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January 26, 2015

Unhauling: Books I've Grown Out Of


I'll be turning 33 years old this May and, over time, I've grown out of a lot of things. Barbie dolls for one, popsicles, lollipops, MAD magazine, and maxi pads (ech! I can't believe I ever wore those things). Classic-movie-wise, I've grown out of musicals and Marilyn Monroe. I did the unthinkable this past weekend and unhauled a bunch of my classic film books. YIKES! Yes, dear readers, I actually combed through the masses of books I've accumulated over the past 15+ years and got rid of some of the ones I knew I had grown out of.

Bye-bye went the likes of The Marilyn Encyclopedia and the lackluster tribute by Life Magazine of Katharine Hepburn (I opted to keep the People Magazine tribute instead). I also extracted a James Stewart biography from the depths of my collection because it had never impressed me from day one as well as a Cary Grant biography that I found riddled with errors the first (and only) time I read it. I bid adieu to more than one floppy trade paperback retrospective but kept a firm grip on the sturdier, more elaborate giant hardcovers that I've grown to love over the past few years. Honestly, I cannot see myself ever wanting to part with the likes of Adrian: Silver Screen to Custom Label or Garbo Portraits. Those ones will be with me till the day I snuff it, folks.

Fine, I've aged. No one likes to admit it, do they? In order to give myself some semblance of youth I held on to my Looney Tunes coffee table book as well as an art book dedicated to Archie comics' Betty and Veronica (I was always a Veronica girl, couldn't stand Betty). Heaped amongst the lighter fare of my classic film book collection are sprinkled more works on The Wizard of Oz, the whimsical and very beautiful partnership of Astaire and Rogers, and a lighthearted look inside the MGM backlot. Gone are the books that I didn't have time to open when I purchased them and, quite frankly, couldn't imagine myself reading now anyway. Tastes change and even if I did find the time to pick them up now, I don't think I would. Life is short and there are way too many other books I'd like to read instead.

So, what have I learned from having a giant unhaul? I've learned not to be so impulsive when buying classic film books - or any books for that matter. Instead of adding any old book to my shopping cart just because it's classified a 'classic film book,' I should really consider whether or not I'd actually read it. Like, open it up and read each page. Really lose myself in its narrative. If I can't see myself doing that, then I ain't buying. Plain and simple. I've also learned that some obsessions don't last forever. Case in point: my childhood obsession with Marilyn Monroe. At one time I must have owned every single book published about her. Now, after this unhaul, I maybe own a handful of them (not even). If you'd like to take a look at my book collection before the clear-out, click here.

Have you unhauled recently? If you have, tell me about your experience in the comments section down below!

January 23, 2015

Blogging: Getting Back On Track

SOURCE

I don't know what happened to me recently, but it seemed like everything under the sun was upsetting me and getting on my last nerve. I stopped watching old movies, I cancelled my TCM Now Playing Guide subscription (only an idiot would do something like that), I buried my head in book after book, and I stopped blogging. Actually, let me expand on that last point: I stopped writing all together and for a freelance writer, that spells D-E-A-T-H.

I blame the end of the holidays, I really do. Everyone's heard of the January Blues and I guess the Blues literally took over my life this year, once Christmas was over and done with *plays a dirge* Once the initial high of the holidays wore off and there were no more Christmas movies being shown on television, I became a grumpy cave woman who only left her bed for work and food. Usually, I would write until I felt better but even the mere thought of blogging annoyed me. I felt like everyone and their mother were labeling themselves bloggers and who the hell wants to add to such an over-saturated market? I know I didn't.

But I'm trying to fix that. I know I'm the one with the problem and my attitude is quite stinky at the moment (I can actually smell it, it's so bad), but this is something I know I can easily overcome. All it takes is a glimpse of Gary Cooper's wry smile (and naked chest, thank-you-very-much) and a dash of Buster Keaton's clumsiness to get me back on the classic movie bandwagon! In fact, I've got OUR HOSPITALITY (1923) waiting for me on my DVR player and a copy of TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) I borrowed from the library last weekend to spend some time with. I'm not the biggest fan of Orson Welles' but hey, I can't have everything come up sunshine and roses all the time, can I?

See? My attitude is still going strong and shining through those grey winter clouds *sigh* I want to know how you get over your January Blues. What remedies do you turn to to make yourself feel light on your feet again? What perks you up? On a scale of shitty to fantastic, I'd say I measure a steady shitty right now. Let's get through this rough patch together, shall we?!

January 5, 2015

Ch - Ch - Changes in 2015!

Jean Arthur

Books
I want to make this more of a book-centric space. If you follow me on Goodreads, you'll know that I typically polish off one book per week (classics usually take me a bit longer to get through), so really, when I'm not working, writing, or blogging, I've got my nose stuck in a novel. I introduced book reviews in this space back in 2013 and they've proven popular amongst Stardust readers. It seems that I'm not the only one who gets a kick out of reading classic film-related nonfiction and coffee table books - in fact, they're some of my favourite things in the whole world! Nothing compares to flipping through a heavy photo book filled with portraits and movie stills of your favourite actors and actresses. The latest one I've added to my collection is Cecilia de Mille Presley and Mark A. Vieira's Cecil B. DeMille: The Art Of the Hollywood Epic.

Personalities
You all know that TCM dedicates each month of the year to one star and that's kind of what I want to start doing here on Stardust. In 2014 there were a lot of obscure classic film stars that I fell in love with: Ann Dvorak, John Gilbert, and George Raft were three of the biggest. Aside from the off mention here and there, I hardly talked about them at all (and certainly not in any dedicated posts). I want to change that because maybe that's how some of you will discover them for yourselves. I want to share the love a little more, y'know? Get people talking about all of those wonderful forgotten film stars that deserve more notice and attention.

Refining the Art Of Blogging
Blogging is starting to get a really bad rap and I don't think that's fair. In the past year alone, I've come across a lot of negative posts and feedback directed at 'lazy bloggers' who don't have a 'real job.' What these commentors don't realize is that blogging takes a lot of dedication and a heck of a lot of work. It may not fit the mold of a traditional nine-to-five job, but it's still a job that people have to work hard at. I learned that lesson in 2014 when I started blogging full-time alongside my regular office job and freelancing gigs. I hardly had any free time to myself and every time I read someone's nasty post concerning 'spoiled, entitled bloggers' my blood boiled. Let's be kinder to each other this year and give everyone the respect they deserve.

