see some footage by talented fakers, these are the places to go. UPDATE: AMERIKANO has returned, but the smirky off-screen narrator really grates on my nerves, especially his attempts at humor. “Snarky” doesn’t begin to describe him. It is so bad, I unsubscribed from the channel. Too many of the clips were misrepresented, as I have seen most of them on other channels and done much better with more truthful meaning. It has become a muckraking channel now and I don’t need it in my life. Neither should you. UPDATE #2: It seems that AMERIKANO got rid of their smarmy narrator and hired a British one , but it still is full of cringe-worthy writing and flat-out false reporting that makes this site such a chore to watch. What they need to do is get a better writer!
JULY 09, 2019: Is anyone as excited as I am about how Rob Zombie’s 3 FROM HELL will be released theatrically on September 16th of this year? This sequel to HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS promises to be a real headtrip of graphic violence and degradation, as only Rob Zombie can do it. I’m unapologetically a big fan of Zombie’s work because no one does White Trash Horror better than him. I know people usually love or hate Zombie, there is no middle ground, but I look forward to every film he releases. I will be the first one on line when this film is released to theaters, even though I know the film will be heavily cut to get an R Rating, but that’s the MPAA for you. I also look forward to the uncut Blu-Ray when it hits home video! Welcome back, Rob Zombie!
JULY 05, 2019: I have been staying away from politics for the past year or so, but I have to remark on Trump’s “celebration”, which he called “A Salute To America”,  last night. It was straight out of Russia and North Korea, with Trump speaking at the Lincoln Memorial surrounded by tanks, telling us how our 18th Century forefathers protected airports from the enemy Not only is Trump out of his fucking mind, it only proves that his brain is slowly going blank, like he has Alzheimers and that he admires Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un more than anyone in the United States, but not the “camps” he set up to house “illegal” border crossers, splitting up families and causing death in some cases, which he is quite proud of. These are not the acts of a President of the United States, these are the acts of a dictator who thinks he can do anything he pleases, including eliminating our God given rights as Americans. When major TV networks ignored Trump’s celebration, it should give you an idea that something is majorly wrong and it is not because they are prejudiced against the President. It’s because this “celebration” was nothing but back-patting propaganda, the stuff we saw during the Cold War coming out of Communist countries. And that is where the United States is heading! I wonder what Trump would think of Putin if he knew Russia was laughing at him, one Russian news commentator saying that the “newest tanks” that Trump promised to show were “Abrams and Sherman tanks, used during World War II and withdrawn from service in 1957.” Caught in another lie! Can this man ever tell us the truth?
JULY 03, 2019: Sometimes I think my life is cursed. Recently, I have been watching episodes of ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN on Amazon Prime and really enjoyed Arte Johnson’s improvational skills that threw other cast members into hysterics, especially his German soldier Wolfgang, who hid behind bushes while giving us his honest opinion about the precedings. Arte Johnson died today of heart failure at age 90. Need I say more? Veeeerrrry in-ter-es-ting, but tragic. R.I.P. Arte Johnson.
JUNE 26, 2019: Sad to hear that Beth Chapman, wife of Duane Chapman, better known as DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER , died today at age 51 of throat cancer. Beth was Duane’s conscience, the driving force behind his success. Anyone who watched their “reality” shows knows that Beth could sometimes be more than a handful, but the comments I have read from some Internet trolls out there are beyond the pale. Shame on you. Someone’s wife, mother, daughter has died a horrible death. The anonimity the Internet affords you makes you think you are invincible, doesn’t it? Well, karma’s a bitch and I hope it bites you on the ass. R.I.P. Beth. UPDATE: Damn! I also learned today that actors Billy Drago and Max Wright  also passed away on this date. Make it stop!!!
JUNE 20, 2019: Here’s some more proof that we live in a ridiculous world. Over 20,000 Christians signed a petition to have Amazon Prime’s GOOD OMENS canceled because it is “another step to make satanism appear normal, light and acceptable, and mocks God’s wisdom.” They go on to say, “This type of video makes light of Truth, Error, Good and Evil, and destroys the barriers of horror that society still has for the Devil.” There’s only one problem with this petition : It is aimed at Netflix, who have nothing to do with this “Limited Series”! You would think Christians would know who to accuse before burning them at the stake, but just like the witchcraft trials during the Dark Ages and in Salem, they’ve managed to accuse the wrong people. Nothing ever changes, does it?
JUNE 09, 2019: I prefer to read an actual book than to read one online, but have you seen the prices of softcover reference books lately? With prices in the $40 to $50 range, it just isn’t worth it to buy a book that I will finish reading in a day . So imagine my surprise when I found a really nice softcover reference book titled SCIENCE FICTION ITALIAN STYLE by author Matt Blake for less than $20! While this 287-page POD tome has its share of inaccuracies , it does cover more than standard Italian science fiction films , such as the early-’80s post-apocalypse genre , giant monsters on the loose, ALIEN rip-offs and even a chapter on the films of gonzo director Elio Petri . It deals mainly with films from 1958 to 2000, but there is a chapter on much more recent Italian genre efforts, many of which I never heard of before and which I intend to search out. The price for this book is more than reasonable, especially if you are a fan of Italian genre flicks and it can be purchased from Amazon. If more books were as reasonably priced like this one, I would buy more. I love the feel of a book in my fingers, something you can’t experience on a Kindle.
MAY 21, 2019 I just received my order of Severin Films new disc releases of EMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE and ESCAPE FROM WOMENS PRISON and noticed a strange error on one of the sleeves. It could have been prevented if a proofreader was hired and, if one was, they should be fired, because mistakes like this are inexcusable, especially from a company like Severin, whom I love dearly for all their Italian genre film releases. To see the error, click HERE . Look for reviews of both films in the weeks to come, along with Severin’s excellent new Blu-Ray of David Blyth’s DEATH WARMED UP , one of my favorite horror films to come out of New Zealand.
MAY 15, 2019: I was never a fan of GAME OF THRONES , but this is taking “privilege” a little too far. Fans of the series have created a petition demanding that HBO reshoot the entire final season, merely because they don’t like the direction it is heading! Seriously? Apparently so, as, of this morning, they collected over 20,000 signatures. Demanding that the entire final season should be reshot takes privilege to a whole new level, telling me that these “fans” live in a fantasy world, much like GOT itself. Wake up, idiots! Your shield is showing! UPDATE: MAY 16, 2019 : The amount of signatures has snowballed to 400,000! If HBO cowtows to fans’ demands on this matter, it will be one less “premium” station I will watch. I will not support a channel that would use my cable money to satisfy some fan’s hurt hairy ass. Grow some balls HBO and tell these fans to “fuck-off”!
MAY 14, 2019: Goodbye Tim Conway and Doris Day. Tim kept me in stitches while Ms. Day removed those stitches. To say this is a sad day in entertainment is quite an understatement. At least Mr. Conway can crack up Harvey Korman once again in Heaven and Ms. Day can play the romantic second fiddle to Rock Hudson
APRIL 25, 2019: Am I the only one who doesn’t give two fucks for the “MCU” and the new Avengers film , a bloated three-hour CGI fest that is sure to break box office records around the world ? Films like this make it so little films don’t stand a chance at theaters, as theater owners would rather have a proven winner on their screens than a smaller film that is ten times better than any superhero film. I’m not blaming theater owners, mind you, because they are in the business of making money. I am blaming audiences for flocking to these films and influencing film production companies as to what they should produce: a sure-fire winner or something that actually makes audiences think and feel. It’s a shame that we think of these superhero films as entertainment, because all they really are is nothing but pandering to our lowest common denominator. Think about that before you buy a ticket to these films . It’s a sickness that is destroying one of my favorite pasttimes: going to the movies.
APRIL 22, 2019: Happy Birthday Jack Nicholson. Can you believe he is 82 years-old today? He must be doing something right. Here’s hoping for many, many more!
APRIL 03, 2019: Everyone knows that I am a giallo film fanatic, so, of course, I purchased Severin Films’ ALL THE COLORS OF GIALLO , a Blu-Ray/DVD/CD set of everything you need to know about giallo films and beyond. The first disc contains a feature-length documentary about the history of giallo films, along with over four hours of giallo trailers. To say I was in hog heaven would be to over-simplify my state of mind, as I saw trailers of films I never heard of before and many of them are sadly no longer available to the public. Now it is my turn to become a detective and track down some of these elusive films and I’m glad to say I got my hands on one that was long-thought lost. As we all know, nothing is ever “lost”, because someone, somewhere has reels of film in their attic or basement and doesn’t know how valuable it is to the public . I will be reviewing this film very soon, but I wanted to tell you about Severin Films’ excellent Blu-Ray set. The second disc, a DVD, contains a documentary on the German “Krimi” films, you know the ones, those black & white Edgar Wallace mysteries that use to show up on TV in the ’60s and the ’70s before they disappeared from view. There is also 90-minutes of Krimi trailers on the disc. But I saved the best for last. The third disc is a CD full of of music tracks from giallo films, from such composers as Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Riz Ortolani and the recently deceased Stelvio Cipriani . Any giallo fan knows that the music tracks are what usually make giallo films so memorable, adding an element to the films that gives them a lot more tension and pizazz. I would like to congratulate Severin Films for putting this set together and entertaining me for hours . You should also know that Amazon ran out of stock fairly quickly , but they were still available on online site Severin’s site , so order now or face a life without this excellent set .
MARCH 29, 2019: Congratulations to LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT for getting renewed for a record-breaking 21st Season, making it the longest running scripted series in American TV history, beating out GUNSMOKE and the original LAW & ORDER , which both lasted 20 Seasons. It also makes Mariska Hargitay, who has been with the series from the start, the longest-running actor to play the same character, beating out James Arness and Kelsey Grammer, who have portrayed the same character for 20 consecutive seasons. May Lt. Olivia Benson continue to beat evil for a long time to come! Way to go Dick Wolf .
MARCH 26, 2019: Is Jussie Smollett guilty? It sure seemed so, but charges were dropped today against him, so it seems the legal community moved a little too quickly to bring charges against him, with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling all dropped charges against Smollett a “whitewash of justice.” Here’s a little something I was taught before accusing anyone of anything: Make sure you get all your ducks in a row because, if you don’t, it will bite you in the ass. Don’t look for this to be the end of the story. So will we see Smollett on EMPIRE next year? Count on it, unless he gets charged again, but there’s a little thing called Double Jeopardy, so any new evidence will have to be compelling for Smollett to be charged again . After all, TV loves legal charges to boost their ratings.
MARCH 24, 2019: Jesus Christ, could this year get any worse? I can’t keep up with the amount of celebrity deaths this year, when comes the news that Larry Cohen, cult director, producer and screenwriter , passed away last night at the age of 77. And all this comes a month after watching the entertaining documentary KING COHEN: THE WILD WORLD OF FILMMAKER LARRY COHEN . Cohen was as entertaining in real life as he was on screen. This is sad, sad news. Another original gone way too soon. There will never be anyone to take his mantle. Look for an obit soon.
MARCH 20, 2019: Disney completed its $71 billion acquisition of nearly all of 21st Century Fox properties, including the film division, the local Fox TV networks, cable stations FX, FXX and National Geographic, as well as a 30% stake in streaming channel Hulu. Once again, the FCC allows a juggernaut to own more than one major TV station , which means only one thing: less choice for the viewing public. Disney already inserts some not-so-hidden ads in most of ABC’s schedule, so that only means they will do the same thing with Fox . How this happened is anyone’s guess, but it only hurts the viewer. The Golden Age of Television is now officially over! I gave up on network TV a few years ago, which is why I didn’t review any new shows for the 2018 – 2019 TV Season . The really bad part of this deal is that Fox gets to keep all its news divisions, including Fox News, so that means more misinformation to the public. UPDATE: Three days after the acquisition, Disney disbanded the Fox 2000 theatrical arm and it is estimated that 4,000 people will lose their jobs to “trim the fat”. Will someone tell me why this is good for the economy? Does Disney have no shame? I’m not the biggest fan of Fox, but what Disney is doing shouldn’t happen to a dog .
MARCH 19, 2019: I have to say I was shocked to hear that John Carl Buechler, special effects makeup master and director, died of Stage 4 prostate cancer yesterday. I just heard about his condition last week in an email from Full Moon. Buechler gave us some good makeup effects, many of them for Charles Band and Full Moon, before he turned to directing, giving us such films as TROLL , CELLAR DWELLER , FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD , ICE CRAWLERS , MINER’S MASSACRE and others. He also acted, most notably as “Jack Cracker” in the first two HATCHET films . My sincere condolences to John’s family and friends. There will be no one else like him, especially to those, like myself, who were entertained by his makeup effects in the ’80s. Another major loss in the year 2019. Please make it stop!
MARCH 15, 2019: I’m glad saner heads prevailed at Disney and they reinstated James Gunn as writer/director of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3. I find it ridiculous that internet trolls, with nothing better to do than search through a person’s entire texting history to find dirt that would harm their career, could influence a juggernaut like Disney. Firing Gunn was not only stupid, it also gave the trolls a sense of power, giving them an air of importance they did not deserve. Rehiring Gunn shows those trolls that some things are more important than a person’s past social media postings. Hey, we all are guilty of saying something off-color or telling a bad joke , but we do not deserve to lose our career or become a pariah because of it. You did the right thing, Disney. .
MARCH 08, 2019: I have to say that I wasn’t surprised to learn that Jan-Michael Vincent died on February 10th of this year , but what I am surprised about is that he was cremated without an autopsy and his death was kept secret until today. I just have one question: Why? We all know that Vincent suffered from alcoholism which destroyed his career and he was in a terrible automobile accident in 1996 which permanently altered his voice. In 2012, he had the lower half of his right leg amputated due to a blood disease and he used a prosthetic or wheelchair to get around. Jan-Michael Vincent was a big deal in in films and TV during the ’70s & ’80s , but showing up inebriated on set and forgetting his lines caused him to lose his career. Let this be a lesson to everyone of the dangers of alcoholism. Look for an obituary soon.
MARCH 04, 2019: Today was definitely a bad day. Today we lost Luke Perry and Keith Flint, lead singer of The Prodigy . Perry died of a heart attack, dead at the age of 52. Flint took his own life, committing suicide at the age of 49. Both were way too young to slip off this mortal coil. Why do singers think that suicide is the answer? It isn’t. We lost Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington to suicide in 2017 and I’m still hurting from that. Nothing should be so bad that suicide is the answer. It is the coward’s way out. Suicide doesn’t just affect the person who commits it. It affects everyone, from their family to their fans. Luke Perry, on the other hand, was a shock. 52 is much too young to suffer a heart attack and die. My thoughts and prayers go to his family and fans.
FEBRUARY 26, 2019: R.I.P. to Mark Hollis, frontman of the band Talk Talk, dead at 64 after a short illness. With songs such as “It’s My Life”, “Talk Talk” and especially “Renee”, Talk Talk was an important band to me in the ’80s. Their music not only had soul, it had emotion and it spoke to me, influencing my taste in music. Mr. Hollis’ voice was very unique, quite unlike anyone out there at the time. Goodbye, Mr. Hollis. Time to entertain the angels in Heaven with your unique voice. I’m going to listen to your music all day today. Thanks for the countless hours of entertainment.
FEBRUARY 24, 2019: Not only were the Academy Awards® a complete wash-out for fans of fantastic cinema, they also forgot to include Dick Miller, R. Lee Ermey, Sondra Locke, David Ogden Stiers and many other deceased actors in their “In Memoriam” sequence, an unforgivable omission. It’s like these people never existed. Fuck the Academy and fuck what they stand for!
FEBRUARY 21, 2019: R.I.P. Peter Tork, dead at 77. Hey, hey, I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a huge Monkees fan during my pre-teen years. There’s no denying that they gave us some great tunes. Sure, they started out as the “Pre-Fab Four”, but they grew into their roles as serious musicians. Peter can now join Davey Jones and entertain the angels.
FEBRUARY 9, 2019: I just learned that we will have to wait until sometime in 2020 to see the third season of HBO’s WESTWORLD . I found the second season of this sci-fi/fantasy series to be something of a filmed nightmare and I mean that as a good thing. Every week, we were transported to a world where technology overruled humanity, where robots had better emotions than their human counterparts and where circuits replaced human blood. It was quite the headtrip and having to wait over a year for some new episodes seems too long to me, but quality takes time, so the wait should be worth it.
FEBRUARY 3, 2019: Congratulations to the New England Patriots for winning the Super Bowl in one of the most boring games in football history. Still, many records were broken by quaterback Tom Brady and the Patriots, the likes we will never see broken in our lifetime or even in our children’s children’s lifetime . For that reason alone, this game is historic. The less said about Maroon 5’s halftime show, the better!
JANUARY 23, 2019: “You are a god.” I decided to celebrate the 2018 Academy Awards® nominations by watching last year’s Best Picture THE SHAPE OF WATER . Now, I have never seen this film before , but this film affected me in so many ways, I nearly burst out in tears on more than one occasion. Everyone, from star Sally Hawkins to supporting players Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Shannon, turn in amazing performances, but what I found peculiar is that Doug Jones, who portrayed the amphibian creature, never even got mentioned in any of the major awards. His performance is key to believing such a creature exists and he does it amazingly. The movie would not have worked without his riveting performance, which is why I find it weird he was overlooked for major awards. I applaud Guillermo del Toro for his expert direction of his own original story and I especially applaud Sally Hawkins for turning in such a brave performance, exposing her soul for all to see. If you haven’t seen this film, see it now! “Life is but the shipwreck of our plans.”
JANUARY 12, 2019: I hate to see TV’s CRIMINAL MINDS end its run, but its next short 10-episode 15th Season will be its last. This show got away with so much graphic violence and twisted plots, it made the weekly wait worth it, but all good things must end and when it does, it will have aired an amazing 325 episodes! Goodbye, dear friend. Serial killers will no longer be the same without you.
JANUARY 10, 2019: My heartfelt condolences to Steve Buscemi on the death of his wife, Jo Andres, dead at 65 years old.
DECEMBER 31, 2018: I usually don’t make New Years resolutions, but I decided to be different for the year 2019. My only resolution is this: I will seriously try to keep this site up to date. I am currently working feverishly to update my 2018 Obituary List, as well as trying to post at least four new reviews every week. Now I don’t know if I will be able to live up to this resolution , but you have my promise that I will try. Here’s wishing everyone a great 2019, full of happiness and no sorrow, full of little-known films and no crappy blockbusters and most of all, full of knowledge with no useless lies disguised as facts being forced down your throat. A Healthy and Happy 2019 everybody!
DECEMBER 18, 2018: For All those who miss my 2018 Obituary List : I know I haven’t kept it up to date, but I will rectify it shortly. We lost too many good people this year, the latest being Penny Marshall. I will do my best to list everyone who passed away, even “minor” celebrities . I know some of you use my list as a starting point and, as always, email me if you have someone you would like to add to the list.
DECEMBER 15, 2018: I don’t watch SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and I don’t pretend to know who Pete Davidson is, but I do know that if someone posts a suicidal Instagram post on the Internet, what you shouldn’t do is put the person on live TV for less than a minute to show everyone that he is OK, because that is not the way it works. SNL dropped the ball here. Rather than showing his face on TV, they should have made sure he got the medical attention that he needs. As someone who has lost more than two people to suicide, I can tell you that Davidson’s Instagram post was a cry for help. If he doesn’t get proper attention soon, it won’t be long until he goes through with his promise. And then everyone loses. Yes, suicide is painful, not only for the person who commits it, but for all the people who knew and loved them. Take it from me SNL, putting him on TV is not the answer. Get him the help he needs and do it quick or the fingers will be pointing at you as an enabler. As we all well know, some of your former stars didn’t end up so well when they left the show . Now is the time to do something about it! This is not about ratings, it’s about a human life.
DECEMBER 7, 2018: Kevin Hart quitting as the host of the Academy Awards? People really should get a life and quit looking for things that a person wrote in their past to use against them. We have all said some things in the past that other people will find offensive, so those people who demanded that Hart step down as host really should get a life. And everyone should follow my credo: “Once on the Internet, always on the Internet!” Ruining people’s lives over what they said in the past is becoming a national pasttime, which is very troubling. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? In this era of Trump, that doesn’t exist anymore. None of our freedoms exist anymore. I wonder if we will ever get them back?
NOVEMBER 30, 2018: Goodbye George H.W. Bush. I can’t say that I agreed with your, or your son’s, politics, but there no doubt in my mind that you did try to do what was best for this country. Rest well, Mr. President.
NOVEMBER 24, 2018: Goodbye director Nicolas Roeg and thanks for giving us DON’T LOOK NOW , one of my favorite movies of all time. PERFORMANCE and THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH were also special. It is time now to entertain God with your special brand of talent.
OCTOBER 24, 2018: Goodbye James Karen . A nicer man you will never meet. Thanks for all the good times and the dinner we shared. You will be missed, by me and your legion of fans.
SEPTEMBER 10, 1983: Damn! My favorite streaming station was shut down. I should have known something was up when they showed A CAT IN THE BRAIN , MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD , MACABRE , ZOMBIE and FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE back-to-back! It seems they got caught airing films that they did not license and got a cease and desist order to stop showing movies. I wish they told me that because I just quit cable TV! Their station was one of the reasons I quit. Now I’m going to have to go back to cable with my tail between my legs. At least I still have B-Movie TV, but they started showing commercials between films and everytime you log on to their station with Roku! I swear, it’s impossible for anyone to put together a good station without being punished. I only recently discovered Shockwerks and it was quickly becoming my go-to station for films that are never shown anywhere else. Now I know why. I had a suspicion that they didn’t license their films, because they were not run of the mill Public Domain flicks. Damn, I’m pissed! ADDENDUM: My opinion of B-Movie TV has changed considerably. During the month of October, they aired different horror movies 24/7, no repeats! They aired the uncut versions of THE MUTILATOR , ATTACK OF THE BEAST CREATURES , BLOOD STALKERS , TOXIC ZOMBIES and many other unsung gems, along with a lot of Italian fare, including EYEBALL , 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS , ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH , ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST , HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD and many of Lucio Fulci’s early-’80s gore flicks, most of them in anamorphic widescreen for the first time on TV. While there are commercials, they are never shown during the film and only come before a film or when you first access the channel. They also have some hilarious filler between films, including a shocking ROBOCOP take-off , bizarre animation and some foreign commercials showing us how far we in the U.S. have to go before we will be equal with the rest of the world. This channel is only available to people with a Roku streaming player, so why don’t you have one? I have been watching this channel and this channel only during October and plan on making it my “go-to” channel in the future. Unlike Shockwerks, this streaming channel will be around for a long time. They recently celebrated their fourth anniversary on the air. A special thanks goes to Ken “Ace” Brewer, the brains behind this channel. He puts a lot of hard work into this channel, directing and writing the original aspects of this channel and even hosts his own weekly series, “B-Movie TV Classics”, where he plays some of the best action films in the B genre. Livid! Where else can you see such diverse and rare films such as VAMPIRE KNIGHTS and GO, KILL AND COME BACK on your TV? Nowhere but here!
SEPTEMBER 6, 2018: Goodbye Burt Reynolds and thanks for the years of joy you gave me. There was only one Burt Reynolds and there will never be another. I have something planned to celebrate your life and legacy . Until then, rest well and know that you will be missed.
AUGUST 21, 2018: This may be the worse day in the history of the Presidency. Not only did we find out that Trump paid people to have his affairs covered up, he may also be the first President to win by criminal trickery. If this were to happen to a Democrat, he would have been forced to resign, but Trump thinks he is above the law. He isn’t. Let’s show him how we really feel about his underhanded tactics and demand his removal from office. It is more than clear after all we have learned in the past 24 hours that Trump doesn’t deserve to be in office. Demand his resignation now!
JULY 29, 2018: Did you cry at the end of the Robin Williams documentary on HBO? I did. Thank you, HBO, for paying such a talented man the respect he deserved, warts and all.
JULY 21, 2018: Just a word of warning for any people who have ordered items from Wish.com: I did my own investigation of this company, after seeing many of their TV commercials, where people get expensive items at ridiculous prices. First of all, Wish seems to be run by the Chinese, as nearly all of the items listed on the site ship from China. Secondly, they are cheap knock-offs, not the real thing. Thirdly, be careful of bait and switch, as the price of the item changes if you don’t look carefully. I ordered ten items, the price range between $5 to $10 for each item, in early June. After waiting over a month, only five of these items arrived and none of them were as advertised. When the other five items didn’t arrive, I contacted Wish Customer Support and they did reimburse me : only 50% of what I actually paid for each item! Yes, this site feels like a scam to me, since even non-delivered items make money for Wish. I hate to be lied to, especially when I read the rave reviews that “customers” have submitted. They all read as if English was their second language. Buyer beware. If it seems to good to be true, it usually is.
JUNE 26, 2018: Goodbye to PAWN STARS ‘ “Old Man”, Richard Harrison, who passed away yesterday at the age of 77. It was the only reality show I watched on a regular basis and he was the reason why. He was knowledgable, a shrewd businessman, had a tremendous sarcastic sense of humor and treated his family like family. Rare in this day and age. My condolences to son Rick and grandson Austin.
JUNE 08, 2018: My condolences to Asia Argento on the unexpected death of her boyfriend Anthony Bourdain. Anyone who is a devoted reader to this site knows what I think about suicide and it hasn’t changed. Until we, as a society, work together and talk open and honestly about why people commit suicide and try to prevent it, this will continue to be a major cause of death in this country and many other countries across the world. What we need is proper mental health coverage to combat it. Once we have that, people will no longer feel embarassed to talk about it. We need to be open and honest, otherwise more people, famous or not, will continue this deadly trend. Nearly every family knows someone who took their own life. I know three people who did and the pain never goes away.
MAY 29, 2018: The Second Season of HBO’s WESTWORLD is a real headtrip, the stuff nightmares are made of, especially Episode 4, titled “The Riddle Of The Sphinx”. People have been arguing over what this episode is trying to convey but, to me, it couldn’t have been simpler. A “humanized” robot is only as human as the person who programmed it. Robots can never be more human than human because mankind created them, therefore they will contain all the foibles  and make the same mistakes as their human counterparts, something this episode explains so well. Those who worry that we will eventually be replaced by machines should open their eyes and realize that humanity can never be replaced. It can be wiped off the face of the Earth, obliterated or go extinct, but never be replaced to do the things we do now. I bow to you WESTWORLD and hope you receive the accolades you deserve come Award Season.
APRIL 26, 2018: Hey! Hey! Hey! Rot in prison Bill Cosby! Justice may be slow, but it’s not stupid. No pudding pops for you!
APRIL 02, 2018: What is it with magazine paper these days? I subscribe to both TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly and I have noticed that they print pages with paper so thin that I can read the following pages. After doing a little investigating, I discovered that this thin, almost transparent paper is printed for subscribers. The magazines sold at groceries or at newsstands are printed on thicker paper. This should be the other way around. Why make long-time subscribers suffer with such thin paper ? Corporate greed once again rears its ugly head.
MARCH 14, 2018: Goodbye Professor Hawking. Thanks for living in our cruel world.
MARCH 04, 2018: Congratulations to Guillermo del Toro for winning the Academy Award® for Best Director and Best Picture for THE SHAPE OF WATER . It is a film worthy of such an award. Also, a big congratulations to Jordan Peele for winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar® for GET OUT . Unlike the “Color Shamers” out there, I did not think that film deserved to win Best Picture , although I did think that Daniel Kaluuya should have been in the running for Best Actor . Well done!
FEBRUARY 24, 2018: Special thanks to Starz/Encore for showing the first eight installments of the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise . Watching them today, I got the feeling that most of the films are way below par and as each film unfolded, it was plain to see the MPAA’s hand in neutering the violence . What I found exciting in the 1980’s turned out to be nothing more than the over-eager imagination of a gorehound. Color me severely disappointed.
FEBUARY 1, 2018: There have been many theories on how Natalie Wood died in 1981, ranging from accidental to murder. The case was reopened in 2011 and today a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s lieutenant has called actor Robert Wagner a “person of interest” in the renewed investigation into the death of his wife. Every law enforcement agency knows that if you call  someone a “person of interest” that you are labeling them guilty, only they can’t sue because of the phrase . All I can say in this matter is that they better have proof and not say this for ratings since the CBS newsmagazine 48 HOURS is bringing new scrutiny to the investigation into Wood’s death. My best guess is that they are hoping for a ratings bonanza, just like the O.J. Simpson trial docudrama was a blockbuster for FX and the USA Network is having a dramatization of the Biggie Smalls/Tupac Shukur murders later this month.
JANUARY 7, 2018: Congratulations to THE HANDMAID’S TALE for winning the G olden Globe® for best Drama TV series. It just proves one thing: Now is the time to switch from cable to streaming since this excellent series can only be viewed on Hulu.
DECEMBER 26, 2017: The Netflix original film BRIGHT received 11 million views in three days, even though it was universally panned by critics. It reportedly cost over $90 million to make, so the jury is out on if it was worth the money. NOTE: It seems that it was worth the money, as Netflix has ordered a sequel.
DECEMBER 25, 2017: I would like to thank the Encore Channels for making my December a month to remember. They have been showing most of the original Godzilla films in widescreen and in the original Japanese language . It was like a trip to my childhood, when I would watch all these crazy films cut to pieces on THE 4:30 MOVIE, but in their original, uncut versions. It inspired me to create this page of Godzilla through the decades and some other Toho Films that contained monsters that would eventually battle Godzilla. UPDATE: JANUARY 1, 2018: My cable company decided to drop Starz/Encore because of a pricing dispute. Rather than try to come to some agreement, Optimum came to the conclusion that its viewers didn’t need Starz or Encore. I knew once when I heard Cablevision was being bought by Altice that there were going to be some changes , but not that they were too cheap to work out an agreement with Starz. I have had Starz ever since it premiered and now I won’t be able to watch the third season of ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD . Fuck you, Altice! Thanks for the New Years present. . ADDENDUM: Not only didn’t my cable bill go down, it increased by $2.00!
DECEMBER 22, 2017: While I support the drive to make sure sexual abusers are brought to justice and lose their livelihood, am I the only one that feels like we are losing our long-fought-for right to Freedom Of Speech? First off: John Schnattner, patriarch and TV spokesperson for PAPA JOHN’S PIZZA chain, is forced to step down as the CEO of the company he founded for saying what many of us felt. He blamed the low ratings Professional Football and the downturn in business his franchise experienced to the disrespect players such as Colin Koepernick and others showed our flag and national anthem. He was roasted in his own ovens for saying what many of us were thinking . These players deserve none of our respect and I did watch less football this year because of it. Since when is telling what you feel a fireable offense? It boggles the mind! And now, an online petition has collected over 19,000 signatures to get Matt Damon’s cameo taken out of the film OCEAN’S 8 because he said what he felt about women coming out of the woodwork to point fingers at sexual abusers. He was not saying that Harvey Weinstein was innocent of the charges leveled against him, just that it was common knowledge in the industry for years. Blame the industry, not Matt Damon for saying it. This country is turning into thin-skinned sissies who refuse to hear an opposing view without trying to ruin a person’s credibility. I blame Number 45 and the way he lies constantly and disguises it as truth. He is the chief abuser of Freedom Of Speech. Just look at his Twitter remarks. He should be held liable for some of his remarks, but stupid people eat it up. No President should act this way and it is spreading across this country, infecting us like a new virus. Don’t become one of them. Nobody can fire me from this website because I am beholden to no one. Happy Holidays everyone!!!!!
DECEMBER 12, 2017: The women of Red State Alabama have spoken. They will not vote for a sexual abuser such as Republican Roy Moore and have voted Democrat Doug Jones into the Senate. Naturally, being a Republican, Roy Moore refuses to concede defeat. I hope this message is made clear to Donald Trump. We, as a society, will refuse to endorse anyone who has used a woman for their own twisted purposes. My only hope is that Trump is next on the chopping block. He is not normal. He is mentally sick. He has shown that sickness time and time again, yet the Republicans fear his wrath. My only hope is that the Republican Senate gets the message. We will not tolerate Republicans voting on the party line. Another Democrat in the Senate will destroy Trump’s plans. That is the way it should be. Trump believes he is untouchable. He’s not.
NOVEMBER 19, 2017: The notorious Charles Manson has died at the age of 83 of natural causes. Even though he never took part in the horrendous “Helter Skelter” murder spree in 1969 , he was convicted of being the cult leader and mastermind behind the “Tate–LaBianca Murders” and was found guilty I’ll bet late Manson prosecutor and author Vincent Bugliosi is celebrating in his afterlife.  Manson was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life without parole after California invalidated the state’s death penalty statute in 1972. He became a cult figure, both in Films and on TV . People today are still enamored over Manson and that swastika he carved between his eyes and much like his followers who commited those heinous crimes, he became a real cult item . Manson loved that. I just hope he loves his eternity in Hell. I just wish, after nearly 50 years in prison, he would have died a very painful death but, like they say: Only the good die young. NOTE: No word if this news is going to impact Quentin Tarantino’s untitled 1969 movie in which Manson is supposedly a major plot point.
November 16, 2017: NBCUniversal announced that Chiller TV will be off the air permanently come New Years Day. For more info on this sad news, click HERE .
November 12, 2017: Today is a very sad day. I learned gossip columnist premiere Liz Smith passed away at the age of 94. She was one of the most popular gossip columnists of the 20th century and I consider her the Hedda Hopper of her time, although, unlike Hopper, she never attacked someone in print. Her most hurtful observation was, “Reporters are amazingly hypocritical. They have all taken drugs and cocaine and have been unfaithful to their spouses. People judge one another by standards they would never apply to themselves.” Most of her gossip stories were true because she was friends with many of the stars and would verify the stories with them. I remember reading her column every day in the NY Daily News. She also appeared in some films and TV shows, usually appearing as herself. R.I.P. Liz Smith. I’m waiting for some gossip on God.
NOVEMBER 4, 2017: My deepest condolences to Jimmy Fallon and the whole Fallon family for losing his mother Gloria Fallon after a brief illness on Saturday, where she died peacefully at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
NOVEMBER 3, 2017: Talking about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Lou Diamonds Phillips saw some police up ahead talking to a woman in a car and politely asked one of them for directions for a benefit he was supposed to be at. Problem was, good old Lou was drunk as a skunk and was arrested for DUI on the spot. He made bail and never missed his benefit , but police said he was one of the nicest people they have ever had in the back of their vehicle. Next time Lou, just keep on moving and ask a pedestrian. Just try not to run him over! Better yet, don’t drive drunk!
OCTOBER 5, 2017: It seems we found a bigger pig than Bill Cosby! The Weinstein Company faces potential legal jeopardy in the wake of a New York Times expose detailing sexual harassment claims against co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. Though the cases referenced in the story have been settled, it is now possible that new accusers could come forward. “His company is extremely vulnerable,” says Debbie Katz, a Washington, D.C., attorney who represents plaintiffs in harassment suits. “The board has been on notice that there is significant misconduct, settlement moneys have been paid, and there has been no corrective action.”The Times story alleged a pattern of behavior, in which Weinstein would meet with actresses or young female employees at hotel rooms. According to the story, he would either expose himself or encourage the women to give him nude massages. A former employee, Lauren O’Connor, made a detailed complaint about Weinstein’s behavior, which reached the board level. In Thursday Otober 5, 2017’s damning New York Times exposé — an in-depth investigation by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey titled “Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein” — the movie mogul admitted he has issues and, thus, would be taking a leave of absence to deal with them while consulting with therapists and lawyers.  However, because this is Harvey Weinstein, the outspoken executive who plays by his own rules, he’s not about to retreat from the spotlight quietly. In fact, he’s chasing his own story. Fox News reporter Lauren Sivan claims that producer Harvey Weinstein once masturbated in front of her after trapping her in a restaurant vestibule, Two more Weinstein Company board members — Tim Sarnoff and Marc Lasry — resigned today in the wake of Thursday’s devastating New York Times report that outlines a pattern of behavior stretching back at least two decades. If I were a woman, I would never get into an elevator or phone booth with that pervert! But there may be a plus side to all this nasty business: Maybe the Weinstein Brothers will finally release AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING , which has been sitting on their shelves since 2014! NOTE: October 8, 2017: Harvey Weinstein has been Terminated from The Weinstein Company. “In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company — brother Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar — have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,” read a statement from the TWC board.   The stunning turn of events followed an Oct. 5 New York Times article by investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey detailing sexual harassment claims spanning decades on the part of the mogul, including from actress Ashley Judd. The paper also reported, citing two unnamed sources, that “Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women.” While Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, has filed for divorce and many other female actors, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have came forward with tales of unwanted touching and advances, The Weinstein Company is bleeding money. Channels are canceling TV shows. Theatrical arms are putting films on permanent hold and anything with the name Weinstein on it is suffering. And he was Banned for Life From The TV Academy. Could this be the end of The Weinstein Company? It sure looks so. And to think just a few years ago they were a part of The Walt Disney Company Meanwhile, the Twitter account belonging to Rose McGowan was placed on temporary suspension Wednesday night for unspecified violations of the social media site’s rules. I have one question: If her account can be suspended, why can’t Trump’s ? Amazon on Friday, October 13, 2017 became the latest outfit to distance itself from the still-unfolding Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, severing ties with The Weinstein Company, and canceling an in-development series from David O. Russell that was set to star Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore. All three support Amazon’s decision. October 14, 2017: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein from its ranks. The Academy’s 54-member board of governors — which includes such Hollywood luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg and Kathleen Kennedy — held an emergency meeting at the organization’s Beverly Hills headquarters today and voted to strip away Weinstein’s lifetime membership. So many actresses, including Eva Green, Lysette Anthony and Natalie Mendoza have accused him of sexual abuse or rape, it’s a wonder Harvey Weinstein got any movies made. His membership to the Producers Guild of America has also been terminated on October 16, 2017. On October 17, 2017, Harvey Weinstein formally resigned from the board of The Weinstein Company. It’s about time! Also: Spike is investigating “ THE MIST ” showrunner Amanda Segel’s allegations of harassment against Bob Weinstein. Who didn’t see this coming? The only thing that really bothers me about all this criminal activity is that we may lose Miramax, who have given us more than their share of horror and genre movies. Some good , some awful . October 30, 2017: Now all this women power “#MeToo” has hit Kevin Spacey who finally admitted to being gay and apologized to actor Anthony Rapp for “sexual misconduct” when he was just 14 in 1986. Harry Dreyfuss, son of actor Richard Dreyfuss, has claimed via a Buzzfeed News column that he was once molested by Kevin Spacey while his own father was in the room. “It happened one night when the three of us were alone in Kevin’s apartment rehearsing my father’s lines. My father didn’t see, and I didn’t tell him about the incident for many years, ” he wrote. “Instead, I spent the next nine years telling people the story at parties for laughs.” For Laughs? Really? Spacey May find himself banned from Great Britain. If he steps one foot on British soil, he would possibly be thrown into a prison for forceable rape. Sony Pictures is considering moving the release date of ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD and is weighing canceling its American Film Institute premiere next week , according to insiders. The studio is still debating how to best position the Ridley Scott drama in the wake of multiple sexual assault and harassment allegations against its star Kevin Spacey. A final decision has yet to be made. If ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD’s premiere is moved, there is a good chance it will be released in June 2018 instead of its current Dec. 22, 2017 release date . November 8, 2017: In a move that could be called revolutionary or crazy, director Ridley Scott is replacing all the scenes of Spacey as J. Paul Getty in the movie and recast Christopher Plummer as Getty in replacement scenes to be shot a little over a month before the film is to be released to theaters. This takes balls and Ridley Scott has them! No one knows what will happen to Spacey’s career , but women such as Rose McGowan , Dan Savage and Billy Eichner are slamming Spacey’s apology as “not enough”. Netflix has canceled Spacey’s hit series HOUSE OF CARDS because they are “troubled” over the allegations made against Spacey over 30 years ago. After touting that Netflix is killing off Spacey’s character, leveler heads prevailed at Netflix an said they were officially severing ties with HOUSE OF CARDS completely. Additionally, the streamer has scrapped a Gore Vidal biopic Spacey was set to star in.  What do they want him to do? Pay him off? Then they will call him an extortionist. This looks like the end of the Hollywood System, which may be a good thing, but I think a lot of actors are getting a raw deal over things they did when they were much younger . If fans can forgive Sports Heroes for their many sins, including drug taking, Steroid use and dog fighting, why can’t they forgive Actors? Now will someone please shut Rose McGowan up? October 30, 2017: Rose McGowan is the subject of an arrest warrant related to a felony drug charge in Loudoun County, Virginia, the Associated Press is reporting. Police issued the warrant on Feb. 1, following a Jan. 20 incident in which traces of narcotics were detected on items left on a United flight bound for Washington Dulles International Airport. Police say McGowan did not respond to attempts to contact her to appear in court, according to the AP. The actress was blunt in her assessment of the charges, calling them “a load of HORSESHIT” late Monday morning and accuses the authorities of trying to “silence” her. McGowan became a prominent voice against sexual harassment after going public with her accusation that she was raped by Harvey Weinstein, and confirming in a New York Times report that she was one of the women with whom Weinstein settled sexual harassment lawsuits. She later said that just weeks before the New York Times report was published, Weinstein offered her $1 million to stay quiet about her accusations. Some say that McGowan is becoming a little too prominet and should learn to keep quiet unless she has the evidence to back it up. October 31, 2017: Now Jeremy Piven is being accused of sexual assault against a Playboy Bunny at Hef’s Playboy mansion while he was starring on the HBO Series ENTOURAGE , CBS is looking very closely at the allegations and may even cancel Piven’s new CBS show WISDOM OF THE CROWD .  Brett Ratner has been accused of Sexual Misconduct by 6 Women Including Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge. Henstridge claims that Ratner forced her to perform oral sex on him in his New York apartment in the 1990s. The actress, then a 19-year-old model, was hanging out with the then-music video director watching TV. Henstridge fell asleep, she told the Los Angeles Times, and when she woke up the others had left and she was alone with Ratner. He blocked the exit and began touching himself, she tells the Times, and then he forced her to perform oral sex on him. He has been annointed the “King Of Pigs” on Twitter. All projects with Ratner’s production company, Ratpac Entertainment are on hold, including Ratner’s biography on Hugh Hefner, that Ratner was attached to direct and produce. Ratner’s attorney Martin Singer dismissed the accounts of Henstridge and the five other women, who opened up to the Times in a series of interviews, saying the alleged sexual misconduct occurred in private homes, on movie sets or at industry events. None of the women the Times spoke to reported the allegations to the police, the paper says in its Nov. 1 story and Ratner vehemently denies all the allegations. Playboy is reviewing the situation before they make a decision. NOVEMBER 01, 2017: The Weinstein Company has removed their horror-thriller movie POLAROID from its Nov. 22 release date with no explanation. Box office tracker ComScore confirmed the move Tuesday. TWC’s Dimension Films began production in March in Nova Scotia on POLAROID, based on director Lars Klevberg’s short film about a high school loner who stumbles upon a vintage Polaroid camera tainted with a dark secret. She soon discovers the camera has the power to murder those who come in contact with it. The cast includes Kathryn Prescott, Mitch Pileggi, Grace Zabriskie, Tyler Young, Keenan Tracey, Samantha Logan, Priscilla Quintana, Madelaine Petsch, and Javier Botet. Producers are Roy Lee and Chris Bender. At the 2016 American Film Market, Klevberg and Lee made a presentation to buyers and touted the fright factor for POLAROID.” Lee, who helped develop THE RING and THE GRUDGE franchises, asserted that POLAROID would be a franchise starter. Weinstein’s brother Bob Weinstein, founder and head of Dimension, said at the same event that Dimension would focus on fewer films with bigger budgets in order to create franchises. And so it begins……no more miniscule budgets for films like HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS or CHILDREN OF THE CORN: GENESIS just to keep their licenses from being snatched-up by other companies. Dimension and Miramax were the Kings of Franchises. Time for them to relinquish their mantle to BlumHouse Productions or WWE Productions . Actress Julianna Margulies said in an interview that producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Steven Seagal both tried to sexually harass her earlier in her career. Doe this really surprise anyone? With Marguiles & Seagal, this must have happened during the filming of OUT FOR JUSTICE , Marguiles’ first acting assignment. This is no way for any woman to enter show business. Anna Graham has has accused Dustin Hoffman in The Hollywood Reporter of sexually harassing her as a teenager in a column that describes the actor as making lewd comments and groping her on the set of the 1985 TV film adaptation of DEATH OF A SALESMAN. Dustin Hoffman? There soon may be no males in Hollywood if it keeps up at this rate. It seems that women are getting exactly what they want: Dominence in Hollywood! Both LAPD & NYC Police believe they have a legal case against Weinstein, so look for an arrest shortly . When Corey Feldman gets involved in the sexual abuse name game, it is time to take a real close look at the allegations. Corey says he has the names and even named one, a bit actor who worked with him on THE LOST BOYS that raped him ! . One important thing for victims of such horrendous allegations to remember: Charges Delayed = Delayed Justice. The time for female empowerment is now! Add about a dozen more well-known names, such as Charlie Rose , Ryan Seacrest, Disney/Pixar’s John Lasseter and, surprise!, actor Tom Sizemore and it is beginning to look like it would be easier to point out sexual predators in showbiz rather than pointing out the innocent ones. Every day the list grows longer. Nearly all these people have been suspended from their movies, TV shows, studios or outright replaced , that there is going to be a male actor shortage when it comes to casting a TV Series or Film. Remember men: Karma is a bitch. Women will no longer be sexually abused and keep silent . And that is a good thing. NOTE: November 29, 2017: Matt Lauer has been fired from THE TODAY SHOW and NBC NEWS for “inappropriate sexual behavior”. That is a big loss for NBC since Lauer has been with TODAY since 1993 and will surely put a dent in their ratings. Of course, Trump Tweeted “Check out Andy Lack’s past!”, referring to the Chairman of NBC NEWS. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! This is your President, folks! . Word is out that some tech giants from Silicon Valley will be the next to get the ax. Stay tuned. NOTE #2: December 5, 2017: Danny Masterson was written out of Netflix’s streaming series THE RANCH due to him being accused of raping multiple women. Masterson says, “From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused. I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all.” What Masterson said is true. We, as a society, have to figure out a way to separate the false allegations from the true ones and not jump the gun and destroy a person’s career and reputation . This has become a feeding frenzy and people with a grudge against a certain person can allege inappropriate sexual abuse. Rather than perform an investigation, studios fire the person assumed guilty and then perform an investigation, not caring the the person fired may be innocent. Masterson has been one of the few to deny the charges against him. Netflix will resume shooting Season 3 of the series in early 2018, but will keep Masterson in the episodes already shot. NOTE #3: December 6; 2017: Time magazine named “The Silence Breakers” of the #MeToo movement its 2017 Person Of The Year. It looks like it’s going to be a long ride until this finger-pointing ends. At least Trump didn’t get it . AUGUST 5, 2017: Sometimes I really go out of my way to watch films I never want to watch. I have watched all five SHARKNADO movies and the latest one, SHARKNADO 5: GLOBAL SWARMING is the weakest one yet , turning April into nothing but a head and son Gil into an adult in the end as they take off in a flying time-traveling vehicle that is a direct take-off of BACK TO THE FUTURE . There were also weak take-offs of the STAR TREK TV Series , RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK , GOLDFINGER and Tom Cruise’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE . The funniest bit is when Geraldo Rivera plays the pilot of a Zeppelin and opens a vault and finds it empty, a take-off of Rivera’s unsuccessful 1986 live bid to find something in Al Capone’s vault. The Zeppelin explodes and some news reporter has the audacity to say “Oh! The Humanity!” The end title says “To Be Continued” in BACK TO THE FUTURE typeface, but since SyFy hasn’t greenlit a sixth film and this one got the lowest ratings of all five films, it looks like The Asylum will have to release the sixth installment as a DTV film. I would just rather see them stop completely. And finally, Al Roker gets killed in this one!
JULY 20, 2017: My condolences to the family and children of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who committed suicide by hanging at the age of 41. They released their first all-Pop album in May of 2017 and it hurt some fans’ feelings because this was unlike anything they have ever done before because it sounded nothing like their first album’s cut “In The End” from “Hybrid Theory”. I hate to disagree with the fans but their new album, “One More Light” is a delight and the sixth song, “Heavy” is my favorite Linkin Park song of all time. Listening to its lyrics will give you some idea of how Bennington felt at the time , but he left six children behind. We have to start talking seriously about suicide because people are killing themselves at a rate not seen since the Great Depression in the 1920’s & 1930’s. It’s time to bring suicide out into the open and discuss it with all seriousness and not make fun of it like the assholes on Facebook . Suicide doesn’t mean only one person suffers. Everyone who knew the victims also suffer.
JULY 17, 2017: If people are wondering why I have not written obituaries for Martin Landau and George Romero, the explanation is simple: Once I do, it makes their death final in my eyes. I adored both of these men because I did security for both men, both at conventions and at film sites. You will never meet two nicer guys. I remember Martin once mentioning to me that he wondered if people would remember him after all the bad films he made and I told him all great actors like himself always get a second chance at greatness and I proceded to quickly name everything I remember he did and it was a long list. He was shocked that I knew his career that well and less than five years later, he won an Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor for his uncanny portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s ED WOOD . Martin sent me a letter and all it said was: “You were right, my friend.” Martin and I remained friends until the day he passed away . As for George Romero: I handled security for him at a Pennsylvania convention, where thousands of people showed up for a photo, autograph or both. He was very kind to each and every person who stood before him and when it was over, I said to him, I never seen someone treat his fans with such joyfulness. He said, “Why not? They were the ones who put me here. They deserve to remember me as a kind person.” And he was that kind of gentleman, even though he made the best trio of gory horror films in the history of film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD , which I remember, even at the age of 11, being the horror film that would change horror films in the future forever; DAWN OF THE DEAD , one of the goriest films of the 70’s which was also a scathing treatise on consumerism; and DAY OF THE DEAD , a film that was panned by most Romero fans when it first came out, but now seems to be on everyone’s Top Ten list of horror films. My personal favorite film of George’s was MARTIN , which he was so happy to hear. People think that George only made horror films, but he did much more than that, especially in the beginning of his filmmaking career. As he got older, all production companies wanted him to make was zombie films, so he did, but he also threw a lot of social commentary into them. I am at a loss for words for losing two great gentlemen, so please be patient with me when it comes to writing their obituaries. I want them to be something special, because they were special.
July 16, 2017: The BBC broke new ground by naming the latest DOCTOR WHO actress Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor since the show originated in 1964. She will become the 13th Doctor in the series and she deserves it because she is damn good in the British series BROADCHURCH . Now we have to wait and see what the fans of the series think. The bile is already flowing like a tidal wave. Give her a chance before you say such disgusting things. I believe now is the perfect time for a woman to play the immortal Doctor and I hope fans who really care feel the same way. This opens up many new doors for the Doctor to walk through.
July 07, 2017: From the “Derk Dorf” in a series of Made-For-Home Video VHS tapes or on Johnny Carson’s TONIGHT SHOW? The answer: No they didn’t. So get off your high horse and actually help blind people. Don’t bitch and moan that they didn’t get a role in a movie.
June 30, 2017: Received this email from someone named Shaun Shaffer . It shows how a typical Trump supporter really thinks : “YOU DIRTY JEW! TRUMP IS THE BEST PREZ SINCE BILL CLINTON AND ALL YOU GODDAMN HILLARY CUNTFUCKING CRYBABIES NEED TO GET USED TO IT! PEOPLE LIKE YOU NEED TO BE DEPRTED AND KILLED! YOUR WOMEN NEED TO BE RAPED! I’VE SUPPORTED TRUMP ALL THE WAY! I DID NOT VOTE BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO BE NEAR YOU CRYBABY FAGS! WOMEN CAN NEVER BE PRESIDENT! TRUMP WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN AND THERE IS NOT A GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING THING ANY OF YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT! WHEN YOU PISS TRUMP AND HIS SUPPORTERS OFF,WE WILL STRIKE BACK TEN TIMES HARDER! AND ALL THOSE SO-CALLED “CELEBS” WHO THREATENED TO MOVE TO CANADA IF TRUMP BECAME PREZ? THEY WERE JUST BLOWING SMOKE UP THEIR SELF-INDULGENT ASSES! DON’T FUCK WITH US OR YOU WILL DIE,YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!” I think no more has to be said.
June 19, 2017: My deepest condolences to David Cronenberg for the death of his wife, Carolyn Zeifman, who passed away in Toronto, Canada at the age of 66. She helped her husband on some of his earlier films, being a Production Assistant on RABID , and Assistant Picture Editor on THE BROOD and a couple others, before making documentaries for DVD and Blu-Ray of her husband’s later films. They were married from 1979 until her death on the above date. Also: My condolences to Marvel superstar Stan Lee, who lost his wife of 69 years, Joan Lee . She passed away on July 6, 2016. It is hard staying married long in this industry, but these two couples bucked the system. Love conquers all.
June 10, 2017: Goodbye Adam West and thanks for all the wonderful memories. There was only one Adam West and I thank whatever god you believe in that I got the chance to meet and talk to you on several occasions. A nicer man there never was. The world is worse off without him on it.
June 7, 2017: According to Variety: “Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has launched a “clean version” initiative allowing viewers to screen edited versions of two dozen Sony films. The studio is making the broadcast TV or airline version of these 24 titles available when a consumer purchases a film in its original form on iTunes, Vudu, and FandangoNOW. ‘The Clean Version allows viewing for a wider audience, giving people the chance to watch their favorite films together,’ Sony said. ‘Clean Version movies can be accessed with purchase of the theatrical versions.’ The films include all five versions of SPIDER -MAN , along with 50 FIRST DATES, BATTLE OF THE YEAR, BIG DADDY, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON , EASY A., ELYSIUM , GHOSTBUSTERS , GHOSTBUSTERS II , GOOSEBUMPS ,  GROWN UPS, GROWN UPS 2, HANCOCK , INFERNO , MONEYBALL, PIXELS , STEP BROTHERS, TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY and WHITE HOUSE DOWN .” Now my personal opinion: Since most of these films have been Rated PG-13 when they were theatrically shown , I fail to see the usefullness of cleaning them up. I can now see it: A person in a movie says “Fuck you!” and in the cleaned-up version, the dialogue is changed to “Fudge you!”. And most kids have already seen the uncut SPIDER-MAN films, so cleaning them up seems kind of moot. I believe this was pressure put on Sony by the religious right to clean up their films so religious people can show these movies to their kids. No sex , no violence and no foul language. Watch a Pixar film instead. Fuck them! ; at least Sony makes sure you buy the original theatrical version to get the cleaned-up versions. Many people, including Seth Rogan, Judd Apatow and The Directors Guild Of America fail to see the point of all this. And companies have tried this before, only to have all the major studios shut them down in court. Now Sony is doing what it sued not to be done to their films. Clean them up. I don’t watch TV versions of any movie unless it is uncut, unedited and commercial free on Pay TV. Wise up Sony!
June 1, 2017: Do you want to know the real reason why Donald Trump wants to wipe out everything Barack Obama contributed not just only to our country, but to the world? Plain and simple. Donald Trump is a racist and hates Blacks. Sure, he has a few “token” Blacks in his administration , but that is only to keep up appearances. I can think of no other reason why a white man would want to wipe out all the good Obama has done for us. Plain and simple, Donald Trump is a racist and when he hears that white supremacists support him, he smiles on the inside. All you Trump supporters are in for a big surprise and it is coming soon. It will make Watergate or Bill Clinton’s blowjob look like a Disney movie. I have never been sickened by a white man this much in my entire life . He is doing everything he can to make people of color’s life so bad, they will die of starvation. And he treats white poor people the same way, going back on all the promises he made during his run. Now he will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which means that people will be choking on deadly smog in the near future. He cares about nothing but himself. WAKE UP PEOPLE and voice your displeasure of this obvious psychotic President. A President that would destroy this country if he weren’t about to be impeached and his son-in-law put in prison. At least that is what I hope happens.
May 19, 2017: I admire CNN’s Anderson Cooper for telling a Trump supporter “If took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.” That was pure genius. But Cooper should have never apologized for saying it because you should never say you are sorry for telling the truth. Cooper’s remark came on the heels of political commentator and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord saying he “ care” what information Trump gives to the Russians, because “he’s the president of the United States.” Lord should be the one apologizing, but Trump supporters never say they are sorry because every one who disagrees with them are wrong. At least Lord took the remark with the humor it deserved. Next time Anderson, don’t apologize to people who would never apologize to you.
MAY 09, 2017: So Number 45 fires FBI Director James Comey in the middle of an investigation between Trump and the Russians, This is the straw, folks, The one that broke the camel’s back. Now don’t get me wrong, Comey deserved to be fired, if only for announcing a new Hilary Clinton email investigation a day before the Presidential election last November and giving a Press Q & A about the Clinton email investigation, something a FBI Director never does, but Trump gladly kept him on after he was sworn in. Now he fires him in the middle of a criminal investigation . No President has fired the head of any head of any government law enforcement agency during a criminal investigation, especially one that may involve him. But here is Number 45 doing just that, because he can and it will turn out to be the biggest blunder of his short Presidential career. Politicians, law enforcement and most importantly, the people, will question his timing of firing Comey. Did he come too close to the truth for Number 45’s own good? Or did he find out the real answer and now that he is no longer an FBI agent, he doesn’t even have to be called to testify ? Oh, Number 45, how we will not miss you. You thought you could do anything you wanted and then you hit a brick wall. I hope you serve some prison time when the Trump/Russia illegal relationship turns out to be true . NOTE: Comey wrote a letter to all his investigators saying that he accepts his firing, but will miss the people he worked with and the investigation. As with most letters, it is not what is said, but what isn’t said. Not once did he mention the President, so that has to mean something. A few days before he was fired, Comey asked for more funds and investigators to finish their investigation. And then he was fired. Republicans are telling the people to “move on” and forget about Comey’s firing. Remember, they are the great deceivers. And Number 45? Well, he is still Tweeting accusations and lawsuits that Comey may have taped him, when, in fact, Number 45 tapes everyone that comes into his office. Just another illegal offence to add on to his list. And hey, Republicans, we will not “move on” until this situation is taken care of in a proper legal way. And that does not include anyone Number 45 hires to replace Comey in the investigation. We need an independent investigation. We will not settle for anything less. Good luck to the new impartial investigator, Robert Mueller. If anyone can root out the truth, it is him, but his findings still are reported to Number 45’s administration before anyone else. If I know Robert Mueller , he will not settle for anything but the truth to reach the public, whether Number 45 tries to cover it up or not. Number 45 better have a few pair of new underwear handy, because he is about the shit the ones he’s in. NOTE #2: Roger Ailes, the embattled former CEO of Fox News, has passed away on May 18, 2017. Looks like Number 45 will get less Press Coverage from FNC for the next few days. As much as I hate FNC, R.I.P. to Roger Ailes. He was 77 years-old.
MAY 08, 2017: Former President Bill Clinton and best-selling author James Patterson are co-writing a book this Summer. Word is the title of the book will be a semi-biography of Number 45 titled “The First Cock-Holster: What It Feels To Be Hated By the World Without Saying Anything Productive With all That Russian Meat In His Mouth.” It is guaranteed to be an all-time best seller. It is supposed to be first in a line of books between Clinton & Patterson about Number 45, the second one being “How Adult Diapers Saved My Businesses.” Fake or Real? You decide.
May 02, 2017: That retard William Wilson is at it again. A little backstory: William and I traded hundreds of DVD-Rs years ago and then we just lost touch. My Facebook account was hacked while I was in the hospital sick and the person who hacked it said I died. Mr. Wilson accused me of faking my own death with the flimsiest of evidence and then labeled me a liar in one of his movie reviews. This person doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He has no scruples. If I actually faked my own death, I would have to be the stupidest person in the world because all anyone would have to do is Google my name to see I was very much alive. Yet loads of my ex-Facebook friends believed Wilson and some even wrote my obituary on their blogs before checking their sources. He and Number 45 are like two peas in a pod. He left Facebook for a long time to co-author a book on Full Moon Films and recently returned to Facebook, where he started shit again by calling my good friend Steven Millan “Indiana Bonehead”, because Steven is a better writer than he is. Here is a person who just co-authored a book already starting to put down people because he cannot handle people better than him . If he is looking to sabotage his career, William Wilson is doing a very good job of it. Keep it up Wilson. Your book will end up in the cut-out bins of every book store. At least Troy Howarth writes great books, even if we don’t talk anymore. I have praised him endlessly in my Best Zines and Books section of the ODDS ‘N’ ENDS part of this site. You will never make it into that section William. Never.
May 01, 2017: Number 45 and his crafty bunch of asswipes created a commercial where they call CNN, MSNBC and other news outlets “Fake News” and then cry foul that their First Amendment Rights are being ignored when none of the news stations would show the commercial . This is what we can expect from Number 45 for the next four years. They knew none of the news stations would show the commercial because it is a blatant lie, but they make the commercial anyway to make them look good and all the news stations, besides Fox News , as the bad guys. Any smart person can see exactly how Number 45 is playing fast and loose with our Bill of Rights and The Constitution, but his own lemmings, many born without a working brain, are howling how our President is being denied his rights. His rights of what? Spitting blatant lies? It is like showing a man being killed live on SESAME STREET with all the children watching it. Some things are not First Amendment issues, especially when they are false. If Number 45 says something in public, the exact opposite is true. UPDATE: April 7, 2017: Apparently every TV channel has refused to show Donald Trump’s Commercial. “All of the mainstream media television networks have decided to block the paid placement of a campaign ad that celebrates the achievements of President Trump in his first 100 days in office,” railed daughter-in-law Lara Trump. “Apparently, the mainstream media are champions of the First Amendment only when it serves their own political views. Faced with an ad that doesn’t fit their biased narrative, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC have now all chosen to block our ad. This is an unprecedented act of censorship in America that should concern every freedom-loving citizen.” Are you kidding me? Calling people names without a lick of proof is not only dangerous, it is foolhardy and should be against the law. We all know how Number 45 feels about every channel except Fox News Channel , but he and every Republican know that if a Democrat were to say the same thing about FNC, there would be war in the White House. Everyone knows this is a bunch of bunk put out there to keep our mind off the Trump/Putin relationship . “Cock Holster” is my new favorite term because it describes our new President to a tee when it comes to Putin and Number 45. The light at the end of the tunnel is not that far away. He is running out of things to take our minds off Russia. And when that happens, He will be forced out as President. Now he know how it feels not to be accepted into one of his hotels because our bank statements aren’t big enough. Boo-fuckin’-hoo, Cock Holster.
APRIL 29, 2017: Let’s make this short and sweet. The only reason Number 45 didn’t attend the annual White House Press Correspondents’ Dinner is because he cannot stand anyone making fun of him. If he were there , everyone who made fun of him probably would have gotten a cease and desist letter from his littany of lawyers. Another reason to hate 45. He cannot take a joke at his own expense, right Samuel ? He also thinks my views on asking Trump supporters to pass my web site because I don’t want them here is “like me putting a sign up on my store saying no blacks or fags allowed.” Yep, those are his exact words. In other words, a typical brain-dead Number 45 supporter who fails to understand that I can’t stop Number 45 supporters from reading my site, but he can tell African Americans and Homosexuals not to enter his store. And he would lose a lot of business. I don’t care if no one reads my site. I do it because I like it. This site does not run for profit as you see no advertising on it.
April 26, 2017: So Bill Cosby tells everyone today that he has been blind for two years, just before his 2004 rape trial is about to begin. He says he was walking with his wife and suddenly he couldn’t see. He had doctors and everything to prove it was true. So how does this affect his trial? It doesn’t. He could see perfectly well when he slipped women roofies and raped them. Sight has nothing to do with his heinous crimes. I feel no sympathy towards him and neither should anyone else . A rapist deserves to go to prison for life and maybe feel what it is like to be raped. Besides, I never forgave him for LEONARD PART 6 and GHOST DAD . I hope he is found guilty and has to spend the rest of his worthless dark life in a prison cell with a white supremacist named Bongo. UPDATE: June 17, 2017: The judge on Cosby’s 2014 sexual assault trial called for a mistrial after the jury deadlocked for five days of deliberations. Cosby is estactic, but he will stand for a retrial according to the Prosecutor and hopefully go broke in the civil trials when he does go to jail. Cosby likes to think that his celebrity caused the mistrial , but the fact is his career is over and when he is tried for a second time, he can look forward to a guilty verdict. He will then spend the rest of his raping life in prison, right where he belongs.
April 24, 2017: Thank you A&E for giving us five years of BATES MOTEL and not sticking to Alfred Hitchcock or Robert Bloch’s version of it. The iconic shower scene from the original was played much differently in the TV Series and the final episode was nothing like the end of the 1960 movie . WARNING SPOILERS: In the TV series, Mother and Norman were finally reunited, albeit tragically in death, when Dylan was forced to shoot Norman when he charged at him with a knife . Norman wanted to die and gave Dylan no choice but to kill him. We see in the future that Dylan, Emma and their daughter have put all the craziness behind them and live happily ever after. A perfect ending for a wonderful series. Both Vera Farmiga as Mother Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates were perfectly cast and I see a long acting and directing future for Highmore . Vera Farmiga has been acting for years; my favorite film she appeared in was director/screenwriter Wayne Kramer’s RUNNING SCARED , in which the late Paul Walker played her husband. Sorry to see the series end, but at least it went out on a high note. NOTE: A&E has said that this will be the end of new scripted shows for the foreseeable future. I guess I can now cross them off my list of channels to watch.
April 21, 2017: After a long delay, a deal is finally in place to produce a second edition of Fox’s THE X-FILES revival. The show’s three principals, stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, and creator/executive producer Chris Carter, are back for the new installment. The event series is set to air during the 2017-2018 season, with production set to begin in Summer 2017. Let’s just hope they don’t show the first new episode after The Super Bowl like they did the last time. This will be a 10 episode season rather than a 6 episode event series like the first revival. Welcome back THE X-FILES and keep the new episodes and seasons coming! We all know The Truth Is Out There and we need you to show us the way.
April 19, 2017: Could it be true? Is America coming to its senses? Word is that Rupert Murdoch will fire Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel’s THE O’REILLY FACTOR for paying five women $13 million for sexual assault and Fox News knew all about it . Murdoch is in Europe hoping to buy a major cable news channel, but if he keeps O’Reilly, that deal may fall through. He may have no other choice but to fire him. Let’s hope so. Seems like America hasn’t come to its senses. It is only one billionaire finally doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons. O’Reilly should have been fired years ago for his views on women and non-white people in general, but Murdoch kept him on because he was a moneymaker. O’Reilly has lost so many advertisers since The New York Times broke the story , Murdoch will have no choice but to fire him because of the Europe deal and O’Reilly’s show is now losing millions of dollars a day. Of course, O’Reilly’s lawyer is accusing far-left organizations of a “Brutal Campaign of Character Assassination.” Since when is an obvious female sexual abuser the good guy? . Ever since Number 45 became President, that is when. Let’s ignore all the obvious felony sexual assaults and give him a new start. NOT!!! Now, let’s show Number 45 is also not a good guy when it comes to women , New York Times! We the people will fire him! He can Tweet to his heart’s content about how “Fake News” organizations are out to get him and Fox News is the only news organization he trusts, but he is in for a real eye-opener very soon. He is an eight-year old schoolboy in big boy pants with no idea how the Presidency works. Nobody but him trusts Fox News. It isn’t even registered with the FCC as a news channel. It is registered as an entertainment channel. The time is now, people! UPDATE: Bill O’Reilly has been let go by Fox, when Rupert Murdoch and his two sons thought it was in their best interest because major advertisers will not come back if Bill O’Reilly was still a member of Fox News Channel. The KKK and White Nationalists are in mourning, holding rallies all across the U.S. over the loss of their High Commander as their voice on TV . One down, many more to go . NOTE: Number 45 has fired U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and replaced him with Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams. Gee, I wonder why this happened ? Could it be that Vivek is an Indian-American and we all know how our current President feels about Muslims or possible Muslims? How much longer are we going to let Number 45 get away with his prejudices? NOTE #2: Now Fox News Channel anchorman Tucker Carlson is being accused by several women of making inappropriate sexual remarks to them. It seems Fox News is in a big state of flux right now. I wonder if Number 45 will still call them the only news channel not putting out Fake News? I think because he is also a sexual abuser of women, he will stand by Fox. They tend to stick together.
April 9, 2017: Congratulations CBS for showing seven hours of golf and not showing a new episode of ELEMENTARY this week because golf ran overtime by one hour. We on the East Coast are sick and tired of you destroying shows because of sports overruns. This is the third time this season it has happened . The West Coast gets to see the new episodes while the East Coast goes right to the nightly news. The last four series that had a Sunday 10:00 PM time slot on CBS have been cancelled. If you cancel one of my favorite shows, your network is dead to me. And what psychopath can stand watching 7 hours of golf on TV? Does anyone think golf is more important than scripted shows? If you do, watch The Golf Channel .
April 5, 2017: During the March 31 to April 2, 2017 weekend, the Shia LaBeouf/Gary Oldman post-apocalypse film MAN DOWN broke all kinds of records in the U.K.. Unfortunately the records were not the good kind. It sold a total of one ticket in the one theater in Burnley, Northern England that was willing to take it. It went on to sell three more tickets after the weekend before the film was pulled and replaced with another movie. Shia LaBeouf has said on several occasions that he was giving up acting. If this isn’t an omen, I don’t know what is.
April 5, 2017: Sylvester Stallone reportedly will not appear in EXPENDABLES 4 because he disagrees with Nu Image/Millennium chief Avi Lerner about the the direction of the new film, including its director and script. Arnold Schwarzenegger said without Stallone, he would not appear in the film . Avi Lerner better learn to trust Stallone’s opinion. Stallone has been on a big film streak lately, including one that got him an Academy Award® nomination, one he deserved to win.
