Wednesday, May 1, 2019

CMBA Profile: Make Mine Film Noir Redux




If this interview is familiar, that's because I somehow (Sticky Fingers?) deleted the original post while posting about our Spring Blogathon.  Therefore, this month I am reposting Marianne L'Abbate's Make Mine Film Noir. The interview is worth a second look especially if you are into Film Noir.


What sparked your interest in classic film?
My mother’s influence likely sparked my interest in classic film. Two of our local television stations showed a weekday afternoon movie every day of the school week, and my mother would watch them the way some people watched soaps. I soon picked up the habit, too. When I got to high school, I would get up in the middle of the night if I knew that a Gene Kelly movie would be showing in the early morning hours on television. One of the reasons that I don’t have cable is because I would do the same thing today if I had movies to watch twenty-four hours a day!

Your blog specializes in Film Noir. What attracted you to the dark world of noir?
I always say that film noir shows you what not to do. Noir provides a way to experience a situation vicariously so that you can avoid inviting it into your own life. And I guess it is a mixture of horror and fascination without any of the repercussions.

I remember seeing Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte on television on a school day afternoon. It is Bruce Dern’s first film, and his hand is chopped off in the family gazebo one night during Charlotte’s debut into genteel Southern society, during her debutante ball. I remember that scene to this day, so maybe that started my fascination with the darker side of films.

Can you tell us a few of your favorite film noirs and others?
It’s so hard to pick favorites. One film I can see again and again is The Dark Corner, with Lucille Ball and Mark Stevens. It has the right mix of pessimism and humor. And it also happens to be the first film, my first post, in my blog. Too Late for Tears, starring Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea, is another good one. I’m partial to it because it reminds me of those school afternoons when I was probably watching it on television instead of doing my homework. Born to Kill, starring Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor, is one of the best examples of a film that describes what not to do. Both Tierney and Trevor give ferocious performances in that film.

I also love most Gene Kelly musicals and Jack Lemmon movies. I still laugh when I see The Odd Couple and The Out-of-Towners.

How do you explain noir to someone unfamiliar with that cinematically stylish world and what film(s) would you recommend?
I think part of the reason that people may find film noir intimidating is that describing it as a genre is open to so much debate. As a genre or category, it has a lot of fuzzy edges, and many fans are passionate (dare I say, opinionated!) about what constitutes film noir. It is one of the reasons that I am not a huge fan of categories, although they can be helpful for discussion.

For people who want to learn about film noir, it may help to read some pulp and detective novels from the 1930s and 1940s because so many films noir are based on them. And one can always jump right in and see as many films as possible. Once you start defining film noir for yourself and have seen films that you enjoy, I think you start feeling comfortable with the genre.

For those who have never seen a film noir, I would suggest starting with detective films. People cannot go wrong with films based on those pulp and detective novels published in the 1930s and 1940s. Examples of authors of these novels are James M. Cain and Dashiell Hammett. Movies based on their work include Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and The Postman Always Rings Twice, based on Cain’s work, and The Maltese Falcon, based on Hammett’s novel.

I noticed you read and review the world of noir/hard-boiled literature (David Goodis, Dorothy Hughes, James M. Cain). Which came first for you, film or books, and what authors are favorites?
My love of books came first. My mother said that I went to school in the second grade one day and came home that afternoon reading. I remember what it was like to realize that the letters on the blackboard and on the page represented something.

Dashiell Hammett is a favorite noir author. So is Dorothy Hughes, specifically her novel In a Lonely Place. The film based on it, starring Humphry Bogart and Gloria Grahame, is very different from the book, and both are excellent. Steve Fisher wrote the book I Wake up Screaming, on which the film starring Victor Mature and Betty Grable is based; both the book and the film are favorites of mine. Fisher has many film and book credits, but he is probably the least known of the writers I mention here.

