Thursday, April 2, 2020

Books, Books, Book - 3rd Edition

This is the fourth post in our series on books published by our fellow members. You can check out our previous post by clicking here.

A couple of things to point out.

I will be doing one post per week, so please be patient.

Each post will feature one to three authors depending on the number of books in their catalog.

The CMBA ebooks are not included. All CMBA books are listed on a separate page on this blog.

If I miss a book of yours, fret not. Let me know and I will add to a new future post.

In the future, If you are working on a new book, or will have a book “coming soon.” Let us know and we will announce it.

First up is Terry Sherwood. who blogs at Stardust and Shadows

Our next author for this edition is Cliff Alperti who blogs at  Immortal Ephemera

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

CMBA Profile: The Wonderful World of Cinema-

CMBA profiles one member every month. This month's interview is with  Virginie Pronovost who blogs at The Wonderful World of Cinema.  Virginie loves comedy and recently completed a marathon series of posts on the "Carry On" series.  

What sparked your interest in Movies?

My interest in movies, and especially classics, is all a question of curiosity. If I remember correctly, the first truly old movie I saw and loved was Chaplin's Modern Times. I was 14 at the time, but I didn't get to truly explore classic films until I was 15, I would say. Nevertheless, during summer 2009 (so, when I was 14), I was traveling in Europe with my parents and, as we were in Turin, we went to the Museum of Cinema, which absolutely mesmerized me and piqued my curiosity even more.  Then, I got to discover more classics thanks to this TV channel in Quebec that broadcasts films (classics or not) at 9 pm. As a teen, I came across a few of them that made me stay on the couch instead of going away and made me realize "classics are actually good"! So, aside from Modern Times, the films that started my interest for classic films were Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Good the Bad and the Ugly and High Noon, that I discovered with this TV channel. And there was The Birds, which was a recommendation from my father (and it was unlike anything I had seen before). The last step of that discovery came with a book on movie stars, classic and modern, that I decided to buy although I had no idea whom most of them were. I bought it because I loved the pictures. I would then read that book about twice a day and would show it to everybody (I was rather proud of it!). Naturally, films' titles were mentioned, so that was a good source to know what to watch next. Now my to-watch list is way too long, and I doubt I'll have enough of a lifetime to see everything.

What film genre(s) do you favor?

Comedy is my to-go genre, and more precisely screwball comedies and classic British comedies. They are not only a great form of escapism, but they can be pretty clever as well. And as Chaplin said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted". I agree. Other than that, I have that strong passion for Hitchcockian films (I guess it can almost be considered a genre it itself) and film noir. I know noir is not a genre per se (well, there's a lot of debate around that), but I guess you get the point!

Do You Have a Favorite Film, actor and actress and would You Tell Us Why?

Yes, of course! My favourite film is Some Like It Hot. As I said previously, I always favour a good laugh, and this is the perfect film for that. Plus, the whole cast is terrific as well as the screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. My favourite actor is James Stewart. Is it possible not to like James Stewart? Despite often being labelled as the "regular guy", he had an incredible range and was very versatile. And in terms of actresses, there are three at my #1 position: Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman. Those ladies were not only tremendously talented but they also never cease to inspire me.

Name three films that most classic film fans love, but you hate, and if you can tell us why?

It's not necessarily films that I hate because "hate" is pretty extreme, but let just say they didn't reach my interests as expected:
- To Each His Own: I totally lost my concentration while watching this film. I don't even remember what the story was about. Too bad considering it was Olivia de Havilland's first Oscar-winning role.
- Double Indemnity: Don't kill me! I know this is an essential noir, but I've tried, more than once, and it just doesn't work for me. I'm not a fan of Fred MacMurray, so I guess it doesn't help and the two main characters played by him and Stanwyck mostly irritate me. But, normally, I love pretty much anything done by Billy Wilder.
- The Wizard of Oz: I don't think it's a bad film, of course, and it's definitely one of the most important classics, but I watched it once, and I think it's enough. Maybe the fact that I watched it in my 20s and not as a child didn't help because I found it a bit too childish and sometimes grotesque. Sorry!

