Saturday, January 1, 2022

CMBA Profile: Rick’s Real/Reel Life


The CMBA profiles a member’s classic movie blog each month. This month, we’re featuring Rick Gould of Rick’s Real/Reel Life.

CMBA: What makes a film a “classic” in your opinion?

RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: A classic to me is a film that still has a strong emotional resonance for audiences years or decades later.

CMBA: What genres do you favor?

RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: I like a good comedy, whether it’s smart or silly, as long as it’s imaginatively done. I watched “Moonstruck” recently, after not having seen it for a few years. The film is still one of the smartest, warmest, modern romantic comedies, in my book. All thanks to screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, director Norman Jewison, and that fabulous cast, right down to the bit parts.

I’m always in the mood for a good drama. I discovered the heist noir/race drama “Odds Against Tomorrow” recently. The film came out in ’59, considered one of the last true film noirs (which isn’t my fave genre, btw), and it felt like a realistic snapshot of late ‘50s New York City. Harry Belafonte starred and produced, with Robert Ryan utterly chilling yet pathetic, as the racist villain.

I don’t like horror, but I love suspense, which is why I am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s films. “Rear Window” and “North by Northwest,” I could watch over and over—there’s always some little detail that’s new, or something to savor over and over again. Conversely, I’ve only seen “Psycho” once!

And I love me a good courtroom drama. It’s like curling up with a favorite book, for me. “Anatomy of a Murder” is still terrific, stylish but realistic. I’m not at all prejudiced because the movie is based on a case that took place in Upper Michigan, where I was born and raised. Otto Preminger chose to shoot the entire film on location up here, the first director to do so.

Three of my all-time fave flicks are black comedies: “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” I am also a sucker of the “so bad it’s good” kind of movie, and always wonder, “What were they thinking?!” You can find many of them reviewed on my blog!

CMBA: Why should people care about “old” black and white movies?

RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: They should watch because it’s a look back at a way of life, or of an era’s social attitudes. I’ve always found movies fascinating for that reason. Even if there’s that glossy movie lens on a particular topic, it’s still interesting, sometimes even more so—i.e., how Hollywood often idealized our country, and audiences in turn often wanted to believe what they saw onscreen.

CMBA: What classic films do you recommend to people who may not have seen many older films?

RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: Movies are so subjective, even more so in today’s niche entertainment era. I had skipped many movies in the ’70s and early ’80s, because I was out living it up in my younger days. But when I saw “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Three Days of the Condor” for the first time in recent years, I was amazed at how fresh and modern they still are. And I think that younger audiences would be surprised, too.

As for movies going further back, I think today’s audiences might find themselves pleasantly surprised at the imagination and style of classic films. Like, how utterly delightful Marilyn Monroe was. Or what a stunning, empathetic beauty Elizabeth Taylor was in her youth. They might be shocked that Bette Davis was such a badass. Or see how modern actors like Dana Andrews or William Holden were for their era. Or enjoy the witty movies Billy Wilder made. Or be impressed by what strong, straightforward dramas William Wyler and John Huston directed. Or discover what a naturalistic comedy AND dramatic actor Carole Lombard was in her era. Or raise a collective eyebrow at how risqué pre-code films were. Or be jolted at what a punch some films from previous eras still pack: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “A Face in the Crowd,” “The Days of Wine and Roses,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” This is just for starters, with so much to discover.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging for you?

RICK’S REAL/REEL LIFE: Since I do this for free, positive reinforcement is always nice, I won’t lie!

What are really great are the readers, when they share their thoughts or stories about movies. I’ve received some great anecdotes. And heard from folks who used to work in the biz! Why, just the other day, I received a friend request from Mamie Van Doren. Perhaps she was prompted by my Marilyn Monroe post, I have no idea why! But it tickled me, just the same.

 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

CMBA Profile: Filmland Follies


Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog and its writer. This month, we’re featuring Maeve Sheehan of Filmland Follies.

CMBA: What makes a film a “classic” in your opinion?

FILMLAND FOLLIES: Does a movie hold up as well today as it did in, say, 1936? Does it inspire the same joy and awe and wonder as it did back then? Can you look at that movie and see the path it paved to modern cinema? Then it’s a classic. How come we’re still debating Citizen Kane 80 years later? Or watching 12 Angry Men in school? These are films that tell stories in such a powerful way that they remind us why we make movies in the first place. And any film that can do that is a classic in my book.

CMBA: What genres do you favor?

FILMLAND FOLLIES: I’ve always loved musicals—I watched Shirley Temple movies as a little kid, and it was Top Hat that reintroduced me to classic films. It’s hard not to have fun while you’re watching a musical! Plus, in my opinion, it takes very talented actors and directors to make successful musicals - blending singing and dancing with good acting and comedy can’t be as easy as it looks. I also love romantic comedies, and to be more specific, “re-marriage” comedies are generally lots of fun.

CMBA: Why should people care about “old” black and white movies?

FILMLAND FOLLIES: Too many people pass up lovely movies just because they are in black and white. Classic films are just as funny, emotional, suspenseful, and entertaining as today’s - if not more so! As I’m increasingly finding, there’s always something to learn from an “old” movie. Black-and-white cinematography is really a beautiful way to highlight shadows. Pre-code films weren’t afraid of addressing difficult topics. Silent movies often tell dramatic stories better than modern sound ones. And movie musicals, the fun and exciting staple of the Golden Age, are few and far between nowadays. If people care about new films, they should care about old ones. After all, without these groundbreaking classic movies, where would modern filmmaking be?

CMBA: What classic films do you recommend to people who may not have seen many older films?

FILMLAND FOLLIES:

  • The Gay Divorcee: A masterpiece of comedy, dance, and romance! This film was a major breakthrough in movie musical history, with innovations such as one-take dances and plot-integrated musical numbers. The Gay Divorcee is a great introduction to classic film musicals and the wonderful world of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
  • Rear Window: Everyone should see at least one Hitchcock film in their lives, I believe, and Rear Window is a great one to start with. The way it was filmed means most of the action takes place from one room, creating an interesting visual for audiences. Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart make a wonderful mystery-solving duo, and the plot has the perfect amount of edge-of-your-seat suspense. And the beautiful Edith Head costumes don’t hurt!
  • Stage Door: This one stars a wonderful combination of actresses in a hilarious comedy-drama about the show-biz world of the 30s. Stage Door drew a lot from the real-life interactions of actresses, so the story is completely believable. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker in places, but it will have you laughing just as much.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging for you?

I love blogging mostly for the connections I get to make with other film fans. I get so excited whenever somebody comments on one of my posts, because it means they share some of my enthusiasm for whatever I’m writing about. I like writing about anything I find interesting - connections between films, actors I like, costumes, and everything in between. I’m a high-school student and not many people my age know anything about classic movies, so blogging lets me meet people who do!