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A Modern Odyssey

January 13th, 2017  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

A Modern Odyssey

When asked by Jean Mitry in 1955 to list his favorite films among the ones he had directed, John Ford included The Long Voyage Home (1940) among a handful of titles. At the time of its release, John Mosher wrote in The New Yorker that this was “one of the most magnificent films in film […]

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Inspired Lunacy

December 26th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Inspired Lunacy

I had a difficult time compiling my Top 20 Screwball Comedies list. The biggest challenge was where to put Bringing Up Baby (1938). In the end, I gave it the number two spot, right behind Duck Soup (1933). Andrew Sarris referred to Bringing Up Baby as the screwiest of the screwball comedies. In an article […]

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Bold Charcoal Sketch

November 22nd, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Bold Charcoal Sketch

In Barbara Leaming’s book Orson Welles: A Biography, Welles described his film Macbeth (1948) as a bold charcoal sketch of the play. Welles had convinced Herbert Yates, who headed up Republic Pictures, to fund the production, though he was given a budget of only $700,000. And when Republic’s board of directors grumbled about the decision, […]

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Silly Little Irish Story

November 1st, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Silly Little Irish Story

One of John Ford’s most popular films — The Quiet Man (1952) — almost didn’t happen. According to Jordan R. Young’s book John Ford’s The Quiet Man, Ford first tried to secure funding for the movie back in 1937. That was a year after he had purchased the story for just $10. Maureen O’Hara explained […]

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Watch the Skies

October 13th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Watch the Skies

Just who was responsible for The Thing from Another World (1951)? If you look at the credits, you can see it was directed by Christian Nyby. But if you ask any Howard Hawks fan, you’ll probably be told it’s pure Hawks. The promotional materials of the time have Hawks’ name in big letters above the […]

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Ways of Escape

September 27th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Ways of Escape

We talk about the great directors, yet it’s always a group effort. It takes a strong director to steer the many divergent elements in the same direction. When the process works, all the elements fit together so the result is equal to more than the sum of the parts. The Third Man (1949) is a […]

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Who Cares Whodunit

September 8th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Who Cares Whodunit

What if someone created a murder mystery so entertaining you didn’t care who did the murder? That’s the case with The Big Sleep (1946). Based on Raymond Chandler’s first novel, the story draws private detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) into an ever expanding circle of corruption and conspiracy. Eight deaths are woven throughout the book […]

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The Forgotten Man

August 25th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

The Forgotten Man

While the screwball comedy is a byproduct of the Great Depression, not every screwball comedy reflects the era head-on. My Man Godfrey (1936) is both a spoof of — and a commentary on — the financial inequities at the time. The movie-going public was well aware the Depression was hitting the poor much harder than […]

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Living on the Edge

August 3rd, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Living on the Edge

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) is one of Howard Hawks’ best and most personal films. Hawks was a master of taking on the conventions of a genre and adding deeper meaning to its clichéd elements. At the same time, he was able to reinvigorate the entertainment aspects of the genre, so the end result is […]

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No Fighting

July 16th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

No Fighting

It’s hard to write about Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) without resorting to superlatives. It’s the best comedy of the 1960s. It’s the best black comedy ever. It has the longest title of any Oscar-nominated film. Just as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) […]

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Cold Around the Heart

July 2nd, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Cold Around the Heart

It’s interesting to note that my two favorite film noirs of the 1940s — Double Indemnity (1944) and Out of the Past (1947) — also have the two best femme fatales (Barbara Stanwyck and Jane Greer). Which one is the deadliest? If both were in the room, I would say keep your eye out for […]

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No Man’s Land

June 12th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

No Man’s Land

Though the two films are worlds part, Paths of Glory (1957) has a lot in common with Dr. Strangelove (1964). Both were directed by Stanley Kubrick, both are hard-hitting anti-war films, and both attack the folly of those who send others off to die. Yet Paths of Glory is the stronger anti-war film. Where Strangelove […]

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Best American Play

May 9th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Best American Play

What if you took the greatest American play and turned it into a film using an ideal group of actors? That’s exactly what happened with Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962). Deeply autobiographical and searing in its emotional power, the play wasn’t supposed to be made public until 1988. Completed in 1942, Eugene O’Neill asked […]

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Dogged Determination

April 4th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Dogged Determination

As the follow-up to his most successful silent film (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler), Fritz Lang’s The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) revives one of cinema’s most intriguing criminal masterminds. When we last saw Dr. Mabuse, he was driven insane by the collapse of his criminal empire. Eleven years later, he has progressed from a coma […]

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Heaven on Earth

March 16th, 2016  |  by  |  published in Classic Films | Leave A Comment »

Heaven on Earth

Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire (1987) is an unusual film. It’s the story of the guardian angels who watch over the citizens of Berlin. One angel (named Damiel) yearns to become mortal, so he can experience firsthand what humans see and feel. On one level, this film explores universal themes: the loneliness of being human, […]

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Pocket Cinema

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Keeping it RAW

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Forge Ahead

Do you need to do some serious production-quality sound editing? You may want to read my review of Sony’s Sound Forge Pro 11 in StudioDaily