Time Off
So yes, time off. Although I'd like to continue scheduling two to three posts a week here on Stardust I know that that might be pushing it. This year I'd very much like to take a step back from blogging and spend less time online. That doesn't mean I'm giving blogging up entirely. It just means that I'll have more free time on my hands to think of some really great ideas and (hopefully) fantastic creative content. I'd also like to devote some time to my other lifelong love of reading and I've been thinking for quite some time now about starting my own #BookTube channel on YouTube. That's not definite yet, but if you follow me on Twitter at @callmeveebee I'll be sure to post all updates there first!

Is there anything in particular you'd like to see more of on Stardust? Please leave me a comment down below and tell me about it!

January 2, 2015

Buying Old Movies: It's definitely gotten easier!

iTunes Classics Movie Store

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s things looked pretty bleak.

The world was introduced to boy bands who couldn't sing (or dance), useless socialites like Paris Hilton and her brood, and classic film fans were at the mercy of their local video rental places and miniscule corner shops to get their fill of old movies on VHS. I don't know about you, but I remember classic films being really hard to find back then. Sure, I frequented that little entertainment shop in my local mall for my VHS fill (I posted about it here), but only the really well-known and popular titles were stocked on its shelves.

If I had wanted to purchase an obscure pre-Code film on VHS that no one except for myself had ever heard of, I was shit-out-of-luck because that store certainly wasn't going to have it. And it wasn't even because the proprietors chose not to order in copies to sell, it was because the film studios had never manufactured and released them on home video in the first place. This was way before the time of digital downloads and made-on-demand DVD sales ... this was the dark ages, people!

However, something wonderful happened in the late-2000s: e-commerce took off with a bang and classic movie fans were suddenly able to get their grubby little hands on virtually every old film their hearts desired. Below, I list my favourite online stores that I frequently buy copies of classic films and television shows from! It's as easy as click-and-buy!

Warner Archive Collection // I could literally browse this online shop for days and never tire of it! This is where you'll find made-on-demand films and TV shows that are of the rarer variety. Yes, the shop carries a huge assortment of the more popular fare, but if I need to find that obscure pre-Code I mentioned earlier, the Warner Archive Collection is where I'll head to first.

iTunes // The first digital film download I purchased online was through iTunes and it was A FREE SOUL (1931); I was having an exceptionally hard time locating it on home video so I just bit the bullet and ordered it through iTunes Movies. Digital downloads like this one served as the catalyst for me cleaning out my DVD and bluray collection earlier last year (I recycled all of the disc packaging I owned and moved all of my discs over to a pair of massive disc binders to save space). Digital downloads take up no space at all - except on your computer's hard drive - and you can access them 24/7 through iCloud.

Amazon // Amazon.com was my first e-tail love. As soon as I got permission from my parents to order a few things, I went freaking bananas and bought every single Britcom on my wishlist as well as a smattering of MGM musicals and a bullet casing's worth of Warner Bros gangster flicks. Then, once Amazon.ca was introduced a few years ago, purchasing things online became even easier! No more pesky customs charges, no more outlandish shipping rates, and everything appeared on my doorstep in a matter of a couple of days (rather than having to wait more than a week at the best of times). If you're looking for incredible deals and even better prices, Amazon is your best bet!

TCM Shop // Holy moly, talk about heaven-on-the-internet! Admittedly, I've only ever ordered items from the TCM Shop a handful of times due to its unfriendly customs charges and hefty Canadian shipping rates but if you live in the USA, then you've pretty much got it made. This particular online shop holds some terrific sales throughout the year and you can often find massive boxsets for half price around the holiday season. Keep your eyes peeled for limited edition TCM exclusives that you won't be able to find anywhere else.

Criterion Collection // The Criterion Collection is like the fine champagne of the e-tailer liquor cabinet: it's offerings are distinct, storied, and exquisite. Unfortunately, so are its prices (sorry not sorry). The only time I've been able to purchase anything off of the site is when there's been a big sale on. But, you know what? It's worth waiting for because the amount of extras you get on each Criterion disc is unrivaled.

Barnes & Noble // Here you'll find great stock, great prices, and great deals. I often compare the B&N site to Amazon in that it offers similar stocklists and comparable deals. When I want to shop for both books and movies/TV shows at the same time (which is often, who am I kidding?), this is where I head. It's convenient and it's got a specialized shipping service to Canada (that means competitive rates and pre-calculated customs charges that are identified upon checkout).

How do you buy your classic movies and television series?

December 31, 2014

The time I spent New Year's Eve with Nick & Nora Charles

The Thin Man (1934)

I'm the type of person who considers New Year's just another day on the calendar.

I don't get super-excited about it, I don't host any loud bashes, and I usually end up falling asleep by 9:30 pm anyway. I know, at thirty-two years old I've become such a senior. The rest of my family, however, does go out to paint the town red and I'm always left home alone with a good book and some stellar TV programming - which is just the way I like it (senior, remember?).

Back about five or six years ago - when my parents and I first moved into our new home - TCM aired a Thin Man movie marathon on New Year's Eve beginning at 8:00 pm. If I look back on my life and remember all of the milestones that have passed and all of the highlights of my thirty-two years, this particularly stupendous movie marathon sticks out as one of the best evenings I've ever spent - like, EVER. I don't know if that makes me sound like a horribly lame young lady or if it lends me a certain air of nonchalance or je ne sais quoi, but it was fucking heaven in my eyes!

Was this the best date of my life? Despite the risk of sounding hugely lame, I'll admit it and say yes. Yes, it was. I sat there cuddled up in bed, with my mug of steaming hot peppermint tea and toasting the television monitor each time Nick and Nora Charles downed a cocktail. I finally had to give up after having drunk five cups of tea - Nick and Nora's appetite for booze is never-ending, I should have known better - and, as a result, found myself venturing to and from the bathroom the rest of the night. D'oh!

Watching the Thin Man series of films in one (long) evening was heaven. Sure, I didn't get much sleep that night but I climbed out of bed the next morning as if I had! No dream I've ever had in the past made me smile so much or chuckle as loudly whilst burying my face in my pillow (I didn't want to wake up my parents). At the end of each year that passes now, I always check the December 31st TCM schedule in the hopes that there will be another Thin Man movie marathon in the cards but to my dismay, it hasn't been repeated (yet).

Here's hoping that each coming New Year's Eve is just as enjoyable as this one was all those years ago! Who says you need to go out on the town in order to enjoy yourself properly? Not when you've got great friends to spend it with in the comfort of your own home (and bed!). Nick and Nora Charles, I thank you! Happy New Year everyone!

