Bambi (1942) Our First Lesson in Grief

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By Lily McCann 

© Lily McCann 2014

   

When you ask most children what the most traumatising film of their childhood was, Bambi (1942) is likely to get mentioned. However, the movie actually teaches us a valuable life lesson in terms of grief and how to deal with it. In fact, Disney has become renowned for telling it like it is to children and helping them to understand life’s obstacles in a straight forward and honest way, without being too graphic.

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The Cinemas of Woody Allen

annie-hall-6BeekmanWoody Allen’s love of New York and movies  is legendary. Many times over Woody has incorporated these two loves into his films. As a consequence, Woody films are not only entertaining works of art, but have becomes historical documents of a time gone by. Woody’s location shooting on the streets of New York is well known and many of the locations; stores, buildings and cinemas are sadly no longer in existence. They are gone, destroyed for many reasons; old age, bankruptcy, outgrown their usefulness or ever worst…progress!

Over the past several decades New York’s classic movie theaters have pretty much been decimated! At one time there were many, many theaters and now the few that are left standing have been turned into churches, bingo halls, furniture stores, flea markets, left vacant or torn down. In their place today we have the cold, bland multi-plexes of modern day movie going.  At one time there were well over thirty movie theaters in the Times Square/Broadway/42nd street area of midtown. Now there are two multiplexes on 42nd Street and not one movie theater on the Broadway/7th Avenue crossroads replaced instead by Corporate America’s candy land of shops from Disney to Hershey’s to Swatch and others symbols of modern day consumerism. Once the center for the arts in America (stage, screen, television, music, nightclubs, etc.), Times Square has been turned into an glittery outdoor mall for tourist.

Fortunately, thanks to Woody Allen, many of the movie theaters that once graced New York can still be seen or at least glimpsed at in his movies. My list here is not comprehensive, but I believe I cover most of the cinemas Woody has shown in his films, from Broadway to the Upper West Side and Upper East Side of Manhattan to Brooklyn. Continue reading

Grease (1978) Randall Kleiser

Grease Sing-A-LongIt began with an idea from Jim Jacobs who thought it would be cool to do a show with 1950′s rock and roll music. He mentioned it to his friend, and fellow amateur theater associate, Warren Casey. Both men had nine to five jobs, but Casey would soon lose his job, and to pass the time he began to write what would turn out to be the pajama party scene in the finished musical. The two men got together and worked on the book and some music, and then just like in the movies, they managed to put on a show. The venue was in Chicago, a small theater called Kingston Mines. It was a low budget production with cheap painted backdrops; the cast included an unknown Marilu Henner as Marty. The show itself was still evolving, a few of the songs were there from the beginning (Beauty School Dropout, Grease Lightnin’), others would be added later. Two New York producers saw the show and thought with a few changes, but keeping its rough edges intact, the show would make for an interesting Off-Broadway production. Continue reading

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

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Much of the country has seen dramatic amounts of snow this winter with even the massive waterways like the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls both freezing over. Many areas have set new record temperature lows or at least have come close. Despite Spring approaching soon, there still seems to be no end in sight.  This got me thinking about movies and snow.

I have always had a fondness for movies with snow. My favorite time of the year to watch films with the fluffy stuff, other than Christmas, is in the summer. Living in Florida, by the time July and August come around, the extreme heat and sticky, thick humidity have settled in, and it is not going anywhere, at least, not until late October, if we are lucky. Continue reading

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

Oscars Nominations and My Picks to Win

nebraska4I usually don’t pick Oscars but this year was pretty exceptional as to quality and how close this race really is in some categories, which makes it ever more difficult to pick a winner. Having seen all the films nominated, and all the performances nominated, I thought I would post some my choices on the five top categories. In each, I am listing whom I think will win and whom I really think deserves and/or would like to win. By late Sunday night we’ll know how it all turns out. And yes, feel free to list your own choices. Continue reading