The Take2 Guide to Steven Spielberg

The new e-book, The Take2 Guide to Steven Spielberg, which includes an article by yours truly (The Summer of Jaws), is now available in all e-Book formats.spielberg_guide5_ss_697da926-bab1-44fe-83dd-df70360208c0_1024x1024 The book includes articles, interviews and reviews covering Spielberg’s entire career and features more than 60 contributors including Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joseph McBride. Matt Zoller Seitz, Tom Carson and James Bernardinelli as well as fellow film bloggers Sam Juliano, Joel Bocko,Ed Howard and others.  Edited by fellow blogger and filmmaker Adam Zanzie.

Attached below is a press release…

Big Bad Mama (1974) Steve Carver

big-bad-mamaKing of the B’s, Roger Corman was well acquainted with making gangster films, having previous directed “Machine Gun Kelly,” starring Charles Buchinsky, aka Charles Bronson, “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” with Jason Robards as Big Al Capone and in the 1970’s, his final film, “Bloody Mama” with Shelley Winters as Ma Barker and an unknown young actor named Robert DeNiro as one of Mama’s boys, the drug addicted, Lloyd. Later in the decade Corman produced “Capone” with Ben Gazarra over acting throughout as the Chicago mobster.

Other than “I, Mobster,” a film he made in 1958, all these films were based on real life underworld characters and that’s what he wanted to do once again with his latest project. According the extras on the DVD, Corman told screenwriter Frances Doel to do some research for a real life female gangster in the history books. With Corman, having already filmed the exploits of Ma Barker, Doel could not find another real life female gangster so she created the fictional Wilma McClatchie. Continue reading

A Few Thoughts on Harold Ramis


Even if you never heard of Harold Ramis, you certainly would know his movies. Writer, director, actor, Ramis was one of the architects of the modern day comedy. You know his films, “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters,” “Groundhog Day” and so many more. I first remember seeing his name way back in 1978 when I went to see “Animal House” at the Loew’s New York Twin (now The Beekman Twin) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I always paid attention to the credits in movies; who directed, who wrote the screenplay, who was the DP.  I was taught by Professor Richard Brown of the New School whose adult education classes I attended that you should stay for the end credits. It showed respect and you learned who the artists were behind the work. Granted, these were the days before end credits ran for ten minutes listing everyone and I mean everyone who had anything to do with the film including the guys who cleaned up the bathrooms. Continue reading

Philip Seymour Hoffman: A Regular Guy


It shouldn’t have ended this way, a superb actor found dead with a needle in his arm, empty bags of smack littered about in his downtown Manhattan apartment. He was only 46 years old. Behind he leaves his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, three small children, fellow actors and film lovers who soaked in and admired his talent with every nuance in his performance.

His family, friends and fellow talents will miss him as a human being, a father, a brilliant light and we will miss him for his performances that gave us joy, excitement and inspiration. We will feel cheated of the future works that could have been and  now will never be.

The ugliness of his demise though in no way diminishes the work he left behind in an array of films with performances both brilliant and natural. A prolific actor, Hoffman leaves a legacy of more than 50 films in less than 25 years. His career included movies such as “Almost Famous” where he played legendary rock music critic Lester Bangs and “Capote” where he seemingly possessed the soul of the late author and won an Academy Award for Best Actor.

He worked with some of the best directors including Sidney Lumet in the filmmaker’s final film, “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead,” with Mike Nichols in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” the Coen Brothers in their cult classic, “The Big Lebowski,” and twice with Paul Thomas Anderson in “Magnolia” and “The Master.” There were big budget films like “Mission Impossible III, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Moneyball” and small independent flicks like “Savages,” “Synecdoche, New York” and “A Late Quartet,” the last one directed by Dustin Hoffman.

Hoffman’s looks,demeanor, his stocky built, rumpled hair and sloppy clothes gave him the appearance of an everyday guy, one who lived next door, exemplified by his role in the 2010 film “Jack Goes Boating.” His everydayness was also expressed by his neighbors who stated you always would see him in the neighborhood, walking his kids, just like a regular guy.

Best Films of 2013

2013 was an intoxicating year in film. Filmmakers as diverse as Woody Allen, Steve McQueen, Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze and the Coen Brothers all releasing some of the best films of the year, and in some cases, the best of their careers. Admittedly, my list is limited to mostly films made in the U.S., not because I believe America has a hook on making the best movies, it is due more to my location, timing and release patterns.

My top ten list is actually a top five list. I have been wrestling back and forth, attempting to decide,  in what order the remaining films would fall. Subsequently, since I did not want this post to be published in July, I just added them to my Honorable Mentions all which are in alphabecial order. Continue reading

24 Frames: 4th Annual Ten Best Classic Films Watched…For the First Time

It’s time again for our annual Twenty Four Frames Top Ten List of Classic Films Watched… For The First Time. This is our fourth year presenting this list of the best films that I have finally managed to catch up with. As usual the films are in alphabetical order.

In 2013, the list was dominated by American films, unlike in 2012 when only three U.S. films made the list.  There are two films from France and one film, a co-production, from the U.K. and India. The 1930’s and the 1950’s had the most films on the list with three each. Both the 1920’s and the 1980’s had tw0. There are 10 honorable mentions all of which are worthy works in and of themselves and deserve to be seen. For easy access, I have provided a link to all the films watched in 2013.


all quiet on the western front

Classic anti-war film that still packs a punch on the horrors, the meaninglessness and evils of war along with the stupidity of those back home preaching the glories of dying for ones country with shallow patriotic slogans and rhetoric. The battle scenes are as graphic, and magnificently shot, as the war is shown to be senseless.  A highlight is when Lew Ayres returns home and visits the classroom of a former teacher. The young teen students are all anxious and ready to go to war. Ayres tells them how it really is…”There’s no glory, we live in the trenches, we fight…we try not to be killed – that’s all!”  This is Lewis Milestone’s masterpiece. While he made a few other good films, “The Racket,” “The Front Page,” and “Of Mice and Men” to name a few, he never came close again to making this fine and powerful a cinematic work. Continue reading

A Budding Cinephile

BrownI first became aware of movies as a young kid watching “B” westerns on TV with my father on Saturday afternoons; Johnny Mack Brown westerns always comes to mind when I think of this. There were plenty of other cowboy films in the 1950s; showing westerns was popular back then with TV stations looking to fill up airtime. I can remember my father reminiscing about his own cowboy hero, silent film star William S. Hart, who apparently at the end of the film would ride off with his horse into the sunset, leaving the girl behind. Whether he actually did this or not, I don’t know, but that’s the story my father handed down. Continue reading

Elmore Leonard Remembered 1925 -2013

LeonardElmore Leonard was one of my favorite writers. His crime novels were smart, filled with quirky characters and brilliantly entertaining dialogue. Sadly, Leonard passed away earlier today at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke three weeks ago. Many of his novels were made into films. When done right, they were as unique and as inventive as his books, works like Get Shorty and Jackie Brown, the second based on his novel Rum Punch, was directed by Quentin Tarantino. His characters were a rogueish lot full of brutes and con artists. Unforgettably slick with a dangerous charm; think Chili Palmer, Jack Foley and Raylan Givens, it really didn’t matter what side of the law they were on, they were always memorable. Continue reading