Abbott and Costello never received the critical respect they deserved in the comedy world; they were considered too low-brow. Yet, for me back when I was in Junior High School, The Abbott and Costello Show, a mainstay on New York City’s WPIX-TV channel 11, along with The Honeymooners, was must-see TV. It’s lost in my own little file cabinet of mental history how many times I watched those episodes. I do know my mother never understood the repeated viewings as she would ask over and over again, “haven’t you seen this already?” Yes, was my answer, they’re funny. She would walk away shaking her head. Continue reading
Reblogging The Asphalt Jungle, an article I wrote a few years back. It’s on TCM today at 5:45PM Eastern. Don’t miss it!
Note: There are spoilers in the article.
Everyone has a weakness, and if you let it consume you it just might do you in: young girls, high living, horses, it does not matter, they can all become vices and destroy you. That what happens to the various characters in John Huston’s classic caper film “The Asphalt Jungle.” Written by Huston and Ben Maddow, based a novel by W.R. Burnett whose tough yet effortless style is responsible for such other memorable films like “Little Caesar” and “High Sierra.”
“The Asphalt Jungle” is the first caper movie to detail in a realistic, gritty style, a step by step process on how to pull off a heist job. It definitely set the standards for future heist films to come like “Rififi,” “The Killing,” “The Anderson Tapes,” “The Usual Suspects,” “Reservoir Dogs” and even a lesser film like “Ocean’s 11” all of which owe…
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Besides wanting to be a cowboy when I was young, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. At first, a sports writer, then I somewhere along the line wanted to review movies (no surprise there!), and from there it evolved into a news reporter and journalist. In films, the newsroom always looked fascinating to me. Hustling to get the story, beating the deadline, and competitors, the speedy typing, the editor making changes and finally seeing your story in print with your byline on top. That dream faded away like many others, but my love of films with journalistic themes remained. In cinema, many great movies have been made about journalism. Sam Fuller’s Park Row is one of the best, as is Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole. There are plenty of others including All the President’s Men, Spotlight, His Girl Friday, Sweet Smell of Success, Zodiac, Absence of Malice, Deadline U.S.A., Citizen Kane, and State of Play. There are plenty more that could be added to this list. Some of these films reflect journalism in a good light, sometimes even heroic ways (Park Row, All The President’s Men, Spotlight, State of Play) while others hold up a mirror to the darker opportunistic side of journalism (Ace in the Hole, Sweet Smell of Success). Continue reading
For me, the 1950’s can be considered as one of the best decades in film. With films like Sunset Blvd, From Here to Eternity, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, All About Eve, Rear Window (Hitchcock again!), On the Waterfront, Touch of Evil, High Noon, and so many others how could it not be? However, with the introduction of television in more and more American homes during this decade comedy seemed to have hit a bump in the road. There were not as many comedies, and they generally were not as funny as in the past. Of course, there were exceptions, Some Like it Hot is one of the greatest sound comedies. One thing that you will notice is that some of the films on the list are musical comedies. A style that at this point in time, television still could not emulate.
When I first became interested in film, seriously interested, there were not many books on the subject, at least not in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Arthur Knight’s The Liveliest Art, published in the late 1950’s, was one of the first books on the subject I read. I discovered names like Griffith, DeMille, and others. I did find a copy of Rudolph Arnheim’s Film as Art at a local library around the same time or not soon after. Other than that, you were pretty much limited to film star biographies. Continue reading
Guilt is the sort of thing that can haunt you, eat at your inner guts, and destroy your mind. It will weigh on you and everyone you come into contact with. Do something horrible, and it can kill you. Based on Stephen King’s novella, 1922 is an exploration of how guilt is unrelenting and its dread can destroy a man and his entire world. Continue reading
There was a time when photographs actually required film be in the camera instead of a digital disc. Many professional photographers back in the day used Kodachrome because the colors were vibrant. On a bright shiny sunny day, you could get those those nice bright colors, the greens of summers that Paul Simon sang about in his hit song. If stored properly, Kodachrome had a long post processing self-life. Colors did not fade. Kodachrome was also good for magazine reproduction. With the introduction of digital photography, Kodachrome began to lose a significant portion of the market share. In 2009, Kodak stopped producing Kodachrome. In 2010, the last authorized processing facility, Dwayne’s Photos, located in Parsons, Kansas closed its doors. Continue reading