You recently completed a series of on the classic “Carry On” series. Can you tell us what attracted you to this?

 I heard of the Carry On films a few years ago after watching Please Turn Over, which is a sort of non-official Carry On (same producer, director, writer, many Carry On regulars, etc.). So, these were eventually added on my long watching list. I was eventually inspired by other bloggers to start my own blog series and, therefore, saw a good opportunity to finally explore that franchise. I'm a huge fan of British comedy, as I said before, so I couldn't have made a better choice. Someone told me recently that I should do a blog series on Ealing comedies. I'm seriously considering it!

What movies would you recommend to someone who “hates” classic films? 

Many Hitchcock films are pretty timeless and could be a good introduction to non-classic films viewers. I would go with something like Rear Window or Strangers On A Train. Some Like It Hot would also be a good introduction. I'm not saying that because it's my favourite film but because I've rarely encountered people who have seen it and haven’t liked it.

What do you find is the most rewarding thing about blogging?

So many things! Being part of a blogging community where people support each other's work is one of them, developing my writing skills, feeling that my work is valued, etc.

Do you have an interest in any other arts that you can share?

I live for the arts! Music is one of them, listening and performing (I play the piano). I also love painting, especially artwork by René Magritte and Fernand Léger; vintage fashion photography by Irving Penn, Richard Avedon or Horst P. Horst, and dance (once again, watching and performing).

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Books, Books, Books: 2nd Edition

This is the second post in our series on books published by our fellow members. You can check out our previous post by clicking here.

A couple of things to point out.

I will be doing one post per week, so please be patient.

Each post will feature one to three authors depending on the number of books in their catalog.

The CMBA ebooks are not included. All CMBA books are listed on a separate page on this blog.

If I miss a book of yours, fret not. Let me know and I will add to a new future post.

In the future, If you are working on a new book, or will have a book “coming soon.” Let us know and we will announce it.

This edition features Kendra Bean who blogs at Viv and Larry (Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. )
Kendra is the author of the following:

Available as an ebook and hardcover at Amazon , Barnes and Noble and other online sources. bookstores.

 Co-written with Anthony Uzarowski. available as a eBook, Hardcover, Audiobook and Audio CD at Amazon.  As an eBook and Hardcover at Barnes and Noble, and other online sources.

Kendra is a contributor to this book. available at Amazon. Also available from Manchester University Press.

Next up is Donna Hill  who blogs at Falcon Lair. Donna is the author of Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol.

Donna' book is available at Amazon and

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Books, Books, Books!

This is the first in a series of posts on film-related books written, and yes, on sale, by our fellow members. When I first suggested doing this post, I knew of only four or five members that have written a book or books on our favorite subject. The volume of the one post topic I realized was going to be more than anticipated. Therefore, it’s been decided it would be more prudent to focus on two or three authors per post depending on the number of books.

A couple of things to point out.

I will be doing one post per week, so please be patient.

Each post will feature one to three authors depending on the number of books in their catalog.

The CMBA ebooks are not included. All CMBA books are listed on a separate page on this blog.

If I miss a book of yours, fret not. Let me know and I will add to a new future post.

In the future, If you are working on a new book, or will have a book “coming soon.” Let us know and we will announce it.

Let's begin!

Rick Armstrong blogs at the Classic Film and TV Cafe.  Rick and his wife Mary are co-authors of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FILM THEMES, SETTINGS AND SERIES (3rd Edition).

Rick and Mary's book is available at Amazon (paperback and hardcover), Barnes & Noble  (paperback and hardcover), and McFarland Books.

Lisle Foote blogs at Grace Kingsley's Hollywood. She is the author of BUSTER KEATON'S CREW: THE TEAM BEHIND HIS CREW.

Lisle's book is available at Amazon (eBook and paperback), Barnes and Noble ( eBook) and McFarland Books (paperback)

Donna Hill blogs on Valentino at Falcon Lair. She is the author of RUDOLPH VALENTINO THE SILENT IDOL: HIS LIFE IN PHOTOGRAPHS.

