The Story of Barbara Graham in Robert Wise’s I Want to Live! (1958)

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Who is Barbara Graham, you ask? Well, read on.

Barbara Graham’s life reads like it dripped off the pages of a hard boiled crime fiction writer’s pen.  A sexy, voluptuous, lethal femme fatale born bad to the bone.  The newspaper media of the day even tagged Graham with the nickname “Bloody Babs.” Born Barbara Ford, she  had a tough life right from the beginning. Born in Oakland, CA. out of wedlock to a teenage mother, who would herself be sent to reform school when Barbara was two years old, the child bounced around from one  foster home to another. In her early teens Barbara would ironically be incarcerated in the same reform school her mother was in just a few years earlier.  At 16, back in her hometown of Oakland, alone, pretty, with little education, Barbara made money by “dating” sailors. The dates did not always results in sex, sometimes they were just dates. She tried leading a straight life, went to school, married, had two kids, but the marriage soon failed as did two other marriages. She apparently turned to prostitution, petty crimes and drugs, her friends all crooks and low-life’s. Barbara would soon end up in jail after being found guilty of perjury when she foolishly attempted to protect two of her thug pals from the law. Continue reading

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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

After Dark, My Sweet (1990) James Foley

after-dark-my-sweetAuthor Jim Thompson created some of the darkest  pulp crime fiction ever to land between the covers of  greasy paperbacks left in two bit diners on dark rain soaked nights. He was a writer whose tales were filled with sleazy grifters and psychopaths. An alcoholic himself, Thompson’s works featured characters that drank too much booze, like it was a life-saving device.

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Whiplash (1948) Lewis Seiler

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“Whiplash” is the kind of routine film Warner Brothers pumped out weekly back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, the days before a television was standard in everyone’s home. Not saying this is as a bad thing or that “Whiplash” is a bad movie. It’s like the old saying goes, “They just don’t make’em like this anymore.”  Now, no one is going to make the argument this is a great film, but with that said, it does keep you interested despite its flaws, specifically a script that at times stretches the imagination in the believability department.

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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. https://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/film-diary-2013/

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1931) Lewis Milestone

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