Sunday, April 30, 2017

CMBA Blog Profile: Old Hollywood Films

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Amanda from Old Hollywood Films.

Amanda at Old Hollywood Films brings a clear-eyed, journalistic approach to classic film.

Like any good journalist, Amanda concentrates on the important or most interesting aspects of a film she's reviewing. Her posts are lively and informative.

In addition to film reviews, she presents a weekly TCM Viewer's Guide that includes celebrity birthdays, TCM daily highlights, and a helpful feature entitled "Best Day to DVR".

Old Hollywood Films provides historical context with film reviews, which reflects Amanda's interest in history. One example is The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

"I think this film is a good illustration of films depicting history (in this case the Great Depression)," she says. In her review she notes, "[N]o one experienced more misery than those Americans who survived the Dust Bowl, which was one of the worst environmental disasters in American history."

You can read Amanda's post on The Grapes of Wrath HERE

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Old Hollywood Films: I've loved classic movies since I was a child. The local PBS station used to air a rotation of classic movies every Saturday night that included Maytime, Wuthering Heights, West Side Story, Summer Stock, Citizen Kane, The Third Man, and An American in Paris. My dad also had a collection of home videos that included most of the best John Ford films.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Old Hollywood Films: For the purposes of my blog, I consider a "classic" movie anything made between roughly 1927-1970. I mostly write about sound films made within the old Hollywood studio system, but I do sometimes write about silent movies and foreign films. Of course, the quality of these "classic" films vary, but, because of the manner in which the studio system operated, most of the movies are well-made and entertaining. Even the B pictures are better than some of the Hollywood product released today.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Old Hollywood Films: His Girl Friday because it's fast-paced and has modern gender roles and The Spiral Staircase for horror/suspense fans. For those who don't like black-and-white movies, I would pick late fifties Hitchcock (To Catch a Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much, North by Northwest).

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Old Hollywood Films: No. 1, classic movies are an art form. In my opinion, the movies of the old Hollywood studio system represent one of the greatest artistic achievements in history, right up there with the painters of the Italian Renaissance and the 19th century English novel (I know that sounds grandiose, but I think it stands up to scrutiny). Second, the movies are a living history of the 20th century from World War I right through to the atomic age. If you want to learn about Prohibition watch the gangster movies of the thirties, or if you want to understand nuclear paranoia watch the sci-fi movies of the 1950s.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Old Hollywood Films: I enjoy the creative process of writing the articles, but the best part is when people say that my articles have encouraged them to watch a classic movie.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Old Hollywood Films: I never have enough time to write all the articles I want. I haven't figured out a solution to time management yet, but that's life.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Old Hollywood Films: First, watch as many movies as you can and pay attention to the films while you are watching them. You will learn so much by simply being observant to camera placement, dialogue, style, etc. Second, go to the library and read as many books about classic movies as you can. There's a treasure trove of material out there about classic movies.

Thank you for joining us, Amanda! You can visit Old Hollywood Films HERE.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Five Stars Blogathon - Celebrate National Classic Movie Day

Celebrate National Classic Movie Day with the Five Stars Blogathon! 

For the third consecutive year, the Classic Film & TV Café will celebrate National Classic Movie Day on May 16th by hosting a blogathon. This year, it will shine the spotlight on those actors and actresses that made the Golden Days of Hollywood glitter brightly.

The Five Stars Blogathon invites bloggers to list their five favorite movie stars and explain why you love them. It's that simple.

If you want to participate, click here for more information and leave a comment with your blog's name and URL.

You can also just send the information to:

Friday, April 14, 2017

CMBA Blog Profile: The Blonde At the Film

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Cameron from The Blonde at the Film.

Cameron from The Blonde at the Film is like a gemologist who examines precious stones and determines their worth.

Her site evaluates a film and, much like a jeweler, places it in a setting to show us its unique characteristics.

Cameron provides an impressive amount of research, which helps readers see why so many classic films are noteworthy. Her research also highlights social conventions that reflect the times in which these films were made.

She's enthusiastic about classic Hollywood films and actors, especially when it comes to Esther Williams.

"With classic films," she says, "context is key, and this is especially true with a star like Esther Williams who was so 'of her time' and whose movies can seem dated and only 'classic' in the academic sense (though I disagree, of course!). I tried to make Williams and her movies more accessible and relevant by showing what a talented athlete she was and that it wasn’t so crazy for MGM to come calling."