April 03, 2017: Congratulations to Doris Day , who turns 95 years old today. Ms. Day was never actually sure what year she was born, so The Associated Press went to Ohio’s Office of Vital Statistics, obtained a copy of Ms. Day’s birth certificate and discovered she was born on April 3, 1922, making her 95. Here’s to many more birthdays to a living legend. SAD NOTE: Doris Day passed away on May 12, 2019 at the age of 97.
March 28, 2017: Goodbye BONES and thanks for 12 Seasons of witty banter, suspense , rotting corpses and more day and time changes than any other TV Series I can think of. Yet you prevailed for twelve years, which I think says a lot about your fans. Calling them rabid is an understatement and ending the final episode like any other episode, where Booth and Brennan are bantering as the screen goes black, tells us all there may be a time in the future when they will return. While most TV Series use a marriage and wedding to increase ratings, on this show it seemed like a natural next step for Brennan and Booth. Thanks to everyone involved in the show, both past and present, for giving us a show that could keep us entertained for an hour. Nothing groundbreaking, but a nice, pleasant diversion for the week.
March 25, 2017: Number 45 is like a modern technological version of the old fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. One day, he is going to announce a real major event in the world on Twitter and no one will believe him because of all the false statements he has made on it on a continuing basis. Do we have to guess what is true and what is false? Never in my life has there been a President I can not trust to get the news out in a truthful manner. There’s nothing wrong with the technology, just the person who uses it. His reckless use of Twitter may spell the end of the United States. How come all I can see in my mind is Putin smiling?
March 20, 2017: To prove that some Republicans are beginning to come around to logical thinking , Tomi Lahren, who hosts a nightly show on Glenn Beck’s far-right leaning network THE BLAZE, has been suspended for a week saying that she was Pro-Choice when it came to women deciding what to do with their bodies when she was a guest on THE VIEW the Friday before. Her words were: “I am a constitutional, y’know, someone that loves the Constitution. I’m someone that’s for limited government,” she said. “So I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies. I can sit here and say that, as a Republican and I can say, you know what, I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.” She still has the thought that we want to take away everyone’s guns , but at least she spoke her mind on abortion, which got her suspended for a week. She has been making fun of her suspension on Twitter every day, so she may not ever come back to THE BLAZE. People don’t seem to realize that people like Glenn Beck began their careers as comedians. They are entertainers, not places to get real news. And as soon Ms. Lahren spoke something that goes against every Alt-Right commandment, she was punished. Add to that FOX News benching Judge Andrew Napolitano for telling lies about the British wiretapping Number 45 with President Obama’s approval and it looks like things are changing in the political atmosphere . But we have a long way to go. This is the country we are living in now. Freedom of Speech means nothing anymore, especially if you want to keep your job . UPDATE: March 27, 2017: What did I tell you? Tomi Lahren has been “banned permanently” at THE BLAZE. One step forward, ten steps back. A woman speaks her mind and a man tells lies. So who gets their job back? A man, of course. Ms. Lahren has rightfully brought a freedom of speech lawsuit against Glenn Beck and the financially-strapped THE BLAZE.
March 11, 2017: New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, one of the 46 Attorneys that were appointed during the Obama administration, revealed that he was fired after he refused to step down from his post at the request of Number 45’s team. Bharara had previously made it clear that he would not be resigning, but was then told by General Jeff Sessions that they had to vacate their positions. “I did not resign,” tweeted Bharara. “Moments ago I was fired.” Is this the kind of President you want running our country? A vile, racist, puerile portrait of a man who fired 46 viable and accomplished U.S. Attorneys simply because they were hired by President Obama, so he can replace them with attorneys that lean so far to the Right that they would fall over if they sneeze? Why are you just sitting on your ass? Go out and protest. Go out and demonstrate. Number 45 is counting on you to do nothing. And so far, he has been basically right, except for the women of our country. They are the ones now with balls. If men could get pregnant, you can be damn sure they would be out protesting, too.
February 27, 2017: With all the bad news that is going on in the world and especially the U.S., the screw-up of envelopes at the Academy Awards® is the top news of the day? Is it any wonder why Number 45 attacks the media as being false? This whole Acadamy Award thing was non-news from the start, yet they play it up like it was World War III. Sure people’s feelings got hurt, but does that make it news? Not by a long shot! Everyone has their feelings hurt every day and just because they were celebrities, it makes them more important than us? Now PriceWaterhouseCooper is giving out the actual name of the two people who made the mistake so we can look upon them as the villains. I will not repeat their names because it was a MISTAKE, people. A mistake. There are mistakes happening in this world all the time. Just look at Trump as President. One of the biggest mistakes of all time. NOTE: The Academy Awards® will no longer work with those two people. Talk about overkill. Two people’s careers ruined over a simple mistake. Let’s not take into consideration all they did for the show, let’s just concentrate on their one mistake. Please!!!! This is exactly the kind of country we live in today. A career to be proud of ruined by one mistake. Shame on the Academy, shame on the Media, shame on PWC and shame on all of us for letting these two people look like villains. Both of them are getting death threats over Twitter and other internet programs and PWC [Who leaked their names in the first place. I smell a lawsuit!) had to hire protection for them. It was a FUCKING AWARDS SHOW boneheads. People are stupid. Stupid to the point of being dangerous. February 26, 2017: As much as I loved that Casey Affleck won Best Actor at the Academy Awards® , actors and filmmaking personnal should learn to keep their mouths shut when it comes to political speeches. We all hate Number 45’s ban on Muslims and his wall across the Mexico border, and his reversal of transgender bathrooms, etc., but their opinions are no more valid than mine. I may agree with them on the specifics, but the Academy Awards® is an Awards Show, so keep me entertained with show business. If I want to get angry about politics, I’ll put on FOX News. I know that this award show has lately become a springboard for political causes, but just because you are a celebrity, doesn’t mean your opinion holds more weight than mine. What you are spouting is old hat. Just thank the people who helped you earn the award and walk off the stage. Leave your political opinions at the door. You are not going to change anyone’s mind. We all know Number 45 sucks.
February 5, 2017: Congratulation to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI in what has to be one of the best “impossible come from behind” football games that I can remember. Not only did Tom Brady break the record as the quarterback with the most Super Bowl wins , but they were the first team in Super Bowl history to win a game when they were 14 points behind . It is also the first Super Bowl game to go into overtime. I’m purposely keeping politics out of this because this is what football should be: an edge-of-your seat finale that not even the best screenwriter could compose. The Patriots ruled the second half of the game, posting 28 unanswered points. Lady GaGa’s Halftime Show was average and the commercials were basically blah, but the game was the thing here. And, boy, what a game!
JANUARY 24, 2017: Congratulations to Michael Shannon for being nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in the film NOCTURNAL ANIMALS . Shannon is one of those rare actors that can do anything and if you have seen him in TAKE SHELTER , you will understand what I am talking about. He will soon be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood whether he wins or loses , simply because he is mesmerizing to watch. I know I’ll watch him in anything. NOTE: February 26, 2017: Shannon didn’t win.
JANUARY 20, 2017: Well, Donald Trump is officially our President. It’s about time we learn from our mistakes. All I have to say is I didn’t vote for this fraud. NOTE: As much as I despise Donald Trump, there is no excuse for people to bully and make fun of his 10 year-old son Barron, on TV, Radio and Online. Making fun of a President has always been a national tradition, but there is also an unwritten rule that their young children are never part of that process. Hands off by everyone, not just the Press. Like Chelsea Clinton said: Let him be a kid. I am glad Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich was suspended for making light of Barron in a Tweet . Remember: We never vote for the kids, we vote for their parents. I never want to say “Suffer The Little Children” again, but the heartless trolls out there will continue doing it. Let’s hope they can be traced and taught a lesson by the Secret Service.
JANUARY 8, 2017: I usually hate award shows, but the Golden Globes® showed class in their tribute to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. You could tell this tribute came from the heart. And a big shout-out to Casey Affleck for winning Best Actor for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA , a film very few people of this site would watch, but you must learn to be a fan of all genres of films and this one was great. Ben Affleck is not the only one to win awards and the look of pride on Matt Damon’s face as Casey walked up to the podium to pick up his award was basically all that needed to be said. Matt has been a lifelong friend with the Afflecks, but tonight was Casey’s turn. Congratulations Casey Affleck! NOTE: Even THE SIMPSONS , shown the same time as the awards, paid their respects to Carrie Fisher by putting a little tribute to her before the show started. She still has a couple of episodes of the series that she voiced that haven’t been shown yet. NOTE #2: Also a big shout-out to Meryl Streep for telling it like it is when it comes to President-elect Donald Trump mocking the disabled. Trump immediately trashed Streep on Twitter , calling her “one of most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” , a “Hillary flunk who lost big”, and saying that he never mocked the disabled, but merely showed the reporter how he looked to him. Sorry Donald, it is all on videotape, as you made bad-taste fun of a disabled reporter at one of your rallies. But we all know what Trump does: Deny everything, even if it is on audio and video. And his mentally disabled flunkies believe every word he says. This is our next President, folks!
JANUARY 1, 2017: To ring in the New Year, I would most whole-heartedly recommend visiting my friend Vince Corkadel’s new web site DEUX FELINES MEDIA. Vince is a professional jack of all trades, creating logos from scratch, designing DVD & Blu-Ray sleeves and disc art, a fantastic filmmaker and is part of a experimental electronic band called TO THE WINTER . Take a look at the website by clicking on the logo at left or go to: smedia.com/ . Vince is one in a million; the type of person that can do anything and his prices are lower than nearly everyone who use PhotoShop as their imagination. Vince may use PhotoShop, but his vivid imagination is what counts. He knows exactly what you need. Do yourself a favor and check his site out and if you know anyone who needs his services , recommend Vince. You can contact him at his website. He is not only a great professional at what he does, he is also a fantastic person who is easy to talk to. DECEMBER 25, 2016: A very sad goodbye to George Michael, one member of the 80’s duo WHAM! before he went on a solo career and had major hits with “Faith” and  “Careless Whisper” . George had some personal problems in the past and told CNN in 1998 that he was gay , but I rather remember him as a musician that loved to entertain audiences. One of my favorite musical moments was Elton John and George Michael singing Elton’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” live in Madison Square Garden back in the 90’s. Rest In Peace George. We all should have had a little more faith in you. George Michael was only 53 years old. The manner of his death is unimportant. What is important is that we forgot what a great entertainer he was. See my extended George Michael tribute in the 2016 Obituary section. DECEMBER 25, 2016: FIDEL CASTRO IS STILL DEAD, which now officially makes this movie irrelevant.
NOVEMBER 9, 2016: DONALD TRUMP IS OUR NEW PRESIDENT? Clearly, the majority of voters need psychiatric help as other countries look at us as a country full of idiotic morons and laughing at us. I really have nothing more to say, except you get what you deserve. And the more President-elect Trump and VP-Elect Pence keep moving forward appointing known racists, anti-Semites, anti-abortion and Science and Climate Deniers to their cabinet, the worst I feel this country is moving backward, not forward. All the idiots that voted for him are no better than Trump himself. Thanks for destroying our country, mindless idiots. And for all of you that keep saying give the man a chance and chill out: Fuck You!!! Trump will never be my President. You want to know why? Because I have a brain and I use it. It doesn’t just fill the top of my head and is never used like Trump supporters. They are drones who will chew their own arm off if Trump asked them to. How will they be able to count to ten without taking off one of their shoes? I saw a group of Trump supporters on CNN and the interviewer asked one of the women Trump supporters how she can look at all of his sexual assault charges and still support him? Her answer did the same thing to me as it did to the female interviewer. The female Trump supporter said : “We should overlook his past and all support him for what he does in the future.” Just like the interviewer, I slammed the palm of my hand to my forehead. Support a known sexual assaulter? Are you kidding me? It is enablers like these people that are sending our country down the toilet, just like Trump wants to jail or deport anyone who burns the American flag when the Supreme Court already said years ago that it wasn’t against the law. Or when he calls the Chinese Premier out of the blue and sets back relations with China 40 years . Or when he declares that any company that sends jobs overseas or to Mexico will be tarriffed out of business. Or hiring businessmen and women to be part of his cabinet . Or when FOX News declares that the Democrats are destroying this country, not Trump. Really, why are people supporting an egomaniac/meglomaniac like this? Like I said before, Trump will never be my President. Hell, I wouldn’t even have him shine my shoes . America is no longer the Land Of the Free, Home Of The Brave. It is now the Land of the Fake News, Home Of the Mindless Trump Idiots. In early January 2017, Trump held his first Press conference and continually failed to take any questions from a CNN reporter, barking out at him, “You are Fake News!” Really? This coming from a person that makes up fake news and expects everyone to believe him . His hypnotized group of mentally deficient followers will believe everything he says, but I will never let Fake News become the new truth. That is exactly what Trump wants. CNN is not fake news just because they don’t like Trump. Now on-line site BuzzFeed is a totally different animal. They are the purveyors of Fake News by publishing, in its entirety, the obviously fake Russian report about Trump. All CNN did was report of its existence and not mention a word of what was in the report. After the Press conference was over, Trump went on Twitter to put down CNN even more, saying “CNN is in a total meltdown with their Fake News because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!”. This is your new President, folks. Get use to these things happening daily.
NOVEMBER 7, 2016: R.I.P. JANET RENO, THE FIRST WOMAN TO SERVE AS U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON . I may not have agreed with all her decisions , but this woman had guts and frequently told us , “The buck stops with me.” . You have to admire a woman with the moxey to tell the truth when the truth wasn’t popular. She passed away due to complications of Parkinson’s disease and was 78 years old. My heart goes out to her family.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CHICAGO CUBS FOR WINNING THE WORLD SERIES IN A NAIL-BITING GAME 7. The Curse of the Billy Goat is no more after 108 seasons. A full 33% of the TVs in use on the night of November 02, 2016 were tuned to the game. All Cub fans are estatic right now and rightfully so. The 7th game was like watching a well-rehearsed suspense show, with a 17 minute rain delay and extra innings. All-In-All a well-deserved triumph for a team that has disappointed consummate fans for over a century. Those fans now have reason to celebrate.
IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT ONE OF OUR MOST TALENTED ACTORS, KIRK DOUGLAS, WILL TURN 100 ON DECEMBER 09, 2016. Having a pacemaker installed in the mid-80’s, both knees replaced, surviving a helicopter crash and having a major stroke in the 90’s , this strong old dog continues to write novels and autobiographies, including the must-read “The Ragman’s Son”. It is nice to write about legends who are still alive and Kirk Douglas is a living legend. Some of his films that may interest readers of this site are: HOLOCAUST 2000 – 1977; THE FURY – 1978 and SATURN 3 – 1980, but there are many non-genre films where his presence shines brightly.  Long may he be with us. UPDATE: Kirk Douglas passed away on February 5, 2020 at the age of 103.
HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY OLIVIA de HAVILLAND , ONE OF OUR LAST TRUE STARS OF THE SILVER SCREEN. LONG MAY YOU STAY WITH US. A true lady if there ever was one. The 100-year-old two-time Oscar winner was named a Dame Commander in Queen Elizabeth II‘s Birthday Honors list on Saturday, June 17, 2017. UPDATE: June 30, 2017: On the eve of her 101st birthday, Miss de Havilland is not above suing the FX Network, along with Ryan Murphy Productions, over her portrayal in the excellent new TV Series FEUD , saying that it paints her in a false light, according to court documents obtained by WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? . Even though Miss de Havilland did not appear in that film, she was portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the series and was not happy with her dialogue or actions in the series. She is a living legend and as much as I loved the series , I hope Miss de Havilland gets everything that is due to her. UPDATE: Olivia De Havilland passed away on July 26, 2020 at the age of 104.
GOODBYE WES CRAVEN AND THANKS FOR MAKING ME JUMP OUT OF MY SEAT MORE TIMES THAN I CAN EVER REMEMBER. YOU WERE TRULY ONE OF A KIND. I can’t believe it has been a year already.
GOODBYE BANSHEE AND THANKS FOR FOUR SEASONS OF BONE CRUSHING ACTION, GUNFIRE, GORE AND DRAMA. EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THE SHOW DESERVES A STANDING OVATION. I have never seen a show like it and I doubt I ever will again.
GOODBYE PERSON OF INTEREST AND THANKS FOR FIVE AMAZING SEASONS OF ACTION, SUSPENSE AND HUMOR. ALSO, THANKS FOR ENDING THE SERIES ON A PROPER NOTE , WITH TEARS OF BOTH JOY AND SADNESS. NOT MANY SERIES ARE AFFORDED THAT CHANCE AND YOU HIT A HOME RUN. I WILL MISS YOU. SOMEWHERE IN THE FUTURE, A FUSCO/SHAW SPINOFF WOULD BE NICE.
* September 4, 2016: Again I have more bad news. My furry female feline family member Allie passed away after 15 years of companionship this morning. After my boy Gator passed away in February of this year, Allie became my constant companion, giving me love when I needed it the most. She made me smile, laugh, cry and show nearly my entire range of emotions. For the first time in my life, I am truly alone. Allie was unlike most female cats I have ever met. She didn’t need companionship, she WANTED it and would sleep on my chest every night. She also missed Gator, but made sure that she kept me occupied to try and keep my mind busy. She would play fetch with her favorite mouse , went gonzo with a laser pointer I would use and sit on my lap while I type on my computer. I think that is what I miss the most: Allie asleep on my lap purring while I typed. And it would be for hours. I just hope that if there is a Heaven and they allow animals, that Allie and Gator are now playing together and having the time of their deaths. They both gave me unconditional love, something humans are unable to do and Allie took the helm when Gator passed away. I never had two furry four-legged family members like Allie and Gator and I doubt I will ever experience that feeling again. Those that think that the death of their pet means nothing don’t deserve to have one. R.I.P. Allie Adelman. There will never be a more beautiful and caring female family member like you again. Thanks for all the good times and there were many. Daddy will always love you . NOTE: The reason why Allie is my family member was simple. As you can see from the photo, Allie had two different color eyes and I was born with only one working eye. Allie saw me and licked me just under my non-working eye and from that moment-on, she was part of my family.
*February 27, 2016: It took me a week to write this because it was one of the most emotional times of my life, but my friend of 17 years, Gator, passed away at the age of 17. Yes, Gator was my cat, but it was more like I was his servant and I loved every minute of it. He was not only a friend, confidant, playful attacker , sleep partner, neck warmer and, most of all, someone who was able to give me unconditional love in times when I needed it the most. He seemed to understand me unlike any human being ever could. He was my son and one of the most important family members that I have ever had . When he was younger, one of his favorite things to do was go for a back ride. I would crouch over and, the next thing you know, Gator was on my back and I would run around the apartment with his two front legs on either side of my neck, like he was going on a rollercoaster ride. One day last week, as we were taking our normal one hour afternoon nap, I woke up but Gator didn’t. I  cannot express in mere words how I felt at that moment, but looking back, at least he died in his sleep and did so while lying on my stomach. He will always be a part of me and I shall never forget him. People have been telling me that 17 was pretty old for a cat, but that’s not the point. I nearly lost him in 2010 when his back legs started to fail him. But my cat doctor, Dr. Niedermeier , diagnosed him as a diabetic and I would have to give him daily insulin shots and special food. Every morning Gator would lie down while I gave him his shot at the fleshy part of his upper back. Not once in six years did he ever scratch me. And within three weeks after being diagnosed, he was back to his normal, playful self. When you have someone that close to you, age doesn’t make a difference. It is one of God’s cruel gifts that cats don’t live the lifespan of a human. Gator leaves behind a younger sister, Allie, who also misses him very much and the next day, she came to lay on my stomach to take Gator’s place when I tried to take a nap. What she did made me cry like a baby and I’m not ashamed to say that I spent a good portion of last week waiting for Gator to attack me as I walked through the door or fart next to my face when we were sleeping at night . Gator, wherever you are, remember that Daddy loves you and thinks about you every day. You were the best friend a lucky person could ever have. I’m not a lucky person, but I hit the jackpot when I brought you home from the shelter. Sleep tight, son. Sleep tight. And remember people: Adopt from a no-kill shelter. Giving love to any kind of furry friend will bring you years of joy and satisfaction. Animal lovers will understand what I am talking about and not think of me as a pansie for crying over a cat. For those of you who do think that: Shame on you.
* Click HERE to discover why you should always hire a proofreader before you release DVD sleeves. You know, because things can go worng…
FORREST J. ACKERMAN  1916 – 200 8, R.I.P.
To see a comprehensive up-to-date 2020 Obituary List, Click HERE . To see a comprehensive up-to-date 2019 Obituary List, Click HERE . Click HERE for an Important Update! R.I.P. FRED WILLARD   – R.I.P. ENNIO MORRICONE   – R.I.P. JOHN SAXON   – R.I.P. ALAN PARKER   – R.I.P. WILFORD BRIMLEY   – R.I.P. RENI SANTONI   – R.I.P. DIANA RIGG   – R.I.P. SEAN CONNERY – R.I.P. ALEX TREBEK   – R.I.P. DARIA NICOLODI   – R.I.P. HUGH KEAYS-BYRNE   – R.I.P. WARREN BERLINGER   – R.I.P. DAVID L. LANDER   – R.I.P. TOM LISTER JR.   – R.I.P. JOHN ‘BUD’ CARDOS   – R.I.P. BARBARA SHELLEY   – R.I.P. TANYA ROBERTS   – R.I.P. GREGORY SIERRA   – R.I.P. JOHN RICHARDSON   – R.I.P. ANTONIO SABATO SR.   – R.I.P. MICHAEL APTED   – R.I.P. STEVE CARVER   – R.I.P. JULIE STRAIN   – R.I.P. PETER MARK RICHMAN   – R.I.P. REMY JULIENNE   – R.I.P. HAL HOLBROOK   – R.I.P. ALBERTO GRIMALDI   – R.I.P. CLORIS LEACHMAN   – R.I.P. CICELY TYSON   – R.I.P. CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER   – R.I.P. GIUSEPPE ROTUNNO   – R.I.P. ISELA VEGA   – R.I.P. NORMAN J. WARREN   – R.I.P. YAPHET KOTTO   – R.I.P. RICHARD GILLILAND   – R.I.P. GEORGE SEGAL   – R.I.P. JESSICA WALTER   – R.I.P. CLEVE HALL   – R.I.P. JAMES HAMPTON   – R.I.P. EARL SIMMONS   – R.I.P. GIANNETTO DE ROSSI   – R.I.P. ENZO SCIOTTI   – R.I.P. MONTE HELLMAN   – R.I.P. TAWNY KITAEN   – R.I.P. BLACKIE DAMMETT   – R.I.P. CHARLES GRODIN   – R.I.P. NED BEATTY   – R.I.P. ROBERT SACCHI   – R.I.P. RONNIE CRAMER   ??/??/1957 – R.I.P. RICHARD DONNER   – R.I.P. WILLIAM SMITH   – R.I.P. ALEX CORD   – R.I.P. SONNY CHIBA   – R.I.P. EDWARD ASNER   – R.I.P. MICHAEL CONSTANTINE   – R.I.P. NINO CASTELNUOVO   – R.I.P. NORM MACDONALD   – R.I.P. DEAN STOCKWELL   – R.I.P. ART LAFLEUR   – R.I.P. LOU CUTELL   – R.I.P. DAVID GULPILIL   – R.I.P. ARLENE DAHL   – R.I.P. TOMMY LANE   – Click HERE for an Important Update!
September 20, 2017: Warner Bros.’ runaway horror hit IT will pass THE EXORCIST on Wednesday to become the highest domestic grossing horror film of all-time. Upon its initial release in 1973, THE EXORCIST grossed $193 million domestically, followed by an additional $39.9 million from two director’s cut releases in 2000 and 2010, for a total of $232.9 million. IT currently has $228.4 million after adding $4.2 million on Monday and $5.3 million on Tuesday. The movie should easily pass THE EXORCIST record this week — as early as Wednesday night.
September 15, 2017: Jamie Lee Curtis announced that she will return as Laurie Strode in Blumhouse’s Production of a HALLOWEEN reboot that will debut on Oct. 19, 2018. Since she died in HALLOWEEN:RESURRECTION , Jason Blum stated that all the Halloween sequels will be ignored except for the original and HALLOWEEN II . As you probably already know if you read my DTV section of this site, I am not the biggest fan of Blumhouse Productions. Let’s hope that it pays respect to John Carpenter’s original and is not made for a quick buck on the first week of its theatrical release and then dumped on DVD/Blu-Ray, VOD and Pay Cable like most of their films. Let me just say that I don’t have high hopes for this . Remember, Rob Zombie made his own version and a sequel that had fans hitting the roof with bad reviews . UPDATE: Read how I eat my own words HERE .
October 4, 2016: Nothing is Sacred Dept.: I am usually not against any film being remade for a new generation, because old fogies like myself will always have the original film to watch . But then I get news that the undisputed original thinker’s film SUSPERIA , directed by the always interesting Dario Argento, is being remade with Chloe Moretz, Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton and Mia Goth to star . My question is simply this. Why would anyone want to remake the first chapter of Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy and forget about the other two films ? And why such a classic film of the absurd and colorful gel-colored lighting? It just makes no sense. What’s next, a remake of Argento’s classic giallo DEEP RED ? It is slated to be directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by David Kajganich , based on the original screenplay by Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi. This is one of those head-scratching decisions that studio’s make. First it was remaking classic Japanese horror films until interest ran out and now they have switched gears and are remaking Italian classics. They picked the wrong film to start off with. Argento fans won’t see it and if it is a complete remake of the first film , no one will understand it without seeing the other two films. I predict a huge flop but Amazon has faith in the project considering the cast. Too bad no one today besides Argento has the talent of Argento. Set for release sometime in 2018. NOTE: Word is the film will be nearly 150 minutes long! UPDATE: I have seen the film and I’m going to eat my own words. This is a terrific film which pays Argento much respect. And Tilda Swinton? Marvelous in a dual role, one of them most people don’t know is her!
August 14, 2016: I have always been a fan of author Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER which was made 20 years after it was written into a 2014 film directed by Phillip Noyce. Its message is probably more relevant today as the day when she wrote it . What may surprise people more is that star Jeff Bridges has been trying to get this film professionally made right after he read it 20 years ago, with his father, the late Lloyd Bridges, playing the Giver. In a surprise revelation by Jeff Bridges: “I originally wanted to direct my father in it, as a matter of fact, somewhere in some garage, there is a version of this movie with my father playing The Giver, Bud Cort narrates the whole thing, Beau’s kids, one is shooting it, one is playing Jonas. We did the whole book, so that’s around somewhere.” We get a peek of Lloyd Bridges doing some line readings for the film on the combination DVD/Blu-Ray, but wouldn’t it be great if Jeff Bridges could find the first film and release it as a double feature with the new version? I know that Lois Lowry would approve because she and Jeff became good friends and I would be pleased as punch to see it, whether it is good or not. Let’s just hope it is not a lost film. And just a word about color desaturization in a lot of modern films. In the 2014 film, the lack of full color serves a purpose, as you will see in the film’s final minutes . While a lot of films do it mostly for “atmosphere”, this film actually has a purpose for using it. I really disliked the 2014 film the first time I saw it because it deviates too much from the book , but the more and more I watch it, I realize that the message is the same and it works as a movie on its own. If you have not seen the film, I advise doing so. Jeff Bridges gives the performance of his life , Meryl Streep has never been nastier , and the young cast also do a terrific job. This is not a YA Film, but a film about being human and what it means to be one.
JULY 12, 2016: Production will begin on SAW 8 sometime in September or October of 2016 for a Halloween 2017 release . Whether that news is good or bad depends on what you think about the films. In my opinion, I think the SAW Franchise was one of the best franchises of the new Millennium, misunderstood by most critics and, eventually audiences, who preferred the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise for Halloween theatrical consumption . Besides one very bad film the rest of the series were well-written and taut horror thrillers with a lot of surprises. And they play as one continuous story, too. Sure, they all may be considered partially torture porn, but the films had complex stories and some very inventive deaths, which were the decisions of those being killed. Everyone who died in these film were given at least two choices and some even survived. I am looking forward to another film and maybe even more if it becomes a boxoffice hit. NOTE: The film was released as JIGSAW and did moderate boxoffice business at best, but I found it to be very good, with a plot that surprises .
AUGUST 03, 2015: I received a package from Amazon of Full Moon’s DVD of TRAUMA and it had a bright blue sticker on the cellophane wrapper that said ” Physical Goods Still Rule. “. That thought made me extremely happy because I will always pick physical media over streaming versions But imagine my surprise when I opened a second Full Moon DVD and the first thing that comes on screen is Charles Band declaring that DVDs and Blu-Rays are dead, which is why we should all join his Full Moon Streaming site. He even contradicts himself by saying if we invest $18.00 for the first three months of his streaming site, he will send us three DVDs or Blu-Rays as a way of saying thanks! He decries all the losses of the brick and mortar stores as a reason why physical goods don’t sell well any more . I’m all for Charles Band pitching his new streaming site , but to say physical media is dead after slapping on a sticker on another Full Moon DVD is just more crazy Charles Band hucksterism. Don’t get me wrong. I like Band and he is one of the very few independent filmmakers to survive through the good and the bad times from the 1970’s till today, but you can’t say one thing and do another without being called out on it. Dear Charles Band: Both streaming and physical media can survive side-by-side. There is no reason to decry the death of physical media when I bought it and I know I’m not the only one who loves physical media. I am also of the mindset that if I see something I watch streaming that I like, I ALWAYS buy the physical media version of it. Just like I refuse to read ebooks , I feel the same way about owning films. Just the idea that my entire library of films resides on a few terabytes of hard disk space makes my skin crawl.
Valerie Harper is facing a devastating diagnosis: terminal brain cancer. The television icon, beloved for her role as brash New Yorker Rhoda Morgenstern on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and its spin-off, RHODA, received the news on Jan. 15, 2013 she revealed to UPDATE #6: Valerie Harper passed away on August 30, 2019 at the age of 80. R.I.P. to a true fighter.
October 10, 2013: AFM: Why the Found-Footage Genre Is Here to Stay. EXISTS , a Big Foot-themed chiller from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT co-director Eduardo Sanchez, is among the projects making a splash at this year’s market. The found-footage film has been declared dead more than once, but at AFM the low-budget horror genre is in rude health, with a stream of new projects continuing to find buzz and buyers worldwide. Case in point: EXISTS, the Big Foot-themed chiller from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT co-director Eduardo Sanchez – the grandfather of the found-footage movement – which International Film Trust sold to eOne in the U.K. and looks set to close worldwide by the end of the market. Sanchez may be a found-footage pioneer, but he, like most of the industry, largely abandoned the genre after BLAIR WITCH spawned a horde of copycat titles, none of which set box offices alight. . “The genre really didn’t jell for Hollywood until maybe CLOVERFIELD , nine years later,” Sanchez tells V/H/S/2 , which Memento Film International has had little problem selling worldwide. Other buzzy indie FF titles include APOCALYPSE , the concluding chapter in the hit Spanish franchise, which Filmax unveiled to buyers at this market, and AFFLICTED , the found-footage-with-vampires movie that premiered at Toronto’s Midnight Madness section and immediately sold to CBS Films for the U.S. . “This is still the only genre where you can have a $4 million film and go and do $50 million at the box office,” says Marc Schipper, chief operating officer at Exclusive Media, which is shopping found-footage title PROJECT BLUE BOOK at AFM, explaining the inherent appeal of the genre . The studios have certainly embraced it. Paramount continues to ride the Paranormal gravy train, with the latest, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES , a Latin-themed spinoff of the tentpole found-footage franchise set to bow Jan. 3, 2014 and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5 slotted for an Oct. 24, 2014 release . Paramount is also pushing ahead with PROJECT ALMANAC , a found-footage meets time-travel title, for which rising talents Jonny Weston and Sofia Black-D’Elia are in negotiations to star . Warner Bros. tornado disaster found-footage pic INTO THE STORM , from Steven Quale , will rip through theaters Aug. 8, 2014 and DreamWorks, after winning a bidding war for the found footage sci-fi project GLIMMER, penned by Carter Blanchard, is looking to begin shooting this summer, with Shameless star Jeremy Allen White attached . “I definitely think found footage is here to stay this time,” says Sanchez. “I think it will change into something different, maybe a mix of found footage with conventional filmmaking, but that’s where the next big thing is going to come from.”
According to has appeared on stage and on screen numerous times played by dozens of actors, and now, thanks to a recent discovery, fans of the world’s greatest detective will be able to view a lost but key piece of his on-screen history. The French film archive Cinémathèque Française announced on Wednesday that a silent film version of Sherlock Holmes produced in 1916 was discovered in their collection a few weeks ago. Produced by Essanay Studios, the film, simply titled SHERLOCK HOLMES , stars William Gillette as the titular detective, a role for which he was known around the world. Gillette is also credited with some of Holmes’ trademark characteristics, including his deerstalker hat, magnifying glass, and pipe. A nitrate dupe negative of the film was stored away in the archive’s vault, but is now undergoing a restoration process thanks to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in conjunction with Cinémathèque Française. The film, directed by Arthur Bethelet, is not only the last surviving appearance of Gillette as Holmes, but it is also his only portrayal ever committed to film. For those who want to witness a piece of Holmes and cinematic history, the film will make its European debut at the Cinémathèque Française’s festival of film restoration, Toute la Mémoire du Monde, in January 2015. The film will then premiere in America at the San Francisco Silent Film festival in May 2015.
According to THE X-FILES and are possibly interested in bringing back PRISON BREAK too . On THE X-FILES front, Fox chairman and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman say they have been in talks with series creator Chris Carter about reviving the supernatural procedural, which was a major hit for the network from 1993 to 2002. The executives also revealed they hope to have original series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their roles on the show. One thing all three titles have in common is they’re properties of 20th Century Fox Television, which Walden and Newman ran prior to adding the Fox broadcast network to their plate last year.“It’s true that we’ve had some conversations on X-Files,” Newman said. “We’re hopeful of being able to bring that back at some point.” Walden added: “Gary and I both worked through the entire run of THE X-FILES. It was a great experience. We’ve maintained good relationships with Chris, David and Gillian. We’re very hopeful, but it’s hard. The actors are very busy. They have a lot going on. Chris has a lot on his plate, so it’s just trying to carve out the time.” Amazon recently declined to make Carter’s new post-apocalyptic series project THE AFTER , so the writer-producer may be more open to revisiting his past. More problematic is that Duchovny has an upcoming NBC event series, AQUARIUS , while Anderson has a recurring role on NBC’s HANNIBAL . Both actors would presumably have to get contractually clear of their commitments to Fox’s rival before signing onto an X-Files relaunch. As for BREAK, the team sounded more skeptical of a reboot coming together, but also very interested. “There is some speculation in the press about PRISON BREAK, which honestly was slightly news to us,” Newman said. “Although we’ve made it clear over the years to the studio that we would bring PRISON BREAK back in a heartbeat. It’s probably the perfect event series. If our old partners in that show are interested, that would be great. ”It wasn’t clear if the executives planned to do PRISON BREAK with a new cast or not, but the show’s stars Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller are currently recurring as villains on The CW’s THE FLASH . UPDATE: It’s now official. New episodes of THE X-FILES will start to be filmed in the Summer of 2015, with both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returning to their iconic roles. The Bad news? It will air on FOX as a six-episode ” Event Series “. I guess six episodes are better than nothing, but it hardly puts a dent in audiences’ hunger to see the duo back together again, the first time since the 2008 theatrical film. Let’s hope that the ratings go through the roof and make FOX order more episodes from original creator Chris Carter, who is overseeing this Event Series. No air date has yet been set. UPDATE #2: FOX, in it’s ultimate stupid wisdom, will air the first episode at “10-ish p.m.” after the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, January 24, 2016. The following night, THE X-FILES will have its time period premiere at 8 p.m. on Monday. This raised questions about the strategic value of both using that football game as a platform to relaunch what is a very established property, while also simultaneously burning off one-third of the network’s inventory of the six-episode limited X-FILES return. This can only do damage to the series, since the first episode will not be DVR-friendly, because it has no concrete start time . This could hurt the series overall, since if people miss the first episode, they may not want to watch the rest . Nice move FOX, you jackasses. From
THE ATTENDANT BATTLE: EARTH TO BECOME ONE INFECTION: THE INVASION BEGINS ECHOES NIGHT-FLOWERS HOT ROD HORROR MANIACAL FINAL SCREAM SICKLE
THE VALLANZASCA GANG KARATE WARRIOR 2 KARATE WARRIOR 3 KARATE WARRIOR 4 KARATE WARRIOR 5 KARATE WARRIOR 6 SUDDENLY…ON THE THIRD FLOOR FRACCHIA VERSUS DRACULA LITTLE ITALY JUDAS KILLS ON FRIDAY AFTER THE CONDOR COLD BLOODED MURDER TRANSPLANTATION, CONSUMPTION AND DEATH OF FRANCO BROCANI LITTLE HERO VITO AND THE OTHERS FATAL POSSESSION PREDATORS OF THE ANTILLES WITCHCRAFT THE STRANGE WORLD OF PLANET X SEX CRIME THE CAVERN THE NAPOLI 5 OF THE SPECIAL SQUAD VIOLENT PROVINCE WHITE FIRE HAGAZUSSA GANGSTERS ’70 DEMONS 2 A WOMAN’S SECRET CHECK TO THE QUEEN CHEERS TO CYANIDE THE END OF ETERNITY THE GIRL FROM CORTINA HUNDRA IRONMASTER NEAPOLITAN MYSTERY LOVE ANGELS A ZED AND TWO NOUGHTS HOUSE THE FALLS
MIDSOMMAR MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES PLANETS AGAINST US THE MONSTER OF THE OPERA CASTLE OF BLOOD KILL, BABY…KILL! THE VENGEANCE OF LADY MORGAN THE SEVENTH GRAVE CAVE OF THE SHARKS CYCLONE DJANGO KILL! DEATH LAID AN EGG DEATH KNOCKS TWICE FIVE WOMEN FOR THE KILLER SPECTERS MAGDALENA – POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL HOWL OF THE DEVIL CIRCLE OF FEAR THE MUMMY THEME PARK THE WITCH THE LAST MATCH IN THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE DARK BAR MADNESS THE DEMON PARANOIA THE SHE BEAST CLAP, YOU’RE DEAD THE HELL’S GATE THE FISH WITH THE EYES OF GOLD RING OF DARKNESS THE KILLER WITH A THOUSAND EYES AT THE MEETING WITH JOYOUS DEATH A BLACK VEIL FOR LISA DYING IN CRIME SIEGE OF TERROR LISA AND THE DEVIL DEATH ON THE RUN SHADOW OF DEATH PSYCHOUT FOR MURDER NIGHT CALLER MEET HIM AND DIE CORPSE MANIA PAGANINI HORROR A QUIET PLACE TO KILL PUZZLE A SPIRAL OF MIST HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD DEMONS

Brief Descriptions and Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles

Brief descriptions of each Registry title can be found here, and expanded essays are available for select titles. The authors of these essays are experts in film history, and their works appear in books, newspapers, magazines and online. Some of these essays originated in other publications and are reprinted here by permission of the author. Other essays have been written specifically for this website. The views expressed in these essays are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Library of Congress.
In most cases, the images linked to Registry titles listed below were selected from the Library’s Prints & Photographs Online Catalog , however some are drawn from other Library collections.
“Seventh Heaven” , directed by Frank Borzage and based on the play by Austin Strong, tells the story of Chico , the Parisian sewer worker-turned-street cleaner, and his wife Diane , who are separated during World War I, yet whose love manages to keep them connected. “Seventh Heaven” was initially released as a silent film but proved so popular with audiences that it was re-released with a synchronized soundtrack later that same year. The popularity of the film resulted in it becoming one of the most commercially successful silent films as well as one of the first films to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Janet Gaynor, Frank Borzage, and Benjamin Glazer won Oscars for their work on the film, specifically awards for Best Actress, Best Directing , and Best Writing , respectively. “Seventh Heaven” also marked the first time often-paired stars Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell worked together. Expanded essay by Aubrey Solomon
Special-effects master Ray Harryhausen provides the hero with a villanous magician and fantastic antagonists, including a genie, giant cyclops, fire-breathing dragons, and a sword-wielding animated skeleton, all in glorious Technicolor. And of course no mythological tale would be complete without the rescue of a damsel in distress, here a princess that the evil magician shrinks down to a mere few inches. Harryhausen’s stunning Dynamation process, which blended stop-motion animation and live-actions sequences, and a thrilling score by Bernard Herrmann makes this one of the finest fantasy films of all time. Expanded essay by Tony Dalton
Considered to be one of the best westerns of the 1950s, “3:10 to Yuma” has gained in stature since its original release as audiences have recognized the progressive insight the film provides into the psychology of its two main characters that becomes vividly exposed during scenes of heightened tension. Frankie Laine sang the film’s popular theme song, also titled “3:10 to Yuma.” Often compared favorably with “High Noon,” this innovative western from director Delmer Daves starred Glenn Ford and Van Heflin in roles cast against type and was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard.
In the 1950s, several television dramas acted live over the airways won such critical acclaim that they were also produced as motion pictures; among those already honored by the National Film Registry is “Marty” . Reginald Rose had adapted his original stage play “12 Angry Men” for Studio One in 1954, and Henry Fonda decided to produce a screen version, taking the lead role and hiring director Sidney Lumet, who had been directing for television since 1950. The result is a classic. Filmed in a spare, claustrophobic style—largely set in one jury room—the play relates a single juror’s refusal to conform to peer pressure in a murder trial and follows his conversion of one juror after another to his point of view. The story is often viewed as a commentary on McCarthyism, Fascism, or Communism. Expanded essay by Joanna E. Rapf
James Benning’s feature-length film can be seen as a series of moving landscape paintings with artistry and scope that might be compared to Claude Monet’s series of water-lily paintings. Embracing the concept of “landscape as a function of time,” Benning shot his film at 13 different American lakes in identical 10-minute takes. Each is a static composition: a balance of sky and water in each frame with only the very briefest suggestion of human existence. At each lake, Benning prepared a single shot, selected a single camera position and a specific moment. The climate, the weather and the season deliver a level of variation to the film, a unique play of light, despite its singularity of composition. Curators of the Rotterdam Film Festival noted, “The power of the film is that the filmmaker teaches the viewer to look better and learn to distinguish the great varieties in the landscape alongside him. alone is enough to encompass a treatise on America and its history. A treatise the film certainly encourages, but emphatically does not take part in.” Benning, who studied mathematics and then film at the University of Wisconsin, currently is on the faculty at the California Institute of the Arts . Expanded essay by Scott MacDonald
At a little less than 90 minutes, “42nd Street” is a fast-moving picture that crackles with great dialogue and snappily plays up Busby Berkeley’s dance routines and and the bouncy Al Dubin-Harry Warren ditties that include the irrepressably cheerful “Young and Healthy” , “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and the title number. A famous Broadway director takes on a new show despite his ill health, then faces disaster at every turn, including the loss of his leading lady on opening night. The film features Bebe Daniels as the star of the show and Berkeley regulars Guy Kibbee, Ginger Rogers, Dick Powell, and Ruby Keeler, whom Baxter implores, “You’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!”
Stanley Kubrick’s landmark epic pushed the envelope of narrative and special effects to create an introspective look at technology and humanity. Arthur C. Clarke adapted his story “The Sentinel” for the screen version and his odyssey follows two astronauts, played by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, on a voyage to Jupiter accompanied by HAL 9000, an unnervingly humanesque computer running the entire ship. With assistance from special-effects expert Douglas Trumbull, Kubrick spent more than two years creating his vision of outer space. Despite some initial critical misgivings, “2001” became one of the most popular films of 1968. Billed as “the ultimate trip,” the film quickly caught on with a counterculture audience that embraced the contemplative experience that many older audiences found tedious and lacking substance. Expanded essay by James Verniere
Directed by Stuart Paton, the film was touted as “the first submarine photoplay.” Universal spent freely on location, shooting in the Bahamas and building life-size props, including the submarine, and taking two years to film. J. E. Williamson’s “photosphere,” an underwater chamber connected to an iron tube on the surface of the water, enabled Paton to film underwater scenes up to depths of 150 feet. The film is based on Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and to a lesser extent, “The Mysterious Island.” The real star of the film is its special effects. Although they may seem primitive by today’s standards, 100 years ago they dazzled contemporary audiences. It was the first time the public had an opportunity to see reefs, various types of marine life and men mingling with sharks. It was also World War I, and submarine warfare was very much in the public consciousness, so the life-size submarine gave the film an added dimension of reality. The film was immensely popular with audiences and critics.
Freight handlers Bud Abbott and Lou Costello encounter Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster when they arrive from Europe for a house of horrors exhibit. After the monsters outwit the hapless duo and escape, Dracula returns for Costello whose brain he intends to transplant into the monster. Lon Chaney Jr. as the lycanthropic Lawrence Talbot, Bela Lugosi in his final appearance as Dracula and Glenn Strange as the Monster all play their roles perfectly straight as Bud and Lou stumble around them. Throughout the film, Dracula and the Monster cavort in plain view of the quivering Costello who is unable to convince the ever-poised and dubious Abbott that the monsters exist. until the wild climax in Dracula’s castle, where the duo are pursued by all three of the film’s monstrosities. Expanded essay by Ron Palumbo
Based on the infamous 1925 case of Kentucky cave explorer Floyd Collins, who became trapped underground and whose gripping saga created a national sensation lasting two weeks before Collins died. A deeply cynical look at journalism, “Ace in the Hole” features Kirk Douglas as a once-famous New York reporter, now a down-and-out has-been in Albuquerque. Douglas plots a return to national prominence by milking the story of a man trapped in a Native American cave dwelling as a riveting human-interest story, complete with a tourist-laden, carnival atmosphere outside the rescue scene. The callously indifferent wife of the stricken miner is no more sympathetic: “I don’t go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.” Providing a rare moral contrast is Porter Hall, who plays Douglas’ ethical editor appalled at his reporter’s actions. Such a scathing tale of media manipulation might have helped turn this brilliant film into a critical and commercial failure, which later led Paramount to reissue the film under a new title, “The Big Carnival.”
With an Oscar-nominated script by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, “Adam’s Rib” pokes fun at the double standard between the sexes. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn play husband and wife attorneys, each drawn to the same case of attempted murder. Judy Holliday, defending the sanctity of her marriage and family, intends only to frighten her philandering husband and his mistress but tearfully ends up shooting and injuring the husband. Tracy argues that the case is open and shut, but Hepburn asserts that, if the defendant were a man, he’d be set free on the basis of “the unwritten law.” As the trial turns into a media circus, the couple’s relationship is put to the test. Holliday’s first screen triumph propelled her onto bigger roles, including “Born Yesterday,” for which she won an Academy Award. The film is also the debut of Ewell, who would become best known for his role opposite Marilyn Monroe in “The Seven Year Itch”, and Hagen, who would floor audiences as the ditzy blonde movie star with the shrill voice in “Singin’ in the Rain.”
When Richard the Lion-Hearted is captured and held for ransom, evil Prince John declares himself ruler of England and makes no attempt to secure Richard’s safe return. A lone knight, Robin Hood , sets out to raise Richard’s ransom by hijacking wealthy caravans traveling through Sherwood Forest. Aided by his lady love, Maid Marian , and band of merry men Robin battles the usurper John and wicked Sheriff of Nottingham to return the throne to its rightful owner. Dashing, athletic and witty, Flynn is everything that Robin Hood should be, and his adversaries are memorably villainous, particularly Basil Rathbone with whom Flynn crosses swords in the climactic duel. One of the most spectacular adventure films of all time, and features a terrific performance by the perfectly cast Flynn. Only a spirited and extravagant production could do justice to the Robin Hood legend; this film is more than equal to the task. Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score won an Oscar, as did the editing and art direction.
Adapted from a novel by C.S. Forester, the film stars Humphrey Bogart in an Oscar-winning portrayal of a slovenly, gin-swilling captain of the African Queen, a tramp steamer carrying supplies to small African villages during World War I. Katharine Hepburn plays a prim spinster missionary stranded when the Germans invade her settlement. Bogart agrees to transport Hepburn back to civilization despite their opposite temperaments. Before long, their tense animosity turns to love, and together they navigate treacherous rapids and devise an ingenious way to destroy a German gunboat. The difficulties inherent in filming on location in Africa are documented in numerous books, including one by Hepburn.
“Airplane!” emerged as a sharply perceptive parody of the big-budget disaster films that dominated Hollywood during the 1970s. Written and directed by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, the film is characterized by a freewheeling style and skewered Hollywood’s tendency to push successful formulaic movie conventions beyond the point of logic. One of the film’s most noteworthy achievements was to cast actors best known for their dramatic careers, such as Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges, and provide them with opportunities to showcase their comic talents.The central premise is one giant cliche: a pilot , who’s developed a fear of flying, tries to win back his stewardess girlfriend , boarding her flight so he can coax her around. Due to an outbreak of food poisoning, Hays must land the plane, with the help of a glue-sniffing air traffic controller and and his tyranical former captain . Supporting the stars is a wacky assemblage of stock characters from every disaster movie ever made. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
This film’s appeal may lie in its reputation as “a haunted house movie in space.” Though not particularly original, “Alien” is distinguished by director Ridley Scott’s innovative ability to wring every ounce of suspense out of the B-movie staples he employs within the film’s hi-tech setting. Art designer H.R. Giger creates what has become one of cinema’s scariest monsters: a nightmarish hybrid of humanoid-insect-machine that Scott makes even more effective by obscuring it from view for much of the film. The cast, including Tom Skerritt and John Hurt, brings an appealing quality to their characters, and one character in particular, Sigourney Weaver’s warrant officer Ripley, became the model for the next generation of hardboiled heroines and solidified the prototype in subsequent sequels. Rounding out the cast and crew, cameraman Derek Vanlint and composer Jerry Goldsmith propel the emotions relentlessly from one visual horror to the next.
Scheming ingénue Eve Harrington ingratiates herself with aging Broadway star Margo Channing moving in on her acting roles, her friends and her stage director beau. The dialog is often too bitingly perfect with its sarcastic barbs and clever comebacks, but it’s still entertaining and quote-worthy. The film took home Academy Awards for best picture, best director , best screenplay and costume design . George Sanders won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance as the acid-tongued theater critic Addison DeWitt. Thelma Ritter as Margo’s maid, Celeste Holm as Margo’s best friend, and Marilyn Monroe, in a small role as an aspiring actress, give memorable performances.
Written and directed by George Stoney, this landmark educational film was used to educate midwives throughout the South. Produced by the Georgia Department of Public Health, profiles the life and work of “Miss Mary” Coley, an African-American midwife living in rural Georgia. In documenting the preparation for and delivery of healthy babies in rural conditions ranging from decent to deplorable, the filmmakers inadvertently captured a telling snapshot at the socioeconomic conditions of the era that would prove fascinating to future generations. Expanded essay by Joshua Glick
The rich visual texture, using glorious Technicolor, and a soaring emotional score lend what is essentially a thin story a kind of epic tension. A movie unheralded by critics and largely ignored by the public at the time of its release, All That Heaven Allows is now considered Douglas Sirk’s masterpiece. The story concerns a romance between a middle-aged, middle-class widow and a brawny young gardener —the stuff of a standard weepie, you might think, until Sirk’s camera begins to draw a deeply disturbing, deeply compassionate portrait of a woman trapped by stifling moral and social codes. Sirk’s meaning is conveyed almost entirely by his mise-en-scene—a world of glistening, treacherous surfaces, of objects that take on a terrifying life of their own; he is one of those rare filmmakers who insist that you read the image. Expanded essay by John Wills
Director/choreographer Bob Fosse takes a Felliniesque look at the life of a driven entertainer. Joe Gideon is the ultimate work -aholic, as he knocks back a daily dose of amphetamines to juggle a new Broadway production while editing his new movie, an ex-wife Audrey, girlfriend Kate, young daughter, and various conquests. Reminiscent of Fellini’s “8 1/2 ,” Fosse moves from realistic dance numbers to extravagant flights of cinematic fancy, as Joe meditates on his life, his women, and his death. Fosse shows the stiff price that entertaining exacts on entertainers , mercilessly reversing the feel-good mood of classical movie musicals.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Robert Penn Warren and directed by Robert Rossen, “All the King’s Men” was inspired by the career of Louisiana governor Huey Long. Broderick Crawford won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Willie Stark, a backwoods Southern lawyer who wins the hearts of his constituents by bucking the corrupt state government. The thesis is basically that power corrupts, with Stark presented as a man who starts out with a burning sense of purpose and a defiant honesty. Rossen, however, injects a note of ambiguity early on ; and the doubt as to what he is really after is beautifully orchestrated by being filtered through the eyes of the press agent who serves as the film’s narrator, and whose admiration for Stark gradually becomes tempered by understanding. In addition to its Oscars for Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge, the film won the Best Picture prize.
Based on the memoir by “Washington Post” reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about uncovering the Watergate break-in and cover up, “All the President’s Men” is a rare example of a best-selling book transformed into a hit film and a cultural phenomenon in its own right. Directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film stars Robert Redford as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein, and features an Oscar-winning performance by Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee. Nominated for numerous awards, it took home an Oscar for best screenplay by William Goldman  . Pakula’s taut directing plays up the emotional roller coaster of exhilaration, paranoia, self-doubt, and courage, without ignoring the tedium and tireless digging, and elevating it to noble determination. Expanded essay by Mike Canning
Called the master of “cosmic cinema,” Jordan Belson excelled in creating abstract imagery with a spiritual dimension that featured dazzling displays of color, light, and ever-moving patterns and objects. Trained as a painter and influenced by the films of Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren, and Hans Richter, Belson collaborated in the late 1950s with electronic music composer Henry Jacobs to create elaborate sound and light shows in the San Francisco Morrison Planetarium, an experience that informed his subsequent films. The film, Belson has stated, “was probably the space-iest film that had been done until then. It creates a feeling of moving into the void.” Inspired by Eastern spiritual thought, “Allures” is, Belson suggests, a “mathematically precise” work intended to express the process of becoming that the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin has named “cosmogenesis.”
Milos Forman directed this deeply absorbing, visually sumptuous film based on the lives and rivalry of two great classical composers — the brash, youthful Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the good, if not truly exceptional, Antonio Salieri. Based upon Peter Shaffer’s highly successful play, which Shaffer personally rewrote for the screen, “Amadeus,” though ostensibly about classical music, instead shines as a remarkable examination of the concept of genius as well as the jealous obsession from less-talented rivals . In an Oscar-winning performance, F. Murray Abraham skillfully lays bare the tortured emotions Salieri feels for Mozart’s work: “This was the music I had never heard…It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God. Why would God choose an obscene child to be his instrument?”
“My name is Elia Kazan. I am a Greek by blood, Turk by birth, American because my uncle made a journey.” So begins the film directed, produced and written by Elia Kazan, and the one he frequently cited as his personal favorite. Based loosely on Kazan’s uncle, Stavros dreams of going to America in the late 1890s. Kazan, who often hired locals as extras, cast in the lead role a complete novice, Stathis Giallelis, whom he discovered sweeping the floor in a Greek producer’s office. Shot almost entirely in Greece and Turkey, Haskell Wexler’s cinematography evokes scale and authenticity that combines with Gene Callahan’s Oscar-winning art direction to give the film a distinctly European feel. Intended as the first chapter of a trilogy, the epically ambitious “America, America” also earned Oscar nominations for best director, best screenplay and best picture.
Fresh off the success of “The Godfather,” producer Francis Ford Coppola weilded the clout to tackle a project pitched to him by his friend, George Lucas. The film captured the flavor of the 1950s with ironic candor and a latent foreboding that helped spark a nostalgia craze. Despite technical obstacles, and having to shoot at night, cinematographer Haskell Wexler gave the film a neon glare to match its rock-n-roll soundscape. Lucas’ period detail, co-writers Willard Huyck’s and Gloria Katz’s realistic dialogue, and the film’s wistfulness for pre-Vietnam simplicity appealed to audiences amidst cultural upheaval. The film also established the reputations of Lucas and his young cast, and furthered the onset of soundtrack-driven, youth-oriented movies.
Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Georges Guetary, The thinnish plot is held together by the superlative production numbers and by the recycling of several vintage George Gershwin tunes, including “I Got Rhythm,” “‘S Wonderful,” and “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” Highlights include Guetary’s rendition of “Stairway to Paradise”; Oscar Levant’s fantasy of conducting and performing Gershwin’s “Concerto in F” . “An American in Paris,” directed by Vincente Minnelli, cleaned up at the Academy Awards, with Oscars for best picture, screenplay, score, cinematography, art direction, set design, and even a special award for the choreography of its 18-minute closing ballet in which Kelly and Caron dance before lavish backgrounds resembling French masterpieces.
Director Otto Preminger brought a new cinematic frankness to film with this gripping crime-and-trial movie shot on location in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where the incident on which it was based had occurred. Based on the best-selling novel by Robert Traver, Preminger imbues his film with daring dialogue and edgy pacing. Controversial in its day due to its blunt language and willingness to openly discuss adult themes, “Anatomy” endures today for its first-rate drama and suspense, and its informed perspective on the legal system. Starring James Stewart, Ben Gazzara and Lee Remick, it also features strong supporting performances by George C. Scott as the prosecuting attorney, and Eve Arden and Arthur O’Connell. The film includes an innovative jazz score by Duke Ellington and one of Saul Bass’s most memorable opening title sequences.
Woody Allen’s romantic comedy of the Me Decade follows the up and down relationship of two mismatched New York neurotics. “Annie Hall” blended the slapstick and fantasy from such earlier Allen films as “Sleeper” and “Bananas” with the more autobiographical musings of his stand-up and written comedy, using an array of such movie techniques as talking heads, splitscreens, and subtitles. Within these gleeful formal experiments and sight gags, Allen and co-writer Marshall Brickman skewered 1970s solipsism, reversing the happy marriage of opposites found in classic screwball comedies. Hailed as Allen’s most mature and personal film, “Annie Hall” beat out “Star Wars” for Best Picture and also won Oscars for Allen as director and writer and for Keaton as Best Actress; audiences enthusiastically responded to Allen’s take on contemporary love and turned Keaton’s rumpled menswear into a fashion trend. Expanded essay by Jay Carr
Directed by Jill Godmillow and Judy Collins, this Oscar-nominated documentary chronicles the life of musician-conductor Antonia Brica and her struggle to become a symphony director despite her gender. Told by many that it was ridiculous for a woman to think of conducting, she admits, “I felt that I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t try.” And the pain and deprivation which she has known all her life are over-shadowed in this film by her ebullient, forthright warmth. The narrative of her life alternates with glimpses of her at work—rehearsing or teaching. She also reflects on the emotional experience of conducting— including the acute separation pangs that follow a concert.
Billy Wilder is purported to have hung a sign in his office that read, “How Would Lubitsch Do It?” Here, that Lubitsch touch seems to hover over each scene, lending a lightness to even the most nefarious of deeds. One of the opening shots in the movie shows Baxter as one of a vast horde of wage slaves, working in a room where the desks line up in parallel rows almost to the vanishing point. This shot is quoted from King Vidor’s silent film “The Crowd” , which is also about a faceless employee in a heartless corporation. Cubicles would have come as revolutionary progress in this world. By the time he made this film, Wilder had become a master at a kind of sardonic, satiric comedy that had sadness at its center. Wilder was fresh off the enormous hit “Some Like it Hot,” his first collaboration with Lemmon, and with “The Apartment” Lemmon showed that he could move from light comedian to tragic everyman. This movie was the summation of what Wilder had done to date, and the key transition in Lemmon’s career. It was also a key film for Shirley MacLaine, who had been around for five years in light comedies, but here emerged as a serious actress who would flower in the 1960s. Expanded essay by Kyle Westphal
The chaotic production also experienced shut-downs when a typhoon destroyed the set and star Sheen suffered a heart attack; the budget ballooned and Coppola covered the overages himself. These production headaches, which Coppola characterized as being like the Vietnam War itself, have been superbly captured in the documentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Despite the studio’s fears and mixed reviews of the film’s ending, Apocalypse Now became a substantial hit and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Duvall’s psychotic Kilgore, and Best Screenplay. It won Oscars for sound and for Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography. This hallucinatory, Wagnerian project has produced admirers and detractors of equal ardor; it resembles no other film ever made, and its nightmarish aura and polarized reception aptly reflect the tensions and confusions of the Vietnam era.
This early sound-era masterpiece was the first film of both stage/director Rouben Mamoulian and cabaret/star Helen Morgan. Many have compared Mamoulian’s debut to that of Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” because of his flamboyant use of cinematic innovation to test technical boundaries. The tear-jerking plot boasts top performances from Morgan as the fading burlesque queen, Fuller Mellish Jr. as her slimy paramour and Joan Peters as her cultured daughter. However, the film is remembered today chiefly for Mamoulian’s audacious style. While most films of the era were static and stage-bound, Mamoulian’s camera reinvigorated the melodramatic plot by prowling relentlessly through sordid backstage life.
John Huston’s brilliant crime drama contains the recipe for a meticulously planned robbery, but the cast of criminal characters features one too many bad apples. Sam Jaffe, as the twisted mastermind, uses cash from corrupt attorney Emmerich to assemble a group of skilled thugs to pull off a jewel heist. All goes as planned — until an alert night watchman and a corrupt cop enter the picture. Marilyn Monroe has a memorable bit part as Emmerich’s “niece.”
Aided by a taut script from playwright John Guare, director Louis Malle celebrates his wounded characters even as he mercilessly reveals their dreams for the hopeless illusions they really are. Malle reveals the rich portraits he paints of wasted American lives, through the filter of his European sensibilities. He is exceptionally well served by his cast and his location–a seedy resort town supported, like the principal characters, by memories of glories past. Burt Lancaster, in a masterful performance, plays an aging small-time criminal who hangs around Atlantic City doing odd jobs and taking care of the broken-down moll of the deceased gangster for whom Lou was a gofer. Living in an invented past, Lou identifies with yesteryear’s notorious gangsters and gets involved with sexy would-be croupier and her drug-dealing estranged husband.
Produced and directed by Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader and Pierce Rafferty, the influential film compilation “The Atomic Cafe” provocatively documents the post-World War II threat of nuclear war as depicted in a wide assortment of archival footage from the period . This vast, yet entertaining, collage of clips serves as a unique document of the 1940s-1960s era and illustrates how these films—some of which today seem propagandistic or even patently absurd —were used to inform the public on how to cope in the nuclear age. Expanded essay by John Willis
Scott Nixon, a traveling salesman based in Augusta, Ga., was an avid member of the Amateur Cinema League who enjoyed recording his travels on film. In this 16-minute silent film, Nixon documents some 38 streets, storefronts and cities named Augusta in such far-flung locales as Montana and Maine. Arranged with no apparent rhyme or reason, the film strings together brief snapshots of these Augustas, many of which are indicated at pencil-point on a train timetable or roadmap. Nixon photographed his odyssey using both 8mm and 16mm cameras loaded with black-and-white and color film, amassing 26,000 feet of film that now resides at the University of South Carolina. While Nixon’s film does not illuminate the historical or present-day significance of these towns, it binds them together under the umbrella of Americana. Whether intentionally or coincidentally, this amateur auteur seems to juxtapose the name’s lofty origin—’august,’ meaning great or venerable—with the unspectacular nature of everyday life in small-town America. View this film at Moving Image Research Collections, University of South Carolina External
Leo McCarey’s largely improvised film is one of the funniest of the screwball comedies, and also one of the most serious at heart. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are a pair of world-weary socialites who each believe the other has been unfaithful, and consequently enter into a trial divorce. The story began life as a 1922 stage hit and was filmed twice previously. McCarey maintained the basic premise of the play but improved it greatly, adding sophisticated dialogue and encouraging his actors to improvise around anything they thought funny. “The Awful Truth” was in the can in six weeks, and was such a success that Grant and Dunne were teamed again in another comedy, “My Favorite Wife” and in a touching tearjerker, “Penny Serenade.” The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Smart and sultry Barbara Stanwyck uses her feminine wiles to scale the corporate ladder, amassing male admirers who are only too willing to help a poor working girl. One of the more notorious melodramas of the pre-Code era, a period when the movie industry relaxed its censorship standards, films such as this one led to the imposition of the Production Code in 1934. This relative freedom resulted in a cycle of gritty, audacious films that resonated with Depression-battered audiences. Expanded essay by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster
Writer/director Robert Zemeckis explored the possibilities of special effects with the 1985 box-office smash “Back to the Future.” With his writing partner Bob Gale, Zemeckis tells the tale of accidental time-tourist Marty McFly. Stranded in the year 1955, Marty —with the help of his friend eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett Brown —must not only find a way home, but also teach his father how to become a man, repair the space/time continuum and save his family from being erased from existence. All this, while fighting off the advances of his then-teenaged mother . The film generated a popular soundtrack and two enjoyable sequels.
Vincente Minnelli directed this captivating Hollywood story of an ambitious producer as told in flashback by those whose lives he’s impacted: an actress , a writer and a director . Insightful and liberally sprinkled with characters modeled after various Hollywood royalty from David O. Selznick to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, witty, with one of Turner’s best performances. Five Oscars include Supporting Actress , Screenplay . David Raksin’s score is another asset.
Though only 81 minutes in length, “Bad Day” packs a punch. Spencer Tracy stars as Macreedy, a one-armed man who arrives unexpectedly one day at the sleepy desert town of Black Rock. He is just as tight-lipped at first about the reason for his visit as the residents of Black Rock are about the details of their town. However, when Macreedy announces that he is looking for a former Japanese-American Black Rock resident named Komoko, town skeletons suddenly burst into the open. In addition to Tracy, the standout cast includes Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Dean Jagger. Director John Sturges displays the western landscape to great advantage in this CinemaScope production.
Stark, brutal story based on the Charles Starkweather-Carol Fugate murder spree through the Midwest in 1958, with Martin Sheen as the killer lashing out against a society that ignores his existence and Sissy Spacek as his naive teenage consort. Sheen is forceful and properly weird as the mass murderer, strutting around pretending to be James Dean, while Spacek doesn’t quite understand what he’s all about, but goes along anyway. Director Terrence Malick neither romanticizes nor condemns his subjects, maintaining a low-key approach to the story that results in a fascinating character study. The film did scant box office business, but it remains one of the most impressive of directorial debuts.
In this Howard Hawks-directed screwball comedy, showgirl and gangster’s moll Sugarpuss O’Shea hides from the law among a group of scholars compiling an encyclopedia. Cooling her heels until the heat lets up, Sugarpuss charms the elderly academics and bewitches the young professor in charge . Hawks deftly shapes an effervescent, innuendo-packed Billy Wilder-Charles Brackett script into a swing-era version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or “squirrely cherubs,” as Sugarpuss christens them. Filled with colorful period slang and boogie-woogie tunes and highlighted by an energetic performance from legendary drummer Gene Krupa, the film captures a pre-World War II lightheartedness.
Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray and Jack Buchanan star in this sophisticated backstage toe-tapper directed by Vincente Minnelli, widely considered one of the greatest movie musicals of all time. Astaire plays a washed-up movie star who tries his luck on Broadway, under the direction of irrepressible mad genius Buchanan. Musical highlights include “Dancing in the Dark” and “That’s Entertainment” and Astaire’s sexy Mickey Spillane spoof “The Girl Hunt” danced to perfection by Charisse. Fred Astaire would only make three more musicals after “The Band Wagon,” before turning to a film and television career that included the occasional turn as a dramatic actor. Lobby card Additional artwork
Perhaps more than any other film comedian in the early days of movies, W.C. Fields is an acquired taste. His absurdist brand of humor, at once dry and surreal, endures for the simple reason that the movies bear up under repeated viewings; in fact, it’s almost a necessity to watch them over and over, if only to figure out why they’re so funny. In his second-to-last feature, The Bank Dick , Fields as unemployed layabout Egbert Souse — Soosay, if you don’t mind — replaces drunk movie director A. Pismo Clam on a location shoot in his hometown of Lompoc, California before chance lands him in the job of bank detective — after which the movie becomes a riff on the comic possibilities of his new-found notoriety. The stellar comic supporting cast includes future Stooge Shemp Howard as the bartender at Fields’ regular haunt, The Black Pussy, and Preston Sturges regular Franklin Pangborn as bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington. Expanded essay by Randy Skretvedt
After beginning his career on the stage , William S. Hart found his greatest fame as the silent screen’s most popular cowboy. His 1914 “The Bargain,” directed by Reginald Barker, was Hart’s first film and made him a star. The second Hart Western to be named to the National Film Registry, the film was selected because of Hart’s charisma, the film’s authenticity and realistic portrayal of the Western genre and the star’s good/bad man role as an outlaw attempting to go straight. Expanded essay by Brian Taves
“Battle of the Century” is a classic Laurel and Hardy silent short comedy unseen in its entirety since its original release. The comic bits include a renowned pie-fighting sequence where the principle of “reciprocal destruction” escalates to epic proportions. “Battle” offers a stark illustration of the detective work required to locate and preserve films from the silent era. Only excerpts from reel two of the film had survived for many years. Critic Leonard Maltin discovered a mostly complete nitrate copy of reel one at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1970s. Then in 2015, film collector and silent film accompanist Jon Mirsalis located a complete version of reel two as part of a film collection he purchased from the Estate of Gordon Berkow. The film still lacks brief scenes from reel one, but the film is now almost complete, comprising elements from MoMA, the Library of Congress, UCLA and other sources. It was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with Jeff Joseph/SabuCat. The nearly complete film was preserved from one reel of 35mm nitrate print, one reel of a 35mm acetate dupe negative and a 16mm acetate print. Laboratory Services: The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, Cineaste Restoration/Thad Komorowksi, Point 360/Joe Alloy. Special Thanks: Jon Mirsalis, Paramount Pictures Archives, Richard W. Bann, Ray Faiola, David Gerstein.
