Reel Infatuation Blogathon 2017 – Day 1

What a line-up! 🙂 #ReelInfatuationBlogathon

Silver Screenings

What a beautiful day it’s been!

It’s a pleasure to read bloggers’ secret (and not-so-secret) character crushes. In a world where it’s easy to get caught up deriding folks, it’s refreshing to spend the day extolling the wonderful qualities of others.

Bloggers: If we missed your post today, fear not – we shall include you in tomorrow’s recap.

Until then, please enjoy today’s Reel Infatuation entries.

A Small Press Life
Archie Goodwin from the Nero Wolfe mystery series

Wide Screen World
Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) in Fargo (1996)

Love Letters to Old Hollywood
Simon Dermott (Peter O’Toole) in How to Steal a Million (1966)

Caftan Woman
Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) in The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Superfluous Film Commentary
Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy) in Wargames (1983)

The Midnite Drive-In
Penelope in The Odyssey

The Story Enthusiast
Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) in Harvey (1950)

Coffee…

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The Saturday Matinee Silent Movie

 

Many people don’t know this, but the movie industry did not always treat women as badly as it does now. In fact, back in the early days of the nickelodeons, women often owned and managed these establishments. According to Karen Ward Maher in her book Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood, “Evidence suggests that 10 to 25 percent of all women in preindustrial America were ‘engaged in entrepreneurship’ and that half the urban retailers in seventeenth-century America were women.”

The days of the nickelodeon gave way to those of short movies, then longer feature films. Longer films developed based on better film technology, as well as an increased demand for narrative stories in moving pictures. Thus, the need for “scenarios” or screenplays, as we call them now.

The book goes on to say that screenwriting in the early 1910s engendered “a particularly ‘modern’ heterosocial work culture in which male and female writers, like actors and actresses, were roughly equal, having a hand in all phases of production.”

These were the days before the big studios and the hierarchical producer-controlled studio system. Movies were mostly collaborations among actors (usually female, because they had the most star power), screenwriters, and director-producers. The lines between these roles could be blurred.

The first woman director and feature film writer was Alice Guy-Blaché. Here’s a short film, in which Guy-Blaché played around with gender roles years before Some Like it Hot! 🙂 I’ve done a bit of musical remixing to avoid any copyright problems.

The film was produced by the Solax Company, which Guy-Blaché owned in partnership with her husband. However, it was Guy-Blaché who actually made the movies.

What’s more women were featured in action films. The actresses often did their own stunts in movies such as The Perils of Pauline. Contrary to popular belief, the heroine in this film series isn’t so much a damsel in distress as she is a resourceful woman caught in dire circumstances.

Stay tuned for more! 🙂

Let me know what you think. Do you enjoy silent film?

Posted in Silent Film, Serial Shorts, Short Film, Pre-Code, Women in Film | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Review of ‘Johnny Guitar’ (1954)

Personally, I love a good Western. Especially one with a totally kick-ass heroine like saloonkeeper Vienna in Johnny Guitar. It doesn’t hurt that Vienna is played by the proverbial mistress of “Don’t Mess with Me”, Joan Crawford.

It seems Vienna supports the railroad coming to town, which doesn’t sit well with the cattlemen. She also has an ex name of “The Dancin’ Kid”, a holdup man who hangs out at Vienna’s with his criminal friends.

This pits the townies against Vienna and her pals. The townsfolk are represented by John McIvers (played by Ward Bond), who’s encouraged by Emma Small (played with delicious viciousness by Mercedes McCambridge) to run Vienna and company out of town.

Not to be tossed aside lightly, Vienna faces them down with the help of the namesake of the film—the mysterious Johnny Guitar. He’s another of Vienna’s ex-paramours and a reformed gunslinger, who kind of shows up.

This is the basic set-up for the 110 minutes of flat out suspense and confrontation between Vienna and Emma Small.

Naturally, just as things appear most dire for Vienna, Johnny Guitar steps in to save the day.

But make no mistake about it. Vienna is a strong and capable protagonist. And while Johnny Guitar has a hand in getting her out of a fix at the last moment, it’s Vienna who gets her revenge on Emma Small. And it’s no small revenge (no pun intended). Thus, Vienna and Johnny Guitar are equally matched in the guts department.

This movie is not only a kind of feminist Western, but includes metaphors for the Hollywood Blacklist, as expressed in the McCarthy-esque character of Emma Small.

For these reasons and more, I love this film and give it the double thumbs up! 🙂

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‘The Wild Women of Wongo’ — The Grand Finale

Just when you thought it would never end you might die without finding out how it ends, I’m happy to say I have the final part of The Wild Women of Wongo for you today! And here it is! 🙂

Having said that, I’d like to propose a small change in direction. This could even be — dare I say it? — an educational experience.

