Thursday, August 9, 2018

CMBA Profile: A Viewer's Guide to Classic Films

CMBA profiles one or two members every month. This edition features Linda J. Sandahl who blogs at A Viewer’s Guide to Classic Films.

A Viewer’s Guide to Classic Films is filled with backstories, analysis, film, and book reviews. In many cases, Linda takes a look at what these classic films say to us both then and now. Check out Linda's post The Fight for Truth: Paul Muni in The Story of Louis Pasteur. Linda has worked as an associate editor on Steven H. Scheuer’s Movies on TV, a precursor to Leonard Maltin’s similar Movies and Video Guide series. Linda is also the author of A Viewer’s Guide to Rock and Roll Films 1955-1985, now available as an ebook.

CMBA:  What sparked your interest in classic film?

Linda:   My father was attending Columbia in NYC when Iris Barry began promoting the first film collections at the Museum of Modern Art, so he got in on the ground floor of classic film, so to speak. So when I was a child, if a particular classic was shown on TV it was an event. I remember being allowed to stay up until 1 a.m. to watch Captain Blood when I was about nine. One look at Errol Flynn and I was hooked!

CMBA:  What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?

Linda:   Two things. First, obviously, artistic quality. Some, in fact many, golden era films are simply beautifully acted, directed, and designed. Second, some films give us incredibly valuable as insights into our past, not just factually but as records of our social values and expectations. Obviously, one movie can have both virtues.

Linda:   Really great comedies – The General, for example, Ball of Fire, or Some Like It Hot.  

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?

Linda:  The same reason we care about all art – it helps us understand ourselves. I would also add it helps us respect ourselves. People like us got together and created The Best Years of Our Lives or Yojimbo or Grand Illusion. Human beings can do bad and stupid things, but we can also do beautiful things.

CMBA: Your previously published book, “A Viewer’s Guide to Rock n' Roll Films: 30 Years of Musicals, Documentaries, and Soundtracks, 1955-1985” will be available soon as an ebook. What can you tell us about it?

Linda:  The book contains information and short reviews of hundreds of movies. My approach to writing about film is practical; I love to let people know about different aspects of movies or performances or subjects they would otherwise have missed. This book tells you which performers did which songs in which films, and also which films are better -- or worse -- than you might think!

CMBA: What film genres do you favor?

Linda:   For me, it’s more a matter of era than genre, Between 1925 and 1955, I like practically any genre, from slapstick to The Seventh Seal. And it’s not that I don’t like modern film; there are plenty of classics today. There is also a lot of very expensive junk that’s a waste of everyone’s time. But frankly it’s easier to see the deeper meaning of an artwork that has matured a little than one that’s brand new, for me.

CMBA:  What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?

Linda:   Meeting other people, including other bloggers, who share similar interests. My blog is about “what I love and why I love it,” and one of my favorite things is when someone tells me I have brought a little known classic or performer to their attention that they would never have known about otherwise. That’s the best!


  1. Great guide and i love watching classic movies. You should review Singin' in the Rain.

  2. This blog really is about "what I love and why I love it". The passion for classic film is infectious!