Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer – Book Giveaway (Dec)

Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer
We have 8 Books to Giveaway this Month!

“Gracefully written, this sympathetic portrait captures the prodigious composer’s personality and documents his many milestone achievements, from King Kong to Casablanca. I loved reading it.”Leonard Maltin, Film Critic and Historian

CMH is very excited to announce that we will be giving away 8 COPIES of Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer by Steven C. Smith, courtesy of Oxford University Press!

Max Steiner bio Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, Dec 26 at 6PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick two winners on four different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • Dec 5: Two Winners
  • Dec 12: Two Winners
  • Dec 19: Two Winners
  • Dec 26: Two Winners

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub, the day after each winner is picked around 9PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday Dec 6 around 9PM EST on Twitter. And, please note that you don’t have to have a Twitter account to enter; just see below for the details…

…..

CASABLANCA. Image shot 1942. Dooley Wilson Humphrey Bogart Ingrid Bergman Exact date unknown.
Dooley Wilson, Humphrey Bogart, and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca

And now on to the contest!

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, Dec 26 at 6PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the “Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer” #BookGiveaway courtesy of @OUPAcademic & @ClassicMovieHub #CMHContest You can #EnterToWin here: http://www.classicmoviehub.com/blog/music-by-max-steiner-the-epic-life-of-hollywoods-most-influential-composer-book-giveaway-dec/

THE QUESTION:
What is one of your favorite Max Steiner scores and why? Or, if you’re not familiar with his work, why do you want to win this book?

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

Mark Sandrich, Fred Astaire, Max Steiner
Mark Sandrich, Fred Astaire, and Max Steiner

…..

About the Book:  During a seven-decade career that spanned from 19th century Vienna to 1920s Broadway to the golden age of Hollywood, three-time Academy Award winner Max Steiner did more than any other composer to introduce and establish the language of film music. Throughout his chaotic life, Steiner was buoyed by an innate optimism, a quick wit, and an instinctive gift for melody, all of which would come to the fore as he met and worked with luminaries like Richard Strauss, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, the Warner Bros., David O. Selznick, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, and Frank Capra. In Music by Max Steiner, the first full biography of Steiner, author Steven C. Smith interweaves the dramatic incidents of Steiner’s personal life with an accessible exploration of his composing methods and experiences, bringing to life the previously untold story of a musical pioneer and master dramatist who helped create a vital new art with some of the greatest film scores in cinema history.

…..

Please note that only United States (excluding the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canada entrants are eligible. No P.O. Boxes please.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win.

Images courtesy of Steven C. Smith.

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase the on amazon by clicking here:

 …..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Hollywood is a Four Letter Town” Book Giveaway (Dec)

“Hollywood is a Four Letter Town”
We have FIVE Books to Give Away this month!

“Frank and Spicy!” – The New York Times

It’s time for our next book giveaway contest! CMH will be giving away FIVE COPIES of Hollywood is a Four Letter Town, by syndicated columnist James Bacon, courtesy of Doris Bacon, from now through Jan 2.

hollywood is a four letter town james bacon book

…..

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, Jan 2 at 6PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below. So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • Dec 5: One Winner
  • Dec 12: One Winner
  • Dec 19: One Winner
  • Dec 26: One Winner
  • Jan 2: One Winner

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub, the day after each winner is picked around 10PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday Dec 6 around 10PM EST on Twitter. And, please note that you don’t have to have a Twitter account to enter; just see below for the details.

James Bacon Cary Grant
Cary Grant told James Bacon “I wish I looked as good as you in a tux.”

…..

And now on to the contest!

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, Jan 2, 2021 at 6PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the “Hollywood is a Four Letter Town” by James Bacon #BookGiveaway courtesy of @JBaconHollywood & CMH – #CMHContest You can #EnterToWin here: http://www.classicmoviehub.com/blog/hollywood-is-a-four-letter-town-book-giveaway-dec/

THE QUESTION:
What is it that you love most about the Golden Age of Hollywood and its stars?

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

James Bacon Marlon Brando on the set of Young Lions
James Bacon and Marlon Brando on The Young Lions set

…..

About the Author and Book: James Bacon was the ultimate insider of Hollywood’s Golden Era as a syndicated columnist for 41 years, first with the Associated Press and then with the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. He sipped champagne with Sophia Loren, drank vodka with Joan Crawford and got a first-hand account of Marilyn Monroe’s affair with JFK. During his lifetime, Bacon compiled his memorable celebrity encounters in two books, “Hollywood is a Four-Letter Town,” (1976) and “Made in Hollywood” (1977), which the New York Times called “frank, spicy and entertaining.”   He also wrote an acclaimed biography of Jackie Gleason, “How Sweet it Is” (1985) which was celebrated by notables like Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra and Laurence Olivier. His widow, Doris Bacon, has decided to reissue the books, long unavailable  on Amazon,  in Bacon’s spirit.  They are entertaining reads, crammed with stories and inside scoop on Hollywood’s biggest names, from Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor to John Wayne to Bette Davis and more. 

Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only United States (excluding the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canada entrants are eligible. No P.O. Boxes please.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win.

James Bacon Gary Cooper on set of High Noon
Gary Cooper and James Bacon on the set of Oscar-winning High Noon

…..

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase the on amazon by clicking here:

 …..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“La Marseillaise” Plays, as Rick, Ilsa and Refugees Find Their Footing in Casablanca (Guest Post)

“La Marseillaise”

Even more than the famous “Here’s Looking at You” scene, the “La Marseillaise” scene in Casablanca is the one scene in the film that evokes more emotion from audiences than any other, as it propels the narration in a new direction and reveals more about the characters than we previously knew.

Casablanca Laszlo Paul Henreid conducting "La Marseillaise"
Laszlo conducts “La Marseillaise”

It begins with Germans wrapped around a piano inside Rick’s Cafe Americain singing their patriotic anthem, “Die Wacht am Rhein”. Their singing draws the attention of Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a member of the resistance, who has just been denied help to escape by Rick (Humphrey Bogart), the club’s owner. Laszlo rushes to the house musicians and instructs them to play the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise”. He’s watched by his wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), who’s torn between the love of her husband and Rick, with whom she had an affair in Paris. At first she appears conflicted, but as she studies Laszlo, a look of admiration comes upon her face, as if she already knows “the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans” and the fight against fascism is what’s important.