Donna's book is available at Amazon and Lulu as a paperback.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Anniversaries eBook Now Available

Anniversaries: 10 Years of the CMBA is now available at Amazon for .99 cents with all royalties going to the National Film Preservation Foundation and at Smashwords for free.

Monday, March 2, 2020

CMBA Profile: Cinema Essentials

CMBA profiles one member every month. This month's interview is  with  Jay who blogs at Cinema Essentials. Jay loves all genres but a few of his favorites include, spy films, thrillers, historical epics and more. 

What sparked your interest in classic film?

I've always had at least some interest, as far back as I can remember. Classic films were a major part of the TV landscape when I was a child, so I grew up watching them. I didn't differentiate much between old films and new, unless they were in black & white, which clearly marked them out as being "old". But 1960s films like The Italian Job, The Great Escape or early Bond films didn't seem that old to me.

I always liked spy films and thrillers and the remakes of The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes softened me up for the originals. So I was a Hitchcock fan from an early age and also liked Hitchcockian films like 23 Paces to Baker Street, Night Train to Munich and Charade. Charade was one of my favourite Hitchcock films as a child. Until I found out that, inexplicably, it wasn't actually a Hitchcock film, it just seemed like one.

Classic comedies also helped to wear away my early resistance to black and white, particularly Ealing comedies, Will Hay films and early Carry Ons. I also remember staying up late (or what seemed late at the time) to watch Green for Danger when I was 7 or 8. It was an old black and white film, but it was funny and entertaining. More importantly, we could stay up late, which made it much more memorable and interesting.

Older films seem to be disappearing from the schedules in many places now, so people are less likely to have that discovery through TV. So it often seems to be relatives or a class that introduces them to classic films instead. When I read about other CMBA members watching Singin' in the Rain in class, it makes me think I must have gone to the wrong school. We never got anything like that at my school - we had to do work! When I think about the amount of time I spent watching old films as a child, I realise now it should really have been classified as homework.

My family also had a couple of editions of Halliwell's Film Guide, probably the most popular film guide in the UK in pre-internet days. It was a huge book and packed with so much information that it was effectively a potted history of the cinema. It meant that I had an understanding of the scope of film history, and was aware of the big famous films, and many not so famous, long before I actually got to see them.

I think those old film guides aided discovery and exploration, and helped to break down the barrier between old films and new. The Jazz Singer and Metropolis could sit alongside Terminator 2 and Rocky III. Although not literally, of course, unless the author just didn't understand the concept of alphabetical order.

What film genre(s) do you favor?

I particularly like thrillers, spy films, war films, horror, sci-fi, and comedies.

I think one of cinema's greatest qualities is its ability to transport us, to eras long gone or future or fantasy worlds that never were. So I like historical films, sci-fi or fantasy that are good at world-building and can convince us that world is real.

I'm especially fond of big historical epics. Something with huge sets, lots of people on horseback, and men saying things like "My liege, the people are revolting" and that kind of thing.

War films are a genre that I think is often underrated, because when we think of them it's often the generic men-in-tin-helmets type combat films that we think of. But it's a very varied genre with many sub-genres. The Enemy Below, Paths of Glory and I Was Monty's Double are all "war" films from the 1950s, but they're  not really in quite the same genre.

I also love classic British comedies, especially from the 1950s and '60s. Ealing comedies, the Boulting Brothers' satires and almost anything with Peter Sellers, Terry-Thomas or Alastair Sim.

Is there a James Bond book in your future? (I say this because you mention the possibility on your website) and who is the greatest James Bond?

I wrote that partly as a joke, but it was obviously at the back of my mind, so it is a slight possibility. I'm hoping to get around to writing about each of the films individually, and then maybe I could eventually work those articles into a book.

But I deliberately haven't gone big on Bond on the site, because there were other things I wanted to feature, so I've only written about The Spy Who Loved Me so far. That was almost the first thing I wrote and I was conscious of not making the posts too long. I don't really worry about that anymore - as regular readers will know. I watched the film again recently and there was a lot more that I wanted to say, so it needs expanding.

