“No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth, either in religion, law, or politics.” – The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 24: 1 June-31 December 1792.
If you expecting to find at least one of those Doris Day comedies to pop up on this list, well sorry but Ms. Day, with or without Rock Hudson, will be found nowhere on site. I am not an admirer, or fan. Day does have a nice comedic touch and some of her comedies are pleasant (Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back), but her virginal, sugary, spunky self, I just find annoying. Like Mary Tyler Moore’s Lou Grant once said, “I hate spunk.” I don’t mean to turn this into a tirade against Ms. Day, but in the 1960’s, the times, they were a changin.’ and films like With Six You Get Eggroll did not cut it. Anyway, here is my list for the decade that helped defined me.
Besides wanting to be a cowboy when I was young, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. At first, a sports writer, then I somewhere along the line wanted to review movies (no surprise there!), and from there it evolved into a news reporter and journalist. In films, the newsroom always looked fascinating to me. Hustling to get the story, beating the deadline, and competitors, the speedy typing, the editor making changes and finally seeing your story in print with your byline on top. That dream faded away like many others, but my love of films with journalistic themes remained. In cinema, many great movies have been made about journalism. Sam Fuller’s Park Row is one of the best, as is Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole. There are plenty of others including All the President’s Men, Spotlight, His Girl Friday, Sweet Smell of Success, Zodiac, Absence of Malice, Deadline U.S.A., Citizen Kane, and State of Play. There are plenty more that could be added to this list. Some of these films reflect journalism in a good light, sometimes even heroic ways (Park Row, All The President’s Men, Spotlight, State of Play) while others hold up a mirror to the darker opportunistic side of journalism (Ace in the Hole, Sweet Smell of Success). Continue reading
As a photographer, I found this film more interesting than it arguably deserves to be. The photography studio, the darkroom, the Rolleiflex camera that Lila Crane’s mentor gives her as a gift is all nicely detailed. As part Columbia’s Bad Girls of Film Noir, the film’s inclusion in volume two is questionable. The first thing to point out this is not a film noir. Columbia’s long arm of credibility was at work including this in the box set. And compared to Night Editor, another film in the package that stars Janis Carter as one of the most evil femme fatale’s to ever grace the screen, making Lila Crane look like miss goody two shoes. Continue reading
Backbeat is not just another Beatles biopic; it’s more of an intimate story of friendship, love and ultimately death. The film’s focus is not on the rise of the group’s fame but, more on the triangular relationship between German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, Stu Sutcliffe, the original fifth Beatle, and John Lennon.
The years were 1960 to 1962. Stu Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff) is an art student, a talented painter with sensitive, good looks, a James Dean aura and a rock and roll heart. He also has a best friend by the name of John Lennon (Ian Hart). Lennon’s ragtag band then consisting of Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best were on their way to Germany to perform along the Reeperbahn district. Stu played base and was in the band due to John’s insistence and Stu own loyalty to his friend. Continue reading
If there ever was a golden age of comedy, it was the 1920’s. Three geniuses led the way: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. There were others of course, Harry Langdon, Laurel and Hardy, Snub Pollard, Mabel Normand, Larry Semon and Fatty Arbuckle among others. But it was the top three who reached the exhalted status of genius. Of the three, there was always a battle on who was the greatest. Lloyd always seemed to take the third spot. No disgrace considering the talent of the other two. Between Chaplin and Keaton, it’s always been a matter of individual taste. Chaplin was the sentimental artist with a social conscience. Keaton’s comedy was always more cerebral. I personally love both and have always went back and forth on who I thought was better. I have resigned myself to the fact that they both share the top spot.
You can read my first post in this series here.
At a time when journalism and the news media, in general, is under attack for delivering “fake news,” Steven Spielberg’s film The Post delivers a message on the importance of a free and separate press; the need for the truth to come out despite attacks from those in positions of power and influence. Continue reading