You can read Cameron's post on Esther Williams HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
The Blonde at the Film: When I was really young we didn’t have cable, so we would go to the public library and borrow kid-friendly shows and movies for my sisters and I to watch. One day when I was four years old, we brought home a VHS tape of That’s Entertainment! (1974). I was hooked immediately—I loved it so much that my mom recorded my delight in my baby book! My obsession with classic Hollywood was born that day and only grew as I exhausted the library’s collection before moving on to my local Blockbuster and then TCM. Looking back, I think That’s Entertainment! was the perfect introduction to classic Hollywood for a little kid who had never seen black and white movies or old musicals. The bite-sized excerpts helped acclimate me to the “strangeness” of old movies and also helped them seem less foreign; for example, by the time I watched Broadway Melody of 1940 in its entirety, I had already seen Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell dance so there was some built-in familiarity.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
The Blonde at the Film: As many of my fellow bloggers have said, I have two definitions: the first is the academic designation that dates “Classical Hollywood Cinema” from 1917-1960 according to the studio system’s rise and fall (but my heart belongs to the films made between 1934-1960, though I love reading about early cinema and silent films). I’m fascinated by the studio system, so that definition of a “classic” is useful to me. The second meaning is the more personal idea of movies that remain timelessly wonderful no matter when they were made. I love writing about those films, but I also enjoy taking another look at movies that haven’t necessarily worn as well. They might only be classics in the first sense of the word, but I think it’s interesting to examine what made them popular, or entertaining, or unusual at the time even if they aren’t in the canon today.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
The Blonde at the Film: I actually think about this a lot because one of my goals is to make classics accessible and entertaining for people who are new to Old Hollywood or even predisposed to dislike old films. I’ve had good luck recommending Casablanca (1942), Roman Holiday (1953), Stagecoach (1939), and Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Those films continue to astound me by how relevant, entertaining, and moving they are even to people watching a classic for the first time. They’re just great films! 

Once I’ve got someone on the hook, I might try Double Indemnity (1944), The Lady Eve (1941), The More the Merrier (1943), or Bringing Up Baby (1938), but only after the person has eased into Old Hollywood or at least seems interested. I’ve found that those movies can be almost too “weird” or “difficult” for someone who is already prejudiced against classic films.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
The Blonde at the Film: Classic films are a huge part of our history and cultural heritage. Hollywood ruled the world’s screens and influenced other national cinemas, art movements, technology, and almost every aspect of culture. To dismiss classic movies is to ignore an incredibly powerful force and rich art form. Also, they’re absolutely fascinating from a historical point of view. I try to demonstrate that in my “History Through Hollywood" series, which are some of my favorite posts to write. For instance, I had no idea that Prohibition essentially destroyed the American wine industry until I looked into why characters in old movies drink so many cocktails but so little wine. You can learn so much about our past through old movies, which is one reason I continue to be obsessed with classic Hollywood. And last but not least, so many classic movies are absolutely amazing films and are worth attention simply for their entertainment value!

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
The Blonde at the Film: Blogging has been great because it keeps me researching and writing about some of my favorite things, pushes me to keep watching and learning, and puts me in contact with other bloggers and readers who love old movies, too. The community is really wonderful!

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
The Blonde at the Film: Sometimes there is just not enough time! I try to stay consistent and active by setting a post calendar for the next few months and having a few finished posts waiting in the wings, but of course that doesn’t always happen and I end up scrambling! I find it helpful to have a few different types of posts available so that when I can’t devote the time to a traditional review or a “History Through Hollywood,” my longest, most time consuming posts, I can write about classic movies available on Netflix or do a “Great Classic Films” post for an upcoming holiday. 

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
The Blonde at the Film: When you're first starting, I think it’s really helpful to spend some time looking at what is already out there. Then you can zero in on your niche and what you do that’s different. But don’t get overwhelmed if you don’t know what your “thing” is—your blog will evolve over time and you’ll figure out your focus. And don’t get discouraged if you feel as though you’re shouting into a void. No one read my blog for months and months, but if you keep posting, keep refining your style, and keep interacting with other bloggers online, you’ll find readers. Also, proofread! It takes a lot of time, but makes a big difference.

Thank you for joining us, Cameron! You can visit The Blonde at the Film HERE.