Saturday, December 31, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: Strictly Vintage Hollywood

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Donna from Strictly Vintage Hollywood.

Strictly Vintage Hollywood is a prime example of what makes the CMBA an exceptional organization.

Donna's lively and well-researched site reviews films and books, details festival experiences and shines a spotlight on classic Hollywood filmmakers.

One classic Hollywood celebrity has a special place in Donna's heart: Rudolph Valentino. (And who doesn't have a special affection for Mr. V.?) She's published one book on Valentino, and is working on a second, tentatively entitled The Films of Rudolph Valentino - A Chronological History.

"I have studied Valentino for decades," says Donna, "and I am still researching, learning, and enjoying the process."

Donna has also researched Valentino's mentor, June Mathis. “It began with a tango – June Mathis and her unique friendship with Rudolph Valentino," she says. "One of my earliest researched pieces is a subject I love, Valentino and June Mathis as well as roping in my favorite silent film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The collection was represented in my book Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol: His Life in Photographs."

You can read Donna's post on June Mathis HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Strictly Vintage Hollywood: I like to say I was born loving movies. My parents instilled in me the love of what are now referred to as classic films because we shared going to movies when I was a child; both at the Drive-In (how I miss that, Disney films in my jammies) and going to see first run films at Century 21 Dome (dressing up in our Sunday best the process). We also shared time watching classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Portrait of Jennie on television. For my parents, these were the films of their generation and they became mine. 

This is probably too much information, I also learned to love classic films seeing them on television, late night television such as TV 36 in San Jose and KBHK where classics from 20th Century Fox, MGM, RKO, Paramount and Warner Brothers were on regular rotation. Once I got my library card and discovered the film history section, a whole new world opened up for me, film bios and film history.

Once I could drive, I became a loyal patron twice weekly at my local revival movie house (The Vitaphone). There I experienced familiar favorites, except, they were Three Strip Technicolor prints newly struck from the camera negative, on the big screen, it changed my life. Films on television never looked like this! Gob smacked is a good word to describe the feeling. For a film geek, it’s like a drug.

Getting to know the owners, working at the theater over a summer and learning how to run the large 35mm projectors; that was a thrill. It was also a thrill to stand in the back of the theater and watch the chariot race from the 1959 Ben-Hur six nights in a row. To see Random Harvest, a pristine new print, so clear you felt you could walk into it. The Garden of Allah, Dietrich and Boyer, impossible silly romance, in glorious Technicolor.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Strictly Vintage Hollywood: Literally, to me a classic film is anything from 1900 to about 1965, the dawn of film to the end of the studio era in Hollywood. This would include foreign films, too. A classic, does not even really have to have the best script, or acting, to me. It is a film that stands the test of time and repeated viewings.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Strictly Vintage Hollywood: John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain, just about any Laurel & Hardy film and the same for Buster Keaton, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Now Voyager, The Heiress, The Mark of Zorro (silent and talkie versions), The Son of the Sheik, North by Northwest, Rear Window, and Sunrise. (I could name a dozen more!) It is inconceivable to me that someone could actually say they “hate” old films. For those that do, I can only imagine that they have not really seen any. So many genres, gangster, musicals, comedies, drama, women’s pictures, adventure films, romance, sci-fi, you name it, there really is something for everyone if they could be introduced to seeing a film as it was meant to be seen, i.e. on the big screen. At the very least, on television without commercials, like TCM.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Strictly Vintage Hollywood: In today’s world of instant news, the 24 hour news cycle and endless tweets and Facebook posts, sometimes I think people need to care about classic films as a way to let go, lose themselves and enjoy 90 minutes (or two hours) of solid entertainment. Any classic film is a reflection of the era in which it was produced, but, the bottom line is all are human stories. They can touch you, empower you and make you feel great just when the real world has got you down. In other words because they are so very entertaining.

Why should they care about preserving them? Cinema is the most American of art forms. Film can be a snapshot of the period. Once lost, they likely remain so and a part of our history is gone forever, except stills and lobby art. Imagine a world without Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz?

