The Classic Film & TV Guide to Comic-Con 2014

San Diego Comic-Con has grown over the years from a sleepy exchange of comic books in a hotel basement to a massive pop culture Event, attracting hundreds of thousands of people to the San Diego area. There’s a lot beyond the blockbuster movie panels that seem to grab most of the headlines nowadays, including an expansive show floor of exhibitors and a bustling array of smaller panels, including many that will be particularly enticing to fans of classic film and television. Check below for some of Comic-Con’s highlights in classic film and TV, from panels to parties… and also note that I’ve temporarily adjusted my definition of “vintage” to just being outside the past 30 years, to allow for a little more wiggle room. Continue Reading →


Accidentally Hilarious: Just Imagine (1930)

Imagine a world where you commute to work by hoverplane, consume all your food and drink via a digestible tablet, and use a sequence of letters and numbers as a name. That’s the speculative setting of Just Imagine, the 1930 sci-fi musical that takes place in the far-off future of… 1980. Aside from that veneer, it’s a simple enough story: boy loves girl, girl loves boy, but girl’s engaged to another man. But the veneer is really what makes this film memorable—for better or worse. Continue Reading →


John Ford’s My Darling Clementine

Although the legend of Wyatt Earp and his gunfight at the O.K. Corral seem like a familiar piece of American folklore to us now, the story wasn’t actually common knowledge until decades after it happened—and even then, it only entered the public imagination through the magic of media. Stuart Lake’s 1931 book, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall, was monumental in introducing the public to the story of the Western lawman, who had passed away just two years prior. From the pages of that book came three direct cinematic adaptations, the last of which, John Ford’s My Darling Clementine (1946), was an especially popular and an essential component in establishing the myth of the man and his legendary shootout. Continue Reading →


Rare Musicals on TCM – July 2014

A slow start to the month, musical-wise, so I took the long weekend off from updates! But there’s some rare stuff coming up that may be of interest to die-hard musical fans, featuring some big stars in minor works that are a bit difficult to track down normally. Continue Reading →


MGM at 90: Gene Kelly

Few other performers can claim the title of “triple threat” so handily as Gene Kelly did with MGM in the 1940s and ’50s as an actor, a singer, and, of course, a dancer. But his career wasn’t limited to only those three titles; throughout the course of his professional life, he was also a producer, a director, a writer, a choreographer, and, all the while, an athlete. For a studio that claimed “more stars than there are in heaven,” Kelly was one of their brightest, an indelible association with the genre MGM took to new heights: the movie musical. Continue Reading →

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Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

It takes a lot of skill to make a movie look easy, and when Billy Wilder’s at his best, his films can appear almost effortless, moving forward so naturally that I’m often surprised, and a bit disappointed, when they’re over. One stunning example of his prowess in that regard is Witness for the Prosecution, the 1957 film he adapted (with Larry Marcus and Harry Kumitz) and directed, from an original short story and play by mystery master Agatha Christie. The theatrical origins of the story really highlight Wilder’s skill in crafting the narrative through dialogue, character actions, and camera work, as well as showing off some incredible performances from a great cast. Continue Reading →


1967 in Film: Tony Rome (1967)

The late 1960s were a turbulent time of new cultures, changing norms, and shifting values, and one place that was immediately obvious was in Hollywood. With the downfall of the studio system, the impending doom of the Code, and the radical growth of political cinema around the world, the American movie industry was working hard to alter its course and deliver films that would satisfy a hungry audience of increasingly younger viewers looking for something new. So it’s fitting that even the detective movie, a standard genre since nearly the inception of film, had been turned on its head a bit at this time—in 1967, we saw crime films increasingly turn away from the infallible hardboiled super genius, moving instead to neo-noir and counterculture films like In the Heat of the NightIn Cold Blood, and Tony Rome. Continue Reading →

Rin Tin Tin, and friend

Book Review: Cinematic Canines

Dogs have been significant players in motion picture industry right from the beginning, and their important contributions are highlighted in Adrienne L. McLean’s collection, Cinematic Canines: Dogs and Their Work in the Fiction Filmpublished by the Rutgers University Press. The book is a compilation of essays from various authors that cover a range of canine performances, from stars like Asta, Rin Tin Tin, and Lassie, to the anonymous dogs who served as little more than extras, but who were nevertheless, and importantly, present in the frame alongside humans. Continue Reading →


New Classic Film Series: Mondays at the Montalban

Though most people today may remember Ricardo Montalbán for his work on television—Star Trek and Fantasy Island, to name a few—he first came to fame under contract at MGM in the 1940s and ’50s in roles that touted him as a handsome “exotic” type, a kind of Ramon Novarro or Rudy Valentino for the postwar set. Throughout his film career, he starred in a variety of romances, comedies, noirs, and westerns, and that section of his life is the subject of a new classic film screening series at the historic Hollywood theater that now bears his name: The Montalbán, at Hollywood and Vine. Continue Reading →


Rare Musicals on TCM – June 2014

Some interesting pics this month, thanks to some fun theme days and nights over on TCM—including a couple selections that exist in my archives, which always makes me feel productive. Not a ton of must-sees for me this month, which is probably good as I’m still catching up from the salute to MGM last month and a few remaining not-on-DVD Gene Kelly dramas from the month before. But let me know if there are any favorites in here that I should be taping! Continue Reading →