Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have a Safe One!


Have fun but be safe! And please, follow the example of Noel and Gertrude and put some class into your evening. I'm going home right now to put on my smoking jacket and pour myself a cognac in preparation for a classy, high falutin' evening. See you in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"And a Happy New Year to you...


... in jail." So says Old Man Potter (Lionel Barrymore) to a crazed with joy George Bailey (James Stewart) in It's a Wonderful Life. Mr. Potter is the heavy of the movie and we're supposed to dislike him but the thing is, Lionel Barrymore does such an exemplary job at portraying him in all of his nastiness that I kind of like him. The "jail" line, referring to George Bailey's Savings and Loan customers as a "bunch of garlic eaters" and hanging on to the money even when George Bailey comes to him in a desperate panic, knowing it will destroy Bailey and his family if he loses everything and goes to jail. Jesus, what a bastard! And yet, Mr. Potter makes me smile, that old curmudgeon. Probably because I already know everything turns out fine so I can sit back and enjoy Old Man Potter's bitterness. But a part of it also comes from the fact that at this time of the year I'm pretty much an old bitter curmudgeon myself.

Join me in my bitterness. Specifically, Oscar bitterness.

I wrote last year on this blog of the recent Oscar phenomenon of awarding the lead acting Oscars to impersonations of real life characters and the trend continues. Four of the last six Best Actor winners (Adrian Brody, Jamie Foxx, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Forest Whitaker) and a whopping five of the last six (and seven since 1999) Best Actress winners (Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard) all portrayed real life characters. That's 9 to 3 in favor of impersonation. And if you don't think this is something new you're wrong. Want to know how many Best Actress winners were for portrayals of real people before 1999 (remember, seven of the last nine have been for portrayals of real people)? If you said "seven" you're right. That's right, in the Oscars handed out before 1999, the same amount were given for impersonation performances for the first seventy one Oscars as for the last nine! It could be argued that it's eight if you count Ingrid Bergman for Anastasia, loosely based on real characters and events. That's how, last year on this blog, I was able to correctly predict in December before any nominations were even out that Marion Cotillard would win Best Actress. I hadn't seen her performance or any of the others yet that would end up getting nominated and it didn't matter. She was playing a real person. I knew she'd win. This year's Best Actress hopefuls don't have any big impersonation performances to get in the way so we'll have a brief respite from it this year. But don't worry because the two front runners for Best Actor are...


Sean Penn and Frank Langella! And who do they play again? Oh yeah, real life politicians Harvey Milk and Richard Nixon. Penn already has an Oscar, Langella's been around for ages without one (or even nomination) and someone has to finally win for playing Nixon right? Right. Go with the even money and the recent impersonation trend of the Oscars. Frank Langella gets the Golden Boy.

So why does all this make me bitter (remember, that's how all of this started)? Not because I think it's easy playing a real life character, in fact, one could argue it's more difficult because you're working against audience expectations of how the character should look and sound. On the other hand, if you get the look and sound just right (Jamie Foxx, Philip Seymour Hoffman) you can fool a lot of people into thinking you just gave a performance. Not that those two actors didn't give a performance, but the look and sound of their characters took precedence over any emotional arcs or deeper reflection. Heath Ledger gave a performance in Brokeback Mountain. He inhabited a character, made him real and filled him with loneliness and pain. Hoffman played Capote. Sorry, that probably sounds snide or flippant, but the two performances don't compare and the fact that the Oscars increasingly looks to see who is doing the best impersonation onscreen annoys me. But what really bothers me about is...

I can't stand biopics! Okay, that's too harsh. There are many I like actually, but on the whole, biopics bore me. I'd bet good money there are plenty of good wholly fictional stories out there in the minds of talented screenwriters that will never see the light of day because come Oscar time the studios want to put their "prestige movie money" into a biopic where everyone can "oooh" and "aah" over how much Charlize Theron looks like Aileen Wuornos! Wow! I mean, she's ugly and everything! So if only for the sake of less biopics, I hope Oscar eases away from this trend sooner rather than later.

