CMBA profiles one member every month. This month's interview is with Gabriela Masson whose blogs about movies at Pale Writer. The blog's subtitle says it all: Classic and Horror Unite. Gabriela is currently hosting "The Queen of Sass: The Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon" running from July 17h thru July 19th. here is still time to participate.
The sub-title of your blogs reads “classic and horror films unite.” Which came first classic or horror?
Classic films came first. I was three years old when I first watched Gone With the Wind, which surprises quite a few people, although I’m not really sure why, as many people are introduced to classic films, and film in general, at a fairly young age. I watched my first horror movie when I was fourteen or so with my older brother, Damien, who thought it was hilarious how I was so petrified of Freddy Krueger’s long arms in A Nightmare on Elm Street. But like most horror fans, I was immediately hooked probably because of how terrified I had been.
Besides horror films, what other genres do you favor?
I adore film noir (which I know is under constant debate concerning whether or not it’s actually a genre), musicals, romantic comedies and dramas. For me, film noir is one of the most magnificent stylistic achievements in film with its use of chiaroscuro shadow, and often very innovative camera work and direction.
Why should people care about “old” black and white movies?
Because we should care about the history of the film industry. It’s not coincidence that some of the finest directors, actors and screenwriters today say that they were and are influenced by classic cinema. I think we still have so much to learn from silent film, which is erroneously called boring when it has so many fabulous creative elements to it. I recently saw that wonderful tracking shot from Wings (1927) circulating the twitterverse again, and as the person who posted the shot said, silent film is still so fresh and exciting, and it shows us the roots of so much of what we see in cinema today. Classic films also often lack the retention of new films. People go mad about how auteurist and original modern film makers are, but guys like Hawks, Hitchcock and Hathaway were doing it decades ago already.
Who are your favorite filmmakers?
Oh gosh, I could list so many people, but I’ll say my five favourites:
1. Alfred Hitchcock, who some people have begun to feel is overrated, but I strongly disagree with that because he was such a brilliant innovator and we cannot appreciate the enough
2. Billy Wilder, who made such a wide scope of films. He’s best remembered for the incredible Double Indemnity today, but he made so many wonderful films like Midnight, Witness for the Prosecution, Love in the Afternoon and Avanti!
3. Dorothy Arzner, who was one of the female directors who really proved that women were as good or even better than their male contemporaries. She made a film called Dance, Girl, Dance starring Lucille Ball and Maureen O’ Hara, and O’ Hara gives this incredible speech about the double standards men put onto women
4. Michael Curtiz, who made so many of my favourite films, chief among them Mildred Pierce, which really showcased what an incredible adaptive talent, Joan Crawford, my favourite actress, was
5. Kathryn Bigelow, who made one of the finest action films ever in Point Break, and smashed the assumption that women couldn’t direct action films
You have hosted and participated in many blogathons. What is the attraction?
I LOVE writing about classic film, but sometimes I lack the motivation or focus to really do it justice, and blogathons provide me with both of those things. Through blogathons I learnt how to write about classic films better, and I met some of my closest online friends that way, people who have taken a chance on a South African kid and treated me as one of the gang. Blogathons have allowed me to connect with so many amazing people, who have time and time again reinforced how wonderful the classic film community really is.
Name three films Obscure Horror films you would recommend to the uninitiated.
Well, that is a tough question, but I think:
1. Murders at the Zoo (1933), because a lot of people outside of the classic film community don’t know about it and really deflates assumptions about the “tameness” of classic films
2. Burnt Offerings (1976), which I was convinced so many people knew about, but it seems to really only be people who saw it on TV or who love Bette Davis’ later horror films who know about it. My mom first introduced me to it, and I can tell you, that ending is a zinger!
3. Society (1989), even one of my friends who hosts a horror podcast hadn’t heard of this one. It’s a film that really does defy expectations, especially because the lead actor was and is best known as a soap opera star. So you’re in for a real treat!
What do you think of modern cinema?
Just because I like classic films, doesn’t mean I dislike modern cinema. I feel that there are a lot of talented people who are producing great films. I just wish that there was more room for smaller films and also shorter films. Hollywood seems to currently be obsessed with making their films as long as possible, and it just makes me want to go and watch a Warner Bros quickie when these new films are so long. But I’m incredible excited about watching the new James Bond film, because I’m also a huge fan of those films, and I loved Call Me By Your Name and the new adaptation of Little Women.
Do you have interest in any other arts that you can share?
I really love reading. Like films, books made me feel accepted and understood by something as a rather awkward, misfit of a child. My favourite novel is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, but I love so many different kinds of books. I also love music, and I took part in operettas and the choir when I was in school. And I also really enjoy podcasting, and currently have three podcasts: You Won’t Forget Me: The All About Joan Crawford Podcast, The By Projection Light Podcast (which is about films made between the 1930s and 1970s, with classic radio thrown in), and Here Lies Amicus, which I do with my good friend, Cev, and we chat all about the films made by Amicus Productions.