Even Rick, who only moments before refused to help and claimed his politics were neutral when questioned by the Germans, supports Laszlo as he nods in approval to the musicians that it’s okay to play the song. This is the first sign that Rick’s hard shell that formed after Ilsa abandoned him in Paris is starting to crack, leading him to redemption and “joining the fight” later in the film.

Casablanca Madeleine Lebeau La Marseillaise
Madeleine LeBeau

Yvonne (Madeleine LeBeau), a jilted lover of Rick’s, appears in an earlier scene with German soldiers. Her motive is to make Rick jealous, though she angers her fellow refugees in the process. Once the song begins, however, and everyone sings along, she is moved to tears. Upon the song’s completion, she passionately shouts, “Viva La France!” as a rebuke of the German presence in her native country. At this point, there are no more pleasantries amongst the two nationalities. The anthem has reminded the French of home and why they left.

It’s this excitement that causes Major Strasser of the Third Reich (Conrad Veidt) to insist Rick’s gets shut down. The threat of Laszlo’s influence is too great. From here on in, the film becomes much darker. Sam’s no longer singing and no one’s laughing at the bar. A curfew is instituted, and the escapism Rick’s provides comes to a halt. Inspired by Lazlo and his bold stance against the Nazis, refugees begin to organize, as political intrigue and love triangle complexities drive the picture home.

Casablanca crowd sings “La Marseillaise”

The ending scene to Casablanca will always be its most famous, as the audience waits to see if Ilsa ends up with Rick or Laszlo. Still, it’s on the “La Marseillaise” scene the entire narration pivots. In it, Rick starts to understand why Laszlo fights, Ilsa realizes why she loves her husband, and the refugees begin to feel emboldened. It’s an emotionally packed scene, one that is almost impossible to watch without getting choked up as the patrons of Rick’s take their first stand against the Germans, while Rick and Ilsa both begin to figure out what they’re looking for: the fight against fascism.

…..

–Kevin Egan for Classic Movie Hub

Kevin Egan is a songwriter and musician who’s been performing in New York City for over thirty years. His past bands are 1.6 Band, the Last Crime and the New York hardcore band Beyond, which is also the subject of his documentary film What Awaits Us, a Beyond Story

Posted in Films, Guest Posts | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Western RoundUp: Hidden Gems, Vol. 2

Western RoundUp: Hidden Gems, Vol. 2

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a column on three Westerns I consider “Hidden Gems,” lesser-known yet very entertaining movies.

Here’s a trio of three more Westerns I’ve really enjoyed which aren’t widely known; they’re all quite well done, and even the least of these films rewards the viewer with memorable characterizations and surprises.

…..

Roughshod (Mark Robson, 1949)

Roughshod (1949) Movie Poster
Roughshod (1949)

One of the films in my original “Hidden Gems” column, The Desperado (1954), was written by Daniel Mainwaring, who also wrote the classic film noir Out of the Past (1947) under another name, Geoffrey Homes.

Mainwaring turns up again here as the co-screenwriter, along with Hugo Butler, of one of my favorite lesser-known Westerns, RKO’s Roughshod.  Roughshod was well directed by Mark Robson, who launched his career a few years previously making compact but spooky Val Lewton thrillers such as The Seventh Victim (1943) and The Ghost Ship (1943).

Roughshod (1949) Claude Jarman Jr.
Claude Jarman Jr.

Robert Sterling and Claude Jarman Jr., who had both worked at MGM earlier in the ’40s, play brothers Clay and Steve Phillips, who as the film opens are driving horses over the Sonora Pass.

The brothers stumble across a broken-down buggy with four stranded dance hall girls headed to Sonora, played by Gloria Grahame, Martha Hyer, Jeff Donnell, and Myrna Dell.

As they assist the women, Clay tentatively begins to develop a relationship with gorgeous, worldly Mary (Grahame), while events push the other ladies to make significant choices about their futures.

It’s not all smooth going, however, as a trio of killers, led by an escaped convict named Lednov (John Ireland), are in the area, and Lednov is hunting for Clay.

The cast is excellent, and the film particularly made me wish that Sterling made more than a small handful of Westerns, as he seems quite at home in this genre.  Jarman, a year ahead of making Rio Grande (1950) for John Ford, is likewise excellent as Clay’s loyal young brother, whose determination to help Clay at a critical moment belies his age.

Gloria Grahame and Robert Sterling Roughsod (1949)
Gloria Grahame and Robert Sterling

The film mixes pleasant moments centered on the characters’ relationships, such as Mary teaching Steve to read, with a few scenes which are quite dark, due in large part to Ireland’s believability as a deranged killer.  Director Robson handles the material so capably that, just as with Sterling, I was left wishing he had made more Westerns

With the exception of a few interiors and process shots, Roughshod was filmed entirely on location in the Sierras.  Joseph Biroc’s evocative cinematography beautifully captures a “fresh air” feel in which the viewer can almost smell the dust and the trees.  The excellent location work gives the film an authentic kind of “you are there” immediacy which helps enable the viewer to be deeply immersed in the story.  

Highly recommended.

Roughshod is available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

…..

Dragoon Wells Massacre (Harold D. Schuster, 1957)

Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957) Movie Poster
Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957)

Actor-writer Warren Douglas penned the screenplay for Dragoon Wells Massacre, using one of the genre’s most familiar plot conventions, the disparate band of travelers under attack from Indians.  

John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) is one of the earliest and best examples of this theme, which encourages filmmakers to simultaneously focus on both action and character development.  As with other regularly used Western plot devices, the fun is in watching a film’s unique take.

Dragoon Wells Massacre is blessed with a terrific cast, headed by two excellent leading men, Dennis O’Keefe and Barry Sullivan.  