December 22, 2014

Classic vs. Modern: My Favourite Christmas Films & Specials!

Christmas Day, 2013

I start counting down to Christmas beginning in January, I love it that much!

I've also been known to blast Christmas music on my loud speakers come summertime so that just goes to show you how crazy I am about the holidays. One thing I look forward to all year long is watching endless amounts of holiday movies and television specials come the beginning of December. There are certain films and specials that I've been tuning into since I was a child and those are the ones that have the most sentimental value to me (obviously), plus there are some new discoveries that I've made over the past five years or so that I have chosen to include on these lists. These so called 'new discoveries' have impressed me so much in such a short time that they have now become a part of my permanent Christmas To-Watch list.

So, let me break down my list of classics and my list of moderns for you. I'll tell you which films are my absolute favourites and which television specials are must-sees for me year in and year out. Personally, I find it hard to break with tradition so the films and specials I list below will always be a part of my holiday schedule. Nothing will ever be omitted - ever! Although there may be new additions depending on how much I love watching them and how festive they make me feel. Right, here we go!

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
Classic Films:
  • The Shop Around The Corner (1940) // This is a fairly new favourite. I've seen it plenty of times before but only just inducted it into my Christmas Hall of Fame this year. For some reason - perhaps because I've aged - this movie has struck a chord with me and I love the way the main characters' romantic relationship develops throughout the film.
  • Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) // A classic Christmas tale if ever there was one, right here! It's a feel-good family favourite that will get you signing along, snapping your fingers, and hopping around the Christmas tree like a happy little bunny rabbit! Christmas bonus: Judy Garland crooning Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas to despondent onscreen little sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien).
  • It's A Wonderful Life (1946) // Perhaps not the happiest film to watch around the holiday season, but one with a powerful, enlightening message nonetheless. This film's conclusion makes me cry every single time and I'm looking forward to seeing it on the big screen this year (it's being screened by Cineplex as part of their Classic Film Series - check your local listings).
  • In The Good Old Summertime (1949) // This is the musical re-make of The Shop Around The Corner and it stars MGM darling Judy Garland and the very dashing Van Johnson as her hesitant love interest. Have I mentioned that the beautifully-awkward, unsmiling Buster Keaton is in it? Well, he is. So, watch it right-freaking-now!
  • A Christmas Carol (1951) // Christmas Eve with the Buttinos would not be complete without a screening of this Christmas classic! We've been gathering around the TV set as a family to watch this movie as far back as I can remember (I was probably seven or eight years old the first time I saw it), and it's still something we all look forward to. There have been many different versions of Dickens' tale produced for the screen, but this one is - without a doubt - my absolute favourite!

A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Modern Films:
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) // Would any Christmas-themed film list be complete without this stand-out comedy gem? I think not. It's wacky, it's laugh-out-loud hilarious (even though you've seen it a zillion times and know all the jokes), and it's undeniably charming. Plus, it's great fun knowing that your Christmas family gathering is nowhere near as painful as the Griswold's is! Am I right?!
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990) // You're scratching your head right now, aren't you? You're wondering what possessed me to list this movie amongst my favourite Christmas films ... well, I'll tell you: not only is there a festive scene in the film, but Edward actually makes snow in it! HE MAKES SNOW! If that isn't a Christmas miracle, I don't know what is. (Plus, Vincent Price is in it).
  • Home Alone (1990) // Whoever says they don't like this movie needs to re-evaluate their life. I'm pretty sure I saw this movie in the cinema when it first came out and it was a family affair (Italians like to do things in groups), and I remember crying with laughter at all the funny bits. The sound of my Pops laughing till he's on the verge of throwing up always sends a warm thrill through me. We watch it every year and each time we love it more and more.
  • A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) // This modern interpretation of the Charles Dickens classic is - in a word - FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC! It delights both children and adults alike and never fails to make me smile into my Christmas Eve seafood platter. You wouldn't think that Michael Caine would suit the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but he's absolutely perfect in it and I defy anyone to argue with me on that point!
  • Love Actually (2003) // What's this? A romantic comedy? What the hell is that doing here?! (I typically hate romcoms). Hear me out, though: this one's actually good. First of all, it's British, and we all know that British-anything is better than our North American rubbish. Second of all, it's got the surprisingly agile Hugh Grant boogying on down to The Pointer Sister's 1980s hit Jump For My Love. Enough said, I think.

Merry Christmas, Mr Bean (1992)
Television Specials:
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964) // Yes yes yes. Three simple words, indeed. This year Rudolph celebrates his 50th anniversary and there is nothing I'd rather watch on a snowy winter's night than his glowing red nose lighting up my TV screen. This is a childhood favourite of mine and I actually still own the soundtrack on vinyl! It's something I just can't bring myself to part with (even though I'm known for always cleaning out my cupboards).
  • Frosty the Snowman (1969) // Here's another childhood favourite in the form of a chilly, happy snowman who's perfectly content prancing around in fields, singing songs at the top of his lungs. The animation is simple yet imaginative and it's a show that appeals to all ages. My only qualm with Frosty the Snowman is that I wish it was longer than its half-hour running time.
  • Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean (1992) // My holiday season is simply not complete without at least six viewings of this Britcom classic! My favourite bits include the impromptu nativity scene improvisation in Harrods, the whole turkey-on-the-head bit, and Mr Bean presenting his 'girlfriend' Irma with the ultimate in gift-type shockers! If you haven't ever seen this Christmas special, I think it's about time you treated yourself to the wackiest of wacky yuletide episodes!
  • Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean (1994) // This one's more of a New Year flavoured indulgence. Mr Bean decides to throw a NYE party at his dinky flat in London and invites just two people to the bash to end all bashes. If I'm completely honest, this is exactly what I would have done; two people is the max. I hate crowds and I hate messes, so any more than that and I'm a woman fit to be tied (with steam potentially spewing out of my ears).

Wishing you all the very best this holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

December 19, 2014

Unfinished Business: Movies I Just Can't Sit Through

Gunga Din (1939) SOURCE

For someone who counts GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) as their all-time favourite movie, it's a little hard to believe that there are some movies I just can't make it through. GONE WITH THE WIND is the ultimate big screen epic - long-winded and a little bloated in parts, I'll admit - so how the heck is it possible that I can't sit through a single viewing of films half its length?!