I'm still catching up on 2008 releases so a post on Best Picture bitterness will have to wait. We've made it seven years since a biopic last won the top award (A Beautiful Mind, 2001) so we're probably due, which means, being the Oscar completest I am, I will have to see Milk and/or Frost/Nixon and even though I know I'm pre-judging here, I'd rather have my teeth drilled. But I'll do my duty and take them in soon. In fact, I'll go online right now to get my tickets. Hmmm... my teeth do feel a little sensitive right now though. No, no, I'll get the tickets. Hmmm... maybe I'm getting a cavity. Yeah, you know what, first things first. I'm making an appointment for the dentist.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...


...I've traveled over half the internet to be here tonight. I couldn't get away sooner because my new film and photo blog was coming in at Blogspot and I had to see about it. That blog is now flowing at two to three posts a week and it's paying me an income of zero dollars a week. I have two others blogging, The Invisible Edge and Cinema Styles and I am one of sixteen blogging in harmony at The Oldest Established Really Important Film Club. So, ladies and gentlemen... if I say I'm a blog man you will agree. I do my own blogging.


I'm a family man- I run a family blog. This is my son and my partner, H.W. Lapper. We offer you the bond of family that very few blog men can understand. I'm fixed like few other blogs in this field. I have a string of posts all ready to go. I can load a screengrab into my photoshop and have a new banner up in a day. I have connections so I can get bad puns for the banner tagline; such things go by friendship in a rush like this. And this is why I can guarantee to start posting again regularly this week now that Christmas is over and I've put up this post to back my word. I assure you, whatever the others promise to do, when it comes to the showdown, they won't be there...


... okay, so I'm exaggerating. Of course they'll be there. We'll all be there. And Oscar will be there, that Golden Boy who throws his weight around Hollywood once a year, starting now and finishing up just weeks before Spring. Last year the man in the picture, Daniel Day-Lewis, took home the Best Actor Oscar and Javier Bardem took home the Supporting Actor Oscar (and don't we all already know who's taking home that award this year?). Here are two other former Best Actor and Supporting Actor winners... when they were boys. And they are?





Future Best Actor




Future Best Supporting Actor (pictured here with his sister)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays


Be safe, be happy. I'll be around for comments but as for posting, that won't happen until next week so here's to the holidays and the New Year together. The Invisible Edge (for the three of you that enjoy going there) will continue posting on its usual Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule. This video is my Holiday Card for all of you, whatever you celebrate, or don't. Peace.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Spread of Activation II: The Resolution Edition


The holidays are upon us again and a New Year just around the corner. Time for a change.

Lately, I've become restless here at Cinema Styles. I don't feel I'm doing enough of what I want to with this blog on a weekly basis. I want to do more reviews, introduce new features (that inevitably fall by the wayside), spark more discussion. Since November, I've let Cinema Styles slide a bit, not devoting as much time to it as I should. The last couple of months have produced far more picture posts than previous months and I want more than that. Don't get me wrong, I love my picture posts and have no intention of stopping them, it's just that there's more I want to do. And that 'more' is this: Opinion. What do I mean? I mean this: As the hits have increased I feel I have pulled back on writing from the gut and going with my instincts.

But more to the point, I've shied away from more controversial topics or just expressing an opinion that might land me in a bit of hot water with fellow cinephiles and I'm bored with it. I'm not saying I want to become that "jerk blogger" who's always burning bridges but I want to get back to why I started this blog in the first place: To write about movies, to express my love for them and to be honest in my reactions. A part of this feeling comes from reading bloggers like Flickhead, Marilyn, Kimberly and Arbogast. Not that there aren't other bloggers like them (so if I didn't mention you it's not an intentional slight) it's just that those bloggers come to mind as examples of writers who not only speak their minds (anyone can do that) but back their opinions up with solid writing, good examples and just the right amount of attitude. Flickhead and Arbogast consistently amaze me with their blunt, to the point reactions that don't come off as offensive or insulting like some young, scorched earth bloggers I've read. And Kimberly and Marilyn seem able to inject politics into their writing without fear of backlash. So I'm impressed and want to get back there myself (waits for collective groan about posts on racism in the movies and documentaries about nuclear arms starting up again).