Katy Jurado, Mona Freeman, Casey Adams, and Barry Sullivan in Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957)
Katy Jurado, Mona Freeman, Casey Adams, and Barry Sullivan

O’Keefe and Sullivan play polar opposites, with O’Keefe as a soldier who is the lone survivor of an Indian attack, while Sullivan is an accused criminal being taken to trial by a marshal (Trevor Bardette).  Jack Elam costars as a second man in the marshal’s custody.

These men, representing both sides of the law, meet up with several others in the desert, including the passengers of a broken-down stagecoach (Mona Freeman, Katy Jurado, and Casey Adams).

Character is revealed as Indians constantly attack the group, killing both men and horses.  The supposed criminals played by Sullivan and Elam prove to be among the most courageous in the group, with Sullivan also finding time to romance the tempestuous Freeman, who has previously been poorly matched with O’Keefe and then Adams.  

Mona Freeman and Barry Sullivan in Dragoon Wells Massacre (1957)
Mona Freeman and Barry Sullivan

Sullivan, as is often the case in his career, comes close to stealing the movie from a fine cast.  His character has wonderful bits of business, such as spending quieter moments playing cards with the marshal.  Elam is also a particular standout as a grizzled bad guy who comforts a little girl (Judy Stranges) found by the group.

Director Harold Schuster keeps the action moving briskly.  This CinemaScope film was shot in Utah by William Clothier, known for his work on many films produced by or starring John Wayne. Look for screenwriter Douglas in a small role as Jud.

Dragoon Wells Massacre has had a Region 2 release in Germany but has not yet had an authorized home viewing release in the United States.  I very much hope that one day it will be more widely available.

…..

Four Fast Guns (William J. Hole Jr., 1960)

Four Fast Guns (1960) Movie Poster
Four Fast Guns (1960)

Late in his film career, former MGM leading man James Craig did some terrific work in “B” Westerns, including a supporting role in Man or Gun (1958), one of the films highlighted in my previous “Hidden Gems” column.

Craig stars in Four Fast Guns, a brisk 72-minute tale of gunslinger Tom Sabin, who kills a “town tamer” in self-defense and then takes the man’s job bringing law to the aptly named Western town of Purgatory.

A wheelchair-bound saloon owner (Paul Richards) has reasons for not wanting the town to be cleaned up and writes to three different hired killers, offering a fee to the man who kills Sabin.  It’s noteworthy that one of the hired guns is played by Richard Martin, best known as Tim Holt‘s sidekick Chito in a long series of RKO “B” Westerns.  It was Martin’s final film.

Four Fast Guns (1960) James Craig
James Craig

The movie has some echoes of Audie Murphy‘s Ride a Crooked Trail (1958), with the seeming bad guy proving to be the man standing for justice, and there are also echoes of Budd Boetticher’s Seven Men From Now (1956) in the economically filmed yet quite entertaining ways Sabin takes out would-be assassins.

Craig brings a world-weary authority and underlying sadness to his role, a part light years away from his easy-going leading man roles of the ’40s.  I especially loved Craig’s unexpected scenes with the final gunman (Brett Halsey) to arrive in Purgatory.

Four Fast Guns was also the last film for actress Martha Vickers, well known to film noir fans for The Big Sleep (1946).  She’s interesting as the saloon owner’s wife who is attracted to Sabin, though the role is somewhat underwritten; viewers watching closely will note that she almost never interacts with her husband, though they’re in many of the same scenes.  I would have liked Vickers’ character to be better fleshed out in the screenplay, but otherwise, this is quite a well-written film, authored by James Edmiston and Dallas Gaultois.

Martha Vickers and Paul Richards Dragoon Wells Massacre (1960)
Martha Vickers and Paul Richards

Edgar Buchanan also adds nice touches as the town drunk who proves to be Sabin’s ally.

There’s nothing better than watching a relatively unknown film like this “cold” and discovering a very worthwhile movie.  Four Fast Guns is a wonderful example of a minor film that provides rewarding Western viewing.

Four Fast Guns is available on DVD from VCI Entertainment.

— Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub

Laura can be found at her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she’s been writing about movies since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film fan, Laura loves the classics including Disney, Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns.  She regularly covers Southern California classic film festivals.  Laura will scribe on all things western at the ‘Western RoundUp’ for CMH.

Posted in Posts by Laura Grieve, Western RoundUp | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Directors’ Chair: The Wrong Man and I Confess

The Directors’ Chair: The Wrong Man and I Confess

CAUGHT IN A TRAP…AND I CAN’T WALK OUT

This month’s foray into director Alfred Hitchcock explores him putting characters into such black holes not even light can escape. I’ll give you a double whammy of two films where the legal system and the confessional go through the Hitchcock pretzel-making machine. And there ain’t nuthin’ glossy or romantic about it.

“THE WRONG MAN” ( 1956 ) – KAFKA AIN’T GOT NUTHIN’ ON HITCH

What if a system that is supposed to protect and work FOR us, turns against us? Hitchcock has explored the wrong man theme before, but this time, the man is really…really…wrong.

THE WRONG MAN Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man

Sheesh, is THIS one ever a downer. But it’s still Hitchcock, and he shows how one man’s world is turned upside down and inside out. The forces of The Law work against Henry Fonda as a man accused of a crime he did not commit.

THE WRONG MAN Henry Fonda, Charles Cooper, Walter Kohler, Vera Miles, and Daniel Ocko

With no lawyer and not even that one (Constitutionally-allowed) phone call on his side, Fonda is ground through the legal system like sausage meat. The police are oppressively not so law and order doing their due diligence which doesn’t bolster my confidence in the system. Hitchcock gives a play-by-the-numbers policier with this film.

THE WRONG MAN Vera Miles
Vera Miles

I like how all the bricks of Fonda’s alibi and whereabouts are laid out neatly and clearly beforehand. We, the audience, see the truth while The Law only sees what things look like, and not what they are. See…that’s a Hitchcock move, giving the audience more information than the characters have. How honestly and innocently Fonda’s Manny Balestrero’s answers questions – a man with nothing to hide. How terrifying events turn against him when all his actions look suspect to fit people’s perceptions. But worst of all is the collateral damage done to his family, specifically wife Vera Miles. Talking to my friend Wendy about the movie she says:

                                    “I find it so SO heartbreaking.
                                    He doesn’t hang, but it’s destroyed
                                     him and her already anyway, so it
                                     doesn’t matter. It’s so dark.”

