The 87th Annual Valentino Memorial Service

When Rudolph Valentino died in 1926 at the age of 31, he left in his wake a massive audience of heartbroken fans—and one of those tragic, inherently private situations that the Hollywood spectacle machine enjoys stoking the most. For days before the final report of his passing, newspapers had offered conflicting, yet (they swore) definitive accounts of his health status, and even today, rumors abound about the circumstances that led to his death. Of course, many of these stories were simply the result of creative gossipmongers and purposeful misinformation, but the questions surrounding his demise contributed to a legendary air of mystique… one that now, sadly, often seems to overshadow his life of work. Continue Reading →


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1984-a-thon: Purple Rain (1984)

By the 1980s, the movie musical was… well, far beyond the time of transition. Since their heyday in the ’30s and ’40s, musicals had become limited to just a handful of movies per year, without a lot to choose from—Disney films for kids, pop hits designed to sell soundtracks, the occasional prestigious musical dramas, and the cheesy movies that seemed to capture everything cringeworthy of their era. For the studios financing the films, musicals were, to put it mildly, anything but a sure thing. That’s partly what makes Purple Rain such an interesting moment in film history—though it’s easy to see its significance 25 years after the fact, Purple Rain is still a weird, weird movie. Continue Reading →


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Edith Head Honored at Comic-Con, UCLA

While most of the costumes featured in San Diego Comic-Con’s annual Masquerade typically run towards video game, comic, anime, and blockbuster genre film characters, this year’s had a little something special for the classic film fan: Edith Head! Continue Reading →


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British Invasion: Summer Holiday (1963)

Considering the historical entwinement of the United States and Britain, for the most part, people on either side of the Atlantic know where to spot the differences between our two cultures. The chips, the crisps, biscuits, boots, and lifts—as an American, I can accept all of those fairly easily, and will enthusiastically bring them up upon encountering any British patriots. But there are always blind spots—the little things you don’t always stop to think about, the everyday, commonplace concepts and public figures we each take for granted that have no cultural resonance outside their respective home country. Continue Reading →


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Rare Musicals on TCM – August 2014

Summer Under the Stars is back! TCM’s annual celebration of classic Hollywood features a slew of entertaining pictures with some of the biggest and brightest names. Musical-wise, your best bets are to keep an eye on August 4 (Judy Garland), August 25 (Dick Powell), and August 30 (Betty Grable). But the whole months is full of wonderful treats! Continue Reading →


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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 →


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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 →


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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 →


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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 →


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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 →