More modern favorites are William Faulkner, Louise Erdrich, Michael Ondaatje, and Isabel Allende. Ondaatje’s latest novel, Warlight, is worth a look. I want to read it again.

What other film genre(s) do you favor?
Romantic comedies. They seem like the exact opposite genre compared to film noir, and maybe that’s why I enjoy them. A romantic comedy that’s offbeat enough to have some “noir-ish tendencies” is Lars and the Real Girl. I am a big fan of the Bridget Jones movies. I hope a fourth one is in the works.

What film(s) considered a classic do you absolutely hate?
This is the toughest question, even tougher than picking favorite films and authors. But I have to confess that I have never really liked Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. It is considered a quintessential film noir, maybe the quintessential film noir, but I have never liked the ending. In general, though, I like films so much that I can almost always find something good in a film, even Out of the Past; after all, Robert Mitchum is worth watching in that film. . . . I may have to get back to you on this question.

What is the most rewarding thing for you about blogging?
Blogging about film is a way to delve into films a little more deeply, to enjoy them a little bit more. When I write about a film that I think I don’t like all that much, I find myself liking it, sometimes quite a bit, by the time I am finished writing about it. I like working with language. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than writing about a topic I enjoy as much as film. What’s not to like! Hearing from other film fans who are inspired to see a film after reading one of my posts is always satisfying, too.

Thank you, by the way, for giving me this chance to talk about classic film and film noir.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

CMBA Spring Blogathon




The CMBA Spring Blogathon is a wrap and the lineup of members who participated this time around was outstanding.

This year we took a look at the world of Femmes and Hommes Fatale of Film Noir. Attractive, seductive and deadly-dangerous women and men who bring disastrous consequences to the hapless saps with whom they come into contact, especially those they...seduce. Think Jane Greer in Out of the Past, Alain Delon in Purple Noon or Gloria Grahame in just about anything.

Here are links, by date of posting, to contributing bloggers:

April 16th (Tuesday)
Caftan Woman: Stanton Carlisle in Nightmare Alley 
The Movie Night Group: Claude Rains in The Unsuspected
Make Mine Film Noir: Marilyn Monroe in Don't Bother to Knock
Silver Screen Modes: Ava Gardner in The Killers
The Old Hollywood Garden: Steve Cochran in Private Hell 36
Cary Grant Won't Eat You: Gloria Grahame in In A Lonely Place 


 April 17th (Wednesday)
Hometowns to Hollywood: Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven
Silver Screenings: John Bromfield in The Big Bluff
Critica Retro: Jean Harlow in The Beast of the City
Second Sight Cinema: Dennis O'Keefe in Raw Deal
Anybody Got a Match?: Rita Haywoth in Glida
Stardust and Shadows: Marie Windsor in The Narrow Margin
Poppity Talks Classic Film: Zachary Scott and Lucille Bremer in Ruthless
Silent-ology: The Musketeers of Pig Alley 

April 18th (Thursday)
A Person in the Dark: Lily Tomlin in The Late Show
Classic Film and TV Cafe: Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy 
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Rita Hayworth in The Lady From Shanghai
Cinematic Scribbings: Jean Seberg in Breathless
Old Hollywood Films: Jack Palace and Gloria Grahame in Sudden Fear
Film Noir Archive: Linda Darnell in Fallen Angel
Another Old Movie Blog: Alan Ladd in The Blue Dahlia

April 19th (Friday) 
Twenty Four Frames: Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity
Once Upon A Screen: Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat.
Shadows and Satin: Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill
Palewriter: Dirk Bogarde in Cast a Dark Shadow
Cinema Film Obsessions: Lana Turner in Johnny Eager 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

CMBA Profile: Stardust and Shadows


CMBA profiles one or two members every month. This edition features Terry Sherwood who blogs at Stardust and Shadows.