So that's my New Year's Resolution, to stop second-guessing myself and my posts. It's an easy resolution to keep. Anyone who's been blogging any significant amount of time (and in the blogging world, two years is considered a significant amount of time) knows that you get to a point where you just don't care anymore about keeping up with Joneses, you stop worrying about how many posts you have and on what topic and you just start writing for yourself again and hope people will find you interesting enough to read. Just ask Dennis or Larry. It's clear they both arrived there in the last couple of years and seem more relaxed than ever with their blogging. The Siren got their long ago too it seems. And now, hopefully, so will I.

And now some parting morsels:

*In January I will, believe it or not, have a short post looking back at the scant few movies I've seen from 2008. I've seen a lot more in the last few weeks and am rotating through nothing but 2008 movies in my Netflix queue right now.

*Also, in January, Marilyn kicks off the first ever post for The Oldest Established Really Important Film Club at Ferdy on Films. The film will be The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia and all are invited to join in. Once the post goes up there will be a permanent link here. For now, it simply links to Marilyn's blog. In February I will take a hold of the reins with The Tin Drum. As for March, no word from Rick yet on what that might be but check in at the Film Club for updates.

*I've got movie books. Lots of movie books. And you're going to hear about them. I enjoyed writing up The Haunted Cinema in October and want to write about others as well.

*Name that Movie will continue and we may soon have a winner. Arbogast stands at eight (first to ten wins) but has not guessed the last three. Is Arbo slipping?

*Currently working on two movies. One is a montage that I'm very pleased with and is a little different than what you're used to here. It should be ready by February. The other is a short film in which I'm going for a specific reaction based on horror motifs and built-in genre expectations by producing a film ( about two-thirds done at this point) with no characters that are seen on the screen or dialogue heard and yet the viewer not only understands what is happening, and understands what characters are involved, but is viscerally affected by it. It won't be shown here of course, it will be on my personal blog. So why am I telling you? Because once I'm done I might e-mail a few of you to ask your opinion of it, that's why. Be completely honest of course, while somehow finding a way to kiss my ass at the same time.

*Tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll be putting up my Holiday montage, a video card for all my readers and wonderful friends I have made here on this blog. And then...

*I'm taking a few days off. I'll have a post here or there before the New Year but don't count on anything big until we're into 2009. I'll leave the video up for a few days, visit and comment on other blogs and generally just relax (so everyone write lots of important stuff that I can read while I'm taking a break from Cinema Styles). But that's not until Wednesday. For now, I'm still around, and speaking of resolutions, still smoking. Come Monday, January 5th, that ends too. Yikes. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bonus Round

I'll be out until later this afternoon so I won't be able to confirm guesses or provide clues for a while. But here it is anyway. Good luck.

Okay, I'm back and no one is guessing so... 1st clue - It's a British Comedy.

*****CLUE NUMBER TWO*****

Let's do a roundabout clue. Recently, Marilyn did a short post about slang featuring a movie that was remade. It's musical remake won Best Picture. The star of our Name That Movie is in that musical remake and in it he must get somewhere... on time! Hell, he even sings a song about it. And did I mention the Bonus Round Name That Movie is a British Comedy. A very silly British Comedy.

*****CLUE NUMBER THREE*****

The main targets of the film's gentle satire are the British Government and Nationalism.

*****We have a winner: Marilyn got it right. The mystery clip is from the 1949 comedy Passport to Pimlico. Congratulations to Marilyn.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Film Club is Up and Running



Okay, we're off and running. The site is up for the club and its links. Each time one of the members selects a movie, please let me know and I will update it. This is how it works: The site will be the one-stop place for knowing who has picked what movie and when it will be discussed. I have a list on the site for everyone who has signed on so far and Marilyn and I have our selections up as well as the dates of our posts. For now, the links are to the blogs in general but once each blogger puts up the post the link will change to that post specifically. Here is the site itself.

Also, once my post goes up in February it will move to the top and Marilyn to the bottom. In March, Rick goes to the top and I rotate down to the bottom and so on. The list will stay up permanently so that anyone just signing on, say, ten months from now will still be able to go directly to a previous discussion if they choose.

One last thing. To give everyone plenty of time try and let me know your pick around six weeks ahead of time. Thanks.

*****UPDATE*****

At the bottom of the first post and just below it in a second post there are sidebar buttons/widgets that you can put in your sidebar. For those who don't want a big banner in their sidebar, choose one of the simple buttons at the bottom. Just link them back to the main site and you're good to go. If you don't know how to do that I'll be happy to help. Thanks again everyone.

