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

Interview With Author David Koenig

David Koenig’s new book Danny Kaye:King of Jesters is the first full scale backstage look and critical analysis of Danny Kaye’s life and career. A multi talented performer, Koenig devotes individual chapters to each area of Kaye’s career from his early days in the Catskills to his later work on stage, radio, TV and in movies. Koenig gives full detailed accounts, many directly from those who knew and worked with Kaye, along with backstage stories on the making of his greatest roles including “The Court Jester,” “White Christmas” and many others.

Koenig’s also looks at Kaye’s relationship, both private and professional, with his wife Sylvia Fine who wrote many of Kaye’s best known songs (Pavlova, Anatole of Paris) as well his lifelong commitment as an Ambassador for UNICEF.

Those looking for a detailed biography might be disappointed but that was not the author’s intent. Instead Koenig shines a light on the many talents of an almost forgotten Hollywood figure today. Comedian, singer, dramatic actor, dancer, mimic and orchestra leader unique for his rapid fire ability to speak and sing wordy twisted dialogue and lyrics.

David Koenig is the author of such best sellers as “Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland,” “Mouse Under Glass:  Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks,” and “Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World.” David is also the chief editor for the business journal “The Merchant Magazine.” 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

Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story (2007) Jeffrey Schwarz

The first film I ever saw of William Castle’s was “13 Ghosts” back in 1960 at a local theater in Brooklyn called The Culver. Audience members were given viewers containing both a red filter and a blue filter that you would look through depending on if you wanted to see the ghosts or not after being prompted to do so by the movie. While it worked, the entire idea was not exactly state of the art special effects, even for 1960. But it was fun and “Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story” is even more fun and filled with memories, interviews and plenty of footage from Castle’s classic “B” filmography. For younger viewers and the uninitiated, terms like “Illusion-O,” “Percepto” and “Emergo” will be new but don’t worry it’s all engagingly explained.

Those familiar with only Castle’s horror films may be surprised to discover his earlier films and his association with Orson Welles. He was a second unit director for “The Lady from Shanghai.” Castle had purchased the screen rights to “If I Should Die Before I Wake” by Sherwood King, the source novel the film was based on,  and asked Welles to pitch the story to Harry Cohn of Columbia with the idea Castle himself would direct. It didn’t work out that way though with Cohn deciding to go with Welles directing. Continue reading