Celebrating six years, Terry Sherwood's Stardust and Shadows is filled with film reviews, book reviews and more. He grew up on movies, thanks to his film loving Dad. As a kid, like many, he loved horror movies, and still does, but his blog much more: westerns, noir, and more. Terry has a second blog, Nitrate Visions, and also host two Youtube podcast shows. But instead of me telling you, let's here from Terry.

What sparked your interest in classic film? 

My Father was a huge fan when he was growing up. He once told me that when he was young he made a movie studio out of little card board boxes, cut faces from fan magazines and put them onto figures that he moved around. He would take me to film in the movies houses later one; the first film I remember seeing was with him was BILLY BUDD. Got interested in Theatre for  what reason I have no idea. Got myself a Degree in Theatre Arts.   Read Flynn’s book that  my father gave to me MY WICKED WICKED WAYS many times which triggered more  reading   acquiring  and other  things in those pre-internet days. 

You are a big horror film fan. Correct me if I am wrong, but you love for the horror genre spans more than just movies but also books and comics. Was the horror genre your introduction to the world of pop culture? 

Yes it was.  I was and still am a ‘Monster Kid”.  Big fan of TV shows like THE MUNSTERS.  I still have my issues of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILM LAND magazine.  I also read graphic story magazines such as CREEPY, EERIE and MONSTERS UNLIMITED which had funny captions by Stan Lee when I could find them.  I went to local triple bills at Rialto theatre on Saturday afternoons when I was allowed to those of Hammer Studios and Amicus releases.  Then came our version of SHOCK THEATER on local TV which was called HORROR HOUSE which ran the Universal films, Inner Sanctums etc. I would record the soundtrack on cassette and listen to them over and over. I read Edgar Poe, and other authors not really getting an appreciation or  understanding  What really got me was  Ballantine Books comic paperback adaptation of  DRACULA which I read till it fell apart.  I also had an LP record which I still have   AN EVENING WITH BORIS KARLOFF AND HIS FRIENDS which had  audio excerpts and  narration. Outside of Horror genre.  I was around for  the Adam West/ Burt Ward Batman series. Lot of influences not  knowing why. 

Your blog is much more than horror films. Can you tell us what other film genres you favor and write about? 

Honestly it’s whatever moves me to write and strikes me as interesting. STARDUST AND SHADOWS is about many things in film mostly it’s about the wonder of a good story, strong acting and being human.  Try to give things a different spin in a conversational style.  Genre wise:  we go to Film Noir, Westerns,  Pre-code film,  those ‘Women’s Pictures,” even  youth exploitation for the sheer fun, longer  articles on people like  Warren William, Max Factor,  Jeffery Lynn. I also try to show Canadians in  Classic Hollywood like Norma Shearer, Walter  Pidgeon,  and Yvonne De Carlo when I can, so many of them, and  I am Canadian. 

What makes a “classic” film in your opinion? 

A Classic film to me is timeless feeling that an individual has when watching something that many reoccur in your mind. 

You have a second blog dedicated to the world of horror (Nitrate Visions).  Can you tell us a little about that? 

NITRATE VISIONS is the companion site to STARDUST AND SHADOWS on the Horror or  as I prefer to say  the Nightmare genre.   It contains short reviews which I call SILVER BULLETS covering some  film of  today and yesterday that interest me.  I also get quite a few  screeners  from Indie film makers mostly from Europe which seem  more open for  review.  NITRATE VISIONS also has literary reviews mostly small press from the genre which I receive as active member of worldwide recognized organization HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION. 

You also host a Youtube podcast series. Can you tell us about that? 

There are actually two shows on Youtube.

SINISTER INCLINATIONS is a Horror Youtube series with James Saito and myself in which we  talk very informally and  totally off the cuff  about what  we  watched, read or think about the  genre. We do have guests that we interview like film people, Ghost hunters, musicians in the  Horror  rock and roll scene.   It is not scripted except  who is  coming on  or  a particular film  both James and  I watched  and  will speak on.    We also make fun of ourselves quite a bit yet punctuate it with some challenging remarks.
SINISTER INQUISTIONS is the companion show which features video interviews with film makers or anyone that we record from Zoom or Skype. Chat about them, their work  career,  recent  work etc. in more in depth format  Gives them a boost and  we   make contacts. 