Name That Movie 14


Here is this week's edition of Name That Movie. Arbo is moving in on victory quickly. Can he seal the deal this week? Will Brian Doan be victorious again and move up the ladder? Will Bill ever get one of these? So many questions, so little time. The clip is in the sidebar. Good luck everyone.

*****UPDATE*****

Make sure you really look at the clip. Look behind the horses for clues as to when the film was made and when it takes place. And look at the scenery. That gives an idea of where.

*****UPDATE 2*****

It's a war/thriller/espionage movie.

*****UPDATE*****

Congratulations to Adam Ross (that kid's got panache) for guessing correctly. The answer is 49th Parallel, directed by the great Michael Powell. The Bonus Round won't go up until tomorrow as I have an update to run for the Film Club and will be offline most of the rest of the day/night. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Calling All Bloggers!


In the last two days Rick, Marilyn, Fox, Miranda and little old me, Ed Herlihy... uh... I mean, Jonathan, have been discussing forming an elitist, nose in the air film society whereupon we spend all of our free time deriding others' film taste and congratulating each others' pithy statements with phrases like "Hear, hear!", "Jolly Good!" and "That's the spirit old sport!"

Okay, actually it's nothing like that. It went down like this. Marilyn and Rick were a part of a film forum whose purpose was to have a member pick a movie, write it up and then everyone would discuss it. All of this was done on a separately created blog. After the first post by Girish I was informed by Marilyn and Rick that not much happened. I chimed in by saying that, essentially, if you want discussion then forget the separate blog thing. Let's all of us do it on our own blogs. That is to say, Marilyn picks a movie for the month, we all watch it (even if we've seen it before, just so it's fresh in our heads) and then the host writes it up at their own blog and since we all visit each others blogs anyway there's no added pressure to be a part of some separate forum. My almost unnaturally brilliant and ingenious idea was met with happy acceptance. So...

Each month we rotate the blogs. Marilyn starts it off, I'll take second, Rick takes third and so on. The details of all of that can be worked out later. For now there are a few things to clear up.

One - What should we call it? Marilyn mentioned she'd like to start off with Guys and Dolls and mentioned the line from it, " “The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York.” That's too long to put on a sidebar widget but I like it. Maybe just "The Crap Game." And it's got the word "crap" in it. You gotta love that. I'd like suggestions on a name for this discussion group but for myself I do favor something that isn't film related like "Film of the Month Club" or "Reel Talk" or something obvious like that.

Two - Anyone can be a part of it. We all put up an announcement in our sidebar (and I'd be happy to design a simple widget for it) as to the title of the next movie and the date and place its write-up will be posted. Then, join in. Now I've noticed that lately Rick's place has the same "comment frenzy" atmosphere as this blog and while I'm sure both Rick and I appreciate a good stream of consciousness comment section (I know I do - Really, I do. I find the comments here extremely entertaining and I don't want that to ever stop) for the movie of the month write-ups I'd like everyone to actually discuss the film at hand. That was the point of the forum Marilyn and Rick belonged to: To really get at the meat of the film and dissect it.

Three - That's up to you. Please comment away on this post as to any other ideas you have or suggestions you'd like to make for this but keep in mind, the simpler we keep it the better. Each month a blogger picks a movie, we all see it, they write it up at their place and we go discuss it. Let Marilyn, Rick and I know what you think. We've already got a few people (the five of us stated above and a couple of others I think) who want to do it. Let us know if you'd like to join in too. I know that anyone on my blogroll is more than welcome to be a part of it. Thanks.

*****UPDATE*****

The name of the club is the The Oldest Established Really Important Film Club, a combination of a line from Guys and Dolls, suggested by Marilyn and wholeheartedly endorsed by Wendymoon and myself and "The Really, Really Big and Important Club" jokingly suggested by Rick.