THE WRONG MAN Vera Miles
Vera Miles

Miles loses hold of her sanity as Fonda goes deeper and deeper into this Kafka-esque rabbit hole. Hitchcock tells the story in a very straight-forward manner, and takes us to a very deep dark place where the letter of the law drops very heavily. This is grim, folks. You don’t want to be there. But Hitchcock takes you by the hand…

*****

“I CONFESS” ( 1953 ) ~ THE DIVINE BURDEN OR…I’M TOO SEXY FOR THIS COLLAR

Confession is good for the soul? In Hitchcock’s world, that’s iffy. An unstoppable force (the State) meets an immovable object (the Church), two forces in the grip of Hitchcock. When you deal with the State ~ the Law ~ the Police, they let you know anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. (See The Wrong Man). They’ll give up your secrets in a heartbeat and put you behind bars forever. But what if you confess to a priest…

I can just see Hitchcock meeting with his production team now with this simple kernel of an idea:

“What if a murderer confessed to a priest?”

And they’re off to the races.

If you want to get the full ‘Monty’ of the genesis of I Confess based on a play by Paul Anthelme, you can read the article in “Senses of Cinema”. What do you do when a man who confesses to murder implicates YOU in that crime? How galling is it to see a man taunt a priest with his confession of murder by saying: “you can’t tell, you’re a priest!” And as a priest, how bound are you by the tenets of religion, how committed are you to your faith that you say nothing, risking taking the rap yourself? What a pickle to be in. Well, I Confess is a movie about all that. It’s 1953. What young actor can you get to play such a man?

Why, Monty, of course!!

I CONFESS Montgomery Clift
Montgomery Clift

Montgomery Clift. A Place in the Sun is the film he does just before this one. [Could he be making amends for letting Shelley Winters drown? ;-)] Monty would be perfect for this role. It’s such a crime he looks so good with that collar wrapped around his throat; his soulful dark beauty gives way to distracting thoughts about a priest. (I confess!) But he’s perfect for the role because he’s such an internal actor. He can get ideas across without speaking and much of this movie is about NOT speaking. You can believe Monty the Priest has the integrity and deep faith that would prevent him from giving up the murderer…even if it means he himself will be charged with the crime. Clift is shackled to his conscience, but it’s a divine burden he bears.

I CONFESS ( 2 ) Strange pillow talk between O.E. Hasse and Dolly Haas
Strange pillow talk between O.E. Hasse and Dolly Hass 

Human nature will win out. How ironic the murderer condemns Clift for talking, (Monty has not) when it is he who suffers and bursts from not talking. Actor O.E. Hasse plays the weaselly little murderer who seems to want to transfer his guilt onto other people. A wife cannot testify against her husband. Oh yeah, she knows. He made sure of that.

Montgomery Clift and O E Hassee I confess
Alright already ~ spill the beans…or the damned rosary beads

But what better way to lock in that confession than by telling a priest. You kill two birds with one stone: absolution and the priest bears the burden of your crime. And you’re killing birds now, you creep. You can add that to your sins! I Confess is not one of Hitchcock’s sexy romantic technicolor thrillers. No one is being chased across the roofs of Paris or peeping in courtyard windows or crawling over presidents on Mount Rushmore. But it’s well-done and casts thoughts on religion and how deep one’s faith is. When everything hinges on not talking, Hitchcock makes the constraints of the confessional as suspenseful as hiding in a windmill.

I CONFESS Montgomery Clift 2

…..

— Theresa Brown for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Theresa’s Directors’ Chair articles here.

Theresa Brown is a native New Yorker, a Capricorn and a biker chick (rider as well as passenger). When she’s not on her motorcycle, you can find her on her couch blogging about classic films for CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch. Classic films are her passion. You can find her on Twitter at @CineMava.

Posted in Directors, Posts by Theresa Brown, The Directors' Chair | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Silents are Golden: “For the Sake of the Picture” – The Dangerous Era of Silent Filmmaking

Silents are Golden: “For the Sake of the Picture” – The Dangerous Era of Silent Filmmaking

Most of us are familiar with the incredible stuntwork done for the 1910s and 1920s films – often by the main stars themselves, such as Douglas Fairbanks or Harold Lloyd. The extremes they were willing to put themselves through for the sake of a laugh or a gasp was extraordinary. But when it came to some productions, the risks didn’t end when those cameras stopped rolling. Whole camera crews and casts trekked to remote locations to make a picture, and often endured extreme heat or bitter cold. Extras put their bodies through the wringer for realistic battle scenes and large-scale stunts–often for little pay. When it came to endangering life and limb to make a film, we can say that the silent era truly had no peer.

The House of Hate (1918) starring Pearl White on set
Still from the production of The House of Hate (1918) starring Pearl White.

Keep in mind that in the early 20th century, cinema wasn’t merely a new form of entertainment or a new, unusual way for performers to make a living. It truly opened up an entire world of creative possibilities. Buster Keaton recalled how exciting it was to realize that motion pictures could go far beyond the confines of the stage: “The camera had no such limitations. The whole world was its stage. If you wanted cities, deserts, the Atlantic Ocean, Persia, or the Rocky Mountains for your scenery and background, you merely took your camera to them. In the theater, you had to create an illusion of being on a ship, a railroad train, or an airplane. The camera allowed you to show your audience the real thing.”

So perhaps it’s understandable that this fervor about filming actual locations and capturing real stunts became almost a mania in silent Hollywood. The earliest studios started slowly, perhaps by sending a small crew to capture a local parade or to get shots of actors in natural scenery. Studios like the Keystone Film Company might send their crew to a public event and have the actors adlib their way through a simple comedy (Charlie Chaplin’s Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) was famous for this).

Charlie Chaplin on set Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
A shot from Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914).