The greatest James Bond would have to be Sean Connery, as he originated the part on film and helped to turn Bond into a phenomenon. He had a run of five great Bond films from Dr No to You Only Live Twice that no one else has matched. I also love John Barry's music and Ken Adam's sets, and those elements were often at their best in the 1960s.

What is your “go to” classic film when you need something to lift up your spirits?

As I mentioned, I'm very partial to classic British comedy, so it would likely be something along those lines. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Two Way Stretch with Peter Sellers, which is a work of rare genius.

The original Star Wars still works as well. It transports me back to my childhood in a way that almost no other film can. And yes, Star Wars is definitely a classic film! It's just a shame that it's deliberately been made so difficult to see the original version. As we all know, the "Special Edition" is an abomination, and a serious crime against film history.

For a Bond film, I would probably go with Octopussy. The first Bond I encountered was Roger Moore, so I've always been fond of his films. Octopussy is one of the ones that most people forget, or if they remember it, it's because they don't like it. But there's something about its cheesy humour, strange mashing of genres and its flabby geniality that obviously appeals to me.

Or The Spy Who Loved Me, a Bond epic that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's also one of the best designed films in the series, so there's plenty of eye candy for Ken Adam fans. I sometimes put that one on just to look at the sets. Although I never tell my girlfriend that, because it sounds a bit sad. I just tell her I'm ogling Caroline Munro.

Name three films that most classic film fans love, but you hate, and if you can tell us why?

This is not a very popular opinion, but I do genuinely believe that Bringing up Baby is quite a bad film, and everyone else has lost their minds over that one. I first watched it when I was very into Cary Grant and screwball comedy, but found it very strained and desperate.

I watched It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World recently and thought that was fairly bad. I don't know if it's considered to be a classic though. Most people who come to it now would probably find it very laboured and unfunny, and it just goes on forever.

Rio Bravo is one I've seen on a couple of greatest ever film's lists and it's very average. It's probably not even the best western of 1959, let alone one of the best films ever. I don't hate it though, it's just too mediocre to have any strong opinions about.

I wrote about the 1931 Dracula recently, and thought a lot of that was bordering on bad, although admittedly it has a fairly strong opening.

That was actually four films, but I like to give people value for money.

Do you have a favorite film period?

Probably from the 1940s to the early 1970s. The quality isn't necessarily better in the later years. In fact, the average or below average film was probably better quality in the studio era. But as the studio system breaks down and there's no longer any kind of a production line, each film becomes more its own individual thing, and I like that very much.

The 1940s has some of the best film noir, it sees the western start to mature as a genre, and the second half of the decade is a peak for some of the leading British directors, Lean, Reed, Powell. The '50s is a fascinating transitional era in Hollywood, and the '60s is very interesting internationally, and an important decade for British cinema.

In the '50s and '60s you also have an interesting mixture of styles, with small scale black & white dramas rubbing shoulders with colourful widescreen spectaculars. And fashions change quickly in the 1960s and '70s and no one knows what's going to work anymore, which leads to some fascinating flops, misfires and films that just turn up at the wrong time. (I'm the only person I know who deliberately seeks out flop films. If a film really tanks, then I always want to see it!)

Some of the big historical films of the 1960s and early '70s can also be reasonably literate and intelligent and not just empty spectacle. No one does that better than David Lean in Lawrence of Arabia. But there are other epics from that time, like The Charge of the Light Brigade, Nicholas and Alexandra, Battle of Britain, The Last Valley and Oh! What a Lovely War that all need more love.

Why should people care about “old” black and white movies?

They shouldn't! That's not the answer you were expecting, is it?! Not if they don't want to anyway. I'm not a film fascist who gets indignant because people don't like what I like.

But old films can be a revealing window onto the past. They can give us a sense of their era, the attitudes and language and dress of their time, and they can be worthy works of art in themselves. They can also just be really entertaining.

And if you only watch recent films, then you're missing out on a lot. Because you have to go a long way to find a drama as compelling as Twelve Angry Men, a romance as charming as Roman Holiday, a crime film as stylish as The Third Man, a comedy as witty as Kind Hearts and Coronets, a psycho-drama as fascinating as Vertigo, or a totally contrived thriller handled quite so brilliantly as Rear Window.

