Friday, July 2, 2021

CMBA Profile:


Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog. Today we're featuring Gary from

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

CMBA: What genres do you favor? 

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

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

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

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Hidden Classics EBook Now Available

 The latest CMBA ebook, HIDDEN CLASSICS is now available on Amazon for only .99 cents. All proceeds go to the National Film Preservation Foundation. Click here!  Smashwords edition coming soon.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

CMBA Profile: The Everyday Cinephile


Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog. Today we're featuring Shawn from The Everyday Cinephile.

CMBA: What makes a film a “classic” in your opinion?
The Everyday Cinephile: For me, the main qualification for a film to become a classic is that years after its release a film resonates with modern viewers on an emotional level. A film can have the most beautiful cinematography, the most brilliant script, and the best cast of actors and technicians but won’t be considered a classic unless it can put all those parts together to connect with audiences long after its release. I don’t think of classics as being a robust, unchanging list of essential films. Each generation, each country, each community is going to have different films that connect and resonate with them. Some films are going to play to people with certain lived experiences or certain viewpoints but might not work for other people. It’s quite exciting that no matter how old or obscure a film is today, it still has a chance to connect with modern viewers in the future. As films from as far back as the silent era continue to be restored and made available to a diverse group of film fans, more and more films are entering the public discourse and being deemed a classic. Classic film is so fun because we as film fans get to define and redefine what makes a film a classic as society evolves and changes.

CMBA: What genres do you favor?
The Everyday Cinephile: While I tend to jump around different genres quite regularly, I most frequently spend my time watching silent and pre-code films. I’ve always been fascinated with the first filmmakers and how they turned a technological marvel into a worldwide industry in just a few years. Whether it was George Melies, Lois Weber, or King Vidor, it never ceases to amaze me what these trailblazers were able to accomplish over a century ago that still resonates with me today. Like silent films, pre-code films are revolutionary in their own way. I love watching filmmakers gradually learn how they can integrate sound after silent filmmakers had nearly perfected the medium already. Also, the transgressive nature of pre-code films trying to get away with as much sex as possible in the early 30s is so enjoyable that it is hard for me to get enough of it.

CMBA: Why should people care about “old” black and white movies?
The Everyday Cinephile: People should care about movies from the past because they have so much to offer. Old black and white movies (and the early color films too) transport us to a different time. They share with us perspectives and viewpoints that aren’t affected by our own current cultural zeitgeist. Classic films stay relevant because humans haven’t changed much over the past 125 years. I love putting on a classic film to relax and forget about my current problems for an hour or two only to realize afterwards that this ninety-year-old film actually had something to say that could help me better navigate whatever problem I had wanted to forget about and take a break from in the first place. If anybody thinks “old” black and white movies are boring, hokey, or stale, they just haven’t found the right type of classic films that resonate with them yet.

CMBA: What classic films do you recommend to people who may not have seen many older films?
The Everyday Cinephile: Girl Shy (1924): When introducing people to silent films, I think it is important to give them something familiar to work with. Girl Shy is the perfect mix of the familiar and the new, following a romantic comedy template that is familiar to modern viewers while showcasing the unique genre of silent comedy with some of Harold Lloyd’s best physical comedy.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930): As a friend of mine once told me, you know if Hitler banned a film it has to be good! All Quiet on the Western Front is a great showcase for the emotional impact classics can have on modern audiences even if the acting methods may have changed a little over the past century.

Union Depot (1932): One of my favorite parts of pre-code films is their short runtimes. Union Depot is one of many that clock in at just over an hour and never waste a second. Joan Blondell, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Guy Kibbee are all great in this pre-code film that wonderfully manages to capture the playful spirit of the pre-code era alongside a frank depiction of Depression life.

Laura (1944): I can’t think of a classic film that is as engrossing as Laura. Beautifully shot with an amazing cast including Dana Andrew, Gene Tierney, Vincent Price, and my personal favorite Clifton Webb, this mystery pulls viewers into the magic of Old Hollywood that they’ll want more of.