But these easy-access locations were only satisfying for so long–studios wanted to wow audiences with sweeping scenery. They were also swept up by the adventure of location shoots, even when they were difficult or even dangerous. Westerns were shot out in the desert, where actual cowboys often lent their horseriding skills to thrilling chase scenes and squirmishes in winding canyons. Films with wintery scenes might be shot up in a snowy mountain range–not always easy to access in those days. Crews might journey by train for several days to a remote location, where they might be hours away from any assistance. While filming the satire Moonshine (1918) in a deep river valley, Roscoe Arbuckle and his crew woke up one morning to discover that rain had caused the river to rise several feet. They waited over a week for the river to recede before they could head home.

Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton on set Moonshine (1918)
Arbuckle and Buster Keaton on location for Moonshine.

One of the most dramatic stories about dangerous locations shooting involved star and director Nell Shipman and her director husband Bert. Around 1923, while filming by a frozen lake in snowy northern Idaho, they were separated from the rest of the crew and had to make a twenty-mile hike to get to the nearest ranch. Bert, who had a foot injury that had become infected, began suffering from delirium. Equipped only with a sledge–which frequently fell through the lake’s thin ice–they struggled through the snow for mile after mile. Nell’s feet would suffer frostbite, and Bert would have his infected foot amputated.

Going to great lengths for amazing shots could be accomplished in the studio, too. A prime example is the mighty Babylon set from D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916), an amazing achievement to this day. Its broad floors and ninety-foot walls were packed with extras for the battle scenes–around 2000 people in all for some sequences. One of Griffith’s assistant directors, Joseph Henabery, recalled that during the filming of the most intense battle scene there were 67 on-set accidents in one day. Another time, one unfortunate man got an arrow shot into the side of his head.

Intolerance (1916) on set
Intolerance’s mighty battle.

While stuntmen were used in those days, extras were sometimes allowed to volunteer to do a long fall or other stunt-like work for some extra pay. In Cecil B. DeMille’s drama The Woman God Forgot (1917), a battle taking place on an Aztec pyramid was supposed to show men falling and sliding down the steep side. The pyramid’s surface was paper-covered wood that was coated in sand to look like stone–thus, extras that took the fall got their skin thoroughly scraped by sandpaper.

Several films became legendary for the hardships the cast and crew endured in the name of realism. Greed (1924) would film a key sequence in the blistering heat of Death Valley, where the temperature would rise to 120 degrees (actor Jean Hersholt needed several weeks to recover). Way Down East (1920) had its climactic scene on a frozen river, where Lillian Gish’s character collapses on a real ice floe (Gish trailed her hand in the water for dramatic effect and suffered permanent nerve damage). And Ben-Hur (1925) was renowned for its difficult, lengthy shoot, with one sea battle sequence that even today is rumored to have caused the deaths of several extras.

Greed (1924) Death Valley on Set
The Death Valley sequence in Greed.

It’s easy to gawk at the daring, practically devil-may-care nature of some early filmmakers, and to wonder just what drove them. The great historian Kevin Brownlow had a unique insight. In his seminal book on silent film The Parade’s Gone By, he wrote: “For many of them, the fact of working at something enjoyable was a new sensation. Some had known great poverty. While they earned thousands a week in California, their families still struggled, refusing assistance. It is no wonder that Hollywood cut itself off from the rest of the world, becoming a sort of…dream factory, which was a bit dreamlike itself…

Charlie Chaplin on set The Gold Rush (1925)
Chaplin during the making of The Gold Rush (1925).

To allay the guilt which furtively gnawed at certain souls, technicians and players often endured the most incredibly rigorous conditions ‘for the sake of the picture.’ For some such an experience was an adventure, a challenge. To others, it was a purge.

–Lea Stans for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Lea’s Silents are Golden articles here.

Lea Stans is a born-and-raised Minnesotan with a degree in English and an obsessive interest in the silent film era (which she largely blames on Buster Keaton). In addition to blogging about her passion at her site Silent-ology, she is a columnist for the Silent Film Quarterlyand has also written for The Keaton Chronicle.

Posted in Posts by Lea Stans, Silents are Golden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monsters and Matinees: The Vampire through the Artistry of Mario Bava

The Vampire through the Artistry of Mario Bava

As much as we love Bela Lugosi and our other iconic film Dracula, Christopher Lee, there’s a range of vampire films that go beyond these actors and The Count. Some aren’t memorable or even very good; others bear little resemblance to the blood-sucking count.

Then there’s Mario Bava’s atmospheric Black Sunday (1960), a great vampire movie filled with iconic imagery without a fang in sight.

The Mask of Satan being impaled on the Barbara Steele in Mario Bava’s horror film Black Sunday is a scene that’s hard to forget.

As a kid, I fought my parents to watch this when it was on TV. I lost the battle, but they were right. Once I finally saw Black Sunday it gave me nightmares. The well-known scene where the Mask of Satan with its spiked nails is hammered on to Barbara Steele’s face never leaves you. I get chills just thinking about it. It’s that type of unforgettable imagery that makes Bava such a master of Gothic Italian horror.

The movie transports us to the 17th century on Black Sunday – a day that comes once a century when Satan walks the Earth and his human followers become vampires.

One of those is Princess Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele), who has been condemned to death by her brother for sorcery. She’s branded by a hot iron with an S for Satan (gross) as she curses her brother’s family for eternity. Then the Mask of Satan is hammered on her face. It’s horrifying.

Two centuries later on Black Sunday, Dr. Choma Kruvajan (Andrea Checchi) and his handsome, young assistant Dr. Andrej Gorobec (John Richardson) are traveling through Moldovia when their carriage breaks down. In a precursor to the “don’t go in the basement” refrain of modern horror films, they head down into a crypt where they’re drawn to Asa’s tomb. She was deemed so evil that a glass pane is over her face so she’ll see a cross if she awakens. A bat startles Kruvajan who accidentally breaks the glass and the cross and cuts himself. We know where this is going.

Back outside, the men are startled by the striking Princess Katia (also played by Steele) and her two large dogs. Gorobec, of course, is smitten by her beauty and sadness.

Katia, her father and brother live in a castle where the specter of Asa’s family curse haunts them. They know the history of those who have fallen to the curse, including a princess who looked like Katia, and seem to be resigned to their fate. Give credit to Steele in the dual roles of Asa and Katia. The actress and her oversized eyes give each woman what she needs: an intense coldness for Asa; a sorrowful aura for Katia.