Do you have an interest in any other arts that you can share?

I do a lot of reading, mainly non-fiction. History, politics, culture, wildlife, philosophy, etc.

I'd like to explore writing fiction. I did start work on something last year, but I never quite found the shape of the story, and then I got distracted by other things. I enjoyed playing the omniscient narrator though, so it's something I hope to return to.

I'm intrigued by ancient sites and prehistory, so I have an interest in ancient, prehistoric and early medieval art and sculpture. I've also become more interested in classic TV in the last couple of years, I like poetry in moderation, and like most people I enjoy music. I'm also very good at loafing, I consider that to be an art.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

CMBA Profile: Maddy Loves Her Classic Films

CMBA profiles one member every month. This month's interview is with Maddy who blogs at Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Maddy loves all genres but her go-to favorites are film noir and romance. 


What Sparked Your Interest in Classic Film?

A combination of things really. I grew up during the 1990’s and watched many of the Disney animated classics such as The Jungle Book, Aladdin, Bambi on video. Those Disney classics were my first foray into film. Classic musicals including Singin’ In The Rain, The King And I and South Pacific came next, and I loved every second of them.
I was very interested in dance when I was little and one day my mum and dad brought me the video of the documentary That’s Dancing. That documentary not only introduced me to Fred and Ginger and The Nicholas Brothers, but also to lots of other classic stars and films. This documentary was what really got me exploring the work of different actors and seeing more films from that era.
My dad is a big fan of John Wayne and he owned many of the Duke’s flicks on video. I would often sit and watch these films with him when I was little. El Dorado and True Grit have become great favourites of mine. In my teens and early twenties I started watching Hitchcock films, foreign language films and silent films. I’ve been a fan of the classics ever since. You can read my post about how I learnt to love Silent cinema here.

What film genre(s) do you favor?   

My regular followers already know how much I love Film Noir(yes I do consider it a genre rather than a style)and that it is my favourite/go to genre. I also really love romance, drama, thriller, comedy and horror. Check my post on Film Noir here.

You mention you are a big admirer of Sherlock Holmes. Which came first, the Arthur Conan Doyle stories or the films, and which actor is your favorite Holmes.

I do indeed! He’s such a fascinating character and is one of the few who has been taken to the hearts of readers and viewers and become a cultural icon. As someone who is on the Autistic Spectrum, I have also developed a great affection for Sherlock due to character traits and descriptions of him which seem to infer that he could well be on the spectrum himself.  I came to the stories and the Basil Rathbone film adaptations at more or less the same time actually. I love Basil in the role and he certainly looks the part. I thought that he was the definitive Holmes for some years, that is until I discovered the Jeremy Brett TV series and my opinion quickly changed. Jeremy IS Sherlock Holmes. He inhabited that role and brought the character to life in a way that I don’t think the other actors have ever managed to do. I recommend that series to all Holmes fans, although I have to say that I don’t think that the final season(The Memoirs)is anywhere near as good as the first three are.

What is your “go to” classic film when you need something to lift up your spirits?

It depends what I’m going through, but Some Like It Hot, or Audrey Hepburn films such as Roman Holiday or Paris When It Sizzles will usually do the trick. I’ll often watch old miniseries too. Anything with my beloved George Sanders and Cary Grant in can be guaranteed to raise a smile.

Name three films that most classic film fans love, but you hate, and if you can tell us why?

Doctor Zhivago – David Lean is my favourite director, but I’m afraid that I can’t stand this film. A rare dud from a master of his craft. Visually it’s stunning and beautiful, but I don’t care about any of the characters and think most of the performances come across as being quite wooden. There’s also no chemistry between Omar and Julie. David Lean was usually so good at getting the balance of intimate human drama and epic visuals just right, so that one didn’t overshadow the other. I don’t know what went wrong here.
Blow-Up - I think it’s so pretentious and it just leaves me cold.
Stage Fright - I love Hitchcock films, but I’m afraid that this one does nothing for me at all. I feel it lacks the suspense and edge of so much of the rest of his work.

