“Acting is a ridiculous profession…” —notes on Peter Lorre

This post is part of the 2014 What a Character! blogathon. To see more, click graphic (above).  “Acting is a ridiculous profession unless it is part of your very soul.”  —Peter Lorre Even people who have never seen Peter Lorre in a movie know his nasal, dreamy voice...

A Viewer’s Guide: How to Watch Grand Hotel (1932)

“Grand Hotel…always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.” courtesy Pre-Code.com Grand Hotel took home the Best Picture Oscar for MGM in 1933, beating another MGM release, The Champ, as well as Samuel Goldwyn’s Arrowsmith, Fox’s Bad Girl, First...

Day 6: Order in the Court! The Classic Courtroom Movie Blogathon concludes (in extra innings)…

Oyez, oyez! Welcome to Day 6, the final day of our courtroom extravaganza! In the first five days we saw, among others, posts on Hitchcock worth knowing better (The Paradine Case), lynching (Fritz Lang’s Fury), Louise Brooks’s Lulu in Pandora’s Box, Kramer vs. Kramer,...

Disembodied: Waldo Lydecker, the Voice in the Dark in Laura (1944)

“McPherson, if you know anything about faces, look at mine. How singularly innocent I look this morning. Have you ever seen such candid eyes?” “Laura considered me the wisest, the wittiest, the most interesting man she’d ever met. I was in complete accord with her on...

TCMFF 2016 Sunday: Church: Sirk, Chaplin, Ford, Minnelli, Final Wrap and Coda

And so we come to the last day of TCMFF 2016. I was already feeling it on Saturday, and of course Saturday’s events and pace and the least sleep yet went a long way toward creating a detour from my still excited but increasingly weary mind and my mouth, which began to...

TCMFF 2016: Recap of Saturday, Day 3: Vitaphone, Reiner, Gould, Karina

From my comfortable perch back at my friend’s house in North Hollywood,  the intensity, mad dashes, glorious experiences, and occasional frustrations of TCMFF 2016 seem rather remote, Gentle Reader, but at this time a little over one week ago I was watching Dead Men...

Anatomy of a scorcher: Mary Astor on Filming the Steamy Kiss in Red Dust

Mary Astor’s memoir A Life on Film is fantastic—she’s a wonderful writer, and her sharp observations on the industry and what went on behind the cameras are fascinating and incredibly useful to anyone who writes about classic film. Astor writes of being asked by a...

Rising from the Ashes: Buster Keaton’s Most Amazing Stunt

Remember: If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it isn’t. —Lester (Alan Alda), Crimes and Misdemeanors There was nothing funny about it when Buster Keaton broke. Keaton’s fall is legendary. Most of the time it’s told sketchily, and too often as if it were the end. As...

Elizabeth Taylor’s Best Actress Oscars: BUtterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Elizabeth Taylor won two Best Actress Oscars, for BUtterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). The first she perhaps rightly dismissed as a pity vote. The second she won fair and square, and I hope it meant something to her. Until fairly recently I...

A Viewer’s Guide: How to Watch The Gang’s All Here (1943)

sten  your seat belts. The Gang’s All Here is too much. It’s the thrill ride of Hollywood musicals. If you’ve not seen it but have seen other Busby Berkeley movies you’re thinking, Yeah, got it. But all the fabulous excesses of Berkeley in black-and-white pale in...

Dickie Moore (1925-2015), Lost and Found

Where all parents are strong and wise and capable, and all children are happy and beloved… —H.I., Raising Arizona It’s an intense little face. The Cupid’s Bow mouth and tiny, turned-up nose sit beneath large, dark, deeply serious eyes. Dickie wasn’t just cute, he was...