Wednesday, November 1, 2023



Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog written by one of our members. This month, we're featuring Jo Gabriel, who writes at THE LAST DRIVE IN. 

1. Why do you blog?

My mother, who was deeply involved in the theater, played a pivotal role in nurturing my passion for culture and classic film. She introduced me to the captivating allure of Bette Davis' expressive eyes and the undeniable sensuality of Ava Gardner. Our home was filled with the melodies of show tunes that she'd belt out without hesitation, and I can still vividly recall her unabashed admiration for John Garfield and Gene Kelly.

As I embarked on my personal journey to uncover the intricate details of specific actors, directors, cinematographers, genres, and more, I found myself tumbling down a rabbit hole much like Alice's descent into the well. I became fully immersed in the convergence of the subjects I was exploring, opening myself up to a world that I've come to regard as one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a classic film and television enthusiast. It delights me to offer my unique interpretations, and over time, I've evolved to approach things with a more discerning eye, moving away from my earlier cheeky perspective.

I like to think of my blog as a place where individuals can discover intriguing tidbits or revisit cherished clips related to their favorite topics or even stumble upon new ones that pique their interest. One of the most rewarding aspects of my deep-rooted passion for classic films and television is the desire to share my self-discoveries with like-minded enthusiasts. The blogging community has not only provided me with a platform for this purpose but has also led to the formation of some remarkable friendships along the way – truly exceptional individuals whom I may never have crossed paths with otherwise.

2. Besides classic movie blogging, what are some of your other passions?

I am an internationally recognized singer/songwriter who although self taught on piano since I was 8 years old, is often assumed to be classically trained. 

Up until the time I became seriously ill there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t sitting at my piano writing music. For me composing, playing and singing my own work is akin to meditating. It was a great release for me. That is why my love of classic film has truly been a godsend, being taken out of my physical struggles with pain and delivering me to wonderful places that I used to go when I was either playing piano in my living room for my family of cats or out in New York City performing live for a dedicated fan base. 

Which leads me to my other passion. Cats… My life long partner Wendy and I have spent a good part of two decades rescuing cats - doing TNR, rehoming kittens and adult strays or just plain failed fostering them. Living among cats is perhaps one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. They have taught me many sacred lessons - some so simple and some as complex as they tend to be and are consistently underestimated about. I’ll always be grateful for their love, loyalty and humor. 

3. If you could program a perfect day of classic movies for TCM, what would be the seven films on your schedule?

A day of Val Lewton. I’m forever moved by the visual poetry of his work, with an internal human evil that plays on our collective psyches. The films are vaguely supernatural awakened by the ambiguity of each films shadow play. All 9 pictures could be considered horror/noir. The supernatural exigency is never confirmed but left suggestive in our minds. Three of the collective works feature Boris Karloff who had stated that after his immortal relationship with the Frankenstein’s monster, Lewton not only saved his life (career) but ‘restored his soul.’ 

1 Cat People
2 I walked with a zombie
3 The Seventh Victim
4 Bedlam
5 Isle of the Dead
6 The Ghost Ship
7 The Body Snatcher

4. What is a classic movie that you love, but most people don't know about -- and what do you love about it? 

The Queen of Spades 1949 directed by Thorold Dickinson, and based on Alexander Puschkin’s novella of the same name is a beautifully macabre and haunting film which stars Anton Walbrook, as the outsider Herman a duplicitous Russian captain who secretly resents yet yearns for the same wealth as his fellow officers. He sets up an elaborate plan to steal the secrets possessed by an unpleasant old Countess (Edith Evans) who has struck up a bargain with the devil so that she may never lose at cards in trade for her immortal soul. Under the guise of wooing her hand maid, Herman uses Yvonne Mitchell to gain access to the miserable old woman, then murders her only to be haunted by her spirit. Jack Clayton was the associate producer on the film and odd camera angles by cinematographer Otto Heller (The Ladykillers 1955, Peeping Tom 1960) create a striking sense of grandeur and unease reminiscent of silent German expressionist movement. Both Walbrook and Evans are equally chilling in their roles of two people - one diabolical and the other dour who have lost their souls to darkness.

5. What is something most people don't know about you? 

I’m a solitary practitioner of Wicca and green magic - which translates to - I observe the natural world and its many glorious details and miracles that go unseen by a lot of people. Unlike many patriarchal based religions - the Earth is my deity… as fruity & hippy as that sounds!


We thank Jo for participating in our Q&A profile and encourage you to visit THE LAST DRIVE IN! 


  1. I loved learning more about you, Joey! I will be putting The Queen of Spades on my watchlist -- some of those Val Lewton films, too! (The ones that aren't too scary, LOL)

  2. You're so cool! Thank you for sharing! xox