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Strictly Vintage Hollywood: The best thing I have found in blogging and writing about film is the people I have met. I mean, I follow several blogs and I love to read other viewpoints and learn about films I have not yet seen. I enjoy writing, and blogging is a tool for me to improve my writing and to share about films I love. If I get one comment telling me they’ve loved a film I’ve written about, that’s the best icing on any cake, metaphorically speaking. This takes me back to seeing films with my parents, blogging and classic film is a shared experience, and it’s wonderful. I’ve met some of my best friends this way.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Strictly Vintage Hollywood: The biggest challenge is finding time, and trying to be regular in posting. A challenge especially now as I am researching and writing a manuscript. I am trying to be proactive this year, bet in the habit of a weekly post, even a small one. For the manuscript, taking inspiration from my friend over at Backlots, Lara, to write something every day on the manuscript no matter how small.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Strictly Vintage Hollywood: Write about what you love. That, to me, is the biggest motivation. Be receptive to constructive criticism and ignore the trolls. 

Thank you for joining us, Donna! You can visit Strictly Vintage Hollywood by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: Blame Mame

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

Blame Mame celebrates the glamour and beauty of classic Hollywood.

As you may have guessed, "Blame Mame" is taken from the song "Put the Blame on Mame"  famously performed by Rita Hayworth in the 1946 film, Gilda.

Craig, the brains behind Blame Mame, is a personal and friendly host who shares fascinating research on classic Hollywood. He’s written on the influence of costume designers, the early careers of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, and some history of Hollywood (the town) itself.

You'll find some surprises on here, too, such as Bette Davis’ singing career.

“Bette is one of my favorite actresses,” says Craig, “and her music is more camp that you can shake a stick at. It is one of my first posts I put together when I started this blog and I still enjoy reading it.”

You can read about Bette Davis, recording artist, HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Blame Mame: I spent a lot of my childhood at my grandmother's house where we would watch classic films and a lot of I Love Lucy. When I was in sixth grade, I needed a subject for my Social Studies Project, and after looking around my room I saw the porcelain doll of Marilyn Monroe my grandmother had given me. I decided to write my report about her and it all took off from there. I started watching Marilyn's films, which introduced me to other classic actors such as Jane Russell, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Betty Grable, and Lauren Bacall. It was one big domino effect and I haven’t looked back since. 

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Blame Mame: When I think of a 'classic' film, I think of a film that is timeless and can transport you into another world. Now for me, most of these films come from the 30's-60's, mainly because there was still an other-worldly feel to the actors we saw on screen. Sometimes today's films are just too real for my taste. I want to be taken away from reality when I am watching a 'classic' film.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Blame Mame: I usually tell people to watch The Women (1939), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Some Like It Hot (1959), Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962), and Funny Face (1957)... mainly because these are some of my favorites that I can watch over and over.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Blame Mame: The films of the Classic Hollywood period set the stage for the films being made today. The stories, the fashion, the acting, the cinematography... it all has it roots in classic films. Why wouldn't you want to know such a rich piece of history?

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Blame Mame: Blogging, along with photography and performing, is a creative outlet for me. Since I was a child I have had a huge imagination and have had to find many ways to express that. Blogging allows me to share my love of Classic Hollywood with other people like me. It is very rare in my day-to-day life that I come across someone who can hold a conversation about anything that isn't about politics or the Kardashians.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Blame Mame: My main challenge with blogging is making myself sit down to write. My life has become pretty busy over the last four years and my free time is few and far between. I have a notebook full of things I have jotted down and ideas for things I want to write about. Maybe I need to write a schedule for myself so I have at least one time a week to dedicate to my beautiful blog.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Blame Mame: New bloggers just need to blog because it's something they want to do. They should be writing to express themselves and to share their love of their blog's subject. Do not get caught up in who follows you, how many comments you get, or if people will like what you write. It is your art... do it your way and for you.

Thank you for joining us, Craig! You can visit Blame Mame by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: Shadows and Satin

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

Shadows and Satin is one of those can’t-wait-to-see-what’s-happening-next blogs.

Karen’s site is dedicated to films noir and noir filmmakers, as well as pre-Code flicks, and she packs each post with juicy history and insightful commentary. As editor of The Dark Pages, she has an expert knowledge of film noir, even the more obscure films and actors in this genre.

As a pre-Code fan, she shares her infectious enthusiasm and considerable research with her readers.  One example is her essay on actress Lilyan Tashman.