Sunset Boulevard (1950): Sometimes a film’s background can be just as interesting as the story it tells. Sunset Boulevard packs tons of film history, including performances from silent era luminaries Gloria Swanson and Eric von Stroheim and cameos from Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and Anna Q. Nielsen, into one of the best film noirs. This film is an incredible introduction to the dark, seedy genre of film noir that also provides viewers a gateway to learning more about silent films.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging for you?
The Everyday Cinephile: Blogging has helped me slow down and sit with my thoughts and feelings about films. When there are so many films on my classic film watchlist, I sometimes rush through several films in a week without dissecting them or properly developing a reaction to them. Blogging gives me the chance to do a deep dive into a specific film or a topic that interests me. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve read more books about classic films, perused through dozens of primary sources like movie fan magazines, and sought out films I might not have been otherwise interested in. Hopefully, by writing and sharing my journey through classic film on my blog, others can discover films and history that peaks their interest or shines a light on a specific corner of classic film they didn’t know existed.

Friday, May 14, 2021

CMBA Profile: Classic Hollywood

Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog. Today we're featuring Jeannie from Classic Hollywood.

CMBA: What makes a film a “classic” in your opinion?
Classic Hollywood: Classics share a timeless freshness. The stories are universal. The characters feel real. The performances are subtle (not hammy – woe to those actors using the dreaded Mid-Atlantic accent). The dialogue is spare, smart, and never feels dated. A classic makes me care about the characters, makes me forget I’m watching a movie, and stays with me long after the picture has ended.

CMBA: What genres do you favor?
Classic Hollywood: Pre-Codes are my go-to “comfort food” genre. I love the brazen naughtiness of Baby Face and Three on a Match. I will always stop whatever I’m doing to watch Film Noir: all those doomed suckers in fedoras, led astray by “bad” blondes and smoking. So. Much. Smoking. 

CMBA: Why should people care about “old” black and white movies?
Classic Hollywood: Because they are snapshots of 20th century American life and culture. I love history, yet I can learn plenty from films. Example: At the beginning of King Kong, Fay Wray is accused of stealing an apple and briefly faints from hunger. It’s 1933, the depths of the Depression, but I never really thought about millions of people going hungry back then until I saw that scene. Movies always leave me wanting to know more about the era that produced them. Plus, who doesn’t love to escape for a few hours, sharing a good laugh with friends while watching a comedy by Preston Sturges or Buster Keaton? And don’t get me started on the pleasures of MGM’s lush productions from the ‘30s...gowns, jewelry, cloche hats, and those wonderful satin bedspreads!

CMBA: What classic films do you recommend to people who may not have seen many older films?
Classic Hollywood: A “buffet” of genres to give them an overview of the greats. My Top 10: Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Casablanca, Stagecoach, The Cameraman, The Thin Man, Out of the Past, Singin’ in the Rain, The Best Years of Our Lives, and a tie between Sullivan’s Travels and The Apartment. 

Once people get past their bias about black and white movies, I recommend gems in each genre: In a Lonely Place, The Killers, The Asphalt Jungle, Mildred Pierce, Ace in the Hole (Film Noir); The Story of G.I. Joe, Stalag 17, The Search (WWII); Red River, The Searchers (Westerns); Libeled Lady, It Happened One Night, Ninotchka, Twentieth Century, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Born Yesterday (comedies); All About Eve, Dodsworth (dramas); Meet Me in St. Louis, Golddiggers of 1933 and 42nd Street (musicals).

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging for you?
Classic Hollywood: The same thing I find so rewarding about hosting classic films: Sharing backstories and juicy tidbits about each movie with audiences. I started blogging (for one of the theaters where I host) because I wanted to continue the conversation with people who attend my presentations. Writing twice-monthly posts has deepened my movie knowledge because I do a ton of research for each story. Blogging has also given me the opportunity to interview Nancy Olson (Sunset Boulevard) and the grandson of director William Wellman about Hollywood’s Golden Age. Even 70, 80, or 90 years after their releases, the classics still teach us so much about our world – and ourselves.  

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

CMBA Hidden Classics Blogathon - May 18th to 21st

 Hello All,

We hope everyone has been safe during this turbulent year and you are ready for The Classic Movie Blog Association’s Spring Blogathon running from May 18th thru May 21st. Our topic this go-around is HIDDEN CLASSICS.  What is a Hidden Classic? These are the forgotten gems, the underrated ones that you feel deserve more attention. With that in mind, the CMBA presents HIDDEN CLASSICS Blogathon. For CMBA members only!

There are more banners below!

CONTRIBUTORS are listed below!

May 18th

May 19th
Girl with a Suitcase (Cinematic Scribblings)

May 20th

May 21st
The Unsuspected (The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood)


Sunday, January 24, 2021

CMBA Profile: Nur Soliman

Each month the CMBA profiles one of its members. This month our profile is on Nur Soliman of You Have Just Been Watching.
  1. The tagline of your blog is “Dreaming in Television”. What started your love for classic television programmes?