  • Gunga Din (1939) // I love Cary Grant as much as the next person does - okay, a little more - and I love men in hot climes but I just can't seem to make it through a single viewing of this RKO film gem. And it's certainly not for lack of trying either! I've borrowed the DVD from the library, I've DVR'd it on TCM multiple times and I've tuned in for live viewings - sometimes even in the middle of the night - but no luck. Zilch! I always begin losing interest somewhere around the 15-minute mark (after the roughhousing introduction) and then I inevitably start tuning out and either drifting off to sleep (drooling out of the side of my mouth and everything) or I ditch the TV and finally pick up that book I was meaning to finish. Cary Grant is the December Star Of the Month on TCM and there's a good chance that GUNGA DIN will air again, so let's hope that this time I can make it through all the way to the film's end!

  • Citizen Kane (1941) // Good Lord, this one's a doozy! Who the hell hasn't found it difficult to sit through what the American Film Institute (AFI) has dubbed the greatest film ever made? That's what I want to know! I'm not going to sit here and tell you that CITIZEN KANE is a bad picture because it isn't; it's just full of itself and, for me, that's hard to stomach. I don't put up with that from people so why should I treat a film any differently? If I try really hard and think back on how many times I've attempted to sit through CITIZEN KANE, I can come up with at least four or five occasions. I've even purchased the special edition DVD copy but that shit just didn't take (I ended up trashing it earlier in the year when I cleaned out my movie collection). Maybe it's not the movie -- maybe it's Orson Welles because, come to think of it, there is not one Welles film that I like.

  • Doctor Zhivago (1965) // I'm actually a little ashamed to include this on my list of 'unfinished business' movies because I've heard so many wonderful things about not only the film, but the story, the cast, and the cinematography. I definitely feel like I've been missing out on something stupendous here and it's time to remedy that. Like, really remedy. As far as I'm concerned, this is the next movie on my To-Watch list. Hopefully this time I'll be able to make it through the whole thing without any interruptions and/or impromptu naps-on-the-sofa. The thing with DOCTOR ZHIVAGO is that I've seen bits and pieces of it but never the whole thing all together, the way a movie should be seen.

...and the one that I finally managed to conquer in 2014:

  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) // I'm embarrassed to admit that it took the passing of star Peter O'Toole late last year to make me want to sit down (for four hours) and finally see this movie. Every time it's aired on TCM in the past, I would catch my Pops watching it - he was ten years old when the film was originally released and he said it's always been one of his favourites. To be perfectly honest, I both loved and hated the film. I loved the story, I loved the cast, I loved the excitement, and I especially loved the cinematography. I hated the way it dragged in spots and I hated the endless waiting for the movie to reach its climax (wink wink nudge nudge). Overall though, I really enjoyed the experience of watching LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. It's one of the greatest epics I've seen and the fact it's based on actual events always pleases me immensely as I'm a huge lover of historical films and historical fiction.

I'd love to know which films make up your 'unfinished business' movie list! Tell me about them in the comments section down below!

December 17, 2014

My favourite classic film discoveries of 2014!

Metropolis (1927)

Wow - this year has been an absolute minefield of great classic film discoveries!

Is it just me or does it seem as if there has been a never-ending list of  superb biographies and coffee table books that were released in 2014? And how about all those stupendous, long-awaited bluray releases that made it onto store shelves this past Fall (It Happened One Night, I'm looking at you)?! The fact of the matter is, we've been rather spoiled for choice this year and because of this, our wallets have become a little lighter than they initially were back in January 2014. Oops.

And forget about consumerism right now because not only have I bought many things, I've also discovered movies, people, and books that I had hidden away in my own classic film stash! Perhaps the best feeling of all is delving into your collection of unwatched DVDs and blurays and coming up with a film you couldn't believe you had missed out on for so long! So, without further ado, here are my favourite classic film discoveries of the past year:

Films:
  • The General (1926) // Pops and I never laughed so hard whilst watching an old movie together! This was an early discovery in 2014 and one that I will look back on as one of the brightest highlights of the year - you just can't beat spending time with a loved one, laughing and crying - happy tears, mind - together on the couch while your Mother cries out in the background "Why is there no sound? Is the TV broken?"
  • Metropolis (1927) // I watched this silent German masterpiece on a total whim while I was tucked up in bed one Saturday evening. Was it one of the best decisions I've made all year? Yup. Will I be watching it again soon? You bet your bottom dollar I will be! It was gripping, moving, and it had a heck of an impact on me.
  • From Here To Eternity (1953) // Everything about this film is beautiful! I saw this for the first time earlier on in 2014 and I seriously cannot believe I had waited so long. It's one of those movies that you hear about early on in life but one that you perhaps don't get to until you're grown up and your taste in film has matured.
  • Dial M For Murder (1954) // Lord knows I'm not the biggest Grace Kelly fan but having the chance to see this play on the big screen - and in 3D no less - was too much for me to pass up! It was exciting, it was smart and it was the first of Kelly's onscreen performances that didn't irk me.

People:
  • John Gilbert // To say this man makes me weak in the knees is a gross understatement. I was never much of a Gilbert fan before - even when I watched him paired with Greta Garbo onscreen - but something about him just gripped me this year. Maybe it was his naughty sense of humour or maybe it was his dashing personality ... either way, he totally captured my heart in 2014.
  • John Wayne (and Westerns - who'd have thunk it?) // Cowboys and westerns?! I can honestly say that I never thought I'd see the day when I purchased an entire library's worth of John Wayne films on DVD for my own personal collection. In my teens, the only exposure I had to The Duke was watching episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (comedian Ryan Stiles does a mean impression of John Wayne that always had me rolling on the floor).
  • Edward Everett Horton (again) // I re-watched Shall We Dance (1937) this past Autumn and fell in love all over again with EEH. I've always found him an absolute joy to watch onscreen and if I'm pressed, I'll always include him in my top spot of favourite character actors of all time!
  • Ann Dvorak // I blame this new obsession of mine entirely on Christina Rice and her brilliant biography entitled Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel (University Press of Kentucky, 2013). This book kick-started my endless fascination with this forgotten star of the 1930s and 1940s and I see no signs of it abating any time soon.

Books:
  • A Life of Barbara Stanwyck Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson
  • Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel by Christina Rice
  • John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman
  • Hollywood Gothic by David J. Skal

I'd love to know what your favourite classic film-related discoveries were in 2014! Tell me about them in the comments section down below!