John Huston’s documentary about the WW II Battle of San Pietro Infine was considered too controversial by the U.S. military to be seen in its original form, and was cut from five reels to its released 33 minute-length. powerful viewing, vivid and gritty. Some 1,100 men died in the battle. scenes of grateful Italian peasants serve as a fascinating ethnographic time capsule. Filmed by Jules Buck. Unlike many other military documentaries, Huston’s cameramen filmed alongside the Army’s 143rd regiment, 36th division infantrymen, placing themselves within feet of mortar and shell fire. The film is unflinching in its realism and was held up from being shown to the public by the United States Army. Huston quickly became unpopular with the Army, not only for the film but also for his response to the accusation that the film was anti-war. Huston responded that if he ever made a pro-war film, he should be shot. Because it showed dead GIs wrapped in mattress covers, some officers tried to prevent troopers in training from seeing it, for fear of morale. General George Marshall came to the film’s defense, stating that because of the film’s gritty realism, it would make a good training film. The depiction of death would inspire them to take their training seriously. Subsequently the film was used for that purpose. Huston was no longer considered a pariah; he was decorated and made an honorary major. Expanded essay by Ed Carter View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
Al Shaw and Sam Lee were an eccentrically popular vaudeville act of the 1920s. In 1928 they made this eight-minute Vitaphone short for Warner Bros. The duo later appeared in more than a dozen other films, though none possessed the wacky charm of “The Beau Brummels.” As Jim Knipfel has observed: “If Samuel Beckett had written a vaudeville routine, he would have created Shaw and Lee.” Often considered one of the quintessential vaudeville comedy shorts, the film has a simple set-up—Shaw and Lee stand side by side with deadpan expressions in non-tailored suits and bowler hats as they deliver their comic routine of corny nonsense songs and gags with a bit of soft shoe and their renowned hat-swapping routine. Shaw’s and Lee’s reputation has enjoyed a recent renaissance and their brand of dry, offbeat humor is seen by some as well ahead of its time. The film has been preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is an animated, musical retelling of the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince du Beaumont. The film follows Belle , an intelligent and rebellious young French woman, who is forced to live with a hideous monster, the Beast , after offering to take her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner. Unaware that the Beast is actually an enchanted prince, Belle falls in love with him. “Beauty and the Beast” was the first animated film nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category. Alan Menken won an Oscar for his original score, and he and lyricist Howard Ashman earned Oscars for the film’s theme song “Beauty and the Beast.”
Actress Miriam Hopkins had a long and successful movie career, appearing in many classics, including “Trouble in Paradise” and “Design for Living.” However, it is as this film’s titular heroine that she received her only Academy Award best-actress nomination. Based upon Thackeray’s novel “Vanity Fair,” “Becky” is the story of a socially ambitious woman and her destructive climb up the class system. “Becky Sharp” merits historical note as the first feature-length film to utilize the three-strip Technicolor process, which, even today, gives the film a shimmering visual appeal. The lengthy, complicated restoration process of “Becky Sharp” by the UCLA Film and Television Archive marked one of the earliest archival restorations to garner widespread public attention. Partners in this painstaking effort included the National Telefilm Associates Inc., Fondazione Scuola Nazionale di Cinema, Cineteca Nazionale , British Film Institute, The Film Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Paramount and YCM Laboratories. More information can be found at storation/becky-sharp-restoration External .
In 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. After years of harassment, this infamous act proved a tipping point and led to three days of riots. The Stonewall riots are credited with launching the modern gay civil rights movement in the U.S. Narrated by Rita Mae Brown, “Before Stonewall” provides a detailed look at the history and making of the LGBTQ community in 20th-century America through archival footage and interviews with those who felt compelled to live secret lives during that period. Elements, prints and a new 2016 digital cinema package are held in the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project Collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Chance, a simple-minded gardener whose only contact with the outside world is through television, becomes the toast of the town following a series of misunderstandings. Forced outside his protected environment by the death of his wealthy boss, Chance subsumes his late employer’s persona, including the man’s cultured walk, talk and even his expensive clothes, and is mistaken as “Chauncey Gardner,” whose simple adages are interpreted as profound insights. He becomes the confidant of a dying billionaire industrialist who happens to be a close adviser to the U.S. president . Chance’s gardening advice is interpreted as metaphors for political policy and life in general. Jerzy Kosinski, assisted by award-winning screenwriter Robert C. Jones, adapted his 1971 novel for the screenplay which Hal Ashby directed with an understatement to match the subtlety and precision of Sellers’ Academy Award-nominated performance. Shirley MacLaine also stars as Douglas’s wife, then widow, who sees Chauncey as a romantic prospect. Film critic Robert Ebert said he admired the film for “having the guts to take this totally weird conceit and push it to its ultimate comic conclusion.” That conclusion is a philosophically complex film that has remained fresh and relevant. Expanded essay by Jerry Dean Roberts
This epic blockbuster stars Charlton Heston in the title role of a rebellious Israelite who takes on the Roman Empire during the time of Christ. Featuring one of the most famous action sequences of all time — the breathtaking chariot race — the film was a remake of the impressive silent version released in 1925. Co-starring Stephen Boyd as Judah Ben-Hur’s onetime best friend and later rival, it also featured notable performances by Hugh Griffith and Jack Hawkins. Directed by Oscar-winner William Wyler, who found success with “Mrs. Miniver” “The Best Years of Our Lives” and others, “Ben-Hur” broke awards records, winning 11 Oscars, including best picture, director, actor, supporting actor, and score. Famed stuntman Yakima Canutt was brought in to coordinate all the chariot race stunt work and train the driver The race scene alone cost is reported to have cost about $4 million, or about a fourth of the entire budget, and took 10 weeks to shoot. Expanded essay by Gabriel Miller
In 1913, a stellar cast of African-American performers gathered in the Bronx, New York, to make a feature-length motion picture. The troupe starred vaudevillian Bert Williams, the first African-American to headline on Broadway and the most popular recording artist prior to 1920. After considerable footage was shot, the film was abandoned. One hundred years later, the seven reels of untitled and unassembled footage were discovered in the film vaults of the Museum of Modern Art, and are now believed to constitute the earliest surviving feature film starring black actors. Modeled after a popular collection of stories known as “Brother Gardener’s Lime Kiln Club,” the plot features three suitors vying to win the hand of the local beauty, portrayed by Odessa Warren Grey. The production also included members of the Harlem stage show known as J. Leubrie Hill’s “Darktown Follies.” Providing insight into early silent-film production , these outtakes or rushes show white and black cast and crew working together, enjoying themselves in unguarded moments. Even in fragments of footage, Williams proves himself among the most gifted of screen comedians.
A moving and personal story directed by real-life veteran William Wyler, the film depicts the return to civilian life by three World War II servicemen, portrayed by Dana Andrews, Fredric March and Harold Russell. Adapted by Robert Sherwood from MacKinlay Kantor’s novel “Glory for Me,” Gregg Toland’s deep-focus cinematography is memorable for emotionally evokative long dolly shots. It also starred Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Cathy O’Donnell, and Virginia Mayo. The film won nine Oscars including Best Picture, as well as two awards for Russell, who lost his hands in the war. Expanded essay by Gabriel Miller
As gifted in their repartee as they were in their physical antics, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were the perfect team for the transition from silent film comedy to sound. Their legendary career spanned from 1921 to 1951 and included more than 100 films. This two-reeler finds the duo attempting to sell Christmas trees in sunny California. Their run-in with an unsatisfied customer lays the groundwork for a slapstick melee eventually involving a dismantled car, a wrecked house and an exploding cigar. The film was produced by the team’s long-time collaborator, Hal Roach, the king of no-holds-barred comedy. Expanded essay by Randy Skretvedt
One of the great post-war noir films, “The Big Heat” stars Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin and Gloria Grahame. Set in a fictional American town, the film tells the story of a tough cop who takes on a local crime syndicate, exposing tensions within his own corrupt police department as well as insecurities and hypocrisies of domestic life in the 1950s. Filled with atmosphere, fascinating female characters, and a jolting—yet not gratuitous—degree of violence, “The Big Heat,” through its subtly expressive technique and resistance to formulaic denouement, manages to be both stylized and brutally realistic, a signature of its director Fritz Lang.
From the unconventional visionaries Joel and Ethan Coen came this 1998 tale of kidnapping, mistaken identity and bowling. As they would again in the 2008 “Burn After Reading,” the Coens explore themes of alienation, inequality and class structure via a group of hard-luck, off-beat characters suddenly drawn into each other’s orbits. Jeff Bridges, in a career-defining role, stars as “The Dude,” an LA-based slacker who shares a last name with a rich man whose arm-candy wife is indebted to shady figures. Joining Bridges are John Goodman, Tara Reid, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Steve Buscemi and, in a now-legendary cameo, John Turturro. Stuffed with vignettes—each staged through the Coens’ trademark absurdist, innovative visual style—that are alternately funny and disturbing, “Lebowski” was only middling successful at the box office during its initial release. However, television, the Internet, home video and considerable word-of-mouth have made the film a highly quoted cult classic. Expanded essay by J.M. Tyree & Ben Walters
One of the first films to deglamorize war with its startling realism, “The Big Parade” became the largest grossing film of the silent era. From a story by Laurence Stallings, director King Vidor crafted what “New York Times” critic Mordaunt Hall called “an eloquent pictorial epic.” The film, which Hall said displayed “all the artistry of which the camera is capable,” depicts a privileged young man who goes to war seeking adventure and finds camaraderie, love, humility and maturity amid the horrors of war. Along the way he befriends two amiable doughboys and falls for a beautiful French farm girl . Vidor tempered the film’s serious subject matter with a kind of simple, light humor that flows naturally from new friendships and new loves. A five-time nominee for Best Director, Vidor was eventually recognized by the Academy in 1979 with an honorary lifetime achievement award. Both stars continued to reign until the transition to talking pictures, which neither Gilbert nor Adorée weathered successfully. Their careers plummeted and both died prematurely.
Howard Hawks directed this Raymond Chandler story featuring private eye Philip Marlowe, played by Humphrey Bogart. Appearing opposite him in only her second film was a former model named Lauren Bacall, with whom Bogart had fallen in love during filming of “To Have and Have Not” earlier that year. Hawks and his writers attempted to untangle the threads of Chandler’s complicated plot which caused frequent production delays. More than a month behind schedule and about $50,000 over budget, the film was ready in mid-summer1945, and that version was distributed to servicemen overseas. Shortly thereafter “To Have and Have Not” was released, and audiences loved the Bogart-Bacall chemistry, so the wide release of “The Big Sleep” was further delayed the wide release by rewriting scenes to heighten the chemistry and bring out Bacall’s “insolent” quality that audiences found so appealing the pair’s earlier film. The pre-release cut is only two minutes longer, but contains 18 minutes of scenes missing from the final picture. The first “draft” was discovered at the UCLA Film and Television Archive where both versions have since been preserved.
This taming of the Oregon Trail saga comes alive thanks to the majestic sweep afforded by the experimental Grandeur wide-screen process developed by the Fox Film Corporation. Audiences marveled at the sheer scope of the panoramic scenes before them and delighted in the beauty of the vast landscapes. Hollywood legend has it that director Raoul Walsh was seeking a male lead for a new Western and asked his friend John Ford for advice. Ford recommended an unknown actor named John Wayne because he “liked the looks of this new kid with a funny walk — like he owned the world.” When Wayne professed inexperience, Walsh told him to just “sit good on a horse and point.”Wayne’s starring role in “The Big Trail” did not catapult him to stardom, and he languished in low-budget pictures until John Ford cast him in the 1939 classic “Stagecoach.” Expanded essay by Marilyn Ann Moss
“The Birds” was the fourth suspense hit by Alfred Hitchcock—following “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest” and “Psycho”—revealing his mastery of his craft. Hitchcock transfixed both critics and mass audiences by deftly moving from anxiety-inducing horror to glossy entertainment and suspense, with bold forays into psychological terrain. Marked by a foreboding sense of an unending terror no one can escape, the film concludes with its famous, final scene, which only adds to the emotional impact of “The Birds.”
This landmark of American motion pictures is the story of two families during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Director D.W. Griffith’s depiction of the Ku Klux Klan as heroes stirred controversy that continues to the present day. But the director’s groundbreaking camera technique and narrative style advanced the art of filmmaking by leaps and bounds. Profoundly impacted by the novel “The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan,” Griffith hired its author Thomas F. Dixon Jr. to adapt it as a screenplay. At the heart of the story are two pairs of star-crossed lovers on either side of the conflict: Southerner Henry B. Walthall courts Northerner Lillian Gish, and the couple’s siblings, played by Elmer Clifton and Miriam Cooper, are also in love. The ravages of war and the chaos of reconstruction take their toll on both families. The racist and simplistic depictions of blacks in the film is difficult to overlook, but underneath the distasteful sentiment lies visual genius. Expanded essay by Dave Kehr
In one of the first short musical films to showcase African-American jazz musicians, Duke Ellington portrays a struggling musician whose dancer wife secures him a gig for his orchestra at the famous Cotton Club where she’s been hired to perform, at a risk to her health. Directed by Dudley Murphy, who earned his reputation with “Ballet mécanique,” which is considered a masterpiece of early experimental filmmaking, the film reflects the cultural, social and artistic explosion of the 1920s that became known as the Harlem Renaissance. Ellington and Washington personify that movement, and Murphy—who also directed registry titles “St. Louis Blues” , another musical short, and the feature “The Emperor Jones” starring Paul Robeson—cements it in celluloid to inspire future generations. Washington, who appeared with Robeson in “Emperor Jones,” is best known as “Peola” in the 1934 version of “Imitation of Life.”
This swashbuckling tour-de-force by Douglas Fairbanks, king of silent action adventure pictures, is most significant for having been filmed entirely in two-strip Technicolor, a process still being perfected at the time, and the precursor to Technicolor processes that would become commonplace by the 1950s. Fairbanks plays a nobleman who has vowed to avenge the death of his father at the hands of pirates, and once upon the pirates’ vessel, protects a damsel in distress taken hostage by the band of thieves. Fairbanks wrote the original story under a pseudonym, and Albert Parker directed. Expanded essay by Tracey Goessel
When a ship carrying young Alec Ramsey and a black Arabian stallion sinks off the coast of Africa, Alec and the horse find themselves stranded on a deserted island. Upon their rescue, Alec and horse trainer/former jockey Henry Dailey begin training the horse to become a formidable racer. Directed by Carroll Ballard and based on the Walter Farley novel of the same name, the film was executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola who finally persuaded United Artists to release the film after shelving it for two years. The film’s supervising sound editor, Alan Splet, received a Special Achievement Award for his innovations including affixing microphones around the horse’s midsection to pick up the sound of its hoof beats and breathing during race sequences. “The Black Stallion” was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Supporting Actor for Mickey Rooney and one for Best Film Editing for Robert Dalva. Expanded essay by Keith Phipps
In a 1983 interview, writer-director Richard Brooks claimed that hearing Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” in 1954 inspired him to make a rock & roll-themed picture. The result was “Blackboard Jungle,” an adaptation of the controversial novel by Evan Hunter about an inner-city schoolteacher tackling juvenile delinquency and the lamentable state of public education— common bugaboos of the Eisenhower era. Retaining much of the novel’s gritty realism, the film effectively dramatizes the social issues at hand, and features outstanding early performances by Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow. The film, however, packs its biggest wallop even before a word of dialog is spoken. As the opening credits roll, Brooks’ original inspiration for the film – the pulsating strains of “Rock Around the Clock” – blasts across theater speakers, bringing the devil’s music to Main Street and epitomizing American culture worldwide.
Not blacksmiths but employees of the Edison Manufacturing Company, Charles Kayser, John Ott and another unidentified man are likely the first screen actors in history, and “Blacksmith Scene” is thought to be the first film of more than a few feet to be publicly exhibited. The 30-second film was photographed in late April 1893 by Edison’s key employee, W.K.L. Dickson, at the new Edison studio in New Jersey. On May 9, audiences lined up single file at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences to peer through a viewing machine called a kinetoscope where glowed images of a blacksmith and two helpers forging a piece of iron, but only after they’d first passed around a bottle of beer. A Brooklyn newspaper reported the next day, “It shows living subjects portrayed in a manner to excite wonderment.” National Film Preservation Foundation – Blacksmithing Scene External
A blend of science fiction and film noir, “Blade Runner” was a box office and critical flop when first released, but its unique postmodern production design became hugely influential within the sci-fi genre, and the film gained a significant cult following that increased its stature. Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a retired cop in Los Angeles circa 2019. L.A. has become a pan-cultural dystopia of corporate advertising, pollution and flying automobiles, as well as replicants, human-like androids with short life spans built for use in dangerous off-world colonization. Deckard, a onetime blade runner – a detective that hunts down rogue replicants – is forced back into active duty to assassinate a band of rogues out to attack earth. Along the way he encounters Sean Young, a replicant who’s unaware of her true identity, and faces a violent confrontation atop a skyscraper high above the city. Expanded essay by David Morgan
This riotously funny, raunchy, no-holds-barred Western spoof by Mel Brooks is universally considered one of the funniest American films of all time. The movie features a civil-rights theme turns out to be an African-American who has to defend a bigoted town), and its furiously paced gags and rapid-fire dialogue were scripted by Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg and Alan Unger. Little as the sheriff and Gene Wilder as his recovering alcoholic deputy have great chemistry, and the delightful supporting cast includes Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, and Madeline Kahn as a chanteuse modelled on Marlene Dietrich. As in “Young Frankenstein,” “Silent Movie,” and “High Anxiety,” director/writer Brooks gives a burlesque spin to a classic Hollywood movie genre. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
Part of the vibrant New Wave of independent African-American filmmakers to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, Billy Woodberry became a key figure in the movement known as the L.A. Rebellion. Woodberry crafted his UCLA thesis film, “Bless Their Little Hearts,” which was theatrically released in 1984. The film features a script and cinematography by Charles Burnett. This spare, emotionally resonant portrait of family life during times of struggle blends grinding, daily-life sadness with scenes of deft humor. Jim Ridley of the “Village Voice” aptly summed up the film’s understated-but- real virtues: “Its poetry lies in the exaltation of ordinary detail.”
Also known as “The Glory Road,” this was among the approximately 500 “race movies” produced between 1915 and 1950 for African-American audiences and featuring all-black casts.  In this film, a deeply devout woman faces a spiritual crossroads after being accidentally shot, and is forced to choose between heaven and hell. Spencer Williams, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, produced the film in response to a need for spiritually-based films that spoke directly to black audiences.  Long thought lost, prints were discovered in a warehouse in Tyler, Texas, in the mid-1980s. Expanded essay by Mark S. Giles View this film at Southern Methodist University Central University Libraries External
Maurice Tourneur’s beautiful expressionist adaptation of Maurice Maeterlink’s play remains one of the most aesthetically pleasing films. The film is a sumptuously composed pictorial entrance into a fantasy world, which tries to teach us not to overlook the beauty of what is close and familiar. Expanded essay by Kaveh Askari
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, then both best known for their star-turns as part of the “Not Ready for Prime-Time Players” troupe on TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” took their recurring “Blues Brothers” SNL sketch to the big screen in this loving and madcap musical misadventures of Jake and Elwood Blues on a mission from God. An homage of sorts to various classic movie genres — from screwball comedy to road movie — “The Blues Brothers” serves as a tribute to the lead duo’s favorite city as well as a lovely paean to great soul and R&B music.  In musical cameos, such legends as Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and John Lee Hooker all ignite the screen.
One of the truly unique pioneers of cinema, African-American producer/director/writer/distributor Oscar Micheaux somehow managed to get nearly 40 films made and seen despite facing racism, lack of funding, the capricious whims of local film censors and the independent nature of his work. Most of Micheaux’s films are lost to time or available only in incomplete versions, with the only extant copies of some having been located in foreign archives. Nevertheless, what remains shows a fearless director with an original, daring and creative vision. Film historian Jacqueline Stewart says Micheaux’s films, though sometimes unpolished and rough in terms of acting, pacing and editing, brought relevant issues to the black community including “the politics of skin color within the black community, gender differences, class differences, regional differences especially during this period of the Great Migration.” For “Body and Soul,” renaissance man Paul Robeson, who had gained some fame on the stage, makes his film debut displaying a blazing screen presence in dual roles as a charismatic escaped convict masquerading as a preacher and his pious brother. The George Eastman Museum has restored the film from a nitrate print, producing black-and-white-preservation elements and later restoring color tinting using the Desmet method.
Setting filmmaking and style trends that linger today, “Bonnie and Clyde” veered from comedy to social commentary to melodrama and caught audiences unaware, especially with its graphic ending. The violence spawned many detractors, but others saw the artistry beyond the blood and it earned not only critical succes which eventually showed at thebox office. Arthur Penn deftly directs David Newman and Robert Benton’s script, aided by the film’s star and producer Warren Beatty, who was always eager to push the envelope. Faye Dunaway captures the Depression-era yearning for glamour and escape from poverty and hopelessness. Expanded essay by Richard Schickel Movie poster
Judy Holliday’s sparkling lead performance as not-so-dumb “dumb blonde” Billie Dawn anchors this comedy classic based on Garson Kanin’s play and directed for the screen by George Cukor. Kanin’s satire on corruption in Washington, D.C., adapted for the screen by Albert Mannheimer, is full of charm and wit while subtly addressing issues of class, gender, social standing and American politics. Holliday’s work in the film was honored with the Academy Award for Best Actress and has endured as one of the era’s most finely realized comedy performances. Expanded essay by Ariel Schudson Movie poster
“Boulevard Nights” had its genesis in a screenplay by UCLA student Desmond Nakano about Mexican-American youth and the lowrider culture. Director Michael Pressman and cinematographer John Bailey shot the film in the barrios of East Los Angeles with the active participation of the local community . This street-level strategy using mostly non-professional actors produced a documentary-style depiction of the tough choices faced by Chicano youth as they come of age and try to escape or navigate gang life . In addition to “Boulevard Nights,” this era featured several films chronicling youth gangs and rebellion — “The Warriors” , “Over the Edge” , “Walk Proud” and “The Outsiders” . The film faced protests and criticism from some Latinos who saw outsider filmmakers, albeit well-intentioned, adopting an anthropological perspective with an excessive focus on gangs and violent neighborhoods. Nevertheless, “Boulevard Nights” stands out as a pioneering snapshot of East L.A. and enjoys semi-cult status in the lowrider community.
Director Kimberly Peirce made a stunning debut with this searing docudrama based on the infamous 1993 case of a young Nebraska transgender man who is brutally raped and murdered in a small Nebraska town. Released a year after the killing of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, the film brought the issue of hate crimes clearly into the American public spotlight. Sometimes compared to Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” “Boys” raised issues that are still relevant 20 years later: intolerance, prejudice, the lack of opportunity in small towns, conceptions of self, sexual identity, diversity and cultural, sexual and social mores. New York Times’ critic Janet Maslin lauded the film for not taking the usual plot routes: “Unlike most films about mind-numbing tragedy, this one manages to be full of hope.” Several things helped create that result, particularly the performance of 22-year-old Hilary Swank, who won an Oscar as Brandon.
In his film debut, John Singleton wrote and directed this thought-provoking look at South Central L.A.’s black community. A divorced father struggles to raise his son, Tre in a world where violence is a fact of life. Tre is torn by his desire to live up to his father’s expectations and pressure from friends pushing him toward the gang culture. Roger Ebert praised the film for its “maturity and emotional depth,” calling it “an American film of enormous importance.” The lead players are backed by strong supporting performances from Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Tyre Ferrell, Angela Bassett and Nia Long.
This introspective “contrived diary” film by Stanton Kaye features vignettes from the relationship of a real-life couple, in this case the director and his girlfriend. An evocative 1960s time capsule—reminiscent of Jim McBride’s “David Holzman’s Diary”—this simulated autobiography, as in many experimental films, often blurs the lines between reality and illusion, moving in non-linear arcs through the ever-evolving and unpredictable interactions of relationships, time and place. As Paul Schrader notes, “it is probably quite impossible to make a distinction between the point at which the film reflects their lives, and the point at which their lives reflect the film.” “Brandy in the Wilderness” remains a little-known yet key work of American indie filmmaking. This article by director Paul Schrader originally appeared in the Fall 1971 issue of “Cinema Magazine.”
Billed as a “sociological photodrama, “Bread” tells the story of a naïve young woman in a narrow-minded town who journeys to New York to become a star but faces disillusionment when she learns that sex is demanded as the price for fame. Ida May Park, director and scenarist of “Bread,” was among more than a half-dozen prolific women directors working at the Universal Film Manufacturing Company during the period in which Los Angeles became the home of America’s movie industry. Park directed 14 feature-length films between 1917 and 1920, and her career as a scenarist lasted until 1931. She reasoned that because the majority of movie fans were women, “it follows that a member of the sex is best able to gauge their wants in the form of stories and plays.” In an essay Park contributed to the book “Careers for Women,” she stated that women were advantaged as motion picture directors because of “the superiority of their emotional and imaginative faculties.” In the two surviving reels of “Bread,” one of only three films Park directed that are currently known to exist, she displays an accomplished ability to knowingly vivify her protagonist’s plight as she fends off an attacker and places her frail hopes in a misshapen loaf of bread that has come to symbolize for her the good things in life.
Truman Capote’s acclaimed novella—the bitter story of self-invented Manhattan call girl Holly Golightly—arrived on the big screen purged of its risqué dialogue and unhappy ending. George Axelrod’s screenplay excised explicit references to Holly’s livelihood and added an emotionally moving romance, resulting, in Capote’s view, in “a mawkish valentine to New York City.” Capote believed that Marilyn Monroe would have been perfect for the film and judged Audrey Hepburn, who landed the lead, “just wrong for the part.” Critics and audiences, however, have disagreed. The Los Angeles Times stated, “Miss Hepburn makes the complex Holly a vivid, intriguing figure.” Feminist critics in recent times have valued Hepburn’s portrayals of the period as providing a welcome alternative female role model to the dominant sultry siren of the 1950s. Hepburn conveyed intelligent curiosity, exuberant impetuosity, delicacy combined with strength, and authenticity that often emerged behind a knowingly false facade. Critics also have lauded the movie’s director Blake Edwards for his creative visual gags and facility at navigating the film’s abrupt changes in tone. Composer Henry Mancini’s classic “Moon River,” featuring lyrics by Johnny Mercer, also received critical acclaim. Mancini considered Hepburn’s wistful rendition of the song on guitar the best he had heard.
John Hughes, who had previously given gravitas to the angst of adolescence in his 1984 film, “Sixteen Candles,” further explored the social politics of high school in this comedy/character study produced one year later. Set in a day-long Saturday detention hall, the film offers an assortment of American teen-age archetypes such as the “nerd,” “jock,” and “weirdo.” Over the course of the day, labels and default personas slip away as members of this motley group actually talk to each other and learn about each other and themselves. “The Breakfast Club” is a comedy that delivers a message with laughs. Thirty years later, the movie’s message is still vivid. Written and directed by Hughes, the film’s cast includes Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy.
Director James Whale took his success with “Frankenstein,” added humor and thus created a cinematic hybrid that perplexed audiences at first glance but captivated them by picture’s end. Joined eventually by a mate , the Frankenstein monster evolves into a touchingly sympathetic character as he gradually becomes more human. Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Pretorious is captivatingly bizarre. Many film historians consider “Bride,” with its surreal visuals, superior to the original. Expanded essay by Richard T. Jameson, examines “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein” in a single entry.
At the heart of David Lean’s antiheroic war epic about a band of British POWs forced to build a bridge in the wilds of Burma is the notion of men clinging to their sanity by clinging to military tradition. The film’s cast, which reflects a broad spectrum of acting styles, includes Alec Guinness as the British commanding officer and Sessue Hayakawa as his Japanese counterpart, and William Holden as an American soldier who escapes from the camp and Jack Hawkins as the British major who convinces him to return and help blow up the bridge. Lean elects to keep the musical score to a minimum and instead plays up tension with nature sounds punctuating the action. For many film critics and historians, “Bridge on the River Kwai” signals a shift in Lean’s directorial style from simpler storytelling toward the more bloated epics that characterized his later career.
In this fast-paced screwball comedy from director Howard Hawks, Susan Vance , an eccentric heiress with a pet leopard named Baby, proves a constant irritant to paleontologist David Huxley , who is trying to raise $1 million to complete his dinosaur skeleton reconstruction project. Based on a short story by Hagar Wilde, Hawks worked closely with Wilde and screenwriter Dudley Nichols to perfect the script, in which the role of Susan Vance was written specifically with Hepburn in mind. Although now considered a cinematic classic, “Bringing Up Baby” received mixed critical reviews upon release and performed well in only certain areas of the United States, thus reaffirming the film industry’s then-current view of Hepburn as “box office poison.” Significantly, “Bringing Up Baby” is possibly the first American film to use the term “gay” as a reference to homosexuality. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
James L. Brooks wrote, produced and directed this comedy set in the fast-paced, tumultuous world of television news. Shot mostly in dozens of locations around the Washington, D.C. area, the film stars Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks. Brooks makes the most of his everyman persona serving as Holly Hunter’s romantic back-up plan while she pursues the handsome but vacuous Hurt. Against the backdrop of broadcast journalism , a grown-up romantic comedy plays out in a smart, savvy and fluff-free story whose humor is matched only by its honesty.
“Brokeback Mountain,” a contemporary Western drama that won the Academy Award for best screenplay and Golden Globe awards for best drama, director and screenplay, depicts a secret and tragic love affair between two closeted gay ranch hands. They furtively pursue a 20-year relationship despite marriages and parenthood until one of them dies violently, reportedly by accident, but possibly, as the surviving lover fears, in a brutal attack. Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the short story upon which the film was based, described it as “a story of destructive rural homophobia.” Haunting in its unsentimental depiction of longing, lonesomeness, pretense, sexual repression and ultimately love, “Brokeback Mountain” features Heath Ledger’s remarkable performance that conveys a lifetime of self-torment through a pained demeanor, near inarticulate speech and constricted, lugubrious movements. In his review, Newsweek’s David Ansen wrotes that the film was “a watershed in mainstream movies, the first gay love story with A-list Hollywood stars.” “Brokeback Mountain” has become an enduring classic.
Part documentary and part avant-garde, this renowned city symphony was filmed by Jay Leyda when he was 21. It features sensational and stylish use of European filmmaking styles The images movingly show the resilience of people persevering with style and enthusiasm during the early years of the depression. “A Bronx Morning” won Leyda a scholarship to study with the renowned Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein. Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation
“The best Wim Wenders documentary to date and an uncommonly self-effacing one, this 1999 concert movie about performance and lifestyle is comparable in some ways to “Latcho Drom,” the great Gypsy documentary/musical. In 1996, musician Ry Cooder traveled to Havana to reunite some of the greatest stars of Cuban pop music from the Batista era with the aim of making a record, a highly successful venture that led to concerts in Amsterdam and New York. The players and their stories are as wonderful as the music, and the filmmaking is uncommonly sensitive and alert,” wrote film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.
This powerful documentary by the Kentucky-based arts and education center Appalshop represents the finest in regional filmmaking, providing important understanding of the environmental and cultural history of the Appalachian region. The 1972 Buffalo Creek Flood Disaster, caused by the failure of a coal waste dam, killed more than 100 people and left thousands in West Virginia homeless. Local citizens invited Appalshop to come to the area and to film a historical record, fearing that the Pittston Coal Co.’s powerful influence in the state would lead to a whitewash investigation and absolve it of any corporate culpability. Newsweek hailed the film as “a devastating expose of the collusion between state officials and coal executives.” Expanded essay by the film’s director Mimi Pickering
The winding streets and stunning vistas of San Francisco, backed by a superb Lalo Schifrin score, play a central role in British director Peter Yates’ film renowned for its exhilarating 11-minute car chase, arguably the finest in cinema history. In one of his most famous roles, Steve McQueen stars as tough-guy police detective Frank Bullitt. The story, based on Robert L. Pike’s crime novel “Mute Witness,” begins with Bullitt assigned to a seemingly routine detail, protecting mafia informant Johnny Ross , who is scheduled to testify against his cronies before a Senate subcommittee. But when two hitmen ambush their secret location, fatally wounding Ross, things don’t add up for Bullitt, so he decides to investigate the case on his own. Unfortunately for him, ambitious senator Walter Chalmers , the head of the aforementioned subcommittee, wants to shut his investigation down, interfering with Bullitt’s plan to bring the killers to justice but discover who’s behind the ambush.
Directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman, this highly popular film features critically acclaimed performances by Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katharine Ross as the real-life outlaws of the American West and their female companion. The music by Burt Bacharach adds to the film’s nostalgic appeal as well as its alternatingly melancholy and humorous mood. While the film and director Hill were denied Academy Awards, Goldman and cinematographer Conrad L. Hall did take home trophies, as did Bacharach for his score and for the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” co-written with Hal David. Having already established a reputation for themselves, Butch and Sundance rob the same train twice, incurring the wrath of the railroad which hires the best trackers in the business to bring them in. Pursued over steep cliffs and rocky gorges, the pair decides it’s time to go to Bolivia to try their luck, but it soon runs out as scores of soldiers wait for them to make one last run for it.
Bob Fosse, who earned a Best Director Oscar, translated a highly successful Broadway musical into a film that maintains the vivacity of the stage version while creating an intimacy seldom found in such stage-to-cinema adaptations. Liza Minnelli won an Oscar as Best Actress for her portrayal of the unabashedly amoral, disarmingly mercurial cabaret performer Sally Boles living it up in 1930s Berlin. Her co-star Joel Grey, who played the worldwise Emcee, took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also recognized for its score, cinematography and art direction. Expanded essay by Stephen Tropiano
“Cabin” tells the story of a man trying to make it into heaven and who is sent back to earth for one last shot at redemption. Released the same year as Fox’s “Stormy Weather,” this film adaptation of the 1940 Broadway musical marked the directing debut of renowned director Vincente Minnelli . Minnelli’s gift for ingeniously blending in dazzling musical numbers is on full display throughout. Lauded at the time for showcasing an all-Black cast in a major Hollywood film when many theaters in the U.S. were still segregated, the film also sadly demonstrates the limited film opportunities and acting compromises African Americans had to make during the Hollywood classic era. These notable concerns aside, “Cabin” remains a glittering cultural record of outstanding African American artistic talent of the era
This film marked the last of Buster Keaton’s silent comedy classics. Here Keaton is an aspiring newsreel cameraman out to win the heart of studio secretary Marceline Day. Ostensibly directed by Edward Sedgwick, the film is all Keaton and includes some of the best treatises on the techniques and psychology of shooting motion pictures. Keaton is at his most deft in responding to the most outrageous situations with matter-of-fact naturalism and wearing his great stone face. A seamless, ingenious blend of comedy and pathos, featuring countless creative gags involving fantastical double exposures, swimming pool changing rooms, and an organ grinder’s monkey.
In 1943, Oscar Hammerstein Jr. took Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen,” rewrote the lyrics, changed the characters from 19th century Spaniards to World War II-era African-Americans, switched the locale to a Southern military base, and the result was “Carmen Jones.” Otto Preminger directed this Cinemascope retelling starring Dorothy Dandridge as the temptress Carmen, a worker in a war plant, and Harry Belafonte as her soldier lover. Although both Dandridge and Belafonte were singers, their opera voices were dubbed by Marilyn Horne and LeVern Hutcherson. Otto Preminger’s realist sensibility often seems contradictory to the whimsical nature of a musical, but some strong elements survive the segregationist context. Exceptionally liberal in its time, Dorothy Dandridge’s performance in the lead is a reminder of the kind of African American films that might have emerged if given the chance. Movie poster Additional image
One of the most beloved of American films, this captivating romantic adventure directed by Michael Curtiz is the story of a world-weary ex-freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in Casablanca during the early part of WWII. Despite pressure from the local authorities, led by the wily Capt. Renault , Rick’s cafe has become a haven for refugees. One of those refugees is Rick’s true love who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris and her Resistance leader husband . How the triangle would resolve itself wasn’t known even to cast members until the last days of filming. Though often lacking logical cohesion, the film’s dialog and the timeliness of world events swirling around Casablanca made the eventual Best Picture winner a favorite with wartime audiences. Expanded essay by Jay Carr
This non-narrative 10-minute experimental example of poetic cinema by Bruce Baillie was filmed on the streets of Richmond, California — most notably Castro Street — near the Standard Oil Refinery. Its bright, primary colors and lateral tracking shots illustrate Baillie’s fascinaton for opposites, as he described, “that are one, both in conflict and harmony, opposing each other and abiding together and requiring each other.” Upon a retrospective of his work, the “New York Times” wrote that Baillie “makes avant-garde films with the gifts of a painter and the objectives of a sign painter.” Expanded essay by Scott MacDonald
Val Lewton achieved the almost miraculous when he produced “Cat People.” He and his team, which included director Jacques Tourneur, cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, editor Mark Robson, and composer Roy Webb among others, created a spine-tingling horror movie with no monster, no special effects and virtually no budget, yet it netted RKO, almost 20 times its cost. The film’s tension outweighs its thin story about a woman who believes she’s the subject of a curse that will turn her into a panther. Kent Smith and Jane Randolph are the other two sides of the love triangle that forms the plot. Expanded essay by Chuck Bowen Mark Robson, Robert Wise, and Val Lewton in conversation during the production of “Cat People.”
Considered a seminal work of Asian-America cinema, director Wayne Wang’s film is a tale of two San Francisco cab drivers hunting down the elusive Chan of the title who has absconded with $4,000 of their money. A wry comedy, the film is also a heart-felt travelogue of San Francisco’s Chinatown and an important statement on the Asian-American experience far removed from the “Fu Manchu” and “Charlie Chan” stereotypes of motion pictures past.
Before he became known as the king of spectacle, Cecil B. DeMille honed his craft on a series of silent melodramas like this story about a woman embezzler , her husband , and the Faustian bargain she enters into with a mysterious Burmese businessman, played by Sessue Hayakawa.  Employing some of the silent era’s most potent plot twists and elaborate production design, “The Cheat” has endured thanks to Hayakawa’s performance, a subtle yet menacing mix which made him a cinema star.
The title of this independent, regional film is Inuit for tenderfoot or newcomer. The first feature film produced in Alaska, it is renowned for its spectacular location footage of the lonely and unfathomable Alaskan wilderness, frenzied dogsled pursuits and life-and-death struggles on the glaciers. Expanded essay by Chris Beheim View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
Producer/director Sylvia Morales created “Chicana,” a 22-minute collage of artworks, stills, documentary footage, narration and testimonies, to provide a counterpart to earlier film accounts of Mexican and Mexican-American history that all but erased women’s lives from their narratives. Centering on successive struggles by women from the pre-Columbian era to the present to combat exploitation, break out of cultural stereotypes, and organize for national independence, women’s education, and the rights of workers, “Chicana” resurrects an arresting array of proto-feminist icons to inspire Chicana feminists with role models from their cultural past. In 1977, Morales, an artist and cinematographer who had worked at KABC in Los Angeles and was enrolled in UCLA’s film school, became enthralled with a slide show created by Chicano Studies teacher Anna Nieto-Gómez that included a history of Mexican women of which Morales was unaware. With Nieto-Gómez’s support, Morales conducted additional research with Cynthia Honesto, hired composer Carmen Moreno to score the film and renowned actress Carmen Zapata to narrate it, shot documentary footage, and recorded interviews with Chicana activists Dolores Huerta, Alicia Escalante, and Francisca Flores to incorporate as voice-overs into the film. Acknowledged as a brilliant and pioneering feminist Latina critique, “Chicana” has served as a stepping stone for Morales’ distinguished career as a writer and director of acclaimed cable and public television documentary and fiction productions. UCLA has digitally scanned the best surviving picture sources for interim preservation purposes and hopes to turn this provisional work into a full restoration effort.
A compelling whodunit reminiscent of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett, “Chinatown” was among the most renowned films of the ’70s and holds up impeccably today, thanks to am Oscar-winning script by Robert Towne, flawless direction by the unconventional Roman Polanski, and gorgeous cinematography by John A. Alonzo. A Los Angeles private detective , hired to investigate an adultery case, stumbles onto a labyrinthine plot of a murder involving incest and the privatization of water through government corruption and shady real estate deals that incriminate some of the city’s most powerful tycoons. Ultra-glamorous Faye Dunaway is the widow of the murdered water commissioner Nicholson’s investigating, and John Huston is her father with more than his share of secrets. Expanded essay by James Verniere
Humorist Jean Shepherd narrates this memoir of growing up in Hammond, Ind., during the 1940s when his greatest ambition was to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The film is based in part on Shepherd’s 1966 compilation of short stories titled “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” which originated on his radio and television programs. Writer-director Bob Clark had long dreamed of making a movie based on Shepherd’s work and his reverence for the material shows through as detail after nostalgic detail rings true with period flavor. Dozens of small but expertly realized moments reflect an astute understanding of human nature. Peter Billingsley—with his cherubic cheeks, oversized glasses and giddy grin—portrays Shepherd as a boy. Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon are his harried-yet-lovable parents.
Accomplished documentarian Les Blank directed this complex, insightful look at the Chicano experience as mirrored in the lives and music of the most acclaimed Norteño musicians of the Texas-Mexican border, including Flaco Jimenez and Lydia Mendoza. Much of “Chulas Fronteras” features no dialog, and this lack of narration allows for more focus on the sights and sounds of the local music and culture. Expanded essay by David Wilt
During the summer of 1966, the Chicago Freedom Movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., targeted Chicago in a drive to end de facto segregation in northern cities and ensure better housing, education and job opportunities for African Americans. After violent rioting and a month of demonstrations, the city reached an agreement with King, in part to avoid a threatened march for open housing in the neighboring all-white town of Cicero, Ill., the scene of a riot 15 years earlier when a black couple tried to move into an apartment there. King called off further demonstrations, but other activists marched in Cicero on Sept. 4, an event preserved on film in this eight-minute, cinema-vérité-styled documentary. Using lightweight, handheld equipment, the Chicago-based Film Group, Inc. filmmakers situated themselves in the midst of confrontations and captured for posterity the viciousness of northern reactions to civil-rights reforms. Expanded essay by Nancy Watrous This film is online courtesy External
It would take the enchanted magic of Walt Disney and his extraordinary team to revitalize a story as old as Cinderella. Yet, in 1950, Disney and his animators did just that with this version of the classic tale. Sparkling songs, high-production value and bright voice performances have made this film a classic from its premiere. Though often told and repeated across all types of media, Disney’s lovely take has become the definitive version of this classic story about a girl, a prince and a single glass slipper. Breathtaking animation fills every scene, including what was reportedly Walt Disney’s favorite of all Disney animation sequences: the fairy godmother transforming Cinderella’s “rags” into an exquisite gown and glass slippers.
Directed by and starring Orson Welles, this film tells the life story of Charles Foster Kane , a newspaper tycoon who gains immense wealth at the expense of the ones he loves. The screenplay, written by Herman Mankiewicz and Welles, was inspired by the biography of real-life newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and the film’s celebrated visual style featuring stunning black and white cinematography was created by director of photography Gregg Toland. Although “Citizen Kane” received a lukewarm reception from audiences upon its initial release, it was applauded by critics and is today often considered the “greatest film of all time.” The film, which also stars Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane Ruth Warrick, was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Expanded essay by Godfrey Cheshire
Sponsored by an association of professional planners, “The City” premiered at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York where its producers hoped to influence public opinion and public policy. The director-cinematographer team of Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke, aided by an Aaron Copland score, presented a montage of scenes depicting various aspects of city life from quaint New England towns to the industrial blight of Pittsburgh to overcrowded, over-commercialized New York streets to idyllic family-friendly planned communities. A mixture of staged and actuality footage illustrated a script by sociologist and literary critic Lewis Mumford from an outline by documentarian Pare Lorentz. World War II initially stalled acceptance of the film’s American dream, but by the late 1940s, veterans eager to take advantage of G.I. home loans helped to fuel its popularity. Expanded essay by Kyle Westphal
In this story of a blind flower girl and the tramp who makes sacrifices for her , Chaplin deftly combines comedy with pathos. Despite the movie industry’s embrace of talking pictures, Chaplin held on to the pantomime style that defined his screen persona, and the film earned great critical acclaim and box-office profits. Expanded essay by Jeffrey Vance Charlie Chaplin and others during filming of “City Lights”
In one of the greatest stories in film history, German shepherd Rin-Tin-Tin was rescued from a German trench during World War I by American soldier Lee Duncan, who trained the dog and took him to Hollywood. Rinty quickly became one of the biggest stars of 1920s Hollywood, reportedly saving Warner Bros. studio from bankruptcy. In “Clash of the Wolves” resourceful Rinty ingeniously rescues the good guys while foiling the crooks. Expanded essay by Susan Orlean
A hilarious, in-your-face, bawdy-yet-provocative look at two sardonic young slackers . One toils as a New Jersey convenience store clerk while his alter-ego video store friend works when the mood strikes him. At 23 years old, Kevin Smith made his debut film for $27,000, reportedly financed by selling his comic book collection and using proceeds from when his car was lost in a flood. This sleeper hit helped define an era, grossed over $3 million, achieved prominent cult status among Generations X to Z, and easily garnered the most public votes in this year’s National Film Registry balloting. Critic Roger Ebert described “Clerks” as “utterly authentic” with “the attitude of a gas station attendant who tells you to check your own oil. It’s grungy and unkempt, and Dante and Randal look like they have been nourished from birth on beef jerky and Cheetos. They are tired and bored, underpaid and unlucky in love, and their encounters with customers feel like a series of psychological tests.” 2019 Cheap Air Jordan 13 Atmosphere Grey Basketball Shoes For Men
Though based on the book by Anthony Burgess, it certainly took an eye and a mind like director Stanley Kubrick’s to bring this film to life. Set in a not-so-distant future, that is equal parts dystopian and cartoonish, “Clockwork,” now almost 50 years after its creation, remains as it always was: disturbing, controversial and startlingly unsettling. Malcolm MacDowell stars as Alex DeLarge, the demented, de facto leader of a gang of boys– sporting bowler hats, canes and codpieces–who wreak havoc all over what used to be England.  But as evil as Alex is, when he’s caught and subjected to a type of state-sanctioned crime aversion therapy, his “treatment” turns out to be far more brutal than any of the crimes he’s ever committed.
Steven Spielberg’s follow-up to “Jaws” substitutes creatures from the sky for creatures from the sea, but these beings are more mysterious than a killer shark, and the quest is more about discovery than destruction. The quest, as taken up by Everyman Richard Dreyfuss involves extraterrestrial life and a recurring vision of a shape eventually revealed as Devil’s Tower National Monument. The five-tone musical motif used for communication with the aliens has become as memorable as any line of movie dialogue. Expanded essay by Matt Zoller Seitz
The exceptional life of country music legend Loretta Lynn is traced in this classic biopic documenting her unlikely ascent as a child bride from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, to superstar singer and songwriter. Never shying away from Lynn’s professional and personal struggles, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” helped set the standard for every musical biography that has followed it. Sissy Spacek earned an Academy Award for her deeply heartfelt and true-to-life performance in the lead role. She is matched by her co-stars Tommy Lee Jones as Lynn’s husband “Doo” and Beverly D’Angelo as Lynn’s mentor, the late Patsy Cline.
This fourteen-minute black-and-white silent documentary salutes the “good natured Germans or Hollanders” of Cologne, Minnesota as photographed by local amateur filmmakers Esther and Raymond Dowidat. Cologne, population 350, is located southwest of Minneapolis in the midst of dairy farms. When “examined more closely, the town is really quaint and picturesque” we’re told by Esther’s handwritten “diary” which serve as the film’s narration. It stands out not because its subject matter is particularly unique, but because it exhibits a cinematic sophistication and artistry not usually found in home movies, while capturing a distinct flavor of time and place. Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
This selection of field recordings made by a pioneering ethnographic film team led by anthropologist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston. This amazing footage is especially worthy of recognition because synchronous sound recordings were made capturing singing, instrumental music, sermons, and religious services among this South Carolina Gullah community. These audio recordings have recently been rediscovered and are being reunited with the film footage. Expanded essay by Fayth M. Parks
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its CGI animated films, created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer, and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 film “Futureworld,” Catmull worked out concepts that become the foundation for computer graphics that followed. Expanded essay by Andrew Utterson
Produced in between “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II,” and in part an homage to Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow-Up,” this film represented a return to small-scale art films for director Francis Ford Coppola. Sound surveillance expert Harry Caul is hired to track a young couple , taping their conversation as they walk through San Francisco’s crowded Union Square, but he soon suspects that his client plans to murder the couple. “The Conversation” earned Coppola Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, but lost out in both categories to his own “The Godfather Part II.” A critical but not commercial success, “The Conversation” has since earned the reputation as one of the artistic high points of the decade and of Coppola’s career. Its atmosphere of paranoia and loner protagonist reflected a movement in the early ’70s toward darker movies, and its audiotape storyline reflects an era rocked the Watergate scandal. Expanded essay by Peter Keough
Paul Newman, who was nominated for an Oscar, portrays the classic antihero loner Luke: a prisoner on a Southern chain-gang who refuses to give in to the guards’ efforts to break his spirit. As Luke becomes a symbol of hope and resilience to the other inmates, prison captain Strother Martin drawls sadistically, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” George Kennedy received an Oscar as the unofficial leader of the cons who yields first place to Luke.
In director Shirley Clarke’s stark semi-documentary look at life in the Harlem ghetto, a 15-year-old gang member comes of age amidst drugs, violence and daunting racial prejudice. Eager to buy a gun , the teen struggles to establish his manhood in the only way he believes he can. Based on the novel by Warren Miller and the play by Robert Rossen, Clarke infuses her exposé with jazz music by such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, while minimizing any narrative form. “New York Times” reviewer Bosley Crowther noted, “The players, most with little or no previous experience in films, move with the random impulsiveness of characters caught on the run… the pounding vitality blisters the eyes and claws the senses with its vicious and hideous visual truths.”
NPR has called “Cooley High” a “classic of black cinema” and “a touchstone for filmmakers like John Singleton and Spike Lee.” Set in Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing project, “Cooley” is — at least at its start — a coming-of-age comedy about African American friends making the most of their halcyon high school days. But they soon find their lives and futures threatened when a small scuffle at a party escalates and projects them into a series of legal jeopardies. Though often compared to 1973’s “American Graffiti,” “Cooley” stands beautifully on its own thanks to its unique sensibilities, the taut direction of Michael Schultz and the incredible naturalistic acting styles of its entire cast — which included Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris and Glynn Turman. Made on a small budget, “Cooley” would become one of the biggest critical and commercial successes of 1975. Retooled, “Cooley High” would also serve as the genesis for the successful TV sitcom “What’s Happening!!”
Considered to be one of Buster Keaton’s best short films, “Cops” exemplifies the star’s popular blending of athleticism and his unique stone-faced comedic style. Written and directed by Edward F. Cline and Keaton, the story features underachiever Keaton seeking success in business to win the affections of a girl . Along the way he inadvertently causes a riot at a policeman’s parade, and the result is a gag-filled chase involving hundreds of cops. Expanded essay by Randy Haberkamp
Independently produced motion picture recordings of famous boxing contests were a leading factor in establishing the commercial success of movies in the late 19th century. Championship boxing matches were the most widely popular sporting contests in America in that era, even though the sport was banned in many states in the 1890s. Soon after Nevada legalized boxing in 1897, the Corbett-Fitzsimmons title fight was held in that state in Carson City on St. Patrick’s Day of that year. The film recorded the introductions of famous personalities in attendance and all 14 of the fight’s three-minute rounds, plus the one-minute breaks between rounds. With a running time of approximately 100 minutes, “The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight” was the longest movie produced at that time. Films of championship matches before 1897 had been unsuccessful because they ended too quickly with knockouts, leaving movie audiences unwilling to pay high-ticket prices to see such short films. “Corbett-Fitzsimmons” was a tremendous commercial success for the producers and contestants James J. Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons , generating an estimated $750,000 in income during the several years that it remained in distribution. This film also is deserving of a footnote in the technical history of motion pictures. Producers of early boxing films protected their films from piracy by engineering film printers and projectors that could only accept film stock of a proprietary size. The film prints of the fight were manufactured in a unique 63mm format that could only be run on a special projector advertised as “The Veriscope.” Photograph of the fight
The father of the American narrative film, D.W. Griffith pioneered film techniques that continue to influence filmmakers. Ably assisted by his long-time cameraman G.W. “Billy” Bitzer, Griffith produced this 14-minute film decrying greed and its consequences. Griffith was inspired by the work of Frank Norris, a novelist best known for “McTeague” — later adapted as “Greed” , another Registry film. Griffith discovered a trilogy Norris was writing at the time of his death in 1902. Its theme was wheat: how it’s grown, distributed and consumed. Griffith achieves a surprising sense of movement from a single stationary camera, and by building drama with the the use of intercut images to illustrates comparisons and contrasts. Expanded essay by Daniel Eagan
In this comical adventure parody written and directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, the mercurial Danny Kaye plays a traveling minstrel who is persuaded by a Robin Hood-like hero and his beautiful lieutenant to impersonate the jester of the evil, unlawful king to aid in their quest to restore the true king to the crown. The film is filled with lilting tunes, tongue twisters about “the vessel with the pestle and the brew that is true” and catch phrases like “Get it? Got it? Good.” Basil Rathbone is his reliably swashbuckling self as the wicked king’s henchman, and Angela Lansbury is Princess Gwendolyn, who falls for the jester.
Robert Drew was a pioneer of American cinema-verite . In 1963, he gathered together a stellar group of filmmakers, including D. A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, Gregory Shuker, James Lipscomb, and Patricia Powell, to capture on film the dramatic unfolding of an ideological crisis, one that revealed political decision-making at the highest levels. The result, “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment,” focuses on Gov. George Wallace’s attempt to prevent two African-American students from enrolling in the University of Alabama—his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” confrontation—and the response of President John F. Kennedy. The filmmakers observe the crisis evolve by following a number of participants, including Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Gov. Wallace and the two students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. The film also shows deliberations between the president and his staff that led to a peaceful resolution, a decision by the president to deliver a major address on civil rights and a commitment by Wallace to continue his battle in subsequent national election campaigns. The film has proven to be a uniquely revealing complement to written histories of the period, providing viewers the rare opportunity to witness historical events from an insider’s perspective.
With “The Crowd,” King Vidor repeated the artistic success he had achieved a few years earlier with “The Big Parade,” but the film’s downbeat realism thwarted the commercial success of his earlier effort. It stars Vidor’s wife Eleanor Boardman and James Murray, whom the director had discovered, ironically, in a crowd of extras just prior to filming. In this realistic tale of a young couple’s struggles, the film’s cinematography plays a role as big as those of its two lead actors. Its most memorable interior shot climbs from street level, up columns of skyscrapers through a window into a sea of desks manned by pencil pushers, until the camera finally reveals a close-up of the lead character played by Murray. Cinematographer Henry Sharp mastered inventive and visceral interior shots, and with the help of a hidden camera, his New York exteriors, including scenes at Coney Island, convey excitement and spontaneity. The dynamic visuals of “The Crowd” are alternately in concert and in contrast with the highly emotional screenplay written by John V.A. Weaver and director Vidor and the naturalistic performances of Boardman and Murray as they explore the faceless, soulless nature of the modern city.
“The Cry of Jazz” is a 34-minute, black-and-white short subject that is now recognized as an early and influential example of African-American independent filmmaking. Director Ed Bland, with the help of more than 60 volunteer crew members, intercuts scenes of life in Chicago’s black neighborhoods with dramatic scenes of dialogue between blacks and whites. With performance clips by the jazz composer, bandleader and pianist Sun Ra and his Arkestra, the film may be seen as a political interpretation of African American cultural expression which, unlike an earlier trend to present African American artistic production as equal to that of white artists, emphasizes that jazz is uniquely African American and should be judged on its own terms. Expanded essay by Chuck Kleinhans
Recognized as a key work that both reflected and contributed to the pre-World War I child labor reform movement, the two-reel silent melodrama “The Cry of the Children” takes its title and fatalistic, uncompromising tone of hopelessness from the 1842 poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was part of a wave of “social problem” films released during the 1910s on such subjects as drugs and alcohol, white slavery, immigrants and women’s suffrage. Some were sensationalist attempts to exploit lurid topics, while others, like this film, were realistic exposés that championed social reform and demanded change. Shot partially in a working textile factory, “The Cry of the Children” was recognized by an influential critic of the time as “The boldest, most timely and most effective appeal for the stamping out of the cruelest of all social abuses.” Expanded essay by Ned Thanhouser
Largely forgotten today, actor John Bunny merits significant historical importance as the American film industry’s earliest comic superstar. A stage actor prior to the start of his film career, Bunny starred in over 150 Vitagraph Company productions from 1910 until his death in 1915. Many of his films were gentle “domestic” comedies, in which he portrayed a henpecked husband alongside co-star Flora Finch. “A Cure for Pokeritis” exemplifies the genre, as Finch conspires with similarly displeased wives to break up their husbands’ weekly poker game. When Bunny died in 1915, a New York Times editorial noted that “Thousands who had never heard him speak…recognized him as the living symbol of wholesome merriment.” The paper presciently commented on the importance of preserving motion pictures and sound recordings for future generations: “His loss will be felt all over the country, and the films, which preserve his humorous personality in action, may in time have a new value. It is a subject worthy of reflection, the value of a perfect record of a departed singer’s voice, of the photographic films perpetuating the drolleries of a comedian who developed such extraordinary capacity for acting before the camera.” Expanded essay by Steve Massa
Long thought lost, “The Curse of Quon Gwon,” is the earliest known Chinese-American feature and one of the first films directed by a woman, and was recently restored by the Academy Film Archive. The two surviving reels were brought to the attention of filmmaker Arthur Dong while researching his “Hollywood Chinese” documentary. Its timely rediscovery shows us that the history of ethnic filmmaking in the United States goes back much further than earlier thought.
With film smuggled out of state-operated film studios and filmed by private citizens as events unfolded, the United States Information Agency fashioned a film that documented 50 years of history and political turmoil in Czechoslovakia from its inception as a nation in 1918 through the bloody Russian invasion in 1968. Robert Fresco, who produced a series of television documentaries for David Wolper’s company, and Denis Sanders, who had been producing documentaries with his brother Terry since the early 1950s, wrote and directed this 13-minute film which won the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar in 1969. Expanded essay by Robert M. Fresco
Told entirely in flashbacks, “D.O.A.” is even more cynical than the average film noir, and this cynisism helps distinguish if from other films of the genre. Directed by Rudolph Mate, the film is fast-paced and suspenseful. The use of jazz music, combined with intense close-ups of the musicians, adds to the chaotic, claustrophobic feeling of the film. Edmond O’Brien plays a certified public accountant who awakens after a hard night of drinking feeling worse than the worst hangover. When he goes to the doctor, he learn he’s suffering from “iridium” poisoning and has only a few days to live. Determined to find his killer, and aided by his secretary and fiancé Paula , he traces a shipment of iridium and kills the men who poisoned him with the lethal chemical. O’Brien is excellent as an ordinary man doomed by circumstance and trapped in a nightmare world.
Although there were numerous women filmmakers in the early decades of silent cinema, by the 1930s directing in Hollywood had become a male bastion—with one exception. Dorothy Arzner graduated from editing to directing in the late 1920s, often exploring the conflicted roles of women in contemporary society. In “Dance, Girl, Dance,” two women pursue life in show business from opposite ends of the spectrum: burlesque and ballet. The film is a meditation on the disparity between art and commerce. The dancers strive to preserve their own feminist integrity, while fighting for their place in the spotlight and for the love of male lead Louis Hayward. Expanded essay by Carrie Rickey
Directed by its star Kevin Costner, “Dances with Wolves” disproved the contemporary reputation of Westerns as box office poison, and garnered critical success as well as financial, including nabbing the Best Picture Oscar. The story of the developing relationship between a cavalry soldier and a nearby Sioux tribe is told in epic fashion, with sweeping cinematography and a majestic John Barry score. The film achieved one of the more sympathetic cinema portraits of Native American life by celebrating the richness of Lakota Sioux folklore, traditions and language. Expanded essay by Angela Aleiss
Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s dark, enduring creation first flew onto the screen in a 1943 B-movie serial and would return to theaters several times in treatments both camp and action-oriented. But Christopher Nolan’s evocative 2008 work reinvented the already vast Batman mythos thanks in no small part to its two intense, now legendary, lead performances:  Christian Bale as the titular character and Heath Ledger, in a remarkable, Oscar-winning take on Bat super-villain “The Joker.”  Set in a dark, modern-day Gotham City, “The Dark Knight” is a visual feast of memorable set pieces, screenwriting flair, and characters and situations imbued with a soul and a conscience. “Pitched at the divide between art and industry, poetry and entertainment, “The Dark Knight” goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its comic-book kind,” wrote Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. The theme of a world turned upside down by fear and dystopian chaos resonates eerily well in the pandemic havoc of 2020.
A fascinating example of the daringly unexpected topics and scope showcased by the best regional, independent filmmaking during the silent era, “Daughter of Dawn” features an all-Native-American cast of Comanches and Kiowas. Although it offers a fictional love-story narrative, the film presents a priceless record of Native-American customs, traditions and artifacts of the time. The Oklahoma Historical Society recently rediscovered and restored this film with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
B-films during the studio era often resonate decades later because they explore issues and themes not found in higher-budget pictures. Robert Florey, widely acclaimed as the best director working in major studio B-films during this period, crafted an intriguing, taut thriller. Anna May Wong overcame Hollywood’s practice at the time of casting white actors to play Asian roles and became its first, and a leading, Asian-American movie star in the 1920s through the late 1930s. “Daughter of Shanghai” was more truly Wong’s personal vehicle than any of her other films. In the story she uncovers the smuggling of illegal aliens through San Francisco’s Chinatown, cooperating with costar Philip Ahn as the first Asian G-man of the American cinema. Expanded essay by Brian Taves
This is the first feature-length film by an African-American woman to receive a wide theatrical release. Director Julie Dash eschews traditional forms of film narrative for a poetic, impressionistic collage of gorgeous colors, music and imagery, in telling the story of three generations of African-Americans on the Gullah South Carolina Sea Island in 1902. The mystical matriarch Nana holds true to the beliefs of their ancestors, while Haagar can’t wait to move away. Yellow Mary returns from a life as a prostitute in Cuba with her girlfriend, and is confronted by a righteous zealot, the reformed Christian Viola . Meanwhile, indifferent Eula is pregnant with a baby that may or may not be the result of a rape. The story’s narrator is a spirit called the Unborn Child, who appears sometimes as a rambunctious little girl. A photographer accompanies the group to capture the events on film.
A satire on cinema verite, this “fake documentary” was shot in only five days on a $2500 budget. L. M. Kit Carson plays Holzman, a young New York filmmaker who decides to get a handle on his life by putting it all down on celluloid. Written, directed and produced by Jim McBride, later a maintream film and television director, captures the essence of the filmmaker as artist while skewering it with its own devices: grainy black-and-white 16mm film, wobbly handheld camerawork, bizarre angles and lenses. “Diary” led the way to popular mockumentaries like Rob Reiner’s “This is Spinal Tap” and Christopher Guest’s “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show.”
Working from Edmund H. North’s adaptation of Harry Bates’s short story “Farewell to the Master,” Robert Wise created a classic science fiction film with a strong pacifist message that many have found to be allegorical in its theme of persecution, death and resurrection. Sent by a federation of planets to warn the people of Earth to stop nuclear testing before the planet is destroyed, federation emissary Klaatu and companion robot Gort land their spacecraft in Washington, D.C. to deliver their warning to the world’s leaders, but are forced to take refuge in a boarding house run by and her son . The film’s memorable score by Bernard Herrmann, which features the otherworldly-sounding theremin, was reused in other science fiction productions.
Acknowledging the sublime cinematography of Nÿstor Almendros and Haskell Wexler, “Days of Heaven” is often called one of the most beautiful films ever made, an impressionist painting for the screen. The wheat fields and prairies of the Texas Panhandle—filmed in Alberta—shine and undulate in wind currents and storms, framing the tale of a love triangle fated to end badly. The dialogue is spare, punctuating an elegiac score by Ennio Morricone and haunting narration by Linda Manz, who speaks from a child’s point of view. Following this film , director Terrence Malick disappeared from public view for 20 years, returning in 1998 with “The Thin Red Line.”
“Days of Wine and Roses” marked another in a series of Hollywood classics on the touchy subject of alcoholism. Previous examples on the theme include “The Lost Weekend” and “Come Back, Little Sheba.” Though his career prior to “Days” had been noted for a deft touch in light comedy, in this Academy Award-nominated performance, Jack Lemmon plays a hard-drinking San Francisco public-relations man who drags his wife Lee Remick into the horrific descent into alcoholism. Director Blake Edwards pulls no punches in this uncompromisingly bleak film. Henry Mancini composed the moving score, best remembered for the title song he and Johnny Mercer wrote, which won an Academy Award for best original song.
One of the most influential ethnographic films of the 1960s, “Dead Birds” is director Robert Gardner’s interpretation of life among a group of Dani natives in Papua, New Guinea. The film focuses on two natives in particular, following them through the events of Dani life, contrasting the peaceful: farming sweet potatoes and raising pigs and the warlike: raids and skirmishes. Gardner wrote, “Wars were the best way they knew to keep a terrible harmony in a life which would be, without the strife they invented, mostly hard and dull.” He described the meaning of the film’s title as “both immediate and allegorical. In the Dani language it refers to the weapons and ornaments recovered in battle. Its other more poetic meaning comes from the Dani belief that people, because they are like birds, must die.”
Errol Morris, the director of such highly acclaimed documentary features as “The Thin Blue Line,” “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” and “Mr. Death,” is noted to have sat drop-jawed watching “Decasia” and stammering, “This may be the greatest movie ever made.” Created from scraps of decades-old decomposing “found film,” “Decasia” hypnotizes and teases with images that fade and transform themselves right before the viewer’s eyes. Culling footage from archives across the country, filmmaker Bill Morrison collected nitrate film stock on the very brink of disappearance and distilled it into a new art form capable of provoking “transports of sublime reverie amid pangs of wistful sorrow,” according to New York Times writer Lawrence Weschler. Morrison wedded images to the discordant music of composer Michael Gordon—a founding member of the Bang on a Can Collective—into a fusion of sight and sound that Weschler called “ravishingly, achingly beautiful.” Essay by Daniel Eagan External , author of America’s Film Legacy. Also available as PDF
Director Penelope Spheeris’ controversial documentary about the Los Angeles hard-core punk rock scene circa 1980 was perceived as shocking by some, even prompting the L.A. police chief Daryl Gates to request banning all screenings of the film. Despite the qualms, the work remains a bracing historical and musical record of that culture, mixing outrageous performances and whirling mosh-pits with far more restrained interviews. Featured bands include Black Flag, Fear, X, The Germs and Circle Jerks. Scenes of older club owners making game attempts to describe this new type of music prove comic highlights. Spheeris made two other musical documentaries in this trilogy, chronicling the hair-metal and gutter-punk scenes, and—in a definite change of pace—the 1992 “Wayne’s World.”
Michael Cimino’s astonishing epic is renowned for its portrayal of the effects of the Vietnam War on working class Americans. The structure of the film contrasts the environments of home and war and how the three main characters are changed by the latter setting. Its gut-wrenching sequences of the use of Russian roulette by Vietnamese soldiers are notorious and gripping despite their historical inaccuracy. However, the heartbreaking performances of Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken are what truly breathe life into this film and the generation that inspired it.
Four Atlanta professionals head for a weekend canoe trip — and instead meet up with two of the more memorable villains in film history in this gripping Appalachian “Heart of Darkness.” With dazzling visual flair, director John Boorman and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond infuse James Dickey’s novel with scenes of genuine terror and frantic struggles for survival battling river rapids — and in the process create a work rich with fascinating ambiguities about “civilized” values, urban-versus-backwoods culture, nature, and man’s supposed taming of the environment.
This early short film by the Biograph Company shows the demolition of the Star Theatre at the corner of Broadway and 13th Street in New York. Filming at normal speed, photographers shot 15 seconds of footage showing the intact building and then the site once it was cleared. As demolition began, the company set up a camera to capture time exposures every four minutes, eight hours a day. Frederick S. Armitage, who is credited with directing the film, edited the footage into a two-minute film that first shows the intact building crumble “as if struck by a tornado of supernatural strength,” courtesy of the time-lapse photography. The film then continues with the normal-speed footage of the bare site, making it appear that passersby are oblivious to the destruction. Biograph suggested to exhibitors of the film, “When this view is shown in the reverse, the effect is very extraordinary.” View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
Directed by George Marshall and starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, “Destry Rides Again” is set in Bottleneck, a lawless town run by corrupt saloon owner, Kent , who finds himself at odds with the new pacifist deputy sheriff, Tom Destry, Jr. . Inspired by Max Brand’s novel of the same name, “Destry Rides Again” was Stewart’s first western — laced with comedy and musical numbers — and helped revive the career of Marlene Dietrich. The 1939 film was was one in a long line of remakes — it was a remake of a 1932 Tom Mix-ZaSu Pitts vehicle of the same name and was itself remade in 1954 as “Destry.” In addition to portrayals on the big screen, the story also received new life on television and on Broadway.
This ultra-cheap melodrama shot in six days by Edgar G. Ulmer has developed cult status as one of the most stylish B pictures ever produced. Hitchhiker Al Roberts gets mixed up with a femme fatale who “looked like she’d just been thrown off the crummiest freight train in the world.” The story is told in narration addressed directly to the audience who hears not what happened, but what Al wants us to believe happened. Its hackneyed dialog, quick-and-dirty camera work, and shabby no-budget rear projection combine to create a bleak nightmare existence. Expanded essay by J. Hoberman
Early one Sunday morning in July, the filmmaker receives a phone call informing her that her beloved tio Oscar Ruiz Almeida has been found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in Chihuahua, Mexico. His widow has declared his death a suicide. Most of his family, however, cry murder and point to a number of possible suspects: his business partner, his ranch-hand, the widow herself. In “The Devil Never Sleeps,” Lourdes Portillo returns to the land of her birth to find out exactly who her uncle was and to investigate the circumstances of his death. She explores “irrational” as well as “logical” explanations, searching for clues on both sides of the border and in the history of her family. Old tales of betrayal, passion, lust and supernatural visitation emerge as we follow the filmmaker deep into the life of a community in the homeland of Pancho Villa. “The Devil Never Sleeps” exposes the loves and hatreds of a Mexican family convulsed by the death of one of its members. The emotions that Portillo captures in her particular blend of traditional and experimental techniques bring out the nuances of Mexican social and family order. Poetic, tragic, humorous and mythic, this film crosses the borders of personal values, cultural mores and the discipline of filmmaking itself. It is a key film by a Latina filmmaker.