Did you know, for instance, that in the early years of filmmaking, women were the pioneers? I know paid screenwriters who aren’t aware of the importance of women during the inception of the feature film.

One of those (wild!) women was Alice Guy-Blaché. You can read about her on Medium.

And here’s an awesome video about her.

But there’s more to come. So please come back next week! I hope to have things worked out so that you can comment on the movies right in the blog post! 🙂

Posted in Announcement, B-Movies, Parody, Public Domain Movies, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sexy Women and The Big Sleep

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Originally posted on B Noir Detour:
It’s time for MovieMovie BlogBlog‘s 3rd Annual Sex! blogathon. I wrote about Born to Kill in 2015, and last year I was all about sex, violence, and Scarlet Street. For 2017, I’m basking in the seductive…

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My Review of ‘Hell or High Water’ (2016)

This film has been hailed by critics as a revitalization of the Western movie. And it lives up to its hype.

The movie jumps into action from the opening scene. Two brothers, divorced dad Toby (played by Chris Pine) and ex-con Tanner (played by Ben Foster) pull a couple of bank heists right off the bat. Given the (relatively) small amounts stolen, the FBI washes its hands of the case, leaving it to the Texas Rangers.

Credit: Studiocanal

The Ranger investigators are the elder statesman Marcus Hamilton (played by Jeff Bridges, who looks particularly grizzled) and Alberto Parker (played by Gil Birmingham). It’s Marcus who deduces that the pair of bank robbers have method to their madness.

The story may be classified as a “neo-Western thriller”, but it’s also a character driven film. The two brothers have compelling reasons for robbing the banks. In fact, the banks get little sympathy all around. At times, the pair reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde—except more like Clyde and his hotheaded, ex-con brother.

Credit: Studiocanal

But seriously, the villains (or, rather, the criminals) are fully developed and even sympathetic, to a point.

Even so, we can also relate with Marcus, who takes a very strategic approach to capturing the bank robbers. One that doesn’t always sit well with his partner, with whom Marcus has a fond (if somewhat fractious) relationship. Marcus, being the old-school sort, tends to not give a damn about political correctness. And Alberto—well, his name is Alberto. Take a guess how this comes across to him.

Given the overall serious theme of poor people trying to survive against the greedy banks, there are bits of levity that help keep the story from drifting into melodrama.

This scene is priceless!

I don’t want to reveal spoilers, but I will say that justice is done in a way that brings out the true feelings of each pair of characters for one another. It’s bittersweet and a bit open-ended. (I half expected Bridges to tip his Ranger cap and say, “Catch you later on down the trail.”)

I wholeheartedly recommend this film! 🙂

Posted in Crime Drama, Movie Reviews, Thriller, Westerns | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

My Review of ‘Easter Parade’ (1948)

This review is being posted as part of the Judy Garland Blogathon this weekend being hosted on the blog In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood.

This film is sort of like Pygmalion, if it hadn’t been made into My Fair Lady. Except instead of being about a man teaching a Cockney woman to be a proper lady, the man in this movie tries to make a star out of a bar dancer.

You see Don Hewes (played by debonair Fred Astaire) has a dance partner named Nadine (played snootily by Ann Miller). But Nadine decides to go solo. Don tries to change your mind with the little song and dance (their old favorite, “It Only Happens When I Dance with You”). However, Nadine is obviously gaga for Don’s best friend, Johnny (played likably by Peter Lawford) and when he shows up, Nadine says bye-bye to Don.

Don and Johnny repair to a bar, where Johnny tries to persuade Don to make nice with Nadine. Don’s so pissed off at her, he claims he can make a star of anyone else. It’s on that note that Don meets Hannah Brown (played by our star Judy Garland), who Don noticed dancing at the bar. He invites her to rehearse with him. Somewhat dumbstruck at the invitation, Hannah agrees.

Well, between teaching Hannah to dance like Nadine and buying her dresses that Nadine would wear, it’s obvious that Don is pretty much trying to make Hannah over into Nadine. So, in that sense, the movies a lot like Vertigo. Except it’s a musical, not a psychological thriller. And nobody dies.

But seriously, the story is one of classic Hollywood romance set to song, in which two people who are obviously meant for one another keep misunderstanding the other’s intentions. But that’s just a handy excuse clever way of drawing us in to watch the way love can be expressed in amazing musical set pieces.

What amazes me when I watch this film (not to mention other Hollywood musicals) is not just the way stars like Judy Garland and Fred Astaire light up the screen, but the absolutely awesome choreography. The way these two move together gives new meaning to the word synchronization.

So, do Don and Hannah finally figure out that they’re meant for each other and live happily ever after? This is a classic Hollywood musical. What do you think?

And as for Nadine … oh, who cares? 🙂

This classic musical gets my two thumbs up! 🙂

Posted in Blogathan, Movie Reviews, Musicals, Romance | Tagged , , | 15 Comments