Monday, November 30, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: Java's Journey

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, one on the 1st and the other on the 15th. Today we're featuring Java's Journey.

Java's Journey is a delightful blog that reviews an array of classic films, whether they are well known or not. Browsing through the site is like browsing through a jewellery store; you never know the gems you'll discover.

The reviews are only part of its charm. The series "Toast of the Town" curates online blog posts and resources, and the site offers helpful tips for those struggling with writer's block, such as this wonderful post: 100 Classic Movie Blog Post Ideas. (Try these ideas. They work!)

What sparked your interest in classic film?
This is a chicken and the egg question. Perhaps classic movies were always around the house because we kids enjoyed them; or maybe we liked them because they were readily available to us when newer movies were not.  Perhaps the parents inadvertently moved us along this track when screening the film versions of classic novels, like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, supplementing our reading regimen.

What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
For my blog - Java's Journey - a classic movie is made before 1968, give or take, just after the Studio Era/ Code Era bit the dust and movies changed forever. Or perhaps I should say, movies returned to their original status – artists had greater control over their art (which is great) but it was like opening Pandora's box. Explicit violence and gratuitous sexual scenes became the order of the day, and I just cannot stomach it sometimes. For similar reasons, I'm not a fan of many pre-code films.  Others have different definitions of  "classic."

What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
I try to discover why they dislike old movies and gauge whether they have a legitimate difference in preference or they are simply excluding old movies from their lives because they don't know anyone who likes old movies. I rarely recommend a movie until they show an interest, which may take some time or which may be never. If they show an interest, I get to know their general film preferences and try to pair it with a classic, e.g. If they love colorful film fashion, I might guide them down that route with an older film. It depends on the person.

Why should people care about classic film?
I'm sure everyone else in this series has said the same thing. People should care about classic movies because they preserve a bit of history – a warped, distorted, propagandized, fantasy of history, of course. However, this in itself is worth exploring.

What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?

 Community. Saying, "Hey! Look at what I've found," and there are people at the other end who are genuinely interested and can bounce around an idea with you.

What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Java's Journey has an identity crisis. I keep redesigning my blog because I want it to look authoritative on one day, then whimsical and fun the next. So I keep changing design, which must annoy the readers. I'm in talks with a blog design expert.

What advice would you give to a new blogger?
I prefer to get to know a classic movie blogger and discover his or her specific needs, but here is some general advice.
  1. Find the details that no one else has placed on the internet. To this day, Java's Journey has the only blog which has visited the town of Tyrone Power's last wedding and placed detailed wedding information on the internet. Java's Journey is also the only blog to mention the connection between Judy Garland's first outfit in The Pirate and a certain French painting from which it is inspired.You can go overboard with obscurity, though, so beware of that. Put your unique voice into it, and mention the little things that grab your attention. This helps you to stand out from so many classic movie blogs.
  2. Be vulnerable and relevant. I received wonderful feedback from a post about my misadventures in attending the stage version of the film White Christmas.
  3. Be of help to your readers. If someone in the comments cannot find a film, search for it for them and place the link in a response to them. Even if you don't find what they are looking for, mention that you've made the effort and where they can try next. Better yet, make a post out of your findings. In a post about finding Deanna Durbin's films on DVD, I highlighted a reader's question and provided the answer.
  4. Don't take yourself too seriously; they are only movies. Research as much as you can and have fun with it.

Thank you for joining us! You can visit Java's Journey by clicking HERE

Saturday, November 14, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, one on the 1st and the other on the 15th. Today we're toasting Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

Reading Ivan's blog is like inviting a racconteur to a dinner party. He's witty, has lots of shrewd observations and isn't afraid to tell you what he thinks.

He's also prolific. Along with classic film, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear examines classic television series and television specials. Ivan treats readers to a thorough analysis in his posts, as though he were a long-time friend giving you the inside scoop.

And then there's his love of old time radio. Ivan also blogs at Radio Spirits, which is the Go To site for anyone interested in classic radio.

