Tuesday, July 2, 2024



Each month, the CMBA profiles a classic movie blog written by one of our members. This month, we are featuring Rachel Kovaciny, who writes at HAMLETTE'S SOLILOQUY. 

1. Why do you blog?

I blog because I love to discuss movies and books, and life in general, but I am better at writing out my thoughts than speaking them, generally.  I'm a pretty shy introvert in real life, and am much more comfortable typing my thoughts than saying them out loud, so when I discovered a new communication tool called blogging in 2002, I decided to try it.  For quite a while, my blog was only read by a handful of people, most of whom I knew or was related to in real life.  But I gradually got braver and started to read other people's blogs, and interact with them, and that's when the real fun began.  Two decades later, I've met so many friends thanks to blogging and the way it lets us get to know each other and exchange ideas and opinions in this informative-yet-casual way.

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

Well, I said "movies and books" above -- I actually love movies more than books, but since it's not possible for me to create whole movies of the stories I make up in my head, I write books instead.  In fact, I have a book series out called Once Upon a Western in which I retell fairy tales as non-magical westerns.  Westerns have always been my favorite movie genre, and although I've written quite a lot in other genres too, the Old West is my favorite setting and era to write about.  

When I write books, I first imagine the story as a movie in my head, then I write it down and try to capture how it looks and sounds, and I later add sensory details like smells and tastes you don't get in a movie.  A lot of times, my books start out with me brainstorming things like, "What if Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington made a western together?  And what if Zendaya and Chadwick Boseman played Snow White and her Handsome Prince?  Put them all together, but they're all pioneers?"  And there you have the initial spark for some of the major characters for my book One Bad Apple.  

I tend to dedicate the books in my Once Upon a Western series to a Classic Hollywood actor or actress I think would be perfect for some prominent role if the story was a movie and not a book.  (I've dedicated books to Alan Ladd, Bobby Darin, Sidney Poitier, Barbara Stanwyck, and Vic Morrow so far, if you are curious.)  

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

What a dream that would be!  I'd love to highlight some of my favorite westerns that star some of my favorite actors and actresses.  Here's my lineup:

The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)  Four brothers (including John Wayne and Dean Martin) reunite at their mother's funeral and work together to find out how their parents lost their ranch. My favorite John Wayne movie.

Branded (1950)  A shady loner (Alan Ladd) poses as a rich rancher's missing son to gain a hefty inheritance, only to discover himself beginning to love with the family he's intent on swindling.  My favorite Alan Ladd movie.

Gunfight in Abilene (1967) A Civil War veteran (Bobby Darin) agrees to resume his job as sheriff out of guilt for accidentally killing the brother of the man (Leslie Nielson) who runs Abilene and is all set to marry the veteran's old flame (Emily Banks). My favorite Bobby Darin movie.

The Rare Breed (1966) A British widow (Maureen O'Hara) and her daughter (Juliet Mills) accompany the prize bull they've sold on its way to its new owner (Brian Keith) with the help of a determined cowhand (James Stewart).  I've seen this so often, the characters all feel like dear old friends.

3:10 to Yuma (1957) A down-on-his-luck rancher (Van Heflin) takes a job transporting a wily outlaw (Glenn Ford) to the train that will take him to the state penitentiary in Yuma, Arizona.  The outlaw does everything in his considerable powers to convince the rancher to let him go, resulting in a simmering suspense story that eventually boils over in a surprisingly upbeat climax.

The Magnificent Seven (1960) Poor Mexican villagers hire seven gunfighters to defend them from the bandit who's been oppressing them for years. Steve McQueen, Yul Brenner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn... oh man, what a cast.  I consider this the finest western ever made.

Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)  A mild-mannered man (James Garner) who is basically just on his way to Australia takes on the job of sheriff in a goldrush boomtown.  His unorthodox methods and unflappable demeanor keep everyone bewildered and off balance, from baddies (including Walter Brennan and Bruce Dern), to the mayor (Henry Morgan), to his former-town-drunk deputy (Jack Elam). 

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

Not enough people know about We're No Angels (1955), and that is a shame.  It is one of the three funniest movies I have ever seen!  It's a dark comedy about three convicts (Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray) who break out of a French prison on Devil's Island and decide to rob a store of respectable clothes and money for their getaway -- but they get all involved in the lives of the family that owns the store and end up helping solve all kinds of problems for them.  Also, it's a Christmas movie.  If you are having trouble envisioning Humphrey Bogart in a dark Christmas comedy, well, find it.  Watch it.  Be prepared to laugh.

I love it because of how genuinely nice and kind the three convicts and the family they help are.  The convicts pretend they're mean and tough and horrid, but they're actual so helpful and soft-hearted.  Also, everyone in the cast is clearly having an absolute blast making the movie, including Basil Rathbone as the real villain of the piece, and that sense of on-set fun always adds to my enjoyment of a film.

(The other two funniest movies I've ever seen are Support Your Local Sheriff [1969] and The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming! [1966].  Now you know.)

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

I once set off the security alarms at Rudolph Valentino's home, Falcon Lair.

We thank Rachel for participating in our Q&A profile and encourage you to visit HAMLETTE'S SOLILOQUY. 


  1. Rachel, your blog is always a pleasure. Now you have me wanting to see WE'RE NO ANGELS as soon as possible! Also, I also use my favorite actors as the base for characters in my stories as well!

  2. I love Support Your Local Sheriff and I love Joan Hacket's. Her characterization was Oscar-worthy.

    1. Stephen, Joan Hackett is just perfect in Support Your Local Sheriff! Perfect comedic timing, so much sassy innocence and determination.