Back to those few drops of blood: They’ve helped awaken Asa, who telepathically summons her love Javutich to rise from the dead and do her bidding. The goal: to drain Katia’s blood so Asa can again walk the Earth.

Asa will need the blood of her ancestor Katia to live again and regain her beauty.

The two doctors are pulled into all of this – one willingly, the other not – as Asa works her evil from the crypt. Slowly she is being brought back to life, but not just yet as Bava lets the camera linger on her hideous face still marked by puncture wounds. He’ll return to this sight throughout the film.

It fits with Bava’s flair for the dramatic in his visuals, sound, music and effects. Fog is omnipresent and especially effective when it’s billowing along the ground inside the castle where it’s like a character walking through a room. Ghastly faces float in and out of the shadows, sometimes terrifying people to death. It’s an effect that worked equally as well when Bava used it again in The Drop of Water segment of his horror anthology Black Sabbath (1963).

* * * *

Black Sabbath also is worth noting for this story because of its interesting, but grim short film The Wurdulak, based on the vampire in Slavik folklore. It stars Boris Karloff, who also narrates the film.

A mother holds her son tight in fear of his grandfather in
The Wurdulak, one of three short films in Mario Bava’s horror anthology Black Sabbath.

The Wurdulak is set in 19th century Russia, where a terrified family awaits the return of their patriarch, Gorca (Karloff). He has yet to return from a mission to kill the wurdulak and it’s nearly the time he warned his family about: If he hasn’t returned by 10 on the fifth day, he has failed and must be killed with a stake through his heart. They are wise to listen: the cadaverous wurdulak survives by drinking the blood of those he loves. If Gorca is now a wurdulak, guess who’s next?

But first, a handsome Russian nobleman (Mark Damon) arrives at the family cottage in time to learn about the wurdulak, witness Gorca’s return and fall in love with his lovely daughter Sdenka (Susy Andersen) all in a few hours.

Gorca is disheveled, wounded and acting irrationally leaving his family unsure if he is human or vampire. The way he eyes them all up – especially his young grandson – is disturbing, but they give him a chance because he’s family. It won’t take long to know if that’s a wise decision.

Boris Karloff isn’t looking too well when he returns from hunting
a vampire in The Wurdulak, fromBlack Sabbath.

Bava packs a lot into this 15-minute segment. It feels like we’re getting the best parts of a 90-minute horror film – all substance, no filler.

While we’re talking Bava and vampires, let’s finish with one more.

* * * *

In Bava’s Planet of the Vampires (1965) we see the definition of a B-movie: bare-bones sets, weak special effects, low production values. The fact this sci-fi horror film also is directed by Bava seems odd. Then he hits us with some great imagery to remind us a master is behind the camera.

Two interplanetary ships respond to a distress call from the planet Aura and things quickly go wrong. Entering the planet’s atmosphere, crew members attack each other. On one ship, Captain Markary (Barry Sullivan) is immune to this “temporary madness” and saves his crew. The other crew isn’t so lucky as the entire group is found dead.

Barry Sullivan, second from right, leads his crew on a sparsely decorated
set in Planet of the Vampires.

Strange things continue on the planet. Bodies disappear, weird light orbs zing about, mysterious shadows appear and the bones of giant creatures are discovered.

Wait: a distress call, a strange planet, bones of giant creatures? Yes, there are similarities to Ridley Scott’s Alien, and they’ve been pointed out by film fans and critics for years.

One of those fans is actor Nicolas Winding Refn who was happy to make the point when he introduced the restored 4K version of Planet of the Vampires in Cinema Classics at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016.

Planet of the Vampires is the film that Ridley Scott and Dan O’Bannon stole from to make Alien. We found the elements, we have the evidence tonight. This is the original,” he said.

Now, no one is saying Planet of the Vampires is anywhere near the quality of Scott’s masterpiece, just that there are similarities.

Men wrapped in plastic rise from the dead in this creepy scene from Planet of the Vampires.

But don’t underestimate Bava’s directorial skills. Take the unsettling scene where men wrapped in clear plastic bags rise from the dead, like a vampire emerging from his coffin. You can feel them gasping for air – or something – as they rip the plastic that confines them.

Though these parasitic aliens don’t suck the blood out of your neck, they find other ways to drain the life from your body, turning you into their version of the undead.

It’s not Dracula or Black Sunday, but Planet of the Vampires is entertaining in that B-movie way. Plus it has the bonus of a Twilight Zone twist at the end.

 Toni Ruberto for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Toni’s Monsters and Matinees articles here.

Toni Ruberto, born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., is an editor and writer at The Buffalo News. She shares her love for classic movies in her blog, Watching Forever. Toni was the president of the former Buffalo chapter of TCM Backlot and now leads the offshoot group, Buffalo Classic Movie Buffs. She is proud to have put Buffalo and its glorious old movie palaces in the spotlight as the inaugural winner of the TCM in Your Hometown contest. You can find Toni on Twitter at @toniruberto.

Posted in Classic Movie Hub, Horror, Monsters and Matinees, Posts by Toni Ruberto | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Noir Nook: Dame Name Noirs – Mildred Pierce (1945)

Noir Nook: Dame Name Noirs – Mildred Pierce (1945)

If you know anything about me, you know I love my noir dames. Everything about them fascinates me – from their fearless approach to life to their mercenary ways – and don’t get me started on their unadulterated sexiness. No wonder they leave so many hapless gents in their wake!

Jack Carson and Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945)
Jack Carson and Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945)

This month’s Noir Nook is the next installment in my series about films featuring femmes whose awesome-saucery earned them their own monikers in the titles – my favorite dame-name noirs. My spotlight dame name noir this time around is the fabulous Mildred Pierce, which just happens to be one of those films that have made it onto every top 10 noir list I’ve ever made.

