Celluloid Comfort Food

imagesJ0UJ5EBKThere is a certain reassurance in watching your favorite films over and over and over again. The act of repeated watching is like getting together with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. You talk about the same old stories, you laugh or maybe even  cry about those bygone glory days. Similarly, when watching a favorite movie you know where the jokes are. You can anticipate those laughs long before they come on screen. If it’s an old gangster film, you know you have to watch just one more time as James Cagney takes that long final walk toward the electric chair. Either way, there is a level  of contentment  that flows in you with the familiarly of repeatedly watching a favorite film. You forget about the world outside, the troubles inside your head, for two hours and relax with pure celluloid comfort food.

In the traditional sense, we all have our comfort foods. For me, it a good chocolate chip cookie and I mean a “good” chocolate chip cookie and not just some run of the mill store bought cookie with the sort of chemical additives added into the ingredients that you cannot identify or even pronounce. If I am going to eat fattening stuff, it’s going to be the best.

But comfort food can come in various forms meaning not junk actual food. Recently I got into a mental funk and needed a few comforting movies to get over it. Whenever I am down, a movie, the right movie can help bring me back. However, it isn’t always easy to find the right film or films. I began by taking a took a look at my extensive collection and found nothing was appealing to me. I kept receiving these negative vibrations inside my head. No, not that! Don’t feel like that one. God, why did I even buy this one? All I wanted to do was watch a couple of films that I knew so well and enjoyed that I could just sit back in my chair and watch without having to think. This went on for a couple of days. I just could not find anything that was going to help. Continue reading

The Sad Life of Audrey Munson

Audrey_Munson_1922

You may be asking yourself who is Audrey Munson? Well, if you lived in the early years of the 20th Century, and you were into the art scene of the day, you would know that Munson was a well-known artist model. The New York City art community certainly knew Munson. She was the first “super model” before the term was even invented. Her career began in 1906 when she was only 15 and she remained at the top until early in the 1920’s when her world would begin to unravel. But that was still in the future. Continue reading

Cats on Film: My Favorite Cat Movies

cat10Stereotypically  cats have been called aloof, sneaky, and manipulative. In reality, felines are independent, mischievous and self-aware. They are also smart, loving, affectionate and without trying very hard do some of the oddest, funniest things at the most unexpected times.  Nothing against dogs, they are loyal, obedient, loving and always happy to see you,  jumping around excitedly whenever you  arrive back home. On the other hand, cats may lift their head up as if to say, “oh it’s you.” That is unless it is time to eat and you are late coming home. Dogs are anxious to please while cats, well cats play it cool.  Want to find the most comfortable chair in the house? Just check where the cat is sitting.

I never had a pet as a kid except for a parakeet that one summer my parents left with my grandmother while we went on vacation. One day my dear grandmother let the bird out of the cage to give it a little flying time. Unfortunately, she forgot one of her windows was open and well, it was bye, bye birdie! I never had a dog or cat, never wanted one. That said, many years later when I met the woman who would become my wife, I soon learned she had four cats, and like a woman with kids, it was a package deal. I quickly found myself living with four little furry felines that to not only my surprise, but to just about everyone who knew me, I fell in love with. I became an animal lover. I could tell you a lot more but I will only add that we still have cats today. This last statement will come as no surprise to anyone who has visited my John Greco Photography facebook page. Continue reading

A Christmas Carol (1951) Brian Desmond Hurst

Sims

One of the holiday’s best known tales, Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol,” has been reproduced, adapted over the years many times in various formats from animation to TV, film and stage. From Charlie Brown to Mickey Mouse to “The Odd Couple” and multiple screen versions performed by a diverse host of actors including George C. Scott, Reginald Owen, Seymour Hicks, John Carradine, Patrick Stewart, Walter Matthau,  Jim Carrey, Albert Finney, Vanessa Williams ( you are reading this right. Ms. Williams played Ebony Scrooge in a TV movie called “A Diva’s Christmas”) and of course the great Alastair Sim in what is considered by many, including myself, the best adaptation ever, the 1951 version, originally titled “Scrooge” in the U.K. but generally now known by Dicken’s original title.

Unlike most versions, this British production follows fairly close the Dickens novel, though there are some changes, and also unlike most versions this is a dark, bleaker account of the world’s best known miser. Recently I watched, for the first time, the Reginald Owen version from 1938, released by MGM, and while decent, the many needless changes to the plot along with a surplus dose of sentiment makes this a soft hearted second rate, if still entertaining, adaptation. Continue reading

The Maltese Falcon (1931) Roy Del Ruth

Okay, I am not going to tell you this original version of Dashiell Hammett’s now classic novel is better that John Huston’s 1941 masterpiece, but the truth is Roy Del Ruth’s 1931 pre-code has a sensual sinful aura the Huston/Bogart film lacks and it makes you want to keep it in your back pocket and save it for a night of wicked dreams.

After the release of the Huston/Bogart gem, Warner Brothers changed the title of the earlier flick to the more vapid and generic “Dangerous Woman” so as not to confuse anyone. Over the years this first version has practically been pushed into oblivion and only recently, thanks to TCM, popped back on to the screen. Continue reading

Why Disease Makes Such Compelling Viewing

This article originally appeared on KwikMed and has been reprinted with the permission of Guest Author Lily McCann.

The next time you complain about having a slight migraine or catching a cold, just remember that there are plenty of worse things you could catch, especially if you’re a fan of the big screen. Epidemic infections, viruses and deadly diseases all feature regularly in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. It seems audiences can’t get enough flesh eating bacteria or rabid infected blood – all of which are at the expense of human life.

Why do people pay the admission fee to see the latest horror movie which is based around some form of deadly disease? Why? Some of the reasons are quite obvious. It’s the shock factor; first and foremost, people just love it, being absolutely shocked and scared out of their wits end, or at least they love being scared at in the safe haven of the movie theater – real life deadly diseases are much less entertaining! Being in the movies is far removed from real life, no matter how good the special effects are, audience members know that in a couple of hours they’ll walk out of theatre still in one piece, virus free and safe from any possible deadly infection!

It’s fair to say that a movie which features deadly viral diseases is likely to get a person’s heart pounding much more than the latest Disney animation, which of course is where the main appeal of these types of movies comes from. It’s true that the vast majority of the audience will lead a relatively calm, almost uneventful lifestyle, at least when compared to the lives of those in the movies; therefore, people often seek out something that is going to give their nervous system some form of periodic revving. Continue reading

The Horror of “The Birds”

I don’t really like to complain about multiplexes showing classic movies on the big screen. It’s rare enough that we movie lovers have the opportunity to watch great classics in a theater environment. However, and isn’t there always a however, after the last experience recently at a local Regal Cinema (Citrus Park Mall in Tampa), the real life horror was the theater experience itself, more so than Hitchcock’s excellent film.

I arrived at the theater about twenty minutes before show time. As I headed to theater five as it stated on the ticket, other patrons are all filing out mumbling about a change in the theater. “The Birds” they were told will now be showing in theater nine.  So like a wandering herd of sheep we all went strolling over to theater nine only to discover “Finding Nemo 2″ was already in progress. The manager, now on the scene, was as perplexed as the rest of us. He gets on his handy dandy intercom and promises to straighten this out. A few minutes go by and we are told to head over to yet another theater on the opposite side of the lobby. The sign reads 2016 (shorten for the documentary “2016 Obama’s America”). For many of us it felt like it may be 2016 before we find the correct screening room. Happily, this was the right theater, as the pre-show entertainment i.e. advertisements on the screen were TCM related. Continue reading