It’s likely something carried over from family/childhood, but I’ve always just felt more ‘at home’ with classic films as well as television (I’m a little younger than that, but I’ve always thought I’d have made a great 11-year-old a half century back). I guess the exciting ‘newness’ of TV in particular meant there’s an exciting ‘newness’ for the spectator too, like you’re enjoying something designed to make the most of its medium, from the diverse formats of ‘serials’ to things carried over from variety or the stage, acting styles, genres, sets, special effects, music, you name it: ways to create a ‘moment’ to be transported to. Another explanation I have is less serious-sounding but maybe more important, which that classic TV is a great comfort to me – it’s always been just what I need on rainy days. Even my blog name (‘You’ve Just Been Watching’) was inspired by the closing sequences of old Croft and Perry series like Dad’s Army: I feels it captures that collective warmth of inviting you, the audience, in ‘from the cold’ – while ‘Dreaming in Television’ maybe expresses how much I love the imaginative, fictional power of all these on-screen universes created so many years ago.

  1. You’ve written a “love letter” to Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. What do you love about this classic iteration of the character, besides her “chin wobbling determination”?

I admit I’ve written lots of ‘love letters’ to her! It might be my love of offbeat actresses like Zasu Pitts, Athene Seyler, Irene Handl, Peggy Mount, Jean St. Clair, or Mona Washbourne, but I think I’d like to turn out just like Margaret Rutherford’s Marple when I’m older (just need the right cape-shawl now). And I love Rutherford in her other film appearances and cameos, but there’s something different in her incarnation of Agatha Christie’s pearly-haired lady detective. I feel like I’ve read this too, but when you watch her in Murder Ahoy or her other Marple films, you get the distinct feeling that Rutherford is acting, very seriously, as though she truly were Miss Marple: there’s hardly a hint of ‘the actor’ in her performance (though there’s also the contrary but not-contradictory feeling that she’s also, in part, just being herself). Whether or not this is intentional or even true, there really is an uninhibited, earnest ‘gusto’ to her screen presence, this septuagenarian meteor completely in her mystery-solving element. So maybe when Rutherford’s muddling through the countryside and charming/mystifying those around her, she’s also inspiring this joyful, life-affirming authenticity in those of us who love to watch her.

  1. If you were to recommend five classic films to a first timer, which five would you recommend and why?

Whenever I recommend a classic film I’m always a little apologetic or worried about how it will go over with folks more used to the pace/style of modern cinema, but there are a few I’ve managed to enjoy with others which I’d love a first-timer to try, too – The Magnificent Seven (1960): Kurosawa’s timeless original story turns out superbly as a great Technicolour Western (Yul Brynner looks pretty great in his cowboy hat and boots), and the adventure is as thrilling as it is unexpectedly moving. The Enemy Below (1957): I think it remains one of the most significant, balanced fictional treatments of WWII maritime battle, and its clever cat-and-mouse suspense is spectacularly gripping. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951): it’s one of the gentler Ealing comedies but I think it’s one of those wonderful examples of older comedies boasting more quiet subversive, anarchic sparkle than one might expect. Beware the Automobile (1966) is a uniquely unconventional, sensitively nuanced take on the ‘heist’ sub-genre, alternately character study, classic mystery, and tragic-comedy. And finally, La Grande Vadrouille (1966): starring some of France’s best-loved comics, this fantastic WWII countryside caper topped the country’s box-office for whole decades, and is just as exciting today!

  1. Why should be people care about “old” black and white movies?

Old movies are documents worth preserving and revisiting like great music, literature, and art: not necessarily as accurate frozen images of the times (although they often unintentionally preserve for us times and places, landscapes, even dialects that have since disappeared or changed beyond recognition), but insights into our social history, popular culture, the way narratives were interpreted or chosen, histories understood, peoples perceived, how certain audiences and/or filmmakers felt about the past, the present, and the future. And I think it enriches us as viewers of the screen – and spectators/actors of life as a whole – when we have these histories buoying us up, things that can renew and deepen our understanding of what we see and create today. It could be the vestiges of vaudeville and radio still present in comedy, the global cultural exchange of creative talent and waves of influence across continents that have been shaping our screens since, or simply that we can look back to find/re-discover a treasure trove of stories of achievement, loss, perseverance, exuberance, fantasy, love: things will feel surprisingly familiar but also different, that can also give us new, brilliant ways of seeing and looking at the universe, at people, and even ourselves.