Mildred Pierce tells the story of the title character (played in an Oscar-winning performance by Joan Crawford) who, when we meet her, is a California stay-at-home mom with two daughters and an unemployed husband (with a funky attitude). Mildred spends a lot of her time in the kitchen, whipping up delectable baked goods to help make ends meet, pay for dance lessons for her adorable moppet of a younger daughter, Kay (Jo Ann Marlowe) – and buy frilly party dresses for her snobbish, ungrateful older daughter Veda (Ann Blyth).

Eve Arden, Zachary Scott, and Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce (1945)
Eve Arden, Zachary Scott, and Ann Blyth

As it turns out, a major upheaval in Mildred’s life (she gives her hubby the heave-ho when he can’t stop paying visits to their attractive neighbor) turns out to be a blessing in disguise. After working for a while as a waitress, she gets the bright idea to start a restaurant, and it turns into success beyond her wildest imaginings.

So where’s the noir? I guess I left out a couple of important details. First off, the film opens with the murder of a handsome, mustachioed man who, after having his body riddled with bullets, says just one word: “Mildred.” And after a mink-coated Mildred is detained by police for questioning, we’re introduced to a flashback (complete with a noiresque voiceover and scenes painted with contrasting lights and shadows) that lasts almost the entire film.

Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945)
Joan Crawford

As the single mom who displays the strength to send her wayward husband packing, and both the intelligence and the determination to create a restaurant empire, Mildred is undoubtedly a woman with which to be reckoned. But one of the (many) things I love about this film is that she isn’t the only standout femme. There’s Ida (played by the always fabulous Eve Arden), who was Mildred’s manager when she worked as a waitress and then left her job to work for Mildred when she opened her first restaurant. She’s the kind of friend everybody would want to have and to be – loyal, supportive, honest, and a blast to be around. And then there’s Mildred’s daughter, Veda who, while undeniably avaricious and self-centered, possessed an admirable ability to land on her feet and use her considerable wiles to get her way – even if those wiles were used to gain less than admirable ends.

Mildred Pierce is one of the movies I’ve seen most often – I have it on VHS, DVD, and BluRay, and I’ll still watch it every time it comes on TV.  Whether you’ve never seen it, or you haven’t seen it in a while, treat yourself, track it down, and revel in this first-rate dame name noir.

…..

– Karen Burroughs Hannsberry for Classic Movie Hub

You can read all of Karen’s Noir Nook articles here.

Karen Burroughs Hannsberry is the author of the Shadows and Satin blog, which focuses on movies and performers from the film noir and pre-Code eras, and the editor-in-chief of The Dark Pages, a bimonthly newsletter devoted to all things film noir. Karen is also the author of two books on film noir – Femme Noir: The Bad Girls of Film and Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. You can follow Karen on Twitter at @TheDarkPages.

If you’re interested in learning more about Karen’s books, you can read more about them on amazon here:

Posted in Noir Nook, Posts by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Silver Screen Standards: The Petrified Forest (1936)

Silver Screen Standards: The Petrified Forest (1936)

The Petrified Forest (1936)
The Petrified Forest (1936)

Warning: This post contains spoilers about the ending of the film.

If I were younger or in a more sanguine mood, I might find The Petrified Forest (1936) very romantic, but middle age and the perpetual crisis that we call 2020 overhung my recent revisitation of this classic Warner Bros. drama from director Archie Mayo. Instead of identifying with Bette Davis in bobby socks, I found myself feeling the full impact of Leslie Howard’s brilliant performance as the depressed, world-weary traveler, a man for whom the titular desert is a liminal space between life and death, a place where destiny wears Humphrey Bogart’s haunted face. I had to wonder if this was how adult viewers felt when watching the picture on its original release in the throes of the Great Depression, especially in places like the desolate wayside where the events of the story unfold. For all its talk of poetry and Paris, the romance in The Petrified Forest feels more like a dose of sugar-coating a bitter pill, and the aftertaste of that bitterness lingers long after the sweetness fades away. It’s a brilliant, moving meditation on the ways in which people recognize the point of no return and reflect on the journey that brought them, but cheerful it certainly isn’t.

The Petrified Forest (1936) Leslie Howard Bette Davis
On the roof of the gas station, Alan and Gabrielle discuss her art and her hopes of studying in Paris.

Howard headlines this adaptation of the 1935 Broadway play in which he and Bogart also starred. He plays a washed-up wanderer, Alan Squier, who once had aspirations of being a writer but is now drifting across the US with vague ideas of drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean when the journey ends. He meets young Gabrielle, played by Davis, at a remote gas station on the edge of the Petrified Forest, and becomes fascinated by her youthful dreams of being an artist and running away to France. Fate adds a twist to their meeting when Duke Mantee (Bogart) and his gang take the gas station occupants hostage while police scour the border country for the murderous criminals. Alan sees a spark in Gabrielle that reminds him of his younger self, but he also recognizes a darker kindred spirit in Duke, who shares his exhaustion with the emptiness of a grinding, bootless existence.

The Petrified Forest (1936)
Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart
Duke Mantee is a menacing figure, but Alan is not afraid of him, even if Gabrielle doesn’t understand Alan’s sense of kinship with the dangerous outlaw.

The cast is packed with favorites, with Davis and Bogart both on the rise and supporting players like Porter Hall, Dick Foran, and Charley Grapewin all doing solid work, but the picture belongs to Howard, who had clearly developed a deep understanding of his character during the Broadway run. We are meant to like Alan very much, just as Gabby does, but we’re also meant to understand that he’s at the end of the line, that there are only different kinds of deaths available to him, not an eleventh-hour reprieve. It’s hard to imagine why Warner thought a happy ending would be a better way to close the film, but they actually shot one in case audiences found the original too depressing. Howard, however, is telegraphing Alan’s desire to die so strongly that denying him that ending would have been cruel as well as jarring. Doom is written on his brow, albeit in an elegant hand. On Mantee’s brow the writing is cruder but just as plain; he, too, knows that he’s at the end of the line, and for a killer, he seems strangely unwilling to shed more blood, even when Alan asks it as a favor.