The order so far is:

Marilyn - January

Jonathan - February

Rick - March

Bill - April

Pat - May

Patrick McGoohan Flickhead - June

Ed - July

Fox - August

Miranda - September

Tom - October

Krauthammer - November

Ibetolis - December

Joseph Campanella - January

Others who have commented saying they want to participate but haven't said for sure if they want to pick a movie: Wendymoon, Joseph and Adam. If any of you want to pick a movie and write it up I say the next four spots are yours since you did comment that you'd like to participate. If you just want to watch the movies selected and join in the discussion, that's fine too. Let me know.

*****2ND UPDATE*****

Also, I just want to let everyone know that if you have a date to do a post and don't want to, just let Marilyn, Rick or me know a little bit ahead of time and we can either take the date ourselves, see if anyone who hasn't done one wants to do a movie or if someone who has wants to do a second movie. Thanks.

*****3RD UPDATE*****

By Sunday I should have the widget and centralized post done for the Film Club. Once it's done I'll let everyone know.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alcohol and Tobacco, but no Firearms


Stars don't hawk sin products anymore. There was a time when that's all they attached their name to. Now it's beauty lotions, diets and exercise machines but back in the day Hedy Lamarr was proud to announce, for a bit of money, that Schaefer was a fine tasting beer. Okay, it must have been a lot of money. Here are some top ads from 1945, 1946 and 1947 (taken from my collection of Broadway Playbills of the period). Sadly, a couple of these stars died thanks to the products they were pushing.


That's Tyrone Power? That's the guy from Nightmare Alley? I'd swear it was Lord Stimson Throckmorton Pettisford III. Well, it was in a Playbill after all, maybe they were trying to appeal to the Theatre crowd. Despite the High Class Threads, there was nothing refined or high class about dropping dead at 44 from a massive heart attack due to years of chain smoking. That's way too young to go.*

____________________



Mmmmmm, Schaefer Beer. Goes down smooth. Hedy could pull off anything.

____________________



Another sad case. Ann Sheridan developed esophageal cancer. She had been a chain smoker for years. She died at 51.*

____________________



Adolphe was apparently too good for a photo and demanded a woodcut. He died of hepatitis, which can be caused by alcohol abuse but I'm not familiar with Menjou's drinking habits so I can't say for sure if that was the cause. If anyone knows, fill me in.

____________________





Claudette loved Chesterfields so much she did an ad a year (I have several more from other Playbills). She also lived to be 93.

____________________



And now my favorite, the Seagram's Ad praising The Lost Weekend. Milland isn't actually hawking the product for them here but I love how Seagram's understood that when the biggest film of the year is about alcoholism, a scant 12 years after it's been made legal again, it's time to save face - and fast! But my favorite part is this:

"...some men should not drink! Yes, that is our most earnest conviction. Indeed, we published back in 1938 a moderation message titled with those identical words... "SOME MEN SHOULD NOT DRINK" ...which might well have been the name for this great picture instead of "The Lost Weekend."

I think we can all be thankful to the powers that be that Seagrams was not in charge of naming movies for Hollywood. Still... it would have been kind of fun.

The Godfather --- Some Men Should Not Take Over the Family Business!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest --- Some Men Should Not Feign Mental Illness to Avoid Serving Time!

The Bridge on the River Kwai --- Some Men Should Not be in Charge of Construction of Bridges for the Enemy while Being Held as a Prisoner of War!

Dracula --- Some Men Should Not Drink ... Wine. And Don't!

Frankenstein --- Some Men Should Not Play God by Sending a Lab Assistant to Steal a Brain That They Can Insert Into the Skull of a Corpse They Have Stolen from the Cemetery!

20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea --- Some Men Should Not Build Atomic Submarines!

Psycho --- Some Men Should Not Run Motels!

____________________

*Can you tell I'm trying to get myself ready to quit smoking in the next couple of weeks?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pony Expressionism


So I'm watching TCM Saturday night... uh, I mean... I'm out partying Saturday night with my peeps and hanging with my lady and... oh alright, so I'm home and we're watching TCM. Anyway, the first feature, 3:10 to Yuma, is over and it's only 9:36 so I'm thinking, "We're going to get a One-Reel Wonder to fill the time until 10," and wouldn't you know it, that's just what happens. As the One-Reel Wonder intro kicks in I start getting excited.