Occasionally, Ivan combines both of his passions for movie and old-time radio. One example is his review of the "Buck Benny Rides Again" series, a Western spoof from radio's popular The Jack Benny Program. "It would go on to become one of Benny's most popular running segments," writes Ivan. "[Benny's writers'] decided to bring 'Buck Benny' to the silver screen in 1940...with Buck Benny Rides Again, a most enjoyable Paramount musical comedy romp..."

You'll want to read this post – click HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: I joke about this with people of my generation a lot, but in the pre-cable TV days, you were lucky if you had three channels to watch.  The irony is: you could always find something on.  You look at the many, many cable stations we get today and you’re lucky if you can find something that’s not an infomercial.
Growing up, TV was a babysitter for me—something I’m sure my parents regretted in hindsight.  But TV was my earliest exposure to classic movies: they ran cartoons with Bugs Bunny and Popeye, comedy shorts with Our Gang and Laurel & Hardy, movies with the Bowery Boys and Abbott & Costello.  I also benefitted from growing up during what was called “the nostalgia boom”: you found a lot of public TV stations showing silent films with Chaplin and Keaton and the like.  I soaked up all of that like a sponge, but I think the biggest spark came when my local library scheduled a showing of the original King Kong (to kind of capitalize on the remake that year).  I sat in front of that, positively enraptured.  To this day, I won’t watch any other version because there’s no magic like the 1933 film.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: It’s difficult to describe, to be honest.  Movie lovers bandy the word about so often that I don’t think anyone will ever reach a consensus on what is or isn’t a classic film.  I prefer to paraphrase the famous observation that Justice Potter Stewart made with regards to pornography: “I know it when I see it.”

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: I came to the realization a long time ago that if people are determined to dislike old movies…there’s not going to be a lot you can do to encourage them.  Souls much wiser than I have simply explained that kids today don’t like to watch things in monochrome…yet I’ve never been able to comprehend why watching black-and-white videos doesn’t faze them in the slightest.  This isn’t to say that you can’t get something through the cracks now and then: people like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind and never stop to think about how these flicks are over fifty years old.  My sister’s husband sat down to watch The Pride of the Yankees one time because he was a huge baseball fan…but she hasn’t had much success in the interim.  I think the key is finding a movie with a subject that’s near and dear to the viewers’ interest and hope it takes off from there.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: Even though I’ve adopted the belief that pushing classic movies on people is akin to grousing that kids should eat more vegetables, I do think “caring” about vintage movies is very important.  Films are social documents; they present a look at the past, they capture societal more and trends, they reflect the attitudes and politics of their times.  Anyone who’s ever said “It’s only a movie” doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: There’s nothing rewarding about blogging—a (non-classic) movie blogger once described their blog accurately as “my tedious, time-gobbling, no-paying labor of love.”  Other than keeping me out of the pool halls and the county lock-up I’d be hard-pressed to describe any benefits.
Okay, I’m just being a little facetious.  The most rewarding thing for me was that a number of influential people read my maniacal scribblings and said “Hey—we would like you to do this for us, and we will actually pay you!”  I can’t make a guarantee to anyone that this will happen to everyone who decides “Perhaps a blog is in order…” but I was able to get gigs with places like Radio Spirits and ClassicFlix, and for that I am most grateful.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: The biggest challenge I face is actually putting something up on the blog…and I haven’t overcome that yet.  In my defense, I’m usually working on something for Radio Spirits or ClassicFlix—but now that the move is over and done, I’m hoping to get back into a semi-regular blogging schedule.
CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: In my experience—it’s all about the writing.  If you write well and with passion about your subject, you can avoid a lot of the gimmicks that folks sometimes resort to in order to get eyeballs to a site.  Nothing sucks me in faster than a well-written blog post.
Thank you for joining us, Ivan! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: The Skeins

 The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're featuring Moira of The Skeins.