In one of the first attempts to synchronize film picture and sound, W.K.L. Dickson of the Thomas Edison Company captured this 21-second motion picture by playing a violin into a recording horn attached to a wax cylinder machine while simultaneously filming the scene. The film was not intended for public consumption, but to test the technique employed. Its success prompted Edison to make other films for his “kinetophone,” a single-user machine that employed rubber earphones to hear the film’s sound. The system proved too expensive for the public, however, though it contributed to the development of future sound on film technology.
In this now-classic slam-bang thriller, Bruce Willis stars as a New York cop who faces off, alone, against a team of terrorists inside a high-tech, high-rise Los Angeles office tower. Gripping action sequences and well-crafted humor made this film a huge hit and launched Willis as a major box-office star. Alan Rickman, as witty insouciant terrorist and “exceptional thief” Hans Gruber, serves as Willis’ memorable foe. Because the film is set during the Christmas season, many people now consider “Die Hard” a necessary part of their annual holiday viewing, a counterpoint to other holiday staples such as “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Expanded essay by Eric Lichtenfeld
Clint Eastwood’s role as rogue police officer Harry Callahan in director Don Siegel’s action-packed, controversial paean to vigilante justice marked a major turning point in Eastwood’s career. A top 10 box-office hit after its release, “Dirty Harry” struck a nerve in the era’s politically polarized atmosphere with those who believed that concern over suspects’ rights had gone too far. While a number of critics characterized the film as “fascistic,” Eastwood countered that Harry, who disregards police procedure and disobeys his superiors, represents “a fantasy character” who “does all the things people would like to do in real life but can’t.” “Dirty Harry,” he stated later, was ahead of its time, putting the “rights of the victim” above those of the accused. The film’s kinesthetic direction and editing laid the aesthetic groundwork for many of the 1970s’ gritty, realistic police dramas. Expanded essay by Matt Lohr
The Barstow family films a memorable home movie of their trip to Disneyland. Robbins and Meg Barstow, along with their children Mary, David and Daniel were among 25 families who won a free trip to the newly opened Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., as part of a “Scotch Brand Cellophane Tape” contest sponsored by 3M. Through vivid color and droll narration , we see a fantastic historical snapshot of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Catalina Island, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios and Disneyland in mid-1956. Home movies have assumed a rapidly increasing importance in American cultural studies as they provide a priceless and authentic record of time and place. Expanded essay by Liz Coffey
The original nitrate footage that comprises the 1908 “Dixon-Wanamaker Expedition to Crow Agency” was discovered in a Montana antique store in 1982 and subsequently donated to the Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution. It is the only known surviving film footage from the 1908 Rodman Wanamaker-sponsored expedition to record American Indian life in the west, filmed and produced both for an educational screening at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia and to document what Wanamaker and photographer Joseph K. Dixon considered a “vanishing race.” Dixon and his son Roland shot motion picture film as well as thousands of photographs . This film captures life on Crow Agency, Crow Fair and a recreation of the Battle of Little Big Horn featuring four of Custer’s Crow scouts. Films from later Wanamaker expeditions are archived at the National Archives and the American Museum of Natural History. The original film was photochemically preserved at Cinema Arts in 1983.
Spike Lee’s provocative story of one long, hot day in the Bedford-Stuyevesant neighborhood of Brooklyn sparked controversy even before it opened in theaters. A study of race relations that for some in the community seems black and white — literally — but more often it’s a gray area of mutual tolerance. Writer-director Lee also stars in the film whose cast includes Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, John Turturo and at least half a dozen other actors who would go on to bigger and better roles. Expanded essay by David Sterritt
The “Daily Variety” review from 1928 called “The Docks of New York” a good entertaining picture that misses greatness by a whisker.” Masterfully directed by Josef Von Sternberg, complete with a characteristic slow pace and atmospheric scenes, the film’s stark beauty is expertly photographed by Harold Rosson. The film tells the tale of a sailor who rescues a prostitute from suicide, and the relationship that develops between the two.
In this highly acclaimed adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s novel, Walter Huston plays Sam Dodsworth, a good-hearted, middle-aged man who runs an auto manufacturing firm. His wife Fran is obsessed with the notion that she’s growing old, and she eventually persuades Sam to sell his interest in the company and take her to Europe. He agrees for the sake of their marriage, but before long Fran has begun to think of herself as a cosmopolitan sophisticate and thinks of Sam as dull and unadventurous. Craving excitement, Fran begins spending her time with other men and eventually informs Sam that she’s leaving him. Sam meets an attractive widow who seems to understand Sam in a way his wife does not. When Fran returns to Sam after being rejected by her suitor’s family, Sam gives in, but in a short time he comes to his senses and returns to the widow. “Dodsworth” was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor , and Best Supporting Actress , though only art director Richard Day walked away with an Oscar.
Director Sidney Lumet balances suspense, violence and humor in Frank Pierson’s Oscar-winning adaptation of a true-life bank robbery turned media circus. Al Pacino is the engaging Sonny, a smart yet self-destructive Brooklyn tough guy whose plan to rob the local bank to pay for his lover’s sex change goes awry. Lumet artfully conducts his talented cast through machinations that twist and turn from the political to the personal, and inevitably lead to a downward spiral played out before an audience of millions.
Considered a masterpiece of experimental filmmaking, Stan Brakhage’s “Dog Star Man” is a silent cosmological epic consisting of four short films and a prelude. Shot in 16mm, the film utilized variable exposure times and the physical manipulation of the film stock, including painting directly on the film and scratching its surface, to produce specific visual effects. With its innovative new techniques, it is considered to have ushered in a new age of experimental film. Brakhage later incorporated it into a longer film titled “The Art of Vision” .
This feature-length documentary directed by D.A. Pennebaker chronicles the days and nights of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan while on a 1965 concert tour of England. Shot in black and white, deliberately paced, and exhibiting a freeform style, “Dont Look Back” has endured because of Pennebaker’s engrossing “Direct Cinema” documentary style and because of its fascinating subject. While it does show Dylan performing on stage, the documentary is not a “concert film” in the vein of “Woodstock,” but it captures the enigma of Dylan—already considered the musical “voice of his generation”—as eloquent but immature, guileless but surprisingly savvy, in short, as flawed as the average man.
A seductive housewife lures an insurance salesman into murder while the salesman’s boss tries to untangle their web of deception. Told in flashback, the film opens with MacMurray confessing voluntarily the entire setup into a dictaphone for use by the claims agent, from which the narrative then unfolds. Billy Wilder directed, and Raymond Chandler adapted the James M. Cain novel, and the result is snappy dialogue that always suggests far more than the words spoken. Stanwyck, MacMurray, and Robinson give some of their best performances, and Wilder’s cynical sensibility finds a perfect match in the story’s unsentimental perspective, heightened by John Seitz’s hard-edged cinematography. Expanded essay by Matt Zoller Seitz
Betty Grable’s first starring role in a Technicolor musical happened only because Alice Faye had an attack of appendicitis, but Grable took advantage of the situation and quickly made herself as important to 20th Century-Fox as Faye. Released just over a year before America entered World War II, this film and others starring Grable established her as the pinup queen. The title explains much, with Grable traveling to South America and falling in love with Don Ameche. Carmen Miranda makes her American film debut, and the Nicolas Brothers’ unparalleled dance routines dazzle. Expanded essay by Carla Arton
The edgy satire and outrageously funny performances have kept “Dr. Strangelove” fresh and entertaining for decades. A U.S. bomber on a routine flight pattern near the Soviet Union receives orders to drop its nuclear payload on the “Rooskies” and turn the Cold War into a hot one. The orders were given by the highly paranoid Gen. Jack D. Ripper to stem a Communist plot in which Americans were being sapped of their precious bodily fluids. Meanwhile, the president seeks guidance from his top Pentagon advisors, including a war-mongering general . The plot thickens when the Soviet ambassador informs the Americans of the latest Soviet weapons technology: a “Doomsday Machine” that will destroy the entire world if the Russians are attacked. But the former Nazi Dr. Strangelove has an ingenious plan for surviving a potential nuclear holocaust. Kubrick, Sellers and the screenwriters were nominated for Oscars, but lost out to “My Fair Lady.” The film did bring home several BAFTA Awards in the U.K. Expanded essay by Wheeler Winston Dixon
Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula defined the ultimate vampire characterization for decades to follow, and the actor made a career of it, both on screen and on stage. Director Tod Browning referenced Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel and subsequent stage plays, including a 1927 Broadway production starring Lugosi, to inform his cinematic approach to the legend. Browning, cinematographer Karl Freund and art director Charles D. Hall created an eerie gothic atmosphere to frame Lugosi’s performance. Dwight Frye is memorable as Dracula’s uber creepy minion Renfield. Expanded essay by Gary Rhodes
Before the advent of sound, the only significant difference between films seen by domestic audiences and foreign ones was the language of the subtitles, which could be adapted for each market. When talkies arrived, American studios began shooting foreign-language versions for international and non-English-speaking domestic markets, generally at the same time they filmed the English versions. In one of the most famous examples of this practice, a second crew—including a different director and stars—shot at night on the same sets used during the day for the English version of the Bram Stoker classic starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Tod Browning. In recent years, the Spanish version of the film, which is 20 minutes longer, has been lauded as superior in many ways to the English one, some theorizing that the Spanish-language crew had the advantage of watching the English dailies and improving on camera angles and making more effective use of lighting. Directed by George Melford , the Spanish version starred Carlos Villarías as Conde Drácula, Lupita Tovar as Eva Seward, Barry Norton as Juan Harker and Pablo Alvarez Rubio as Renfield. Expanded essay by András Lénárt
After becoming Hollywood’s first Asian star, Japanese-born Sessue Hayakawa, like many leading film actors of the time, formed his own production company—Haworth Pictures —to gain more control over his films. “The Dragon Painter,” one of more than 20 feature films his company produced between 1918 and 1922, teamed Hayakawa and his wife Tsuru Aoki in the story of an obsessed, untutored painter who loses his artistic powers after he finds and marries the supposed “dragon princess.” His passion and earlier pursuit of her had consumed him with the urge to create. Reviewers of the time praised the film for its seemingly authentic Japanese atmosphere, including the city of Hakone and its Shinto gates, built in Yosemite Valley, California. Expanded essay by Daisuke Miyao
Based on noted illustrator Winsor McCay’s popular comic strip that ran in the New York Evening Telegram from 1904 to 1914, this short fantasy comedy by film pioneer Edwin S. Porter employed groundbreaking trick photography, including some of the earliest uses of double exposure in American cinema. Porter used camera sleight-of-hand to create the hallucinatory dreams of a top-hatted swell who, after gorging himself on Welsh rarebit, is beset by dancing, spinning furniture and mischievous imps. To create the dream effects, he used a spinning camera and moveable set pieces, along with multiple exposures. Stop-motion and matte paintings added to the film’s whimsical appeal. Porter, who joined Thomas Edison’s company in 1899 and advanced the special effects pioneered by Georges Méliès, completed the seven-minute film in nine days at a cost of $350, which is about $10,000 today. The Museum of Modern Art Department of Film has preserved the film. Expanded essay by Lauren Rabinovitz
Winner of numerous international awards, this beautiful documentary explores the rare dance language and culture of the Yup’ik Eskimo people in Emmonak, Alaska . At the heart of their culture are complex potlatch gift-giving ceremonies featuring ceremonial story/dances serving as a bridge between the human and unseen spiritual worlds. At the center of the dance was the drum, serving as the cadence of the universe. The fabric of the community is woven together through giving: “Our spirits live by giving, things we give will return in larger amounts, because the wilderness has enough for all.”
One of the defining examples of Chuck Jones’ irreverent creativity, “Duck Amuck” stars Daffy Duck, as brought to life by master voice artist Mel Blanc. Jones’ gives the audience a convincingly fleshed-out character with true personality, regardless of plot or setting. Daffy begins the film as a Musketeer before his animators get the best of him by forgetting to draw in his backgrounds or supply him his voice. Extraordinarily self-reflexive, “Duck Amuck” does more than pierce film’s fourth wall, it demolishes it, sending Daffy on a series of surreal misadventures. Expanded essay by Craig Kausen covers the three Registry films directed by Chuck Jones: Duck Amuck, One Froggy Evening, and What’s Opera, Doc?.
This landmark civil defense film was seen by millions of schoolchildren in the 1950s. As explained by Bert the Turtle, to survive an atomic attack you must “duck and cover.” Expanded essay by Jake Hughes
A combination of musical mayhem and political satire finds the Marx Brothers, under the direction of Leo McCarey, at the center of war between tiny Freedonia and its neighbor Sylvania. The reliably clueless Margaret Dumont is there to bear the brunt of Groucho’s wisecracks. Famous for the scene in which Chico and Harpo impersonate an unwitting Groucho in front of a mirror, the film is generally acknowledged as the brothers’ masterpiece. Unlike many directors, McCarey, whose credits also include the Registry comedies “Ruggles of Red Gap” and “The Awful Truth,” successfully tempered the patented Marx mania without inhibiting it. Expanded essay by William Wolf
Disney’s charming, trademark animation finds a perfect subject in this timeless tale of a little elephant with oversize ears who lacks a certain confidence until he learns — with the help of a friendly mouse — that his giant lobes enable him to fly. Disney’s fourth feature film gained immediate classic status thanks to its lovely drawing, original score and enduring message of always believing in yourself.
Written by Melissa Mathison and directed by Steven Spielberg, this film chronicles the relationship between a young boy and a benevolent alien who is stranded on Earth and trying to find his way back to his home planet. The film’s masterful blending of hopeful innocence with excitement and humor made it both a critical and popular success. Grossing more than $600 million worldwide, “E.T” became the highest-grossing film of the 1980s. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, the film took home Oscars in several technical categories. In addition to Thomas, the film’s cast also includes Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore and Peter Coyote. Sound designer Ben Burtt created the vocals for the alien by blending the voices of a host of uncredited individuals, principally Pat Welsh and Debra Winger. Expanded essay by David Gibson
Created over the course of a decade by Thom Andersen, a onetime UCLA film student, this documentary delves into the work of the man whose pioneering studies and concept of persistence of vision led to the development of motion pictures. The film looks at Eadweard Muybridge’s personal and professional struggles, and examines the philosophical implications of his sequential photographs, or zoopraxographs, as he called his studies of animal locomotion. Andersen re-animates the images Muybridge originally presented on a zoopraxoscope, a predecessor of the projector. The documentary features cinematography by Morgan Fisher, a script by Fay Andersen, music by Mike Cohen, biographical research by Robert Bartlett Haas and narration by Dean Stockwell. When the PBS affiliate set to broadcast the film declined the completed piece, Andersen ultimately sold his work to New Yorker Films, which recognized Andersen’s unique voice as a cultural commentator and helped launch his career. In the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum described the production as “One of the best essay films ever made on a cinematic subject.” The UCLA Film & Television Archive, in consultation with Thom Andersen, did the preservation work on the film.
Harry Smith made his mark in many fields. He was a painter, archivist and compiler of the landmark “Anthology of American Music” . Smith also was a groundbreaking avant-garde filmmaker whose revolutionary animation challenged traditional concepts of cinema. His films used batik, collage and optical printing to create a tumult of shapes and images that integrates chaos with control. Consisting of seven films made over a 17-year span, “Early Abstractions” is a lovely, ever-moving collage of abstraction, color and imagery.
Director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Paul Osborn fashioned John Steinbeck’s classic Cain-and-Abel allegory into a screen actor’s showcase. Though much abbreviated from Steinbeck’s sprawling epic, Kazan capitalizes on the teen angst theme popular in the ‘50s and artfully builds tension between the troubled, rebellious Cal vying against “good” brother Aron for the love of their taciturn father . In his autobiography, Kazan described how he achieved the familial dynamics: “I didn’t conceal from Jimmy or from Ray what they thought of each other. The screen was alive with precisely what I wanted: They detested each other.” Dean received a posthumous Oscar nomination for his performance. Jo Van Fleet won an Oscar for her raw portrayal as the boys’ estranged mother.
This low-budget film of alienated youth struck a game-changing blow to Hollywood when every studio tried to duplicate its success. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda wrote a loose screenplay, improvising large portions as filming progressed, and Hopper directed the story of two bikers trekking from Los Angeles to Mardi Gras in New Orleans in search of “the real America.” Occasionally banal and dated, the film’s cinematography by László Kovács, pop music score featuring Bob Dylan, Steppenwolf, The Band and The Birds, and breakout performance by Jack Nicholson render it a fascinating time capsule. Expanded essay by William Wolf
Shot in black-and-white through red filters, Kenneth Anger’s short avant-garde work was filmed in the Garden of the Villa D’Este in Tivoli, Italy, a water garden of fountains and classical statuary. A woman dressed in 18th century period costume strolls through the park — her movements gradually becoming more frenetic until she seems to become one with the water. One of Anger’s more elemental though highly stylized films, it focuses on the interplay of water, light and stone.
One of the earliest film recordings and the oldest surviving copyrighted motion picture, Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze is commonly known as “Fred Ott’s Sneeze” or simply “The Sneeze.” W. K. L. Dickson, who led Thomas Edison’s team of inventors, took the images of fellow engineer Ott enacting a snuff-induced sneeze. In March 1894, Harper’s Weekly magazine, which requested the pictures, published a sequence of still images taken from the film. “The Sneeze” became synonymous with the invention of movies although it was not seen as a moving picture until 1953 when 45 frames were re-animated on 16 mm film. The full 81 frames published in Harper’s Weekly were never seen as a movie until 2013 when the Library of Congress made a 35 mm film version. In this new complete version, Fred Ott sneezes twice. Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies .
Directed, edited, co-produced, and written in two weeks by Robert Rodriguez for $7,000 while a film student at the University of Texas, “El Mariachi” proved a favorite on the film festival circuit. After Columbia Pictures picked it up for distribution, the film helped usher in the independent movie boom of the early 1990s. “El Mariachi” is an energetic, highly entertaining tale of an itinerant musician, portrayed by co-producer and Rodriguez crony Carlos Gallardo, who arrives at a Mexican border town during a drug war and is mistaken for a hit man who recently escaped from prison. The story, as film historian Charles Ramirez Berg has suggested, plays with expectations common to two popular exploitation genres—the narcotraficante film, a Mexican police genre, and the transnational warrior-action film, itself rooted in Hollywood Westerns. Rodriguez’s success derived from invigorating these genres with creative variants despite the constraints of a shoestring budget. Rodriguez has gone on to direct films for major studios, becoming, in Berg’s estimation, “arguably the most successful Latino director ever to work in Hollywood.”
Following a brother and sister who flee from ethnic and political persecution in Guatemala to the United States, this sweeping story infused with Mayan folklore was written, produced and directed by Gregory Nava and Anna Thomas husband and wife team that had studied film at UCLA. Described by Variety as the “first American independent epic,” the film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Expanded essay by Matthew Holtmeier
This 15-minute film, produced by George Lucas while a student at the University of Southern California, won the 1968 United States National Student Film Festival drama award and inspired Warner Bros. studio to sign Lucas to produce the expanded feature length “THX 1138” under the tutelage of Francis Ford Coppola. This film has evoked comparisons to George Orwell’s “1984” and impressed audiences with its technical inventiveness and cautionary view of a future filled with security cameras and omnipresent scrutiny. Expanded essay by Matthew Holtmeier
With her trendsetting Dutch bob haircut and short skirts, Colleen Moore brought insouciance and innocence to the flapper image, character and aesthetic. By 1926, however, when she appeared in “Ella Cinders,” Moore’s interpretation of the flapper had been eclipsed by the more overtly sexual version popularized by Clara Bow or Joan Crawford. In “Ella Cinders,” Ella wins a beauty contest sponsored by a movie magazine and is awarded a studio contract. New York Times reviewer Mordaunt Hall observed that the film was “filled with those wild incidents which are seldom heard of in ordinary society,” and noted “Miss Moore is energetic and vivacious.” The film is an archetype of 1920s comedy, featuring a star whose air of emancipation inspired her generation.
Adapted by DuBose Heyward from a Eugene O’Neill play and directed by Dudley Murphy, “The Emperor Jones” is one of Paul Robeson’s earliest and most powerful leading roles. Robeson, a railroad porter and notorious swindler, gets into a fight over a crap game and murders his friend Jeff . He ends up on a chain gang, but escapes to Haiti where the white trader Smithers buys his freedom. He and Smithers become shady business partners, and Jones becomes rich by tricking the natives into believing he is immortal. Jones declares himself emperor, ruling with an iron fist until the natives revolt and chase him into the jungle where he hears voices and sees visions, eventually leading up to his suicide. Expanded essay by Scott Allen Nollen
On July 9, 1903, cinematographer Alfred C. Abadie recorded this short actuality for the Thomas A. Edison company, which first sold the film of immigrants arriving in New York under the title “Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island.” The Edison sales catalog called it “a most interesting and typical scene” of the location already well-known as the place where the U.S. government officially processed immigrants. Between 1892 and 1924, millions came to Ellis Island from across Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. Running little more than two minutes, the Edison film, in three shots, records a ferryboat docking and dozens of passengers stepping onto Ellis Island and parading past the camera in orderly fashion. Ranging in age from elders to infants, most carry a variety of bags, bundles and baskets. Many similar images from the era have become familiar in documentary depictions of American immigration, but Edison’s film, made in the first decade of motion pictures, was the first to record the now-mythologized moment. The footage can be viewed on the Library’s website or External .
“Empire,” created by pioneering pop artist Andy Warhol, consists of a single stationary shot of the Empire State Building filmed from 8:06 p.m. to 2:42 a.m., July 25–26, 1964. The eight-hour, five-minute film lacks a traditional narrative or characters. The passage from daylight to darkness becomes the film’s narrative, while the protagonist is the iconic New York City skyscraper. By projecting the film at sixteen frames per second instead of the twenty-four at which it was shot, Warhol makes the progression to darkness almost imperceptible, and a blinking light at the top of a neighboring building marks the passage of time. According to Warhol, the point of this film is to “see time go by.” Controversial since its release, “Empire” redefines concepts of perception, action and cinematic time. Perhaps Warhol’s most famous and influential cinematic work, it continues to elicit critical analysis. Expanded essay by Cary O’Dell
The much anticipated continuation of the “Star Wars” saga, Irvin Kershner’s 1980 sequel sustained the action-adventure and storytelling success of its predecessor and helped lay the foundation for one of the most commercially successful film series in American cinematic history. After a Rebel base is taken over by the Empire, Han Solo and Princess Leia , with Wookiee Chewbacca and droid C-3PO in tow, flee from the Empire as they speed across the galaxy. Luke Skywalker travels to a remote planet where he begins his training with Jedi master Yoda , and evil Darth Vader pursues him. “Empire” is considered by many to be the best film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.
During the bleak era of the Depression, film studios scrambled to find various types of “escapist” fare to take people’s minds off their hard life struggles and get audiences into theaters: musicals, lighthearted comedies and melodramas with big stars. “Employees Entrance,” a superb pre-Production Code film about the machinations in a New York department store, effectively captures real urban tensions during the Depression. Key is Warren Williams’ devastating characterization of the store’s general manager, whose system shows not a trace of the smiling manager. He’s always superb as a charismatic, shyster professional, is obsessed with being successful, callously dismissing longtime, non-productive employees and demanding that his assistants not succumb to women. Warner Bros films of the 1930s are renowned for being fast-paced, quickly made, relatively short features with whip-smart dialogue. “Employees Entrance” remains one of the studio’s best.
Bruce Brown’s droll documentary of two surfers and their around-the-world quest for the Perfect Wave that made millions despite unenthusiastic prospective distributors. Brown was repeatedly rejected by Hollywood distributors wary of limited mainstream appeal. In the depths of winter, Brown booked the film for two weeks in Wichita, Kansas where audiences lined up in the snow and sold out multiple screenings. With distributors still not convinced, Brown repeated his experiment in New York City where the film an successfully for a year, and finally earned the respect of a distributor. From a budget of $50,000, the film grossed $20 million in its national debut.
Bruce Lee burst onto the American scene in this martial arts extravaganza with its dazzling “Hall of Mirrors” climax. Film lore has it that during one fight scene, Lee performed a flying kick so fast that the camera operator was unable to capture it at the standard 24 frames a second, forcing him to shoot in slow motion to make sure the stunt looked authentic and not as if it had been faked. Although Lee unexpectedly died shortly before the film was released, “Enter the Dragon” became a huge hit and Lee became a pop culture legend. Expanded essay by Michael Sragow
A visually stunning portrayal of a man facing fatherhood in a nightmarish industrial world, this film introduced American audiences to David Lynch’s unique, surrealistic style of sparse dialogue, unsettling characters, horrific imagery and a paradoxically abstract narrative. “Eraserhead” secured Lynch’s place as a hero for fans craving unorthodox filmmaking. Expanded essay by David Sterritt
Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons and co-produced by co-star Samuel L. Jackson, “Eve’s Bayou” proved one of the indie surprises of the 1990s. The film tells a Southern gothic tale about a 10-year-old African-American girl who, during one long, hot Louisiana summer in 1962, discovers some harsh truths beneath her genteel family’s fragile façade. The film’s standout cast includes Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Diahann Carroll, Lisa Nicole Carson, Branford Marsalis and the remarkable Jurnee Smolett, who plays the lead. The tag line of this film was very apropos: “The secrets that hold us together can also tear us apart.”
Before co-founding The Doors and the band learning their craft in Los Angeles clubs such as London Fog and Whisky a Go Go, Ray Manzarek attended UCLA’s “Film School, where he met fellow film student Jim Morrison. While at UCLA, credited as Raymond D. Manczarek, he created the student film “Evergreen,” about a jazz musician and his romance with an art student . Manzarek was always a huge fan of the potential of cinema. He once noted, “Film is the art form of the 20th century, combining photography, music, acting, writing, everything. Everything that I was interested in all came together with that one art form.” In “Evergreen,” which has been called a “12-minute, West Coast, cool jazz, cinematic tryst,” one can definitely spot the influence of the French New Wave and filmmakers such as Jean Luc Godard. The film’s title reportedly comes from the Beat literary magazine , The Evergreen Review, and “Evergreen” features music by Herbie Mann/The Bill Evans Trio and the Jazz Crusaders. The location shots of mid-1960s Los Angeles comprise a magical time capsule of their own. Fujikawa sums up the impact of film on Manzarek and Morrison: “I think film informed his work and Jim’s work throughout their musical careers,” she said. “They always thought of their songs as cinematic expressions. They were always sort of little stories that were dramatic and told a story with music. In that way they were cinematic songs.” The film has been digitally restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
From 1910 to 1918, Edwin Thanhouser’s New Rochelle, New York-based company was a prolific film studio producing more than 1,000 shorts of various genres. Though few of his movies survive, one that has is this short mystery in which a delivery boy is falsely accused of stealing $20,000. All hope seems lost until the boy’s sister, who works as a film editor, uncovers celluloid evidence to free him — a plot device that anticipates security cameras and eyewitness home videos by decades. Thanhouser, who co-directed with Lawrence Marston, demonstrates a command of visual storytelling that rivals D.W. Griffith’s. Expanded essay by Ned Thanhouser
Released nearly 48 years ago, “The Exiles” remains one of the few non-stereotypical films that honestly depict Native Americans. With the perspective of a true outsider, filmmaker Kent MacKenzie captures the raw essence of a group of 20-something Native Americans who left reservation life in the 1950s to live among the decayed Victorian mansions of Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill district. MacKenzie’s day-in-the-life narrative pieces together interviews that allow the people in his film to tell their own stories without ascribing artificial sentimentality. Expanded essay by Catherine Russell
“The Exorcist” is one of the most successful and influential horror films of all time. Its influence, both stylistically and in narrative, continues to be seen in many movies of the 21st century. Adapted from the popular novel by William Peter Blatty inspired by an actual case from the 1940s, the film version centers on a young girl who falls victim to fits and bizarre behavior. The girl’s actress-mother calls in a young priest who becomes convinced that the girl is possessed by the Devil. They summon a veteran exorcist and both the priest and the girl suffer numerous horrors during their struggles with the demon . The sound work earned Robert Knudson and Christopher Newman an Oscar, and the opening piano solo of Mike Oldfield’s debut album “Tubular Bells” became forever associated with the film.
This 14-part Pathé serial starring Pearl White as Elaine built on White’s phenomenal popularity in “The Perils of Pauline.” Considered the superior of the two series, “The Exploits of Elaine” boasts increasingly sophisticated camera work and production values. When Elaine’s father is murdered by a notorious outlaw , she sets out after him with the help of detective Craig Kennedy , whose adventures had been successfully serialized in magazines by mystery writer Arthur B. Reeve. Along the way, Elaine is framed in a blackmail scheme and is almost sacrificed by devil worshippers, but Kennedy and his high-tech gadgetry rescue her time and again. Expanded essay by Margaret Hennefeld
Before Andy Griffith became a television legend playing a likable small-town sheriff, he portrayed a completely different type of celebrity in this dark look at the corruptability of sudden fame and power. In his film debut, Griffith plays a rural drunk, drifter and country singer who becomes an overnight success when a radio station promoter and her assistant Walter Matthau, who put him on the air. Behind the scenes, he turns into a power-hungry monster who must be exposed. Budd Schulberg, who purportedly modeled the lead character on radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey, adapted his short story “The Arkansas Traveler” for director Elia Kazan. The film also marks the film debut of Lee Remick.
Writer-director John Cassavetes described “Faces,” considered by many to be his first mature work, as “a barrage of attack on contemporary middle-class America.” The film depicts a married couple, “safe in their suburban home, narrow in their thinking,” he wrote, who experience a break up that “releases them from the conformity of their existence, forces them into a different context, when all barriers are down.” An example of cinematic excess, “Faces” places its viewers inside intense lengthy scenes to allow them to discover within its relentless confrontations emotions and relations of power between men and women that rarely emerge in more conventionally structured films. In provoking remarkable performances by Lynn Carlin, John Marley and Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes has created a style of independent filmmaking that has inspired filmmakers around the world. Expanded essay by Ray Carney
An expressive, sympathetic look at the everyday lives of young Mexican women who create ornamental papier măché fruits and vegetables, “Fake Fruit Factory” exemplifies filmmaker Chick Strand’s unique style that deftly blends documentary, avant-garde and ethnographic techniques. After studying anthropology and ethnographic film at the University of California, Strand, who helped noted independent filmmaker Bruce Baillie create the independent film distribution cooperative Canyon Cinema, taught filmmaking for 24 years at Occidental College. She developed a collagist process to create her films, shooting footage of people she encountered over several decades of annual summer stays in Mexico and then editing together individual films. In “Fake Fruit Factory,” Strand employs a moving camera at close range to create colorfully vivid images often verging on abstraction, while her soundtrack picks up snatches of conversation to evoke, in her words, “the spirit of the people.” “I want to know,” Strand wrote, “really what it is like to be a breathing, talking, moving, emotional, relating individual in the society.”
Edgar Allen Poe’s classic tale of the macabre serves as the foundation for this 13-minute avant-arde film by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber. Startlingly stylized in composition, costume and set design, this version of the horror classic is as much interested in the tale’s psychological underpinnings as its haunting story. Filled with innovative editing, lighting and camerawork, “Usher” appears as modern today as when it premiered at the Film Arts Guild in 1929. Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
Disney studios’ most ambitious animated feature, “Fantasia” integrates famous works of classical music with imagery that ranges from dancing hippos to abstract geometrics as it endeavors to combine high art with mass culture. Among the combinations of sight and sound – some kitschy, others more elegant – are an abstract representation of J.S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”; a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” danced by flowers and fairies; and an irreverent treatment of Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony.” The film’s most famous segment, Paul Dukas’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” stars Mickey Mouse as a goldbricking assistant undone by a magic hat. A commercial failure initially, the film’s popularity has grown steadily over the decades with subsequent re-releases and video sales. Movie poster
Produced, directed, written, and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen, this film is a dark comedy set in snowy Minnesota that follows a quirky cast of characters, including a pregnant police officer , a manager of a car dealership , and two hired criminals, involved in the committing and investigating of a crime. A critical and popular success, the film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. “Fargo” received seven Academy Award nominations, and McDormand took home a statuette for Best Actress and the Coen Brothers earned another for Best Original Screenplay. A television series based on the film debuted in 2014.
Among the best teen comedies, this 1980s cultural icon combines a sympathetic treatment of adolescence with hilarious performances. Directed by Amy Heckerling, the film was based on a script by 22-year old Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe, who spent nine months undercover as a student at Redondo Beach’s Ridgemont High School. The cast contains an appealing mix of soon-to-be-famous young talent confronting their raging hormones as they hang out at the mall and endure jobs in fast-food restaurants. Most memorable is Sean Penn as the spaced-out surfer dude Jeff Spicoli.
Before his career was derailed by scandal , Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was the most popular comedian on the American silent screen, bigger than even Chaplin or Keaton. “Tintype Tangle” showcases Arbuckle at the height of his fame. This short features the likable, nimble Arbuckle in a farce designed around domestic mix-ups and some brilliant silent set-pieces involving slamming doors, hiding under beds, runaway cars and even some Keystone Kops. Popular silent comedienne Louise Fazenda co-stars.
This 13-minute short subject, marketed as an educational film, records a slice of life in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles prior to the rebellions of 1965. Filmmakers Trevor Greenwood, Robert Dickson and Alan Gorg were UCLA film students when they crafted a documentary from the perspective of the unassuming-yet-articulate teenager Felicia Bragg, a high-school student of African-American and Hispanic descent. Felicia’s first-person narrative reflects her hopes and frustrations as she annotates footage of her family, school and neighborhood, creating a time capsule that’s both historically and culturally significant. Its provenance as an educational film continues today as university courses use “Felicia” to teach documentary filmmaking techniques and cite it as an example of how non-traditional sources, as well as mainstream television news, reflect and influence public opinion. Expanded essay by Marsha Gordon and Allyson Nadia Field Filmmaker Alan Gorg reflects on the making of “Felicia” and his other productions
John Hughes, the king of both 1980s family comedy and teen angst , achieved a career highpoint with this funny, heartfelt tale of a teenage wiseacre whose day playing hooky leads not only to a host of comic misadventures but also, ultimately, to self-realization for both him and his friends. Hughes’ manner of depicting late-20th-century youth—their outward and inward lives—finds a successful vehicle in the “everyman” appeal of lead Broderick, whose conning of his parents is really an honest and earnest attempt to help his best friend. With the city of Chicago serving as backdrop and a now-iconic street performance of “Twist and Shout” serving as the film’s centerpiece, Ferris Bueller emerged as one of film’s greatest and most fully realized teen heroes. Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey and Jeffrey Jones co-starred in the film. This is Hughes’ first film on the registry.
Iowa farmer Kevin Costner one day hears a voice telling him to turn a small corner of his land into a baseball diamond: “If you build it, he will come.” “He” appears to be legendary baseball great Shoeless Joe Jackson and his 1919 Black Sox team. Although ostensibly about the great American pastime, baseball here serves as a metaphor for more profound issues. Leonard Maltin lauded “Field of Dreams” as “a story of redemption and faith, in the tradition of the best Hollywood fantasies with moments of pure magic.”
“Film Portrait” is a full-length autobiographical work directed by, and about, the life of Minnesota filmmaker and artist Jerome Hill. Throughout his life an avid student and creator of music, Hill began to compose all of the scores for his films in the late ’60s. Hill died shortly after the completion of this film, and the work is often described as his memoir. Film Portrait – Jerome Foundation External
In director Bob Rafelson’s “Five Easy Pieces,” gifted pianist and musical prodigy Bobby Dupea turns his back on his upper-class roots and potential to live the life of an oil rig worker with a pregnant waitress girlfriend . An intense character study, the film exudes the themes of alienation and self-destruction that often appeared in films of the 1970s. The release of “Five Easy Pieces,” closely following that of “Easy Rider” , helped solidify Nicholson’s position as an A-list star. “Five Easy Pieces” was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Jack Nicholson, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Karen Black, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay.
This science fiction serial, told in 13 episodes, was the first screen adaptation of the comic-strip “Flash Gordon,” created in 1934 by Alex Raymond to compete with another sci-fi comic, “Buck Rogers.” Buster Crabbe portrayed the title character who journeys to the planet Mongo and encounters the evil emperor Ming the Merciless . Unusually ambitious in both budget and production values, the Universal serial used recycled sets, costumes and stock music from the studio’s famous horror films, and was an immediate smash with audiences. Expanded essay by Roy Kinnard
One of the last silent film classics, “Flesh and the Devil” is the first on-screen pairing of silent superstars John Gilbert and Greta Garbo. It is a masterpiece of American romanticism from director Clarence Brown, who directed Garbo in seven classic films, and Garbo’s favorite cinematographer, William Daniels. In “Flesh and the Devil,” Garbo plays a seductress at the middle of a love triangle who sacrifices love for comfort and material luxury. The blistering chemistry between Garbo and Gilbert reflected their torrid, real-life affair at the time. The film proved a huge success for MGM, and the studio paired the lovers in three more pictures. Movie stills
This film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical marked the first Hollywood studio film featuring performances by a mostly Asian cast, a break from past practice of casting white actors made up to appear Asian. Starring prominent Asian-American actors Nancy Kwan and James Shigeta, this milestone film presented an enduring three-dimensional portrait of Asian America as well as a welcomed, non-cliched portrait of Chinatown beyond the usual exotic tourist façades.
In the darkest days of the Great Depression, audiences welcomed a diversion when they went to theaters. Studios responded with Busby Berkeley musicals, risqué pre-Code films and trippy animations such as the Fleischer Studios’ Betty Boop cartoons. Those attending the 1932 premiere of Disney’s “Flowers and Trees” watched birds singing and trees awakening, all in spectacular hues: “Flowers and Trees” was the first three-strip Technicolor film shown to the public, and the dawning of a new era. The overwhelming response convinced Walt Disney to make all future Silly Symphony shorts in color and a few years later came features like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Even today, the hand-drawn animation and vibrant Technicolor continues to charm and dazzle, showing new audiences the magic cinema can bring.
The Norman Film Manufacturing Company of Jacksonville, Florida, was an important producer of “race films,” movies made specifically for Black audiences. Although owned by Richard Norman, a white man, the studio’s films tended to portray a world in which whites, and thus racism, was completely absent. “The Flying Ace” is an excellent example, a fairly straightforward romance-in-the-skies drama with a compelling cast and good production values.
In “The Fog of War,” idiosyncratic documentary filmmaker Errol Morris interrogates one man, Robert Strange McNamara, who served under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson as secretary of defense. Educated and trained as a systems analyst for large organizations, McNamara at age 85 reexamines his fateful role as one of the prime U.S. architects of the Vietnam War. Recounting as well the U.S. incendiary bombing campaign during World War II against 67 Japanese cities that resulted in mass civilian deaths, his role at the Ford Motor Company in implementing safety features to reduce the number of deaths, and the defusion of the Cuban Missile Crisis through an empathetic understanding of the enemy, “The Fog of War” is structured by 11 lessons Morris has drawn from McNamara’s remembrances and ruminations. Historians and reviewers have both praised “The Fog of War,” winner of the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, for revealing in a riveting manner the moral complexities and unresolved nature of McNamara’s understandings and criticized the film for its selective presentation of the events discussed. Expanded essay by Betsy McLane
The phenomenal success of “A Fool There Was”—based on a Rudyard Kipling poem and a subsequent play—set off a publicity campaign unparalleled at the time centering on its star, an unknown actress bearing the exotic name of Theda Bara. Bara was promoted as “the woman with the most beautifully wicked face in the world” and became filmdom’s quintessential “vamp,” enticing male pillars of society to relinquish family, career, respectable society, and even life itself, while yearning to remain under her entrancing spell. With such ego-shattering commands as “Kiss me, my fool,” Bara’s destructive powers appealed to women as well as men. “Women are my greatest fans,” Bara stated, “because they see in my vampire the impersonal vengeance of all their unavenged wrongs.” Bara retired from the screen four years later after starring in some 40 films, establishing a new genre, and helping Fox studios become an industry leader. Only one other film from her heyday is known to exist as well as two she made during an attempted comeback in the mid-1920s. The film has been preserved by Museum of Modern Art Department of Film.
Director Erich von Stroheim’s third feature, staged with costly and elaborate sets of Monte Carlo, tells the story of a criminal who passes himself off as a Russian count in order to seduce women of society and steal their money. This brilliant and, at the time, controversial film fully established von Stroheim’s reputation within the industry as a challenging and difficult-to-manage creative genius. After six months in the editing room, Erich von Stroheim turned over his cut of the film to Universal Pictures. It was 32 reels which the studio cut down to just under two hours. Expanded essay by Daniel Eagan
Directed by Lloyd Bacon, “Footlight Parade” is one of the best of the Warner Brothers showbiz musicals, with James Cagney turning in a dynamite performance as a theatrical producer who finds that talking pictures are cutting into his business. Turning lemons to lemonade, he begins to produce musical preludes for the pictures. Busby Berkeley contributed his signature production numbers, including his first water ballet, “By a Waterfall” as well as “Shanghai Lil” and “Honeymoon Hotel.” Joan Blondell is Cagney’s gal Friday, and Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler are the young stars who croon and tap their way to romance and fame. Expanded essay by Randy Skretvedt
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox, MGM’s “Forbidden Planet” is one of the seminal science-fiction films of the 1950s, a genre that found itself revitalized and empowered after World War II and within America’s newly created post-nuclear age. Loosely based upon William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” “Forbidden Planet” is both sci-fi saga and allegory, a timely parable about the dangers of unlimited power and unrestrained technology. Since its production, the movie has proved inspirational to generations of speculative fiction visionaries, including Gene Roddenberry. Along with its literary influence, highly influential special effects and visual style, the film also pushed the boundaries of cinematic science fiction. For the first time, all action happened intergalatically and humans are depicted as space travelers, regularly jetting off to the far reaches of the cosmos. Additionally, “Forbidden Planet” is remembered for its innovative score—or lack thereof. No music exists on the film’s soundtrack; instead, all ambient sounds are “electronic tonalities” created by Louis and Bebe Barren. Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis and, in his debut, Robbie the Robot make up the film’s cast. Expanded essay by Ian Olney
Abraham Polonsky came to prominence with the box-office success of “Body and Soul” in 1947, and made his directorial debut a year later with “Force of Evil.” Acclaimed as a masterpiece of postwar American noir, the film critiques the capitalist ethos turned hard-boiled. Polonsky’s unflinching portrait of two brothers caught in a downward spiral of corruption suggests comparison to the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Its eloquent prose, that some have likened to blank verse, drips with cynicism. John Garfield adds a virile edge as the mob lawyer who tries to save his small-time bookie brother from financial ruin in a numbers racket takeover. As the film plunges deeper into an amoral abyss, the congested New York City of its opening frames gives way to a bleak landscape reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting. Finally, the abyss swallows Garfield “down, down, down… to the bottom of the world.”
Mary Breckinridge founded the Frontier Nursing Service in 1925 as a project to demonstrate the delivery of accessible and affordable health care in a rural population of Kentucky. Breckinridge’s cousin, Mary Marvin Breckinridge, was an accomplished photographer and used her artistic talents to aid her cousin’s mission. Beginning in 1928, Mary Marvin traversed the The service grew and today operates a hospital with one of the few training programs for nurse-midwives in the country. This documentary shows nurse-midwives as they race on horseback through the wooded hills to deliver babies, treat gunshot victims and inoculate schoolchildren. In a 1985 sound version of the film, Marvin Breckinridge said, “I’ve had a rewarding and useful life.”
As “Forrest Gump,” Tom Hanks portrays an earnest, guileless “everyman” whose open-heartedness and sense of the unexpected unwittingly draws him into some of the most iconic events of the 1960s and 1970s. A smash hit, it has been honored for its technological innovations , its resonance within the culture that has elevated Gump to the status of folk hero, and its attempt to engage both playfully and seriously with contentious aspects of the era’s traumatic history. The film received six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Directed by Rex Ingram and based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” tells the story of a family at odds during World War I. Starring Rudolph Valentino as Julio Desnoyers, the tango-dancing Casanova grandson of Argentinian patriarch, Madariaga , “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” was the film that catapulted Valentino to superstardom. Of particular renown is the film’s tango scene, which was included in the film specifically to highlight newcomer Valentino’s dancing skills. In addition to launching the career of Valentino, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” was also one of the highest-grossing films of the silent era, earning over $4 million at the box office during its initial theatrical run. Expanded essay by Randy Haberkamp
An important documentary concerning America’s civil rights struggle, “4 Little Girls” revisits the horrific story of the young children who died in the 1963 firebombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Director Spike Lee first became interested in the story as a student at NYU when he read a 1983 New York Times Magazine article by Howell Raines. Lee combines his experience in fiction filmmaking with documentary techniques, sensitively rendered interviews, photos and home movies to tell the story. The timing of this production was important due to the ages of the key witnesses and relatives and the need to refresh viewers’ memories regarding a dark period in U.S. history.
Newsreel footage of the renowned African American touring musical group of Charleston, S.C. The Jenkins Orphanage Band of Charleston has been recognized as one of the country’s important jazz “incubators.” This Fox Movietone News film is the earliest extant sound recording of the band and shows close ups of the of the youthful musicians comprising the brass and percussion ensemble playing their instruments as they perform on a local sidewalk. Young boys and girls dance in front of the band. Expanded essay by Julie Hubbert University Libraries Moving Image Research Collections – Fox Movietone News Story 1-507: Jenkins Orphanage Band External
This animated short features two soundtracks: on one, Frank narrates an autobiography, on the other, he reads off a list of words beginning with the letter “f.” Tying the two soundtracks together and influencing their subject matter is the animated collage of photos collected from magazines — all arranged by theme and each theme merging into the next. The brainchild of Frank and Caroline Mouris, with soundtrack by Tony Schwartz, the film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1974.
This early sound chiller may be the definitive film of its genre from the studio that became known for the genre: Universal. Superior to “Dracula,” made less than a year previously, it illustrates how quickly Hollywood mastered the art of sound. Influenced by German Expressionism, director James Whale applies a unique twist to Mary Shelley’s original tragedy of a doctor obsessed with restoring life, and the creature he unleashes. Makeup designed by Jack Pierce was revolutionary. Expanded essay by Richard T. Jameson , examines “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein” in a single entry.
Master horror film director Tod Browning assembled a cast of genuine sideshow oddities for this chilling tale of camaraderie, persecution and revenge, with Olga Baclanova as the cruelly manipulative trapeze artist and Harry Earles as the freak she torments. The film’s unusual subject matter, its cast of curiosities, and its untraditional moral sympathy combined to create a cult following for this film, which was severely edited in the U.S. at the time of release and banned in the U.K. for 30 years.
Born in New Zealand, avant-garde filmmaker Len Lye moved to the United States and became a naturalized citizen in 1950. For his four-minute work “Free Radicals” , Lye made scratches directly into the film stock. These scratches became “figures of motion” that appear in the finished film as horizontal and vertical lines and shapes dancing to the music of the Bagirmi tribe in Africa.
During 1961, more than 400 people from across the nation, black and white, women and men, old and young, challenged state-sanctioned segregation on buses and in bus terminals in the Deep South, segregation that continued after the Supreme Court had ruled the practice to be in violation of interstate commerce laws. Some 50 years later, “Freedom Riders,” a two-hour PBS American Experience documentary made by Stanley Nelson, charted their course in considerable depth as they faced savage retaliatory attacks and forced a reluctant federal government to back their cause. The riveting story is told without narration using archival film and stills and, most engagingly, through testimonies of the Freedom Riders themselves, journalists who followed their trail, federal, state, and local officials, white southerners, and chroniclers of the movement including Raymond Arsenault, whose book inspired the documentary. The film takes viewers through many complex twists and turns of the journey with extraordinary clarity and emotional force. The courage and conviction of the Freedom Riders, ordinary Americans willing to risk bodily harm and death to combat injustice nonviolently, will inspire later generations who watch Nelson’s eloquent film. Nearly 50 full interviews conducted for the film are now available in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at special_collections/freedom-riders-interviews External .
In this fast-paced police drama directed by William Friedkin, detective Gene Hackman and his partner are New York City cops on narcotics detail who discover a French drug kingpin as the key source of heroin from Europe. The film’s high point, a high-speed car chase with Hackman tailing an elevated train, was one of the most viscerally exciting screen moments of its day and set the stage for dozens of action sequences to follow. The film’s gritty realism, captured by cinematographer Owen Roizman, and downbeat ending were a clear departure from the glossy heroics of most previous detective stories. It earned five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay , and Best Actor for Hackman. Lobby card
The “collegiate” fad that swept the U.S. during the 1920s testified to popular culture’s utter fascination with youth, and Hollywood shrewdly jumped on the bandwagon. The formula was deployed with such regularity that comic Harold Lloyd satirized it to great effect in his enormously popular film, “The Freshman.” Lloyd plays the naive collegian who enthusiastically determines to be Big Man on Campus by copying the manners of movie collegians. After donning his letterman sweater, perfecting his “college yell” and rehearsing the ridiculous “jig” that he hopes will be his ticket to popularity, he begins his journey to college. Lamb’s arrival at Tate University, billed as a “large football stadium with a college attached,” begins a series of comical trials and tribulations that tests his mettle. In addition to providing the perfect showcase for Lloyd’s ingenious gags, physical humor and tender pathos, “The Freshman” proved to be one of the most successful films of his career. Expanded essay by Annette D’Agostino Lloyd
Daniel Taradash earned an Oscar for his adaptation of James Jones unadaptable explicitly gritty best-selling novel set in Hawaii just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Director Fred Zinnemann translated the Taradash script into a lavish, star-studded blockbuster that won him and the picture Academy Awards. The epic featured Montgomery Clift as a soldier who boxes and bugles with equal skill, Donna Reed as a nightclub hostess with whom Clift falls in love, and Frank Sinatra, whose faltering career was rejuvenated with an Oscar for his performance as a wisecracking enlisted man at odds with a bullying sergeant played by Ernest Borgnine. At the center of the ensemble is Burt Lancaster as a sergeant involved in a torrid affair with his commander’s wife, Deborah Kerr, their romance culminating in the famous lovemaking scene on the beach.
Alfred Ames, the president of the Machias Lumber Company in Washington County, Maine, purchased a 16mm moving picture camera in 1929 and with the help of a friend, Dr. Howard Kane, meticulously recorded the labor of woodsmen and horses. They created this 30-minute silent film to document his workers in all facets of the lumber industry from sawing down trees to running logs down rivers. Ames not only documented his family business, but he also created a cinematic record of the lumber industry. Expanded essay by Karan Sheldon
The film, shot in Egypt and Palestine often in Biblical locations, tells the story of Jesus’ life in 10 chapters, with scenes staged as tableaus. Sidney Olcott directed and appears in the film. Actress Gene Gauntier wrote the script – though most inter-titles are direct quotes from the Bible – and portrays the Virgin Mary. Cinematographer George Hollister experimented with wide panning shots as well as innovative camera angles seldom mastered or even used at this point in cinema’s evolution. By the time shooting wrapped, the filmed stretched to five reels at a time when three reels were considered extravagant. Expanded essay by Daniel Eagan
This early sound film successfully demonstrates the rapid progress achieved by Hollywood filmmakers in all creative professions after realizing the capabilities of sound technology to invent new film narratives. The film is based on one of the best screenplays of the 1930s by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. It was directed by Lewis Milestone and features strong performances by Pat O’Brien, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Brian, Edward Everett Horton, Walter Catlett, Mae Clark, Slim Summerville, Matt Moore and Frank McHugh. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently restored this film utilizing materials from their collection, by way of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and from the Library of Congress collection. A short video about this restoration is available here. External
Longtime Corpus Christi, Texas, residents Antonio Rodríguez Fuentes and Josefina Barrera Fuentes were very active in their local Mexican-American community. Their collection of home movies — mostly from the 1920s and shot on 9.5 mm amateur film format — are among the earliest visual records of the Mexican-American community in Texas and among the first recorded by Mexican-American filmmakers. As with the best home movies, the images provide a priceless snapshot of time and place, including parades, holidays, fashions and the rituals of daily life. The beautiful images also reflect the traditionally fluid nature of the U.S.-Mexico border. The collection is a joint project between the Texas Archive of the Moving Image and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
After abandoning his studies as an engineer at Stanford, Robert Breer developed a career as artist and animator that spanned 50 years and made him an international figure. He began his artistic pursuits as a painter while living in Paris in the 1950s, and not long after, started tinkering with an old 16mm Bolex camera to create simple stop motion studies based on his abstract paintings. Among several artists invited to exhibit at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan, Breer presented “Floats” – large, movable, whimsical sculptures he called “motorised molluscs. While in Japan, he experimented with rotoscoping – tracing live-action movement frame by frame against a projected image, and created “Fuji,” a nine-minute stylized depiction of a train journey past Mt. Fuji. Avant-garde film scholar Amos Vogel called the film, “A poetic, rhythmic, riveting achievement in which fragments of landscapes, passengers, and train interiors blend into a magical color dream of a voyage.”
Reprising her Tony-nominated performance as legendary singer-comedienne Fanny Brice, Barbra Streisand’s impressive vocal talent and understated acting, as guided by distinguished veteran director William Wyler, earned her an Academy Award for her screen debut. The film retains most of the stage show’s Jule Styne-Bob Merrill musical numbers including “People,” “I’m the Greatest Star” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” Streisand plays Brice as a plain-looking, fast-talking dynamo who yearns for the stage, and gets her chance when she’s hired by impresario Florenz Ziegfeld and becomes the toast of Broadway. She meets and marries big-time gambler Nick Arnstein , but their idyllic romance crumbles as he grows to resent her fame. Produced by Ray Stark, Brice’s real-life son-in-law, “Funny Girl” was among the last of the successful big-budget musicals.
In Fritz Lang’s taut drama, Spencer Tracy plays an innocent man wrongly accused of a crime. After being attacked by a mob, Joe’s girlfriend convinces him to take the higher road and let the judicial system take its course. Based on the story “Mob Rule” by Norman Krasna, “Fury” was the first film Lang made in the United States. Although the film’s dark, gritty story departed from MGM’s usual glamorous fare, the film was a hit with audiences, performed well at the box office, and won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story. Expanded essay by Raquel Stecher
Although not remembered as well today as those put out by MGM, 20th Century-Fox’s big Technicolor musicals stand up well in comparison. Showgirl Alice Faye, Fox’s No. 1 musical star, is romanced by a soldier who uses an assumed name and then turns out to be a rich playboy. Carmen Miranda is also featured and her outrageous costume is highlighted in the legendary musical number “The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat.” Busby Berkeley, who had just finished a long stint directing musicals at MGM and an earlier one at Warner Bros., directs and choreographs the film.
Les Blank’s hilarious and affectionate homage to “The Stinking Rose” delights slightly wacky devotees or alliumophiles. In their mind, garlic is the benevolent dictator of pungent herbs, always enhancing food rather than dominating it. The rallying cry is “Fight Mouthwash, Eat Garlic.” Gastronomic, zestful, tasty and memorable, the film often is screened in “AromaRound” with a pot of garlic butter boiling at the back of the theater.
Based on the Broadway play and also staged under the title “Angel Street,” MGM’s “Gaslight” is the story of a Victorian woman who is slowly going mad — or is she? Ingrid Bergman won her first Oscar for her spellbinding performance in the lead role while Charles Boyer skates the precarious edge between romantic hero and devious villain. They were ably assisted by Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty and, in her film debut, Angela Lansbury as a cockney maid. Expertly directed by George Cukor, the film remains as suspenseful as the day it was made, just as the term “gaslighting” remains firmly within our cultural lexicon.
In what may be his most memorable film, Buster Keaton plays a Southern railway engineer who has “only two loves in his life” — his locomotive and the beautiful Annabelle Lee . One of the most expensive films of its time, including an accurate historical recreation of a true-life Civil War episode in which a train is stolen by the enemy, hundreds of extras, dangerous stunt sequences, which Keaton performed himself, and an actual locomotive falling from a burning bridge into a gorge far below. A commercial failure at the time of release — audiences felt it lacked the humor of Keaton’s other films — “The General” is now considered a classic of comedic understatement by film historians and audiences. Portrait of Buster Keaton in “The General”
Winning the 1947 Academy Award for best picture and considered daring at the time, “Gentleman’s Agreement” was one of the first films to directly explore the still-timely topic of religious-based discrimination. Philip Green , a Gentile, is a renowned magazine writer. In order to obtain firsthand knowledge of anti-Semitism, he decides to pose as a Jew. What he discovers about society, and even his own friends and colleagues, radically alters his perspective and throws his own life into turmoil. Director Elia Kazan masterfully crafts scenes that reveal bigotry both overt and often insidiously subtle. The film was based on a book by Laura Z. Hobson.
Having already directed classics such as “Swing Time,” “Gunga Din” and “Woman of the Year,” director George Stevens joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and headed a motion picture unit under Gen. Eisenhower from 1943-46. He shot many hours of footage chronicling D-Day, including rare extant color film of the European war front; the liberation of Paris; American and Soviet forces meeting at the Elbe River; and horrific scenes from the Duben labor camp, thought to be a sub-camp of Buchenwald; and the Dachau concentration camp. The footage has become an essential visual record of World War II and a staple of documentary films.
C. Allen Alexander, an African American surgeon from Michigan, convinced George Washington Carver to allow him to shoot 16 mm color footage of the famed botanist and inventor at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Alexander wisely shot the film using gloriously resilient Kodachrome, ensuring the colors remain stunningly vibrant and rich. The 12 minutes of fascinating amateur footage include scenes of Carver in his apartment, office and laboratory, as well as images of him tending flowers and displaying his paintings. Also included is footage of a Tuskegee Institute football game and the school’s marching band and majorettes. The National Archives has digitized the film as part of its multi-year effort to preserve and make available the historically significant film collections of the National Park Service. The footage can be seen on NARA’s YouTube channel at External .
Based on a story by Dr. Seuss, the seven-minute “Gerald McBoing-Boing” is representative of the work and artistry of United Productions of America , an independent animation house active in the mid-century. Comprised mainly of animators who had defected from Disney, UPA drawing style and story-telling differed greatly from other studios by not copying live-action film techniques. In other words, cartoons were allowed to look like cartoons by incorporation thick outlines and swatches of color, instead of “realistic” sets used for backdrops. “Gerald” tells the story of a misfit little boy who can only communicate via sound effects, mainly the sound “boing!” Though it has changed hands several times over the years, UPA is still in business today.
Influenced by stop-motion animation pioneer J. Stuart Blackton, Winsor McCay greatly advanced techniques of movement in animation with his “Gertie the Dinosaur,” eclipsing his earlier work, “Little Nemo.” But McCay’s chief contribution to the field was his ability to imbue animals and inanimate objects with human personalities. Another innovation was his use of “cycling:” creating a repeatable sequence of movement to minimize drawing new material – particularly useful for backgrounds. McCay first introduced his dinosaur to live audiences as part of a stage act, and then later substituted inter-titles for his patter. When the childlike Gertie emerges from a cave at McCay’s behest, he coaxes her to perform tricks such as raising her foot and bowing on command. When she gets fed up and nips at him, he scolds her and she cries. Following altercations with a flying lizard and a mammoth, the film ends with Gertie carrying McCay off the stage while he bows to the audience. Expanded essay by Daniel Eagan Animation cel
One of the most popular, quotable films from the past three decades and a touchstone of cultural reference, “Ghostbusters” can also easily be seen as a loving homage to those earlier wacky horror comedies from Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope and others. Three lapsed science academics set up shop to handle the underappreciated task of ferreting out ghosts, and will not rest until the paranormal becomes New York normal once more. These days, the trio would find a home in reality TV, but, given the era, they must prove their bona fides through clever publicity and satisfied customer word-of-mouth. Leading this Gotham firm in the fight against ever-present slime, is sleazy, yet charming, Bill Murray who brings a breezy air of can-do insouciance to the job of dealing with a rogues gallery of malevolence, including puffed-up existential threats such as the Marshmallow Man. Murray takes regular time outs from spirit-chasing to romance brainy cellist Dana Barrett , who becomes a channeler of the demon Zuul. The infectious insanity of “Ghostbusters” makes it a favorite film of the ‘80s. Expanded essay by Adam Bertocci
This monumental film epitomizes the era of the truly “big” Hollywood picture. George Stevens Jr. and a memorable cast bring Edna Ferber’s sprawling novel of the Texas plains to life with panoramic visual style and memorable small touches. Though more than three hours long, it was one of the top films of the 1950s and remains a breathtaking example of the American film as spectacle. Faithful to the novel, the Texans on the screen are presented with penetrating realism in a story that pulls no punches, especially in its indictment of racism, whether blatant or subtle. Stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean deliver performances among the best in their careers, and receive strong support from Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo and Carroll Baker. Stevens won an Oscar as best director, and the film received another eight nominations for its cast and crew.
Produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincente Minnelli, “Gigi” is a lush Technicolor musical from MGM that tells the story of a friendship between a playboy and a young girl that turns to love. “Gigi” is based on a 1944 novella by Colette and received a treatment on Broadway in 1951, but it was Arthur Freed who envisioned the story as a film musical and ultimately fought to get it made. Frenchwoman Leslie Caron was cast in the title role, and Maurice Chevalier was cast as Honoré Lachaille, a role that was expanded in the film version and which helped revitalize Chevalier’s career. “Gigi” won numerous industry awards, including a total of nine Academy Awards, a record at the time, and is often considered to be one of MGM’s best musicals.
With the end of World War II came a dark edge in the American psyche and a change in the films it produced. Film noir defined the 1940s and “Gilda” defined the Hollywood glamorization of film noir—long on sex appeal but short on substance. Director Charles Vidor capitalizes on the voyeuristic and sadomasochistic angles of film noir—and who better to fetishize than Rita Hayworth, poured into a strapless black satin evening gown and elbow-length gloves, sashaying to “Put the Blame on Mame.” George Macready and Glenn Ford round out the tempestuous triangle, but “Gilda” was and, more than 65 years later, still is all about Hayworth. Expanded essay by Kimberly Truhler
George Eastman Museum founding film curator James Card was a passionate devotee of silent film director John H. Collins’ work. It is through his influence that the museum is the principal repository of the director’s few extant films. As the expert on Collins’ legacy, the museum said he is “one of the great ‘What if…?’ figures of American cinema—a brilliantly creative filmmaker who went from being a costume department assistant to a major director within four short years, before dying at the age of 31 in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Collins’ films show both a subtle understanding of human nature and often breathtakingly daring cinematography and editing. The ‘Girl Without a Soul’ stars Viola Dana in a dual role as twin sisters, one of whom is a gifted violinist, and the other, a deeply troubled girl jealous of her sister’s abilities and the love bestowed upon her by their violinmaker father. This jealousy and the violinist sister’s unworldliness lead both into turbulent moral conflict, which takes considerable fortitude from both to overcome.” “The Girl Without a Soul” has been preserved by George Eastman Museum.
On its release, Stanley Kubrick described Claudia Weill’s “Girlfriends” as “one of the most interesting American films he had seen in a long time.” A fiercely independent, single New York photographer aspires beyond doing bar mitzvahs and weddings and struggles with relationships and city life after her best friend and roommate moves out to get married. Weill critiques the historically prevalent notions of women, marriage and motherhood, and the difficulties in pursuing an alternative lifestyle. The film uses deft observation of minor intimate vignettes to capture the life of a single woman trying to make a career during the Gloria Steinem-esque era of sexual freedom and the responsibilities and dangers that entails.
Marie Menken’s surprisingly joyful and simple film rates among the more accessible works of avant-garde filmmakers. The beautifully lyrical “Glimpse of the Garden” is a serendipitous visual tour of a flower garden set to a soundtrack of bird songs and calls.
Adapted from Mario Puzo’s bestselling novel, “The Godfather” became a landmark film of the 1970s and now ranks in the highest echelons of filmmaking. Francis Ford Coppola directed this multi-generational crime saga which is one of the most widely imitated, quoted, and lampooned movies of all time. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino star as Vito Corleone and his youngest son, Michael. It is the late 1940s in New York and Corleone is, in the parlance of organized crime, a “godfather” or “don,” the head of a Mafia family, which also includes Sonny , Fredo and Connie , with Diane Keaton as Michael’s girlfriend then wife and Robert Duvall as the Corleones’ consigliere. Coppola instructed cinematographer Gordon Willis to underlight each scene to enhance the dark mood, and the hauntingly melancholy, score by Nino Rota complements that rich visual darkness. Expanded essay for “The Godfather” and “Godfather Part II” by Michael Sragow Movie poster
Both sequel and prequel to “The Godfather,” Part II fleshes out the back story of the Corleone origins in Sicily with Robert De Niro portraying the young Don Vito, then moves forward as Don Michael wrestles with the changing identity of organized crime in the second half of the 20th century. As he realizes that allies are trying to kill him, the increasingly paranoid Michael also discovers that his ambition has crippled his marriage and turned his brother, Fredo , against him. Critics and viewers often suggest that “Godfather II” is one of the few examples in American film history where the sequel is as good or better than the original. Expanded essay for “The Godfather” and “Godfather Part II” by Michael Sragow
Bing Crosby won an Academy Award for playing a happy-go-lucky priest assigned to a rundown church heavily in debt. Barry Fitzgerald is the cranky pastor who disapproves of the younger priest’s breezy, modern style. Crosby sets about to win the confidence of the local street toughs, organizing them into a church choir that will go out on a fundraising tour to forestall eviction from the church. He also busies himself playing matchmaker and mending family relationships. “Going My Way” is heavy on sentiment, but director Leo McCarey wisely tempers the sugary emotion with comedy and musical interludes.In addition to Crosby, Oscars went to Barry Fitzgerald, Leo McCarey, screenwriters Frank Butler and Frank Cavett, and Burke and Van Heusen’s song hit “Swingin’ On a Star.” Bing Crosby repeated his role in McCarey’s 1945 sequel “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”
Arguably the definitive Depression-era musical, rife with visually stunning Busby Berkeley productions, ranging from the escapist “We’re in the Money,” kaleidoscopic, neon-violin-playing chorines of “The Shadow Waltz” to the powerful social statement of “My Forgotten Man,” a stirring paean to World War I veterans unemployed by the Depression. The usual backstage drama involves showgirls Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, and Aline McMahon who search for financial backing for producer Ned Sparks new show. Enter secretly well-heeled songwriter Dick Powell who offers to put up the money for the show, much to his brother’s chagrin. Movie poster
Written, directed, and produced by Charles Chaplin, “The Gold Rush” follows Chaplin’s Lone Prospector on his adventures in the Klondike. Often considered one of Chaplin’s greatest films, “The Gold Rush” features many now-famous sequences, including Chaplin’s “Oceana Roll” dance and the scene in which the Lone Prospector and his fellow prospector, Big Jim McKay , are forced to eat a shoe to survive. In 1942, Chaplin rereleased The Gold Rush with music and narrative sound tracks; the rerelease was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Sound Recording and another for Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. Charles Chaplin is known to have said that “The Gold Rush” was the film by which he wanted to be remembered. Expanded essay by Darren R. Reid and Brett Sanders
As one of the most popular and influential American films produced, “Gone With the Wind” remains possibly the definitive example of filmmaking in the Hollywood studio era. More than seven decades after its release, David O. Selznick’s production coupled with Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling story still has the power to enthrall audiences. A rich score by Max Steiner and top performances from Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel and Clark Gable add to the film’s indelibility. Expanded essay by Molly Haskell
Early on, Martin Scorsese`s drama shows mob life as upbeat, sometimes even humorous, but it quickly turns dark and ugly in its anti-glorification of organized crime and the anything-but-sympathetic thugs who inhabit it. The central character and narrator , a true life mob informant chronicled in the book by the film’s co-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, enters the syndicate as a teenage gofer and ends up a full-fledged wiseguy. Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, whose character Tommy DeVito frequently explodes in fits of violence, give standout performances. The soundtrack weaves a cohesive thread of pop tunes that define each of the three decades the film spans.
The fingerprints of executive producer Steven Spielberg visibly mark every second of “The Goonies,” with the plot sporting a narrative structure and many themes characteristic of his work. Spielberg penned the original story, hand-selected director Richard Donner and hired Chris Columbus to do the offbeat screenplay. With its keen focus on kids of agency and adventure, “The Goonies” protagonists are Tom Sawyeresque outsiders on a magical treasure hunt, and the story lands in the continuum between where “Our Gang” quests leave off and the darker spaces of Netflix’s recent “Stranger Things” pick up.
The coming-of-age story at the heart of “The Graduate” at times feels dated, but the character of Mrs. Robinson—deftly portrayed by Anne Bancroft—seems timeless. In hindsight, the film doesn’t capture the ’60s as well as the edgier “Easy Rider,” but director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Buck Henry, aided by Dustin Hoffman as the clueless Benjamin, manage to concoct a funny and satirical look at a certain slice of Americana and the generation gap that pervaded the era. Expanded essay by Jami Bernard
Dubbed “The Lion Tamer” for his skill in dealing with temperamental Hollywood stars, director Edmund Goulding earned that moniker many times over in “Grand Hotel.” This film put much of the MGM star factory—Greta Garbo, Wallace Beery, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford—into a single film with multiple plots, arguably the first use of the all-star formula later seen in “Dinner at Eight,” “Airport,” and “The Towering Inferno.” Crawford is reported to have told the Barrymores: “All right, boys, but don’t forget that the American public would rather have one look at my back than watch both your faces for an hour.” In this film Garbo uttered the line, “I want to be alone.”