What challenges do you face with your blog and how do you overcome them? 

Every film, book, comic that I review, comment on I view so its finding the time so I set up an informal schedule on days off  sometimes three a  night into early morn.  Writing is best for me in early evening.  I also am a musician and have a full time job plus a home life.  I am so lucky for support, help and understanding from my family.  This isn’t work.  Its magic time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The 2019 Spring Blogathon is Coming!!!



It's officially still winter, but spring in on the way and with it comes the CMBA Spring Blogathon! This year we take a look at the world of Femme/Homme Fatales of Film Noir. Attractive, seductive and dangerous women and men bringing deadly consequences to those they come in contact with Think Jane Greer in Out of the Past or Alain Delon in Purple Noon.

Two or more  members can write about the same actress/actor but not about the same film. For example, Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat,  Gloria Grahame in Human Desire and Gloria Grahame in In A Lonely Place is acceptable for three bloggers to select.

There are additional banners for you to use on your blogs as you wish.

The dates are April 16th through April 19th.

Provide me with your selection and the date that you would like. Date may be subject to change if we need to balance out the activity.

So far here is what has been taken. 

April 16th (Tuesday)
Caftan Woman: Stanton Carlisle in Nightmare Alley 
The Movie Night Group: Claude Rains in The Unsuspected
Make Mine Film Noir: Marilyn Monroe in Don't Bother to Knock
Silver Screen Modes: Ava Gardner in The Killers
The Old Hollywood Garden: Steve Cochran in Private Hell 36
Cary Grant Won't Eat You: Gloria Grahame in In A Lonely Place 
Speakeasy: Janis Carter in Framed

 April 17th (Wednesday)
Hometowns to Hollywood: Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven
Silver Screenings: John Bromfield in The Big Bluff
Critica Retro: Jean Harlow in The Beast of the City
Second Sight Cinema: Dennis O'Keefe in Raw Deal
Anybody Got a Match?: Rita Haywoth in Glida
Stardust and Shadows: Marie Windsor in The Narrow Margin
Poppity Talks Classic Film: Lucille Bremer in Ruthless
Silent-ology: The Musketeers of Pig Alley 

April 18th (Thursday)
A Person in the Dark: Lily Tomlin in The Late Show
Classic Film and TV Cafe: Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy 
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: Rita Hayworth in The Lady From Shanghai
Cinematic Scribbings: Jean Seberg in Breathless
Old Hollywood Films: Jack Palace and Gloria Grahame in Sudden Fear
Film Noir Archive: Linda Darnell in Fallen Angel
Another Old Movie Blog: Alan Ladd in The Blue Dahlia

April 19th (Friday)
Lady Eve's Reel Life: Turner and Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice
Twenty Four Frames: Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity
Once Upon A Screen: Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat.
Shadows and Satin: Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill
Palewriter: Dirk Bogarde in Cast a Dark Shadow
Whimsically Classic: Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce
Cinema Film Obsessions: Lana Turner in Johnny Eager 














Monday, February 4, 2019

CMBA Profile: Danilo Castro




CMBA profiles one member every month. This month's interview is with Danilo Castro who runs Film Noir Archuve.

Danilo blogs and writes regularly and I do mean regularly! Not only does he run Film Noir Archive where you can travel the dark mean streets of noir, he also runs Danilo Writes and is a contributor to The Classic Movie Hub, Pop Matters, Screen Rant and more. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

CMBA Profile: Cracked Rear Viewer



Gary Loggins' Cracked  Rear Viewer is a treasure chest filled with pop culture: movies, television, books, music, comic, etc. Exploring Cracked View Mirror is trip worth taking no matter what you are in the mood for. There's something there for everyone.