Thursday, December 31, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: The Lady Eve's Reel Life

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're spotlighting Patty from The Lady Eve's Reel Life.

When you think about it, classic film is an iconic documentation of society. Which makes it utterly cool.

The Lady Eve’s Reel Life captures the zeitgeist of classic film, and shows us why these films are important. Patty's blog is like hanging out with the coolest prof in film school, the one who never talks down to you and is excited to share new discoveries.

"Since movies were a part of my life from the beginning, is it any mystery that I knew who Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Tyrone Power were before I knew the names of some of my relatives?" she writes. "I recall noting in my diary when I was about nine that I had watched The Great Lie, 'starring Bette Davis.'"

One film that impacted Patty's love for the classics is the Astaire & Rogers classic, The Gay Divorcee. You can read about her passion for this, and classic films in general, by clicking HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: I was raised on the films of Hollywood’s Golden Age thanks to TV, plus my mother grew up in that era and loved movies, so it was a combination of nature and nurture, I think.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: A “Classic” in my world is a film that remains interesting and/or relevant no matter what year it’s from. Generally, films that stand the test of time are blessed with a strong director, screenwriter, composer and other technical elements; they are always well cast (with or without stars) and tend to deal with universal themes.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: Years ago I wanted to introduce one of my young godsons to classic film. This was in the “Little Mermaid,” “Ninja Turtle” era and VCRs were still in common use. I thought Hitchcock might be the way to go, particularly some of the films from his Technicolor years in the mid/late ‘50s. Rear Window was the first, and I made a point of trying to emphasize the mystery. For example, at the moment when the sound of a glass shattering and Mrs. Thorwald’s scream is heard I asked him, “Did you hear that? What do you think happened?” He was intrigued and re-wound the tape of that scene over and over (of course). In the end, it worked, he loved it. Next came North by Northwest.  I think most of Hitchcock’s best American films, from Rebecca to Psycho, would be good introductions for those who say they don’t like “old” or “black and white” movies.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: You can’t make anyone care about a subject they have no interest in, but if a person has any level of passion for movies, delving into the classics will enrich that passion a thousand-fold.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: Well, I love to write and I love to research and I love classic film, so combining all those loves into one process is very rewarding. What makes blogging even more worthwhile is the response of those who comment on my blog posts – I always answer comments, by the way.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: To avoid getting stale I began to mix things up on my blog by focusing on different approaches and subjects: reviews, profiles, interviews, covering film festivals and events, and trying the occasional slightly unconventional piece. One off-the-wall post I enjoyed doing evolved into a look at the career of Hollywood hairstylist Sidney Guilaroff. It began when I read a short article on the popular French stylist who created Marie Antoinette’s outrageous hairdos in the ­­­­18th century. I was able to take that bit of French history and make my way to the MGM spectacle, Marie Antoinette (1938), on which Guilaroff worked, and then take it from there to briefly profile his career as well as the history of a couple of iconic hairstyles. It was a lot of fun.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: Work on developing your own distinct voice and look for fresh perspectives. So many of these films have been written and written and written about over the decades that it can seem there’s nothing new to say. Good example: I wanted to tackle Vertigo a few years ago. Even though it hadn’t yet been selected by Sight & Sound’s critics as the greatest film ever, it had already been sliced and diced to pieces for decades. So, I decided to create a month-long event; it wasn’t exactly a blogathon, though many bloggers participated. Each blogger approached the film from a different angle: its roots as French roman noir, the major and minor performances, Bernard Herrmann’s score, etc.

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: ClassicBecky's Brain Food

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're spotlighting ClassicBecky's Brain Food.

Reading ClassicBecky's Brain Food is like spending time with a smart and witty friend. You know such a friend will always give you good advice, and will usually make you laugh while doing so.

She recently celebrated her sixth blogaversary. "It's hard for me to believe I've been around that long," says ClassicBecky. "I started out with a small group of wonderful people, guided by our Fearless Leader of the Classic Movie Blog Association, Rick Armstrong, and eventually branched off to my own blog."

Her site is full of fascinating and amusing posts on films and classic movie stars, along with personal observations that will make you think.