What makes a film "classic" in your opinion? Do you have a favorite period?

For me a film is a classic if it is able to make an impact on viewers outside of the era it was made in. If generation after generation can enjoy a film and keep watching it then it is a classic. I also think that there are classics to be found in every decade of filmmaking, but the classic film era is called the classic era for a good reason. So many films that are classics were made in that era. I love all film periods, but I love the 1940’s the most. I think that was one of the greatest decades in film history, plus it gave us Film Noir! I also adore the Silent era because it’s where it all began. The artistry and innovation evident in the silent films is breathtaking. I have nothing but love for Pre-Code films too.

Why Should people care about “old” black and white movies? 

Because these films are some of the greatest and most enjoyable films of all time. Without them, film most likely wouldn’t even exist now! If people are only watching films from the present day(I pity them if they are, seeing as how so many films today are total dross)they are missing out on some of the best and most influential films to have ever been made. If you don’t go back to the late 1800’s and start at the very beginning of cinema, then how are you to have any appreciation, or understanding of how film began and how it has evolved and changed over the years? Don’t just stick with films from your own country either, branch out and explore foreign language classic era(and present day)films. Japan and India in particular offer a ridiculous amount of classic era cinematic riches for you to enjoy.
All film fans, and anyone who works in the film industry, owe the Silent pioneers and the classic film era a huge debt of gratitude in my opinion. I don’t know about any of you, but it makes me so sad to think there are people today who don’t know who Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, Fayard and Harold Nicholas, Ida Lupino, Sidney Poitier, Claude Rains, John Ford, Billy Wilder, Jack Cardiff, Cary Grant, David Lean, Satyajit Ray, Cyd Charisse, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, James Wong Howe, Powell and Pressburger, Buster Keaton, Anna May Wong, Clara Bow, Setsuko Hara, Marlene Dietrich, Oscar Micheaux, Richard Conte, James Stewart, Edith Head, Adrian, Lon Chaney Sr, Taksahi Shimura, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Bogie and Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Deborah Kerr etc are.

Do you have interests in any other arts that you can share?

I dabble in creative writing. I’m also passionate about radio and love coming across those old radio shows starring classic actors. I actually worked in radio myself for some years. I’ve always admired those who can paint and sculpt, and I wish I had that amazing gift myself.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

CMBA Profile: Silver Screen Classics

Blog post with titles like Food Means Murder: Symbolism of Food in ‘The Godfather,’ Hollywood and It’s Long History of Sexual Abuse, To Remake or Not to Remake? The Question on Rebooting Classic Film, and Death as Redemption in Film Noir, Paul Batters Silver Screen Classics does not just review films or gush over them, he dives in the meaning, the art, and more. His essays are thought-provoking, but I’ll let Paul speak for himself. 

What sparked your interest in classic film?

Classic film has always been in my life as far back as I can remember. I was always fascinated by the silvers and grey tones of classic film and it always looked like an art form to me. Perhaps the fact that until 1975, we didn’t have colour TV in Australia helped! In fact, the first colour TV we had at home was in 1976 and I can still remember watching The Wizard Of Oz for the first time and that magical transformation – I still tear up when it happens now as I remember seeing colour TV for the first time!

My grandmother certainly helped as she was a huge classic film fan and whenever I stayed there at her house (which was often), I was allowed to stay up late with her and enjoy so many films.  As a kid in the 70s and into the 80s, television was awash with classic films and so there was the opportunity to watch, learn and enjoy them, as well as become exposed to classic film. Today that is being lost.

My aunt had some fantastic books on classic film – some photography books but also a who’s who of Hollywood and one of my favourites Dennis Gifford’s A Pictorial History Of Horror Movies. I would pour over these books and the incredible images. The search for many films began in these books.

What film seduced you into the world of film noir?

I’m sure I had watched film noir for years but never had the sensitivity or understanding to fully appreciate what I was watching. However, there are two which stand out for me.

