Blackboard Jungle (1955) Richard Brook

Blackboard jun

The pounding beat of Billy Haley’s Rock Around the Clock as the screen darkens got teens of the day up and dancing in the aisles. Theater owners in various cities throughout the country were nervous. Some theaters shut off the sound system during those opening credits fearing teens would quickly get out of control.  Censors, parents groups, religious groups and law enforcement all had their say in speaking out against the film. One censor in Memphis, called the film, “the vilest picture I have ever seen in twenty six years as a censor.” Rock Around the Clock was originally released in mid-1954 by Haley as a B-side to the song Thirteen Women (And the Only Man in Town). It was not until director Richard Brooks wanted the song for the film’s opening and closing credits that it rocked to the top of the charts selling more than two million copies. Rock Around the Clock was not the first rock and roll record, nor was it the first hit. It was the first to hit number one on the record charts. Its social impact was massive, helping pave the way for another southern boy, a sexy, better looking boy than the chubby, curly twirled haired Haley, to explode on to the national scene. Despite the film’s opening and closing credits filled with the early rock classic, most of the soundtrack is jazz. Continue reading

Florida Noir: Key Largo

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 of lesser severity. 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. Other towns nearby suffered catastrophic destruction. 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

In Cold Blood (1967) Richard Brooks

incold.png   They were cold blooded senseless murders. Truman Capote had read about the 1959 killings of Herbert Clutter and his family which consisted of his wife, Bonnie, and two teenage kids, Nancy and Kenyon. Clutter was a well to do farmer in Holcomb, Kansas. After learning about the murders, Capote decided to travel to Holcomb to write an article about the crime. He took along with him his childhood friend, fellow author Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), working as his assistant. Neither one knew it at the time, but they would spend the next four years or so interviewing, recording, and writing hundreds and hundreds of pages of notes turning it into a bestselling and stunning piece of investigating reporting. The killers, caught six weeks after the murders, were two life-long losers named, Richard ‘Dick’ Hickock and Perry Smith. Continue reading

Interview with Author Douglass K. Daniel

Author Douglass K. Daniel’s new biography, “Tough As Nails: The Life and Films of Richard Brooks” is an absorbing and in depth look at one of America’s most noteworthy filmmakers, of which little has been written about. Mr. Daniel’s book fills in the gap with a wealth of information complete with backstories on each of Brooks films as well as interviews and anecdotes with family, friends and co-workers.


First, I want thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself.

Hey, John, it’s good to be a part of Twenty Four Frames!

I’m a journalist by day — I work for the Associated Press in Washington — and I use my off-hours to write about things that interest me, like the movies. I split my childhood between Richmond, Va., and Garden City, Kan., and studied at Kansas State University (B.S.) and later at Ohio University (M.S., Ph.D.). I worked for the AP in the 1980s between college stints. After having taught journalism at both my alma maters, I rejoined the AP in late 2003.


This is your third book. You previously wrote about two of journalisms most respected and well-known practitioners, 60 Minutes’ Harry Reasoner and the fictional Lou Grant. What attracted you to write about these two?

 The Lou Grant book was my dissertation for my doctoral degree in mass communication. I wanted to explore the link between movies and journalism, but coming up with a subject was tough. My adviser suggested looking at how the TV series “Lou Grant” depicted journalism during its five-year run, 1977-1982, to an audience of 15 million to 20 million each week.

The Harry Reasoner book was a project I undertook while teaching at Kansas State. I continued working on it at Ohio University and finally saw it to publication in 2007. Reasoner was a significant subject because of his prominence in TV journalism; little had been written about him. Continue reading