John Ford’s Oscar-winning depiction of Okies flocking to California in droves during the Depression was based on John Steinbeck’s best seller. Seen by many as more “respectable” than Ford’s later westerns, but Gregg Toland’s stark photography and Henry Fonda’s memorably penetrating performance as hero Tom Joad elevate it to American artistry. Gallery of images from production of “The Grapes of Wrath” Movie still
One of the earliest ethnographic documentaries, “Grass” follows a branch of the Bakhtiari tribe in Persia in their seasonal quest to find better grazing land for their herds. Its filmmakers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, both of “King Kong” fame, sought to depict the “timeless” and “ancient” human struggles of a nomadic people. Expanded essay by Dennis Doros
This tuneful, loving tribute to 1950s America — perhaps more romanticized than accurate — was first staged on Broadway in 1972. A huge hit, it would run for over 3,000 performances before closing in 1980. In 1978, the production was brought to the big screen with the addition of a few fresh songs and a cast including newly-minted superstar John Travolta and pop/country chanteuse Olivia Newton-John. Energetically directed by Randal Kleiser and loaded with beloved songs like “You’re the One that I Want,” “We Go Together,” “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “Greased Lightin’,” “Grease” became thefilm of that year. It has never really left — becoming a staple for both local and high school productions, several Broadway revivals and even a live TV adaptation in 2016.  “Grease” is still the word.
Charlie Chaplin’s first all-talking film gives the Little Tramp the opportunity to mix politics with comedy while he stars in a dual role as a Jewish barber and as dictator Adenoid Hynkel. Hynkel despises all Jews and regularly wreaks havoc on the Tomanian Jewish ghetto where lives the little barber and the feisty Hannah with whom he has a fond friendship. Outraged that a Jewish banker has refused to finance his impending war with Austerlitz, dictator Hynkel begins bearing down heavily on the ghetto. Near the end of the film, when the dictator is expected to make another one of his hate-filled, war-mongering speeches, the barber steps up to the microphones and, out of character and as himself, Chaplin delivers an impassioned plea for peace and tolerance. Expanded essay by Jeffrey Vance
Considered the first narrative film, “The Great Train Robbery” was directed and photographed by Edwin S. Porter, a former cameraman for the Thomas Edison company. Primitive by modern standards, the 10-minute action picture depicts 14 distinct scenes filmed at various locales in New Jersey intended to represent the American West. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson, the screen’s first Western star, played several roles in the film, including a bandit and a train passenger. Audiences were thrilled and terrified to watch a gunman in medium close-up fire directly at the screen in the film’s final scene … although Porter suggested to exhibitors it could just as easily be shown at the beginning of the film instead.
Erich von Stroheim’s “Greed” chronicles the downfall of gold miner-turned-dentist, McTeague and his wife, Trina , after their lives are destroyed by greed following a lottery win. Based on the novel “McTeague” by Frank Norris, “Greed” is notorious for both its production difficulties, many of which stemmed from the fact that the film was shot on location, a rarity at the time, and its post-production in which MGM edited the film down against Von Stroheim’s wishes from his initial 40-reel cut to about 13 reels . The cut sequences were destroyed, so no complete version of the film is known to exist. A 1999 reconstruction based on von Stroheim’s final working script utilized still photos for missing sequences to create a 239-minute version.
An influential cinema verité documentary by Albert and David Maysles, “Grey Gardens” has provided inspiration for creative works on the stage and in film. It is absorbing sometimes disturbing look at “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Beale who live in a world of their own in their decaying 28-room East Hampton mansion known as “Grey Gardens,” a place so far gone that the local authorities once threatened to evict them for violating building and sanitation codes. “Little Edie,” was a once-beautiful aspiring actress who put her glamorous New York City life on hold to care for her mother, and together they descended into a strange life of eccentricity and co-dependence. Movie poster
The films of Robert Beavers are exceptional for their visual beauty, aural texture and depth of emotional expression. Beavers’ films occupy a noble place within the history of avant-garde film, positioned at the intersection of structural and lyrical filmmaking traditions. They seem to embody the ideals of the Renaissance in their fascination with perception, psychology, literature, the natural world, architectural space, musical phrasing and aesthetic beauty. “The Ground” uses seemingly simple components — the sunbaked landscape of a Greek island, the blue waters of the Aegean Sea and images of a man chiseling stone — to conjure the fundamental experience of holding something close to one’s heart.
“Groundhog Day” is a clever comedy with a philosophical edge to boot. Bill Murray plays a smug, arrogant weatherman caught in a personal time-warp, who is continuously forced to relive the Punxsutawney, Penn., annual Groundhog Day event. At first Murray revels at being able to act dishonorably without consequences, but he soon grows weary of having to wake up every morning to Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” and facing the same day again and again. The deft, innovative script creatively keeps rearranging and building on each day’s events, while at the same time moving Murray’s character into self-growth, redemption and personal rebirth. Andie MacDowell’s character tells him, “I like to see a man of advancing years throwing caution to the wind. It’s inspiring in a way.” Murray’s character knowingly replies, “My years are not advancing as fast as you might think.” Expanded essay by Steve Ginsberg
Among the first films to emerge from the women’s liberation movement, “Growing Up Female” is a documentary portrait of America on the brink of profound change in its attitudes toward women. Filmed in spring 1970 by Ohio college students Julia Reichert and Jim Klein, “Growing Up Female” focuses on six girls and women aged 4 to 34 and the home, school, work and advertising environments that have impacted their identities. Through open-ended interviews and lyrical documentation of their surroundings, the film strived, in Reichert’s words, to “give women a new lens through which to see their own lives.” Widely distributed to libraries, universities, churches and youth groups, the film launched a cooperative of female filmmakers that bypassed traditional distribution mechanisms to get its message communicated.
This quintessential “B movie,” also known as “Deadly is the Female,” dramatizes the criminal escapades of a Bonnie-and-Clyde-like couple on the run. John Dall plays an emotionally disturbed World War II veteran with a lifelong gun fixation. He meets a kindred spirit in carnival sharpshooter Peggy Cummins, who is equally disturbed — but a lot smarter, and hence a lot more dangerous. They embark on a crime spree, with Cummins as the brains and Dall as the trigger man. Appreciation for this low-budget film noir, directed by onetime editor Joseph H. Lewis, has grown since its release thanks to its bold, stylized look and an objectivity that approaches cinema verite. Expanded essay by Richard T. Jameson
Though it would be Spencer Tracy’s last film and the second film for which Katharine Hepburn would win an Academy Award for best actress, even these movie milestones are somewhat overshadowed by the then-novel plot of the 1967 “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Hepburn and Tracy play an older married couple whose progressiveness is challenged when their daughter brings home a new fiancé, who happens to be black. Celebrated actor Sidney Poitier plays the young man with his customary on-screen charisma, fire and grace.
George Stevens directed this adventure epic suggested by the Rudyard Kipling poem. Its screenplay was the brainchild of Joel Sayre, Fred Guiol, and the writing team of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. star as eternally brawling British sergeants in colonial India, with Sam Jaffe as their faithful Indian water bearer, Gunga Din. Grant and McLaglen scheme to keep Fairbanks in the army after he’s announced his intentions to retire and marry the lovely Emmy in a scenario curiously reminiscent of the earlier Hecht-MacArthur collaboration “The Front Page.” As the sergeants scheme to keep the trio together, they’re tasked with quelling a revolution by a fanatical religious cult. To prove his worthiness to become the regiment’s trumpeter, water bearer Gunga Din bravely comes to the rescue.
One of the Registry’s more unusual entries, this film was created to demonstrate technological advancements by Theodore Case, a scientist specializing in recording sound on film. In 1926, Case joined forces with Fox Films which purchased the rights to one of his systems and began making short sound films. As Case made improvements to his processes, he would test them by recording popular vaudeville acts, including Gus Visser and “The Original Singing Duck.” In this film, probably made as a demonstration for Fox investors, Visser warbles the Eddie Cantor song “Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me” with the help of a duck who Visser physically “prompts” to quack on cue. Within the year, Warner Bros. would beat Fox as the first producer of a feature-length sound film, and this short film may give some indication why. Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation
Renowned experimental film by Ralph Steiner, who later served as cameraman and/or director on documentary classics such as “The City” and “The Plow that Broke the Plains.” “H2O” is a cinematic tone poem to water in all its forms, using lovely images and editing techniques of movement, shading and texture to produce striking visual effects. Watch it here
Writer-director Preston Sturges probably was the only filmmaker in Hollywood in the 1940s who could satirize the worship of war heroes and mothers during wartime. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times credited the success of this film to its “sharpness of verbal wit and the vigor of visual expression” and the ability of Sturges to temper “irony with pity.” Nominated for an Academy Award for the best original screenplay category, “Hail the Conquering Hero” follows the foibles of a would-be war hero dismissed from active duty because of chronic hay fever and enlisted by a group of Marines to return home as the war hero that he has pretended to be in letters to his mother. The lightning-paced plot that develops upon his return offers Sturges—a budding “Hollywood Voltaire” in Crowther’s eyes—myriad opportunities to spoof corruption in small town politics as well as the propensity to idolize the military. The great French critic André Bazin called this film “a work that restores to American film a sense of social satire that I find equaled only … in Chaplin’s films.”
“Hair Piece” is an insightful and funny short animated film examining the problems that African-American women have with their hair. Generally considered the first black woman animator, director Ayoka Chenzira was a key figure in the development of African-American filmmakers in the 1980s through her own films and work to expand opportunities for others. Writing in the New York Times, critic Janet Maslin lauded this eccentric yet jubilant film. She notes the narrator “tells of everything from the difficulty of keeping a wig on straight to the way in which Vaseline could make a woman’s hair ”sound like the man in ‘The Fly’ saying ‘Help me!'”
The all-black-cast film “Hallelujah” was a surprising gamble by normally conservative MGM, allowed chiefly because director King Vidor deferred his salary and MGM had proved slow to convert from silent to sound films. Vidor had to shoot silent film of the mass-river-baptism and swamp-murder Tennessee location scenes. He then painstakingly synchronized the dialogue and music. Around themes of religion, sensuality and family stability, Vidor molded a tale of a cotton sharecropper that begins with him losing his year’s earnings, his brother and his freedom and follows him through the temptations of a dancehall girl . The passionate conviction of the melodrama and the resourceful technical experiments make “Hallelujah” among the very first indisputable masterpieces of the sound era.
John Carpenter’s first commercially successful film not only became his most famous work, but it also ushered in the dawn of the slasher film. However, “Halloween,” unlike many later films of that genre, creates a chilling tension with minimal blood and gore. The setting is Halloween night, and homicidal maniac Michael Myers has escaped from his mental institution and is hunting teenagers in his hometown of Haddonfield, Ill. Although the numerous imitations and elements of the genre are now considered a cliché, Carpenter’s style of point-of-view shots, tense editing and haunting piano score make “Halloween” uniquely artistic, frightening and a horror film keystone. Expanded essay by Murray Leeder
As a comic actor, Raymond Griffith was worlds away from the frantic, rubber-faced funnymen who stereotypically appeared in silent films. An easy elegance was his stock-in-trade. When he performed a gag, Griffith executed it with understatement and panache. In the Civil War saga “Hands Up,” Griffith is not only an amusingly intrepid Confederate spy, but also an endearing romantic figure with two young women vying for his attention. Expanded essay by Steve Massa
An apprentice of Albert and David Maysles, director Barbara Kopple came into her own with this unvarnished examination of a labor strike by 180 coal miners against the Duke Power Company in Harlan County, Kentucky, in 1973. Bypassing narration for real sound and dialogue, and evocative music, Kopple produces a film that does not shy away from the harsh working conditions of the strikers or the heated emotions that surround their battle for better wages and working conditions. Her approach to the film’s production was an important digression from “direct cinema” toward a more personal filmmaking style. Expanded essay by Randy Haberkamp
Most critics were less than impressed and some were downright turned off by this black comedy starring Bud Cort as a young man obsessed with death who meets and eventually falls in love with Ruth Gordon as an eccentric, wisecracking elderly woman. Directed by Hal Ashby and written by Colin Higgins , the film became popular on college campuses in its day and continues to attract a cult following, embracing the warm humor and big heart that lies beneath the darkness. The film’s music was composed and performed by Cat Stevens.
One of the earliest “creepy clown” movies, “He Who Gets Slapped” was the first film produced completely by the MGM studio, though not the first released. The film features Lon Chaney in a memorable role as a scientist who is humiliated when a rival and his wife steal his ideas just as he is to present them to the Academy of Sciences. He then becomes a masochistic circus clown where the highlight of his act is being repeatedly slapped. One of many stand-out scenes occurs during a circus performance where Chaney spots those who betrayed him and tries to call them out, but his fellow clowns are doing their normal crowd-pleasing routine of slapping him in the face. Filled with nightmarish vignettes, this landmark film from the silent era was directed by Victor Sjöström and also features Norma Shearer and John Gilbert, each on the cusp of stardom.
Director Peter Davis describes his Academy Award-winning documentary “Hearts and Minds” as “an attempt to examine why we went to Vietnam, what we did there and what the experience did to us.” Compared by critics at the time to Marcel Ophuls’ acclaimed documentary “The Sorrow and the Pity” , “Hearts and Minds,” similarly addressed the wartime effects of national myths and prejudices by juxtaposing interviews of government officials, soldiers, peasants and parents, cinéma vérité scenes shot on the home front and in South Vietnam, clips from ideological Cold War movies, and horrific archival footage. Author Frances FitzGerald praised the documentary as “the most moving film I’ve ever seen on Vietnam, because, for the first time, the camera lingers on the faces of Vietnamese and one hears their voices.” Author David Halberstam said it “brilliantly catches … the hidden, unconscious racism of the war.” Others from both ends of the political spectrum chided it as manipulative propaganda that oversimplified complexities. Expanded essay by Peter Davis
William Wyler spins Henry James’s novel “Washington Square” into a cinematic battle of wills between a timid old maid ; her cold, arrogant father ; and a rakish fortune-hunting suitor . Wyler adeptly harnesses the diverse acting styles — Hollywood studio, Shakespearean, and Method, respectively — exhibited by the leads to heighten the psychological tension. Richardson was nominated for an Oscar and de Havilland captured one for her transformation from wallflower to iceberg. A poignant score by Aaron Copland punctuates the inflexibility and deliberate grandeur of 1880s New York Society that Henry James depicted.
William S. Hart was one of the most popular of the silent Western stars. Unlike most of the early film cowboys, Hart’s characters were ambiguous — no stereotype men in white hats. They could be crooks or killers just as easily as honorable lawmen or hard-working ranchers. Here he his a self-described killer seeking retribution on behalf of the devout sister of a rather pathetic minister. Performances by Hart and Clara Williams as the aptly-named Faith are confident and comparatively restrained for their day. The cinematography by Joseph August, who would work with masters such as John Ford and Howard Hawks, is equally confident and adds a level of sophistication to the production. Expanded essay by David Menefee View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
Surreal and mesmerizing allegorical film by traveling evangelists James and Eloyce Gist, an important and until recently overlooked milestone in Black cinema. Painstakingly reassembled from more than 100 reels of 16mm at the Library of Congress by S. Torriano Berry, this early example of guerilla filmmaking is a fierce condemnation of sinfulness with Satan portrayed as a very alluring conductor. This train is most assuredly not a clean train.
The Red Cross Bureau of Pictures produced more than 100 films, including “Heroes All,” from 1917-1921, which are invaluable historical and visual records of the era with footage from World War I and its aftermath. “Heroes All” examines returning wounded WWI veterans and their treatment at Walter Reed Hospital, along with visits to iconic Washington, D.C., landmarks. Several Red Cross cinematographers achieved notable film careers, including Ernest Schoedsack and A. Farciot Edouart. Expanded essay by Gerry Veeder, Ph.D.
Joan Micklin Silver’s first feature-length film, “Hester Street,” was an adaption of preeminent Yiddish author Abraham Cahan’s 1896 well-received first novel “Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto.” In the 1975 film, the writer-director brought to the screen a portrait of Eastern European Jewish life in America that historians have praised for its accuracy of detail and sensitivity to the challenges immigrants faced during their acculturation process. Shot in black-and-white and partly in Yiddish with English subtitles, the independent production, financed with money raised by the filmmaker’s husband, was shunned by Hollywood until it established a reputation at the Cannes Film Festival and in European markets. “Hester Street” focuses on stresses that occur when a “greenhorn” wife, played by Carol Kane , and her young son arrive in New York to join her Americanized husband. Silver, one of the first women directors of American features to emerge during the women’s liberation movement, shifted the story’s emphasis from the husband, as in the novel, to the wife. Historian Joyce Antler has written admiringly, “In indicating the hardships experienced by women and their resiliency, as well as the deep strains assimilation posed to masculinity, ‘Hester Street’ touches on a fundamental cultural challenge confronting immigrants.” Expanded essay by Eric A. Goldman (PDF, 375KB
Gary Cooper is a sheriff who’s about to marry Quaker Grace Kelly and hang up his star, but is forced into a final gunfight alone when the townspeople refuse to help him. The film’s 84 tense minutes are meant to correspond to the actual time in which the plot unfolds. Carl Foreman wrote the script and planned to direct until the Hollywood blacklist intervened and Fred Zinnemann was tapped to take over. Supporing actors include Thomas Mitchell, Lon Chaney Jr., Lloyd Bridges and Katy Jurado. Beside Cooper’s taut Oscar-winning performance, the most unforgettable element of the film may be its theme song by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington. Movie still
Filmmaker Fred Wiseman employed the techniques of a burgeoning documentary style known as direct cinema to capture reality truthfully and without narration. Wiseman roamed freely through Philadelphia’s Northeast High School to document students continually clashing with administrators who confuse learning with discipline. Richard Schickel, writing in “Life” magazine, called this a “wicked, brilliant documentary about life in a lower-middle-class secondary school.” At 75 minutes, this is one of Wiseman’s shortest documentaries, yet the impact is as memorable as his longer films. Wiseman’s film “Hospital,” made two years later, is also on the Registry. Expanded essay by Barry Grant
One of the 20th Century’s most vivid historic images is the crash of the airship Hindenburg at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. The German hydrogen-powered passenger zeppelin had been in operation since March 1936. The disaster is documented as an assemblage of film footage gathered by four news organizations. It is frequently presented with narration by Chicago radio reporter Herbert Morrison, who recorded commentary on the scene at the time, but was broadcast later on radio and in combination with the newsreel footage. Minutes after ground handlers grabbed hold of a pair of landing lines dropped from the nose of the ship, the Hindenburg suddenly burst into flames and dropped to the ground in a little over half a minute. Of the 36 passengers and 61 crew on board, 13 passengers and 22 crew died, as well as one member of the ground crew.
Director Howard Hawks converts the 1931 buddy picture “The Front Page” into a fiery and funny battle of the sexes by casting one of its protagonists as a woman. Cary Grant plays the editor and ex-husband of hardboiled reporter Rosalind Russell whose impending marriage to Ralph Bellamy is sidetracked by a breaking news story. Hawks retains much of the dialog from the original play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and masterfully overlaps lines to great comic effect and a vibrant pace.
Among the original “tough dames” of ‘30s and ‘40s movies, actress Ida Lupino later moved behind the camera to become one of the industry’s few prominent female directors. After a series of films often categorized as “women’s pictures” , Lupino took a hard turn with this gritty, hard-boiled tale. Two men make the mistake of picking up a tormented hitch-hiker . Upon its release in 1953, the film earned Lupino strong reviews and prompted the occasional comparison to Hitchcock’s style. Expanded essay by Wheeler Winston Dixon
With “The Hole,” legendary animators John and Faith Hubley created an “observation,” as the opening title credits state, a chilling Academy Award-winning meditation on the possibility of an accidental nuclear catastrophe. Jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and actor George Mathews improvised a lively dialogue that the Hubleys and their animators used as the voices of two New York construction workers laboring under Third Avenue. Earlier in his career, while he worked as an animator in the Disney studios, John Hubley viewed a highly stylized Russian animated film—brought to his attention by Frank Lloyd Wright—that radically influenced his ideas about the possibilities of animation. With his new vision realized in this film, the Hubleys ominously, yet humorously, commented on the fears of nuclear devastation ever-present in cold war American culture during the year that the Cuban Missile crisis unfolded. Expanded essay by Greg Cwik
This groundbreaking, multiyear account of two inner-city Chicago kids struggling to earn college basketball scholarships provides an intimate and comprehensive account of the life and limited options of lower-class black families in America. One of the most critically acclaimed American documentaries, director Steve James’s film is a complex and ultimately rewarding picture that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Directed by David Anspaugh, Gene Hackman stars as a high school basketball coach who takes his team to the state championship finals. Based on the true story of a 1954 small-town Indiana team and its coach, the film is at times bleak and at others inspiring. The drab palette of this straight-from-the-heartland tale foreshadows an America on the verge of change. Dennis Hopper as the town’s basketball-loving drunk was nominated for an Oscar. With Barbara Hershey and Sheb Wooley.
Not to be confused with Arthur Hiller’s narrative fiction film “The Hospital” starring George C. Scott, 1970’s “Hospital” was another of documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s forays into public institutions; he had previously made “Titticut Follies and “High School” . On assignment for NY public TV station WNET, Wiseman takes his cameras into New York’s Metropolitan Hospital and, literally, focuses on life and death. Paying special attention to the hospital’s Emergency Room, Wiseman’s film highlights doctors and patients and the legal and ethical decisions both must face. Expanded essay by Barry Keith Grant
Paddy Chayefsky, who would later write “Network” , penned an Oscar-winning script for this satire set in a Manhattan teaching hospital whose façade and staff both seem to be crumbling. George C. Scott portrays a beleaguered physician, a character far less in control than the five-star general he portrayed in “Patton” the year before. That earlier role had earned him a Best Actor Oscar, which he famously declined, and “The Hospital” earned him another nomination. Director Arthur Hiller toggles between comedy and tragedy, the real and the surreal to depict, in Chayefsky’s words, “a microcosm for all the ills of contemporary society” and a vision of health care that looks frighteningly prescient.
This hilarious New York University student film was written and directed by Martin Brest who later went on to direct “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Midnight Run,” and “Scent of a Woman.” In the film, DeVito plays a down-on-his-luck photographer determined to capture visual magic and fame. He concocts an intricate plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty and sets his camera to record the exact moment of its destruction.
Nathaniel Dorsky shot the footage for what would become his silent tone poem, “Hours for Jerome,” between 1966 and 1970. He edited that footage over a two-year period. The film’s title evokes the liturgical “Book of Hours,” a medieval series of devotional prayers recited at eight-hour intervals throughout the day. Dorsky’s personal devotional loosely records the daily events of the filmmaker and his partner as an arrangement of images, energies and illuminations. The camera intimately surveys the surroundings, from the pastoral to the cosmopolitan, as fragments of light revolve around the four seasons. “Part 1” presents spring through summer and “Part 2” looks at fall and winter—a full year in 45 minutes. Named filmmaker of the decade in 2010 by Film Comment magazine, Dorsky creates his works to be projected at silent speed, between 17 and 20 frames per second instead of the usual 24 frames per second for sound film. Projecting his films at sound film speed, he writes, “is to strip them of their ability to open the heart and speak properly to their audience. Not only is the specific use of time violated, but the flickering threshold of cinema’s illusion—a major player in these works—is obscured.”
This short film, which earned an honorary Academy Award for director Mervyn LeRoy in 1946, exhorts the message of religious tolerance and post-war hopefulness. Frank Sinatra, then the idol of teenage bobby-soxers, takes a break from a recording session and finds a group of children bullying one boy because he’s Jewish. Sinatra reminds them that Americans may worship in many different ways but they still remain Americans. The film ends with Sinatra performing the title song, penned by Abel Meeropol, best known for the song “Strange Fruit” which denounced the horror of lynchings. Expanded essay by Art Simon Watch it here
This curiosity of the Cold War era suggests good housekeeping and home maintenance can reduce the damage to buildings in the event of a nuclear explosion. The film’s sponsorship by the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association may have something to do with such a hypothesis. Expanded essay by Kelly Chisholm
The talents of Vincent Price, writer Richard Matheson, director Roger Corman and the legacy of Edgar Allan Poe combined in the first of American International Pictures’ series of films that dominated horror on the screen in the 1960s. Despite shooting schedules that rarely ran more than three weeks or budgets over $500,000, the series offered elegant, literary adaptations, luminous decor and color photography that established a new standard for screen horror. As a director and producer, Corman’s films helped launch the careers of a galaxy of Hollywood talent including Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Dennis Hopper, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and James Cameron.
A remake of 1933’s “Mystery of the Wax Museum,” the 1953 “House of Wax” expanded upon the earlier horror tale of a mad sculptor who encases his victims’ corpses in wax. It added the dark talents of Vincent Price and helped introduce 3-D visual effects to a wide audience. “House of Wax,” produced by Warner Bros. and released in April 1953, is considered the first full-length 3-D color film ever produced and released by a major American film studio. Along with its technical innovations, “House of Wax” also solidified Vincent Price’s new role as America’s master of the macabre, and his voice resonated even more with the emerging stereophonic sound process. Though he had flirted with the fear genre earlier in his career in the 1946 “Shock,” “Wax” forever recast him as one of the first gentlemen of Hollywood horror. Along with Price, Phyllis Kirk, Frank Lovejoy and Carolyn Jones complete the cast. André de Toth directed the film. Expanded essay by Jack Theakston
A seamless collaboration of creative talent, both credited and uncredited, lies behind the success of 1941’s Best Picture winner, “How Green Was My Valley.” Much of the dialogue arises directly from Richard Llewllyn’s novel of a Welsh mining community, while Philip Dunne’s screenplay gives the film its episodic structure and reflective narrative voice. William Wyler served as director through preproduction and supervised location scouting and set construction, as well as the crucial casting of Roddy McDowall in the lead role. John Ford took the Dunne screenplay and Wyler sets and staged scenes in his own style. Finally, Fox mogul Darryl Zanuck took all of Ford’s footage and supervised the final edit, as he did on many of the projects he oversaw at both Warner Bros. and Fox. Movie poster
John Ford, Henry Hathaway, and George Marshall directed the individual episodes of this sprawling epic which was originally released in Cinerama. It follows the Prescotts, an emigrant family, through four generations, from the Erie Canal in the 1830s to their home in the West half a century later. The episode directed by Ford, which focuses on the Civil War, is probably the best of the film’s three parts. With James Stewart, John Wayne, Carroll Baker, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Carolyn Jones, Eli Wallach, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, and Richard Widmark. Nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, it claimed three: Best Editing, Best Sound and Best Screenplay.
Paul Newman received his third Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the title character, the handsome, surly and unscrupulous bad-boy son of a Texas rancher who locks horns with his father over business and family matters. Loosely based on Larry McMurtry’s debut novel, “Horseman, Pass By,” the film received seven Academy Award nominations, winning three: Patricia Neal , Melvyn Douglas and James Wong Howe . Motion Picture Academy President John Bailey in 2017 chronicled the production of the film and summed up some of his impressions of the film’s relevance 55 years after its release: “Naked and narcissistic self-interest have always been a dark undercurrent to the limpid surface stream of American optimism and justice, but it is not a reach to see the character of Hud as an avatar of the troubling cynicism of that other side of American Populism — the side that espouses a fake concern for one’s fellow man while lining one’s own pockets. Hud, a lothario at the wheel of his crashed convertible, raising a shroud of dust clouds in its trail, is nothing more than a flimflam 19th century snake-oil salesman and carnival barker. His type erupts over and over onto America’s psyche like a painful pustule.”
Based on a story by Fannie Hurst, “Humoresque” presented to mainstream American audiences a sympathetic portrayal of immigrant Jewish life through its vivid details of street life and rituals, and a riveting performance by Yiddish Theatre actress Vera Gordon, “seemingly a character from life, living,” rather than acting, as a New York Times reviewer observed. Although it was not the first film to dramatize the acculturation experiences of recent Jewish refugees from Russian massacres, “Humoresque” became a great screen success, inspiring Hollywood to produce many other films set in the Lower East Side’s tenements during the ensuing decade. In this, his first hit film, director Frank Borzage sympathetically treated faith and love—in this case “mother love”—with the utmost solemnity, in a manner that admirer Martin Scorsese has commented “makes him so unfashionable now.” Having solidly established its setting and characters through its many poignant and atmospheric touches, the film “touches the deep places of the heart,” as one Variety reviewer wrote, and makes its audience believe that prayers are answered and that love can restore health.
This ethnographic film documents the efforts of four !Kung men to hunt a giraffe in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia. The footage was shot by John Marshall during a Smithsonian-Harvard Peabody sponsored expedition in 1952–53. In addition to the giraffe hunt, the film shows other aspects of !Kung life, including family relationships, socializing and storytelling and gathering plant foods. The film won a Robert J. Flaherty Award for best documentary from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 1958. DER Documentary – The Hunters External
That great Hollywood staple, the “war movie,” got a major reinvention in director Kathryn Bigelow’s 2008 riveting and uncompromising look at contemporary warfare. Following the work of a Baghdad-based explosive ordnance disposal team, “The Hurt Locker” strips away sentiment — and politics — to  focus its camera on the rampant, second-by-second dangers and ethical dilemmas of modern-day soldiers. Jeremy Renner leads the skillful cast as a detonation expert for whom war seems a little too “normal.” Along with winning that year’s Best Picture Oscar, Bigelow was named as “Best Director” by the Academy, the first woman to receive that honor.
Paul Newman is an up-and-coming pool player and Jackie Gleason the reigning champ in this moody, deliberately-paced morality play directed by Robert Rossen. Rossen and Sidney Carroll’s adaptation of a Walter Tevis novel gets its gritty reality from the black-and-white cinematography by Eugen Shuftan, who won an Oscar for his work. The real contest in “The Hustler” is not between Newman and Gleason, but between Newman’s love for his girlfriend and his self-destructive impulses. Rossen’s best directorial decision is giving full weight and screen time to all of his characters. In only his third film, George C. Scott gives a chilling performance as Newman’s manipulative manager.
A compelling, Academy Award-nominated performance by Paul Muni as an average guy framed for robbery and sentenced to hard labor distinguishes this Warner Bros. “social conscious” picture from most others of this era. Based on a series of works by Robert Elliot Burns, himself a chain gang escapee, the vividly depicts the prisoner’s despair as his strength and dignity are stripped away until escape becomes his only option. Director Mervyn LeRoy pulls no punches in showing the brutality and corruption of prison farms. Much of the film’s story and technique would influence later prison movies.
“I Am Joaquin” is a 20-minute short film based on an epic poem published by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales in 1967. Gonzales’ poem weaves together the tangled roots of his Mexican, Spanish, Indian and American parentage and a past mythology of pre-Columbian cultures. The film is important to the history and culture of Chicanos in America, spotlighting the challenges of discrimination. Luis Valdez, often described as the father of Chicano theater, produced and directed the film as a project of Teatro Campesino , which he founded in 1965. Valdez later directed the Chicano-themed “Zoot Suit” in 1981, a retelling of the early 1940s Los Angeles race riots, and “La Bamba” in 1987.
Madeline Anderson’s documentary brings viewers to the front lines of the civil rights movement during the 1969 Charleston hospital workers’ strike, when black female workers marched for fair pay and union recognition. Participating in the strike were such notable figures as Coretta Scott King, Ralph Abernathy and Andrew Young, all affiliated with Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Anderson’s film shows the courage and resiliency of the strikers and the support they received from the local black community. It is an essential filmed record of this important moment in the history of civil and women’s rights.
Underground filmmaker George Kuchar and his twin brother Mike began making 8mm films as 12-year-old kids in the Bronx, often on their family’s apartment rooftop. Before his death in 2011, George created over 200 outlandish low-budget films filled with absurdist melodrama, crazed dialogue and plots, and affection for Hollywood film conventions and genres. A professor at the San Francisco Art Institute, Kuchar documented his directing techniques in the hilarious “I, an Actress” as he encourages an acting student to embellish a melodramatic monologue with increasingly excessive gestures and emotions. Like most of Kuchar’s films, “I, an Actress” embodies a “camp” sensibility, defined by the cultural critic Susan Sontag as deriving from an aesthetics that valorizes not beauty but “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” Filmmaker John Waters has cited the Kuchars as “my first inspiration” and credited them with giving him “the self-confidence to believe in my own tawdry vision.” Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation
Born in New York City, Julie Dash is a filmmaker, music video and commercial director, author and website creator. Her film studies began in Harlem in 1969 but eventually led her to the American Film Institute and UCLA, where she made ” The Diary of an African Nun” , based on a short story by Alice Walker, which won a student award from the Directors Guild of America. Dash’s critically acclaimed short film ” Illusions” later won the Jury Prize for Best Film of the Decade awarded by the Black Filmmakers Foundation. Created for her MFA thesis at UCLA, “Illusions, is set in World War II-era Hollywood and explores the nature of Hollywood racial politics, fantasy and the illusion of racial identity.
This is one of American cinema’s most famous examples of the “woman’s picture,” melodramas which focused on the emotions, problems and concerns of women. This John Stahl film adaptation of Fannie Hurst’s novel has an innovative theme involving a white widow who starts a business partnership with her African-American maid . It is arguably the first Hollywood studio film to treat African-American characters in a dignified fashion by casting them in richly developed roles, not merely as comics or entertainers. Expanded essay by Ariel Schudson
Film melodrama comes in many variations, but director Douglas Sirk’s style of domestic melodrama is marked by stylized interiors and use of mirrors, where the role of photography is crucial, with exquisite use of primary colors and camera angles to convey emotion and mood. During the 1950s, the Universal team of Sirk, producers Ross Hunter and Albert Zugsmith, cinematographer Russell Metty and composer Frank Skinner, released a series of glossy, often deliriously flamboyant “women’s picture” melodramas, including “All That Heaven Allows,” “Magnificent Obsession,” “Written on the Wind” and “Imitation of Life.” The often-lurid plots in these films may have seemed laughable and unrealistic, but the emotional impact on audiences packed a wallop that led to major box-office bonanzas for Universal. Sirk’s last American film, “Imitation of Life,” is based on the Fannie Hurst novel about two mothers and their daughters . Sirk’s 1959 version offers a telling contrast to the more restrained melodramatic style used by John Stahl in the 1934 version , starring Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers. One can also spot in Sirk’s film fascinating glimpses at the evolving social standards and mores the country had undergone in the 25 years that elapsed between the two films, particularly in the characters of Moore and her daughter Susan Kohner. However, New York Times reviewers did not note much difference in the two versions. The paper’s 1934 reviewer called the film “the most shameless tearjerker of the fall” while Bosley Crowther’s 1959 review proved little different: “It is the most shameless tearjerker in a couple of years.” Sirk’s version ends with Mahalia Jackson singing “Trouble of the World” during the penultimate funeral scene and daughter Susan Kohner begging forgiveness while hugging her dead mother’s casket. Expanded essay by Matthew Kennedy
Directed by, written by, and starring Charles Chaplin, “The Immigrant” features Chaplin’s Tramp persona as an immigrant making his way to America on a steamship. While on board, he meets a young immigrant woman , with whom he reunites later when both are struggling to make a life for themselves in their new home. “The Immigrant” was one of the twelve short films Chaplin made for Mutual Film Corporation between 1916 and 1917. While the film explores the uniquely American immigrant experience in both a sympathetic and optimistic light, a scene in which Chaplin’s character kicks an immigration officer was cited as evidence of Chaplin’s anti-Americanism in the 1950s, leading to his exile. Expanded essay by Jeffrey Vance
Director Nicholas Ray scathing Hollywood satire, “In a Lonely Place,” may well rate that honor. Screenwriter Humphrey Bogart, brilliant at his craft yet prone to living with his fists, undergoes scrutiny as a murder suspect while romancing insouciant starlet Gloria Grahame. Their tempestuous on-screen romance mirrors the real-life deteriorating marriage of Grahame and director Ray, who divorced shortly after the film was completed. With jaded passion and paranoid force of character, Bogart perfectly plays the talented but psychologically unstable artist who will not accept his society, proving it with periodic violent, self-destructive confrontations. The film’s cynical, fatalistic script marries film-noir themes and doomed romance: “I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.” In a Lonely Place: The Restoration Story , an in-depth look at the preservation process behind Sony Pictures Entertainment’s complete restoration of this film .
In 1959 two men brutally murdered four members of a Holcomb, Kan., family. Truman Capote reported on the infamous incident, first in a series of New Yorker articles and later in his non-fiction novel, “In Cold Blood.” With an unsparing neo-realism, director Richard Brooks adapted Capote’s novel, focusing on the motivations, backgrounds, and relationship of the killers, society’s failure to spot potential murderers, and their eventual execution on death row. Filmed in striking black-and-white documentary style by cinematographer Conrad Hall, the film starred then-unknown actors Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, both of whom bore a close physical resemblance to the real-life murderers. Blake, in particular, provides a sensational, multi-layered portrayal. The chilling ending depicts Blake climbing to the gallows to be hanged as we hear his heartbeat slowly come to a stop as the screen fades to black.
While traveling in the Deep South, Virgil Tibbs , a black Philadelphia homicide detective, becomes unwittingly embroiled in the murder investigation of a prominent businessman when he is first accused of the crime and then asked to solve it. Finding the killer proves to be difficult, however, especially when his efforts are constantly thwarted by the bigoted town sheriff . But neither man can solve the case alone. Putting aside their differences and prejudices, they join forces in a desperate race against time to discover the shocking truth. Director Norman Jewison stages their confrontations for effectively flashy, immediate effect. The film also stars Lee Grant and Warren Oates. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
Written and directed by Edward S. Curtis this fictionalized dramatization of the life of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples of British Columbia is depicted by the natives themselves. The film’s story revolves around a chief’s son who woos a beautiful maiden though thwarted by an evil sorcerer. The film combines many accurate representations of native culture, art, and technology of the period, however some of the practices pre-date the era depicted or were entirely fictional. However it does accurately capture the potlatch ceremony which until the early 1950s was prohibited by U.S. and Canadian law for being wasteful, unproductive, and contrary to ‘civilized values.’ Expanded essay by Brad Evans and Aaron Glass
This lyrical, slice-of-life documentary about East Harlem is one of several outstanding children’s documentaries produced immediately after World War II. The filmmakers captured the energy-filled streets as part theater, part battleground and part playground. In their everyday lives and actions, people project an image of human existence against the turmoil of the street.
This early actuality film documents New York City’s newest marvel, the subway, less than seven months after its opening. However, the film is not as simple as it first appears. It required coordinating three trains: the one we watch, the one carrying the camera and a third to carry a bank of lights. The artistic flair is the vision of legendary cameraman G.W. “Billy” Bitzer.
This sci-fi classic about a man who starts to shrink after being exposed to a strange cloud while on vacation is notable for its intelligent script and imaginative special effects which seem simplistic by modern standards. Jack Arnold’s sparse direction and Richard Matheson’s poignant script allow the tension to build naturally in a world where a house cat and common spider become the ultimate threat to existence and leave an indelible mark on the audience’s consciousness. Part of the film’s brilliance is its bad-news ending, a surprising — but effective — choice for Universal Studios, and its haunting final line of dialogue “I still exist.” Expanded essay by Barry Keith Grant
This marks the 11th film directed by John Ford to be named to the National Film Registry, the most of any director. “The Informer” depicts with brutal realism the life of an informant during the Irish Rebellion of 1922, who turns in his best friend and then sees the walls closing in on him in return. Critic Andre Sennwald, writing in the New York Times, praised Ford’s direction: “In his hands ‘The Informer’ becomes at the same time a striking psychological study of a gutter Judas and a raw impressive picture of the Dublin underworld during the Black and Tan terror.” Ford and cinematographer Joseph August borrowed from German expressionism to convey the Dublin atmosphere. To this point, Ford had compiled a solid workmanlike career as he learned his craft. “The Informer” placed him in the top echelon of American film directors and over the next 20 years he crafted numerous other classics, from the 1939 “Stagecoach” through the 1962 “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
This empathic and often poetic medical-training film features a powerful performance by co-director Naomi Feil as a nurse who learns to cope with aphasia, the inability to speak as a result of a brain injury. Feil, a social worker whose career has focused on communicating with language-impaired patients, produced this film and dozens more with her husband Edward Feil. In the film, the patient’s inner thoughts are heard through voice-over as she struggles in frustration to overcome her disability and to connect with her caregivers. The Council on International Non-theatrical Events awarded “Inner World” its top honor, the Golden Eagle. More than 47 years later, the film is still being screened by media artists and independent filmmakers who appreciate its innovative artistic qualities.
Just prior to World War II, a rescue operation aided the youngest victims of Nazi terror when 10,000 Jewish and other children were sent from their homes and families to live with foster families and in group homes in Great Britain. This Oscar-winning film was directed by Mark Jonathan Harris, writer and director of another Oscar winner, “The Long Way Home,” and was produced by Deborah Oppenheimer, whose mother was among the children evacuated. The film examines the bond between parent and child, uncovering the anguish of the parents who reluctantly acknowledged they could no longer protect their children, but through their love saw a chance to protect them, by proxy if not proximity. Interviews with the surviving children reveal feelings of abandonment and estrangement that often took years to overcome. The film is a tribute not only to the children who survived, but to the people of England who agreed to rescue the refugees when U.S. leadership would not. Expanded essay by Mark Jonathan Harris
A sprawling epic that traverses time and space, D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance,” whose full title has alternately been listed as “Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages” and “Intolerance: A Sun-Play of the Ages,” tells the stories of men and women throughout history, specifically a woman in Ancient Babylon, a group in Judea, a Huguenot couple in 1572 France, and a woman in modern times, all of whom encounter some form of intolerance. Griffith made “Intolerance” as a direct response to the negative public reaction to the overt racism depicted in “The Birth of a Nation,” which was released a year earlier. Notable for its elaborate, expansive sets and complex story structure, which was achieved through crosscutting, “Intolerance” is considered one of the masterpieces of the silent era. As with “The Birth of a Nation,” Griffith introduced new cinematic techniques in “Intolerance” that are now considered commonplace in today’s motion picture industry. Expanded essay by Benjamin Schrom
This influential and chilling science fiction tale about small-town residents who are being replaced by emotionless alien “pods” features a subtext borne out of 1950s Red-baiting, atomic-testing paranoia as adapted by Daniel Mainwaring from Jack Finney’s novel. Don Siegel directed Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter as average citizens trying to come to grips with the unfathomable. Despite the film’s lowly exploitation movie roots, Siegel and his writers keenly explore the allegorical depths of their subject. The film’s tight plot structure and stark, noir-influenced photography by Ellsworth Fredericks impeccably complements the escalating, suffocating sense of utter terror. Expanded essay by Robert Sklar
Universal released many classic horror films during the 1930s and director James Whale crafted some of the greatest from that famous cycle: “Frankenstein,” “Bride of Frankenstein,” “The Old Dark House” and “The Invisible Man.” Whale brought a dazzling stylishness to what were essentially low-budget horror films and, in the case of “The Invisible Man,” produced sophisticated special effects, aided by John P. Fulton. As in his discovery of Boris Karloff to play “Frankenstein,” Whale made another inspirational choice in picking British-born Claude Rains, in his American film debut, to portray H.G. Wells’ tormented scientist Jack Griffin. In the film, after discovering a drug which provides the secret to invisibility, Rains becomes an insane maniac and goes on a power-hungry murder spree, but later makes a deathbed confession to his fiancée: “I meddled in things that man must leave alone.”
John Ford’s epic Western “The Iron Horse” established his reputation as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors. Intended by Fox studios to rival Paramount’s 1923 epic “The Covered Wagon,” Ford’s film employed more than 5,000 extras, advertised authenticity in its attention to realistic detail, and provided him with the opportunity to create iconic visual images of the Old West, inspired by such master painters as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. A tale of national unity achieved after the Civil War through the construction of the transcontinental railroad, “The Iron Horse” celebrated the contributions of Irish, Italian and Chinese immigrants although the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country legally was severely restricted at the time of its production. A classic silent film, “The Iron Horse” introduced to American and world audiences a reverential, elegiac mythology that has influenced many subsequent Westerns. Expanded essay by David Kiehn
Writer Elinor Glyn pioneered risqué romantic fiction aimed at a female audience, and her 1927 Cosmopolitan magazine story defined “It” as “that quality possessed by some few persons which draws all others with its magnetic life force.” Paramount saw the opportunity to capitalize on Glyn’s popularity with a film by the same title, and cast one of their up-and-coming starlets, Clara Bow, whom Glyn claimed personified “It,” according to the film’s publicity. The frothy story of a salesgirl who pursues her handsome playboy boss is best remembered for Bow’s incandescence. Expanded essay by Dino Everett
In this screwball comedy from director Frank Capra, spoiled socialite Ellie Andrews elopes without her family’s approval and consequently finds herself stuck with out-of-work journalist Peter Warne on her journey back to her new husband. Based on a short story called “Night Bus” by Samuel Hopkins Adams, “It Happened One Night” faced a difficult start, with actor after actor rejecting the lead roles. Eventually Claudette Colbert took on the role of Ellie and Clark Gable was loaned from MGM to play Peter. Although now considered a classic, “It Happened One Night” opened to only so-so reviews. Despite the initial reaction, the film performed well in smaller towns and ended up winning every Oscar for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Writing , marking the first time in history that one film swept the top five Oscar categories. “It Happened One Night” was also Columbia Pictures’ first Best Picture Academy Award win. Expanded essay by Ian Scott
The popularity and influence of W.C. Fields continues with each succeeding generation, distinguishing him as one of the greatest American comedians of the 20th century. “It’s a Gift” has survived a perilous preservation history and is the third Fields film to be named to the National Film Registry. The film’s extended comic sequence featuring Baby LeRoy, and depicting Fields’ travails while trying to sleep on the open-air back porch of a rooming house, was adapted from one of his most successful live theatrical sketches. Movie poster
Director Frank Capra created a holiday favorite with this story of a once ambitious young man George Bailey who sacrifices personal adventure to stand up against the despot Potter who tyranizes his small hometown . When it looks like Potter has finally beaten him, George wishes he’d never been born and an apprentice angel grants his wish. Shown the bleak parallel universe that might have been, George recants his wish and is restored just in time to see his family and friends come to his aid against Potter. Suggested by a short story written as a Christmas card by author and historian Philip Van Doren Stern, Capra and writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett crafted the screenplay for this film which has becomesynonymous with Christmas spirit and what some have dubbed “Capra corn.” Movie poster
Produced and co-written by Thomas Ince and directed by Reginald Barker, “The Italian” stars George Beban, a celebrated theatrical actor known for his portrayals of Italian characters, as an immigrant whose experience falls far short of the American Dream. Beban’s stage experience and personal appeal translated well to the screen, and he mastered the nuances of film acting better than many of his contemporaries. Characteristic of Ince’s film style, “The Italian” is an epic production of opulent sets and costumes expertly and inventively photographed. Ince’s influence on cinema alsosurfaces in the film’s less structured, less rigid technique, a counterpoint to the more formal “classical” style employed by directors such as D.W. Griffith.
Showcasing Elvis Presley as the ultimate rebel, “Jailhouse Rock” possesses an edginess that would be toned down considerably in the singer’s later movies. The now-iconic title dance number is both ridiculous and infectious. Expanded essay by Carrie Rickey
The musical short film features Duke Ellington and his orchestra performing “C Jam Blues.” The film recording, made in late 1941, was released in 1942 as a Soundie, a musical film played on jukebox-like devices found in social clubs and bars. Recorded for RCA Victor Records in 1942, the song continued to be a staple of the Ellington repertoire. Ellington appeared as a character in short subjects and feature films as early as 1929, and is featured in 1959’s “Anatomy of a Murder.” He appeared as himself in countless films, documentaries and television shows, and his music is heard in hundreds more. Expanded essay by Mark Cantor
Based on the success of a series of Los Angeles jazz concerts, Warner Bros. produced this 20-minute film to showcase musicians Lester Young, Harry Edison, Barney Kessel, Red Callender, and vocalist Marie Bryant. Concerts organizer Norman Granz assembled the musicians and the innovative “Life” magazine photographer Gjon Mili directed. Jazz musicians had never been filmed as they were in “Jammin’ the Blues.” The sets and lighting gave the artists an evocative background against which to perform and the mobile cameras captured them interacting with each other naturally and comfortably.
This now-classic thriller opens on a hot summer weekend in a small coastal New England resort community whose safety and financial livelihood are threatened by an apparent shark attack. The town’s new sheriff plans to close the beaches but meets opposition from the mayor and local business owners. When a young boy is killed by a shark in full view of a beach full of tourists, the sheriff must take action, joining with an experienced shark hunter, Capt. Quint , and an oceanographer to pursue the Great White. As Brody adroitly observes after their first encounter with the shark, they’re gonna need a bigger boat … or at least plenty of moxie. Adapted by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb from Benchley’s best-selling novel, the film is expertly, if manipulatively, crafted by director Steven Spielberg and an unforgettable score by John Williams to terrify its audience. Fueled by a successful ad campaign and phenomenal word of mouth and repeat business, “Jaws” broke box-office records and fueled sequels and imitators eager to capitalize on audiences willingly seduced by their own fear.
This feature-length documentary highlights the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The musical numbers performed by artists such as Anita O’Day, Mahalia Jackson, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden are interspersed with scenes of Newport Harbor and yachts preparing for the America’s Cup. Photographer Bert Stern directed the film with additional cinematography by Courtney Hesfela and Raymond Phelan.
Starring Al Jolson as a young man who pursues his dream of becoming a jazz singer despite the wishes of his overbearing Cantor father , “The Jazz Singer” was the first feature film to include sequences with synchronized spoken dialogue. This landmark technological achievement was made possible using Warner Bros.’s Vitaphone sound system, which involved spoken dialogue being recorded on a phonograph record that was then played in-synch with the projected film, thus resulting in synchronized dialogue. “The Jazz Singer,” directed by Alan Crossland, won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Al Cohn, as well as a Special Academy Award honoring the film’s scientific and technical achievements in revolutionizing motion pictures. Movie poster Additional image
A signal moment in American race relations, this recording of the July 4 heavyweight title fight between champion Jack Johnson and former champion James J. Jeffries became the most widely discussed and written-about motion picture made before 1915’s “The Birth of a Nation.” Evening Star , July 4, 1910 Washington Herald, July 5, 1910 More Articles
Bette Davis won her second Academy Award for this William Wyler-directed classic. Cast to perfection as a tempestuous southern belle, Davis’ head-strong heroine must eventually learn self-sacrifice in order to save the man she loves. Despite its melodramatic underpinnings, the film endures because of Davis’ flawless performance and for its examination of both the American South and women’s societal roles. The movie co-stars Henry Fonda and Fay Bainter, who also won an Oscar for her work. Expanded essay by Gabriel Miller
The African-American folk hero John Henry was probably based on an actual person who worked on the railroads around the 1870s. The legend began to appear in print in the early 20th century, but emerged early on as a popular folk song. Akin to other such rugged folk heroes as Paul Bunyan, John Henry is said to have worked as a “steel-driving man,” hammering a steel drill into rock and earth to build tunnels and lay track. According to legend, his prowess was measured in a competition against a steam-powered hammer. John Henry won the race against “Inky-Poo,” only to collapse and die, hammer in hand. Stop-motion animation pioneer George Pal created this short film after the NAACP and Ebony magazine criticized his offensively stereotyped Jasper series of cartoons. The magazine later praised “John Henry” as the first Hollywood film to feature African-American folklore in a positive light and to treat its characters with “dignity, imagination, poetry, and love.” Highly popular during its time, the film was nominated for an Academy Award. It has been preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Often described as the one of the stranger, kinkier Westerns of all time, Nicholas Ray’s film-noiresque “Johnny Guitar” possesses enough symbolism to keep a psychiatrist occupied for years and was a favorite film of French New Wave directors. “Johnny Guitar,” filmed in the Trucolor process, also rates significance as one of a few Westerns featuring women as the main stars . Crawford is the owner of a gambling saloon in an isolated town waiting for the train lines to arrive so she can get rich; McCambridge plays her nemesis. Upon its release, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter panned “Johnny Guitar,” but the film’s reputation has soared over time. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
Director Wayne Wang’s adaptation of Amy Tan’s novel tells a story of relationships between Chinese-American women and their Chinese immigrant mothers.  The four mothers meet weekly to play Mahjong, tell stories and reminisce. The richly layered plot features key themes including the often complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, assimilation into a far different culture, wistfulness for aspects of former lifestyles, the intersections between past and present, and the strong bond of family ties between two generations who grew up in vastly different circumstances.  Wang’s film “Chan Is Missing” was selected to the National Film Registry in 1995.
In the third film of his illustrious motion picture career, humorist and cowboy philosopher Will Rogers enacted the easy-going, likable tramp Jubilo, named after a Civil War song in which enslaved people using stereotypical dialect celebrate their hoped for emancipation. Theater organists and pianists no doubt played the tune repeatedly throughout the picture, and for years afterwards, it became a signature song for Rogers, a multiracial member of the Cherokee nation who often portrayed a comic trickster common in both African American and Native American cultures. Despite its predictable plot, “Jubilo” was distinguished by the uniquely human character Rogers created and the title cards he authored that gave national audiences a taste of the topical remarks he would casually toss off from the stage as he entertained New York audiences with his roping and horseback riding tricks. One card, appearing after his character spends a night trying to fix an automobile, satirizes Henry Ford’s recently unsuccessful political ambitions with the line, “No wonder he wasn’t elected to the Senate with everyone owning one of these.” Reviewers praised Rogers’ “wonderfully natural creation” and “rugged sense of humor,” and a few years later, director Erich von Stroheim commended Rogers’ pictures for their character-driven realism, a desired quality he found otherwise lacking in most of Hollywood’s more plot-dominated productions. The film is preserved by the Museum of Modern Art.
Selecting as its focus the “Justices Trial” of the post-World War II Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, rather than the more publicized trials of major Nazi war criminals, “Judgment at Nuremberg” broadened its scope beyond the condemnation of German perpetrators to interrogate the concept of justice within any modern society. Conceived by screenwriter Abby Mann during the period of McCarthyism, the film argues passionately that those responsible for administering justice also have the duty to ensure that human-rights norms are preserved even if they conflict with national imperatives. Mann’s screenplay, originally produced as a Playhouse 90 teleplay, makes “the value of a single human being” the defining societal value that legal systems must respect. “Judgment at Nuremberg” startled audiences by including in the midst of its narrative seven minutes of film footage documenting concentration camp victims, thus using motion-picture evidence to make its point both in the courtroom and in movie theaters. Mann and actor Maximilian Schell received Academy Awards and the film boasted fine performances from its all-star cast. Movie poster
With the guidance of Temple University social worker Harold Haskins, a group of African-American teenage boys in Philadelphia made this hybrid documentary/dramatization of their lives in the 12th and Oxford Street gang. Shot in an original and natural style, this 22-minute film was recognized with festival awards, but was never theatrically released. In 1968, Churchill Films distributed the film in 16mm for the educational market. The production led several of the gang members to earn high school diplomas and college degrees.
The concept of people somehow existing in the age of dinosaurs has been explored in film and on television numerous times. No treatment, however, has ever been done with more skill, flair or popcorn-chomping excitement than this 1993 blockbuster. Set on a remote island where a man’s toying with evolution has run amok, this Steven Spielberg classic ranks as the epitome of the summer blockbuster. “Jurassic Park” was the top public vote-getter this year.
This example of a “town portrait” was chosen to honor itinerant filmmakers who made films of ordinary people on typical days during the 1930s and 1940s. They showcased this footage at local cinemas prior to the Hollywood feature films. The surviving footage of the towns and its people often became the sole record of these cultural enclaves. H. Lee Waters, who made movies in 117 towns across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, filmed all of Kannapolis’ separate communities, slyly making sure to include lots of shots of children to attract the entire family to the theaters. View this film at Duke University Libraries Digital Collections External
Charles Chaplin’s first full-length feature, the silent classic “The Kid,” is an artful melding of touching drama, social commentary and inventive comedy. The tale of a foundling taken in by the Little Tramp, “The Kid,” represents a high point in Chaplin’s evolving cinematic style, proving he could sustain his artistry beyond the length of his usual short subjects and could deftly elicit a variety of emotions from his audiences by skillfully blending slapstick and pathos. Expanded essay by Jeffrey Vance
A milestone in film history, “Kid Auto Races at Venice” features the debut of Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp character as he continually disrupts a cameraman trying to film a soapbox derby car race. A contemporary review in The Cinema noted, “Kid Auto Races struck us as about the funniest film we have ever seen. When we subsequently saw Chaplin in more ambitious efforts, our opinion that the Keystone Company had made the capture of their career was strengthened. Chaplin is a born screen comedian; he does things we have never seen done on the screen before.”
For three decades, Dallas native Melton Barker and his company traveled through the southern and central sections of the United States filming local children acting, singing and dancing in two-reel narrative films, all of which Barker titled “The Kidnappers Foil.” Barker recognized that many people enjoyed seeing themselves, their children and their communities on film. Since home movies were an expensive hobby, he developed a business to provide them. Other itinerant filmmakers produced similar fare, but Barker appears to have been the most prolific. Enlisting local movie theaters and newspapers to sponsor and promote the productions, Barker auditioned children and offered “acting lessons” to the most promising for a fee of a few dollars. He then assembled 50 to 75 would-be Shirley Temples and Jackie Coopers, ages 3 to 12, to act out the melodramatic story: a young girl is kidnapped from her birthday party and eventually rescued by a search party of local kids. After the “rescue,” the relieved townsfolk would celebrate with a party where the budding stars showcased their musical talents. A few weeks after filming, the town would screen the 15- to 20-minute picture to the delight of the local audience. Most prints of these films no longer exist, although some have been discovered in vintage movie houses or local historical societies. The Texas Archive of the Moving Image holds a collection of these itinerant films and hosts Internet resources for those who appeared in them as children.
Charles Burnett was one of the “LA School” of African American filmmakers that emerged from the UCLA film department in the 1970s, and “Killer of Sheep” was his thesis film. It is simultaneously naturalistic and poetic, witty and heartbreaking. The story centers on Stan , a blue-collar worker from the Watts area of Los Angeles, whose job in a slaughterhouse barely keeps his family above water. It documents his struggle to retain dignity in the face of grinding deprivation and disquieting temptations, and the alienation that threatens to break him away from his family. It also provides a sympathetic yet clear-eyed portrait of a community assaulted by poverty and lack of opportunity, yet it manages to remain hopeful.
Director Robert Siodmak and screenwriter Anthony Veiller, both nominated for an Oscar, took the original Ernest Hemingway short story as the film’s opening point and developed it with an elaborate series of flashbacks, creating a classic example of film noir. Two killers shatter a small town’s quiet before an insurance investigator digs up crime, betrayal, and a glamorous woman behind the death of an ex-fighter . The noir aesthetic is heightened by the Miklós Rózsa score and Arthur Hilton’s editing, both of which were nominated for Academy Awards. Hilton’s work on the fight scenes would stand as the vanguard of such fare until “Raging Bull” some 34 years later.
Since it first opened, “King Kong” has been an audience favorite, initially giving the troubled RKO much needed money to finance future projects. It has come to epitomize one of Hollywood’s best attempts at horror fantasy. Layered with obvious moralizing, the story has taken on the significance of a modern folk tale. Adventurer and movie director Carl Denham takes an unknowing crew and newly found star, Ann Darrow on a mysterious voyage to the lush prehistoric jungles of Skull Island where giant creatures lurk, including the gargantuan ape, Kong. Captivated by Ann, he carries her off, the crew scrambling after them, until he’s finally subdued and taken to New York for exhibition. Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack use Willis O’Brien’s spectacular stop-motion effects to develop a series of tumultuous action scenes, both on the island and in Manhattan, culminating with Kong’s famous ascent of the Empire State Building. Expanded essay by Michael Price Additional image
A sparkling example of a musical in the earliest days of two-color Technicolor, “The King of Jazz” is a fanciful revue of short skits, sight gags and musical numbers, all with orchestra leader Paul Whiteman—the self-proclaimed “King of Jazz” — at the center. Directed by John Murray Anderson and an uncredited Paul Fejos, it attempted to deliver “something for everyone” from a Walter Lantz cartoon for children to scantily-clad leggy dancers and contortionists for the male audience to the crooning of heartthrob Bing Crosby in his earliest screen appearance. “King of Jazz” also featured an opulent production number of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Expanded essay by Jonas Nordin
As one of the first public figures to have his entire career documented, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., became an astute judge of the media and knew how to exploit his celebrity to further his cause. After King was assassinated, television pioneer Ely Landau envisioned producing a 10-minute film tribute to the slain leader. Landau and his colleague Richard Kaplan assembled thousands of reels of film and rebuilt events from a variety of sources in their effort to condense King’s life without losing his message. The first edit ran 10 hours, but the team eventually pared it down to 185 minutes. The resulting documentary illustrates King’s development as one of the preeminent champions of the civil rights movement, while demonstrating how he became a media sensation.
At the time it was produced in 1896, the 20-second film “The Kiss” was denounced in some parts of the country as illicit pornography. Produced under the auspices of Thomas Edison’s company, and directed and photographed by William Heise, “The Kiss” between the actors May Irwin and John C. Rice was a reenactment of the final scene of a stage success of theirs titled “The Widow Jones.” And, at the time, despite the controversy, Audiences of the emerging art form were drawn to the film’s provocative subject matter, and reportedly demanded that the stars be reteamed. “The Kiss” represents not only film’s first romance but also the first time films were regularly projected on screens rather than shown to individual viewers on machines that became known as nickelodeons. Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies
In producer/director Robert Aldrich’s “Kiss Me Deadly,” the life of private detective Mike Hammer is turned upside down when he picks up a female hitchhiker and finds himself catapulted into a hunt for a coveted mystery item. Based on the novel of the same name by Mickey Spillane, “Kiss Me Deadly” blends classic film noir techniques and subjects with Cold War, science fiction-inspired events. The film was initially released with one ending but subsequent releases have occasionally featured an alternative ending. “Kiss Me Deadly” has inspired later filmmakers in the utilization of the “mystery box” as an instigator of action and suspense. Expanded essay by Alain Silver
Knute Rockne, who led Notre Dame University’s “Fighting Irish” from 1918 to 1930, is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in college football history. His sudden, dramatic death in an airplane accident in 1931 triggered a national outpouring of grief comparable to the deaths of presidents. Based on personal papers and remembrances by family and friends, this biography of the coach, memorably played by Pat O’Brien, is considered less a factual document than a loving tribute to a man for whom many Americans felt a sentimental attachment. Ronald Reagan portrays player George Gipp who dies prematurely and prompts the screen Rockne to inspire his team with the often quoted line, “Let’s win this one for the Gipper,” a slogan Ronald Reagan would later adopt as a catchphrase during his presidency.
This film produced and directed by Godfrey Reggio is so lyrically unusual that it nearly defies description. A documentary with virtually no dialog, the film is akin to the city symphonies of the ’20s and ’30s, such as “Manhatta” and “A Bronx Morning,” both of which have been named to the Registry. Philip Glass’s minimalist compositions accentuate Reggio’s metaphoric commentary on technology and modern society. Reggio claimed his film had no message. The film impressed critic Roger Ebert, who found it unassailably beautiful, as “an invitation to knee-jerk environmentalism of the most sentimental kind.”
This well-crafted and suspenseful story, directed by Curtis Hanson, teams a trio of incompatible cops who ultimately bring down a corrupt police department and political machine. Hanson and Brian Helgeland adapted the James Ellroy novel and together they successfully interpret film noir’s dark and seamy allure for new audiences. Detective Jack Vincennes an in-it-for-himself type, Officer Bud White , who believes in bending the law to enforce it, and Detective Ed Exley , a straight arrow whose self-righteousness alienates him from his colleagues, all possess some deep-rooted sense of honor that draws them together to untangle the film’s web of corruption that climaxes in its virtuoso choreographed shootout. The cast is rounded out by Danny DeVito as the film’s occasional narrator and reporter for “Hush-Hush” magazine, Kim Basinger as a Veronica Lake look-alike call girl, and James Cromwell as the duplicitous chief of police. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti infuses this homage with a Technicolor richness seldom seen in noirs of the 40s and 50s.
“La Bamba” is a biopic of the life of rock star Ritchie Valens, rock’s first Mexican-American superstar. Directed by Luis Valdez, “La Bamba” charts Valens’ meteoric rise as a musician and his tragic death at age 17 in a 1959 plane crash, along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. Lou Diamond Phillips stars as the late Valens. The film’s success not only reinvigorated interest in Valens’ brief but notable musical legacy, it also brought the title tune back to the charts 28 years after its first appearance.
The compilation film created by itinerant exhibitor Félix Padilla combines the cinematic traditions of the United States and Mexico to construct a biographical film about the regional hero and revolutionary general Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Using footage primarly from American silent features and newsreels – augmented by still photos and footage he shot himself – Padilla produced and exhibited the film in the El Paso-Juárez border region in the 1930s. Expanded essay by Laura Isabel Serna
Writer-director Preston Sturges turns Monckton Hoffe’s take on the Adam and Eve story on its head with Barbara Stanwyck as a sassy, resourceful con artist out to trap serious young millionaire Henry Fonda. The film features sparkling dialog, a quick pace and more than a touch of Sturges’ trademark screwiness. Supporting Stanwyck and Fonda are memorable performances by Charles Coburn and William Demarest. Movie poster
The camera is the star in this stylish film noir. “Lady From Shanghai” is renowned for its stunning set pieces, the “Aquarium” scene, “Hall of Mirrors” climax, baroque cinematography and convoluted plot. Director Orson Welles had burst on the scene with “Citizen Kane” in 1941 and “The Magnificent Ambersons” in 1942, but had increasingly become seen as difficult to work with by the studios. As a result, Welles spent most of his career outside the studio sphere. “The Lady From Shanghai” marked one of his last films under a major studio with Welles and the executives frequently clashing over the budget, final editing of the film and the release date.
This sprightly short comedy stars actress Florence Lawrence who became the first true star in American cinema through a combination of natural charm and canny publicity. She was the first actor or actress to receive billing in film credits, a break from the anonymity that actors and actresses had worked in until that point. Expanded essay by Daniel Eagan
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch and adapted from the play by Oscar Wilde, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” stars May McAvoy as Lady Margaret Windermere, a happily-married society woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when she mistakes Mrs. Erlynne, her birth mother, played by Irene Rich, for a woman trying to win her husband’s affection. When Lady Windermere rashly decides to leave her husband for the companionship of Lord Darlington , Mrs. Erlynne sacrifices her own social reputation to preserve that of her daughter. Lubitsch managed to translate Wilde’s witty play into a successful silent film, one that bears his trademark “Lubitsch Touch.” Expanded essay by Scott Simmon
This short film stars husband and wife comedians George Burns and Gracie Allen as they perform a vaudeville routine to the camera. True to the formula of their successful vaudeville, radio, film and television acts, Burns plays the oft-exasperated straight man to Allen’s cluelessly ditzy yet loveable comedienne. Filmed at the Astoria Studios in Queens, New York, the film was not a particular hit, but it did mark Burns and Allen’s first foray into motion pictures, a medium which allowed them to hone their craft before the camera and prepare for their highly successful television career . Expanded essay by Ron Hutchinson
This 14-minute Edison film written by Dorothy G. Shore depicts a New York newsboy from an abusive home in the tenements who attends a charity picnic where he hears a fairy tale about the idyllic Land Beyond the Sunset. When the others return to the city, the boy hides and stays behind, finding a small boat in which “he drifted to the Land Beyond the Sunset,” as the final intertitle reads. Social conscience films of this type were popular in the early teens, though few were as “genuinely lyrical,” treating audiences as partners in the storytelling and allowing them to draw their own conclusions about the boy’s ultimate fate. Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
Young Joe is distraught when his father, an unemployed English coal miner , is forced to sell Joe’s beloved collie Lassie to pay the rent. The buyer takes Lassie home to Scotland and his daughter , but after several attempts, Lassie manages to escape and sets out on a perilous journey back to Joe. “New York Times” reviewer Bosley Crowther noted that the story is told “with such poignance and simple beauty that only the hardest heart can fail to be moved.” This is the first and what many consider to be the best of several generations of Lassie movies and television programs which were adapted from novels by Eric Knight. The film’s rich color cinematography that captures the lush countryside was nominated for an Academy Award. Movie poster
This film is Josef von Sternberg’s powerful drama of exiled Russian general Emil Jannings, who is reduced to the scraps of “extra” roles in Hollywood. Jannings’ Academy Award-winning performance towers over the screen, showcasing emotions ranging from his forceful leadership as a tsarist general, to incredulous dismay at the loss of his beloved country and his lover who helped him escape. Shaken out of his stupor when cast in a film about the Russian Revolution, Jannings summons his thunderous charisma in one final bid to somehow win the war for Mother Russia. The ending, considered one of cinema’s most memorable, remains heart-wrenching.
French-born director Jacques Tourneur loosely adapted James Fenimore Cooper’s novel about the culture clash between whites and Native Americans during the late 1700s, and turned it into a forbidden love story between a white woman and an Indian man, portrayed by white actor Alan Roscoe. Tourneur astutely balanced the romantic angle with plenty of action sequences, albeit often stereotypical and brutal. The film’s greatest appeal lies in its interior scenes, beautifully composed by Tourneur and photographed by John van der Broek. Assistant director Clarence Brown, who was responsible for most of the film’s exteriors, said of Tourneur’s visual style, “He painted on the screen.”
From a novel by Larry McMurtry, director Peter Bogdanovich and McMurtry adapted the story into a visceral reflection of life in a small West Texas town in the early 1950s. The film boasts a cast of young actors, many of whom went on to stardom in film and television, including Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and Timothy Bottoms, as well as seasoned veterans including Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman and Ellen Burstyn. The black and white cinematography by Robert Surtees suggests the innocence of a simpler time and the bleak uncertainty as those simpler times begin to fade away. Johnson and Leachman won supporting actor Oscars for their subtly moving performances.