  1. Who are your favourite filmmakers?

I love watching, thinking about, reading about/researching, and writing/talking about films a lot (I mean a lot), but I’ve realised I don’t have the cinephile’s approach to film, it’s just trying to find more of what I like or think I might like. There are so many filmmakers I really love, including: John E. Sturges, king of true ensemble adventures that resist ‘close-ups’ but are filled with the sheer power of the story instead; Richard Lester and Leonid Gaidai, masters of truly brilliant ‘60s Western and Russian slapstick/gag comedy (which I feel deserve renewed appreciation); Muriel Box, Britain’s most prolific woman filmmaker (I sometimes feel this inexplicable, personal responsibility to highlight her wonderful 1953 film Street Corner); Hussein Kamal, whose A Little Fear [Never Hurt Anyone] is a masterpiece of Egyptian cinema both in its direction and its enduring poetic impact; Tatiana Lioznova who so masterfully plumbs the emotional/political depths of longing and belonging in many of her works, every other one a cult classic; Vladimir Motyl, whose Zhenya, Zhenechka, and Katyusha so sensitively depicted wartime through a Walter-Mitty soldier; and the great Powell & Pressburger who so easily travel between mysticism and humanness, in ‘this world and the other.’

  1. What do you think of modern cinema?

It’s hard to answer in a way because I don’t really think about modern (post-90’s) cinema an awful lot; there are handfuls of gems I’ve fallen in love with over the years, but they don’t seem to preoccupy me as much. I don’t know if it’s the realism or commercialism, the approaches to acting or subject matters or direction or storytelling, or if I’m just ‘not with it’ (though that’s probably true) but I often feel slightly out-of-sync when watching newer stuff, nothing like the deeply familiar feeling and absorbed interest I have with my favourite classics. Maybe it’s more a case of what I love about older cinema by contrast: much like classic television, part of the glowing appeal of classic cinema is the fresh-ness of it, the rich pantheon of world film that portrayed – not always perfectly, mind you – people, places, stories, with less of the ‘tricks’ available to filmmakers today, but relying on creativity to take audiences on a journey. This might require un-cynical suspension of disbelief but I think that’s part of the magic and enjoyment: to see the model miniatures and matte/glass-painting scenery and still believe you’re on the moon, or underwater, or in Paris.

  1. If you could recommend a classic television programme to get a newbie interested, what would it be and why?

Oh so many shows! There’s one I’ve tried to recommend often without much success to date, but that hasn’t dampened my almost-evangelical enthusiasm for sharing the exhilarating wonders of The Phil Silvers Show (also known as Sgt. Bilko) with anyone who will listen/watch. The series’ then-stellar success conquered the likes of I Love Lucy and The Milton Berle Show in awards, ratings, everything, but has since faded into comparative obscurity (except amongst older fans in the UK). This will always mystify me because ‘Bilko’ is one of the most lightning-brilliant comedies of all time, thanks to the geniuses on- and off-screen. Silvers’ impeccable comedic timing, delivery, and energy almost spark off the sound-stage in this slightly off-kilter ‘service comedy’ world that show creator Nat Hiken had woven for him: a lovably cunning sergeant who expends incredible amounts of thought and energy into ‘making it rich’ in the army and Kansas of all places. The show established novel conventions of humour, half-hour plots and arcs, script, casting, character, all its own, influencing shows as recent or innovative as Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, but absolutely nothing makes me laugh as much as ‘The Phil Silvers Show’ for its chaotic, ‘human’ joy.

  1. If you could travel back in time and interview one classic television star, who would it be and why?

Not a day goes by where I don’t wish I could have befriended or at least met some of my favourite classic screen stars, but by now you can see how enamoured I am with Phil Silvers (he’s also the recipient of as many of my ‘love letters,’ haha), so it would be him! Silvers was already a well-known Broadway star before he got his show, and had made his way up in show business as a singer, burlesque comedian, movie actor, and entertainer. When we get to Bilko, we get this larger-than-life legend who is just mesmerizing to watch, a Catherine-Wheel firework around which the entire story, cast, stage softly radiates. His decades of experience gave us a man with an astute sense of timing, an engaging and multi-dimensional persona, an absolutely natural presence in every medium and every format. I’ve always felt deprived of more of Silvers’ brilliant on-screen potential, and would have loved to hear him reflect more on his fascinating life, get to know the gentle, sometimes-anxious, shy, and kind man who absorbed and transformed for us a character that was all mind and all heart – and thank him personally for the joys he’s given me!