December 15, 2014

TCM Remembers 2014


Man, these memorial tributes kill me every year (well done TCM, really).

I want you to take a few minutes and watch the video I've embedded up above. I'll wait for you. Right, now that you've seen it and have probably shed a tear, I want you to know that this is how a memorial tribute should look (unlike those lame ones that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences produce for the Oscars each year). Everything about the TCM tributes is amazing from the soundtrack to the visuals and from the film clips to the voice-overs. The placement of each deceased star is also really important too and TCM nails it; I hate to say it, but the more well-known personalities always have the perfect placement in the video and the most satisfying length of time dedicated to them in each video tribute.

I went into watching this year's memorial tribute expecting a massive spotlight to be shone on Lauren Bacall. Her death on August 12th is the one that upset me the most and I couldn't wait to see what TCM had done for her here. We had all said, upon her passing, that Bogie (her late husband Humphrey Bogart, for those of you not in-the-know) was up there waiting for her and I'm glad to say we weren't far wrong because at the clip's 2:26 mark we hear Bogie say "I'll be waiting for you." Oh my God all the feels!

This year, TCM saved the most touching clip for last - believe me when I say I have goosebumps just typing this sentence out - a young Shirley Temple signing Auld Lang Syne before the clip fades to black. I'd be lying if I said I didn't burst into tears at that point (man, you probably think I cry at the drop of a hat). Shirley Temple passed away earlier this year on February 10th at the ripe old age of eighty-five. Another portion of the clip that gave me shivers was at the 4:11 mark: Mickey Rooney being congratulated whole-heartedly upon his return to Boys Town in BOYS TOWN (1938).

What did you think of this year's TCM Remembers video tribute? I'd love to know which clips were your favourites and which part(s) of the video moved you to tears. Tell me all about it in the comments section down below!

December 12, 2014

Wintertime Film Funks

Buster Keaton

Here's something I never thought would happen in a million years: it's the holiday season and I'm in a classic film funk.

I know, right?! How is this possible?! God is probably up there on a cloud shaking his head in bewilderment at me right now. My poor soul is going straight to hell, I know it. With no connecting flight. Just straight there. I almost feel as if I'm betraying my TCM Now Playing guide - not to mention the TCM network itself - by completely ignoring it and stuffing it in my desk drawer. You know, the drawer that never gets opened or cleaned out? The black hole of desk drawers? Yeah, the TCM Now Playing guide for Decemeber 2014 is in there, wasting away.

Yes, I've watched a couple of classic films in November and I've enjoyed them but ask me if I've watched any in December and I'll come up with a blank (embarrassed) facial expression. It's like asking a bestselling author if they've written anything in the past couple of months. Ummmm nope, sorry 'bout that. How fucking shameful - not to mention anticlimactic. My job as a classic film blogger is to sit my Italian bottom down and watch old movies and because of this funk I've been in recently, I haven't been doing that. I suck at my job right now and I feel as if I'm letting you down. Now normally, the average person couldn't care less about being in a funk, but because I'm Canadian (which means I apologize for everything under the sun including the six feet of snow the poor state of Buffalo received last month), I feel it necessary to dig this hole further and further down, wallowing in my displeasure.

How do I fix this problem? What would Nick and Nora do? I'll tell you what they would do: they'd each get roaring drunk, throw a party, solve a murder mystery and escape out of town for the weekend with Asta in tow. Now, if I apply this formula to my own boring and uneventful life, it would mean that I would have to take up drinking copious amounts of alcohol, hobnob with people I couldn't care less about, find someone whose father has just been murdered, and book a hotel room in Niagara Falls for the weekend. Oh, and I'd need a dog to take with me.

I think my only option right now is to leave the office immediately, go home, and switch on TCM. Do you think the company president would allow that? There is a slim chance I'd be fired but what the hell? If I can't sacrifice my job for old movies, what can I sacrifice it for?

Has anyone else been in a classic film funk recently? Tell me about it in the comments section down below and we'll stew over this problem together.

December 10, 2014

Get to know more about me: the soundtrack to my life tag!

Shirley Manson, Garbage frontwoman and my #1 Crush

Music is a huge part of my life; I listen to it all the time and it's quite literally the thing that keeps me going when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm ill, and when I'm excited.

My parents each had comprehensive vinyl collections and when me and my solder sister were growing up, there would always be music playing in the background - I can still remember cleaning the house whilst Madonna's Like A Virgin album blasted in the background. I would sing along loudly not having any idea what her lyrics actually meant - Mummy, what's a virgin? I also remember singing along to George Michael's Faith album when I was about seven or eight years old. My family still won't let me live that one down (on account of his lyrics being so fucking dirrrrty). An eight year old child has no business singing I Want Your Sex in public.

I realize this post has absolutely nothing to do with classic film but I really wanted to share this tag with you because I think it's a wonderful way for us to get to know each other better. I tell you the songs that make up the soundtrack of my life and you leave me comments discussing yours! This tag was created by the lovely ZOE LDN and Lily Melrose. Right! Here we go:

  • Song you listen to when you're happy? Our House by Madness
  • Song you listen to when you're sad? Ordinary World by Duran Duran or Pictures of You by The Cure
  • What song will you have at your wedding? I Melt With You by Modern English
  • What song do you dance around the house to? No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age
  • Song you play on your headphones when out and about? Sunday Morning by No Doubt
  • Song you listen to when you're angry? Y'all Want A Single by Korn
  • Song you'd have at your funeral? Stop Crying Your Heart Out by Oasis
  • Song that makes you lose your shit at a party? Jump Around by House of Pain
  • The last song you listened to? Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better by Betty Hutton and Howard Keel (words and music by Irving Berlin)
  • Your karaoke song? I'd sing anything by Garbage, particularly You Look So Fine
  • What song do you work out/exercise to? Since I don't exercise (slaps own wrist) I decided to substitute this question with another one of my own: New Favourite Song? Bill Murray by Phantogram
  • Song with the most memories attached? Venus by Bananarama
  • Song that makes you cry? Bloodflood Pt. II by Alt-J
  • Song you hate the most? Santa Baby by Madonna
  • Your favourite song of all time? Patience by Guns N Roses


I'd love to know what your answers are, so leave me a comment down below!

December 8, 2014

Book Look! Thoughts On The Thin Man edited by Danny Reid


If you're buying for a classic film fan this holiday season, I've got the perfect gift idea for them (you can thank me later): THOUGHTS ON THE THIN MAN by my good friend Danny over at Pre-Code.com!