Like Alan Duke, Squier harbors some surprisingly romantic, even old-fashioned, notions, not just about women but about the respect due to an old man, even one as annoying as Gabby’s grandfather. Perhaps the names of the two men, Duke and Squier, are meant to connect them as adherents to an outdated code, remnants of a more romantic age that had room for poets and outlaws alike. Alan says he is “destined to become… an interesting fossil for future study,” and the same holds true for Duke, whom the film’s dialogue repeatedly ties to the legendary Billy the Kid. Gabby’s grandfather boasts about being shot at by Billy, and to Alan Duke represents the opportunity to die with a measure of glory that has eluded him in life. As Alan tells Duke, “It’ll inspire people to say of me, ‘There was an artist who died before his time.’” Alan’s life insurance policy can buy Gabrielle a chance at happiness in faraway France, and he relishes the idea that she will mourn him, but he knows too well that there’s no happily ever after in store for himself, just as Duke knows that either a bullet or an executioner will bring his own end.

The Petrified Forest (1936) Dick Foran, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard
Boze (Dick Foran) sees Alan as competition for Gabby’s affection. Gabby would only settle for the football player if she had no other choice, and Alan’s arrival inspires her to hope for something better.

In case we’re tempted to imagine a romantic escape for Alan and Gabby, the story presents us with omnipresent examples of the disappointment of such relationships, which is plain to the older characters but not really understood by Gabrielle. Gabby’s mother couldn’t stand the desert and returned to her native France years ago, leaving her only child behind with a family of dull, unimaginative men. Alan’s wealthy ex-wife picked him up as a pet project and then threw him away for a new one, while Duke waits in the gas station for a lover who gets caught by the cops and reportedly rats him out.

We get a different view of the same kind of misery from Mrs. Chisholm (Genevieve Tobin), the respectable society wife who endures an empty, hopeless existence with another dull, unimaginative man. She’s desperate enough to ask Duke to take her with him when he leaves, a request that betrays a suicidal yearning as strong as Alan’s if less examined by the film. These relationships offer little hope for Gabby and Alan as a couple, and they don’t inspire us to root for football jock Boze (Dick Foran), either. Alan might disappoint Gabrielle, but Boze would be the death of her soul. Escape to France is her only hope. She’s got to get out while she’s young and live for herself, not for anyone else, including Alan. She gets that chance thanks to Alan, Duke, and a bullet in the chest. It’s a dark kind of romance, but that’s the only comfort the film has to offer.

The Petrified Forest (1936) Bette Davis Leslie Howard
While the outlaws shoot it out with the cops, the hostages take shelter under tables and on the floor. Gabrielle and Alan enjoy a few brief moments of closeness in the midst of the danger.

Many classic movie fans will already know that Howard, who fought to bring Bogart over for the film adaptation of the play, thus launched Bogart’s second and more successful effort to break into Hollywood. Bogart would go on playing gangsters and heavies for several years before real stardom came, but he named his daughter Leslie Howard Bogart in memory of his loyal friend, who died in 1943 when his plane was shot down by the Nazis.

For more drama with Howard and Bette Davis, see Of Human Bondage (1934), but if you want them in a lighter mood try the delightful comedy, It’s Love I’m After (1937). Davis and Bogart also star together in Marked Woman (1937) and Kid Galahad (1937), and Bogart has a memorable if secondary, role in Dark Victory (1939). If depressing tales like this one suit your current mood, go for an adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, which Alan mentions (the 1935 version with Ronald Colman is a good choice), or jump into a more modern version of the same atmosphere with Leaving Las Vegas (1995).

— Jennifer Garlen for Classic Movie Hub

Jennifer Garlen pens our monthly Silver Screen Standards column. You can read all of Jennifer’s Silver Screen Standards articles here.

Jennifer is a former college professor with a PhD in English Literature and a lifelong obsession with film. She writes about classic movies at her blog, Virtual Virago, and presents classic film programs for lifetime learning groups and retirement communities. She’s the author of Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching and its sequel, Beyond Casablanca II: 101 Classic Movies Worth Watching, and she is also the co-editor of two books about the works of Jim Henson.

Posted in Posts by Jennifer Garlen, Silver Screen Standards | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Illustrated Holiday Classic – Book Giveaway (now thru Dec 12)

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Illustrated Holiday Classic
We have 10 Books to Giveaway Now through Dec 12!

Re-live the beloved holiday classic with this
lavishly illustrated storybook the entire family can share

We are delighted to announce our next giveaway — just in time for the Holidays!

Over the next few weeks, CMH will be giving away 10 COPIES of the book “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Illustrated Holiday Classic” by New York Times best-selling author Paul Ruditis, courtesy of Insight Editions!

…..

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, Dec 12 at 6PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick two winners on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • Nov 14: Two Winners
  • Nov 21: Two Winners
  • Nov 28: Two Winners
  • Dec 5: Two Winners
  • Dec 12: Two Winners

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub, the day after each winner is picked around 9PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday Nov 15 around 9PM EST on Twitter. And, please note that you don’t have to have a Twitter account to enter; just see below for the details…

…..

And now on to the contest!

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, Dec 12 at 6PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:

Just entered to win the “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Illustrated Holiday Classic” #BookGiveaway courtesy of @InsightEditions & Classic Movie Hub #ItsAWonderfulLife #ItsAWonderfulLifeBook #CMHContest link: http://ow.ly/fYGr50CeQZN

THE QUESTION:
What do you love most about It’s a Wonderful Life? And, if you’re not familiar with the story, why do you want to win this book?

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

ALSO: Please allow us 48 hours to approve your comments. Sorry about that, but we are being overwhelmed with spam, and must sort through 100s of comments…

…..

About the Book: It’s a Wonderful Life: The Illustrated Holiday Classic​ retells the story of the 1946 classic film through original artwork, and allows readers to return to the town of Bedford Falls to watch George dream big, fall in love, and learn the important lesson, that “no man is a failure who has friends.” Favorite scenes like George and Mary’s high school dance (that ends up in the pool,) Clarence rescuing George from the bridge, and neighbors coming together to help save the Building & Loan, are depicted in delightful illustrations in this handsome volume that is sure to become a new family holiday tradition.

…..

Please note that only United States (excluding the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canada entrants are eligible. No P.O. Boxes please.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase the on amazon by clicking here:

 …..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , | 58 Comments