"Oh boy," I ask myself out loud, "what's it going to be tonight? Ooh, ooh, I hope it's one of those Boy Friends shorts they put on occasionally. Remember the last one, Ladies Last, directed by none other than George Stevens, where the boys refuse to go to the dance because the girls want them to wear tuxedos? Ha, ha oh my. That was hilarious!"

"Okay, okay," says my lovely wife, "calm down. Let's just wait and see."

"Boy Friends, Boy Friends, Boy Friends," I chant in wild expectation.

Then the short starts. It's in color from 1940 so I know it's not The Boy Friends but my disappointment is only temporary as I see the title, Pony Express Days.

"Hooray!" I exclaim, "A short historical narrative about the Pony Express!"

Then I see the cast and in the starring role is none other than Brent Tarleton/Clark Kent/Superman himself George Reeves.

"Oh boy, this is going to be good!"

As our story begins, Billy (George Reeves), is told he's too big for the Pony Express. The maximum weight allowed is 125 pounds because they ride those ponies fast across the plains and too much weight, along with the added weight of the mail, could cause events to occur that would be hard to work around. Like, for instance, the pony could die. And that would be hard to fix. So Billy is rejected but still gets to work for the Express at a relay station where he keeps the next pony ready. See what happens is, the rider switches ponies about every tenth of the way, and then takes the next pony to the brink of horrible exhaustive death all in the name of getting the mail from Missouri to Californ-I-A!

Billy is stuck at the relay station with some annoying old guy who claims he's a master buffalo hunter but he's really just a stupid drunken half-wit. Billy hates him. So anywho, there's this subplot going on over in California. Seems these Southern sympathizers are trying to get California to join what will become the Confederacy but there's a problem. They suspect that that meddling prairie lawyer from Illinois, Abe Lincoln, will get elected and if California gets the news in time they won't join the Confederacy, which hasn't even formed yet as South Carolina did not secede until December 20th of 1860, more than a full month after Lincoln's election. But somehow these guys just know there's going to be a Confederacy. They also know Lincoln will be elected. They further know that California is just itching to join the Confederacy, which doesn't exist yet, but if they find out Lincoln won the election they'll be all like, "No way Jose, we're not joining now!" So right there you've got some serious dramatic tension going down.

Okay, so, back to the Pony Express. They ride fast across the plains and the Indians there ignore them. I guess because they're so fast or maybe it's just because the Indians think they're totally awesome. Well, that's a problem for our Southern sympathizers. One of them finds some crooked Indians and pays them to kill the Pony Express riders so that word of Lincoln's election never reaches California (imagine if this plan had worked and people living in California today we're still asking, "So who was the 16th President? Doesn't anybody know?").

The Indians start shooting the Pony Express riders. Shooting them! One of the Pony Express riders rides into Billy's relay station shot. He can't go on and Indians have surrounded the cabin. Oh no! What's going to happen now? It was at this point that I hung my head low, "It's all over," I said, "Now California will join the Confederacy, when it forms I mean."

"Don't be so pessimistic," said my wife, reassuringly, "Something unexpected might just happen."

"Yeah sure," I said, utterly defeated, "I'm going to get a drink. I don't need this kind of downer right now."

"Wait!" shouted my wife.

I turned back around to face the screen and what do you know! Billy hops on the pony and takes off!

"Impossible!" I exclaimed, "He's too big! The pony won't last!"

And Billy didn't just jump on that pony. No. He didn't sneak around the back where the Indians couldn't see him. Hell no! He hopped on that pony, drew both six shooters from his side and rode RIGHT AT THEM!!! Man, there must have been 10 or 12 of them and not one, NOT ONE, managed to pull off a shot anywhere near Billy but Billy - oh boy! - he took 'em all out as he blasted his way through their defensive lines! I don't have to tell you (or maybe I do) that right about now my wife was readying a spoon in case she needed to hold down my tongue to keep me from choking on it due to all the excitement.

Then guess what happens. The pony, and Billy, become too exhausted to go on.

"I knew it," I said, bitter and resentful of being played for a fool by this short, "I knew it was too good to be true."

So there's Billy, exhausted and beaten, laying on the ground by his exhausted and beaten pony. All he needed to do was get to the border fort at California to drop off the mail but he couldn't do it. He just couldn't do it.

And then...

Are you ready...

Really ready...