Sorry Wrong Number (1948) really showed me that something has been going on that I needed to get into. The shift in time frames to create back-story within a linear narrative was fascinating and drew me deep into the story. Barbara Stanwyck was outstanding (as always)! The psychological slant taken may look like poor pop-psychology today but it’s also a fascinating insight into how cinema in the 1940s looked at newly found and discussed issues.

Kiss Of Death (1947) was the other and far more violent but I was also taken by the thematic concerns of the film, particularly a man trying to find redemption and escape his previous life.

Who is the screen’s deadliest femme fatale?

Phyllis Dietrichson from Double Indemnity. She’s ‘rotten to the core’ as she acknowledges herself and her manipulation and subterfuge constantly surprises till the very end. Her eyes shine with danger and she’s an expert at surviving.

To someone not familiar with noir, what films would you recommend, and would you tell us some of your favourites?

For me, film noir is a style and mood rather than a genre, so I would encourage a range of films to highlight that point -including The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Big Combo, Detour, Out Of The Past, The Asphalt Jungle, Crime Wave and Raw Deal. All present different narrative approaches and characterizations – the private detective, the femme fatale, the ex-con trying to make good, the dame sticking by her man, the average guy getting caught in the web of deceit, crime and murder – and of course the thematic concerns which drew me into noir in the first place. All the films mentioned are not only masterpieces of film noir but certainly my favourites as well.

What directors do you admire?

Always been a massive fan of Billy Wilder, John Huston, Frank Capra, Fritz Lang, King Vidor and Alfred Hitchcock and also love the work of F.W Murnau, Frank Borzage and Erich Von Stroheim. European directors such as Ingmar Bergman and Francois Truffaut are stand-outs for me. A huge fan of Martin Scorsese as well!

There are so many other less famous directors such as Andre de Toth and Anthony Mann that I greatly admire.

What other genres do you favor?

Love the classic horror particularly the Universal horror cycle of the early to mid-30s. The gangster film, best exemplified for me by the classic gangster films of the 1930s, is also a favourite genre. 

Name three films that most classic film fans love but you hate, and if you can tell us why.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s – Not a fan of Audrey Hepburn and it’s a film I’ve never warmed to and never will.

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers – Not a huge fan of musicals (though I do love Singin’ In The Rain) and this is one where the whole premise for story and musical numbers are ridiculous. Too saccharine for my tastes!

West Side Story – Again; a musical and again a ridiculous premise for the narrative and one which is, at best, a footnote in any study of the Bard.  I can’t believe it won so many Academy Awards but then so did Titanic.

What are your thoughts on today’s Hollywood films?

I understand and echo the recent concerns of directors such as Martin Scorsese. These concerns have existed for some time – and I think there is a sad lack of originality, creativity and imagination in the film industry. But there is hope with the standard of some films out there such as The Irishman, Knives Out and Parasite.

The truth is that cinema has always faced challenges, whether it was the arrival of sound, the Code, colour, any of the ‘screen stretchers’ (Panavision, Cinemascope, Cinerama), new technologies, TV, videos, etc. Despite times where the outlook for the future of film has looked bleak, there are always new approaches and exciting new auteurs that revolutionize the industry. They’re out there at the moment!

Do you have an interest in other arts that you can share?

Writing is an art and I have worked on spec screenplays (obviously unsuccessful!), as well as short stories and creative writing.

Monday, December 2, 2019

CMBA Profile: Down These Mean Streets

If you love film noir as many of us do, Down These Mean Streets, is required reading. The Big Combo, Gun CrazyPark Row, Rear Window and Pickup on South Street are just a few of the films reviewed. Anke Lindner is a self-proclaimed film noir lover and it shows.

  1. What sparked your interest in classic film?

It’s hard to say exactly when, how and why I became a classic film fan. Neither my parents nor my grandparents were interested so I discovered them myself. I was probably around five and I assume some classic film came on TV and I was hooked. I loved history (still do) and somehow old movies were like a history lesson, a window into another world.
Growing up in Europe, I didn’t even have something like TCM, a channel dedicated to classics. Being a movie fan back then took real dedication because sometimes you had to stay up very late to catch these movies. I used to watch old movies on an old crappy television, before digital restoration, edited for TV, mutilated by commercials and bad dubbing…and still fell in love with them. Something just clicked with me, much more than it did with contemporary movies. 
Then I discovered that people actually wrote books about old films. Many film titles and stars I only knew by name from books but I promised myself that one day I would watch all these movies I had only seen photos of.