Martin Scorsese’s documentary is a homage to the epic 1976 Thanksgiving farewell concert by The Band at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Performances include Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, the Staple Singers, Emmylou Harris and others. As Robertson recounts: “We had to play 21 songs with other artists, going from Muddy Waters to Joni Mitchell. …We played this five-hour concert and we didn’t make a mistake.” Some believe this concert marked the beginning of the end of the classic rock era.
Director Otto Preminger reveals a coldly objective temperament and a masterful narrative sense which combine to turn this standard 40s melodrama into something as haunting as its famous theme by David Raksin. Less a crime film than a study in obsession, the film’s strength lies in downplaying the story and emphasizing its seductive style thanks in part to the Oscar-winning camera work of Joseph LaShelle. As a tough detective investigates the murder of Laura Hunt he methodically questions the chief suspects: an acid-tongued columnist , a self-indulgent playboy , and a wealthy “patroness” . The deeper he delves into the case, the more fascinated he becomes with the enigmatic mystery woman, falling in love with her portrait. While he sits in her apartment obsessing, the door opens, the lights go on, and in walks Laura, very much alive!
Based on the exploits of T. E. Lawrence during World War I, this renowned classic may play fast and loose with history and psychology, but its remarkable beauty is breathtaking. David Lean crafts this film, one of his many epics, with sweeping wide shots that capture the desolation of the desert. Peter O’Toole, who was nominated for an Oscar but lost to Gregory Peck for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” plays Lawrence larger than life, albeit with marginal historical accuracy. Also starring Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, and Alec Guinness, the film took home a total of seven Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography , and one for Maurice Jarre’s memorably rousing score. Expanded essay by Michael Wilmington
“The Lead Shoes” is a dreamlike trance showing the unconscious acts of a disturbed mind through a distorted lens and other abstract visual techniques . Sidney Peterson, considered the father of San Francisco avant-garde cinema, said of this film, “Narrative succumbs to the comic devices of inconsequence and illogic.” Expanded essay by Kyle Westphal
Director Penny Marshall used the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as a backdrop for this heartfelt comedy-drama. “A League of Their Own,” featuring an ensemble cast that includes Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell, not only illuminates this fascinating, under-reported aspect of American sports history, but also effectively examines women’s changing roles during wartime. Rich with period detail and equally complex performances—especially Davis as a team ringer and Hanks as the down-on-his-luck coach—Marshall and her company delivered an enjoyably nostalgic film about women’s choices and solidarity during World War II that was both funny and feminist.
This visually beautiful and moving, if somewhat sentimentally melodramatic, story of a black teenager growing up in Kansas in the 1920s was the first feature film by a black director to be financed by a major Hollywood studio. Acclaimed photojournalist Gordon Parks directed, produced, wrote, and composed the score of this adaptation of his 1963 semi-autobiographical novel. Essentially a coming-of-age story, the film focuses on Newt Winger . Newt’s nemesis is Marcus Savage , an embittered young man burdened with an absent mother and a negligent, angry father. Newt, by contrast, is supported by his hard-working, understanding mother , who has kept her son on the square despite the hardships and racism he must face. Parks depicts the ambiguous racial attitudes of blacks and whites in the Kansas town with an ironic complexity rarely found in earlier films about racism. Expanded essay by Maurice Berger
Darkness and claustrophobia mark the visual style of many film noirs: the use of black-and-white or gloomy grays, low-key lighting, striking contrasts between light and dark, shadows, nighttime or interior settings and rain-soaked streets. “Leave Her to Heaven” proves the magnificent exception. Filmed in vibrant, three-strip Technicolor, many pivotal scenes occur in spectacular outdoor locations, shot by famed cinematographer Leon Shamroy in Arizona and California. A classic femme fatale, Gene Tierney stars as Ellen, whose charisma and stunning visage mask a possessive, sociopathic soul triggered by “loving too much.” Anyone who stands between her and those she obsessively loves tend to meet “accidental” deaths, most famously a teen boy who drowns in a chilling scene. Martin Scorsese has labeled “Heaven” as among his all-time favorite films and Tierney one of film’s most underrated actresses. “Leave Her to Heaven” makes a supremely compelling case for these sentiments. Film poster
Director John Huston directed three classic war documentaries for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the period 1943-46, and two of those titles, “Battle of San Pietro” and “Let There Be Light,” are included on the National Film Registry. “Let There Be Light,” is an hour-long documentary featuring brief narration by Huston’s father, Oscar-winner Walter Huston. The unscripted footage shows doctors treating emotionally wounded veterans to prepare them for the return to civilian life. The film shows black and white soldiers freely mixing at the hospital, sharing both group therapy sessions and playing sports together. Lensed by cinematographer Stanley Cortez, its score was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin. the War Department blocked the film from public distribution as it was originally shot, and commissioned a replacement, “Shades of Gray,” in which white actors were cast in the speaking roles, and the GIs’ psychological condition was blamed on their upbringing not war trauma. “Let There Be Light” was first shown publicly in December 1980 after Hollywood leaders, joined by Vice President Walter Mondale, persuaded the secretary of the army to authorize its release. The National Archives and Records Administration restored the documentary in cooperation with Chace Audio by Deluxe. Expanded essay by Bryce Lowe
In probably the best known “snipe” or theatrical movie trailer ever produced, animated refreshments including a pack of chewing gum, a box of popcorn, a soft drink cup, and a box of candy sing and dance across the screen, imploring audiences to get themselves some treats. Expanded essay by Thad Komorowski
Max Ophuls had 18 European films to his credit when he fled Europe in 1941 for Hollywood, where he initally freelanced as a writer and director, and later helmed “Letter from an Unknown Woman.” The bittersweet costume drama set in 1900 Vienna is an intimate portrait of a woman and her consuming adoration for a charming, womanizing concert pianist . Told primarily in flashback, the film’s fluid long takes, elaborate camera movement, opulent detail, and visual repetition are some of Ophuls’ stylistic trademarks. Deemed “too European” and “schmaltzy,” the picture was a box-office failure in the United States, but gained popularity through television in the ‘50s.
Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapich created one of the most creative and bleakest of the early avant-garde films. Photographed by Gregg Toland, who would become best known for his work on “Citizen Kane,” the film is the time-worn tale of a movie extra marginalized by one casting director after another until he’s seen only as a number symbolically appearing on his forehead. The ultra simplistic sets and props, made of toys and cardboard buildings projected like shadows, help to create intricate German Expressionistic cityscapes reminiscent at times of “Metropolis.” Expanded essay by Brian Taves
The first of director Connie Field’s many documentaries, “Rosie” focuses on the women who joined the workforce during World War II in defense industry jobs typically held by men. Inspired by the cultural icon depicted in posters and songs during the war, Field interviews five real-life “Rosies” who describe their work experiences and their reactions to giving up their jobs to returning GIs. The 60-minute documentary combines newsreel footage with on-camera interviews with five Rosies: Wanita Allen, Gladys Belcher, Lyn Childs, Lola Weixel and Margaret Wright. They tell it like it was: harassment, discrimination and all, but clearly remain proud of their wartime accomplishments and the impact their efforts had on women and all society.
Film historian Charles Musser hails this as a seminal work in American cinema, among the most innovative in terms of editing, storytelling and the relationship between shots. Edwin S. Porter was an influential pioneer in the development of early American cinema and “Life of an American Fireman” provides a superb snapshot of how advanced U.S. filmmaking had become. Porter followed up several months later with “The Great Train Robbery.” Ironically, “Life of an American Fireman” later became a controversial topic in American film historiography when a reedited, more modern version of the film using cross-cutting techniques was thought to be the original. Many years later, scholars helped disprove this misconception by reviewing the original paper print copyright deposit in the Library of Congress.
M-G-M was the studio generally associated with “prestige” pictures — those with lavish sets and costumes, often boasting literary source material. Here the high-brow opulence is courtesy of Warner Bros., typically known for modern “ripped-from-the-headlines” stories, and the experiment in grandeur earned the studio an Oscar for Best Picture and another for best screenplay. William Dieterle directed Paul Muni as French novelist Zola who defends the falsely accused Captain Dreyfus . The Dreyfus case, which was a cause célèbre of antisemitism during the latter years of the Nineteenth Century, formed an exciting climax to Zola’s career as a champion of truth and liberty, and is, consequently, the dramatic highlight of this film biography.
From 1950 to 1980, Sidney Poitier ranked among the top American film stars . In “Lilies,” Poitier has another of his classic roles where he plays an itinerant worker who helps refugee East European nuns build a chapel in Arizona. The nuns cannot pay him for the work and implore him to do so by citing various Biblical verses . Poitier, for his part, is moved by their plight but also wants to demonstrate his skills as an architect and builder. The film serves as a parable highlighting mutual respect via common purpose, the austere Arizona desert landscape, the impoverished nuns, and a man they believe God sent to help them. For his portrayal, Poitier became the first African American to win the Oscar for best actor.
Disney Studios further solidified its position as the producer of modern-day animated masterpieces with this lyrical 1994 offering. The story of a young lion cub destined to become King of the Jungle, but first exiled by his evil uncle, “The Lion King” was a triumph from the moment of its release and has charmed new generations of viewers. Like Disney’s beloved “Bambi,” “The Lion King” seamlessly blends innovative animation with excellent voice-actors and catchy, now-classic songs by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice. It is the film’s storytelling that resonates—funny, innovative, suspenseful—for both children and adults. Since its release, the film has spawned an animated TV series, two made-for-video sequels and a highly imaginative Broadway show.
In this Arthur Penn-directed Western, Dustin Hoffman plays a 121-year-old man looking back at his life as a pioneer in America’s Old West. The film is ambitious, both in its historical scope and narrative approach, which interweaves fact and myth, historical figures and events and fanciful tall tales. “Little Big Man” has been called an epic reinvented as a yarn, and the Western reimagined for a post-1960s audience, one already well-versed in the white hat-black hat tradition of the typical Hollywood Western saga. Against a backdrop that includes the cavalry, old-time medicine shows, life on the frontier and a climax at Custer’s Last Stand, Penn, Hoffman and scriptwriter Calder Willingham upend Western motifs while also still skillfully telling a series of remarkable human stories filled with tragedy and humor. Expanded essay by Kimberly Lindbergs
Edward G. Robinson sneers and preens as the swaggering Caesar Enrico Bandello, a small-time hood who dreams of the big time and crashes the Chicago rackets. Mervyn LeRoy directs the picture with an efficient reserve, thanks partly to his own artistry and partly to the constraints of sound recording in its early days. The stiffness of the static camera lends rigid aloofness to the Rico’s gestures and his violent actions. The staccato narrative includes every gangster cliché in its original form, including the mobster who falls in love and wants to go straight , the sarcastic Irish police officer , the prodigal gangland banquet, and the operatic death throes.
Ray Ashley shot this film on a tiny budget and with a cast of non-actors. Seven year-old Richie Andrusco—who would never appear in another film—stars as Lennie, the title character. The victim of a cruel and frightening trick perpetrated by his brother and his brother’s friends, Lennie flees his New York apartment and takes refuge amidst the sights and sounds of Coney Island. Through deft, mostly hand-held camera work, natural lighting and the unaffected acting of its young lead, “Little Fugitive” explores the innocence of childhood without self-consciousness or heavy sentiment.
In this film directed by Alexander Hall from a Damon Runyon story, Shirley Temple stars as a little girl whose father leaves her as a marker for a $20 bet. When Temple’s father never returns , the bookie and confirmed bachelor is stuck with the precocious moppet. Not surprisingly, she wins over the hearts of all the race-track ruffians, including Menjou’s tough guy partner and his moll . In her first starring role , the six-year-old Temple would become and household name and the biggest child star the world had ever seen. One of the most popular stars of the 1930’s, the revenue from her movies was instrumental in saving Fox Studio from bankruptcy. Expanded essay by John F. Kasson
This short subject, a mix of live action and animation, was adapted from Winsor McCay’s famed 1905 comic strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland.” Its fluidity, graphics and story-telling was light years beyond other films made during that time. A seminal figure in both animation and comic art, McCay profoundly influenced many generations of future animators, including Walt Disney. Expanded essay by Daniel Eagan
Yvonne Rainer was born in San Francisco in 1934. At a very young age, Rainer’s father introduced her to films and her mother introduced her to ballet. She moved to New York in 1956, where she studied dance at the Martha Graham School while also learning ballet at Ballet Arts. Much like other choreographers of her era, Rainer sought to blur the stark line separating dancers from non-dancers. Her work has been described as “foundational across multiple disciplines and movements: dance, cinema, feminism, minimalism, conceptual art and postmodernism.” “Lives of Performers” has been characterized as “a stark and revealing examination of romantic alliances … the dilemma of a man who can’t choose between two women and makes them both suffer.”
The first feature-length entry in Disney’s “True Life Adventure” series, “The Living Desert” opens with a close-up glance of percolating desert geysers seemingly dancing to the appropriate musical accompaniment. Among the wildlife specimens depicted are the roadrunner, the chuckwalla, the skunk, the scorpion and the kangaroo-rat. The narration, by co-writer Winston Hibler, is often undercut by weak attempts at humor, but when Disney plays it straight, such as in the battle between a rattlesnake and a tarantula, the film is at its strongest. Much of the footage was photographed by N. Paul Kenworthy Jr. as part of his UCLA doctoral thesis. The film was originally released to theatres in a package that included the live-action short “Stormy” and the animated featurette “Ben and Me.” Expanded essay by N. Paul Kenworthy, Jr.
“Lonesome” is the first of only a few American feature films directed by Hungarian-born filmmaker and scientist Paul Fejös. Recognized by today’s audiences as a comic melodrama about young lovers separated during a thunderstorm at Coney Island, the film was not particularly well received upon its release. Restored by the George Eastman House, “Lonesome” has proven popular among repertory audiences due in large part to its successful early use of dialogue and two-color Technicolor. Universal’s first big excursion into sound, legend has it that the studio outfitted the film with its music and effects track and three talking sequences by clandestinely using a Fox Movietone News truck on loan to Universal for conducting sound tests. As Universal hurriedly “sounded” three other features, Fox repossessed their truck. The talking sequences, better for their technological innovation than their wit, hardly diminish Fejos’ eloquent and brilliantly photographed tale of a lonely machinist and an equally lonely telephone operator who fall in love during one enchanted day. Expanded essay by Raquel Stecher
In “The Long Goodbye,” Elliott Gould, star of such counterculture classics as “M*A*S*H*” and “Little Murders,” brings Raymond Chandler’s iconic depression-era detective Philip Marlowe into a contemporary Hollywood-infused setting where his moral compass seems anachronistic. Robert Altman directed this richly complex, iconoclastic and highly entertaining detective mystery with a script by Leigh Brackett, who had co-authored the screenplay of the film noir classic “The Big Sleep,” in which Humphrey Bogart epitomized Chandler’s hard-nosed individualist hero for an earlier generation. The inspired, non-traditional cast, some of whom Altman encouraged to create their own characters and lines, includes Sterling Hayden, Jim Bouton, Nina van Pallandt, Mark Rydell and Henry Gibson. Shot by pictorially-inclined cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond near the beginning of his illustrious career, “The Long Goodbye” employs unsettling, ever-moving camerawork and compositions that masterfully utilize the transparent and reflective surfaces common in southern California modernist architecture. Altman and Zsigmond’s technique allows viewers to eavesdrop on a corrupt world of trivial pursuits and shocking violence that has left many of its inhabitants impotent, indifferent or deeply scarred. Gould’s repeated signature line, “Its OK with me,” resonates throughout until Chandler’s shining knight ends the film with a morally ambiguous resolution. Zsigmond won the National Society of Film Critics’ award for best cinematographer for his work in “The Long Goodbye.”
Director Peter Jackson kicked off his epic trilogy of films of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved oeuvre with this 2001 film. From its visually stunning depiction of Middle-Earth to his large, expert, all-star casting , Jackson and company created a respectful, literate adaptation of one of the world’s most cherished series of written works. Key to making all this magic work and the story of Hobbits surprisingly human are the heartfelt performances . The combination of magnificent production values and scenes filmed in spectacular New Zealand locations made this a must-see, particularly on wide screens in a cinema.
One of the first feature films directed by an African American woman, Kathleen Collins’ “Losing Ground” tells the story of a marriage between two remarkable people, both at a crossroads in their lives. “Losing Ground” centers on the experiences of Sara , an African American philosophy professor whose artist husband Victor rents a country house for a month to celebrate a recent museum sale. The couple’s summer idyll becomes complicated as Sara struggles to research the philosophical and religious meaning of ecstatic experience …and to discover it for herself.
Frank Capra’s big-budget romantic fantasy “Lost Horizon” offered an emotional respite to an American public seeking escape from the Depression and yearning for their own personal utopias. Through the book and film, the term Shangri-La became a household word. In the story, dashing diplomat Ronald Colman and a group of plane passengers are kidnapped and taken for mysterious reasons to a remote valley in the Himalayas where they find a seemingly blissful paradise, refuge from a world on the precipice of war. Along with memorable adventure, “Lost Horizon” stands out for its stunning cinematography and fantastic, extravagant sets, a hallmark of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
A landmark social-problem film, “The Lost Weekend” provided audiences of 1945 with an uncompromising look at the devastating effects of alcoholism. Directed by Billy Wilder and co-written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, the film melded an expressionistic film-noir style with documentary realism to immerse viewers in the harrowing experiences of an aspiring New York writer willing to do almost anything for a drink. Despite opposition from his studio, the Hays Office and the liquor industry, Wilder created a film ranked as one of the best of the decade that won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Direction, Screenplay and Actor , and established him as one of America’s leading filmmakers. Lobby card
Based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and directed by Harry O. Hoyt, “The Lost World” is a fantasy adventure film that follows Professor Challenger and his fellow explorers on a rescue mission to the jungles of South America to find a missing comrade and prove Professor Challenger’s claim that living dinosaurs occupy the area. “The Lost World” is historically significant in that it was one of the first full-length feature films to include stop motion model animation. Willis H. O’Brien, who brought King Kong to life eight years later, was responsible for creating the sophisticated animation sequences. Expanded essay by Brian Taves
Like his previous films “Nanook of the North,” “Moana” and “Man of Aran,” Robert Flaherty’s “Louisiana Story” is a portrait of an isolated community: here, the Cajuns of the Louisiana bayous. In 1944 Standard Oil commissioned Flaherty to make a film depicting the difficulties of extracting oil, and in his usual style, he told his story from the perspective of a single family. The conflict between personal ownership and corporate enterprise is mediated and eventually resolved through the efforts of the Cajun family’s young son . As in his previous films, Flaherty shot not a real family, but one assembled from local inhabitants. The film’s extended nature sequences are considered among Flaherty’s greatest examples of his talent for creating beautiful and stirring images.
This is the fourth installment in the 16-film series about the adventures of a typical middle class family from middle America. Returning are many of the series regulars, principally teen son Andy and his father the judge , but the film may best be remembered for guest appearances by Lana Turner as Cynthia, whose boyfriend has hired Andy to keep an eye on her, and Judy Garland as neighbor Betsy Booth. Her second picture with Rooney, Garland returned to the series for two more films before her career took off. Expanded essay by Charlie Achuff
According to director Rouben Mamoulian, Paramount executive Adolph Zukor hurried “Love Me Tonight” into production to keep two of his more expensive contract players, Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald, from sitting idle. If Mamoulian rushed, it doesn’t show in what film historians consider one of the most original of 1930s musicals. , “Love Me Tonight” as By pre-recording the entire score, Mamoulian, who was influenced by the work of Ernst Lubitsch and Rene Clair, combined sound and image with more fluidity than most early musicals achieved. Songs by Rodgers and Hart – including “Isn’t It Romantic” and “Mimi” – and an effervescent script filled with risque innuendo are brought to life by Chevalier’s saucy charm and MacDonald’s angelic voice and beauty. Expanded essay by Richard Barrios
Adam Davidson’s 10-minute Columbia University student film examines the partial erosion of haughty self-confidence when stranded outside one’s personal comfort zone. A woman has a slice-of-life, train-station chance encounter with a homeless man, and stumbles through several off-key reactions when they share a salad she believes is hers. Winner of a 1990 Student Academy Award, “The Lunch Date” stands out as a simple, yet effective, parable on the vicissitudes and pervasiveness of perception, race and stereotypes.
The iconic living, moving desk lamp that now begins every Pixar motion picture has its genesis in this charming, computer-animated short subject, directed by John Lasseter and produced by Lasseter and fellow Pixar visionary Bill Reeves. In the two-minute, 30-second film, two gray balance-arm lamps—one parentally large and one childishly small —interact with a brightly colored ball. In strikingly vivid animation, Lasseter and Reeves manage to bring to joyous life these two inanimate objects and to infuse them both with personality and charm—qualities that would become the norm in such soon-to-be Pixar productions as “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “WALL-E.” Nominated for an Oscar in 1986 for best-animated short, “Luxo Jr.” was the first three-dimensional computer-animated film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award.
This film, which deftly combined black comedy with sophomoric gags, made director Robert Altman famous for his signature overlapping dialogue — from Ring Lardner Jr.’s Oscar-winning screenplay — and stylishly gritty presentation. Its story of an irreverent U.S. medical unit during the Korean war attempting to thwart authority figures at every turn spawned a folksier television sitcom two years later. Spirited ensemble acting helped launch the careers of Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, Sally Kellerman and Robert Duvall. Movie poster
Mabel Normand, who wrote, directed and starred in “Mabel’s Blunder,” was the most successful of the early silent screen comediennes. The film tells the tale of a young woman who is secretly engaged to the boss’ son. When a new employee catches the young man’s eye, a jealous Mabel dresses up as a chauffeur to spy on them, which leads to a series of mistaken identities. The film showcases Normand’s spontaneous and intuitive playfulness and her ability to be both romantically appealing and boisterously funny. Expanded essay by Brent E. Walker
When snobby star the Great Poochini refuses to let Mysto the Magician conduct the opera, Mysto gets even with the help of his magic wand. Animator/director Tex Avery employed his wry sense of humor and sarcasm to give the cartoons he produced greater appeal to adults. Expanded essay by Thad Komorowski Movie poster
Orson Welles’s second feature, which followed his film debut and now bonafide classic “Citizen Kane” less than a year later, is in many ways his most personal and most impressive, but it’s also the one most damaged by insensitive studio re-editing, which sliced off 45 minutes of Welles’s footage and tacked on a few disappointing new scenes. For the most part, it is a very close adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel about the relentless decline of a wealthy Midwestern family through the rise of industrialization. Welles makes the story even more powerful through his stylish mastery of production design, lighting and cinematography. The film also features some of the best acting – alternatingly stylized and restrained – to be found in American movies, including that of Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Tim Holt, and Ray Collins.
The popularity of this Western, based on Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” , has continued to grow since its release due in part to its role as a springboard for several young actors on the verge of successful careers: Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Horst Buchholz. The film also gave a new twist to the career of Yul Brynner. Brynner bought the rights to Kurosawa’s original story and hand-picked John Sturges as its director. Sturges had earned a reputation as a solid director of Westerns such as “Bad Day at Black Rock” and “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” . Transporting the action from Japan to Mexico, where it was filmed on location, the story portrays a gang of paid gunslingers hired by farmers to rout the bandits pillaging their town. Contributing to the film’s popular appeal through the decades is Elmer Bernstein’s vibrant score, which would go on to become the theme music for Marlboro cigarette commercials from 1962 until cigarette advertising on television was banned in 1971. Expanded essay by Stephen Prince
Director Leo McCarey’s progressive Depression-era drama, based on a play by Helen and Nolan Leary and a novel by Josephine Lawrence, follows a penniless elderly couple forced by their self-absorbed children to live separately in order to save money. Challenging the tried-and-true conventions of late-‘30s films, “Make Way for Tomorrow” presents the “golden years” with realism and tenderness. The film received only modest reviews and average box office in 1937, but the sensitive screenplay by Viña Delmar and touching performances by Bondi and Moore have earned the respect and affection of modern audiences turned off by the bloated and saccharine “family” pictures typical of the ‘30s.
Produced by the state of Connecticut, this silent short is a sincere, dramatically effective public education film aimed at persuading immigrants to learn English. The drama’s protagonist is an Italian laborer who attends night school and with his newly acquired English skills obtains a better job. The film’s intertitles address the audience in English, Italian and Polish. Expanded essay by Charles “Buckey” Grimm
Director Spike Lee’s willingness to present all sides of his subject’s character makes this film a persuasive film biography, though some have seen it as too centrist and lacking in the raw power of its original source, the slain leader’s autobiography written with “Roots” author Alex Haley. Lee keeps the film moving at a clip; although it sometimes feels long, it’s never boring. The passion in Denzel Washington’s superlative performance as Malcolm X, transcends impersonation and reflects Malcolm’s gift as an orator, at times fiery and at others calm yet forceful. The cast also includes Al Freeman, Jr., as Elijah Muhammad, Angela Bassett as Malcolm’s wife Betty, and Lee himself as Shorty, a youthful Malcom’s fellow small-time hood.
After two previous film versions of Dashiell Hammett’s detective classic “The Maltese Falcon,” Warner Bros. finally captured the true essence of Hammett’s story in 1941 by wisely adhering to the original as faithfully as possible. John Huston, a screenwriter making his directorial debut, was the catalyst for its success, and Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade provided the film’s heart and soul, earning him stardom for his effort. A hard-boiled often unscrupulous San Francisco private eye, Spade gets drawn into a series of intrigues and double-crosses by client Mary Astor who, along with partners Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, are in search of a jewel-encrusted statuette shaped like a falcon. Among the most influential movies to emerge from the Hollywood studio system, “The Maltese Falcon” is as significant in some ways as its contemporary “Citizen Kane” for its contribution to establishing an entirely new style of storytelling that would become identified as “film noir.” Expanded essay by Richard T. Jameson
John Ford, a filmmaker since 1914, already had given the movie-going public such classics as “The Iron Horse,” “Stagecoach,” “My Darling Clementine,” “Fort Apache,” “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,” and “The Searchers.” Ford’s last great Western, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” makes explicit everything that was implicit in the genre which Ford himself shaped so heavily. By clearly showing that the conquest of the west meant the triumph of civilization over wild innocence and evil , this elegiac film serves as a film coda for Ford and also meditates on what was lost as progress and statehood marched across the West. The film’s concluding aphorism has entered the American lexicon: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
The subject of drug addiction has been addressed in Hollywood films many times before, dating all the way back to the silent era . But few dared to be as honest, blunt or graphic as this Otto Preminger treatment, which featured Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. Sinatra stars as the heroin-addicted hero who, having gotten clean while in prison, now struggles to remain “straight” after release. Oscar-nominated for his work in the film, Sinatra is a raw nerve in his unvarnished portrayal of a “junkie,” most memorably in his brutal withdrawal scenes. Along with its still topical subject and powerful storytelling, the film is further enhanced by its eye-popping Saul Bass opening credits sequence and Elmer Bernstein’s remarkable jazz score. Critic Dave Kehr has noted that “Otto Preminger’s 1955 adaptation of Nelson Algren’s novel is something of a crossroads movie, suspended between the swirling expressionism of Preminger’s early career and the balanced realism that would later become his forte.”  The film was preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2005 with funding from the Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
In the midst of cold war with Russia, paranoia ran rampant, and director John Frankenheimer and screenwriter George Axelrod captitalized on America’s fears to create what critic Pauline Kael called “the most sophisticated political satire ever made in Hollywood.” During the Korean conflict, prisoners of war are brainwashed by the Communists in order to lay the foundation for high-level political maneuvering once they return home. Haunted by nightmares, Sinatra is determined to solve the mystery behind his terror and eventually discovers the heart of the scheme: Harvey’s mother and her politician husband . Lansbury and Harvey create a memorably disturbing mother and son relationship, and Sinatra’s bug-eyed, perspiration-soaked sleep deprivation is barely soothed by a budding romance with Janet Leigh. Additional image Production still
The artistry of this 11-minute black-and-white film by photographer Paul Strand and painter Charles Sheeler helped to bring it to a broader audience than most avant-garde productions of the time. The stark cinematography that captured the 60-plus images of Manhattan is edited together into an elegantly rhythmic configuration. Interspersed with quotations from the writings of Walt Whitman. “Manhatta” inspired a genre of “city films” by directors such as Robert Flaherty and Alberto Cavalcanti.
Woody Allen combines witty dialogue, the music of George Gershwin, and atmospheric locations — shot in glorious black and white by Gordon Willis — to fashion this bittersweet romantic comedy. Isaac , a neurotic television writer in his forties, is romantically involved with Tracy , a 17-year-old student. But things get complicated when he starts to date Mary , the ex-mistress of his best friend . The film is highlighted by exceptional comedy teamwork that evolved between Keaton and Allen over the course of their six movies together to date, including a dramatic turn for Keaton in “Interiors” the year before and her Oscar-winning performance in “Annie Hall” in 1977.
This edition of the popular newsreel series concentrates solely on Nazi Germany: its propaganda machine, discrimination against Jews, youth indoctrination, and increasing militarization. It persuasively criticizes the regime, but often through unethical methods not uncommon at the time: stock footage was edited out of context, events were re-enacted or fabricated, and voiceovers misrepresented the images depicted. While this newsreel fueled anti-Nazi sentiment, its manipulative approach perpetuated a journalistic movement that valued sensationalism over reality.
George Stevens Jr., who headed the United States Information Agency Motion Picture Service unit from 1962-67, brought in several young talented documentary filmmakers such as Charles Guggenheim, Carroll Ballard, Kent McKenzie, Leo Seltzer, Terry Sanders, Bruce Herschensohn, and James Blue, who directed “The March.” This period ushered in the “Golden Era” of USIA films. Examining the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington from the ground-level and focusing on the idealistic passion, joy and synergy of the crowds, Blue’s documentary lets us see the event take shape from the planning stage — with sound checks and worries about whether people will attend — to the arrival of enormous crowds on parades of trains and buses. It culminates in Martin Luther King’s electrifying “I Have a Dream” speech. These USIA films were rarely seen in America because, fearing propaganda, the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act mandated that no USIA film could be shown domestically without a special act of Congress. These films are being rediscovered because a 1990 act of Congress authorized domestic screening 12 years after release.
When Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. refused to allow African American contralto Marian Anderson to perform in its whites-only venue in early 1939, a chain of events led to one of the most celebrated live musical performances in American history: the venue was the Lincoln Memorial and the date Easter Sunday, 1939. An estimated 75,000 people gathered to hear Anderson perform selections including gooseflesh-inducing renditions of “America” and “Ave Maria.” The event was broadcast live nationally by the NBC blue radio network, and covered, in part, by several news services. The Registry entry consists of excerpts from a Hearst newsreel story titled “Nation’s Capital Gets a Lesson in Tolerance.” Additional image
Douglas Fairbanks was gifted not only with a winning smile and athletic prowess, but also with keen insight. Aware that post-World War I audiences had grown weary of the romantic comedies that had made him a star, Fairbanks adapted his persona to create a daring hero and established himself as an icon of American culture. Under the name Elton Thomas, Fairbanks penned the screenplay for his first swashbuckler, portraying Don Diego Vega who has recently returned to California from Spain. Upon finding a despotic governor persecuting the local inhabitants, he first poses as a preening fop to divert suspicion, then dons a cape and mask to defend the downtrodden armed with a razor-sharp sword and leaving behind his signature “Z” to taunt the evil Captain Ramon and his henchmen. The film, directed by Fred Niblo, also stars Marguerite De La Motte and Noah Beery. The Museum of Modern Art Department of Film has preserved the film.
Under Rouben Mamoulian’s inventive direction, Tyrone Power plays Don Diego, son of a 19th-century Los Angeles governor who has been unseated by a mercenary despot and his sadistic captain, portrayed by Basil Rathbone. Convincingly foppish by day, Don Diego conceals his heroic alter-ego to avenge his father and the terrorized citizenry, carving his signature “Z” with his trusty sword as he goes. Mamoulian cleverly cuts in and out of scenes to heighten the drama and action as the film crescendos to a thrilling duel between Rathbone and Power.
Universally acknowledged as the preeminent figure in the development of modern dance and one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Martha Graham formed her own dance company in 1926. It became the longest continuously operating school of dance in America. With her company’s creation, Graham codified her revolutionary new dance language soon to be dubbed the “Graham Technique.” Her innovations would go on to influence generations of future dancers and choreographers, including Twyla Tharp and Merce Cunningham. This quartet of films, all silent and all starring Graham herself, document four of the artist’s most important early works. They are “Heretic,” with Graham as an outcast denounced by Puritans; “Frontier,” a solo piece celebrating western expansion and the American spirit; “Lamentation,” a solo piece about death and mourning; and “Appalachian Spring,” a multi-character dance drama, the lyrical beauty of which is retained even without the aid of Aaron Copland’s famous and beloved music.
An unremarkable lonely Bronx butcher dreams of finding something that will give his life meaning. He meets an equally unremarkable and lonely woman and together they build a relationship not of fairy tale romance but of mutual respect and affection. Directed with touching realism by Delbert Man thanks to the nuanced dialogue of a Paddy Chayevsky screenplay which the writer adapted from his own TV play. Borgnine won an Oscar for his portrayal of a self-described “fat, ugly man.”
Alleged to be Walt Disney’s personal favorite from all of his many classic films, “Mary Poppins” is based upon a book by P.L. Travers. With Travers’ original tale as a framework, screenwriters Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, with the aid of songwriters the Sherman Brothers , fashioned an original movie musical about a most unusual nanny. Weaving together a witty script, an inventive visual style and a slate of classic songs , “Mary Poppins” is a film that has enchanted generations. Equal parts innocent fun and savvy sophistication, the artistic and commercial success of the film solidified Disney’s knack for big-screen, non-cartoon storytelling and invention. With its seamless integration of animation and live action, the film prefigured thousands of later digital and CGI-aided effects. The cast, headed by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, also includes Jane Darwell, Glynis Johns and Ed Wynn, “Mary Poppins” has remained a “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” achievement.
Henry Jamison “Jam” Handy pioneered the corporate promotional film in the early 1920s, and his Jam Handy Organization, officed in Detroit, claimed General Motors among its chief clients. Handy originally created “Master Hands” to promote Chevrolet products to existing and prospective stock holders, but its success lasted for decades, including a stint as a wartime morale booster and later as a training film. It portrays factory workers as masters over the raw materials they bend to their will, as emphasized by Samuel Benavie’s score and cinematographer Gordon Avril’s artsy lighting and composition. The Jam Handy Organization continued producing films into the 1960s, amassing some 7,000 films over 40 years. Expanded essay by Richard Marback and Jim Brown
Pioneering woman filmmaker Alice Guy Blache’s deft, ironic short film of a man financially compelled to marry by noon, thanks to some sneaky encouragement from the woman in his life. Expanded essay by Margaret Hennefeld
A visionary and complex film, the science-fiction epic “The Matrix” employed state-of-the-art special effects, production design and computer-generated animation to tell a story—steeped in mythological, literary, and philosophical references—about a revolt against a conspiratorial regime. The film’s visual style, drawing on the work of Hong Kong action film directors and Japanese anime films, altered science fiction filmmaking practices with its innovative digital techniques designed to enhance action sequences. Directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and visual effects supervisor John Gaeta expertly exploited a digitally enhanced simulation of variable-speed cinematography to gain ultimate control over time and movement within images. The film’s myriad special effects, however, do not undermine its fundamentally traditional, if paranoid, story of man against machine.
Produced and directed by Puhipau and Joan Lander of Nā Maka o ka ʻĀina, this documentary about the dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i examines the development vs. ecological preservation battle between scientists who use the mountain summit as an astronomical observatory and Hawaiians who want the mountain preserved as a cultural landscape sacred to the Hawaiian people.
“McCabe & Mrs. Miller” demonstrates why the Western genre, especially when reinvented by the acclaimed Robert Altman, endured in the 20th century as a useful model for critically examining the realities of contemporary American culture. In a small American frontier village, a stranger named McCabe builds a brothel with the help of experienced madame Mrs. Miller . The town soon prospers, and success brings the jealous — and potentially deadly — attentions of a wealthy mining company. The film’s credits include evocative cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond and a music score by Leonard Cohen. Expanded essay by Chelsea Wessels
Martin Scorsese had made two films before “Mean Streets”: “Who’s That Knocking at My Door” and “Boxcar Bertha,” but this was the film that proved to the world that Scorsese was a special breed of filmmaker: original, volatile, personal, and brilliant. “Mean Streets” was heavily inspired by events he saw growing up in Little Italy, but the style of filmmaking on display is a kinetic fusion of Scorsese’s biggest influences: Powell & Pressburger, Kenneth Anger, John Cassavetes, but with a speed and assurance that would ultimately define Scorsese as a filmmaker. Harvey Keitel shines as Charlie Cappa, but Robert De Niro is the true breakout start as Johnny Boy, a frequently careless low-level gangster who Charlie remains loyal to, in spite of all the trouble he causes.
Set in 1968 Chicago, including scenes outside the Democratic National Convention, a TV news reporter must come to terms with his conscience and his ambition while juggling a budding relationship with a single mother and her son . Written, directed and photographed by Haskell Wexler, one of the most influential and celebrated cinematographers in the business , this film is most notable for melding fictional and non-fictional content in a documentarylike style.
Based on Sally Benson’s short stories about a family in turn-of-the-century St. Louis, MGM crafted the anecdotal tales into a charming Technicolor musical featuring tunes like “The Trolley Song,” and the now-classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” When Mr. Smith announces that the family is moving to New York, he unleashes a tumult of emotional trauma, including nipping in the bud a burgeoning romance between daughter Esther and the boy-next-door . In a cast that includes Mary Astor as Mrs. Smith, Lucille Bremer as the eldest daughter and Marjorie Main as the housekeeper, the most memorable performance radiates from six-year-old Margaret O’Brien as kid sister Tootie. Obsessed with death, she buries her dolls, decapitates snowmen, and even attempts to derail a streetcar. Margaret O’Brien won a special Oscar for her remarkable performance. Expanded essay by Andrea Alsberg
As a young man growing up in Oklahoma, Gene Autry sang in the choir of his grandfather’s Baptist church, and his early musical roots helped to make him one of the two biggest singing cowboys in Hollywood . Basically playing himself, Autry’s playful humility and popular Western-tinged songs appealed to audiences, and he often made six to eight feature films a year. This was his biggest budget picture to date and featured vaudeville and radio comedian Jimmy Durante and dancer Ann Miller. The story has Autry back in his hometown as Honorary Sheriff for a Frontier Days celebration; once there, the singing cowboy must restore law and order when the local bad guys get out of control.
This innovative detective-murder, psychological puzzle tells its story in non-linear stops and starts in order to put the audience in a position approximating the hero’s short-term amnesia. Guy Pearce tries to avenge his wife’s murder but his anterograde amnesia forces him to rely on sticky notes, tattoos and Polaroids. Nolan recounts, “My solution to telling the story subjectively was to deny the audience the same information that the protagonist is denied, and my approach to doing that was to effectively tell the story backwards … so the story is told as a series of flashbacks which go further and further back in time.” According to Nolan, he frequently intercut between the black-and-white “objective” sequences and “subjective” sequences in color. The goal was to show the conflict between how humans see and experience objective versus subjective and the complex relationship between imagination and memory.
Many big Hollywood directors saw active duty in World War II and often became adept at capturing combat footage. In directing this film about the crew of a B-17 “flying fortress” bomber as it approached its 25th mission, William Wyler insisted on using only genuine footage and soldiers, showing civilian audiences a more startlingly realistic view of the war than they’d seen before. Wyler’s direct style of telling a story, masterfully written by Lester Koenig, required no embellishment. “The situation was dramatic in itself. You didn’t have to dramatize.” Wyler was assisted by several Hollywood-trained cinematographers, often under enemy fire, and later back in Hollywood by editor John Sturges, who would go on to direct a number of popular films after the war. Upon viewing the film, President Franklin D. Roosevelt urged, “This has to be shown right away, everywhere.”
Produced and directed by Lee Dick—a woman pioneer in the field of documentary filmmaking—and written and shot by her husband Sheldon, this labor advocacy film is about diseases plaguing miners in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Sponsored by the Tri-State Survey Committee, “Men and Dust” is a stylistically innovative documentary and a valuable ecological record of landscapes radically transformed by extractive industry. Expanded essay by Adrianne Finelli
Maya Deren, a Russian Jewish émigré who came to America in the 1920s, and her husband Alexander Hammid crafted a 14-minute experimental film in 1943 that today is acknowledged as one of the classics of avant-garde cinema. Reminiscent of film noir in style and multi-layered in narrative, the film and its symbolism require the audience to have a sense of curiosity and patience to interpret the fragmented imagery of everyday objects – a flower, a key — and actions – walking up stair, looking out a window — within sequences that intersperse dreams and reality to create Deren’s brand of “feminine poetry.”
Possibly the most famous of music videos, the 13-minute “Thriller” caused such a buzz that it was also released theatrically in 35mm. As a follow-up to his smash 1982 album and single, Michael Jackson revolutionized the music industry with this lavish and expensive production. Filmmaker John Landis directed and co-wrote the video.
Produced by Westinghouse for the 1939 World’s Fair, this industrial film is a striking hour-long time capsule that documents that historic event within a moralistic narrative. Shot in Technicolor, the film follows a fictional Indiana family of five as they venture from grandma’s quaint house in Long Island to the fair’s popular pavilions. The whole family enjoys the gleaming sights, especially the futuristic technologies located in the Westinghouse Pavilion . While the entire family is affected by the visit, none are changed so much as daughter Babs , who eventually sours on her foreign-born, anti-capitalistic boyfriend in favor of a hometown electrical engineer who works at the fair. Both charming and heavy-handed, “The Middleton Family” provides latter-day audiences with a vibrant documentary record of the fair’s technological achievements and the heartland values of the age. Expanded essay by Andrew Wood
Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche and John Barrymore light up the screen in this Mitchell Leisen romantic comedy. Liesen is often described as a “studio contract” director—a craftsman with no particular aesthetic vision or social agenda who is efficient, consistent, controlled, with occasional flashes of panache. Leisen’s strength lay in his timing. He claimed he established the pace of a scene by varying the tone and cadence of his voice as he called “ready…right…action!” This technique served to give the actors a proper “beat” for the individual shot. In addition to Leisen’s timing, “Midnight” also boasts a screenplay by the dynamic duo of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Hilarity ensues when penniless showgirl Colbert impersonates a Hungarian countess, aided by the aristocratic Barrymore, until, despite her best efforts, she falls for a lowly taxi driver —all this amidst a Continental sumptuousness abundant in Paramount pictures of that era. The staggering number of exceptional films released in 1939 has caused this little gem to be overlooked. However, in its day, the New York Times called “Midnight” “one of the liveliest, gayest, wittiest and naughtiest comedies of a long hard season.” Reportedly unhappy with Leisen’s script changes, Wilder found the motivation to assert more creative control by becoming a director himself. Expanded essay by Kyle Westphal
John Schlesinger’s gritty look at the seedy side of urban American life is frequently disturbing, but Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight’s electric performances make it difficult to turn away. Voight plays Joe Buck, a good-lucking Texas stud looking to hustle rich New York women, and Hoffman is Ratso Rizzo, a small-time thief who seeks his own fortune by managing the naïve ladies man, and the cold, cruel realities of life that befell them both. Despite its original X rating , the film won the best-picture Oscar, defeating the crowd-pleasing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Waldo Salt’s screen adaptation of James Leo Herlihy’s novel also won an Oscar. Movie poster
Actor/director/screenwriter Charley Chase is underappreciated in the arena of early comedy shorts. Chase began his film career in the teens, working for Mack Sennett with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle. Moving on to the Hal Roach Studios, Chase starred in his own series of shorts. “Mighty Like a Moose,” directed by Leo McCarey, is considered to be among his best. A title card at the beginning tells us this is “a story of homely people—a wife with a face that would stop a clock—and her husband with a face that would start it again.” Unbeknownst to each other Mr. and Mrs. Moose have surgery on the same day to correct his buckteeth and her big nose. They meet on the street later, but don’t recognize each other; they flirt and arrange to meet later at a party. A side-splitting series of sight gags follows.
This quintessential Joan Crawford film features Crawford as a housewife turned successful restauranteur who sacrifices all for her heartless, manipulative daughter . Ranald McDougall wrote the screenplay for this melodrama tinged with film noir which was directed by Michael Curtiz, best known for Errol Flynn swashbucklers. Crawford, ably supported by strong performances from Blyth, Jack Carson and Eve Arden, won her only Oscar for this role. Expanded essay by Charlie Achuff
In possibly the screwiest of Preston Sturges screwball comedies, a small-town girl with a soft spot for soldiers wakes up the morning after a farewell party for the troops to find that she married someone she can’t remember, and shortly thereafter learns she’s pregnant. Eddie Bracken is the boy-next-store who’s been carrying a torch for Hutton and now comes to her rescue. William Demarest is hilarious as Hutton’s befuddled father. Film critic Dave Kehr mused, “The real miracle is that Sturges got all of this past the production-code office,” particularly the film’s “affably blasphemous” resemblance to the Nativity. View it free at Paramount Vault
This holiday favorite written and directed by George Seaton depicts a kindly old man calling himself Kris Kringle who is hired as the Macy’s department store Santa. The trouble is he thinks he really is Santa Claus. When he meets the young daughter of the store’s personnel manager , he endeavors to teach the girl to become a normal, imaginative child instead of the miniature adult raised by her no-nonsense mother. When he becomes beligerent in defending himself as Santa, the old man is sent to an asylum and a public sanity hearing follows. With the help of a sympathetic attorney the court finds that he is indeed Santa Claus and little girl learns the power of believing in the unbelievable. Movie poster
William C. de Mille was a prolific director during America’s silent and early talking era, though few of his films have survived to present day. This progressive study of gender roles and small town hypocrisy focuses on a victimized and belittled woman, Lulu Bett, who gains newfound confidence after a failed marriage, much to the irritation of her sniveling family. Lois Wilson gives a quiet and restrained performance in the lead role which mirrors de Mille’s deceptively simple visual storytelling style.
Despite its loose structure, this film — Charlie Chaplin’s last silent — coherently and comically denounces the industrialization of everyday life. Chaplin achieves a near-perfect balance of humor and pathos, and his scenes with Paulette Goddard, in particular, reflect genuine warmth and maturity. Expanded essay by Jeffrey Vance Movie poster
Puerto Rico’s Division of Community Education produced approximately 65 short subjects between 1950 and 1975. Designed to inform –and influence — the citizenry about government policy, the productions featured mostly amateur native performers and artists. Feminist at its heart, the film tells the story of a barrio woman who stands up to her abusive husband. Strongly affected by his earlier work as cinematographer on Robert Flaherty’s “Louisiana Story,” director Benjamin Doniger echoes his mentor’s regard for pastoral poetry employing cinematographer Luis A. Maisonet to capture both the beauty of the countryside and the harshness of its lifestyle, bathing them in the soft light of early morning and dusk, as Doniger matter-of-factly depicts rural Puerto Ricans’ struggle against poverty.
The most successful sex-hygiene exploitation film of all time, a low budget but relentlessly promoted, socially significant film, which finished as the third highest grossing film during the 1940s. Time magazine dryly noted that Mom and Dad “left only the livestock unaware of the chance to learn the facts of life.” Expanded essay by Eric Schaefer
This seminal music-festival film captures the culture of the time and performances from iconic musical talent. “Monterey Pop” also established the template for multi-camera documentary productions of this kind, predating both “Woodstock” and “Gimme Shelter.” In addition to director D. A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, Albert Maysles and others provided the superb camerawork. Performers include Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Hugh Masekela, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Simon and Garfunkel, and Ravi Shankar. As he recalled in a 2006 Washington Post article, Pennebaker decided to shoot and record the film using five portable 16mm cameras equipped with synchronized sound recording devices, while producers Lou Adler and John Phillips sagely had the whole concert filmed and recorded, and further enhanced the sound by hiring Wally Heider and his state-of-the-art mobile recording studio.
Lisze Bechtold created “Moon Breath Beat,” a five-minute color short subject, in 1980 while a student at California Institute of the Arts under the tutelage of artist and filmmaker Jules Engel, who founded the Experimental Animation program at CalArts. Engel asked, hypothetically, “What happens when an animator follows a line, a patch of color, or a shape into the unconscious? What wild images would emerge?” “Moon Breath Beat” reveals Bechtold responding with fluidity and whimsy. Her two-dimensional film was animated to a pre-composed rhythm, the soundtrack cut together afterward, sometimes four frames at a time, to match picture with track, she says. The dream-like story evolved as it was animated, depicting a woman and her two cats and how such forces as birds and the moon impact their lives. Following graduation, Bechtold was the effects animator for the Disney short “The Prince and the Pauper” and principal effects animator for “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” . Now primarily an author and illustrator, she claims many of her characters were inspired by pets with big personalities, including “Buster the Very Shy Dog,” the subject of her series of children’s books.
Josef von Sternberg’s first American film to star Marlene Dietrich ranks as his best, according to many film historians, rich in exotic atmosphere. Gary Cooper costars as a foreign legionnaire who wins Dietrich’s heart with an economy of dialogue, and Adolphe Menjou plays a wealthy rake who competes for her affection. Dietrich, as a cabaret singer with androgynous appeal, looks sultry and performs three songs before trodding across the desert barefoot. Expanded essay by Donna Ross
German-born Oskar Fischinger was a painter, filmmaker and animator whose work involved brilliant colors, abstract forms and inventive photography and film techniques to capture them both. His “Motion Painting No. 1” is made up a series of oil paintings on acrylic glass repeatedly overlaid on top of each other which, via stop motion photography, causes them to appear to move and transmute, multiply and recede. The “moving” paintings are timed to the strains of Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto. Fischinger’s finished film would influence for generations filmmakers and animators such as Norman McLaren, Jordan Belson, and Harry Smith.
Painter, sculptor and avant-garde filmmaker Brucer Conner sets a montage of found footage to Ottorino Respighi’s lively and often majestic “Pines of Rome” in this 12-minute short subject. “A MOVIE” splices pieces of film leader and end credits together with scenes from ethnographic documentaries, fictional narratives, stag films and newsreels. Conner cuts rapidly from one piece of found footage to the next with scenes of violence and destruction – mushroom clouds, tanks, car crashes, firing squads – scenes of adventure and derring-do – safaris, scuba divers, tightrope walkers, acrobats, cowboys and Indians – scenes from nature – crashing waves, an otter swimming. He uses music to enhance the drama inherent in each found scene, to punctuate the irony and social commentary, and to comic effect, the occasional erotically-suggestive juxtaposition of images. Despite the deluge of frenetic imagery, Conner’s concluding message seems to suggest a sense of hope and transcendence. Expanded essay by Kevin Hatch
Engaging slice of Americana by director Frank Capra stars Jimmy Stewart as a junior senator disheartened by the corruption he finds in Washington. Bolstered by support from Jean Arthur and Thomas Mitchell, Stewart’s Mr. Smith fights back on behalf of his home state constituents. Expanded essay by Robert Sklar
This sentimental wartime melodrama pictorializes the classic British stiff upper lip and the courage of a middle-class English family amid the chaos of air raids and family loss. The film’s iconic tribute to the sacrifices on the home front, as movingly directed by William Wyler, did much to rally America’s support for its British allies. Among the most memorable scences are the Minivers huddling in their bomb shelter during a Luftwaffe attack, Mrs. Miniver confronting a downed Nazi paratrooper in her kitchen, and clergyman Henry Wilcoxon’s calling his parishioners to arms from the pulpit of his bombed out church. “Mrs. Miniver” won six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress, and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Teresa Wright.
Former vaudevillian and amateur filmmaker Sid Laverents wrote, directed and starred in this short film that features a dozen split-screens of him playing a variety of musical instruments simultaneously. Each of Laverents’s musicians displays a different character withs its own costume and hairstyle as they unite to perform the song “Nola,” a novelty ragtime number popularized in the 1920s. Coupling his own ingratiating persona, painstaking in-camera multiple exposures and complex overdubbing, Laverents created a film that may be amateur but not amateurish.
Muppet creators Jim Henson and Frank Oz immersed their characters into a well-crafted combination of musical comedy and fantasy adventure. Kermit the Frog is persuaded by agent Dom DeLuise to pursue a career in Hollywood. Along the way, Kermit picks up Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and a motley crew of other Muppets with similar aspirations. Meanwhile, Kermit must elude the grasp of a frog-leg restaurant magnate . On the road, they encounter assorted characters played by such actors as Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, Orson Welles, and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. The picture is filled with songs by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher including the popular “Rainbow Connection.”
This documentary profiles the final year in the life of Fred Hampton, the 21-year old charismatic leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. The first half shows Hampton making speeches, passionately urging armed militancy, as well as non-violent advocacy, to confront poverty, protest police brutality and build coalitions to broaden the message of the party from “Power to the People” to “All power to all people.” During production, Hampton and Mark Clark were killed in a police raid, and the film transitions to an investigation of their deaths and the motives of authorities local and beyond. The New York Times, while admitting the film had flaws and certainly was unabashedly biased, assesses that the footage and TV documentation “constitute a remarkable, if uneven, case history. It is, in sum, an unleavened indictment of Edward V. Hanrahan, the Illinois state’s attorney, the policemen in the raid and the Chicago political establishment. The film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Delivery men Laurel and Hardy struggle to push a large crated piano up a seemingly insurmountable flight of stairs. Hal Roach earned an Oscar for producing one of the comic duo’s most celebrated short films, which was, in fact, a partial remake of their silent short “Hats Off” in which The Boys tote a washing machine up the same flight of steps. Expanded essay by Randy Skretvedt
This adaptation of Meredith Willson’s Broadway hit is Americana at its finest. Con-man extraordinaire Harold Hill uses his revolutionary musical “think system” to fleece the sleepy little town of River City, Iowa, and his charisma to woo the town’s icy librarian played by Shirley Jones. The supporting cast includes Buddy Hackett, Ron Howard, Paul Ford, Pert Kelton, and Hermione Gingold. Ray Heindorf won an Oscar for his musical direction of songs including include “Ya Got Trouble,” “Marian the Librarian,” “Gary, Indiana,” “Till There Was You” and the spectacular finale “Seventy-six Trombones.” Surprisingly, Robert Preston was not even nominated for reprising his Tony-winning Broadway performance.
Considered the first gangster film, this 17-minute early work by director D.W. Griffith is also noteworthy for employing several innovative camera techniques. Cameramen of the era typically kept the entire frame in focus, but Griffith instructed cinematographer Billy Bitzer to place the subject of a scene in sharp focus while muting the background, a technique common in classical paintings, but unheard-of in films of that era. The film also introduced off-center framing — positioning the subject at the edge of the frame instead of dead center—to achieve greater visual and emotional impact. The cast members, filmed with such revolutionary camerawork, included one of Griffith’s most famous discoveries, Lillian Gish, and her sister, Dorothy, as well as Harry Carey. The film has been preserved by the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film and can be viewed at mo.ma/musketeers .
In his early silent film days, John Ford met Wyatt Earp on a film set, and the eager young prop assistant soaked in the marshal’s version of the showdown at the O.K. Corral. Twenty-some years later, Ford recalled Earp’s tall tale in the landmark Western “My Darling Clementine.” Throughout his career, Ford was known to bend history, and this film is no exception. While lacking in historical accuracy, the film features traditional Western action, but is more memorable for the way in which Ford develops the characters of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday , Holliday’s mistress, Chihuahua , and Clementine who represents the new civilized Tombstone.
In the 1950s and 1960s, besieged by shifts in demographics and having much of its audience syphoned off by television, film studios knew they had to go big in their entertainment in order to lure people back to the theater. This film version of the musical “My Fair Lady” epitomized this approach with use of wide-screen technologies. Based on the sparkling stage musical , “My Fair Lady” came to the big screen via the expert handling of director George Cukor. Cecil Beaton’s costume designs provided further panache, along with his, Gene Allen’s and George James Hopkins’ art and set direction. The film starred Rex Harrison, repeating his career-defining stage role as Professor Henry Higgins, and Audrey Hepburn , as the Cockney girl, Eliza Doolittle. Though opulent in the extreme, all these elements blend perfectly to make “My Fair Lady” the enchanting entertainment that it remains today.
In one of her greatest roles, Carole Lombard sparkles as a dizzy but good-hearted heiress in Gregory La Cava’s comedic take and sometimes caustic commentary on the Great Depression. William Powell portrays Godfrey with knife-edged delivery, the forgotten man whom Lombard has turned into the family butler. Pixilated mother Alice Brady, beleaguered father Eugene Pallette, and snarky sister Gail Patrick round out the cast of one of the most exemplary screwball comedies of the 1930s. The cinematography by Ted Tetzlaff is a shimmering argument for the supremacy of black and white film. Do not confuse this classic with the pitiful 1957 remake.
Born in Sweden in 1931, Gunvor Nelson in 1953 moved to the U.S. where she spent the middle years of her life before moving back to Sweden in the early 1990s. She taught at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1970-92, influencing a generation of new filmmakers. She carved out a distinctive niche in underground avant-garde American film during the 1960s and ‘70s though Nelson strongly prefers the term “personal cinema.” Much of her work during this period concerns perceptions of feminine beauty. In “My Name is Oona,” Nelson paints an expressive portrait of her 9-year-old daughter’s flowing, dreamlike interactions with the forces of nature via experimental techniques such as the superimposition of fleeting images, dynamic editing and slow-motion cinematography. The sublime effect created in “Oona” provides a lyrical, 10-minute look into the non-linear, vivid, sometimes wild or scary world of childhood memory and imagination, as well as a child’s halting steps toward self-realization.
The opening credits reveal this is a different kind of movie; not filmed on a Hollywood back lot but on actual locations in New York City. Winning Oscars for best photography and editing and nominated for best writing , this cutting-edge, gritty crime procedural introduced a new style of film-making. “The Naked City” offers up slices of several stories, building and dove-tailing into a logical, heart-pounding resolution. Based on six months of interviews with the NYPD and using three-dimensional characters, it changed the way police were portrayed and crimes solved. Another unique aspect of Mark Hellinger’s production and Jules Dassin’s direction was to hire local radio and theater actors new to film – it launched several character-acting careers.
James Stewart plays an obsessed bounty hunter in pursuit of outlaw Robert Ryan. Anthony Mann infuses a tried-and-true Western scenario with tense psychological complexity through strong, clear story-telling by Sam Rolfe and Harold Jack Bloom and vivid Technicolor scenes of the Rockies photographed by William C. Mellor. Unable to capture and bring back Ryan without help, Stewart enlists old-timer Millard Mitchell and dishonourably discharged cavalryman . Ryan, who is looking after a friend’s daughter , manipulatively pits character against character.
A film now synonymous with the documentary form and with Eskimo life, Robert Flaherty’s filmed record of an Inuit family living in artic Canada set down many of the standards for non-fiction filmmaking while also expanding film’s ability to document vanishing, cultures. Though Flaherty’s authenticity has since been called into question, its emotional impact and artistic style still resonate. Expanded essay by Patricia R. Zimmermann and Sean Zimmermann Auyash
Robert Altman directed this funny and poignant series of vignettes following more than 20 characters, including several who are country music performers, as they gather at a Nashville political rally. The film’s power lies in its ability to be sarcastic, hopeful, and revelatory all at once as it manages to skewer and honor its subject simultaneously. Stars include Henry Gibson, Ronee Blakley, Karen Black, Lily Tomlin and Keith Carradine, who sings the haunting “I’m Easy.” Expanded essay by David Sterritt
John Landis directs the escapades of a misfit group of fraternity members who challenge the dean and the establishment. The cast includes John Belushi, Tom Hulse, Tim Mattheson, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon and Donald Sutherland. It is the first film produced by National Lampoon, the most popular humor magazine on college campuses in the mid-1970s. “Animal House” received mixed reviews but several critics immediately recognized its appeal, one dubbing it “low humor of a high order.” Interview with Tim Matheson
This enduring family classic based on the novel by Enid Bagnold was directed by Clarence Brown and stars Elizabeth Taylor as a young girl whose sole ambition to run her horse in the Grand National Steeplechase. Although “National Velvet” was the first starring role for 11-year-old Taylor, the early part of the film belongs to Mickey Rooney in the showier role of Mike Taylor, a headstrong English ex-jockey soured on life by a serious accident. Anne Revere, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, co-stars as Velvet’s mother and veteran actor Donald Crisp plays her father.
Cinema’s first pairing of sensational singing duo Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, who captivated audiences with songs such as “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life.” In order to avoid a prearranged marriage, a beautiful and rebellious French princess swaps identities with her maid and escapes to colonial New Orleans, where she finds true love with a gallant sea captain . Directed by W.S. Van Dyke and based on a popular 1910 operetta by Victor Herbert, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, and sound engineer Douglas Shearer won an Academy Award for his work.
In a project that incorporated both anthropological and communications theory, university professors Sol Worth and John Adair taught a group of Navajo students in Pine Springs, Arizona to make documentary films. The researchers wanted to know if it was possible to teach filmmaking to members of a different culture, and how films made by Navajos might differ from films made by outsiders. The research team met with their students for eight hours a day, five days a week for two months. They gave their students basic instructions, while emphasizing that the students should make a film about whatever was important to them. At the end of the project, the students had completed seven films, some of which featured traditional artisans such as weavers, silversmiths and sand painters. Other students created more poetically abstract films depicting Navajo culture as a whole. The films originally shown in the local community, but have since gained a wider audience through outside screenings and DVD release.
Buster Keaton burst onto the scene in 1920 with the dazzling two-reeler “One Week.” His feature “The Navigator” proved a huge commercial success and put Keaton in the company of Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin in terms of audience popularity and films eagerly awaited by critics. Decades after release, Pauline Kael reviewed the film: “Arguably, Buster Keaton’s finest — but amongst the Keaton riches can one be sure?” Keaton plays an inept, foppish millionaire whose idea of a marriage proposal involves crossing the street in a chauffeured car, handing flowers to his girlfriend and popping the question. Later the two accidentally become stranded at sea on an abandoned boat and Keaton proves his worth by conceiving ingenious work-arounds to ensure they survive. The silent era rarely saw films rife with more creativity and imaginative gags.
Produced by Frank Capra’s renowned World War II U.S. Army filming unit, “The Negro Soldier” showcased the contributions of blacks to American society and their heroism in the nation’s wars, portraying them in a dignified, realistic, and far less stereotypical manner than they had been depicted in previous Hollywood films. Considered by film historian Thomas Cripps as “a watershed in the use of film to promote racial tolerance,” “The Negro Soldier” was produced in reaction to instances of discrimination against African-Americans stationed in the South. Written by Carlton Moss, a young black writer for radio and the Federal Theatre Project, directed by Stuart Heisler, and scored by Dmitri Tiomkin, the film highlights the role of the church in the black community and charts the progress of a black soldier through basic training and officer’s candidate school before he enters into combat. It became mandatory viewing for all soldiers in American replacement centers from spring 1944 until the war’s end.
Paddy Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning script and Sidney Lumet’s deft direction paint a piercing and vitriolic satire of television news. In an inspired final performance that earned him a best actor Oscar, Peter Finch plays news commentator Howard Beale who loses his perspective when he’s fired by his faltering network. Flooding the airwaves with delusional rantings of self-empowerment, he becomes a messiah to an audience equally fed up with the establishment. In one impassioned tirade, Beale incites viewers to shout “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” William Holden portrays the fading TV executive and Faye Dunaway is the cutthroat program director who’ll do anything for ratings. Chayefsky’s script won an Academy Award, as did best supporting actress Beatrice Straight, who plays Holden’s wife. On screen for five minutes and two seconds, Straight’s is the briefest performance ever to win an Oscar. Expanded essay by Joanna E. Rapf
Elaine May became the first woman to write, direct and star in a major American studio feature with “A New Leaf.” Critics loved the comedic confrontations of the film’s two cartoon-like eccentrics, played with uncommon understatement by May, as a socially inept but wealthy botanist heiress, and Walter Matthau as a conniving and murderous misanthrope in pursuit of her fortune. Their encounters reminded reviewers of the droll sensibility that made the legendary Mike Nichols and Elaine May satiric sketches created years earlier for nightclubs and records so appealing. For “A New Leaf,” May drew on classic Hollywood comedy traditions of Depression-era screwball comedy and slapstick. Despite a failed lawsuit by May to have her name removed from the credits because the released version did not match her vision of the film, audiences flocked to it and the film has become a cult classic. May’s conflicts with Hollywood studios continued, eventually ending her career as a feature film director in 1987. After recently winning a 2019 Tony Award for best actress in a play, she has been slated to direct a new feature film at age 87.
Produced May-June 1891, this experimental film was one of the first made in America at the Edison Laboratory in West Orange, N.J. The filmmakers were W.K.L. Dickson and William Heise, both of whom were employed as inventors and engineers in the industrial research facility owned by Thomas Edison. Heise and especially Dickson made important technical contributions during 1891-1893, leading to the invention of the world’s first successful motion picture camera—the Edison Kinetograph—and to the playback device required for viewing early peepshow films—the Edison Kinetoscope. Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies .
Fayard and Harold Nicholas, renowned for their innovative and exuberant dance routines, began in vaudeville in the late 1920s before headlining at the Cotton Club in Harlem, starring on Broadway and performing in Hollywood films. Fred Astaire is reported to have called their dance sequence in “Stormy Weather” the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen. Their home movies capture a golden age of show business—with extraordinary footage of Broadway, Harlem and Hollywood—and also document the middle-class African-American life of that era, images made rare by the considerable cost of home-movie equipment during the Great Depression. Highlights include the only footage shot inside the Cotton Club, the only footage of famous Broadway shows like “Babes in Arms,” home movies of an all African-American regiment during World War II, films of street life in Harlem in the 1930s, and the family’s cross-country tour in 1934.
When the Marx Brothers moved to MGM, director Sam Wood was tasked by studio exec Irving Thalberg to rein in the anarchy the brothers had perpetrated at Paramount. No longer the focal point of the picture, they served as comic relief to the musical romance between Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones. As the business-savvy Thalberg might have predicted, the film was the highest grossing of all the Marx Brothers comedies, but also signaled their artistic decline. Though no longer at the reins, they still delivered plenty of frenetic fun, as evidenced by the hilarious stateroom scene, and subjected Margaret Dumont and Sig Ruman to endless indignities.
This dark allegory of good versus evil defies conventional genre definition with its occasionally outrageous dark humor, bucolic settings contrasted with gothic images, and an unsettling child’s-eye perspective. A deranged preacher terrorizes two children in possession of stolen loot and eventually coming up against a saintly protector of runaway and abandoned children . Expanded essay by Peter Rainer
Director George A. Romero’s debut ushered in an entire entertainment industry – the zombie film. Starring Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea are among a small group of survivors holed up in an abandoned farmhouse struggling to fend off a zombie attack. With tight editing and an unapologetically matter-of-fact approach to its violence and gore, the film subtly and surprisingly injects sociopolitical commentary into what most initially saw as a superficial exploitation film. Romero made the picture for a little more than $100,000, and it recouped tens of millions domestically and overseas. Expanded essay by Jim Trombetta
The great horror maestro Wes Craven, as both writer and director, gave a generation of teens terminal insomnia with this imaginative and intense slasher scarefest. Freddy Krueger is the burn-scarred ghost of a psychopathic child killer, now returned to haunt your dreams and take his revenge! Heather Langenkamp stars as the heroic Nancy, who figures out who Freddy is and must be the one to stop him. Also in the cast: Johnny Depp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley and Charles Fleischer. Made on a budget under $2 million, “Elm Street” became a box office sensation and has inspired numerous sequels , a 2010 remake, a TV series, books, comic books and videogames, making it one of the most successful film franchises in the history of any cinematic genre. The film established New Line Cinema as a major force in film production with some calling New Line “The House That Freddy Built.”
In this sparkling romantic comedy, when a beautiful Soviet emissary is sent to Paris on state business, she discovers how the charms of Paris and Melvyn Douglas can melt even the most stoic Soviet, and jeopardizes both national honor and her career. Garbo personifies director Ernst Lubitsch’s sophistication and style, delivering dialog cooked up by Billy Wilder and partner Charles Brackett to reveal that the Swedish actress is not only a consummate dramatist, but that, in fact, “Garbo Laughs!” as the ads touted. A trio of Russian delegates played by Sig Rumann, Felix Bressart, and Alexander Granach deliver some of Wilder and Brackett’s most satirical lines. Movie poster
Done in faux cinéma vérité style, Mitchell Block’s 16-minute New York University student film begins on a note of insouciant amateurism and then convincingly moves into darker, deeper waters. Opening with a scene of a girl getting ready for a date, the camera-wielding protagonist adroitly orchestrates a mood shift from goofiness to raw pain as an interviewer tears down the girl’s emotional defenses after being raped. One of the first films to deal with the way rape victims are treated when they seek professional help for sexual assault, “No Lies” still possesses a searing resonance and has been widely viewed by nurses, therapists and police officers.
Highlighted by Sally Field’s Oscar-winning performance, “Norma Rae” is the tale of an unlikely activist. A poorly-educated single mother, Norma Rae Webster works at a Southern textile mill where her attempt to improve working conditions through unionization, though undermined by her factory bosses, ultimately succeeds after her courageous stand on the factory floor wins the support of her co-workers. The film is less a polemical pro-union statement than a treatise about maturation, personal willpower, fairness and the empowerment of women. Directed by Martin Ritt, “Norma Rae” was based on the real-life efforts of Crystal Lee Sutton to unionize the J. P. Stevens Mills in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., which finally agreed to allow union representation one year after the film’s release. Expanded essay by Gabriel Miller
When ad exec Cary Grant is mistaken for a government agent, he’s thrust into a world of spies, including James Mason and his henchman . They try to eliminate Grant but he is inadvertently framed for murder. On the lam, he boards a train to track down the man for whom he is mistaken. There he meets a beautiful blonde who helps him to evade the authorities. His world is turned upside down yet again when he learns the woman isn’t the innocent bystander he thought she was, and it all culminates in a dramatic rescue and escape atop Mt. Rushmore. With the help of screenwriter Ernest Lehman’s tight script and snappy dialog and a highly animated score by Bernard Herrmann, director Alfred Hitchcock crafts one of his most stylish and entertaining thrillers.