If you're not familiar with all the projects that Moira of The Skeins has been involved in, then you're really missing out on something.

In addition to writing and researching, Moira co-hosts a classic movie forum at Silver Screen Oasis. Guests on this forum include biographers Scott Nollen and Jeffrey Spivak, and the CMBA's own Jacqueline A. Lynch.

However, one of Moira's articles, published on TCM's Movie Morlocks site, has garnered a lot of attention over the years – a post about the pioneering African American actor, James Edwards.

"James Edwards' complex life and career continue to impress me," says Moira. "The subject for the post was suggested in a roundabout way by a thoughtful friend who is no longer living, Kyle Kersten. Though I wrote this post several years ago, it continues to attract the attention of individuals who knew or admired Mr. Edwards. I like to hope that it might inspire people to seek out James Edwards' films and to pay some attention to those many sterling actors whose presence on the edge of the spotlight makes movies truly classic."

The post can be seen HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
The Skeins: I think it began when I saw a syndicated program on television called Silents, Please as a small child. I can still remember the Gish sisters clinging to one another as history swirled around them in Orphans in the Storm (1921) on that show. Other early memories include numerous television viewings of Mighty Joe Young (1949), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), How Green Was My Valley (1941), The Roaring Twenties (1939), Gunga Din (1939), and all the Our Gang and Shirley Temple movies I could see. Later, I was fortunate enough to live in a time when television stations showed dubbed movies such La Dolce Vita (1960) and Beauty and the Beast (1946) regularly along with scads of studio era product to fill airtime (and shape my imagination). It also didn't hurt to have a mother who had crushes on Gary Cooper, Ronald Colman, and Brian Aherne while she grew up (and never quite gave up).

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
The Skeins: A love of storytelling and a movie that relishes depicting human strengths and foibles in a graceful, concise manner,  often transporting the viewer to a time and place an individual may never experience first hand.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
The Skeins: Depending on the age and interests of movie-haters, I would recommend His Girl Friday (1939), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1937), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Random Harvest (1942), Adam's Rib (1948), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), A Letter to Three Wives (1947), and Casablanca (1943), as well as the movies mentioned above. I would also recommend that people see any movie showcasing Thelma Ritter or Peter Lorre, two remarkable, polar-opposite actors (or are they?).

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
The Skeins: It is a form of entertainment that encompasses every kind of artistry – visual poetry that can affect us in a visceral way, illuminating experiences and taking us completely out of our everyday life.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
The Skeins: Three things come to mind:

  1. Searching for and occasionally finding ways to express my love of films (good and bad) and the people who made them. Analyzing my own reactions to films and realizing how everything in my real life has affected my perception and taste in movies
  2. Meeting and sharing impressions of films with others  online. Blogging has enabled me to interact with people from all over the world – most of whom I could never have met otherwise.
  3.  I also love research!  It is very exciting to learn more about films and filmmakers during research by reading the ballyhoo, controversy and hubbub that accompanied movies when they were first released.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
The Skeins: How to keep writing without repeating myself, and a desire to express myself as well as I am able. The latter urge has prevented me from inflicting myself on the reading public many times.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
The Skeins: Write about films that you love, not what anyone else tells you is good, fashionable or important.

Thank you for joining us, Moira! You can visit her blog by clicking HERE.

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Time for the CMBA Fall Blogathon - Trains, Planes, and Automobiles!

The Classic Movie Blog Association is proud to present Planes, Trains and Automobiles, running from October 19th to the 24th. Please tune into the blogs below on the dates listed to travel around the world through classic film!







Selected pieces are available in the Planes, Trains & Automobiles eBook, available for free at Smashwords and on Amazon for $0.99, with all profits going towards the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: Classic Movies Digest

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs each month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're celebrating Rupert of Classic Movies Digest

If there were any one blog that could single-handedly convert people to classic movie fandom, it would be Classic Movies Digest. Posts combine fun facts about classic movie stars with thoughtful film reviews.

