The Sad Life of Audrey Munson

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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

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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

A Face in the Crowd (1957) Elia Kazan

I originally had Orson Welles “Touch of Evil” scheduled for today’s posting, however with the death of Andy Griffith earlier this week I decided to repost an old review of “A Face in the Crowd” I wrote a few years ago for the now defunct website Halo-17. Then the horror struck, I had no copy of my original review! The website was shut down so I could not even retrieve anything from on line. I generally keep a copy of all my reviews on my PC but this one apparently got way. All I could find was a paragraph of notes I had taken for background. Still determined to put out a review, I began with those notes and, though a bit rushed, came up with what you will read here. It is not the best but it will have to do  Oh yeah, Welles “Touch of Evil,” which has been brewing on the back burner for a month or so now, has been rescheduled once again, and will  appear here two weeks from today.

The rise of the media star as an influence in our lives has never been greater. From Presidential politics to what we watch on television and listen to on the radio, the media star influence’s us all.  Oprah Winfrey can persuade millions on what book to read or who to vote for in an upcoming election. Since the 1950’s the power of television cannot be under estimated. Mass communication was now available at a level undreamed of and unavailable before. As far back as the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates, when the camera revealed JFK as good looking, confident and in control, while his opponent then Vice-President Richard Nixon appeared with a five o’clock shadow and a sweaty brow, the use of television had the power to shape voters opinions and ideas then and ever since. In the most recent Presidential debates between Obama and McCain in 2008 your saw it again. As Obama explained his policies, the camera showed McCain tightlipped and anxious, almost itchy or unwilling to wait for Obama to finish so he could jump in. Continue reading