This book is available both in print and in Kindle form from Amazon and all proceeds raised are donated to the ASPCA. THOUGHTS ON THE THIN MAN is a collection of essays that discuss the film THE THIN MAN (1934), its wonderful, zany cast, its crew and the studio that made the popular Thin Man film franchise possible - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The book's list of contributors is staggering, to say the least! Prepare yourself now, here we go: Cliff Aliperti, Shane Bliss, E.A. Botta, myself (Vanessa Buttino), Judy Geater, Karen Burroughs Hannsberry, Andrew Hathaway, Leticia Magalhaes, Cameron Howard, Jared Latore, Michael James Roberson, Christina Rice, Ryan Rhinciuso, Ivan G. Shreve, Tars Tarkas, B.G. Voita, Andrew Wickliffe, Jake Woehlke, and Clint Worthington. Phew! What a mouthful!

This is the perfect gift for any classic film fan 'cause let's be real, who doesn't have a soft spot for Nick and Nora Charles (and Asta)? In all my years of obsessing over old movies, I've yet to come across someone who doesn't appreciate the film's humour, suspense, and its sizable cast of wacky characters.

Will you be picking up this month's hottest new book release? Tell me in the comments section down below! And, while you're at it, let me know who your favourite Thin Man character is!

December 5, 2014

A Lifestyle Clash: Rock vs. Glamour

Typical Me: Black Milk Clothing leggings, AllSaints treads, & a black leather bag

I'm going to ask you a question in the hopes that you can clear something up for me ...

How is it possible that someone who grew up having Korn as their favourite band can also saunter through life loving show tunes and clean-cut MGM musicals? I mean, to me, that just doesn't make sense! My musical tastes go from one extreme (shouting, blaring metal) to the other (crooning, romantic showstoppers) and there is no apparent rhyme nor reason to the formula.

The same can be said for my taste in clothing: in high school, I was a proper skater and since then I've always preferred dressing in a casual, somewhat rocker-ish way eschewing preppy vests and tight corduroy trousers in favour of black leather, bulky knitwear, and Docs. Now, if this is true - which it undeniably is - why do I fawn over classic film stars that are glamorously trussed up to within an inch of their lives in satin gowns and top hats and tails?

I love looking at a well dressed man or woman. Maybe I admire them because I know, deep down, that I'd never be able to pull off that amount of insouciance and glamour as well as they can. Maybe it's because stars like Cary Grant and Marlene Dietrich look so damn good in their finery that it's near impossible to look away. Or maybe it's the unattainably wealthy persona that people like Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer exude onscreen that attracts me (and makes me damned envious, let's be real).

You know what all this tells me? Classic film and anything remotely associated with it is the one thing in my life that stands out and doesn't 'belong' with the rest of my passions and/or preferences. Classic film and skateboards don't go hand in hand. Neither do MGM designer Adrian and a pair of AllSaints biker boots. A fancy-shmancy wine and cheese do or a night in listening to Deftones on full blast? You know I'm gonna choose the latter, right?

Don't even get me started on wearing dresses ... I'd rather prowl around naked than have to pour myself into a figure-hugging, yawn-inducing dress and I've always been this way! So why do I admire classic film stars so much?! Apart from Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn, they all wore gowns! Heck, even Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis wore 'em with relish! The point I'm trying to make here is that classic film doesn't fit into my lifestyle one bit. It's the odd man out. It's the copy of Playboy magazine in the children's section of a bookstore. It's the last stale chip left in the Lays bag.

And yet, I love classic film and everything that goes along with it with all of my heart. Nothing will change that; not a new pair of biker boots, certainly not a beat up pair of Zara jeans, and definitely not another Alt-J album.

I will say this, though: I love a good red lipstick!

December 1, 2014

Bookshop Sex: Did they do it?!

Dorothy Malone and Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP (1946)

Something's been bugging me ever since I watched THE BIG SLEEP (1946) for the first time a couple years ago ...

Okay, you know when Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) ducks inside the Acme Bookshop located across the street from Geiger's more 'upmarket' shop to spy on the sordid action taking place over yonder? And then he meets the girl behind the counter (played by the exquisite Dorothy Malone) and they get to chatting (and drinking, no less)? Did the two of them have sex? I know it's implied that they got up to a bit of rumpy-pumpy but ... did it actually happen?

Being the book lover that I am, I'm just thankful that there was a bookshop scene in the movie, but the idea of two gorgeous people copulating behind the bookshelves just sends me over the moon! I mean, the very idea of stripping off and having sex whilst surrounded by the smell of books is enough to increase my heart rate by fifty beats a minute. It might be time for me to take a breather - hang on, I'll be back in a second.

Right. I've managed to compose myself (only just). So, what do you think? Did they or did they not have sex in that Acme Bookshop? I mean, they could have just made out behind the stacks for all I know. But, if Bogie sauntered into your domain on a rather lackluster, rainy afternoon wouldn't you jump at the chance to - err - jump his bones? Oh my goodness, this is possibly the rudest post I've ever published in the history of my blogging career ... #sorrynotsorry

November 28, 2014

Happy Thankgiving: Here's what I'm thankful for!


This is going to be an emotional post, I can feel it. I promise I won't swear, though!

I am incredibly grateful to be a classic film fan. Really. If I had to be any kind of film fan, a classic one is the one I'd most like to be. Why? Well, for starters, do you have any idea how cool we look when people see us watching a black and white noir? Or a sprawling epic like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)? We look as cool as a turkey frosting it's backside in a Frigidaire freezer before being defrosted and cooked for a Thanksgiving feast (and that's cool). I'd like to think that people wish they were us every time we're spotted enjoying an old movie.

Even though I keep whining about there not being enough classic film fans in the world, I'm actually kind of thankful that we're such an exclusive club. Small numbers = intimate communities (no, not that intimate, silly). This ultimately goes back to my first point about us being cool; if there were millions and billions of us, the cool factor would subside and we'd all just be considered average and - God forbid - the 'norm.' How f--king uncool would that be?!

Oops! So much for not swearing ... I've blanked out the word, though, so that particular f-bomb doesn't count. It's my blog therefore I make my own rules!

Another reason why I'm so thankful for being a classic movie fan is because watching things like the Astaire/Rogers RKO musicals and showstoppers like GILDA (1946) and THE THIN MAN (1934) make me so unbelievably happy you'd think I was the Joker (from the perma-smile on my face, you understand). Next to books and British television, classic movies are what make me tick. They are one of my greatest passions and despite the fact that I'm getting older and many assumed I would have grown out of this particular phase at some point, I still love them - even more than I did a decade ago.

