Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: Classic Film and TV Café

The CMBA is excited to start a new series that profiles our member bloggers. Two classic movie blogs will be featured each month, one on the 1st and the other on the 15th. Today we're toasting the blog (and the man) who started it all: Rick from Classic Film and TV Café.

Classic Film and TV Café is a lively blog that always teaches you something new. Topics include classic film and television shows, obscure facts about classic celebrities and the famous Movie-TV Connection Game (click HERE for a sample).

One of the outstanding features of this blog is the impressive amount of interviews the Café conducts. Rick has interviewed a surprising number of classic film and television insiders, including celebrities and biographers.

"I've been fortunate enough to interview several classic film and television stars," says Rick. "One of my favorite interviews was with three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie. I sat beside her for almost an hour at a nostalgia convention, and she patiently answered my questions as she autographed photos." (You can read the interview HERE.) 

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: I think I inherited it. I don't think my parents would have called themselves film buffs, but my family watched a lot of movies. Films starring Errol Flynn, Ronald Colman, or Bing Crosby were family "events." My sister and I rarely missed Shock Theater on Saturday nights. I became exposed to silent films by watching them on 16mm at the public library. When I attended Indiana University, I took at least one film course per semester and became exposed to international cinema. My friends – and my future wife – enjoyed watching classic films with me. I guess classic movies have always been a part of my life.

CMBA: Why did you decide to start the CMBA?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: My first experience with blogging was TCM's Classic Film Union. I enjoyed reading other people's posts on classic cinema and their thoughts on mine. Unfortunately, one overzealous blogger began to post 5-8 times daily and dominate the "white space." That inspired me to create my own blog, and I invited several other bloggers to join me. We supported each other with comments, which was great...but  then, I thought: "Why not expand our community to include other classic movie blogs?"

I created the CMBA on October 31, 2009 and invited Rupert Alistair of Classic Movies Digest to become its second member. My wife and Rupert asked lots of questions about the CMBA. In response, I wrote the CMBA Charter and defined the CMBA's mission as to: promote classic movies; support fellow classic movie bloggers; establish and maintain quality blogging standards;  and recognize classic movie blogging excellence. 
By the way, did you know there's a Classic TV Blog Association, too?
CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: It must have an enduring appeal or message. It bothers me when fellow classic film fans try to define "classic" by a decade. I first saw Casablanca in the 1960s and it was already a classic, even though it was barely 20 years old.
I also don't buy it when people say there aren't any classic stars like in the "old days." I think today's stars, such as Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, will be remembered as screen icons.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Well, it depends on the viewer's age. I have shown The Court Jester, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad to many young viewers and have delighted in watching the joy on their faces. For my adult friends, I typically introduce them to classic cinema via Rear Window, Laura, Lover Come Back, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bringing Up Baby, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Black Narcissus, Curse of the Demon, and The List of Adrian Messenger.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: If you truly love movies, you need to embrace all of cinema. You need to sample films from different eras (e.g., silent, pre-code). You need to explore different genres (e.g., film noir, the adult Western of the 1960s, Hammer's horror films, Laurel and Hardy's physical comedy). You need to expand your horizons beyond classic Hollywood and branch into the foreign-language films of Renoir, Lang, Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa. You may not like some of it, but you'll never know until you try.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Sharing my love of classic movies and learning from other classic film and TV fans. I do a monthly quiz in which I'll often list two actors connected by a common thread (e.g., Michael Caine and Basil Rathbone both starred in films called Dressed to Kill). I'm always surprised – and delighted – by people who provide a different answer than mine – which is also correct. (Did you know Caine and Rathbone both played Scrooge?)

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Unpleasant people have stolen my copyrighted content and posted it as their own. I have filed formal complaints and requested my content be removed, but so far without much success.
CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Classic Film & TV Cafe: Try to make your blog different from existing blogs. Consider creating a niche blog. Or, write about different classic films; for example, there are dozens of reviews of The Awful Truth, but very few about Bunny Lake Is Missing. Finally, try to write well (my wife is my editor!) and publish posts on a regular basis. If you stop blogging for a long period, many readers will stop visiting your blog.

 Thank you for joining us, Rick! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.


  1. This was really a delight to read! Thanks for sharing the history of your blog. I am going to start checking out your monthly quiz...

    1. I am sure you'll also come with many excellent answers that never occur to me!

  2. This is almost "everything I ever wanted to know" about you and the Cafe, Rick, "but was afraid to ask." We go back a long way and you reminded me of a few things I'd forgotten about (that mad blogger at CFU, for instance). Great stuff.

    None of us can ever thank you enough for launching CMBA and guiding it through its first several years, but thanks again, anyway!

    Completely agree with your definition of "a classic," by the way.

    1. I wish I could remember the name of that "mad blogger." Did you and I "meet" on the TCM message board? I was trying to remember. If not for friends like you and Becky, the Cafe may never have happened and the CMBA might not exist either!

    2. I don't think we met on TCM's message boards, though I was there for a while. I think we met when I commented on a CFU blog post of yours. We must've been among the first CFU members. I met Becky there, too, and others who were the original contributors at the Cafe or later became CMBA members. It was you who encouraged me to launch my own blog and helped me figure out Blogger. Thank you!

  3. What fun! Loved reading Rick's replies and suggestions. Classy, serious and entertaining just like the Café.


  4. Excellent interview and well deserved to to be the first in kicking off this new series.

  5. Thanks for starting CMBA, Rick. It was a pleasure to learn more about you. Your blog is excellent.

  6. Great start to a great idea for CMBA. Rick was very welcoming to me in the association several years ago, not knowing if I would fit in. It's wonderful now to get more background on him and his great blog. Thanks for this super interview.

  7. I really enjoyed this interview and getting to know Rick better -- I especially appreciated his views on embracing all cinema. I don't know if I'll ever be able to watch any Hammer horror movies, but I have started checking out some in the Universal library (Frankenstein!), as well as more westerns, musicals, and silents, too. Great post and great idea -- I look forward to getting to know everybody!

  8. Great to learn more about Rick! I didn't know he started blogging on TCM's CFU. I agree with him that the word classic is more encompassing than sometimes used. I'm trying to get more exposed to international classic film more, and I admit to loving genre films from different eras!

  9. What can I say about Rick that really describes his impact on my life? We met at the TCM site, both decided we had had enough of the mad blogger (darn it, I can't remember his name!). As The Lady Eve says, we met a few people like us and eventually followed Rick to what would become the CMBA. I started out writing for Rick's Café. He was mentor, friend, Fearless Leader -- he also was generous in spirit, helping even his own writers to set up their own blogs. I remember well the many emails that went back and forth between us as he helped me, the original computer moron, learn to create my blog. Rick was always there to help me. I'm glad for this opportunity to tell our CMBA community how much Rick has meant to me, still does, and always will!

  10. Rick always makes you feel at home, like you are a part of the team.