Sunday, December 25, 2016

Deck the Halls with Holly Golightly!

Holly Golightly, that beguiling creature Truman Capote conceived as the centerpiece for his novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's, captured the imaginations of readers the instant she appeared in print in 1958. But it's doubtful anyone at the time could foresee that Capote's chic, free-spirited rebel would live on to become a cultural icon as well as a touchstone of style. Holly Golightly's longevity in our collective dreamlife, though, is all about Blake Edwards' 1961 film adaptation and, most especially, Audrey Hepburn's inspired and heartstopping turn as Holly.

In the 55 years since Audrey-as-Holly first stepped onscreen, her insouciant, Givenchy-gowned charm and style not only conquered the test of time, but have also sparked much emulation and homage...and so, on this Christmas Day 2016, I'm decking my blog with pix of Holly!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Classic "The Snowman" (1982) Comes to Town

The Snowman, the captivating tale of a young boy who wakes one snowy Christmas Eve, goes outside and discovers that a snowman he built has magically come to life, first appeared as a children's book by British author/illustrator Raymond Briggs in 1978. A 26-minute animated film adaptation of the story was released in 1982 and nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Short Film category that year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Très Distingué: "Breakfast at Tiffany's," another "Big Screen Classic" from TCM and Fathom Events

Each month this year Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events have teamed to bring "Big Screen Classics" into movie theaters around the country. The series kicked off with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) in January and will close with From Here To Eternity (1953) in December.

Audrey Hepburn and Jose Luis de Vilallonga
I've attended several of these screenings and last Sunday afternoon enjoyed the immense pleasure of viewing one of my favorite romantic comedies on the big screen for the first time, Blake Edwards' iconic Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) starring Audrey Hepburn in the role that defined her appeal and firmly cemented her status as a film and style legend.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pierre Chenal's 1939 Adaptation of James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice"


From Thursday, November 3, through Monday, November 7, San Francisco's Roxie Theater will host the city's third annual French film noir festival, The French Had a Name For It 3. Fifteen films are set to screen, and opening night will showcase two from 1939, Marcel Carné's celebrated Le jour se lève (Daybreak), cited by many as the bridge film between poetic realism and noir, and Pierre Chenal's Le dernier tournant (The Last Turn), the much-anticipated, rarely seen first film adaptation of James M. Cain's searing crime novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Stanley Kubrick's "2001" - A Musical Odyssey, Pt. 2

The skies opened up over San Francisco on Saturday evening, October 15, and the rains poured down. Though this deluge complicated our trek from dinner at Alta restaurant on Market Street to Davies Symphony Hall on Grove, drenching weather was not so discouraging that it prevented a full house audience from attending the week's final screening of Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus performing its score live.

Monday, October 10, 2016


In 1964 Stanley Kubrick, who had by this time directed several notable and some Oscar-nominated films (Killer's Kiss, The Killing, Paths of Glory, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove) as well as one multiple-Academy-Award-winner (Spartacus), was now diving deep into science fiction. He'd become interested making a film about extraterrestrial life and was reading the work of top genre writers in search of a source novel that he could adapt. A knowledgeable acquaintance pointed him in the direction of Arthur C. Clark and though Clarke hadn't yet worked in film or had any of his novels adapted - and was wary - he was persuaded to collaborate by the dynamic and visionary Kubrick. Together the two would devise the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Clarke would concurrently write a novel of the same name.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


The legendary interviews of Alfred Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut, the French New Wave auteur who idolized him, took place in Hollywood over the course of a week in 1962. Their talks, with assistance by translator Helen Scott, were recorded and in 1966 a book, referred to by Truffaut as "the Hitchbook," was published. To everlasting acclaim. Revised and updated by Truffaut not very long after Hitchcock's death and only a year before his own end, Hitchcock/Truffaut stands as the definitive tome on Hitchcock and one of the all-time great books on film. And it is the inspiration for Kent Jones' 2015 documentary.

My copy of "the Hitchbook," with post-it notes

Though the interviews weren't filmed, they were recorded and photographed, and Jones includes sections of the audio and photos throughout his documentary. Most fascinating, though, is to watch scenes from Hitchcock's films (and clips from all of his great films are shown) that vividly illustrate his own words on his artistic process.  The observations of filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Paul Schrader and others are also illuminating and provide insight into the powerful and long-lasting impact Hitchcock has had on filmmaking.

A must-have companion piece to the book, Hitchcock/Truffaut is currently available on HBO Now, HBO Go, via "On Demand" through September 10, and on DVD and Blu-ray.


Monday, August 1, 2016

THE REAL JAMES DEAN, new from the Chicago Review Press

61 years ago this September 30, newly-minted movie star James Dean, with an ace Porsche racing mechanic riding in the passenger seat, wrecked his brand-new Porsche Spyder on a remote northern California highway, bringing to an end his own turbulent 24-year-old life. The gone-too-soon Hollywood rebel instantly became a cult phenomenon and, over the six decades since, his story has become and remained legend and been the subject of countless books. Today the Chicago Review Press will release the latest, The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories from Those Who Knew Him Best.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Celebrating National Classic Movie Day: "5 Movies on an Island"

If by some bizarre quirk of fate I end up stranded on a deserted island that happens to have a reliable food source, lots of sunshine and balmy tropical breezes, I just might be blissed-out enough not to crave watching classic films. But probably not. A fundamental given for today's 5 Movies on an Island blogathon celebrating National Classic Movie Day is that some form of gizmo or gizmos capable of playing movies will be ready and waiting for me on my island and that I'll have access to five beloved films to watch until I'm rescued - hopefully, within a week or two.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Real and Unreal Old Hollywood: "Hail, Caesar!" (2016)

Hail, Caesar!, the latest comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo; O Brother, Where Art Thou?) offers a tongue-in-cheek bow to Hollywood circa 1951 through a series of escapades that take place during a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, production head and unofficial "fixer" for a major studio. It should surprise no one that the Coens have conjured a wildly stylized and madly screwball satire of this scenario.

Those familiar with Hollywood history know that there once really was an Eddie Mannix and that he was a studio exec/"fixer" at MGM (not the Coen's "Capitol Pictures"), the most powerful of all studios, for several decades. As General Manager and head of production, he was a right hand to studio chief, Louis B. Mayer, and it wasn't until 1958, after Mayer's ouster and death, that Mannix left MGM; he'd been in the picture business for 42 years by then.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

SF Symphony 2015 -2016 Film Series Nears End; 2016 - 2017 Series Announced


The San Francisco Symphony's third annual Film Series will come to an end later this month with screenings of Steven Spielberg's 1981 classic, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, from March 23 through 26. The symphony will accompany, performing John Williams's Grammy winning score live. For more information, click here.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Reminiscing: "Now, Voyager"

Summer of '42 (1971)

A soft-focus nostalgia piece set during the early days of World War II, Summer of '42 was released in April 1971 and went on to become one of the surprise hits of that year. The story followed a 16-year-old boy's coming of age during a family vacation on Nantucket Island where he roamed the small village, sand dunes and shoreline, horsing around with his buddies, dating a girl his own age, and crushing on the lovely bride of a soldier just gone to war.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Local Night Life: Noir City at the Castro and the San Francisco Symphony's Film Series

The 2016 film noir season was officially launched with San Francisco's Noir City XIV, January 22 - 31, at the city's Castro Theatre. The 10-day festival, presented by the Film Noir Foundation, is traditionally the first in a series of Noir City events to follow in Hollywood, Austin, Portland (Oregon), Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Kansas City.