  1. What attracted you to the world of film noir?
First, I started to love old movies (not just Noir) because films have never looked as good again as they did in the 40s. The films were the pinnacle of American style with beautiful clothes, cars, hairstyles, architecture, interior design etc. The digital revolution in videography seems to have all but abandoned the art and power of cinematic lighting that illuminated the Golden Age of motion pictures. Back then every photo mattered.

Second, before I became drawn to the dark themes of Noir, as a child the first thing I noticed was that there were men in sharp-looking suits and dames in fabulous outfits. So different from the awful clothes people around me were wearing. They all dwelled pretty near the gutter, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t look glamorous while doing so. Eddie Muller called it "slumming with style”. 

Third, deadly dames, dingy dives, drunken barflies, dangerous hoods, crooked cops, flawed heroes, high heels on wet pavement,  neon light through Venetian blinds, the evil that men do. Noir is the "B" side of a 45 record, the depiction of life beyond the light. What’s not to love?

Dialogue. Did I mention dialogue? If more people talked as if they were in a Noir, life would be a lot more fun.

  1. What makes a film “noirish?”
Eddie Muller phrased it like this: “there is something darker than night in these films". The depths of fear, loneliness, anxiety, alienation and futility of hope are existential. They seem to express the very core of human pain and suffering.

Also, Noir cannot do without moral ambiguity, it needs shades of gray. It can’t have a protagonist who’s without blemish or fail. Ambiguity creates tension and that tension comes from the moral struggle of the protagonist(s).

Noir doesn’t need a femme fatale, but it does need a dame.

  1. Would you tell us your five top noir films and directors?
I don’t do lists so these are in no particular order, but one of my favorite directors (not just for Noir) is Sam Fuller. Pickup on South Street ranks very high in my opinion.
Clearly, Robert Siodmak has to be on the list. The man just defines Noir and his output in it is unparalleled. Also Fritz Lang for the bleakest of them all, Scarlet Street, and many more.
Phil Karlson deserves mention for 99 River Street, Kansas City Confidential and Scandal Sheet, and so does Richard Fleischer for The Narrow Margin and the underrated Follow Me Quietly

  1. To someone not familiar with Film Noir what films would you recommend?
I think you can’t go wrong with any Bogart/Bacall movie. They’re just iconic, and even people who don’t know any classic films do know who Bogart is.
I’d also say Double Indemnity, The Third Man and This Gun For Hire.

  1. What other film genre(s) do you favor?
Westerns are my second favorite genre. I also love gangster movies, pre-codes and have lately developed a real love for melodrama. Especially with Davis, Crawford, and Stanwyck.

  1. Name three films that most classic film fans love, but you hate, and if you can tell us why?
The Sound of Music, it. drives. me. nuts. To say I hate this movie would be an understatement. I despise it. Cliche piled on cliche, the unbearably annoying, I mean cute children, an unattractive nun with the ugliest hairstyle ever (some guy ditches his girlfriend for her?) and those songs which warrant their own entry in the Geneva Convention.
There is a scene in Wilder’s One Two Three (a movie I love) where Otto Piffl is “tortured” by having to listen to Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini. They would just have to change the soundtrack to The Sound of Music for me.

Doctor Zhivago. The schmaltzy Lara’s theme is nauseating. And Omar Sharif reminds me of a depressed basset hound.

James Dean in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. Dean was the original whiny snowflake and crybaby.

There’s a reason I don’t review films I don’t like. It’s too easy to go on a rant. I like to be snarky, but not really mean. Taking apart movies I really hate seems counter-productive to me.

  1. Do you have interests in any other arts that you can share?
I’m interested in (interior) design and architecture, especially Midcentury Modern. It was such a great era for design. I don’t know if that counts as art, but I’m a really good cook.