As a writer, I stay home and write. That’s the nature of the process, but when I put my photographer’s hat on I am outside. Again, that’s the nature of the process. Covid-19 has put my photography on hold. Sure, I can do indoor photography, but my taste has usually run toward the outdoors.
These days, I’m spending more time inside than out. My writing is at its best in the early hours. Subsequently, to pass the time I read, and I have been watching movies, movies and more movies.
I have been posting on Facebook a few thoughts on most and decided to share a few here.
Cape Fear one of the great thrillers from the early 60s. Robert Mitchum’s revenge-seeking crazed Max Cady is one of cinema’s great psychopaths. What makes his performance so effectively terrifying is his laid back style. He’s a relentless, vengeful, monster…
This is my contribution to CMBA’s CLASSICS FOR COMFORT BLOGATHON.
A few years back, I wrote a post entitled Celluloid Comfort Food. My opening paragraph read like this, there is a certain reassurance in watching your favorite films over and over again. The act of repeated watching is like getting together with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. You talk about the same old stories; you laugh or maybe even cry about those bygone glory days. Similarly, when watching a favorite movie, you know where the jokes are. You can expect those laughs long before they come on screen. If it’s an old gangster film, you know you have to watch just one more time as James Cagney takes that long last walk toward the electric chair. Either way, there is a level of contentment that flows in you with the familiarity of repeatedly watching a favorite film. You forget about the world outside, the troubles inside your head, for two hours, and relax with pure celluloid comfort food.
I wrote about five films that I found comfort in watching: Being There, Stagecoach, Buck Privates, Adam’s Rib, and My Favorite Brunette. During these days of “stay home, stay safe” I have had to look further into my cinematic archives and discovered I have many, many other films that I can find comfort in and shelter me from this ongoing pandemic storm.
Photographer Robert Jones, along with film writer Dan Auiler (author of Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic), and photographer Aimee Sinclair have compiled a stunning new book called Hitchcock’s California: Vista Visions from the Camera Eye.Years in the making, the book includes an informative and fascinating introduction by actor Bruce Dern and an afterward by Dorothy Herrmann, daughter of the late composer Bernard Herrmann. One of the highlights of the Dern introduction is when the actor writes about an absorbing short conversation that happened after he introduced Hitchcock to fellow film director, John Frankenheimer. For me, that short exchange that ensued is worth the admission.
Considered one of the founding fathers of hard-boiled fiction, if not the founding father, Dashiell Hammett is must reading for anyone interested in tough guy crime fiction. Detective fiction before Hammett came along the likes of Agatha Christie: conventional, polite detectives where few got their hands down and dirty were standard. Hammett changed all that. His Sam Spade was a cynical outsider who lived by his own personal code. The streets of crime were tough and Spade and other Hammett characters walked them with a new literary style. They called it “hard-boiled” and as The New York Times in their obituary, christened Hammett he was the dean of the “so called” hard-boiled school of detective fiction.
Hammett served in World War I, where he was rewarded by contracting tuberculosis. During his recovery, he met a nurse, Josephine Dolan, who became his wife. For a few years, Hammett became a Pinkerton…
The CMBA began in 2009 as a dream of Rick Armstrong who blogs as the Classic Film and TV Cafe. He was the organization’s first President and its guiding light. Today, there are close to 90 members and going strong.
This book contains 10 essays from celebrating how Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and other films from 1969 bridged the Old And New Hollywood to how the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago affected the…
I am interviewed by Rick Armstrong of the Classic Film and TV Cafe. You can read the interview here!The Late Show and Other Tales of Celluloid Malice is available at Amazon as both an eBook and Paperback.
The studio is the enemy of the artist! – Norman Jewsion talking to Hal Ashby
When they talk about the great filmmakers of the 1970s, names like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, and Brian DePalma are always mentioned. Yet, none of these artists made as many great or important films within the decade as Hal Ashby (arguably Robert Altman did as many). Ashby’s 70s work included The Landlord, Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Bound forby’s Glory, Coming Home, and Being There. All these works were made within that one decade. No other filmmaker of the period had as many excellent films within a ten year period.
Hal Ashby was a rebel with a cause. His work was filled with social commentary on racism, The Vietnam War, the ruling class, the military and more. He loved film and filmmaking more than anything else in life. He fought the fight to keep his work untouched by the corporate bad guys. In Amy Scott’S 2018 documentary, “Hal,” reflects the director’s roguish, anarchic and independent artistic nature. Ashby’s first claim to fame was as a film editor mostly working with director and good friend Norman Jewison on films like The Cincinnati Kid, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians are Coming, In the Heat of the Night, for which he won an Oscar, and The Thomas Crown Affair. But what Ashby wanted to do most was direct and he got his opportunity with The Landord, a film far ahead of its time. Sadly, Ashby’s run of excellent work did not extend into the 1980s. Plagued by rumors of cocaine use and fighting with studio heads both his artistic and personal health suffered. Ashby died of cancer in 1988 he was only 59 years old.
My new book, The Late Show and Other Tales of Celluloid Malice will be available on March 3rd. You can now pre-order the ebook on Amazon for immediate delivery on the publication date. A paperback edition will also be available.