I discovered Lilyan Tashman by sheer happenstance,” says Karen. “I was watching an extra on a DVD (she wasn't even in the movie!) when I saw Tashman and her husband, Edmund Lowe. And there was just something about her that captivated me. It took me several months to research and write the post; the more I learned about her, the more fascinated I became. I was really proud of the outcome – and one of the comments I received was from the granddaughter of Tashman’s cousin! That was the icing on the cake.”

You can read about Ms. Tashman HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Shadows and Satin: I wish I had a really cool story to tell – like, my great-grandmother's favorite movie was Miracle on 34th Street, and I fell in love old movies after she took me to see it one Christmas, or I was at home sick with the mumps and was totally mesmerized when 42nd Street came on TV after Bozo's Circus went off. But I don't. I've simply loved classic movies for as long as I can remember.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Shadows and Satin: Generally speaking, I believe that two characteristics make a movie a classic: passage of time and continued interest. More specifically, a significant amount of time has to have passed since the film's release, and it has to continue to foster interest and appreciation in ensuing generations.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Shadows and Satin: I don't actually know anyone who's ever said they "hate" old movies, but my niece's exposure to classic films is woefully lacking, and I recently showed her Leave Her to Heaven. She was quite taken with it.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Shadows and Satin: Classic films are just like any other part of history – we should care about them because they are us

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Shadows and Satin: For me, the most rewarding thing about blogging is the idea that someone out there might have derived as much pleasure from reading my words as I do writing them.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Shadows and Satin: My only challenge is dealing with the tendency of real life to interfere with my writing time. I try to overcome this challenge by signing up for blogathons and the annual month-long "Noirvember" event – these activities help keep me on my toes and force me to carve out the much-needed time to settle down in front of my computer. 

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Shadows and Satin: Keep a small notebook with you and whenever you get an idea, jot it down.
Thank you for joining us, Karen! You can visit Satin and Shadows by clicking HERE.

Monday, November 14, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile:

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

Every great movie star deserves a website – especially a legend like the great Clark Gable.

Meredith of has created the ultimate online tribute to Gable, one that includes his filmography and brief reviews of every film he ever made, along with a listing of his radio show appearances, a photo gallery and biographical information.

Meredith also tackles the gossip that surrounded Gable’s career and personal life, even the rumors about his marriage to Carole Lombard.

“Other than his role in GWTW,” says Meredith, “the most popular subject when it comes to Clark Gable is his relationship with Carole Lombard. Tired of hearing people repeat unsupported rumors, I wrote a piece about their relationship a few years ago that has since become the number one hit on my site.

You can read Meredith’s findings on Gable and Lombard HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film? I'm one of those people who like to say I was born in the wrong era. As a child in the 1980's I liked Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty more than The Little Mermaid. When I was a preteen, I watched Nick at Nite endlessly – The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, The Donna Reed Show, Mister Ed. My grandparents used to show me 1950's musicals that they rented from the library. I've always been drawn to the past. 

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion? Not everything that is "old" is classic. A classic to me is a film that embodies its decade, that has a great script with a great cast and just plunks you down into their era.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies? Since my blog is focused on Clark Gable, I'll stick to his films. Everyone should see Gone with the Wind, absolutely without question. I know plenty of people who don't like classic films in general but appreciate GWTW. The film I always point people to after GWTW is It Happened One Night. You don't have to love classic film to appreciate the fantastic script and undeniable chemistry between Gable and Colbert. Both of those films are absolute musts.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film? In this day and age of sequels and re-dos, it's refreshing to go back and experience what Hollywood was like as it was just beginning. Those days of glamour and glitz are gone and, while I'm not one of those people that says everything Hollywood releases nowadays is junk, it's nice to go back and look at stars who didn't Instagram what they had for breakfast every morning. 

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging? The people I meet! I receive fascinating emails from people all over the world, some of which I've met in person. It's nice to know there are passionate fans like me out there.  Also, my blog has taken me on research trips to Ohio and Los Angeles, where I've really felt connected to Clark Gable as a person. There's something about following in someone's footsteps that makes that person more real to you. 

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them? When I started my blog in 2009, I bought a book on coding and literally coded the entire website from scratch. I was very happy to move over to WordPress later! I also have a photo gallery and a Facebook page in addition to trying to research material for the blog, and at times it can be overwhelming, but at the end of the day it's a hobby that I truly enjoy. 