This avant-garde classic by Hollis Framptonis considered eloquent and evocative in its exploration of memory and family. Expanded essay by the National Film Preservation Foundation
When Frank Stauffacher introduced the Art in Cinema film series at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1947, he was on his way to becoming a significant influence on a generation of West Coast filmmakers. “Notes on the Port of St. Francis” is the natural progression of Stauffacher’s appreciation for the abstract synthesis of film and place. Impressionistic and evocative, the film is shaped by the director’s organization of iconic imagery, such as seascapes and city scenes, and by the juxtaposition of these visuals and the soundtrack featuring Vincent Price narrating excerpts from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1882 essay on San Francisco. Expanded essay by Scott MacDonald
Michael Roemer directed the story he co-wrote with Robert M. Young about a black railroad worker in Alabama who falls in love and marries the local preacher’s daughter while trying to maintain his self respect amidst the racism of 1960s America. Roemer said he drew on his experience of growing up as a Jew in Nazi Germany and noted, “If you’re unemployed you don’t feel like you’re a man, at least my generation didn’t. That’s not black; that’s all of us.” Its naturalistic almost documentary visual style and soundtrack of popular Motown hits invites the audience into the lives of its characters to feel their angst and perseverance.
Arguably Alfred Hitchcock’s best black-and-white American film, this is an excellent example of woman’s gothic. In the film, a woman marries a Nazi killer , although she is in love with an American spy who recruits her for the assignment. Rife with classic Hitchcock brilliance, featuring the crane shot and cross-cutting during the party sequence, “Notorious” is also a resonant cultural document of romantic alienation. Cary Grant is at his most attractive, letting his dark side fuel his bitter cynicism.
The film’s title comes from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass:” “The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted/Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.” A resonant woman’s picture, “Now, Voyager” features Bette Davis as a dowdy spinster terrorized by her possessive mother and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Psychiatrist Claude Rains cures Davis and suggests a cruise, where she falls in love with married Paul Henreid. The impossible romance does not depress Davis but rather transforms her into a confident, independent woman. Davis’ final words electrify one of the most famous endings in romantic cinema: “Oh Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.” Expanded essay by Charlie Achuff
In what many consider Jerry Lewis’s greatest film as actor and director, this film is a twist on the classic “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” story, as translated by Lewis and co-screenwriter Bill Richmond. Nerdy professor Lewis concocts a formula to become more popular and turns himself into the narcissistic womanizer Buddy Love who attempts to work his magic on co-ed Stella Stevens. This comical character study tinged with pathos reveals Lewis’s not inconsiderable acting talent.
This landmark work from California filmmaker Scott Bartlett is the first avant-garde title to fully marry video with film. The film combines masterful usage of optical printing, superimposing images, color saturation and hand-dying of the film strip, making abstractions from natural images. Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
The publicity campaign said it all: “A motion picture as big as all outdoors.” In this beloved musical, an idealized vision of a turn-of-the-century small town, chicks and ducks and geese scurry right across the wide screen. The literalized film treatment appeared a dozen years after the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway premiere. The film eliminated two songs and substituted breathtaking Technicolor vistas and stereo sound for theatrical innovation. Set shortly before Oklahoma statehood, the movie features such Western-film staples as the cowman/farmer feud . As choreographer Agnes de Mille noted: “It’s different, but I find it very beautiful to look at.” Expanded essay by Phil Hall
This cartoon, produced by the Walt Disney Company as one of its Silly Symphony entries, depicts a community of animals—mice, doves, bats, bluebirds and an expressive owl—battling a severe thunderstorm that nearly destroys their home in an abandoned windmill. Directed by Wilfred Jackson, the film acted as a testing ground for audience interest in longer form animation as well as for advanced technologies, including the first use of the multiplane camera, which added three-dimensional depth. It also featured more complex lighting and realistic depictions of animal behavior that would be perfected in “Snow White,” “Fantasia” and “Bambi.” The dazzling imagery was complemented by Leigh Harline’s compelling orchestral scoring inspired by a Strauss operetta. In “The 50 Greatest Cartoons Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals,” edited by historian Jerry Beck, Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston recalled, “Our eyes popped when we saw all of The Old Mill’s magnificent innovations—things we had not even dreamed of and did not understand.” The film won an Academy Award for best animated short in 1937, and the studio won an Oscar for its revolutionary camera.
Stories of boys and their dogs have long been fodder for films and books, but none has ever resonated more strongly with the public than this 1957 adaptation of the Fred Gipson novel. Produced by Disney, which knew how to touch the hearts of moviegoers with both laughter and tears, the beloved film was directed by Robert Stevenson and stars Fess Parker, Dorothy McGuire and Tommy Kirk. Few movie endings have ever proved as emotionally affecting as the conclusion of “Old Yeller.”
On the Bowery” is Lionel Rogosin’s acclaimed, unrelenting docudrama about the infamous New York City zone known as the Bowery. The film focuses on three of its alcoholic skid row denizens and their marginal existence amid the gin mills, missions and flop houses. Bosley Crowther in The New York Times wrote that “this is a dismal exposition to be charging people money to see.” Rogosin and his small crew spent months on the Bowery observing and talking with residents. They crafted the film as a “synthesis” of Bowery life, and it remains a wrenching portrait of hopelessness, despair and broken dreams. The film’s writer, Mark Sufrin, wrote in an issue of Sight and Sound magazine: “Very few, once they hit the Bowery, ever leave, are reclaimed, or rehabilitated…I had escaped that frightening place. They still remain.”
Three sailors with 24 hours of shore leave in New York doesn’t sound like much to build a film around, but when Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin portray them under the sparkling direction of Stanley Donen , movie magic occurs. “On the Town” was based upon the Comden and Green Broadway musical of the same name. Shot on location all over New York City, the film carries over such splendid songs as “New York, New York,” the close-to-opening iconic scene with the sailor trio performing while still in their navy togs. Female song-and-dance pros Vera-Ellen, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller match the guys step for step in the numerous musical numbers. “On the Town” represents the upbeat, post war musicals of the era, which summed up the national optimism of the period.
Director Elia Kazan took Budd Schulberg’s hard-hitting script and crafted it into a commentary on loyalty and justice in an almost documentarylike depiction of the lives of New York City dock workers and the union thugs who control them. Supreme acting by Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger is most often of the direct, in-your face variety, though offset by more nuanced scenes with Eva Marie Saint and Karl Malden. Known primarily at the time as conductor for the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein earned his only Academy Award nomination for one of his first film scores – a composition that accents the film’s fever pitch and enfolds its tender moments. Expanded essay by Robert Sklar
Disdained as “Spaghetti Westerns” when they first appeared in American movie theaters, the best of these films, such as “Once Upon a Time in the West,” are now recognized as among the greatest achievements of the Western movie genre. Director Sergio Leone’s operatic visual homage to the American Western legend is a chilling tale of vengeance set against the backdrop of the coming of the railroad. Ennio Morricone’s magnificent score is likewise recognized for its brilliance. Expanded essay by Chelsea Wessels.
Based on the 1956 Charles Neider novel, “The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones” , this Western marks Marlon Brando’s sole directorial effort. “One-Eyed Jacks” displays his trademark introspection and offbeat quirkiness. Brando’s novel approach to updating the Western film genre marks it as a key work in the transition period from Classic Hollywood to the new era that began in the 1960s and continues to the present day. As director Martin Scorsese and others have said, this evolution from “Old Hollywood” to “New Hollywood” involved a change from filmmaking primarily being about profit-making to a period when many directors create motion pictures as personal artistic expression.
Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman masterfully adapted Ken Kesey’s novel, earning themselves Oscars for Best Screenplay, and providing director Milos Forman with a platform for a hard-hitting and wry condemnation of the Establishment and its ethos of conformity. Jack Nicholson is a ne’er do well who plays crazy to avoid prison work detail and is sent to the state mental hospital for evaluation. There he encounters an assortment of mostly harmless inmates presided over by the icy Nurse Ratched . Nicholson leads the inmates to challenge Nurse Ratched, incurring her wrath and setting up their eventual showdown. Nicholson’s and Fletcher’s Academy-Award winning turns are bolstered by outstanding performances from Brad Dourif and Will Sampson as two of the more memorable inmates. The cast also includes Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd on their way to starring roles in the TV series “Taxi.”
A cartoon on every short list of the greatest animation, this classic Chuck Jones creation features crooning amphibian Michigan J. Frog, who drives his owner insane by singing only in private, but never in public. Expanded essay by Craig Kausen covers the three Registry films directed by Chuck Jones: Duck Amuck, One Froggy Evening, and What’s Opera, Doc?.
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In this Academy Award-winning documentary short film by Kary Antholis, Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein recounts her six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. At age 16, her comfortable life was shattered by the Nazi invasion of Poland. She and her family were sent to concentration and slave labor camps. She alone survived. Mixing footage shot in contemporary Europe at key locations of Klein’s story with interviews and personal photographs, “One Survivor Remembers” explores the effects that her experience had on the rest of her life. It is told with a simple yet powerful eloquence that “approaches poetry,” the Chicago Tribune observed. Expanded essay by Kary Antholis
“One Week” is the first publicly released two-reel short film starring Buster Keaton. One of Keaton’s finest films and one of the greatest short comedies produced during the 1920s, the film, as critic Walter Kerr noted, shows Keaton as “a garden at the moment of blooming.” Considered astonishingly creative even by contemporary standards, “One Week” is rife with hilarious comic, often surrealist, sequences chronicling the ill-fated attempts of a newlywed couple to assemble their new home. Expanded essay by Daniel Eagan
Considered the “quintessential” Howard Hawks male melodrama by many, “Only Angels Have Wings” stars Cary Grant as the tough-talking head of a cut-rate air freight company in the Andes. Grant has a dangerous business to run and spurns romantic entanglements, fearing women blanch at the inherent danger. Displaced showgirl Jean Arthur arrives and tries to prove him wrong. Along with sparkling dialogue from Grant, Arthur and renowned character actor Thomas Mitchell, “Only Angels Have Wings” captivates with dazzling air sequences featuring landings on canyon rims, vertiginous ups and downs and perilous flights through foggy mountain passes.
During the heart of the Great Depression, as the nation’s capital experimented with New Deal programs to solve the nation’s ills, most Hollywood productions remained escapist. A radical exception to the rule, King Vidor’s “Our Daily Bread,” faced the problem of unemployment head-on by dramatizing an experiment in cooperative farming that proposed pooling resources collectively as an alternative to individualistic competition for jobs. After all the studios passed on his idea, Vidor financed the film himself with borrowed funds. Criticized for its purportedly socialist ideas and also for its seemingly fascistic traits, “Our Daily Bread” remains a document that embodied political contradictions that marked widely divergent contemporary assessments of the New Deal itself. In its widely acclaimed climactic ditch-digging sequence, the film presents images celebrated muscular working-class manhood that also marked public art of the period, which addressed anxieties about the masculinity during times of economic crisis.
Wallace Kelly of Lebanon, Kentucky, made this exquisitely crafted amateur film at home in 1938. “Our Day” is a smart, entertaining day-in-the-life portrait of the Kelly household, shown in both idealized and comic ways. This silent 16mm home movie uses creative editing, lighting and camera techniques comparable to what professionals were doing in Hollywood. His amateur cast was made up of his mother, wife, brother and pet terrier. “Our Day” also contains exceptional images of small-town Southern life, ones that counter the stereotype of impoverished people eking out a living during the Depression. The 12-minute film documents a modern home inhabited by adults with sophisticated interests and simple ones . Kelly, a newspaperman, was also an accomplished photographer, painter, and writer. He began shooting film in 1929 and continued until the 1950s. Expanded essay by Margaret Compton
A leading figure in the California Bay Area independent film movement, Lawrence Jordan has crafted more than 40 experimental, animation and dramatic films. Jordan uses “found” graphics to produce his influential animated collages, noting that his goal is to create “unknown worlds and landscapes of the mind.” Inspired by “The Tibetan Book of the Dead,” “Our Lady of the Sphere” is one of Jordan’s best-known works. It is a surrealistic dream-like journey blending baroque images with Victorian-era image cut-outs, iconic space age symbols, various musical themes and noise effects, including animal sounds and buzzers.
This classic example of 1940s film noir features some of the genre’s best dialog. Daniel Manwaring, under the pseudonym Geoffrey Homes, smartly adapted his novel “Build My Gallows High,” and the stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer breathe life and larceny into his characters. Private eye Mitchum is hired by a notorious gangster to find his mistress Kathie who shot him and ran off with a load of dough. Jeff traces Kathie to Mexico, but falls for her and gets caught in her web of deception and murder. Directed with supreme skill by Jacques Tourneur and brilliantly photographed by Nicholas Musuraca, this film introduced the famous Mitchum screen persona of sleepy-eyed cynic ready to toss out a line like “Baby, I don’t care” with nonchalant sex appeal. Jane Greer is equally effective, a combination of erotic fire and cool detachment. Expanded essay by Stephanie Zacharek
By the time he made this film, his fifth as a director, Clint Eastwood was successfully synthesizing the talents of his two mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. As the title character, a Confederate radical out to avenge the murder of his family by Union soldiers, Eastwood blends the stoic realism of a Leone hero with the earnest morality of a Siegel leading man. Eastwood’s character possesses a touching emotional vulnerability uncharacteristic of Eastwood’s much-criticized “macho” image. Chief Dan George is his memorable self as the wise and understated Indian elder, funny yet always dignified.
For a few years beginning in the late 1940s, Ida Lupino, Hollywood’s only woman director of the period, made a series of distinctive films that spoke to the public’s desire, she stated, “to see something that fits in with their own concepts of the way people actually live in the world and the problems they must meet and overcome.” In “Outrage,” an unblinking examination of the traumatic effects of rape on a vulnerable young woman, Lupino, an actress of consummate grace and power, masterfully employed sound and silence, light and shadow, depth of field and cutting, camera movement and careful framing to cinematically capture the psychological impact of her character’s shattered world. Inspired by a question that Italian neo-realist director Roberto Rossellini posed to her at a party – “When are you going to make pictures about ordinary people, in ordinary situations” – Lupino, along with her husband Collier Young, associate producer Malvin Wald, and cinematographer Archie Stout created a series of low-budget impactful films with newfound talent, like Mala Powers, star of “Outrage.” Lupino’s films, Martin Scorsese has observed, “addressed the wounded soul and traced the slow, painful process of women trying to wrestle with despair and reclaim their lives.”
Directed by William A. Wellman and starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, and Anthony Quinn, “The Ox-Bow Incident” tells the story of a murderous lynch mob that takes justice into its own hands when it finds three men suspected of theft and murder at the oxbow of a river. Based on the novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, “The Ox-Bow Incident” is a quiet yet intense study of the mentality and interpersonal dynamics of mobs. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture but lost to “Casablanca.” Movie poster
In the 1930s, a number of Protestant groups, concerned about the perceived meretricious effects of Hollywood films, began producing non-theatrical motion pictures to spread the gospel of Jesus. “Parable” followed a filmmaking tradition that has not very often been recognized in general accounts of American film history. One of the most acclaimed and controversial films in this tradition, “Parable” debuted at the New York World’s Fair in May 1964 as the main attraction of the Protestant and Orthodox Center. Without aid of dialogue or subtitles, the film relies on music and an allegorical story that represents the “Circus as the World,” in the words of Rolf Forsberg, who wrote and co-directed the film with Tom Rook for the Protestant Council of New York. “Parable” depicts Jesus as an enigmatic, chalk-white, skull-capped circus clown who takes on the sufferings of oppressed workers, including women and minorities. The film generated controversy even before its initial screening. The fair’s president Robert Moses sought to have it withdrawn. Other fair organizers resigned with one exclaiming, “No one is going to make a clown out of my Jesus.” A disgruntled minister threatened to riddle the screen with shotgun holes if the film was shown. Undaunted, viewers voted overwhelmingly to keep the film running, and it became one of the fair’s most popular attractions. Newsweek proclaimed it “very probably the best film at the fair” and Time described it as “an art film that got religion.” The Fellini- and Bergman-inspired film received the 1966 Religious Film Award of the National Catholic Theatre Conference, along with honors at the 1966 Cannes, Venice and Edinburgh film festivals. It subsequently became a popular choice for screenings in both liberal and conservative churches. Expanded essay by Mark Quigley
In a 2015 article in The Guardian, Ashley Clark noted, “Few documentaries can claim to have sparked as much discussion and controversy as Jennie Livingston’s debut ‘Paris is Burning,’ the vibrant time capsule of New York’s ballroom subculture in the 80s.” The film explores the complex subculture of fashion shows and vogue dance competitions among black and Hispanic gay men, drag queens and transgender women in Manhattan. It shifts among ballroom contests and shows and interviews with contestants, who belong to different “houses” that are like families to them, sharing their views on wealth, notions of beauty, racism and gender orientation. This film has greatly influenced popular culture.
Max Davidson was a German-Jewish comedian whose films, made at the Hal Roach studio, typically caricatured established Jewish stereotypes of the day. This short film features Davidson’s escapades with a neighbor’s stolen chicken. Expanded essay by Steve Massa
Based on Humphrey Cobb’s novel about three French soldiers, portrayed on film by Joe Turkel, Ralph Meeker, and Timothy Carey, on trial for cowardice during World War I, the film established Stanley Kubrick as an influential director. Adapted by Kubrick, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson, the screenplay chillingly spotlights the arrogance and incompetence of military leaders, three of which are portrayed by Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, and Wayne Morris. Though decidedly antiwar, the film does not espouse pacifism, exemplifying this contradiction in the character passionately portrayed by Kirk Douglas as the officer defending the unjustly charged soldiers.
Franklin Schaffner directed one of Hollywood’s most enduring screen biographies, brought to life with great flair by George C. Scott as the larger-than-life World War II general whose personality dictated history. The screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North depicts Patton as both megalomaniac and genius, occasionally even sympathetic. Karl Malden is memorable as General Omar Bradley. The film won several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for Scott, which he famously refused to accept. Movie poster
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“The Pawnbroker” was the first Hollywood film to depict in a realistic, psychologically probing manner the trauma of a Holocaust survivor, a subject previously taboo because of the fear of poor box office or offending delicate sensitivities. Rod Steiger’s astounding performance — as he tries to repress his memories of the anguish, physical and emotional shame of being an internment-camp inmate — also serves a perfect allegory for American film’s own struggles to represent this major tragedy of 20th century history. Expanded essay by Annette Insdorf
Based on the tragic novella “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck, who also co-wrote the screenplay, this film adaptation is considered a landmark among English-language films released for Hispanic audiences in the United States. Directed by Emilio Fernández with award-winning black-and-white cinematography by Gabriel Figueroa, the film tells the tale of a poor Mexican fishing family whose lives are altered when the patriarch finds a perfect pearl. It was acclaimed by critics and film festivals upon its original release.
Director Randal Kleiser crafted this renowned, extremely moving student film while at the University of Southern California. Members of a family visit their blind, dying grandmother Peege at a nursing home, but leave in despair at her condition. Remaining behind, the grandson recounts memories to Peege and manages to connect emotionally with the lonely woman and bring a smile to her face.
“The Perils of Pauline” was among the first American movie serials. Produced in 20 episodes, in a groundbreaking long-form motion-picture narrative structure, the series starred Pearl White as a young and wealthy heiress whose ingenuity, self-reliance and pluck enable her to regularly outwit a guardian intent on stealing her fortune. The film became an international hit and spawned a succession of elaborate American adventure serial productions that persisted until the advent of regularly scheduled television programs in the 1950s. Although now regarded as a satirical cliché of the movie industry, “Perils of Pauline” in its day inspired a generation of women on the verge of gaining the right to vote in America by showing actress Pearl White performing her own stunts and overcoming a persistent male enemy.
J.M. Barrie was understandably leery of Hollywood, particularly after Cecil B. DeMille rather flamboyantly adapted his play “The Admirable Crichton” for the film “Male and Female” . When Paramount wanted to film “Peter Pan” five years later, Barrie insisted on the right to veto the director and star; however, he was extremely pleased with the choice of Herbert Brenon and Betty Bronson, and publicly expressed his appreciation of their work. “Peter Pan” remains one of the silent era’s most successful fantasies, notable not only for Bronson’s exquisitely stylized performance as Peter, but also for its elaborate settings and special effects. The film was an enormous success, which prompted Paramount to approach Barrie to film “A Kiss for Cinderella” for the following year’s Christmas release with the same team.
When escaped prisoner Erik , also known as the elusive phantom of the Paris Opera House, becomes obsessed with an up-and-coming singer named Christine Daaé , he kidnaps her and threatens the lives of her lover, Raoul , and the other men who come to rescue her. Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, “The Phantom of the Opera” is a classic horror film released by Universal, the studio that would go on to dominate the horror and “monster-movie” market during the sound era. The production and distribution process for “The Phantom of the Opera” was complicated and involved multiple directors, multiple reshoots, multiple script rewrites, shooting some sequences in two-strip Technicolor, and building a huge Paris Opera House set on the Universal backlot. Particularly impressive was Lon Chaney’s makeup, which he applied himself and kept a secret from the cast and crew until the actual filming. Even today, the exact techniques Chaney used to create Erik’s appearance are unknown.
Film noir comes to Alabama in this ripped-from-the-headlines tale in a film based on notorious real-life 1954 events, Albert Patterson is an attorney trying to clean up his mob-controlled town — Phenix City, aka “Sin City, U.S.A.” — and is killed while running for state attorney general. Tight, tense and graphic for all 100 of its minutes, the film has been lauded for being both stylish and for its semi-documentary style. Noted B-movie director Phil Karlson crafted this low-budget, violent shocker, using innovative camera work, which unnerved audiences not accustomed to seeing so much on-screen violence. In real life, the infamous murder quickly led the state to break up the crime syndicate, and Patterson’s son eventually became state attorney general and the governor of Alabama. The 87-minute film was also released in a longer version, which included a 13-minute newsreel.
On the eve of her marriage to an uninteresting man , a headstrong socialite exchanges verbal barbs with her charming ex-husband , may have compromised her honor while under the influence of champagne, and flirts outrageously with the handsome reporter who has crashed the society event of the season. George Cukor elegantly directs Donald Ogden Stewart’s Oscar-winning adaptation of the Philip Barry play in which Hepburn had starred on Broadway.
Samuel Fuller’s films are sometimes compared to the pulp novels of Mickey Spillane, though Fuller’s dynamic style dwarfs Spillane. With films often crass but always provocative, Fuller described his mantra of filmmaking: “Film is like a battleground, with love, hate, action, violence, death … in one word, emotion.” Considered by some as the archetypal Sam Fuller film and a nice summary of the main themes in his work, “Pickup on South Street” is a taut, Cold War thriller. The fast-paced plot follows a professional pickpocket who accidently lifts some secret microfilm from his mark. Patriotism or profit? Soon, the thief is being pursued not only by the woman he stole from, but also by Communist spies and U.S. government agents. The film culminates in a landmark brutal subway-based fight scene. It is arguably the classic anti-Communist film of the 1950s and a dazzling display of the seedy New York underlife. In particular, Thelma Ritter’s excellent tough-yet-nuanced performance as Moe Williams stands out and earned her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress, which was highly unusual for what was considered at the time a lurid and violent B-movie.
The first film to co-star Doris Day and Rock Hudson, “Pillow Talk” remains one of the screen’s most definitive, influential and timeless romantic comedies. Sweet and sophisticated, it is a time capsule of 1950s America. Two single New Yorkers develop an anonymous, antagonistic relationship by sharing a telephone “party line.” Both romance and complications ensue when they finally meet in person. The film is a perfect showcase for its two charismatic stars, especially the effervescent Day who demonstrates why she was both America’s Sweetheart and one of cinema’s finest comediennes. Expanded essay by Matthew Kennedy
The movie poster tells the story: drag icon Divine, resplendent in a red gown, hair and makeup at glorious extremes, perched on a cloud and brandishing a pistol, beneath the tagline “An Exercise in Poor Taste.” Baltimore favorite son John Waters’ delirious fantasia centers on the search for the “filthiest person alive” and succeeds, but not before having a lot of outrageous fun along the way. This cult classic has been embraced by a generation of filmmakers and is considered a landmark in queer cinema.
This comic masterpiece by Blake Edwards introduced both the animated Pink Panther character in the film’s opening-and-closing credit sequences, and actor Peter Sellers in his most renowned comic role as the inept Inspector Clouseau. The influence of the great comics of the silent era on Edwards and Sellers is apparent throughout the film, which is recognized for its enduring popularity. The musical score composed by Henry Mancini is also memorable. In addition to Sellers, the cast includes David Niven and Robert Wagner as a suave uncle and nephew both trying to steal the famed “Pink Panter” diamond. Capucine plays Mrs. Clouseau, who dallies with both uncle and nephew, and Claudia Cardinale is a princess and owner of the illustrious gemstone.
Based on stories by 19th century Italian author Carlo Collodi, this animated Disney classic tells the tale of gentle woodcarver Geppetto who builds a marionette to be his substitute son. The puppet Pinocchio must earn the right to be made human by proving that he is brave, truthful, and unselfish. On his journey to becoming a real boy, Pinocchio encounters Jiminy , a cricket assigned to be Pinocchio’s conscience, eventually mastering his lying and truancy, and selflessly risking his life to save Geppetto, proving himself worthy of becoming human. One of the film’s most lasting contributions is Edwards’ singing of Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s “When You Wish Upon a Star,” a tune that would become the Disney anthem. Expanded essay by J.B. Kaufman Additional image here and here
Loosely based on the 1925 novel “An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser, the film tells the story of a working-class young man who becomes involved with two women: one who works in his wealthy uncle’s factory and the other a beautiful socialite , with eventually tragic consequences. Directed by George Stevens from a screenplay by Harry Brown and Michael Wilson, it was a critical and commercial success, winning six Academy Awards. Modern audiences have not been as impressed with the production, aside from the performances of the lead actors, finding it slow-paced and lacking in depth or social relevance. Movie poster
Franklin J. Schaffner directed this adaptation of Pierre Boule’s sci-fi novel about a society ruled by a race of highly civilized apes. Charlton Heston portrays an astronaut who crashes on a strange planet where inarticulate humans are kept penned-up and creatures that look like oversized chimpanzees and talk like men and women run the world. Heston’s life is in danger when ape leader Maurice Evans discovers he can speak, but sympathetic ape scientists Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter risk their own safety by protecting him. Scripted by Michael Wilson and “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling, the film won a special Academy Award for John Chambers’s simian makeup, and spawned four successful sequels and two TV series. Expanded essay by John Wills
Eschewing the rah-rah fiction of many Hollywood war movies, always-fearless director Oliver Stone created “Platoon” based upon his own experiences in Vietnam. Stone intended the film to show the malignancy of war and to serve as an important counterpoint to earlier heroic depictions of the Vietnam conflict, most notably John Wayne’s “The Green Berets.” Actor Charlie Sheen stands in for the real-life Stone, ably assisted by a cast including Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe. The memorable soundtrack features visceral, haunting use of Samuel Barber’s elegiac “Adagio for Strings.”
The San Antonio barrio in the early 1970s is the setting for writer, director and star Efraín Gutiérrez’s independent piece, considered by historians to be the first Chicano feature film. A self-taught filmmaker, Gutiérrez not only created the film from top to bottom on a shoestring, he also acted as its initial distributor and chief promoter, negotiating bookings throughout the Southwest where it filled theaters in Chicano neighborhoods. He tells his story in the turbulent days near the end of the Vietnam War, as a young Chicano man questioning his and his people’s place in society as thousands of his Latino brethren return from the war in coffins. Chon Noriega, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, wrote, “The film is important as an instance of regional filmmaking, as a bicultural and bilingual narrative, and as a precedent that expanded the way that films got made. …” Cultural historians often compare Gutiérrez to Oscar Micheaux, the pioneering African-American filmmaker who came to prominence in the 1920s.
Pare Lorentz, a film critic in his early career, wrote and directed this short documentary illustrating the result of out of control agricultural development which contributed to the Dust Bowl. Lorentz was hired as a consultant for the Resettlement Administration, a New Deal program to document conditions and educate the public. Lorentz exceeded the agency’s budget by several times in creating a picture that audiences would find both artistically and thematically compelling. Few theater chose to screen the film initially, but after greater promotion by the administration and Lorentz himself, “The Plow That Broke the Plains” was generally well received. Its impact on farming practices may be difficult to gauge, but it unquestionably impacted John Ford in his film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” Expanded essay by Dr. Robert J. Snyder
If ever there is a Mount Rushmore for tough guys, the face of Lee Marvin should be sculpted there in bold relief. He definitely upholds that reputation in the relentless crime drama “Point Blank.” Based on a novel by Donald Westlake , this tense, stylish thriller from director John Boorman opens with Walker getting double-crossed by mobster friend John Vernon while conducting a crime on Alcatraz Island. Shot, left for dead, and now missing $93,000, Marvin soon learns that his wife was also romantically involved with Vernon. Writing for Slant in 2003, critic Nick Schager frames the film as a reworking of traditional noir: “Boorman set out to make a thriller that looked and felt like nothing else before it, using widescreen Panavision cinematography, explosive colors, and a multi-layered soundtrack to re-envision the noir picture as highbrow Euro-art film.” “Point Blank” has come to be recognized as a seminal film of the 1960s.
Emile de Antonio produced and directed this documentary that explores the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings that sought to unveil Communists in the armed forces and other government agencies. What the film unveils is Senator Joseph McCarthy’s duplicitous and pompous nature and a case lacking substance and based in conjecture and obfuscation.
In this film directed by Maurice Tourneur from a script by Frances Marion, Mary Pickford portrays a waif neglected by her parents. Expanded essay by Eileen Whitfield
Wildly popular during the 1930s, Popeye’s impact was matched only by Mickey Mouse, his chief rival for cartoon supremacy. This classic by renowned animators Max and Dave Fleischer features lush three-dimensional sets, Technicolor, and was twice the length of normal eight-minute cartoons.
Composer George Gershwin considered his masterpiece “Porgy and Bess” to be a “folk opera.” Gershwin’s score reflected traditional songs he encountered in visits to Charleston, S.C., and in Gullah revival meetings he attended on nearby James Island. Controversy has stalked the production history of the opera that Gershwin created with DuBose Heyward, who had written the original novel and play and penned lyrics with Gershwin’s brother Ira. The lavish film version was produced in the late 1950s as the civil rights movement gained momentum and a number of African-American actors turned down roles they considered demeaning. Harry Belafonte, who refused the part of Porgy, explained, “in this period of our social development, I doubt that it is healthy to expose certain images of the Negro. In a period of calm, perhaps this picture could be viewed historically.” Dissension also resulted when producer Samuel Goldwyn dismissed Rouben Mamoulian, who had directed the play and musical on Broadway, and replaced him with Otto Preminger. Produced in Todd-AO, a state-of-the-art widescreen and stereophonic sound recording process, with an all-star cast that included Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll, “Porgy and Bess,” now considered an “overlooked American masterpiece” by one contemporary scholar, rarely has been screened in the ensuing years. Expanded essay by Foster Hirsch
Produced by Warner Bros. as part of its Looney Tunes cartoon series, this black-and-white short film supervised by Bob Clampett is a surreal adventure inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Porky Pig — voiced by Mel Blanc — stars as an explorer who goes to Darkest Africa to hunt the rare do-do bird, a trickster who endlessly alludes and exasperates Porky. Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin called the film an “eye-popping tribute to the unlimited horizons of the animated cartoon.” It was remade in Technicolor in 1949 as “Dough for the Do-Do.”
In one of the first LGBT films widely accepted by general audiences, Shirley Clarke explored the blurred lines between fact and fiction, allowing her subject, Jason Holliday , a gay hustler and nightclub entertainer, to talk about his life with candor, pathos and humor in one 12-hour shoot. Clarke originally envisioned Jason as the only character, but she subsequently revealed: “When I saw the rushes I knew the real story of what happened that night in my living room had to include all of us , and so our question-reaction probes, our irritations and angers, as well as our laughter remain part of the film.” Bosley Crowther of “The New York Times” described it as a “curious and fascinating example of cinéma vérité, all the ramifications of which cannot be immediately known.” Legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman called it “the most extraordinary film I’ve seen in my life.” Thought to have been lost, a 16 mm print of the film was discovered at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research in 2013 and has since been restored by the Academy Film Archive, Milestone Films and Modern Videofilm.
Dexterous newspaper yarn features Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as a reporter investigating a murder. When he discovers rampant political chicanery afoot, what’s a clever young Capra hero to do? Expose the corruption, of course, and set his hometown right.
Preston Sturges’ first original screenplay, “The Power and the Glory,” is a haunting tragedy in sharp contrast to the comedies of the 1940s that established him as one of America’s foremost writer-directors. Contrary to common practice of the time, Sturges wrote the film as a complete shooting script, which producer Jesse L. Lasky, believing it “the most perfect script I’d ever seen,” ordered director William K. Howard to film as written. Compared favorably to novels by Henry James and Joseph Conrad for its extensive mix of narration with dramatic action , “The Power and the Glory” introduced a non-chronological structure to mainstream movies that was said to influence “Citizen Kane.” Like that film, “The Power and the Glory” presents a fragmented rags-to-riches tale of an American industrial magnate that begins with his death, in this case a suicide, and sensitively proceeds to produce a deeply affecting, morally ambivalent portrayal. The Nation magazine called Spencer Tracy’s performance in the lead role “one of the fullest characterizations ever achieved on screen.” Expanded essay by Aubrey Solomon
In some ways as much a math exercise as an avant-garde film, “Powers of Ten” was produced by visionary design duo Charles and Ray Eames. Their short film makes excellent use of the film medium to convey concepts of scale, time and distance. Beginning with the shot of a young couple enjoying a picnic, an overhead camera, positioned one meter from its subject, slowly begins to withdraw in increments of 10 x 10—10 meters every 10 seconds. With time, the couple becomes just specs in the distance as they are dwarfed first by their neighborhood, then their city, then their continent, and then the planet. The film later reverses and zooms in, eventually reaching the molecular level. Billed at the beginning as “a film about the relative size of things in the universe,” at the conclusion of its nine minutes, “Powers of Ten” has revealed the world simultaneously as both a very big and very small place. Expanded essay by Eric Schuldenfrei
Produced by Chuck Workman to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America, this dizzying compilation celebrates the first eight decades of American cinema to dazzling effect. Workman, best known for his Academy Awards broadcast montages, rolls out nearly 500 clips from films dating back to1903 in the space of seven short minutes to create one of the most influential and widely shown short films in history. Expanded essay by Dale Hudson and Patricia R. Zimmermann
Presented without subtitles, “Preservation” is a short, one-reel film featuring George Veditz, onetime president of the National Association of the Deaf of the United States, demonstrating in sign language the importance of defending the right of deaf people to sign as opposed to verbalizing their communication. Deafened by scarlet fever at the age of eight, Veditz was one of the first to make motion-picture recordings of American Sign Language. Taking care to sign precisely and in large gestures for the cameras, Veditz chose fiery biblical passages to give his speech emotional impact. In some of his films, Veditz used finger spelling so his gestures could be translated directly into English in venues where interpreters were present. On behalf of the NAD, Veditz made this film specifically to record sign language for posterity at a time when oralists were gaining momentum in the education of the hearing-impaired. The film conveys one of the ways that deaf Americans debated the issues of their language and public understanding during the era of World War I. Expanded essay by Christopher Shea Watch it here
Two separate short bits of film comprise “President McKinley Inauguration Footage, and the material presents a unique look at one of the seminal events of turn-of-the-20th-Century political history. Expanded essay by Charles “Buckey” Grimm
Produced by Robert Drew, shot by Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles, and edited by D. A. Pennebaker, “Primary” charted new territory in documentary film making. Using lighter, more mobile cameras and sound equipment, the filmmakers achieved greater intimacy with their subjects, following on their heels as the candidates wound through packed crowds and hovering like gnats to capture their more private moments. Modern political and news reporting owes much to the audacity of this film’s invasive technique.
The 1980s produced many feel-good movies and “The Princess Bride” is one of the decade’s most beloved. Adapting his popular 1973 novel for the screen, William Goldman collaborated with director Rob Reiner to craft a lighthearted parody of classic fairy tales that retains the writer’s wit and memorable characters, and adds bravura performances and a barrage of oft-quoted dialog. It is a joyride filled with assorted storybook figures like the beautiful title character , her dashing true love , makers of magic spells and a rhyming colossus . As the devious Vizzini, Wallace Shawn incredulously exclaims “Inconceivable!” at every turn. Swashbuckling Mandy Patinkin dreams of avenging family honor and someday declaring, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” The film continues to delight audiences, drawing new generations of fans.
This tale of a tormented smoker, in which fairies bedevil a man’s attempt to light his pipe, was the most celebrated special effects film of its day. Trick films were a specialty of the New York-based Vitagraph Company, then America’s leading film producer, and many were inspired by Georges Méliès’s pioneering French fantasies. Director J. Stuart Blackton used double exposure, stop-motion animation and parlor tricks that literally relied on smoke and mirrors to create his fantasy tour de force. Expanded essay by Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
A romantic adventure from David O. Selznick, “The Prisoner of Zenda” harkens back to a time of chivalry and swordplay. Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel served as the basis for this and as many as five other filmed interpretations. When an Englishman tours a small kingdom he is discovered to bear a striking resemblance to that country’s royal family, placing Colman in a dual role amid a tangled tale of mistaken identity. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. portrays the scoundrel bent on exposing the charade. Madeleine Carroll is the king’s regal fiance, and Raymond Massey plays the king’s evil brother. Selznick banked on the film’s escapist charm and capitalized on the world’s fascination with the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII of England, who gave up his throne to marry a commoner. His instinct proved right and the production was a box-office success. Movie poster
In a broad comedic style with which he would become associated, Mel Brooks began his directorial career with this satire of backstage Broadway. Zero Mostel plays a down-on-his-luck producer and Gene Wilder is the neurotically nerdy accountant with whom he schemes to make a fortune. By severely overfinancing a show that’s sure to flop, the partners avoid repaying the backers — little old ladies Mostel’s conned into backing the show. All goes awry when the show is a hit. Brooks tempers the over-the-top gags and stereotypical characters with a touch of sweetness to give the audience an entertaining ride. Expanded essay by Brian Scott Mednick
Suspensefull thriller by Alfred Hitchcock shocked audiences when it was released, and still manages to terrify viewers more than 50 years later. The film boosted the career of Anthony Perkins as the creepy Norman Bates, but subsequently stereotyped him as the damaged outsider. Portraying the doomed Marion Crane, Janet Leigh fared better, though she was constantly overshadowed by her role in the film and her experience with Hitchcock. The Bernard Herrmann score, rich with discordant strings, is spine-tinglingly unforgettable. Expanded essay by Charles Taylor Movie still
Raw and brutal, this crime saga – one of the earliest sound examples by Warner Bros. , the studio known for its gritty tales of the street – features James Cagney in an incendiary star-making portrayal of a two-bit bootlegger and his rise to the top amid gang warfare. Director William Wellman infuses the film with fierce machismo, witness the now-famous grapefruit-in-the-face scene . Jean Harlow as Cagney’s moll gives viewers little indication of the superstar she’d become in a few short years.
This adroit parody of the beat generation was written by the man who invented the ’50s zeitgeist: Jack Kerouac. Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s nonsense comedy blends improvisation and careful construction so well that more than a few serious commentators took the film for pure slice-of-life naturalism—and were properly offended.
By turns utterly derivative and audaciously original, Quentin Tarantino’s mordantly wicked Möbius strip of a movie influenced a generation of filmmakers and stands as a milestone in the evolution of independent cinema in the United States, making it one of the few films on the National Film Registry as notable for its lasting impact on the film industry as its considerable artistic merits. Directed by Tarantino from his profane and poetic script, “Pulp Fiction” is a beautifully composed tour-de-force, combining narrative elements of hardboiled crime novels and film noir with the bright widescreen visuals of Sergio Leone. The impact is profound and unforgettable. Expanded essay by Jami Bernard
Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard – better known as the Three Stooges – reached their cinema heyday at Columbia Pictures between 1933 and 1959, following a career in vaudeville starting in 1925 as Ted Healy and His Stooges. “Punch Drunks,” the second of nearly 200 short subjects in which the team starred, is one of the few scripted solely by the trio. It finds the boys in the world of professional boxing with Moe and Larry attempting to turn waiter Curly into a heavyweight champ. The boxing ring proved the perfect background for the Stooges’ trademark super violent, cartoonlike slapstick.
“Pups is Pups” expertly combines slapstick, verbal humor and pathos in one neat, entertaining package. In this the 100th entry in the “Our Gang” series of short subjects, and the 12th talking installment, the little rascals systematically wreack havoc at a fancy pet show when they bring in their own menagerie of mice, pigs, goats and toads. This was the first “Our Gang” comedy to utilize the jazzy background music of LeRoy Shield for which the Hal Roach Studio, and most notably Laurel and Hardy, became known. Expanded essay by Randy Skretvedt
By 1984, Prince was already being hailed by critics and fans as one of the greatest musical geniuses of his generation. This post-modern musical secured his place as a movie star and entertainment legend. Largely autobiographical, “Purple Rain” showcased the late, great showman as a young Minneapolis musician struggling to bring his revolutionary brand of provocative funk rock to the masses. The film’s soundtrack includes such decade-defining tracks as “When Doves Cry” and the title song. The film’s multi-platinum soundtrack previously was named to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
When writer-director Robert Downey Sr.’s surrealistic satire of Madison Avenue and black power, “Putney Swope,” opened in July 1969, New York Times critic Vincent Canby characterized it as “funny, sophomoric, brilliant, obscene, disjointed, marvelous, unintelligible and relevant,” while New York Daily News reviewer Wanda Hale damned it as “the most offensive picture I’ve ever seen.” A cult classic from an earlier time, Downey’s wildly irreverent underground breakout film presents hilarious vignettes of an ad agency takeover by black nationalists. Although noting that power ultimately corrupts the militants, Henry Louis Gates Jr. reminisced that he and fellow black students at Yale loved the film as a utopian fantasy that offered them a realistic path—infiltration, then transformation—for social change.
Sally Cruikshank’s wildly imaginative tale of odd creatures visiting a psychedelic amusement park careens creatively from strange to truly wacky scenes. It became a favorite of the Midnight Movie circuit in the 1970s. Influenced by the animation produced by the Fleischer Studios and the Van Beuren Studios, as well as the early work of Bob Clampett, Cruikshank spent more than two years working on the 10-minute “Quasi.” She later created animation sequences for “Sesame Street,” the 1986 film “Ruthless People” and the “Cartoon Land” sequence in the 1983 film “Twilight Zone: The Movie.”
Never one to shy away from sentiment, director John Ford infused “The Quiet Man” with unadulterated adulation of his Irish heritage and the grandeur of the Emerald Isle. Red hair ablaze against lush landscapes, Maureen O’Hara embodies the mystique of Ireland, as John Wayne personifies the indefatigable American searching for his ancestral roots, with Victor Young’s jovial score punctuating their escapades. The film and the locale are populated with characters bordering on caricature. Sly, whiskey-loving matchmaker Michaleen O’Flynn , the burly town bully Will Danaher and the put-upon but patient Widow Tillane are the most vivid. Beautifully photographed in rich, saturated Technicolor by Winton C. Hoch, with picturesque art direction by Frank Hotaling, “The Quiet Man” has become a perennial St. Patrick’s Day television favorite. Expanded essay by Scott Allen Nollen
Hard hitting is the character, hard hitting is the film. Martin Scorsese painted a visceral portrait of prizefighter Jake LaMotta, and Robert DeNiro fleshed out that portrait, literally and figuratively. DeNiro famously gained 60 lbs. for the role, donned a prosthetic nose and walked away with an Academy Award. DeNiro adroitly captures the fighter’s success in the ring and contrasts it to a personal life full of rage, jealousy, and suspicion which ultimately left LaMotta destitute, alone, and seeking redemption. Scorsese’s vision is expertly executed by Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing of cinematographer Michael Chapman’s footage. Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarity give Oscar-nominated performances. Expanded essay by Jami Bernard Movie poster
Indiana “Indy” Jones is no ordinary archeologist, whether he’s in a Peruvian jungle searching for a solid gold idol or on a quest to keep the Ark of the Covenant out of the hands of the Nazis, who believe it will make them invincible. When Indy seeks out an old friend to aid in his quest, he’s reunited with the man’s daughter, Marion , with whom Indy was once involved, and the two become partners in one action-packed adventure after another. A joint project of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, the script was co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman, among others, and spawned three sequels.
Model film adaptation of Lorraine Hansbury’s classic play about a black lower middle class family. The legendary cast is a veritable who’s who of the civil rights era: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil and Ruby Dee.
Before gaining stardom a few years later in the TV series “Ugly Betty,” 18-year-old America Ferrera made her film debut and gained notice from critics in this coming-of-age tale as an impossible-to-resist Latina teen trying to fulfill her dreams while navigating the transition to adulthood. Charming and funny, the film avoids heavy-handedness by taking a refreshingly subtle look at themes including mother-daughter relationships, the immigrant experience, the perception of feminine beauty and body standards.
Alfred Hitchcock’s study in voyeurism tantalizes and teases the viewer much as the plot twists intrigue the film’s protagonist. Hitchcock’s story comes from a Cornell Woolrich story as adapted by John Michael Hayes. Laid up with a broken leg, photojournalist L.B. Jeffries is confined to his tiny, sweltering courtyard apartment. To pass the time between visits from his nurse and his fashion model girlfriend , the binocular-wielding Jeffries stares through the rear window of his apartment at the goings-on in the other apartments around his courtyard. Of particular interest is seemingly bland travelling salesman and his nagging, invalid wife. When the couple’s bickering comes to an abrupt halt, Jeffries begins to suspect that the salesman has murdered his wife and disposed of her body. Expanded essay by John Belton Movie poster
“Rebecca,” Daphne du Maurier’s most famous book , found its perfect cinematic interpreter in Alfred Hitchcock, here directing his first American motion picture. Powerhouse producer David O. Selznick had just imported the “master of suspense” from his native England. Laurence Olivier stars as Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine in her breakthrough role co-stars as Maxim’s new wife. However, it is two other women who dominate the film—the intimidating housekeeper Mrs. Danvers and the film’s title woman, the deceased first Mrs. de Winter whose powerful shadow still hangs heavily over this great estate and all its inhabitants. Winner of the Oscar for best picture that year, “Rebecca” is stylish, suspenseful and a classic. Film poster
This portrait of youthful alienation spoke to a whole generation and remains wrenchingly powerful, despite some dated elements. The yearning for self-esteem, the parental conflict, the comfort found in friendships, all beautifully orchestrated by director Nicholas Ray, screenwriter Stewart Stern, and a fine cast. This was James Dean’s defining performance and an impressive showing for Sal Mineo. Expanded essay by Jay Carr
Renowned experimental filmmaker and theater/installation artist Janie Geiser’s work is known for its ambiguity, explorations of memory and emotional states and exceptional design. She describes “The Red Book” as “an elliptical, pictographic animated film that uses flat, painted figures and collage elements in both two and three dimensional settings to explore the realms of memory, language and identity from the point of view of a woman amnesiac.” Expanded essay by Holly Willis
This steamy pre-Production Code melodrama stars virile, tough guy Clark Gable as a Far East plantation owner who proves no match for Jean Harlow’s saucy incandescence. Her earthy, breathless dialogue serves to turn up the heat. The movie’s well-remembered humor, star chemistry and atmosphere owe much to underrated director Victor Fleming, who managed to inspire a superior performance from Harlow, who was coping with the suicide of her husband during the filming of “Red Dust.”
Director Howard Hawks’ second western was also his first collaboration with John Wayne. Based on Borden Chase’s novel “The Chisholm Trail,” the film stars Wayne as headstrong frontiersman Tom Dunson. On his way to seek his fortune in Texas, Dunson splits off from the wagon train with which he’d been traveling and leaves behind his fiancé. Not long afterward, Dunson and his companion, an old camp cook , see smoke on the horizon and turn back to find the travelers – including his fiancé – murdered in an Indian raid. The only survivor is a young boy, Matthew Garth , orphaned in the raid, and subsequently adopted by Dunson. In time, Dunson becomes the most powerful cattle baron in the territory, but adult Garth eventually rebels against Dunson’s tyranny and strikes out on his own away from his vengeful mentor. Garth, leading his own cattle drive, becomes Dunson’s most formidable rival. The film is distinguished by a stirring Dmitri Tiomkin score and black-and-white cinematography by Russell Harlan. The cast includes John Ireland, Joanne Dru, and both Harry Carey, Sr. and Harry Carey, Jr. Hawks reportedly spent $1 million over budget and several months over schedule, but the end result was a $4 million hit. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
The film’s director Raoul Walsh called “Regeneration” the first feature film about gangsters, although the crime-centric film deals more with individual spiritual growth and redeption and very little with organized gangs or kingpins. Adapted from an autobiography and subsequent play by a reformer named Owen Kildare, the film starred Rockcliffe Fellowes and seasoned actress Anna Q. Nilsson. It depicts an assortment of crimes, but shows the perpetrator to be more misguided than inherently evil. The triumph of filmmaker Walsh, who had worked with D.W. Griffith and reflected his influence, was its naturalistic edginess aided by masterful use of close ups. Expanded essay by Marilyn Ann Moss
Jonas Mekas’ “Reminiscences” is an elegiac diary film of a trip that he took back to his birthplace of Semeniskiai, Lithuania. In addition to his own exceptional body of avant-garde films, Mekas also is a legendary member of that community through his work as spokesperson, archivist and theoretician of the avant-garde movement. Often called the godfather of American experimental cinema, his writings in “Film Culture” and “The Village Voice” helped spur public interest. His founding of the Film-Makers Cooperative and the Anthology Film Archives also made avant-garde films more accessible and aided their preservation.
Paramount studio’s news division scooped other newsreel services with its footage of demonstrators marching toward a Chicago steel plant in confrontation with city police officers hired to keep the strikers away from plant. The clash escalated into what became known as the Memorial Day Massacre in which 10 demonstrators were killed and 60 were injured. The footage was initially kept out of theaters, and not released for more than a month following Congressional Civil Liberty hearings in which the footage was presented as evidence that police used excessive force against the strikers.
UCLA’s Ethno-Communications Program’s first collective student film had intended to capture the East Los Angeles Chicano Moratorium Against the War in Vietnam, Aug. 29, 1970, but the film turns into a requiem for slain journalist and movement icon, Ruben Salazar. The film shows footage of the march, the brutal police response and resulting chaos interspersed with scenes from the rather callous and superficial inquest. Filmmakers attached to the project have confirmed that the original elements for the film disappeared over 40 years ago. The UCLA Film and Television Archive has facilitated a 4k scan of the surviving faded 16mm print for preservation purposes and hopes to turn this provisional work into a full restoration effort.
The original “Star Wars” trilogy reached its first apex with this film, the third release in the “a galaxy far, far away” trifecta. Directed by Richard Marquand, from a story by, of course, George Lucas, “Jedi” launches Lucas’ original, legendary characters — Luke, Leia, Han Solo, C-3PO, R2-D2 and others — on a series of new adventures, which takes fans from the planet of Tatooine to the deep forests of Endor. Populated by intriguing new characters — including Ewoks and the gluttonous Jabba the Hutt — and filled with the series’ trademark humor, heart, thrills and chills, “Jedi,” though perhaps not quite up to the lofty standards of its two predecessors, still ranks as an unquestioned masterpiece of fantasy, adventure and wonder.
The debut feature of writer, director and editor John Sayles, this film exemplifies early “indy” films with their minimal budgets and fast shooting schedules. Sayls’ lack of funds and frills defines the feel of the film centered on a group of friends, anti-war demonstrators in the ’60s, who’ve matured in the decade following their activism. Some remain true to their principles, others sell out to conventional values. Its bare-bones structure accentuated by Altman-like editing and overlapping dialog, along with naturalistic acting by Sayles and David Strathairn among many others, and Sayles’ insightful script distinguish the film among other indies of its time.
In history, very few other stand-up stars had ever taken their comedy set to the big screen and presented themselves and their comedic vision so fully, so raw, so unadorned, or unedited. The great Richard Pryor did it four times. This riotous performance, recorded at the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach, California, is vintage Richard Pryor: shocking, thought-provoking, proudly un-PC and, undeniably hilarious. Already, a legend in the world of stand-up comedy, this film — as straightforward in its title as Pryor is in his delivery — cemented Pryor’s status as a comedian’s comedian and one of the most vital voices in the history of American humor.
Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott are aging gunfighters chaperoning a gold shipment to a mining town in director Sam Peckinpah’s western. One partner wants to deliver the gold safely and the other to steal it. On the way they meet a religious fanatic and his daughter Elsa , who is planning to elope with her boyfriend Billy . The next day, Elsa insists on joining up with the group so she can marry Billy at the mining town. Complications ensue, leading to a final shoot-out that allows McRea and Scott to reconcile their differences and pave the way for the film’s poignant finale. Expanded essay by Stephen Prince
At three hours and 13 minutes, Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s novel is an epic right out of the Golden Age of Hollywood, but thanks to its assortment of characters and human drama, it rarely drags. Director/screenwriter Kaufman ambitiously attempts to boldly go where few epics had gone before as he recounts the nascent Space Age. He takes elements of the traditional Western, mashes them up with sophisticated satire and peppers the concoction with the occasional subversive joke. As a result, Kaufman creates his own history, debunking a few myths as he creates new ones. At its heart, “The Right Stuff” is a tribute to the space program’s role in generating national pride and an indictment of media-fed hero worship. Remarkable aerial sequences and spot-on editing team up to deliver a movie that pushes the envelope.
Recently restored by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, this External of a circus parade in Indianapolis in 1902 accidentally provides a rare glimpse of a prosperous northern Black community at the turn of the century. African Americans rarely appear in films of that era, and then only in caricature or as mocking distortions through a white lens. Actuality films indelibly capture time and place , sometimes unexpectedly so as in this delightful gem.
As legend goes, this Western, directed by Howard Hawks, was produced in part as a riposte to Fred Zinnemann’s “High Noon.” The film trades in the wide-open spaces for the confines of a small jail where a sheriff and his deputies are waiting for the transfer of a prisoner and the anticipated attempt by his equally unlawful brother to break the prisoner out. John Wayne stars as sheriff John T. Chance and is aided in his efforts to keep the law by Walter Brennan, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. Angie Dickinson is the love interest and Western regulars Claude Akins, Ward Bond and Pedro Gonzalez are also featured. A smart Western where gunplay is matched by wordplay, “Rio Bravo” is a terrific ensemble piece and director Hawks’ last great film. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
Renowned stage actor Joseph Jefferson made a career of portraying Washington Irving’s mercurial title character beginning in the mid 1800s and by the 1890s was the most famous actor in America. Capitalizing on Jefferson’s success, Edison protege William K.L. Dickson filmed the actor in eight scenes from the fantasy tale set in New York’s Catskill Mountains. The scenes were available to exhibitors as individual films that could be shown together or separately in any order they chose. They proved so popular that the scenes were edited together as a single film released in 1903. The film’s success helped Dickson’s Biograph company, successor to his original American Mutoscope Company, the most popular studio in the country.
As he did with “The Plow That Broke the Plains,” Pare Lorentz infuses this short documentary about the Mississippi River with artistic and persuasive scenes intended to further the Roosevelt administration’s policies. The film portrayed the devastation caused by irresponsible farming and timber practices that caused massive erosion and pushed nearby residents to the brink of poverty. In the end, Lorentz presents the Tennessee Valley Authority as savior with its use of dams to prevent flooding and its advocacy for less damaging farming techniques. Audiences responded mostly favorably, though a number of viewers as well as most critics found its propagandistic approach often overshadowed its artistry. Expanded essay by Dr. Robert J. Snyder
Bing Crosby and Bob Hope reprise their earlier success with the third in their series of “Road” pictures. The hapless duo are castaways on a desert shore where they employ snappy dialog, asides to the camera, and a little song and dance as they woo Dorothy Lamour across the dunes, but not before encountering a spitting camel. Expanded essay by Richard Zoglin
This stirring tale of a million-to-one-shot underdog has become part of the American psyche. According to legend, Sylvester Stallone, then a down-on-his-luck actor, hurriedly wrote a brilliant script after watching the Muhammad Ali/Chuck Wepner fight. Stallone shopped the script to studios, who loved the plot but not Stallone’s take-it-or-leave-it demand that he star in the film. Eventually, Stallone and United Artists crafted a deal, and the film became a top-grossing cultural sensation in 1976. One of the truly iconic moments in American cinema is when Stallone runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the strains of Bill Conti’s pulsating score.
This low-budget cult classic centers on the misadventures of a young couple who find themselves inside a strange mansion when their car breaks down on a rainy night. There they encounter a wild party hosted by a lingerie-clad transvestite and mad scientist . Richard O’Brien wrote the catchy songs, with John Barry and Richard Hartley composing the score.
After decades of product ascendancy, American automakers began facing stiff commercial and design challenges in the late 1970s and 1980s from foreign automakers, especially the Japanese. Michael Moore’s controversial documentary chronicles the human toll and hemorrhaging of jobs caused by these upheavals, in this case the firing of 30,000 autoworkers by General Motors in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan. As a narrative structure, Moore uses a comic device sometimes found in political campaign commercials, weaving a message around trying to find the person responsible for a wrong, in this case General Motors Chairman Roger Smith. “Roger & Me” is take-no-prisoners, advocacy documentary filmmaking, and Moore makes no apologies for his brazen, in-your-face style—he would argue the situation demands it. The themes of unfairness, inequality and the unrealized attainment of the American Dream resonate to this day, while the consequences of ferocious auto-sector competition continue, playing a key long-term role in the city of Detroit’s recent filing for bankruptcy protection.
Audrey Hepburn, in the role that made her an overnight star at 24, sparkles as a waifish princess bored to tears of formal receptions and rehearsed speeches. During a state visit to Rome, she slips out of the palace to be among the real people – and falls in with an American reporter who realizes he’s stumbled into the scoop of the century. Directed by William Wyler from a story by then blacklisted and hence uncredited Dalton Trumbo, features a quick pace, light-hearted comedy and poignant scenes that utilize the smart script, Roman landmarks, and cast to the utmost advantage. Eddie Albert makes a major comedy contribution as Peck’s photographer buddy who secretly lenses the princess. The film was nominated for numerous Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and won Oscars for Hepburn, Trumbo’s screenplay and Edith Head’s costumes. Movie poster
Joseph Cornell, an artist in the “assemblage” movement, combined fragments of found objects into three-dimensional collages and encased them in glass boxes. An avid film buff, Cornell brought his passion for cinema to the assemblage movement by randomly splicing together found footage, including segments of a 1931 “B” picture titled “East of Borneo,” which starred, among others, actress Rose Hobart. Cornell created – without ever touching a camera – a 19-minute distillation that he would project at a slower speed and through a deep blue filter while playing a recording of Nestor Amaral’s “Holiday in Brazil.” The film premiered in December 1936 at the first Surrealist exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. A guest at the debut, Salvador Dalí became outraged, claiming the idea of merging collage and film as his own and deriding Cornell to “stick to making boxes” and give up films. Traumatized by the event, the reclusive Cornell rarely exhibited his films again, though he did continue to experiment with the medium until his death in 1972. Expanded essay by Holly Willis View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
With “Rosemary’s Baby,” writer-director Roman Polanski brought his expressive European style of psychological filmmaking to an intricately plotted, best-selling American novel by Ira Levin, and created a masterpiece of the horror-film genre. Set in the sprawling Dakota apartment building on New York’s Central Park West, the film conveys an increasing sense of unease, claustrophobia and paranoia as the central character, convincingly played by Mia Farrow in her first starring role, comes to believe that a cult of witches in the building is implementing a plot against her and her unborn child. The supporting cast that Polanski assembled—John Cassavetes as Rosemary’s husband, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer as their neighbors, and Ralph Bellamy as her doctor—portray believably banal New Yorkers who gain nearly total control over Rosemary’s daily life during her pregnancy. Insistent that “a thread of deliberate ambiguity runs throughout the film,” Polanski maintains that the film’s denouement can be understood in more than one way.
Charles Laughton, known for such serious roles as Nero, King Henry XIII and later as the 1935 Captain Bligh, takes on comedy in this tale of an English manservant won in a poker game by American Charlie Ruggles, a member of Red Gap, Washington’s extremely small social elite. Laughton, in understated valet fashion, worriedly responds: “North America, my lord. Quite an untamed country I understand.” However, once in America, he finds not uncouth backwoodsmen, but rather a more egalitarian society that soon has Laughton reciting the Gettysburg Address, catching the American spirit and becoming a successful businessman. Aided by comedy stalwarts ZaSu Pitts and Roland Young, Laughton really shows his acting range and pulls off comedy perfectly. It didn’t hurt that Leo McCarey, who had just worked with W.C. Fields and would next guide Harold Lloyd, was in the director’s chair. McCarey, who could pull heartstrings or touch funny bones with equal skill, started his long directorial career working with such comedy icons as Laurel & Hardy and created several beloved American films.
Director Wes Anderson’s film “Rushmore,” a work filled with incisive detail to pop sensitivities, remains a cultural milestone of Gen X and millennials. Geeky misfit Jason Schwartzman tries to escape the stigma of being wildly unpopular at Rushmore Academy by becoming the king of extracurricular activities, nearly flunking out in the process. He makes bizarre, unsuccessful attempts to woo elementary schoolteacher Olivia Williams and has a chaotic, up-and-down relationship with wealthy businessman-mentor Bill Murray. This was Anderson’s second film, following the unexpected success of his debut, “Bottle Rocket.” In a 1999 interview with the New York Times, Anderson and screenwriter Owen Wilson described their cinematic approach: “We’re interested in characters who have enthusiasm,” and “We wanted to have ‘Rushmore’ become its own slightly heightened reality, like a Roald Dahl children’s book.”
Billy Wilder directed this soufflé about a chauffeur’s daughter, Sabrina , pining for the family’s spoiled, womanizing younger son, David , who doesn’t even know she exists. Her father sends Sabrina to Paris to get over David, and when she returns as an elegant and sophisticated woman, David is quickly drawn to her. Older sibling Linus fears his brother’s interest in Sabrina may derail David’s upcoming marriage, the centerpiece of an advantageous corporate merger, so Linus jockeys to redirect Sabrina’s affection away from David and toward himself. His plan succeeds, but in the process, he falls for Sabrina. The story was adapted for the screen by Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor, and Ernest Lehman from Taylor’s play “Sabrina Fair.” Not one of Wilder’s most hilarious or thought-provoking, but still charming and entertaining.
“Safety Last” may be Harold Lloyd’s finest film, and from it comes the most recognizable image in silent comedy: the man dangling from a clock. Joining forces with Hal Roach in 1915, the former movie extras started a company to produce Lloyd’s films, and the comedian was soon the highest paid actor and biggest box-office draw. Bolstered by his success with a few early “thrill” shorts and inspired by a popular stunt performer known as “the human fly,” Lloyd was eager to make a feature-length film that would give audiences the same excitement. In the film, Lloyd’s country boy seeks fame and fortune in the big city and ends up as an unwitting human fly forced to scale a tall building. The studio built sets on the rooftops of several downtown Los Angeles buildings to enhance the illusion, although Lloyd still risked danger with his antics, thus delivering on his recipe for a successful thrill picture: “a laugh, a scream and a laugh.” Expanded essay by Richard W. Bann
As documentary filmmakers, Albert and David Maysles gravitated toward the fringes of society for their “cinema direct: nothing between us and the subject.” In this film, the brothers and frequent collaborator Charlotte Zwerin focus on a waning American phenomenon: the door-to-door salesman; specifically, four representatives of the Mid-American Bible Company. At the center is Paul “The Badger” Brennan who reflects on his career choice with the refrain of the pop tune “Is That All There Is?” New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby observed that the Maysles Brothers transcend superficiality with compassion by showing that “the salesmen are no less vulnerable than their customers.”
Before entering films in 1916, Alla Nazimova, who studied with Russian theatrical visionary Constantin Stanislavski, had already earned a reputation as an intensely dedicated, if unorthodox, stage performer. She starred in several successful film adaptations of literary classics, and in 1922, chose to produce Oscar Wilde’s sensational version of “Salomé,” starring as the 14-year-old stepdaughter of King Herod. The resulting product was one of the earliest examples of surrealism in film, thanks to highly-stylized sets and costumes by the flamboyant Natacha Rambova as well as its overtly theatrical and sexualized presentation. Expanded essay by Martin Turnbull
Inspired by an actual miners strike in New Mexico that lasted for more than a year, “Salt of the Earth” recounted major incidents in the strike. Its impact was most felt in its focus on discrimination against minorities and women. Miners’ wives had been instrumental in the strike, marching in picket lines and eventually going to jail. Produced by filmmakers who had been blacklisted in Hollywood for alleged Communist sympathies, the story was decidedly pro-union; consequently, few theater owners were willing to book it. It eventually debuted in New York City to mostly positive reviews, and found greater success in Europe. Its status has grown in subsequent decades, as has its influence on independent filmmakers.
International relief worker Ellen Bruno’s master’s thesis at Stanford University, “Samsara,” documents the struggle of the Cambodian people to rebuild a shattered society in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s killing fields. “Samsara” is a Sanskrit term that literally means “circle” or “wheel,” and is commonly translated as “cycle of existence.” Bruno fleshes out this concept by using ancient Buddhist teachings and folklore to provide a context for Cambodia’s struggle. Described as poetic, heartbreaking and evocative, the film brings a humanistic perspective to the political chaos of Southeast Asia with a deliberate, reflective and sometimes dreamlike pace as it intertwines the mundane realities of daily life with the spiritual beliefs of the Khmer people. One reviewer reflected, “The meditative pacing, the rhythm of bells and chimes, the luxuriant green landscape, the otherworldly response to horrific recent history—I was transported not just to a faraway place but to an altered consciousness.”
This film shows the aftermath of the 8.3 magnitude 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the devastation resulting from the subsequent three-day fire that erupted amidst collapsed buildings and broken water mains. Each scene in the film is preceded by a title, and many of the titles overdramatized and sentimentalized on-screen events such as “At mealtimes, when there was food to be had, troubles were banished.” Some scenes were almost certainly staged for the camera as the final montage of actual footage, fabricated scenes and titles was released at least a month after the event.
Young Brooklynite Tony Manero has a dead-end job and lives at home with his parents but escapes his tedious existence each night on the disco dance floor where he reigns supreme. As the soundtrack plays one Bee Gees hit after another , we watch white-suited Tony strut his stuff amidst flashing lights and pulsating bodies. Tony’s class aspirations are reflected in his relationship with his dance partner, Stephanie , a secretary struggling to make it to the dazzling splendor of Manhattan. Travolta graduated from a minor television presence to a superstar with this film. This crossover between music and movies set the pace for many films to follow. Movie poster
Through the years, Hollywood’s take on war, honor and heroism has taken many conflicting forms. “Saving Private Ryan” drops ordinary soldiers into a near-impossible rescue mission set amid the carnage of World War II’s Omaha Beach landing. The film’s beginning scenes vividly show us “war is hell,” as William T. Sherman said. Spielberg conveyed ultra-realism with harrowing intensity. “Omaha Beach was actually an ‘X’ setting,” says Spielberg, “even worse than ‘NC-17,’ and I just kind of feel that to tell the truth about this war at the end of the century, 54 years later. I wasn’t going to add my film to a long list of pictures that make World War II ‘the glamorous war,’ ‘the romantic war.'”
Howard Hawks’s 1932 masterpiece is a dark, brutally violent film depicting the horror of mob intimidation. Paul Muni gives his best performance as the thug Tony Camonte, who gradually insinuates himself as the leader of a small ring of hoods, wooing away the boss’s girl and further terrorizing his rivals with the latest in gang warfare, the tommy gun. But as Tony’s thirst for power grows, so does his recklessness and temper, increasing his already frightening obsession with protecting his sister as well as sending him on a collision course with the law that won’t end with a clean getaway. Hawks reverses the usual structure of the gangster tragedy: Camonte’s not driven by his ego to challenge the world so much as to embrace its natural chaos and violence. The supporting actors include Osgood Perkins, Boris Karloff, Vince Barnett, and George Raft .
Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg’s film stars Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland hoping to benefit financially from the Nazis’ rise to power. Schindler staffs his manufacturing plant with unpaid Jewish workers, including Itzhak Stern who Schindler brings in to help run the factory. As conditions under the Nazis worsen for the workers, Schindler’s humanity eventually shines through and he bribes the Nazis to keep his workers out of the death camps. By the time Germany falls, Schindler has saved 1,100 people from likely death. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture and Best Director for Spielberg. Expanded essay by Jay Carr
Helen Hill’s student film was made at the California Institute of the Arts. Consistent with the short films she made from age 11 until her death at 36, this animated short work is filled with vivid color and a light sense of humor. It is also a poetic and spiritual homage to animals and the human soul. This External (and others by External is viewable online courtesy of Paul Gailiunas.