He hears Reveille! Oh joy! Bliss! Rapture! The fort is just over the hill. He made it!!! The word goes out to California that Lincoln won the election and California decides against joining the not-yet-existent Confederacy. Whew, that was a close one.

So the story's over. Yep, what more could they possibly do at this point? And that's when it happens. As Billy walks away with that drunken half-wit we get the final AMAZING twist! The half-wit mentions something about buffalos and Billy thinks it might make a good nickname for himself. "I like it," Billy says, "Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill Cody."

Holy Crapola!!! It was Buffalo Bill the whole time! As the tears streamed down my face I turned to wife and said, "One day, I'm going to make a movie just like that, you wait and see."

"I know you will sweety," she said, reaching out for my hand, "I know you will."

Today marks the first day of what will be known in the future as my "Pony Expressionism" period. Pony Express Days, you will live in heart forever. Thank you. Thank you for everything.

Now how about an episode of The Boy Friends? Those guys crack me up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Double Secret Probation Bonus Round


Okay Mr. Arbo Barbo Smarty Pants - Name that Movie!

Please, please, please - Someone else NAME THAT MOVIE! Up in the sidebar now, with audio track in place. Good luck.

Bonus Round - Name That Movie 12


Okay, here's the Bonus Round, minus audio track. Somebody, anybody, guess this before Arbo. I want this game to come down to the wire but it's looking more and more like Arbo is going to steamroll to the finish line. Good luck everyone!

****UPDATE**** Nevermind everybody. Arbo got it - again.

Name that Movie 11


And so we move on to number eleven. Last week's two clips enjoyed guessing in the comments section for two full days until the second was finally pegged by Krauthammer just before Sunday became Monday. The movie was Bulldog Drummond Escapes. The first lasted all Saturday and into Sunday before Arbogast got it (The Day the Earth Caught Fire), bringing his total points to six (one came from naming all four actresses in this pic). This one being a more recent film probably means it won't last long before someone gets it (and I've seen it written up recently so it's probably fresh in a few people's minds). Who cares anyway? First come, first served. Guess away and get your point. This one has the audio track in place, the Bonus Round clip will not (too much dialogue giving the game away).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dames in Frames

I was tagged by Rick Olson for this 20 Actresses meme which was started by my friend and sometime drinking buddy Nathaniel at The Film Experience. I love many, many lead actresses in Hollywood and World Cinema history and could make a list of 20 plus easily without breaking a sweat. But it's the character actresses that usually bring a smile to my face more frequently and since they are always forgotten at times like these I decided to focus on them exclusively. Some of these got lead roles in B-pictures (Cinema Styles favorite Glenda Farrell) while others never went beyond bit parts that called for comic relief (Mary Wickes, Marion Lorne). Some were formidable actresses on stage as well as screen (Edith Evans, Kate Reid) and some didn't hit full character actress stride until late in their careers (Margaret Rutherford, Ruby Dee). But I love them all. Here they are, in alphabetical order, my Dames in Frames:









































The official list is Beulah Bondi, Billie Burke, Ruby Dee, Mildred Dunnock, Dame Edith Evans, Glenda Farrell, Margaret Hamilton, Elsa Lanchester, Marion Lorne, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead, Una O'Connor, Maria Ouspenskaya, Kate Reid, Thelma Ritter, Margaret Rutherford, Frances Sternhagen, Billie Whitelaw, Mary Wickes and Estelle Winwood. Even at 20 I had to make some cuts. I considered Marie Dressler but eventually decided she was a star (she did win a Best Actress Oscar after all which none of these did although Hattie McCaniel and Margaret Rutherford won Supporting Oscars) and dropped her from the list but she is most definitely an honorable mention.

And now as always I tag you, and you... and YOU!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spread of Activation*


So I see on Coosa Creek Mambo Cinema that top ten lists are hitting the airwaves and I think to myself, "I never see enough new movies to do one of those but I enjoy reading them." Then I think, "Maybe each year around this time I could pick another decade exactly 40 or 60 years back like 1968 or 1948 and do a top ten from that year. And each year pick another decade so that next year I would do 1959 or 1929." Works for me. I think I'll do one this year but haven't picked a decade yet.