Rupert's site is also a great resource for long-time old movie fans who want to learn more about classic Hollywood. Links to books and movies are handily provided at the end of many posts, which saves the bother of an online search.

This blog isn't afraid to share an opinion. Check out the review of In This Our Life (1942), starring Bette Davis and Olivia deHavilland.  "In this Our Life is a hoot to watch," writes Rupert, "and never disappoints for a melodramatic funfest."

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Classic Movies Digest: I have loved classic movies since I was a kid, when I would watch my local weekend movie show called the Popcorn Flick, which featured Ma and Pa Kettle, Abbott & Costello, the Andy Hardy series and more.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Classic Movies Digest: For me, a classic movie is one made before 1960. Pictures made during the Golden Era of Hollywood, though movies made in Britain fit this category for me as well. Love those too.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies? 
Classic Movies Digest: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and The Great Lie (1941). The first because it is big, bold and colorful and includes a classic story with great and charismatic stars and sensational character actors, with a powerful score. The second because it is a great example of the "woman's picture" which made such an impact during the era. With Bette Davis and Mary Astor, who are both powerhouses of classic movie diva-dom, yet again with a sweeping musical score as backdrop with a wildly unlikely but highly entertaining story.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Classic Movies Digest: People don't have to care about classic movies. Some folks just don't like them and that is their prerogative. BUT those who do should cherish them, and spread the word to those who MAY enjoy them if given the opportunity. They are a window to our past, both in their content and as a form of entertainment from the times. 

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Classic Movies Digest: Blogging is a great way to share one's own feeling and interpretation of great old movies! And in my case, it brings together two of my favorite things: classic movies and writing!

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them? Classic Movies Digest: Finding the time and I can't always do it.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger? 
Classic Movies Digest: My advice to a new blogger is to write, write, write and post what you write. The more that is on the blog, the more opportunity there is for it to be read, as well as more for web crawlers to pick it up for online searches.

Thank you for joining us, Rupert! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: Classic Film and TV Café

The CMBA is excited to start a new series that profiles our member bloggers. Two classic movie blogs will be featured each month, one on the 1st and the other on the 15th. Today we're toasting the blog (and the man) who started it all: Rick from Classic Film and TV Café.

Classic Film and TV Café is a lively blog that always teaches you something new. Topics include classic film and television shows, obscure facts about classic celebrities and the famous Movie-TV Connection Game (click HERE for a sample).

One of the outstanding features of this blog is the impressive amount of interviews the Café conducts. Rick has interviewed a surprising number of classic film and television insiders, including celebrities and biographers.

"I've been fortunate enough to interview several classic film and television stars," says Rick. "One of my favorite interviews was with three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie. I sat beside her for almost an hour at a nostalgia convention, and she patiently answered my questions as she autographed photos." (You can read the interview HERE.) 

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: I think I inherited it. I don't think my parents would have called themselves film buffs, but my family watched a lot of movies. Films starring Errol Flynn, Ronald Colman, or Bing Crosby were family "events." My sister and I rarely missed Shock Theater on Saturday nights. I became exposed to silent films by watching them on 16mm at the public library. When I attended Indiana University, I took at least one film course per semester and became exposed to international cinema. My friends – and my future wife – enjoyed watching classic films with me. I guess classic movies have always been a part of my life.

CMBA: Why did you decide to start the CMBA?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: My first experience with blogging was TCM's Classic Film Union. I enjoyed reading other people's posts on classic cinema and their thoughts on mine. Unfortunately, one overzealous blogger began to post 5-8 times daily and dominate the "white space." That inspired me to create my own blog, and I invited several other bloggers to join me. We supported each other with comments, which was great...but  then, I thought: "Why not expand our community to include other classic movie blogs?"