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger? You definitely have to have a passion for your subject – whatever that may be. It'd be hard to keep churning out new information if you don't have that motivation. It will be difficult to continue year after year. 

Thank you for joining us, Meredith! You can visit by clicking HERE.

Monday, October 31, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: Once Upon a Screen

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and 15th of the month. Today we're featuring Aurora from Once Upon a Screen.

The site Once Upon a Screen is like an online film festival, organized and presented by writer and Movies and More co-host Aurora.

Aurora presents a stunning variety of films – plus celebrity bios and classic radio/television shows – with a wealth of knowledge and a delightful sense of humour. Like most people who organize film festivals, she clearly has a passion for movies and the stories behind them.

One example is her recent spotlight on the Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon collaboration.

The blog posts that are most memorable to me personally are the ones I had the most fun writing, such as ‘The Wilder-Lemmon Affair’,” says Aurora. “They are one of my favorite directors and one of my favorite actors. I enjoyed reading (again) how two people whose work I admire also admired and appreciated each other. Together these two men encompass what I love about film – when the heart and the intellect coalesce to form the perfect whole.”

You can read her post HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Once Upon a Screen: It’s rather strange I think that I was drawn to classic movies on my own, naturally, as a matter of circumstance. I arrived in this country at age five. A relative gave us an old TV and I just gravitated to old movies. I credit them with teaching me the English language much more so than I do going to school. These movies – MGM musicals in particular – were a welcoming to my new home where for a time I thought people actually danced in the streets. It was after I’d discover each movie and actor that I realized my parents knew them also, having seen them in theaters in Cuba. I remember seeing Delmer Daves’ Dark Passage and running to my mother after it was over to ask, “Do you know an actor named Humphrey Bogart?” She replied as she would countless times thereafter with a shout out to my father, “Oh, for heaven’s sake. Did you hear what she asked me?” I had no idea at the time that my parents were slightly cool or that these were old movies. To me, they were of the moment and, in some ways, remain so.

CMBA: What makes a movie a “classic” in your opinion?
Once Upon a Screen: A classic is timeless. It is forever relatable in some way or possesses a level of entertainment that can be enjoyed by all people for all time. A classic is, in my mind, story and character-driven. And yes, there is a year stamp associated with classics although the year is not etched in stone. For me it is approximately 1968. Although I enjoy many movies made after that year, some of them timeless in their own right, “classics” for me are older, made during the studio system and/or its immediate remnants.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Once Upon a Screen: Billy Wilder. Wilder's movies are universally-themed, fast-moving and compelling. From his impressive filmography I’d recommend Double Indemnity, because who doesn’t love getting caught up in the sexy mystery of it all? Straight down the line. It’s impossible not to be affected by all of it. Back-ups would be Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious and Joseph Mankiewicz’s All About Eve. Both of these "dreaded black and white movies" allow for quelling the initial curiosity of a newbie who wants to watch screenland’s biggest stars, while offering interesting stories that grab you from the get-go.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Once Upon a Screen: Film is our greatest, most influential art form. It has – throughout its history – held up a mirror to society in a way no other medium has done. As such, it must be preserved as carefully as all historical artifacts. More importantly, perhaps, is the medium’s ability to transport and entertain us, a value that will never go out of style. I’ll add one more thing: People should care to take a look at classic movies because so many things we see in movies today have already been done before. And they've already been done better.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Once Upon a Screen: By far, the community it has introduced me to and the ever-present opportunities to learn more about movies and Hollywood history in general. Before I started blogging about classic movies, I had no idea so many others loved them as I much as I did. Being a classic movie fan had always been a rather lonesome endeavor until I realized that through my blog, and associated social media accounts, I had opportunities to “meet” like-minded people and learn from them. It’s turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Once Upon a Screen: There are two major challenges. I’d say the first is time. I wish I had more to spend on the blog, to offer something of value. The other is being unique; offering something other than your run-of-the-mill movie commentary, to stand out from the crowd. For instance, I’ve wanted to start a regular series for quite some time, but could only manage the Friday Foto Follies pictorials. While this series offers a means through which I get the images I love out of my system, it does little more than that.  Maybe someday I can do something along those lines of greater value.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Once Upon a Screen: (1) Have fun. Blogging can become work all too easily, which can be overwhelming for those of us with full-time jobs, families, etc. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.
(2) Whatever you share, let it be your voice and no one else’s. 

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