People like us - classic film aficionados - are hella unique. We're a great group of people who belong to an exclusive club (chaired by TCM's Robert Osborne, of course) and we know how good we have it. I mean, the sheer amount of DVD/bluray releases, coffee table book releases, and celebrity biographies being published is enough to send each one of us into orbit, isn't it? We're lucky that the world deemed our obsession worthy of commercialism and didn't just shoo us aside in favour of more popular fair like Ninja Turtle merchandise and One Direction barbie dolls (shudder). We have everything we need and we're happy being who we are - "old movie weirdos," right Will?

What are you thankful for? What does being a classic movie fan mean to you? Tell me about it in the comments section down below!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 26, 2014

My Holiday Wishlist!


So, how many more sleeps till Christmas?

Once the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend rolls around I become a newly christened lunatic, smiling incessantly and floating on air despite that pesky polar vortex we've all come to know and love so well. The holidays are a time to spend with family, friends, loved ones and work colleagues (get ready for those office Christmas parties!). It's a time to celebrate life, love, and all the wonderful classic film related items that randomly pop up on Amazon. Trust me, there is no other time during the year that my mouse and e-shopping cart see so much action than during the bustling holiday season.

I've compiled a short(ish) list of the items I've currently got my eye on and thanks to places like the TCM Shop and Warner Archive website, my list is bound to grow by leaps and bounds as Christmas inches closer and closer on the calendar. Here are my 2014 holiday must haves:

DVD/Bluray:
  • It Happened One Night Criterion Collection bluray
  • Batman: The Complete TV Series (Limited Edition) bluray boxset
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition bluray
  • Scarface DVD

Books:
  • Cecil B. DeMille: The Art Of the Hollywood Epic by Mark A. Vieira
  • The Making of Gone With the Wind by Steve Wilson
  • My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin
  • Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes by Matthew Kennedy

Since my family is pretty much against purchasing anything online - get with the times Mom! - I'll have to order these items for myself, by myself.  No big deal though as that's usually the way it goes every Christmas; I end up buying myself more gifts than I receive from anyone else! Hey, I'm not complaining! At least I know I won't end up with itchy wool socks and a pair of 3-D binoculars that break after just one use (yes, that's actually happened).

Tell me what you're coveting this holiday season in the comments section down below!

November 24, 2014

Modernizing A Horror Classic: Nosferatu (1922)

NOSFERATU ARTWORK BY MATT ESKEW
This is not a remake.

Film director David Fisher is on a mission to modernize NOSFERATU (1922), the great horror classic that has been giving its audience nightmares for a staggering ninety-two years. NOSFERATU was the very first film to depict a vampire on screen, and in this case his name was Count Orlok, played by the now legendary German actor Max Schreck.

Fisher plans to digitize each frame of the original silent masterpiece and have a cast of modern actors recreate the film's roles, essentially cropping them and dropping them into a world created almost one hundred years ago and inhabited by things that go bump in the night. Scary stuff, indeed. Actor Doug Jones [Hell Boy (2004), Pan's Labyrinth (2006)] will recreate the role of Count Orlok, complete with painstakingly-applied makeup reminiscent of the horrific characters created by silent film star Lon Chaney.

David Fisher has initiated a Kickstarter campaign to fund his project [click here] and at press time, the campaign was over fifty percent funded! Obviously, this is a film that many people are excited about - as am I - and I think it's particularly wonderful that young people want to get involved with such an "old movie." You guys know how it is ... every time you mention classic film, you get weird looks from people as if you've just lit your head on fire or something.

If you'd like to become involved and help support Fisher's modern retelling of NOSFERATU, head over to the film's Facebook page and Fisher's Kickstarter campaign!

DOUG JONES RECREATES THE ROLE OF COUNT ORLOK

November 21, 2014

My thoughts on the TCM Classic Film Festival #TCMFF


Plain and simple? I'm dying to go. Like, DYING!

For someone who's been a classic film fan for most of their natural born lives, I cannot believe that I've never been to one yet. I mean, what the fuck have I been doing all this time? Farting around spending money on books and trips to the UK, actually. Though I don't regret buying copious amounts of books to get stuck into and I haven't started poo-poohing my trips to London every year yet, I just wish that I had saved a little of that money I had spent for a trip to Los Angeles, California in time for one of TCM's annual film festivals.

So, what brought on this lucid pining? Only the fact that TCMFF passes went on sale last week and I was stuck sitting in front of my laptop watching my Twitter feed ignite with stupendously envy-inducing tweets from my classic film pals, telling everyone that they just landed their dream pass to the 2015 festivities. FACEPALM. Like most instances in life, I was left in the dust feeling unfulfilled and slightly grateful for the tub of Rolo ice cream we had sitting in the freezer (but then I remembered that I'm dangerously lactose intolerant so my mood got even worse).

Don't misunderstand me; I am massively happy for those who booked their passes for TCMFF 2015 and I know they're going to have a brilliant time! I've never been one of those people who boils hatred in front of a computer screen wishing everyone would just shut up about their perfect lives (and hopefully I'll never turn into an internet troll ever ever), but the fact that I felt massively upset at myself cannot be denied. I live and breathe classic film and yet, I keep screwing myself out of a chance to go to the film festival of dreams.

TCM hosts Robert Osborne + Ben Mankiewicz

And it's not just the actual screenings I'm upset at missing year after year, it's more the chance of meeting my classic film friends that has me the most pissed off. I've met the most incredible group of people online since I started tweeting and blogging and though we only exist to each other through a monitor or mobile device, I consider them my FRIENDS. Like, real live friends I can depend on and have full-blown conversations with. Together we laugh, we cry, we share massive amounts of information with, we #TCMParty, and we give each other opportunities that get us one step closer to achieving our dreams of becoming professional film reviewers and/or writers (Danny, I'm looking at you).

