Tuesday, August 1, 2023

CMBA Profile: Those Wonderful People Out There In The Dark


Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog written by one of our members. This month, we're featuring David Jansen, who writes at Those Wonderful People.   

1. Why do you blog?
I've been interested in classic film since I was young --- as I approached retirement, I considered how I might spend my time to delve deeper into my interest in film as well as indulge myself in the fun of research and writing. Blogging about film (and an associated podcast) seemed like a great way to wrap it all up, and hopefully pass on a bit of my passion. I blog about films from (mostly) the 1920s into the 80s --- the films are those that I enjoyed when young, but also films that hit me hard emotionally, or gave me insight into the history and development of world cinema.

2. Besides classic movie blogging, what are some of your other passions?
I've always been an aerobic athlete, so I still run every day, I hike and bike a great deal, I visit my children on a regular basis, and I love dogs, so I'm looking into volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society.

3. If you could program a perfect day of classic movies for TCM, what would be the seven films on your schedule?
What a fun question! Not surprisingly, these seven films are all in my blog:
a. Ikiru --- Kurosawa's thoughtful examination of living consciously, rather than simply surviving, told through the story of a Japanese bureaucrat...
b. The Asphalt Jungle --- John Huston knew how to noir, and the combination of noir, a heist story, the wonderful presence of Sterling Hayden, and one of film's most heartbreaking finales, make this not to be missed...
c. A Night at the Opera --- For my money, the best Marx Brothers film ever, guided by producer Irving Thalberg and his simple proposal that the Brothers needed to have a story in which the audience would root for them...
d. Citizen Kane --- How would I not? It reminds me of what John Lennon said about Elvis; before him the world was black and white, after him it was in color. Kane created or combined all the elements that, once brought together, established the modern film classic. And what an incredible story by Welles and Mankiewicz...
e. The Third Man --- A very different Welles film, with his turn as mysterious (and bad!) Harry Lime in a wonderful and atmospheric Euronoir by Carol Reed. And what a final scene...
f. The Last Picture Show --- A must for me, as it hits every chord about living in a small town and the effect of someone as plain-spoken but supportive as Sam the Lion --- best Bogdanovich film ever...
g. The Irishman --- I admire Scorsese so much; he might simply have been satisfied with old-guy Goodfellas, but he put together an unforgettable elegy on aging and regret. Perhaps not his greatest film, but a film that shows how his thoughts and feelings have evolved as he aged...

4. What is a classic movie that you love, but most people don't know about -- and what do you love about it?
The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) --- Luchino Visconti's 1963 comment on change in society and a quiet, contemplative view of how that affects various classes during Italian unification. It's not an obscure film, but the US version was badly edited and shortened, and it disappeared rapidly. The long, languid, beautiful European release is magnificent. Burt Lancaster is elegiac in his role as an aging nobleman, well supported by Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon and Terence Hill. The actors combine with the beautiful cinematography to produce a quiet but, to me, heartrending view of change slowly blowing through the lives of individuals. The novel by Giuseppe Lampedusa is a wonderful read, especially valuable prior to watching the film.

5. What is something that most people don't know about you?
I'm a trained zoologist and chemist, but spent all my working life in medical products marketing --- never a day in academics!

We thank David for participating in our Q&A profile and encourage you to visit  Those Wonderful People. 


  1. David, you sound like the coolest person ever! I love that you are delving more into films in your retirement. What a change it must be from the day job you had. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  2. I enjoyed reading your responses, David! I share your fondness for The Asphalt Jungle, and I've had The Leopard on my watchlist for quite a while now. I hope 2023 will be the year that I finally get to see it.