Hey Abbott!

abbottcostelloshow01Abbott 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

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My Five Most Influential Film Books

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

From Real to Reel: Real Life Photographers in the Movies – Alexander Gardner

Alexander_Gardner_1863Photography was in its infancy when Abraham Lincoln was running for President. It was a cumbersome and deliberate process. Cameras were these large boxes, set upon sturdy bulky tripods, using wet plates and a slow exposure making the possibilities of the sort of images captured limited. Continue reading

Six Films About Immigrants in America

The Godfather Part II Immigrant Ellis Island SceneI admire the strength it must take to leave your home, your family, and your country to search and hope for a better life in a far away and foreign land. But it’s that hope for a better life that the American dream has always represented. From the British who left England to come to America in the 1600’s to today’s immigrants America has always been the land of hope and dreams. Sometimes it worked out; sometimes it did not.

America is a country of immigrants, without them who would be here? We as a country have always welcomed immigrants. As John Lennon wrote and sang in his song, New York City, “the Statue of liberty said come.” Some of us seemed to have forgotten that today. Listed below are six films about the American immigrant experience. Continue reading

Time Keeps on Slipping…Clocks and Movies

Clocks and time have played an important part in many films. They are a harbinger of things to come; deadlines to be met, deadlines that are missed, time moving too fast, too slow or even sometimes standing still. In many films, clocks are filled with symbolism. They can create and build tension, something which many of us can identify with in our own lives. We all learn there is always a limit on time. Continue reading

National Classic Movie Day’s Five Stars Blogathon

Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey-Bogart9My love for movies began after my parents and I, moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. I was just a few days shy of my eleventh birthday and was, and still am, an only child. I was on the shy side in those days making it hard at times to make new friends. There were plenty of kids around my age in the apartment building we moved to; still, it was not an entirely smooth transition. Movies became my outlet. Nearby was the Loew’s Oriental, a large majestic theater within walking distance. My other movie outlet was TV. New York City television during those early years, long before home video, was a treasure trove, a repertory theater filled with old films…only with commercials. There was The Early Show, The Late Show, The Big Preview, The 4 O’clock Movie, The 4:30 Movie, The Late Movie, Five Star Movie, Chiller Theater, and the best of all, Million Dollar Movie.

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Young Peter Bogdanovich

peterYoung Peter Bogdanovich was an obsessive film lover watching over 400 films a year. In the days long before home video, this was an especially impressive count. Peter keep a file of 3×5 index cards with notes on every film he watched. In his twenties, while acting, directing and producing various theater productions including an off-Broadway production of Clifford Odets, The Big Knife, with Carroll O’Conner, Bogdanovich met Dan Talbot. Talbot, owner of the legendary New Yorker Repertory Theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, recently began programming classic films. Peter lived only a few blocks from the theater. In exchange, for free admission to the theater, Bogdanovich offered to write program notes for the films Talbot was showing. They had an agreement. Continue reading