Marx Brothers Go Coconuts

1929 cocoanuts 2The Coconuts began its life as a Broadway musical comedy. Written by George S. Kaufman with music by Irving Berlin, it was the Marx Brothers second appearance on Broadway, the first being a musical revue called, I’ll Say She Is. According to the IBDB, The Coconuts opened in late December 1925 and closed in August of the following year. A revival opened in May 1927 and ran for a successful one year. Before being cemented forever on celluloid, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo would do one more play, Animal Crackers, which would become their second film. Continue reading

Seminole (1953) Budd Boetticher

Seminole titleThe Seminole Indian tribe were the original Floridians. They most likely have been there since long before Jesus Christ walked on this earth. The tribe controlled Florida long after the first European settlers arrived in the New World. By the 1700’s both British and Spanish settlers began to move into what would become known as the Sunshine State. Pretty soon the natives were being tortured and murdered. The Seminoles were losing their lives and their land. In 1821, The U.S. acquired Florida from the Spanish.  In an 1823 treaty the U.S. gave the Seminoles about 100,000 acres of land in the Everglades. Continue reading

Absence of Malice (1981) Sydney Pollack

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    In the early 1970’s, then New York Governor Huge Carey appointed a state special prosecutor to investigate judiciary corruption known to be running rampant within the state. The man selected was Maurice Nadjari. He was looked at as a warrior, a lone wolf, a white knight hero going up against a corrupt system. And at the time in New York there was plenty of corruption to go around. Nadjari began to indict one judge after another.  Continue reading

Elvis – The Florida Films

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   Elvis Presley made three films set in Florida. Of the three, only one, Follow That Dream, was actually shot in the Sunshine State. Girl Happy and Clambake, except for some second unit work, were shot in California with west coast beaches substituting for the pristine Florida beaches. You know how the thinking goes, put a couple of strategically placed Palm trees around and who can tell the difference? Well, maybe some will not, but some folks will recognize in Clambake that Florida has no mountain ranges that we clearly see in some shots. Continue reading

Key Largo (1948) John Huston

Key Largo

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Here’s the story of the hurricane….

   On September 2nd 1935, a category five, the highest level, storm slammed into the Florida Keys. The storm hit on Labor Day. Original predictions had it heading between the Lower Keys and Cuba. At first, it was thought to be a lessor storm. Then it blew up heading toward Upper Matcumbe Key, Plantation Key and Tavernier Key with wind speeds between 200 and 250 mph. It turned out to be the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States. Storm surges ranged from 18 to 25 feet. Towns like Tavernier and Marathon were left with no buildings standing. Over 400 hundred deaths were reported, many were World War I veterans who were working on the completion of the Overseas Highway the road that would connect the mainland to the keys. The veterans were part of the government’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Continue reading

Florida Noir -Body Heat

Bodyheat   Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat takes place in a small, dreadfully hot, humid Southern Florida coastal town. The heat of the title reflects three important elements of the film. First up, the obvious; the stifling hot Florida weather.  Every character’s skin glistens with beads of sweat. Shirts are constantly seen with sweat stains. Continue reading

Jacksonville: Film Capital of the World…Almost

Jacksonville Shoot

Kalem Studios, Jacksonville, Fla. 1912

In the Beginning…

   In the last years of the nineteenth century, during the Spanish-American War, both the Edison Film Company and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (which would soon change its name to just the Biograph Company) produced a series of short films in Florida. Many were just clips less than a minute long. At the time, Florida was a training ground for soldiers preparing to go to war (The Spanish-American War). There are clips of soldiers disembarking from railroad cars, boarding ships and training for the war. Films had titles like Roosevelt’s Rough Riders (Tampa), Military Camp in Tampa Taken from Train, Colored Troops Disembarking (Tampa), War Correspondents (Key West), U.S. Calvary Supplies Unloading in Tampa, Florida and Burial of the “Maine” Victims (Key West). All are from 1898 and are available on-line via the Library of Congress. These films are considered to be the earliest made in Florida. Continue reading