Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog written by one of our members. This month, we are featuring Jay Jacobson, who writes at Jay's Classic Movie Blog.
1. Why do you blog?
That’s simple.To share, enlighten, and hopefully excite people about classic films. I grew up loving movies and eventually earned a university degree in film directing. In addition to production, I studied film theory and history, and worked and studied as an actor for decades. Over the years, people who know me would often ask me to suggest a classic film for them to watch. With the coming of COVID I thought it would be great to make a website suggesting a film a week to introduce people to classic cinema. My first posts were a bit more basic, but they quickly became more detailed, and now, in addition to introducing people to actors, directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and such, I also add pertinent historical information about the movie industry and possibly the world if it affected the film. My biggest joy is hearing that someone discovered a new favorite actor or film, or a new found love of “old movies” from my blog.
2. Besides classic movie blogging, what are some of your other passions?
In addition to movies and acting, I also love music and am a singer-songwriter and have released five CDs thus far. I also love travel and have visited nearly forty countries so far.
3. If you could program a perfect day of classic movies for TCM, what would be the seven films on your schedule?
That’s a tough one because I love and want to share so many movies. But here goes…
“All About Eve” 1950
You can’t beat this film’s sensational script or its performances making it a great introduction to classic movies. When I’ve shown it to people who resist “black and white” movies, they are always shocked at how good it is, and can’t wait to see more. It is the first film on my blog.
“Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” 1927
Not simply because it is one of the greatest films ever made, I’d pick this because so many people are automatically opposed to seeing silent films (which is a shame), and this one gloriously shows the visual poetry, emotion, and how enthrallingly entertaining great silent films are. This film is bound to blow anyone away. It is extraordinary.
“Bringing Up Baby” 1938
Who doesn’t love a comedy?! And screwball comedies like this can only be found during the studio era. It's got Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, May Robson, Barry Fitzgerald, and even Asta (the dog from "The Thin Man" movies). And event though I’ve seen it countless times, I still laugh with the same gusto every time I watch it. How can you beat that?!
“Bicycle Thieves” 1948
Great movies make us feel and few are as emotionally impactful as this one. A watershed film that influenced every film that came after it and it still remains among the greatest films ever made even from an entertainment point of view, its raw realism and heart continue to pack one heck of a wallop.
"Gone with the Wind” 1939
Though there are definite issues regarding its depiction of Blacks and the antebellum South (which I’d address in the intro and/or after the film), this is a certified landmark in sophisticated storytelling that remains topnotch entertainment. The artistry of its performances, direction, cinematography, music, costumes, etc., create a monumentally vibrant and alive movie. It’s a must see film and remains a favorite.
“Singin’ in the Rain” 1950
A perfect film if there ever was one. The colors, songs, humor, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, and a comical but somewhat true depiction of the coming of sound to movies all make this one of the most enjoyable films ever made. I showed it to someone once who’d never seen a classic movie musical. He loved it and exclaimed, “I’ve never seen anything like that”.
A profound character study that is gorgeously filmed, skillfully acted, and deceptively complex. Not your typical choice perhaps, but an all around fantastic film. It’s also a great example of how adult themes, movie star power, and cinematic artistry can create art that is also great moviegoing entertainment.
Very hard to make this list, and by doing so I reluctantly left out noir, Hitchcock, sci-fi, and so many great, great films….
4. What is a classic movie that you love, but most people don't know about -- and what do you love about it?
A film I love that doesn’t quite get the recognition I feel it deserves is “The Misfits”, 1961. People know it because of Marilyn Monroe, but it’s rarely talked about as a “great” film or a true classic. That might be because of its enigmatic style, but that’s what I love about it. The gritty, mesmerizing performances by Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Clark Gable, Thelma Ritter, and Eli Wallach, the way the story bleeds into reality, and the film's insightful dialogue by Arthur Miller make this haunting movie continually captivating. It is a film I can watch over and over and over and still discover new things.
5. What is something that most people don't know about you?
While starting out as an actor, I fell into a very successful career as a graphic designer. I worked for ad agencies, direct mail, movie studios, pharmaceutical companies, and many other places. One of my jobs was creating all the exhibit boards used by the prosecution for the O.J. Simpson trial.
We thank Jay for participating in our Q&A profile and encourage you to visit Jay's Classic Movie Blog.