No doubt about it, I'll be missing TCMFF 2015, so here is what I've promised myself for TCMFF 2016:
  • I will struggle and save as much as possible for my trip to Hollywood (no more book-buying and no trip to the UK that year, SOB!).
  • I will bring my Aunt Grace with me (she's the one who introduced me to classic film way back when).
  • I'll probably be so fucking excited when I actually get to the venue that I will need to bring some adult-sized diapers with me. Yes, I will be peeing. From excitement and euphoria, you understand.
  • I will invest in a decent camera before stepping foot on a plane. I need to document this experience and I need to look back on photographs of me meeting people like Joel, Jeff, Raquel, Trevor, Karen, Cliff, Christina, Jessica, Will, and Pam whenever I start missing them too much and a computer monitor just won't suffice.
  •  Grace and I have already decided that we're going to splash out on the ultimate TCMFF pass: The Spotlight Pass. DUN DUN DUN! Go big or go home.
  • I will go to as many film screenings as I possibly can and I will also keep a look-out for my future life partner amongst the TCM-obsessed masses.
  • Despite my wanting to suffocate Robert Osborne with squishy hugs for an indefinite period of time, I will hold back and simply blow him a kiss. From a safe distance away, of course. If I get too close to him, I fear I may rob him of life.
  • Though I loathe partying and creating a ruckus, I will party hard on this trip. No doubt.

If you've already bought your passes to TCMFF 2015 tell me about it in the comments section down below! Also, tell me what your experiences have been if you've attended TCMFF in the past - what were your favourite parts - and least favourite parts - of the trip? I know booking a hotel room is going to be tough because they sell out pretty quickly, so I'm already on the look-out for suitable accommodation. Perhaps renting an apartment or house through Airbnb would be best?

November 17, 2014

Flying Solo As A Classic Film Fan


You know what sucks? Hardly anyone understands my passion for old movies. And I'm single.

This is not going to turn into a cry-for-help kinda post, I can assure you. It's more of a whimpering pleading-for-clarification type of post more than anything. Well, depending on how you see things of course. I want to know why it's so difficult to find a mate who loves classic film as much as I do. Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly fine being on my own but I had a few hours to spare over the weekend and I caught myself sitting and thinking about all the classic screenings I've been to and all the special releases I've attended and not anywhere did I spy a charming classic movie fan around the same age as me. If I were into octogenarians, well ... there were plenty of them floating about! But, rather than jumping into bed with one of them, I'd rather just sit by a cozy fireplace and have a quiet cup of tea with them, asking them to share their classic film anecdotes with me.

I suspect things would be remarkably different if I lived in, say, New York or London, where classic movie screenings and events attract wider audiences. Here in Toronto - and I'm speaking from experience here - all of the times I've gone to a cinema screening, I've been the youngest person in the theatre. The difference in age is so obvious that groups of seniors would approach me and ask me if I had walked into the wrong screening room by mistake. After putting their minds at rest and assuring them that I was in the right place and that I hadn't been forced inside by a mean grandparent, the seniors were absolutely flabbergasted - and happily surprised - that I cared for the classics as much as they did.

I'll never forget the one time I went to watch a special screening of SINGIN IN THE RAIN (1952) a couple of years ago and I got to talking to a group of seniors sitting behind me about other MGM musicals like EASTER PARADE (1948) and THE BANDWAGON (1953): a handful of us, regardless of our ages, bonded over something that we all loved equally and sat chatting like a group of mouthy kids on a school bus! It was amazing! If only I could find someone my age that I could have the same conversations with and cuddle beneath the sheets with at the same time.

I've always been blatantly honest with you, my readers, and that's why I decided to post this entry. While I was busy hashing it out on my computer on Sunday afternoon I kept thinking to myself "but will anyone actually want to read this?" and I debated, more than once, just erasing this whole thing and trashing the draft. But this is a subject that I really care about and something that bothers me all the time. Why is it so hard to find a partner with the same interest as me? I'm reminded every day how few people have actually seen an old movie before. It's rarer and rarer to find anyone who has seen MY MAN GODFREY (1936) or THE LETTER (1940) or even FRANKENSTEIN (1931), the most popular of the bunch. Us classic film fans are a dying breed indeed ...

If you're a young, single classic movie fan like myself, how do you cope? And, if you're partnered up, how does your significant other feel about your TCM obsession? Is it something the two of you bond over? Tell me about it in the comments section down below!

November 12, 2014

Book Look! Hollywood Of the Rockies* by Michael J. Spencer


I went into reading this book knowing next to nothing about the birth of motion pictures. Sure, I've watched the odd silent film or two, but we're talking motion pictures from the early 1900s here! And, no matter how many documentaries I've seen in the past about the history of the movies, nothing compares to immersing yourself in a good book on a cold day; I find that, personally, I retain a lot more information if I read it in the form of a book rather than see it play before me on the screen.

Hollywood Of the Rockies: Colorado, the West & America's Film Pioneers starts right at the beginning, assuming that its audience knows absolutely nothing about the history of film. This is one of the great things I liked about this book; at times I felt like I was at school attending a lecture and the professor standing at the front of the room was teaching me everything I needed to know about the subject. Author Michael J. Spencer's prose was easy to follow, easy to understand, and it sunk right in.

Sure, it's a rather short book, but it introduces and builds upon some really neat technological advances and a cast of characters that made modern Hollywood what it is today. People like the Lumiere brothers, Thomas Edison, popular screen cowboy Tom Mix, Harry "Buck" Buckwalter, and Gilbert "Broncho Billy" Anderson are profiled in this book along with their rise to stardom and their contributions to the film industry. It turns out that the American film industry actually began in and around Colorado (hence the title of Spencer's book) despite us thinking that it had its roots in California. According to Spencer "the Colorado West [...] helped create the western, a genre that remained a staple of American films for decades," and you know what? It makes perfect sense.

The Colorado landscape is absolutely beautiful and if this is where film was born, no wonder it took off and became the money-making industry it is today! Back in the early 1900s, films were made solely outdoors because big studio lights hadn't been invented yet. So, even interior sets were constructed out of doors and filming took place on clear, sunny days. The summertime Colorado climate was perfect for that and allowed filmmakers to work in glorious conditions surrounded by glorious landscapes. What more could one ask for?

Harry "Buck" Buckwalter hailed the picture show business as "the poor man's grand opera" and he was one hundred percent correct. You could buy a movie ticket for a nickel or a dime back then and be entertained for just over an hour, sometimes even by a double bill! Ahh the glory days, eh? I really enjoyed reading this book and learning more about an industry that I've loved practically since birth. The only downside to reading a book like this one is that it ends too quickly (the book is just shy of 160 pages). Still, Hollywood Of the Rockies is definitely worth picking up whether you decide to buy yourself a copy or borrow it from your local library.

If you're interested in purchasing this book through Amazon, click here.

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