And speaking of 1959, for some reason the first movie that pops into my head from that year is Compulsion, starring Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman and Orson Welles, who chews the scenery so voraciously it's surprising there was a set left standing when the cameras stopped rolling. You know who directed Compulsion? Richard Fleischer. His birthday was this week, December 8th. He would have been 92 years old (he died on March 25, 2006). God I love 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (he directed that too). It's one of my favorite adventure movies of all time even considering it has Kirk Douglas singing Whale of a Tale which should have been enough to kill any movie but Fleischer did such a good job with it you didn't even notice. Well, almost didn't notice.

Fleischer was already in my mind the last couple of days anyway because he directed Tora, Tora, Tora which recounted the attack on Pearl Harbor whose anniversary was December 7. It's a movie that flopped badly with critics and audiences alike but for whatever reason I like it and I 'm not afraid to admit it. I think a lot of it has to do with the great models and miniatures used for the attack sequence at the end. I'm a sucker for old school special effects.

Which of course puts me in mind of new school special effects and CGI which I don't like. That made me think of Wall-E which, I probably don't need to tell you, I haven't seen. But I will see it soon. You see, as mentioned on this blog earlier, my wife and I have decided to revamp the DVD collection and we're currently purchasing old movies we want to see and renting the new ones, instead of wasting Netflix rentals on movies we want to own anyway. So I cleared my Netflix cache - yep, I cleared it - and started adding in nothing but movies from 2007 and 2008 that I hadn't seen yet in an effort to catch up with the present. Wall-E is one of those movies. I have absolutely no desire to see it, despite its good reviews, but when it shows up I'll give it a look anyway. At least it's Sci-Fi. I'm always game for Sci-Fi.

Speaking of Sci-Fi, one of my favorite cheesy effects Sci-Fi flicks from the seventies is Logan's Run. What's not to love? Filmed in a Dallas, TX mall it's got Farrah Fawcett, tunics and jumpsuits, soft porn, Roscoe Lee Browne providing the voice of Box (the slowest most awkwardly maneuvering robot imaginable and yet somehow it's killed dozens of runners), Jenny Agutter, hordes of cats at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. and lines like "Run runner!" Did you know they're remaking it and apparently are going to stick more closely to the book? And they've dropped the drop-dead age from 30 to 21. I'm sorry, but I had a hard enough time believing any society could properly function with only people aged 29 and under but 20 and under?!!?!?!? Sorry, but that place is going to be a wreck. I don't care how many computers are running it, I've got teens and I'm telling you that society will be a disaster on a minute by minute basis! I hate to judge a movie in advance but who else is with me on this assessment: Logan's Run the remake will totally suck. Big time.

Hey, that reminds me, Fox did a post on remakes recently and brought up Scarface. I didn't like that remake much but I did like the original and soon someone will be writing about it because it's an early Howard Hawks film and Ed Howard is doing the early Howard Hawks blogathon in January (details here). But here's the thing. I know as a bonafide classic Hollywood buff and a thirties movie lover I'm not supposed to say this but... I never really cared for Paul Muni much. I thought he was a good actor and I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is one of my favorites, and one of the best, of the early thirties dramas. It's just that Muni's performances seem very mannered to me. Around the same time Clark Gable and Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy were breezing through their lines in movie after movie there was Muni, enunciating every syllable or adopting a thick accent that immediately signalled to the viewer, "I'm acting!" So I'm just not a big fan of him or his movies like I am with so many others of the thirties.

And speaking of thirties movies I love, I just recently purchased The Lady Vanishes to add to my collection. It's a favorite early Hitchcock of mine, one that has apparently been used for its plot devices in one way or another many times, including the recent Transiberian, which according to Arbogast did not live up to the standards of Hitchcock or even basic good-movieness (I just coined that word, use it if you like) so I guess I won't be seeing it on any top ten lists this year.

Which brings back to mind those top ten lists that started this spread of activation. I still don't know which 8th year I'm going to do this time, but 1938 is starting to sound like a good one. After all, I already have a movie to put on it, The Lady Vanishes. Thanks Arbo.

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*According to psychologists J.R. Anderson and P.L. Pirolli "Spread of activation refers to the cognitive process of retrieving memory. When one part of memory is activated, other parts that are associated with that memory are partly activated as well. "