Wednesday, April 3, 2024

The Spring 2024 CMBA Blogathon: Screen Debuts & Last Hurrahs

It’s almost here! Time for the CMBA Spring Blogathon! This year’s theme is Screen Debuts & Last Hurrahs. It will run from May 20-24, 2024.

The blogathon, for CMBA members only, will celebrate the first tentative steps onto the screen or behind the lens, as well as the grand finales of artistic voyages. Select any actor/actress, director, cinematographer, editor, fashion designer, etc. and write about their first or last (or both!) experience in front of or behind the camera. (If it is difficult to find their earliest work, you can write about their first accessible feature.)

Because there is such a variety of topics to choose from, we won't be accepting duplicates. Topic selections will be accepted in order of receipt.

To promote the blogathon on your blog, take your pick from any of the banners at the bottom of this post. 

We’re really looking forward to another great blogathon! 

Monday, May 20:
  • Realweegiemidget Reviews Films, TV, Books and More: Michael Caine/Glenda Jackson The Romantic Englishwoman & The Great Escaper
  • 4 Star Films: The Last Hurrah - Stars Spencer Tracy and James Gleason's final film.
  • silverscreenmodes: Gene Tierney
  • Taking Up Room: Robin Williams
  • A Person in the Dark: James Cagney in "One, Two, Three"
  • Shadows and Satin: Kirk Douglas in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
  • Louise Brooks Society: Louise Brooks - debut
  • Cary Grant Won't Eat You: Van Heflin's debut in A Woman Rebels
  • Hometowns to Hollywood: Eva Marie Saint
  • The Classic Movie Muse: Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy -Naughty Marietta (1935): 
Tuesday, May 21: 
  • Box Office Poisons: Grace Kelly
  • Twenty Four Frames: Martin Scorsese - Who's That Knocking At My Door
  • Critica Retro: Clara Bow
  • The Everyday Cinephile: Josef von Sternberg’s - The Salvation Hunters 1925
  • The Wonderful World of CinemaJoseph L. Mankiewicz - Sleuth 
  • In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: 12 Angry Men (1957) - The Directorial Debut Of Sidney Lumet
Wednesday, May 22:
  • Silent-ology: Robert Harron
  • The Silver Screen Affair: Cedric Gibbons
  • Film Fanatic: William Wyler 
  • Cinematic Scribblings: Federico Fellini - The White Sheik 1952
  • Classic Film Observations & Obsessions: Cecil B. DeMille - Last Hurrah
  • Nitrate Glow: Stanley Kubrick's debut feature Fear and Desire
  • Hamlette's Soliloquy: Bobby Darin in "Come September" (1961)
Thursday, May 23:
  • Lady Eve’s Reel Life: Ingrid Bergman
  • Another Old Movie Blog: Richard LeGrand - Gildersleeve's Bad Day (1943)
  • I Found it at the Movies: Burt Lancaster in Field of Dreams 1989
  • Whimsically Classic: Robert Montgomery's directorial debut - Lady in the Lake 1947
  • Speakeasy: Laird Cregar
Friday, May 24:
  • Outspoken & Freckled: John Garfield 
  • A Vintage Nerd: Doris Day
  • The Last Drive In: Teresa Wright in The Little Foxes 1941
  • Louise Brooks Society: Louise Brooks in Overland Stage Raiders 1938
  • Once Upon a Screen: Jack Lemmon in It Should Happen to You 1954
  • Silver Screenings: Douglas Fairbanks in The Private Life of Don Juan

Monday, April 1, 2024

CMBA Profile: The Film Noir Report

Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog written by one of our members. This month, we are featuring Johnny Gumshoe, who writes at THE FILM NOIR REPORT.  

1. Why do you blog?

A small part of me gets sad whenever I talk to a movie lover who's never seen a Robert Mitchum film, never heard of Lizabeth Scott, only knows Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca, or only recognizes Kirk Douglas as Michael Douglas' father.  So my number one reason for blogging is to call attention to the rich treasure trove of classic films, actors, and directors who fade further and further out of the public's consciousness with each passing year and each new generation.


I focus on film noir because I find that in the classic period of strict censorship, studio-controlled messaging, and tendency towards stagey and escapist cinematic production values, classic noir films came the closest to reflecting the true, down-to-earth, unvarnished aspects of human nature, and therefore, may be more accessible and relatable to younger audiences. That's not to say other classic films aren't equally accessible and relevant, but film noir simply resonates most with the movie enthusiast and historian in me, and is what I'm most interested in writing about.