I created the CMBA on October 31, 2009 and invited Rupert Alistair of Classic Movies Digest to become its second member. My wife and Rupert asked lots of questions about the CMBA. In response, I wrote the CMBA Charter and defined the CMBA's mission as to: promote classic movies; support fellow classic movie bloggers; establish and maintain quality blogging standards;  and recognize classic movie blogging excellence. 
By the way, did you know there's a Classic TV Blog Association, too?
CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: It must have an enduring appeal or message. It bothers me when fellow classic film fans try to define "classic" by a decade. I first saw Casablanca in the 1960s and it was already a classic, even though it was barely 20 years old.
I also don't buy it when people say there aren't any classic stars like in the "old days." I think today's stars, such as Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, will be remembered as screen icons.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Well, it depends on the viewer's age. I have shown The Court Jester, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad to many young viewers and have delighted in watching the joy on their faces. For my adult friends, I typically introduce them to classic cinema via Rear Window, Laura, Lover Come Back, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bringing Up Baby, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Black Narcissus, Curse of the Demon, and The List of Adrian Messenger.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: If you truly love movies, you need to embrace all of cinema. You need to sample films from different eras (e.g., silent, pre-code). You need to explore different genres (e.g., film noir, the adult Western of the 1960s, Hammer's horror films, Laurel and Hardy's physical comedy). You need to expand your horizons beyond classic Hollywood and branch into the foreign-language films of Renoir, Lang, Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa. You may not like some of it, but you'll never know until you try.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Sharing my love of classic movies and learning from other classic film and TV fans. I do a monthly quiz in which I'll often list two actors connected by a common thread (e.g., Michael Caine and Basil Rathbone both starred in films called Dressed to Kill). I'm always surprised – and delighted – by people who provide a different answer than mine – which is also correct. (Did you know Caine and Rathbone both played Scrooge?)

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Unpleasant people have stolen my copyrighted content and posted it as their own. I have filed formal complaints and requested my content be removed, but so far without much success.
CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Try to make your blog different from existing blogs. Consider creating a niche blog. Or, write about different classic films; for example, there are dozens of reviews of The Awful Truth, but very few about Bunny Lake Is Missing. Finally, try to write well (my wife is my editor!) and publish posts on a regular basis. If you stop blogging for a long period, many readers will stop visiting your blog.

 Thank you for joining us, Rick! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Coming Soon: Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage Blogathon 2015

Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15 and ends on October 15.  In celebration, Once Upon a Screen presents the Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage Blogathon to commemorate the impact Hispanics have made on Hollywood.


Posts celebrating Hispanic Heritage in Hollywood that focus on actors, filmmakers or films that celebrate, depict or examine aspects of Hispanic culture are welcome.  Or, you may also choose to discuss the treatment of a Hispanic Hollywood player or players in general on-screen or behind the scenes.  The possibilities are endless.  While this blogathon’s focus is primarily “classic” Hollywood cinema, Hispanics are making an impact in films today so if you’re burning to write about a contemporary Latin American actor, filmmaker or film, that’s fine, too.
For more details on this blogathon, click HERE.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Winners of the 2015 CMBA Awards

Congratulations to all of the winners! Also, a special thanks to all of the bloggers who submitted articles, read the articles, and voted. 

Best Film Review

Queen Christina ( 1933 ) -

Best Film Review ( Musical/Comedy )

In Defense of Lina Lamont - The Vintage Cameo

Best Film Article

Real-life Society "Honor Slaying" Inspires Two Movies - Immortal Ephemera

Best Classic Movie Series

History Through Hollywood: or, What I Learned from Classic Movies - The Blonde at the Film

Best Profile of a Classic Movie Performer or Filmmaker

CMBA Forgotten Stars Blogathon : Eddie Cantor - Once Upon a Screen

Best Classic Movie Event

The Great Villain Blogathon April 13-17, 2015 Hosted by Speakeasy. Co-hosted by Shadows and Satin • Silver Screenings

Best Classic Movie Blog Design

Silver Scenes 

Shadows and Satin

Now stop hanging about this blog and go out and celebrate!