Friday, December 4, 2020

Marcel Dalio: What a (French) Character!


I was watching Josef von Sternberg’s flamboyantly decadent noir The Shanghai Gesture (1941) a while ago. Taking in the dense and elaborate décor, sinister atmosphere and louche characters the maestro whipped together for this wickedly twisted cinematic excursion, I marveled that the censors had left so much intact. The setting is a palatial Shanghai gaming house, a den of iniquity if there ever was one, with vice of every kind lurking in its shadowy nooks.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Gene Tierney Centenary, Pt. 2: "...carried by the winds and the tides"


Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Gene Tierney's birth on November 19, 1920

Link to Pt. 1

Gene Tierney would admit that before she married Paramount costume designer Oleg Cassini, “I dated dozens of young men, had fun with all, made commitments to none.” This crush of eligible fellows ran the gamut from Howard Hughes to Desi Arnaz, but when she met Cassini at the end of 1940 she was instantly smitten. By their third date the couple was talking marriage. Though her parents and the studio were united in opposition, the couple broke the impasse when they eloped to Las Vegas in June 1941.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Gene Tierney Centenary, Pt. 1: "I felt luck was with me"

 Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Gene Tierney's birth on November 19, 1920


Marlene Dietrich once said, “The relationship between the make-up man and the film actor is that of accomplices in crime.” Amusing, and probably true of some whose faces have graced the silver – or Technicolor – screen, but not Gene Tierney. One of Hollywood's foremost leading ladies of the 1940s, she was a tall, elegant beauty, with cheekbones that might’ve been shaped by a master sculptor, eyes the shimmery green of the sea on a windswept day, lips plush as an orchid in full bloom. And yet she was more, a young woman who burned with ambition and the desire to be a respected actress. "I simply did not want my face to be my talent," she would reflect, looking back years later.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The (Almost) Great McGinty


There is Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby who aspired to a romantic fantasy that was his vision of the American Dream. And there is Preston Sturges’s Dan McGinty whose aspirations didn’t, at first, extend beyond the opportunities of the moment, a warm bowl of soup, a couple of quick bucks. Different as they were, both of these fictional fellows rose from nowhere to stunning prominence…for a while. Gatsby’s tale is a celebrated tragedy; McGinty’s saga is comic/ironic and not nearly as well known as it should be.

Saturday, August 8, 2020



This is my contribution to Maddy's 4th Annual Alfred Hitchcock blogathon, click here to learn more...

In 1962, French film director/critic Francois Truffaut spent a week sequestered at Universal Studios with Alfred Hitchcock, a filmmaker he admired extravagantly. There, the two explored each of Hitchcock’s films to date in detail. Discussing Stage Fright (1950), one of his lesser films, Hitchcock remarked, “The greatest weakness of the picture is that it breaks an unwritten law: The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture. That’s a cardinal rule, and in this picture the villain was a flop!” Truffaut was delighted, “The better the villain, the better the picture,” he exclaimed, “that’s an excellent formula!”

Is it? Let’s take a closer look at the villains in some of Hitchcock’s best films.


Friday, May 22, 2020

Gimme Shelter: Classics for Comfort, CMBA Spring Blogathon 2020

The Classic Movie Blog Association is hosting its annual spring blogathon from May 19 – 22. This year’s theme is “Classics for Comfort,” about films that soothe us in difficult times. Click here for more info and links to participating blogs.


When we first began to shelter-in-place in my area two months ago, I pulled a Marilyn Monroe collection from the shelf. What could lighten the heart more than frolicking through Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like it Hot? Not much. And so I did. Seems a very long time and lots of movies ago now. Among the films I’ve watched since then that have given comfort or relief in different ways are these. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

6 from the '60s for National Classic Movie Day

It's May 16, National Classic Movie Day, and Rick over at the Classic Film & TV Cafe is hosting his annual blogathon to celebrate the occasion. This year the subject is 6 from the '60s, in which we participating bloggers put the spotlight on six films of that decade. Click here to find out more and for links to all participating blogs.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Film Series Alert! "Simenon 2020" Launch Spotlights "Inspector Maigret"

Great noir news! Midcentury Productions, the brilliant and groundbreaking little company that has so far staged six terrific French film noir festivals at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater over the past several years, is about to launch a new, unique series, Simenon 2020. The program begins with a double bill this weekend, on Sunday the 23rd at the Roxie, and will run ‘til October. Here’s what it’s all about…

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Many Loves of Elizabeth Taylor

This exploration of the life, loves and career of Elizabeth Taylor is my entry for "The Wedding Bells Blogathon" hosted by Hometowns to Hollywood


She exchanged wedding vows for the first time at age 18 in 1950 and married for the eighth and last time in 1991 at 59. Of her apparent proclivity for collecting husbands, actor/composer/raconteur Oscar Levant would razz Elizabeth Taylor with the quip, "Always a bride, never a bridesmaid!"


Friday, January 10, 2020

Celebrating "The Shop Around the Corner" on its 80th Birthday

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the premiere of what has been called Ernst Lubitsch’s “most discreet tour de force of art concealing art,” The Shop Around the Corner (1940).