2. Besides classic movie blogging, what are some of your other passions?

I compose music for film and TV, often collaborating with my wife, who is also a composer and jazz singer.  Music has been a part of my life since childhood, when I started taking piano lessons.  In my teen years, I taught myself guitar and played in rock bands for several years. Later, I focused on songwriting, which eventually led me to the composing work I do now.  I actually spent most of my professional life working in the corporate tech world, and music was just something I did on the side, but for the last three years, it's become my full time vocation.


3. If you could program a perfect day of classic movies for TCM, what would be the seven films on your schedule?

I'm going to break out of my film noir box and harken back to my college days to pay homage to a local TV station that ran a pair of classic movies every night after midnight (this was before the days of cable TV and hundreds of channels). Even though I had classes the next morning, I made a point of staying up to watch the first movie, and often stuck around for the second one, too. It was these late night viewings that really put me on the path of classic film appreciation. So here are seven films I first saw in the wee hours of the morning, that had a lasting impression on me:



Discovering Nick and Nora Charles was like finding buried cinematic gold. All of the Thin Man films are great, but my favorite is this, their second outing, in which we have the rare opportunity to see a young Jimmy Stewart play a villain.



This film had a big impact on me because I didn't realize it was a Hitchcock film when I first watched it (I tuned in after the opening titles), so I was completely unprepared for the ominously dark turn this seemingly light romantic comedy gradually took. It's a perfect example of how not knowing anything about a film ahead of time results in a significantly enhanced viewing experience.



I always heard about Fred and Ginger in the abstract, but it wasn't until my late night TV viewings that I got a chance to see what all the fuss was about. I instantly fell in love with the music, dancing, and comedic banter. Truly some of the greatest escapist movies of the 1930s. Most folks point to Swing Time or Top Hat as the best Fred and Ginger films, but this is my personal favorite for the great music, wacky plot, thoroughly entertaining supporting cast, and over the top deco set designs.



Not only do we get to see Lugosi and Karloff together in their prime, but the film itself is a hauntingly beautiful and atmospherically moody work of cinematic art.


DETOUR (1945)

One of my all-time favorite noirs. A simple low-budget effort, with a highly effective plot that's elevated to legendary status by an incendiary femme fatale performance from Anne Savage.


THEM! (1954)

I absolutely love 1950s science fiction films, the good ones, the bad ones, the cheesy ones, all of them. This is definitely one of the better entries, and probably the best of the giant bug films that permeated the era, featuring a respectable cast, competent production values, and a serviceable attempt at plausibility given its outlandish premise.



It was a toss up between this and The Philadelphia Story. Both are superb, but I went with His Girl Friday for the witty rapid-fire dialog and impressive performances by the entire cast. I never tire of this truly entertaining film.


4. What is a classic movie that you love, but most people don't know about -- and what do you love about it?

The Gangster (1947) with Barry Sullivan, Belita, Akim Tamiroff, and Joan Lorring. I love this film because it's so unexpectedly different from typical crime noirs of the era. Instead of a guns-and-mayhem gangster film, we get an intimate character study of a brooding and lonely mob boss. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a fascinating curiosity that was in many ways, ahead of its time.


5. What is something that most people don't know about you?

In addition to classic films, I have a soft spot for old classic radio shows. Just like classic film, it's something I discovered in my youth, thanks to a local radio DJ who played curated episodes one night a week. And now, thanks to the internet, these wonderful radio dramas, mysteries, and comedies can be enjoyed 24/7!


Classic film and radio are of course, inextricably linked, since nearly all major movie stars of the era also performed on radio. In addition to making various guest appearances, quite a few film stars had their own radio series, such as Joel McCrea in Tales of the Texas Rangers, Jimmy Stewart in The Six Shooter, Frank Sinatra in Rocky Fortune, Dick Powell in Richard Diamond Private Detective, Brian Donlevy in Dangerous Assignment, Irene Dunne and Fred MacMurray in Bright Star, and Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in Bold Venture. And many stars reprised their film roles in radio adaptations of their latest movies on shows like Academy Award Theater, Lux Radio Theater, Old Gold Comedy Theater, and Screen Director's Playhouse.

In addition to their nostalgic entertainment value, classic radio shows provide an added dimension of insight that can enhance our appreciation of classic film.


We thank Johnny for participating in our Q&A profile and encourage you to visit The Film Noir Report!