Considered by many to be John Ford’s best film, it is equal parts majestic spectacle and soul-searching moral examination that anticipated the complex themes and characters that would dominate films of the 1970s. John Wayne, a Confederate soldier, returns after the war to find his niece has been kidnapped by Comanches and sets out to find her – not to rescue her, but to destroy what he sees as a creature no longer human. Is the film intended to endorse the racist attitudes of the main character , or to dramatize and regret them? Today we see it through enlightened eyes, but in 1956 many audiences accepted its harsh view of Indians. “New York” magazine called it the most influential movie in American history. Expanded essay by Scott Allen Nollen
Gary Cooper, in one of his favorite roles, won his first Oscar for his dead-on portrayal of Tennessee pacifist Sgt. Alvin York who, in an Argonne Forest World War I battle, single-handedly captured more than 130 German soldiers. A stirring bit of Americana, which appeared six months before America entered World War II as a nation and inspired Americans through the later conflict, “Sergeant York” contains three main segments all masterfully directed by Howard Hawks: York’s life in Tennessee, the war scenes, and post-war scenes in New York City where his newfound fame briefly tempts York not to return to his Tennessee home. Expanded essay by Donna Ross
Two staples of 1960s cinema—evil organizations and the wasteland of suburbia—combine to drive this sinister tale about the perils of seeking a second chance, a life do-over. Bored with his banal marriage and unexciting daily grind, banker John Randolph meets the representative for a mysterious company offering the “too-good-to-be-true” opportunity to erase his current Scarsdale existence for a makeover in the guise of Malibu painter Rock Hudson. Headed by grandfatherly scion Will Geer and master-of-the-hard-sell executive Jeff Corey, “The Company” takes care of everything surrounding Randolph with business reps and human “seconds,” in order to smooth his transition to a new life and keep him from spilling the lucrative-but-dark corporate secret. His new identify seems idyllic, but Randolph chafes with unease and demands a return to his now fondly remembered past average life. With no intention of imperiling its advertising message and humming assembly-line template for reborn humans, the company has a “third chance” plan in mind for Randolph: he learns “you can’t go home again,” in the wry words of a New York Times reviewer quoting Thomas Wolfe. Director John Frankenheimer crafts a memorably creepy sense of foreboding in “Seconds,” aided immensely by the black-and-white cinematography, disorienting camera angles and lenses of cameraman James Wong Howe, as well as Jerry Goldsmith’s eerie score. Critic David Sterritt lauds “Seconds” as “the third and crowning chapter of what’s now known as Frankenheimer’s paranoia trilogy” following “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Seven Days in May.”
In her first major film role, Jennifer Lopez’s performance in “Selena” captures the talent, beauty, youthful spirit and many of the reasons why Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was so beloved and on her way to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world. Already the first and most successful female Tejana music singer, Selena’s growing popularity in both Mexican and American music and fashion paved the way for many of today’s biggest pop stars, including Jennifer Lopez herself. Directed and written by Gregory Nava, “Selena” is the official autobiographic film authorized by the Quintanilla family. Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, serves as a producer and is played by Edward James Olmos in the movie. Olmos has said that there were moments on the set when Selena’s father would excuse himself and quietly cry in the corner because of the fresh emotions of her death and because many events were so accurately portrayed. The final montage of the movie features real footage and photos of Selena’s life.
Often seen as trite and sexist by contemporary standards, the story for this widescreen M-G-M musical directed by Stanley Donen centers on a 1850s backwoods family of lovestruck young men who resort to kidnapping to marry their sweethearts, cloistered away by the local townsfolk to protect them from the unsavory brothers. Outstanding musical numbers choreographed by Michael Kidd — particularly the rousing barn-raising dance — prove to be its most enduring quality. Howard Keel and Jane Powell star as the eldest brother and his new wife, and the remaining cast is comprised of top dancers including Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, Jacques d’Amboise.
Humorist Robert Benchley’s career was both varied and distinguished: essayist, member of the Algonquin Round Table, writer for “Vanity Fair” and “The New Yorker,” actor in Hollywood features and several dozen short comedy subjects. “The Sex Life of the Polyp,” Benchley’s second short features him as a daft doctor giving a droll but earnest lecture on polyp reproductive habits to a women’s club. Expanded essay by Steve Massa
Writer-director Steven Soderbergh explores the messy personal relationships and sexual mores of four friends with a low-key style that creates a highly focused psychoanalysis of human impulses and inhibitions. This landmark film launched an independent film renaissance.
Critical Condition
One of Hitchcock’s favorite themes to explore was the idea of “murder at the dinner table,” that is, taking the horrors of murder and placing them in suburban environments, even making them popular topics among locals. “Shadow of a Doubt” is his most literal example of this theme, as a young girl named Charlie, portrayed by Teresa Wright, becomes terrified that her Uncle Charlie, with whom she has always been close, could be a serial killer. Hitchcock gives the movie and its setting a nice homey feel, a quiet little slice of Americana, which makes the main storyline even more disturbing. It’s an intense film, with undertones that are incredibly dark, even for Hitchcock. Expanded essay by Thomas Leitch
The making of John Cassavetes’ “Shadows” was the culmination of an almost three-year filmmaking process as unorthodox and full of surprises as the film itself. Begun in early 1957, Cassavetes’ feature directorial debut was a 16mm experiment executed by a crew of mainly novice technicians and unknown actors. The plot focuses on Ben and Lelia , light-skinned African-American siblings passing for white in 1950s New York. Cassavetes’ style, distinguished by personal expression and character study and devoid of rigid structure, was already apparent in this early work that poetically treats race and identity not as sociological discourse but as a sort of free jazz. Expanded essay by Ray Carney
In this prime example of the “blackploitation” film , Richard Roundtree stars as John Shaft, the coolest of cool private eyes. Moses Gunn is the dope-dealing racketeer who hires Shaft to track down his kidnapped daughter. Adapted by Ernest Tidyman from his novel, the movie comes to vibrant life whenever director Gordon Parks hits the streets of New York. The soul and funk-styled theme song by Isaac Hayes topped the music charts and won an Oscar for best original song.
George Stevens’ western stars Alan Ladd as an ex-gunfighter pressed into defending a family of homesteaders portrayed by Jean Arthur and Van Heflin with Brandon De Wilde as their impressionable son. Their foes are an evil rancher and his sadistic top gun . Stevens fills the screen with expansive vistas, as he would do on an even greater scale three years later in “Giant.” The film employs some of the longest dissolves in American cinema and Loyal Griggs’ lush color cinematography further helps to establish landscapes of mythic proportions. Palance is superbly evil while Ladd juxtaposes warmth and mystery.
From a modest start as a critical success, but something of a commercial bust upon initial release, “The Shawshank Redemption” now often rates as the top film in Internet Movie Database polling. Like many Stephen King novels and stories, it was adapted to film, but, as some critics have noted, the best movies have arguably resulted from the non-horror part of King’s literary output . Banker Tim Robbins is wrongly convicted of the double murder of his wife and her lover. However, he spends much of his prison sentence beset by guilt over whether he contributed to her infidelity and consumed by the knowledge that he had seriously contemplated murdering her. Eventually, Robbins decides he must “get busy living or get busy dying” and plots a meticulous, long-term plan for escape. Critics have struggled at times to explain the immense public affection for “Shawshank,” but perhaps it’s due to the poignant Thomas Newman score and most importantly the moving character portrayals and deep friendship between inmates Robbins and Morgan Freeman, highlighting the abiding resilience of the human spirit.
Adapted by Mae West from her successful stage play and directed by Lowell Sherman, this is one of the key films cited as the impetus for the motion picture industry’s stricter enforcement of its nascent production code. The suggestive musical number “Where Has My Easy Rider Gone?” was found particularly objectionable. Co-starring with West were Gilbert Roland who plays her estranged outlaw lover and Cary Grant, in one of his earliest roles, as a temperance union leader trying to reform saloon singer West. Expanded essay by Randy Skretvedt
The distinct voice and cinematic talent of Spike Lee first became evident thanks to this indie classic. “She’s Gotta Have It” tells the story of a confident, single black woman pursued by three different African-American men — and who isn’t sure she wants any of them. More than 30 years later, this landmark work remains as vital, vibrant, charming and streetwise as it was at first release, a harbinger of Lee’s enduring and visionary career as filmmaker. Lee also appears in the film as the memorable Mars.
A young movie theater projectionist and amateur sleuth must solve the mystery of a stolen pocket watch in order to impress and win the love of the girl he adores. Directed by Keaton and written by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez, and Joseph A. Mitchell, Sherlock, Jr. utilizes Keaton’s trademark physicality and dry humor, fast-paced editing, and jump cuts, to create a comedic masterpiece that both acknowledges and embraces the cinematic medium.
Director Ross McElwee’s first feature-length documentary ostensibly focuses on the modern day impact of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous March to the Sea on Southerners. While at MIT working on a master’s degree in filmmaking, McElwee studied under documentarians Richard Leacock and Ed Pincus, both pioneers of the cinéma vérité movement, and refined his first person narrative approach. In the film, General Sherman’s story intersects McElwee’s own self-deprecating tale of life, love, and religion. It straddles fiction and nonfiction, comedy and drama, primarily through a series of impromptu interviews. “Sherman’s March” won the Grand Jury prize in the field of documentary at the 1987 Sundance Film Festival.
Director Stanley Kubrick’s take on Stephen King’s terrifying novel has only grown in esteem through the years. The film is inventive in visual style, symbolism and narrative as only a Kubrick film can be. Long but multi-layered, “The Shining” contains stunning visuals — rivers of blood cascading down deserted hotel hallways, disturbing snowy mazes and a mysterious set of appearing and disappearing twins — with iconic performances by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.
Air Jordan 13 Carmelo Anthony ‘Class of 2002’ Release Canceled
Director Sam Fuller’s movies often were labeled too edgy and unseemly, with the ability to simultaneously grab and repel the viewer. Seen as Hollywood’s tough guy, his style was most evident in his breakneck storytelling and central characters who defy easy categorization. In “Shock Corridor,” undercover reporter Peter Breck gets himself committed to a psychiatric ward to flush out a Pulitzer Prize-worthy story. Cinematographer Stanley Cortez shot the film entirely indoors in ominously lit rooms and corridors, and editor Jerome Thoms amps up the hysteria with quick cuts that create a montage of disturbing behavior, violent outbursts, and dream sequences.
Renowned silent era writer-director Lois Weber drew on her experiences as a missionary to create “Shoes,” a masterfully crafted melodrama heightened by Weber’s intent to create, as she noted in an interview, “a slice out of real life.” Weber’s camera empathetically documents the suffering her central character, an underpaid shopgirl struggling to support her family, endures daily—standing all day behind a shop counter, walking in winter weather in shoes that provided no protection, stepping on a nail that pierces her flesh. Combining a Progressive era reformer’s zeal to document social problems with a vivid flair for visual storytelling, Weber details Eva’s growing desire for the pair of luxurious shoes she passes each day in a shop window, her self-examination in a cracked mirror after she agrees to go out with a cabaret tout to acquire the shoes, her repugnance as the man puts his hands on her body, and her shame as she breaks down in tears while displaying her newly acquired goods to her mother. The film, which opens with pages from social worker Jane Addams’s sociological study of prostitution, was acclaimed by “Variety” as “a vision of life as it actually is … devoid of theatricalism.” Expanded essay by Shelley Stamp
This romantic comedy, one of director Ernst Lubitsch’s most enduring works, takes place almost entirely within a store in Budapest shortly before World War I. James Stewart is the earnest, slightly awkward young manager; Margaret Sullavan is the novice clerk who gets under his skin. What neither realizes is that they’re pen pals who have just begun to fall in love through each other’s letters. As the romance develops, Lubitsch uses point of view to let the audience in on each character’s experiences at just the right moment to heighten anticipation and empathy. The film was remade in 1949 as “In the Good Old Summertime” and in 1998 as “You’ve Got Mail.” Expanded essay by Kevin Bahr Movie poster
James Whale’s direction of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical, which was based on an Edna Ferber novel, is brilliant, at times because of its boldness, at others because of its restraint. The depiction of “Old Man River” proves among the film’s greatest strengths in its pairing of Paul Robeson’s heartfelt rendition of the spiritual-inspired showstopper with an expressionistic and inventive montage sequence. Irene Dunne as Magnolia and Allan Jones as Gaylord Ravenal are the young lovers torn apart by gambling. As the alcoholic torch singer Julie, Helen Morgan’s performance is moving and sadly prescient. Helen Westley and Charles Winninger are delightful as Magnolia’s domineering mother and henpecked father. The 1950s remake has lush Technicolor but not the heart and soul. Expanded essay by Phil Hall
This silent gem directed by King Vidor showcased Marion Davies’ deft touch for light comedy in a story about a young girl from Georgia who goes to Hollywood to become an actress. Befriended by a working actor , the aspiring star gradually gets small comic roles but dreams of being a serious actress. When she finally gets her big break, she abandons her old studio and friends, but eventually sees the errors of her ways and is reunited with her actor beau. Gently skewering the industry that created it, “Show People” features cameos by some of the biggest stars of the era — including Charlie Chaplin and Davies as herself.
Even by DreamWorks standards, the charm and magic of “Shrek” seemed extraordinary upon its initial release almost 20 years ago — and its power has yet to diminish in the intervening years. With this story of a green-skinned, solitude-loving ogre, Shrek, who embarks on a noble quest, alongside his new friend, a lovable donkey, the film manages to be both a send-up of fairy tale tropes and an affectionate tribute to them. Entertaining and emotionally impactful at levels to be appreciated by both children and their adults, “Shrek” was a mega-hit upon its release and has been followed by three equally enchanting sequels, a TV holiday special and a Broadway adaption. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz lead the strong voice cast.
In his career, Julien Bryan, founder of the International Film Foundation, managed to amass a historical treasure trove of footage from foreign lands. On his way back from filming in Europe in 1939, Bryan became stranded in Warsaw during the German bombardment and blitzkrieg, where he managed to shoot and smuggle out an astonishing record of events in Warsaw. As the only neutral-country cameraman left in Warsaw when the Germans arrived, Bryan’s footage is a unique, horrifying record of the dreadful brutality of war. One such scene shows German planes strafing Polish women as they dug potatoes for their hungry families. This film is online courtesy United States Holocaust Memorial Museum External
Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins and director Jonathan Demme won accolades for this chilling thriller based upon a book by Thomas Harris. Foster plays rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling who must tap into the disturbed mind of imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in order to aid her search for a murderer and torturer still at large. A film whose violence is as much psychological as graphic, “Silence of the Lambs”—winner of Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Adapted Screenplay—has been celebrated for its superb lead performances, its blending of crime and horror genres, and its taut direction that brought to the screen one of film’s greatest villains and some of its most memorable imagery.
This rollicking musical satire of Hollywood in the 1920s when film transitioned from silent to sound features outstanding performances by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, and Gene Kelly who co-directed the film with Stanley Donen. Don Lockwood is the reigning king of silent movies and his regular co-star Lina Lamont , while beautiful, is dumb but manipulative. When Don becomes interested in fresh-faced studio singer Kathy Selden , Lina has her fired. When talkies take off, Don and Lina’s stardom appears to be over as audiences laugh at Lina’s shrill voice for the first time. Don’s friend and creative partner Cosmo comes up with the brilliant idea of using Kathy to dub Lina’s voice. Now considered one of the greatest musicals ever filmed, it’s filled with memorable songs, lavish routines and Kelly’s fabulous song-and-dance number performed in the rain. Movie poster
In this autobiographical tale told in voice-over by a teenage girl , Su Friedrich relates a series of 26 short vignettes that reveal a subtext of a father preoccupied by his career and of a daughter emotionally scarred by his behavior. Black-and-white film clips of ordinary daily activities illustrate Friedrich’s poetically powerful text to create a complex and intense film. Of this work, which garnered numerous festival awards, Friedrich wrote, “The issue for me is to be more direct, or honest, about my experiences, but also to be analytical. ‘Sink or Swim’ is personal, but it’s also very analytical, or rigorously formal.” Friedrich’s films and videos have been featured in retrospectives at major museums and festivals, and she has received both Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships. Michael Zryd wrote in Senses of Cinema: “The textures, cinematic and emotional, of Friedrich’s work are both private and highly mediated, embodying an aesthetic style and range of concerns that make her one of the most innovative and accessible artists currently working in the dynamic tradition of the modernist American Avant-Garde.”
Having virtually established animation as a viable medium through films such as “Little Nemo” and “Gertie the Dinosaur” , newspaper cartoonist Winsor McCay produced this propaganda short to stir Americans into action after a German submarine sank the British liner RMS Lusitania in 1915, killing 1,198 passengers and crew, including 128 Americans. McCay was upset with the isolationist sentiment present in the country and at his employer, the Hearst newspapers chain. It took McCay nearly two years working on his own to produce the film, debuting a year after America entered the war. Nevertheless, this is a significant film historically and a notable early example of animation being used for a purpose other than comedy. In his seminal “American Silent Film,” William K. Everson called the film “a wartime film that was both anti-German propaganda and an attempt to provide a documentary reconstruction of a major news event not covered by regular newsreel cameramen. The incredibly detailed drawings of the Lusitania, intercut with inserts of newspaper headlines relative to the notable victims, and strongly-worded editorializing sub-titles concerning the bestiality of the Hun, make this a fascinating and seldom-repeated experiment.”
Western star Tom Mix, dubbed King of the Cowboys, portrays a government agent in pursuit of a ring of smugglers who Newbury has discovered are trafficking in Chinese immigrants. The pursuit eventually leads to a showdown in the Grand Canyon where many scenes in the film were shot. A romance with a character portrayed by Eva Novak dominates one of the subplots of the story written and directed by former newspaper reporter Lynn Reynolds. Mix, the antithesis of reigning Western hero William S. Hart, was easygoing, wore flashy gear and did his own stunts, a style that set a standard for cowboy stars that lasted decades.
Along with “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” , “Slacker” is widely regarded as a touchstone in the blossoming of American independent cinema during the 1990s. A free-floating narrative, the film follows a colorful and engaging assortment of characters in Austin, Texas, throughout the course of a single day as they ruminate on UFOs, Scooby Doo, Leon Czolgosz and many other things. Shot on 16mm film with a budget of $23,000, director Richard Linklater dispensed with a structured plot in favor of interconnected vignettes. This resulted in a film of considerable quirky charm that has influenced a whole generation of independent filmmakers. “Slacker” was eventually picked up by a major distributor and earned more than $1 million at the box office.
The story of the sleeping princess Aurora, awakened by a kiss, already was widely known to theater audiences. But Disney transformed this timeless fable from the original Charles Perrault fairy tale and The Brothers Grimm by tweaking plot elements and characters , as well as with the film’s magnificent score. Along with its vivid images and charming details, the film introduced movie audiences to one of Disney’s most enduring villainesses — Maleficent . “Beauty” was the last of classic animated fairy-tale adaptations produced by Walt Disney, whose influence suffuses the film.
Native American directors are a rarity in Hollywood. After the early silent film pioneers James Young Deer and Edwin Carewe, the portrayal of Native Americans in cinema turned dark and stereotypical. These social trends started changing with motion pictures like the groundbreaking “Smoke Signals,” generally considered to be the first feature film written, directed and produced by Native Americans. Director Chris Eyre uses the relaxed road-movie concept to create a funny and unpretentious look at Native Americans in the nation’s cinema and culture. The mostly Native American cast features Adam Beach and Evan Adams as the two road warriors who find themselves on a hilarious adventure. Beneath the highly entertaining façade, the film acquainted non-Native American audiences with real insights into the indigenous Americans’ culture. Sherman Alexie penned the witty, droll script based his book “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” This Miramax release was a big hit on the independent film circuit and won numerous awards, including a Sundance award.
Four years before Walt Disney made “Snow White” the star of an animated motion picture, the Fleischer brothers — director Dave and producer Max — turned the spunky, sexy Betty Boop into the fairy tale damsel. Trouble starts when the queen’s magic mirror says Betty Boop is fairest in the land and is ordered to be beheaded. Another Fleischer stalwart, Koko the Clown, is voiced by Cab Calloway and sings “St. James Infirmary Blues” in a spooky cave full of flying skeletons and floating ghosts.
A virtual watercolor painting come to life, the details in the Disney animation never fail to amaze. The kind and beautiful Snow White charms every creature in the kingdom except one – her jealous stepmother, the Queen. When the Magic Mirror proclaims Snow White the fairest one of all, she must flee into the forest, where she befriends the lovable seven dwarfs. When the Queen tricks Snow White with an magic apple, only a kiss from her true love can save her. Expanded essay by J.B. Kaufman
While W.C. Fields’ talents are better suited for sound films — where his verbal jabs and asides still delight and astound — Fields also starred in some memorable silent films. Fields began his career as a vaudevillian juggler and that humor and dexterity shines through in “So’s Your Old Man.” The craziness is aided immeasurably through the deft comic touches of director Gregory LaCava. In the film, Fields plays inventor Samuel Bisbee, who is considered a vulgarian by the town’s elite. His road to financial success takes many hilarious detours including a disastrous demo for potential investors, a bungled suicide attempt, a foray into his classic “golf game” routine and an inspired pantomime to a Spanish princess. Expanded essay by Steve Massa
Solomon Sir Jones was a Baptist minister and businessman who also had an important career as an accomplished amateur filmmaker. Jones was born in Tennessee to former slaves and grew up in the South before moving to Oklahoma in 1889. As described on the website of Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Solomon Sir Jones films in Yale’s collection consist of 29 silent black-and-white films documenting African-American communities in Oklahoma from 1924 to 1928. They contain nearly 355 minutes of footage shot with then-new 16-mm cameras. The films document a rich tapestry of everyday life: funerals, sporting events, schools, parades, businesses, Masonic meetings, river baptisms, families at home, African-American oil barons and their wells, black colleges, Juneteenth celebrations and a transcontinental footrace. Jones also documented his travels. IndieWire termed these films “the most extensive film records we have of Southern and urban black life and culture at the time of rapid social and cultural change for African-Americans during the 1920’s, the very beginning of the Great Migration, which transformed not only black people as a whole, but America itself.” The Smithsonian also has nine reels of film, comprising approximately two hours of footage. The films have been preserved by Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
One of director Billy Wilder’s best-loved films thanks to breakneck pacing, a touch of cynicism, and gender-bending and gender-celebrating jokes galore. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are the two musicians who disguise themselves as members of an all-girl orchestra in order to escape from gangster George Raft after the the pair of musicians witness a mob hit. Marilyn Monroe is the singing star of the band who dreams of marrying a bookish millionaire instead of the bums who always leave her with the “fuzzy end of the lollipop.” “Some Like It Hot” marked the first of seven films that Lemmon would make with Wilder between 1959 and 1981 including “The Apartment,” which is also on the Registry. With Pat O’Brien, Nehemiah Persoff, and Joe E. Brown, who gets one of the best punch lines in American cinema. Expanded essay by David Eldridge Movie still
According to scholars and archivists, this recently discovered 29-second film may represent the earliest example of African-American intimacy on-screen. American cinema was a few years old by 1898 and distributors struggled to entice audiences to this new medium. Among their gambits to find acceptable “risqué” fare, the era had a brief run of “kissing” films. Most famous is the 1896 Edison film “The Kiss,” which spawned a rash of mostly inferior imitators. However, in “Something Good,” the chemistry between vaudeville actors Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown was palpable. Also noteworthy is this film’s status as the earliest known surviving Selig Polyscope Company film. The Selig Company had a good run as a major American film producer from its founding in 1896 until its ending around 1918. “Something Good” exists in a 19th-century nitrate print from the University of Southern California Hugh Hefner Moving Image Archive. USC Archivist Dino Everett and Dr. Allyson Nadia Field of the University of Chicago discovered and brought this important film to the attention of scholars and the public. Field notes, “What makes this film so remarkable is the non-caricatured representation and naturalistic performance of the couple. As they playfully and repeatedly kiss, in a seemingly improvised performance, Suttle and Brown constitute a significant counter to the racist portrayal of African Americans otherwise seen in the cinema of its time. This film stands as a moving and powerful image of genuine affection, and is a landmark of early film history.”
Rudolph Valentino, who died at the age of 31 shortly after the film’s release, inflamed female hearts for a final time in this slightly tongue-in-cheek adventure-romance. The son of an Arabian sheik falls in love with a dancer whose father and his cronies are thieves. When the young sheik is mistakenly led to believe the girl seduced him as a front for her father’s gang, he feels betrayed, and kidnaps her in revenge. Expanded essay by Donna Hill
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, along with comedian Charley Chase, star in this riotous comedy of fraternity and marital mishaps. Directed by veteran comedy director William A. Seiter for Hal Roach Studios, “Sons of the Desert” successfully incorporated into a feature-length film many of the comedic techniques that had made Laurel & Hardy such masters of short-subject humor. The film was ranked among the top 10 box-office hits after its release. Film scholars and fans consider it to be the duo’s finest feature film.
One of the most popular movie musicals of all time, “The Sound of Music” is based on the true story of the Trapp Family Singers. Julie Andrews stars as Maria, a young nun in an Austrian convent who is sent off by the Mother Superior to be governess for the children of widower Captain Von Trapp . Maria wins over the children and eventually the stern captain, and the two fall in love and marry, only to return from their honeymoon as the Nazis overtake their country. The family covertly flees Austria to safety during a public musical performance. Directed by Robert Wise with a screenplay by Ernest Lehman, the film features nearly a dozen tunes including the infectious “Do-Re- Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and the title song. It earned numerous awards including best picture and best director Oscars, and solidified the status of Julie Andrews as bona fide movie star, a feat she began with “Mary Poppins.”
Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield shine as a sharecropper couple trying to get by during the Great Depression in the rural South. Directed by Martin Ritt, the story follows the family’s pre-teen son as he is thrust into becoming the “man of the family.” Critic Stanley Kaufman wrote that Ritt “is one of the most underrated American directors, superbly competent and quietly imaginative,” and this understated brilliance and love for the humanity of ordinary folks is on glorious and moving display in “Sounder.” Taj Mahal both acted in the film and composed the score.
Even among the mega epics being produced by Hollywood at the time , “Spartacus” stands out for its sheer grandeur and remarkable cast , as well as for Stanley Kubrick’s masterful direction. The film is also credited with helping to end the notorious Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s – its producer, Douglas, hired then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo to author the script, which was based on a book by another blacklisted author, Howard Fast.
When “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” was restored for DVD release in 2004, the New York Times called it “a story of black insurrection too strong for 1973. “Based on a controversial best-selling 1969 novel by Sam Greenlee and with a subtly effective score by jazz legend Herbie Hancock, the film presents the story of a black man hired to integrate the CIA who uses his counter-revolutionary training to spark a black nationalist revolution in America’s urban streets. Financed mostly by individual African-American investors, some commentators lambasted the film for its sanctioning of violence and distributor United Artists pulled the movie from theaters after a successful three-week run. Others appreciated its significance. Washington Post journalist Adrienne Manns, a former spokesperson in the black student movement, argued that the film “lends humanity to persons who are usually portrayed as vicious, savage, sub-humans – the street gangs, the young people who have in many cities terrorized the communities they live in.” New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby commented, “The rage it projects is real.” Ivan Dixon, the film’s director known for his roles in “Hogan’s Heroes” and as the lead in “Nothing But a Man” , believed that the film did not offer “a real solution” to racial injustice, but projected instead “a fantasy that everybody felt, every black male particularly.” Expanded essay by Michael T. Martin & David C. Wall
A two-reeler made both for “race theater” distribution and RKO’s experiments with early recording of musical shorts in its theater chains, “St. Louis Blues” features the only film recording of Bessie Smith, “Queen of the Blues,” backed by an outstanding cast of African-American artists. According to film historian Donald Bogle, the film “was marred by its white director’s overstatement, but it was distinguished by Bessie Smith’s extraordinary ability to express black pain. … Haughty, husky, hungry, earthy, confident, and supremely committed to her music, Bessie Smith is magnificently larger than life here, a true dark diva, who lives up to her legend as one of America’s great original artists.” Expanded essay by Mark Cantor Watch it here
Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border was one of director John Ford’s favorite locations for filming the western films that would come to define his career. With “Stagecoach,” Ford forged a model for Westerns that would last well into the 21st century. A cast of outstanding performers including Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell in an Academy Award-winninger turn, and John Wayne in the role that would jetison him to stardom, portray passengers traveling across dangerous Indian territory by stage. Groundbreaking stunt work by Yakima Canutt contribute to action sequences that inspired countless filmmakers. Expanded essay by Scott Allen Nollen
Based on a true story, “Stand and Deliver” stars Edward James Olmos in an Oscar-nominated performance as crusading educator Jaime Escalante. A math teacher in East Los Angeles, Escalante inspired his underprivileged students to undertake an intensive program in calculus, achieve high test scores, and improve their sense of self-worth. Co-produced by Olmos and directed by Cuban-born Ramón Menéndez, “Stand and Deliver” became one of the most popular of a new wave of narrative feature films produced in the 1980s by Latino filmmakers. The film celebrates in a direct, approachable, and impactful way, values of self-betterment through hard work and power through knowledge.
What sets “A Star is Born” apart from other films of its ilk, including the original 1937 non-musical version, is its score by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin, and the singing of Judy Garland, who performs the film’s best number, “The Man That Got Away,” in one long take. Under director George Cukor, Garland returned to the screen after a four-year absence to star as an aspiring actress who is mentored by an alcoholic film star Norman Maine whose career is waning. The two marry, whereupon her fame and fortune rises while his spirals sharply downward. Unable to accept his fate and fearing he’ll take her down with him, Maine opts to ensure her success by committing suicide. Garland was nominated for an Oscar but lost to Grace Kelly, a selection many still find baffling. Movie poster Additional image
A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the saga set in a galaxy far, far away, director George Lucas opened audiences’ eyes to the possibilities of successful science fiction movies using special effects that are effective and intelligently integrated with the story. Young Luke Skywalker is thrust into the struggle of the Rebel Alliance when he meets the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi . Obi-Wan begins training Luke as a Jedi knight to combat the opposition, and the two head off and join mercenary Han Solo on a daring mission to rescue the beautiful Rebel leader Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Empire. Luke proves that he does indeed possess mystical powers known as the Force which he invokes to destroy the Empire’s dreaded Death Star. Movie poster
A maverick production in both design and concept, “Stark Love” is a beautifully photographed mix of lyrical anthropology and action melodrama from director Karl Brown. “Man is absolute ruler. Woman is working slave.” Such are the rigid attitudes framing this tale of a country boy’s beliefs about chivalry that lead him to try to escape a brutal father with the girl he loves. “Stark Love,” cast exclusively with amateur actors and filmed entirely in the Great Smoky Mountains, is an illuminating portrayal of the Appalachian people.
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For director Henry King to create a film that celebrated an institution as beloved and indomitable as the State Fair, it required the presence of a cherished and steadfast star—in this case, icon, philosopher and America’s favorite cowboy, Will Rogers. Rogers found a superlative vehicle for his homespun persona in this small town slice-of-life setting. He is assisted by Janet Gaynor , Lew Ayres and Sally Eilers. Enhancing the fair’s festivities, which include the making of mom’s entry for the cook-off and the fattening-up of the family pig, are diverse storylines rich with Americana and romance—some long-lasting and some ephemeral, rife with fun but fleeting as the fair itself. The film’s authenticity owes much to its director, widely known as the “King of Americana” through films such as “Tol’able David,” “Carousel” and “Wait till the Sun Shines, Nellie.” Expanded essay by Aubrey Solomon
If Charlie Chaplin can be called the “poet” of American comedy and Harold Lloyd its “everyman” with a keen eye for contemporary tastes and attitudes, Buster Keaton can best be seen as an ingenious craftsman whose films adopt an outlook more in tune with later generations: his films with rare exception hold up better than those of his contemporaries. Born in Piqua, Kansas to vaudevillian parents, Keaton as a toddler was given the name “Buster” by Harry Houdini for his ability to survive falls. Keaton’s fame rests on his array of work from 1920 to 1928 when, in both shorts and feature films, he displayed a seamless mastery of film comic technique, from superb cinematography and editing to brilliant, intricately visual gags. “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” opens with ship captain Steamboat Bill awaiting the arrival of his long-unseen son whom he hopes to groom as his successor. Keaton, fresh from Boston schooling, turns out to be a dandy wearing a striped blazer and sporting a ukulele. Impatient parent Torrence wearily begins the daunting makeover. The film is remembered for its breath-stopping stunts and cyclone finale. After making the film, Keaton made a disastrous move to MGM, which, combined with personal difficulties, ended his productive career.
Generally thought of as the film that introduced the world to Mickey Mouse, “Steamboat Willie” proved a huge success and established Walt Disney as a key player in the animation industry, setting a standard that would influence all other animation pioneers. Mickey’s character in the film is a nod to Buster Keaton’s recent film “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Expanded essay by Dave Smith Additional image
Four years after the box office hit “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and director George Roy Hill re-teamed with similar success for “The Sting.” Redford plays a Depression-era conman seeking revenge on the racketeer responsible for the murder of his mentor. He enlists the aid of con artist extraordinaire Paul Newman to gather together an impressive array of con men eager to settle the score with Shaw. “The Sting” became one of the biggest hits of the early ’70s and picked up seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Adapted Score for Marvin Hamlisch’s unforgettable setting of Scott Joplin’s ragtime music. The film boasts a strong supporting cast including Eileen Brennan, Charles Durning, Harold Gould and Ray Walston.
The seminal New York-born rock/new wave/punk/post-punk band, the Talking Heads, were captured at the height of their powers in this now iconic concert film. Led by their charismatic frontman David Byrne, the Talking Heads tear through some of their most famous songs in this tight 88-minute performance. Selections include: ”Once in a Lifetime,” “Burning Down the House,” “Psycho Killer,” “Life During Wartime” and, from Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s side project, the Tom Tom Club, a spirited rendition of “Genius of Love.” Nearly as inventive visually as it is sonically, the film is directed by Jonathan Demme who, wisely, keeps his camera tightly focused on the stage, leaving the music and band members to speak completely for themselves. Leonard Maltin has called “Stop Making Sense,” “one of the greatest rock movies ever made.” It is infectious and the quintessential get-up-and-dance experience.
Though not the most imaginative of scripts or direction, the cast of this all-black revue distinguishes it among musicals of the day. Bill Robinson, Lena Horne, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and the Nicholas Brothers sing and dance to standards from the American songbook such as the title tune, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” and “The Jumpin’ Jive.” Andrew Stone directed with choreography by Katherine Dunham and musical direction by Benny Carter. Lobby card Additional image
William Wellman’s gritty portrayal of the realities of war was based on the newspaper columns of war correspondent Ernie Pyle, played with understated realism by Burgess Meredith. In the film, Pyle follows a small group of ordinary infantrymen from North Africa into Italy, and his observations reflect the full gamut of human emotion that war invokes while trying to make sense of the inhuman randomness of war’s destruction. Expanded essay by Amy Dunkleberger
Sponsored by Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kotex, this title was produced by the Walt Disney Company through its Educational and Industrial Film Division. Distributed free to schools and girls’ clubs with an accompanying pamphlet titled “Very Personally Yours,” the film used friendly Disney-style characters and gentle narration to “encourage a healthy, normal attitude” toward menstruation. Although a few such educational filmstrips were available before World War II, this version was seen as more progressive than previous offerings and, according to advertisements in “The Educational Screen,” it replaced superstitions with “scientific facts” and dispelled “embarrassment.” Some contemporary scholars, however, take issue with the approach. Sean Griffin of Southern Methodist University’s Division of Film and Media Arts and author of “Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out” suggests that Disney’s abstract representation of the body “‘bleaches’ the more ‘unsavory’ parts of the lesson, such as making the menstrual flow white instead of red.” According to Joan Jacobs Brumberg, author of “The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls,” approximately 93 million American women, mostly teenagers, viewed this film between 1946 through the late 1960s.
Jim Jarmusch has emerged as a leading figure in independent cinema, and this, his first major film, reflects his non-traditional style. From an earlier version of a script written with his punk rock musician friend, John Lurie, Jarmusch fashioned the piece into a three-part black comedy set in New York, Cleveland and Florida. His main characters, three disillusioned young people played by Lurie, Eszter Balint and Richard Edson, do little more than watch TV, go to movies and play cards. Citing inspiration from the works of Andy Warhol, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, Jarmusch has adopted a minimalist approach to his work that often straddles several languages and cultures.
Wildly imitated but never topped, this riveting 1951 Hitchcock classic tells of two men who, having met on the titular train, hatch a plan to “swap” murders, each killing someone the other knows and, thereby, giving the other an air-tight alibi. Farley Granger thinks the whole plan a joke while Robert Walker subsequently commits a murder and demands Granger keep his part of the deal. This thriller contains strong supporting performances by Marion Lorne, Ruth Roman and Patricia Hitchcock and, of course, by the Master of Suspense’s signature, extraordinary visuals: from a tense tennis match to a wild, out-of-control merry-go-round finale, with a monogrammed cigarette lighter serving as one of Hitchcock’s trademark “MacGuffins.”
Elia Kazan brought to the screen Tennessee Williams’ classic play about fragile faded Southern belle Blanche Dubois who comes to visit her sister Stella in New Orleans and is assaulted verbally and physically by her boorish brother-in-law Stanley . On the fringes of sanity, Blanche tries in vain to escape her checkered past and start life anew, but her history comes back to haunt her when she becomes attracted to Stanley’s friend Mitch , setting the stage for a final brutal confrontation with Stanley. Brando, Hunter, and Malden had all starred in “Streetcar,” on Broadway, where Blanche had been portrayed by Jessica Tandy. Brando lost out to Humphrey Bogart for Best Actor, but Leigh, Hunter, and Malden all won Oscars. Movie poster
A vaudevillian for much of his professional life, Harry Langdon was discovered and brought to Hollywood by Mack Sennett in the early 1920s but languished until 1925, when director Harry Edwards and then-gagman Frank Capra developed three features and several shorts for him. Their great success added Langdon to the fraternity of “The Four Silent Clowns” along with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. In the film, Langdon plays the assistant of circus strong man Zandow the Great, who inevitably and most comically is forced to impersonate Zandow when the headliner is incapacitated. Langdon and Capra predated by five years Chaplin’s “City Lights” with its story of a timid man in love with a blind woman, in this instance Priscilla Bonner, successfully mixing belly laughs with scenes of great emotional tenderness. Expanded essay by Bill Schelly
This polished amateur film by Miriam Bennett spoofs women’s clubs and the Soviet menace in the 1930s. While listening to a tedious lecture on the Soviet threat, Wisconsin Dells’ Tuesday Club members fall asleep and find themselves laboring in an all-women collective in Russia under the unflinching eye of the Soviet special police. Expanded essay by Patricia R. Zimmermann
Experimental filmmaker Peter Hutton is best known for his thoughtful and beautifully photographed ruminations on the co-existence of urban areas and natural waterways. His most renowned films focused on the Hudson River. “Study of a River” is a meditative examination of the winter cycle of the Hudson River over a two-year period, showing its environment, ships plying its waterways, ice floes, and the interaction of nature and civilization. Some critics have described Hutton’s work as reminiscent of the 19th century artist Thomas Cole and other painters of the Hudson River School. Expanded essay by Claudia Costa Pederson
Director Preston Sturges is quoted as saying that “Sullivan’s Travels” came about as “the result of an urge to tell some of my fellow filmwrights that they were getting a little too deep-dish and to leave the preaching to the preachers.” Joel McCrea, in one of his most memorable roles, plays a successful Hollywood film director who, having helmed only fluffy comedies, decides to make an important social drama and takes to the open road to experience the seemier side of America for himself. Though initially discouraged by his studio bosses they scheme to turn Sullivan’s odyssey into a publicity stunt. Along the way he meets a disheartened wannabe starlet, Veronica Lake, who’s giving up on Hollywod and headed home. From there hilarity — tempered with romance and pathos– rules the day. Expanded essay by Julie Grossman Movie poster
“Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” explores the relationship between a farmer and his wife when the farmer’s metropolitan mistress suggests he kill his wife so he can run away with her to the city. Directed by German auteur F.W. Murnau, “Sunrise” bears the hallmarks of German Expressionism and continues the director’s tradition of introducing new technical methods of enhancing the storytelling process. “Sunrise” is perhaps most historically and technologically significant because it was the first feature film to be released using Fox’s Movietone sound system, which allowed the film score and sound effects to be synchronized with the moving image by recording the soundtrack as an optical track on the same film that captures the image. “Sunrise” won multiple Academy Awards, including best actress for Janet Gaynor, best cinematography, and a special Academy Award for “unique and artistic production,” the first and only time that award was ever given.
Arguably the greatest movie about Hollywood, director Billy Wilder’s masterpiece is a combination of noir, black comedy, and character study. Aging silent-film star Norma Desmond persuades down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis to polish the behemoth of a script she’s been laboring over for decades, and in the process he becomes her paid companion. One-time titan of the silent screen director-actor Erich von Stroheim adds to the gothic creepiness as butler Max. The film’s often been parodied but its brilliant dialog, decadent production design and wide-ranging acting styles have never been topped. Additional image
Director Richard Donner’s treatment of the famous superhero was not the first time the character had been on the big screen. Kirk Alyn played the role back in a 1948 serial and George Reeves appeared in both theatrical and TV versions in the 1950s. However, for many, Christopher Reeve remains the definitive Man of Steel. This film, an “origins” story, recounts Superman’s journey to Earth as a boy, his move from Smallville to Metropolis and his emergence as a true American hero. Beautiful in its sweep, score and special effects, which create a sense of awe and wonder, “Superman” — as the tag line reads — makes you “believe a man can fly.”
During the 1910s, women directors played a prominent role in the development of film as an art form. Chief among them was Lois Weber who was recognized alongside directors such as D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille. Weber’s films often touched on controversial social issues such as poverty and contraception.  In a 1913 Photoplay interview, Weber spoke of her desire to create films “that will have an influence for good on the public mind.” In this 1913 short, “A wife and her baby are alone in an isolated house when a tramp breaks in. As the wife tries to keep the invader at bay, her husband happens to telephone and learn what’s happening. He scrambles to return home. He steals an idle car, and its owner, accompanied by police, race after him. We cut rapidly between the besieged mother and the husband’s frantic drive, as he is in turn pursued. Just as the tramp is about to attack the wife, the husband bursts in, followed by the police. The family is saved. This is the plot of “Suspense,” co-directed by Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley. If the plot sounds familiar, it’s probably because you know that one of D.W. Griffith’s most famous films, “The Lonely Villa” tells the same basic tale. So Weber and Smalley are reviving an old idea. Their task is to make it fresh. How they do so has been studied in depth by Charlie Keil in his book ” Early American Cinema in Transition: Story, Style, and Filmmaking, 1907-1913 External ,” wrote film historian David Bordwell.
This insightful 30-minute documentary profiles a young black woman, Suzanne Browning, as she confronts a legacy of physical abuse and its role in her descent into substance abuse. The film was conceived by Browning’s aunt, Camille Billops, as a sort of cinematic drug intervention. Family remembrances revealed the truth behind the addiction: Suzanne and her mother were victims of domestic abuse at the hands of the family patriarch. Armed with the key to her own self-destructive behavior, Suzanne struggles to understand her father’s brutality and her mother’s passive complicity. After years of silence, Suzanne and her mother are finally able to share their painful experiences with each other in an intensely moving moment of truth. Directed by Billops and James Hatch, this film essay captures the essence of a black middle-class family in crisis.
A powerful New York newspaper columnist is dead set against his sister marrying a jazz musician . A sleazy PR man will do anything to get publicity for his clients, and he sees the columnist’s situation as an opportunity to win his favor and sets out to break up the affair any way he can. The film was directed by Alexander Mackendrick, a British director best known for comedies like “The Ladykillers” and “The Man in the White Suit,” from a script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman. Mackendrick and cinematographer James Wong Howe capture the pre-Beat Generation era when jazz artists wear suits and ties, hair is cropped short, and everyone wants to appear cool. Expanded essay by Andrea Alsberg
With “Sweet Sweetback,” director Melvin Van Peebles touched off a wave of imitative Black features, few of which matched his startling originality and fierce attacks. The story of a male “performer” at a ghetto bordello and his run from the law, the film shrewdly mixes commercial ingredients and ideological intent. “It would be difficult to underestimate Melvin Van Peebles’s achievement in producing, directing, writing, scoring and starring in this film, not to mention financing it with the salary he had earned while directing “Watermelon Man” . Not since Oscar Micheaux had an African American filmmaker taken such complete control of the creative process, turning out a work so deeply connected to his own personal and cultural reality that he was not surprised when the white critical establishment professed bewilderment upon its release in 1971. Filled with enough sex, rage and violence to earn it an X rating, the success of “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” depends less on its story of a superstud running from the police than it does on its disinterest in referencing white culture and its radically new understanding of how style and substance inform each other,” wrote Steven Higgins in “Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of the Museum of Modern Art.” MoMA has preserve the film from its original camera negative.
The sixth of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals features dance numbers set to six Jerome Kern tunes including “Never Gonna Dance,” “A Fine Romance,” and “The Way You Look Tonight.” “Swing Time” is considered by many critics to be the duo’s best film, thanks not only to the Jerome Kern score, but to the direction of the well-respected and perfectionist George Stevens, adept in helming any genre. Astaire, a painstaking craftsman in his own right, preplanned even the slightest gesture in his dances. Rogers was a performer, not a creator, but was willing to rehearse until her feet bled — and did. Movie poster
William Greaves worked at the intersection of many cultural focal points, including as an original co-host and producer of the landmark “Black Journal” public television series. He, however, is perhaps best known for his prolific work as a documentary film director and producer. He was associated with more than 200 productions during his career. His best-known film, “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One,” faced a strange, lengthy road to recognition. As recounted by Richard Brody in The New Yorker, Greaves shot the film in 1968 and completed production in 1971 in hopes of a debut at the Cannes Film Festival, but was turned down. The film then spent two decades unseen before being rediscovered by a Brooklyn Museum curator who premiered it at a retrospective of Greaves’ voluminous work in cinema. Its acclaim grew and caught the attention of a later champion, actor/director Steve Buscemi. The film is a unique 1960s’ time capsule, a telling look at the myriad tensions involved in film creation—a film on the making of a film—with three camera crews recording different parts of the process and personalities involved . Though Greaves is undoubtedly the film’s visionary auteur—notable for an African-American filmmaker in the 1960s—it is truly a film made collectively by Greaves and his multi-racial crew, whose staging of an on-set rebellion becomes the film’s drama and its platform for sociopolitical critique and revolutionary philosophy. Filmed entirely on location in New York City’s Central Park, with a score by Miles Davis, Greaves’ film serves as a vivid tabloid of this heady historical era and a memorable document of this creatively prosperous period of American independent filmmaking. The New York Times’ critic A.O. Scott lauded the film’s creativity and imagination: “It is one of the great New York films, one of the great experimental films, one of the great ’60s films, one of the great black films—just one of the great films, period, largely because it remains so fresh, so radical and so hard to assimilate more than 45 years after it was made.” Expanded essay by Maria San Filippo
This legendary film is quite possibly the greatest rock and rhythm-and-blues concert on film. Considered wildly campy with screaming girls and “Shindig”-style go-go dancers, the film captures all the live immediacy of an astonishing line-up in an era when films commonly matched records to lip-syncing. A who’s who of musicians creates magic onstage, from the Rolling Stones running onstage and plugging in their guitars to the show-stopping cape routine of James Brown. Expanded essay by David E. James
Utilizing a cast of natives, German director F.W. Murnau blends ethnographic curiosity with romantic drama as he examines the dangers faced by lovers who break the rules of society in Bora Bora. Best known for the more expressionistic “Nosferatu” and “Sunrise,” Murnau dispenses with inter-titles and exaggerated gestures that typified most silent films, and reveals plot points visually through journal entries, newspaper articles and signs. The New York Times described it as a “picture poem” of ‘paradise’ and ‘paradise lost.’ Shot entirely in Tahiti, Floyd Crosby’s lush cinematography won him an Academy Award. “Tabu” would be Murnau’s last film; he died in a car accident one week before its premiere.
In November 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed due to a combination of high winds and poor construction. The local camera store owner, Barney Elliot, captured the undulating bridge with his Bell & Howell 16mm movie camera just before and as the bridge collapsed. Elliott’s footage shows the bridge, nicknamed “Galloping Gertie,” waving and twisting for several minutes before finally collapsing into Puget Sound.
Randolph Scott stars in director Budd Boetticher’s psychological western about a man trying to rescue a woman being held for ransom by outlaws played Richard Boone, Henry Silva, and Skip Homeier. the landscape is deftly stylized into dark interiors that punctuate the wide-open spaces. Boone makes one of the most memorable of Boetticher’s witty, intelligent villains. Screenwriter Burt Kennedy adapted a story by Elmore Leonard. Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger
“Tarantella” is a five-minute color avant-garde short film created by Mary Ellen Bute, a pioneer of visual music and electronic art in experimental cinema. With piano accompaniment by Edwin Gershefsky, “Tarantella” features rich reds and blues that Bute uses to signify a lighter mood, while her syncopated spirals, shards, lines and squiggles dance exuberantly to Gershefsky’s modern beat. Bute produced more than a dozen short films between the 1930s and the 1950s and once described herself as a “designer of kinetic abstractions” who sought to “bring to the eyes a combination of visual forms unfolding with the … rhythmic cadences of music.” Bute’s work influenced many other filmmakers working with abstract animation during the ’30s and ’40s, and with experimental electronic imagery in the ’50s. Expanded essay by Lauren Rabinovitz
A rather steamy pre-Production Code Tarzan film, the second and generally considered the finest in the series, has Tarzan and Jane battling poachers and living a carefree life in the jungle. Jane’s scanty costumes and “nude” swimming scene rankled Production Code bigwigs, and the numerous sequels that followed would reflect more family-friendly sensibilities. Cedric Gibbons, who was responsible for the art direction on many lavish MGM films, began the picture as director, but was replaced by the more seasoned director Jack Conway during the shoot. Movie poster
Martin Scorsese packed an assortment of urban fears into this story of New York taxi driver Travis Bickle and his rampage against the “scum” of the earth. Scorsese, aided by cinematographer Michael Chapman, composer Bernard Herrmann and art director Charles Rosen, transforms the city into the personification of Bickle’s twisted mind. Paul Schrader’s screenplay, with its buried themes of sin and redemption, borrows heavily from French writer-director Robert Bresson’s 1959 film “Pickpocket” to create one of American cinema’s most European in artistic style. With Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, and Harvey Keitel.
Ted Parmelee directed this animated short film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s story of a murderer haunted by the sound of his victim’s beating heart. Paul Julian served as both designer and color artist for the film, and Pat Matthews was the principal animator. Actor James Mason provides the narration.
The film, which covers the life of Moses from the time he was discovered as an infant by pharoah’s daughter to his struggle to free the Hebrews from their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians, would be director Cecil B. DeMille’s final film and his most epic. Charlton Heston stars as Moses and is joined by the likes of Yul Brynner, Edward G. Robinson, Anne Baxter, Yvonne DeCarlo and Debra Paget. The film’s true star is its special effects, including the spectacular parting of the Red Sea, for which it won an Oscar. Movie poster
In 1984, few expected much from the upcoming film “The Terminator.” Director James Cameron, a protégé of legendary independent filmmaker Roger Corman, had made only two films previously: the modest sci-fi short “Xenogenesis” in 1978 and “Piranha Part Two: The Spawning” in 1981. However, “The Terminator” became one of the sleeper hits of 1984, blending an ingenious, thoughtful script — clearly influenced by the works of sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison — and relentless, non-stop action moved along by an outstanding synthesizer and early techno soundtrack. Most notable was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s star-making performance as the mass-killing cyborg with a laconic sense of humor . Low-budget, but made with heart, verve, imagination, and superb Stan Winston special effects, “The Terminator” remains among the finest science-fiction films in many decades. Expanded essay by John Wills
This is the feature film that made Canadian-born Mary Pickford, Hollywood’s first movie superstar, a national icon and an international celebrity. The film is often credited with launching what was known as the “cult of Mary Pickford” in the early 20th century and was essential in shaping the actress’ on-screen persona as a working-class heroine. The picture was so successful that it spawned a number of knockoffs and several remakes, including one by Pickford herself in 1922. The movie’s director, Edwin S. Porter, was a former Edison cameraman who worked with Pickford on five of her earliest features. He is best known for two innovative silent shorts from 1903, “The Life of an American Fireman” and “The Great Train Robbery.” Expanded essay by Eileen Whitfield
Loosely based on stories by renowned Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem , “Tevye” is the story of a Jewish Ukranian milkman, his wife and their daughters, one of whom falls in love and marries the son of a Christian peasant. Tevye’s paternal love causes tremendous inner conflict with his devout faith and loyalty to tradition, a foreshadowing of the growing conflict between Russian Christians and Jews in the early 1900s. The Yiddish language film was written and directed by and starred Maurice Schwartz who had performed the role of Tevye on stage two decades earlier. Expanded essay by J. Hoberman View this film at National Film Preservation Foundation External
Screenwriter Callie Khouri began her script for “Thelma & Louise” with a single sentence premise: “Two women go on a crime spree.” What emerged, from her word processor and eventually from the screen, became a feminist manifesto and a cultural flashpoint that eventually landed the film’s stars, in character, onto the cover of “Time” magazine. Anchored by two career-defining performances from Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis , “Thelma & Louise” skillfully contrasts action-movie themes with a social commentary before building to an unforgettable climax. Directed by Ridley Scott, “Thelma & Louise” has become both a symbol of feminism.
Charlotte Zwerin’s insightful documentary of the jazz pianist-composer Thelonious Monk blends together excellent interviews with those who knew him best and riveting concert performances, many shot in the 1960s by Christian Blackwood. Reviewing the film in The New York Times, Stephen Holden noted, “Charlotte Zwerin’s remarkable documentary … reminds us again and again that Monk was as important a jazz composer as he was a pianist.”
One of the increasingly famous Charley Bowers surrealist shorts, this film combines live action with stop-motion object animation in settings where the usual rules do not apply. This “Scotland Yard investigates Haunted House” spoof features the adorable animated bug MacGregor. Expanded essay by Steve Massa
Before “They Call It Pro Football” premiered, football films were little more than highlight reels set to the oom-pah of a marching band. In 1964, National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle agreed to the formation of NFL Films. With a background in public relations, he recognized that the success of the league depended on its image on television, which required creating a mystique. “They Call It Pro Football,” the first feature of NFL Films, looked at the game “in dramaturgical terms,” capturing the struggle, not merely the outcome, of games played on the field. Written and produced by Steve Sabol, directed by John Hentz and featuring the commanding cadence of narrator John Facenda and the music of Sam Spence, the film presented football on an epic scale and in a way rarely seen by the spectator. Telephoto lenses brought close-ups of players’ faces into viewers’ living rooms. Slow motion revealed surprising intricacy and grace. Sweeping ground-to-sky shots imparted a “heroic angle.” Coaches and players wearing microphones let the audience in on strategy and emotion. “They Call It Pro Football” established a mold for subsequent productions by NFL Films and has well earned its characterization as the “Citizen Kane” of sports movies. Expanded essay by Ed Carter
The acrobatic and occasionally balletic moves Douglas Fairbanks performed in his films took audiences breath away. Many decades removed from the silent film era, Fairbanks still delights, and never so imaginatively as in this awe-inspiring Arabian Nights spectacular. Audiences were awed not only by Fairbanks’ athleticism but looked on in wonder as William Cameron Menzies’ sets drew them in to an exotic adventure. Expanded essay by Joe Morgenstern Lobby card
In his third feature documentary, director Errol Morris uses abstract re-creations to reconstruct the investigation of the 1976 murder of a Dallas policeman. Morris spent more than two years tracking down the various players in the case and convincing them to appear in the film, eventually uncovering a miscarriage of justice in the conviction of Randall Adams. The film was instrumental in overturning the verdict and Adams’ release from prison in March 1989. The score was one of the first by minimalist composer Philip Glass, known for his music style of “repetitive structures,” who would become one of the most influential musicians in the late 20th century.
Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett, W.S. Van Dyke’s “The Thin Man” introduced American audiences to Nick and Nora Charles , a married couple who solves mysteries with the help of their dog, Asta . The film received multiple Academy Award nominations, including those for Best Actor, Best Directing, Best Writing for Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, and Outstanding Production . The popularity of “The Thin Man” spawned a number of sequels, resulting in a series of six films starring the Charleses, as well as a radio series in the 1940s and a television series in the 1950s. Movie poster
Production credits cite Christian Nyby as the director of this science fiction classic, but the producer, Howard Hawks, is most responsible for the film’s thrills, strong narrative and well-defined characters. At the Arctic research station where they’re working, scientists Robert Cornthwaite, Kenneth Tobey, and Margaret Sheridan discover the frozen pilot of a spacecraft that’s been buried in the ice. The researchers take the pilot back to their station, where he comes to life and terrorizes the crew. In the climactic scene, the monster is engulfed in flames.
“Think of Me First as a Person” is an astonishing discovery from the Center for Home Movies and its annual Home Movie Day, where once a year people in cities across the nation bring their home movies to screen. This loving portrait by a father of his son with Down syndrome represents the creativity and craftsmanship of the American amateur filmmaker.
This full-length feature was designed to introduce audiences to the technologically revolutionary widescreen process of Cinerama. The film begins with narration by newscaster Lowell Thomas, shot in the usual 4:3 aspect ratio, then opens to a panoramic display of images projected simultaneously from three synchronized 35mm projectors onto a huge, deeply curved screen. The images included scenes of a roller coaster, Niagara Falls, a bullfight, a water skiing show, and aerial shots from a low-flying plane. Cinerama’s impact was felt throughout the 1950s as studios competed to develop their own widescreen formats, however, by the early 1960s its novelty had worn off. Cinerama can be viewed today as a prototype of the Imax format. Expanded essay by Kyle Westphal
When “This is Spinal Tap” debuted in 1984 it inspired a new film genre: the “mockumentary.” Its stars-writers Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer – all of them musicians – first appeared as the band on a 1979 TV pilot, and director Rob Reiner and “the band” produced a 20-minute demo reel to sell their improv idea to studio execs. Many of these ad-libbed scenes appear in the final movie — its cinematic style approximating rock documentaries like “The Last Waltz” and “Gimme Shelter.” Critic Roger Ebert observed that the film’s satire “has a deft, wicked touch” which audiences embraced only modestly upon its theatrical release, but has since grown a cult following and greater success on home video.
Voted among the best cartoons of all time in a 1990s animators’ poll, “The Three Little Pigs” was one of a series of Silly Symphony shorts on which Walt Disney practiced and refined his art on the way to his first Technicolor masterpiece: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Wildly popular, this film pushed the envelope in “personality animation”— each of the three pigs had a different personality—and the title tune “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” became a Depression-era anthem.
Hailed by Fred Friendly as “the best civil rights film ever made,” this documentary by Bill Jersey chronicles the ultimately unsuccessful attempts of a Nebraska Lutheran minister to integrate his church. Contains some of the best observational “fly on the wall” footage ever filmed, filled with incisive scenes showing people struggling with their prejudices, anger, disillusionment, changing social times and hopes for the future. Expanded essay by Ed Carter
Easily in the pantheon of best student films ever produced, “A Time Out of War” managed to beat the odds and win the Oscar for best short film. Two Union soldiers and one Confederate soldier declare a temporary truce in this sensitive, elegantly unhurried film that helped put student filmmaking on the cultural map.
Created in 1976 by Mort Jordan, a student at Temple University, “Time and Dreams” is a unique and personal elegiac approach to the civil rights movement. The filmmaker has described “Time and Dreams” as a personal journey back to his Alabama home, where he contrasts two societies: the nostalgia some residents have for past values versus the deferred dreams of those who are well past waiting for their time to fully participate in the promise of their own dreams. Through vignettes and personal testimonies, the film portrays Greene County, Alabama, as its people move toward understanding and cooperation in a time of social change.
Told largely with revealing news clips and archival footage interspersed with personal reminiscences, “The Times of Harvey Milk,” directed by Rob Epstein, vividly recounts the life of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected city official. The film, which received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, traces Harvey Milk’s ascent from Bay Area businessman to political prominence as city supervisor and his 1978 assassination, which also claimed the life of San Francisco mayor George Moscone. While illuminating the effect that Milk had on those who knew him, the film also documents the nascent gay rights movement of the 1970s. The film, with its moving and incisive portrait of a city, a culture and a struggle—as well as Harvey Milk’s indomitable spirit—resonates profoundly as a historical document of a grassroots movement gaining political power through democratic means.
This innovative short cartoon and precursor to the blockbuster feature “Toy Story” won an Oscar and helped Pixar Studios revolutionize American animation. Written and directed by John Lasseter, the film depicts a destructive baby’s playtime from a frightened tin toy’s point of view. Despite a clunky foray into human characters, this is one of Pixar’s best short subjects.
James Cameron’s epic retold the story of the great maritime disaster and made mega-stars of both its leads, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Their upstairs-downstairs romance transported the audience to another world and time via spectacular sweeping scenes in the bow of the ship and beyond. The film cost $200 million to produce, leading many to predict a historic box office disaster, but “Titanic” became one of the top-grossing films of all-time and a cultural touchstone of the era. Newsweek’s David Ansen spoke of how Cameron managed to fulfill expectations for the film: “When Cameron’s camera pulls back from a closeup of the exuberant DiCaprio at the bow of the ship and lifts to peer down from the sky at the Titanic passing majestically underneath, you feel the kind of jaw-dropping delight you felt as a child overwhelmed by the sheer size of Hollywood’s dreams. ‘Titanic’ is big, bold, touchingly uncynical filmmaking.”
Director Ernst Lubitsch’s film is a black and occasionally slapstick comedy about a Polish theater company–led by the ham acting husband and wife team of Joseph and Maria Tura –that turns to espionage after being shut down by the invading Nazis. Though not particularly successful with either critics or audiences, it has grown in stature over time and is now appreciated as a complex and timely satire that delicately balances humor and ethics. Expanded essay by David L. Smith
This documentary, which pioneered the ultra-wide IMAX format, follows the history of flight from the earliest hot air balloons to manned space missions. Commissioned by the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. for its grand opening, the film captures aerial panoramas of Niagara Falls, aerobatic maneuvers by the Blue Angels, the excitement of a rocket lift-off, and the serenity of hang gliding. Directed and co-written by Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray, the film is among the most popular diocumentaries ever produced and has garnered awards domestically and internationally.
Novelist Harper Lee’s child’s-eye view of southern bigotry is adapted exquisitely for film by screenwriter Horton Foote and director Robert Mulligan. Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his performance, is country lawyer Atticus Finch who must defend a black man on a trumped-up rape charge. As the courtroom drama unfolds, the Finch children learn about courage and self-respect. In his film debut, Robert Duvall plays the mysterious Boo Radley.
Beginning with his UCLA student film, the austere neo-realistic “Killer of Sheep,” director Charles Burnett has carved out a distinctive and exalted niche in American independent cinema. Burnett often sets his films on a small scale but deftly explores universal themes, including the power to endure and the rewards and burdens of family. Critic Leonard Maltin called “To Sleep with Anger” an “evocative domestic drama about the effect storyteller/trickster Glover has on the various members of a black family. More than just a portrait of contemporary black society, it’s a story of cultural differences between parents and children of how individuals learn from experience, and of how there should be no place for those who cause violence and strife.”
Henry King 50-year career in Hollywood, reputation for capturing the values, culture, history, personality, and character of the nation. His nostalgia was honest, and often bittersweet. In “Tol’able David,” King tells a coming-of-age story about a youth who must overcome savage, bullying neighbors as he takes on his first job delivering mail in rural Virginia. “Tol’able David” was studied by Russian filmmakers of the 1920s. They were inspired by King’s memorable conjunctions of shots that evoked personalities and emotions without a need for explanatory titles. “Tol’able David” remains a powerful drama and is also known for its craftsmanship, which was tremendously influential on subsequent filmmaking. Expanded essay by Fritzi Kramer
Considered a landmark of experimental cinema and one of filmmaker Ken Jacobs’ most popular films, “Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son” was created by re-photographing a 1905 paper print short film as a means of exploring the parameters of film art and the act of watching films. Through techniques ranging from slow and studied examinations of individual paper print images to probing experiments in manipulation of motion and light, Jacobs created a “structuralist film” masterpiece.
An unsuccessful actor disguises himself as a woman to land a role on a soap opera. As the assertive Dorothy Michaels, he confronts sexist double-standards, and discovers that the experience makes him a better man. The film is directed by Sydney Pollack, who appears in the film alongside Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, and Jessica Lange, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Expanded essay by Brian Scott Mednick
Though a wag might be tempted to call this Tony Scott film “The Testosterone Chronicles,” the Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production actually comprises a deft portrait of mid-1980s America, when politicians promised “Morning in America Again,” and singers crooned “God Bless the U.S.A.” The U.S. Navy, for one, did not complain: applications to naval aviation schools soared in part as a result of this relentless, pulsating film famed for its vertiginous fighter-plane sequences. Scott, always most at home when crafting slick, visually arresting action-set pieces with distinctive flair, delivers on all fronts. Among others, director Christopher Nolan has highlighted “Top Gun” for the clear influence of the film’s celebrated visual style on future filmmakers. Tom Cruise here graduated to the top echelon of in-demand actors, aided by his good looks, cocky attitude, omnipresent smile, and brazen attempts to woo and secure steamy personal time with civilian instructor Kelly McGillis.
The fourth pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and the first with a screenplay written specifically for them, “Top Hat” is the quintessential Astaire-Rogers musical, complete with a contrived story of mistaken identity, romance, dapper outfits, art deco sets, plenty of dazzling dance numbers and an array of wonderful songs, including perhaps the most famous Astaire-Rogers duet, “Cheek to Cheek.” This effervescent musical proved the perfect tonic for Depression-era audiences, even if it was merely a reworking of the dance team’s earlier “The Gay Divorcee.” Expanded essay by Carrie Rickey
The Topaz Relocation Center, located 140 miles south of Salt Lake City, was one of 10 internment camps during World War II that housed thousands of Japanese Americans perceived as “alien enemies.” Internee Dave Tatsuno smuggled a Bell & Howell 8mm camera and color film into the guarded camp, and for two years recorded daily activities including church services, birthdays, meal preparation, snowstorms and sunsets. Tatsuno’s footage, a total of nine rolls of Kodachrome film that runs approximately 48 minutes, is the only color motion pictures of life inside an internment camp, and often features smiling evacuees. Tatsuno observed that his films lacked “the fear, the loneliness, the despair and the bitterness that we felt.” Expanded essay by Karen L. Ishizuka View this film at Discover Nikkei External , a community website celebrating people of Japanese descent who have migrated and settled throughout the world.
Orson Welles directed, coscripted and costarred in one of cinema’s most influential and audacious suspense dramas about a honeymoon couple being terrorized by corrupt officials on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. The shadow-drenched cinematography of Russell Metty is remarkable and stands out right from the film’s opening shot from high above in one long extended take. Expanded essay by Michael Sragow Movie still
This film changed animation’s face and delivery system as the first full-length animated feature to be created entirely by artists using hi-tech tools known today simply as CGI, for computer-generated imagery. Young Andy’s current toys – including his longtime favorite, the loveable cowboy Woody – have to learn to live with his new and improved playmate, galactic superhero Buzz Lightyear . Director John Lasseter opens up the magical and hilarious secret world of toys in Pixar Studios’ first feature, which would go on to give birth to several theatrical and home video spinoffs.
This sensational exposé of “white slavery” captivated the country upon its 1913 release and presaged the Hollywood narrative film. At six reels, its length was nearly unheard of at the time, save for a few biblical epics. Although arguably an exploitation film, the film’s riveting sociology is gripping in its portrayals of methods used to entrap working women and immigrants. “Traffic in Souls” holds up well today because of its verve and location shooting. Expanded essay by Marilyn Ferdinand
Husband and wife anthropologists Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead ventured to the island of Bali in 1936 to document the country’s culture including such behaviors as parent-child interactions, artists at work, and ritual performances and ceremonies in which participants meditate to reach a half-conscious state in order to commune with spirits of ancestors. When possessed by these spirits, those involved may perform unusual acts such as eating glass or fire, until they are brought out of the trance by a shaman. While Mead and Bateson’s field work is still considered groundbreaking for illustrating how film could be used as a research tool, it has been criticized, particularly for not accounting sufficiently for the role of religion in Balinese culture. Expanded essay by Kate Pourshariati Watch it here
John Huston wrote and directed this intense character study of gold fever among an unlikely trio of prospectors . Bogart is outstanding as the pathetic bully Fred C. Dobbs, a tragic hero brought down precisely by his flaws. Walter Huston won an Oscar for best supporting actor as a giddy, grizzled old-timer. Critic Roger Ebert noted the film’s “pitiless stark realism” that gives the film its honesty and truth.
Encouraged by her idealistic, alcoholic father , a bright and imaginative young girl comes of age in a Brooklyn tenement during the early 1900s. Elia Kazan, in his directorial debut, molds a faithful screenplay by Tess Slesinger and Frank Davis from the Betty Smith novel into a sensitive film with strong performances. Dunn, who won an Oscar, is joined by Dorothy McGuire as the hard-edged wife and mother, Joan Blondell as the irrepressible aunt and Lloyd Nolan as the kind, honest cop on the beat. The 13-year-old Garner received a special Oscar for her portrayal of the aspiring writer, Francie. Critic Bosley Crowther remarked on Kazan’s “easy naturalness that has brought out all the tone of real experience in a vastly affecting film.”
This 13-minute film was recorded by placing a movie camera on the front of a cable car as it proceeded down San Francisco’s Market Street. As a time capsule, the film showcases the details of daily life in a major American city, including the fashions, transportations and architecture of the era. The film was originally thought to have been made in 1905, but historian David Kiehn, who examined contemporary newspapers, weather reports and car license plates recorded in the film later suggested that “A Trip Down Market Street” was likely filmed just a few days before the devastating earthquake on April 18, 1906. Expanded essay by David Kiehn
The “Lubitsch Touch” — an easy comedic elegance which characterized the films of director Ernst Lubitsch — is epitomized in this frothy gem starring Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins as professional thieves who fall in love while plundering the Riviera. Saucy dialog delivered with mock melodrama runs rampant amidst sophisticated promiscuity when Marshall is bewitched by the wealthy Parisienne he intends to fleece , the thieves find they’re not as thick as they thought.
George Pal created his “Puppetoons” while living in Europe in the 1930s. These animated puppet films are distinguished by a technique known as replacement animation in which multiple puppets represent each action desired. Air Jordan 13 “Starfish” 2021 For Sale 414571-108