One example of ClassicBecky's savoir faire is the well-researched and detailed Mobsters, Pals and Skirts – The Golden Age of Gangster Movies – The Complete Series – 1930 Through 1949. "I actually won a CMBA award, of which I was very proud," she says. "I love the old gangster movies...Cagney, Bogart, Robinson...they were the best!  These movies are some of the greatest of the classic era. " 

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: My father was a great fan of classic film, and I began watching them with him on TV when I was very young.  We would stay up for the late movie just to catch these wonderful films. The first one I remember watching was Captain Blood with Errol Flynn, and that began a lifetime of love for the classics.  My Dad and I watched The Maltese Falcon, The Public Enemy, Citizen Kane, Now, Voyager ... so many others. I was hooked from the first. Dad was also a lover of Shakespeare, and I remember watching Olivier's Hamlet and Richard III. I have a particular love for those.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: When I think of classics, I think of silent movies up to and including the 1950's. Warner Brothers is my favorite studio, but of course all of them produced great movies. Obviously, wonderful movies have been made since then, and to be considered a classic by me, they must be unique, character driven, directed by strong filmmakers and, of extreme importance to me, have great scores.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate
old movies?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: I would say The Maltese Falcon, one of the best of the first film noir genre. I would recommend The Adventures of Robin Hood with The Great Flynn (that is how I always refer to him!), Jane Eyre with Orson Welles, the 1939 original version of Of Mice and Men, The Letter with Bette Davis (well, ANY movies of the Great Bette would be good), Key Largo with Bogart and Robinson, and Cagney's White Heat. I think they would pique the interest of even the most reluctant classic movie audience.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: Classic film reflects the history of American culture, and I believe this is a very important function. Many of the old movies are not exactly historically accurate in their telling of true stories, but that also shows us what audiences were interested in and what they loved. I also believe that the incredible music written for the screen in the classic era cannot be topped, and it is important to see just how important great music is in the telling of a story. The wrong music can harm even the best movie.  I think this was proven during the 1960's and 70's, in which some movies were scored horribly, and it lessened their impact.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: What could be more rewarding than writing about what I love, and it's great to know that my readers are just as enamored of great movies as I am. Conversations that begin with comments can be a lot of fun!  I write serious pieces, but I also enjoy snarking even movies I just adore! Stories about the great actors, directors, composers are all fascinating to me, and it's just plain fun!

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: I have periods in which I am faced with writer's block, which I know is shared by most writers. Sometimes I feel that I have to be inspired to write something, and I forget that it is not necessary to wait for the Great American Novel in order to be a good writer. Most challenging to me, there have been times of illness or injury in which I have not been at all prolific with my blog, as has been the case in the last year or so.The biggest challenge I face is just plain remembering that writing is my first love, and that making myself do it is a necessary part of who I am.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: A new blogger should find their own unique voice and follow it. Some people are better with serious pieces, others with amusing articles. Some love to review films, others to write about the background trivia. Whatever you love, write about it! Also, use social media to spotlight your blog – Facebook, Twitter, whatever is available. Look for good organizations like our own CMBA, begin to follow the members, and put in an application to join. Tell your friends, including your cyber-friends. Get the word out!

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Announcing the Oscars Snubs Blogathon!

Announcing The Oscars Snubs Blogathon!  (Feb 26-28, 2016)

It happens every year.  Until recently 5 nominees vied for such varied categories as Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director, among others.  We as fans are not part of the process of choosing, and sometimes we think our choice was better.  This is a chance to make your case heard.

Think Double Indemnity should have beaten out Going My Way for Best Picture in 1944?  Was Rex Harrison really the Best Actor of the bunch in 1964, or were either Richard Burton or Peter O'Toole more deserving?  And, really, seriously?  WasMarisa Tomei really the Best Supporting Actress of 1992?

The rules are simple here.  You can pick any category.  You can pick any year.  The only stipulation is the picture (or person) must have been one of the other nominees in that category for that year, but didn't win.  Otherwise I'd be getting some quack choices like "Plan 9 from Outer Space should have won Best Picture of 1959..."

Let's not fight over topics!

I'd like to have variety so only one person can do a specific movie or an actor in a movie, but I will stretch a point.  If someone wants to pick, say, The Hustler as Best Picture of 1961, someone else could still pick Paul Newman as Best Actor in The Hustler, and make an entirely different case.

Let's have some fun with it.  The blogathon will be scheduled to go live on Oscar weekend 2016.  (Feb. 26-28)  You can pick any of those three days.  Post your choice in the comments below or stop by either The Midnite Drive-In or Silver Scenes. Then grab one of the banners below to post to your blog. Simple? Then let's get the ball rolling! 

Need some inspiration, first? Check out this list of Oscar nominees by year :




Note: This blogathon and the hosting blogs are in no way affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscars is a registered trademark of the Academy Awards.

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!)

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Java's Journey: 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.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Java's Journey: 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."

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Java's Journey: 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.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Java's Journey: 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.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Java's Journey: 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.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Java's Journey: 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.

CMBA: 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.