5 items from 2011
Part of a series by David Cairns on forgotten pre-Code films.
"Crime must not pay" is one of the most debilitating rules the Hays Code imposed on Hollywood. It's relatively easy for a filmmaker to work around crazy bans on words ("pregnant"), body parts (gone, all those extreme-longshot buttocks) or gestures (Frank McHugh raises a finger in Parachute Jumper), but when a philosophical ideal is given the weight of narrative law, cinema is forced back into the nursery. The filmmakers operating under this draconian blue pencil developed devious skills to bypass rulings and imply rather than say the unsayable, and it arguably helped their craft, but at the same time, certain kinds of stories just become impossible to tell honestly.
From time to time, major organizations such as the AFI give us lists of the best movies of all time. There's some kind of grand countdown from 100 to 1 and then we debate for a few days over how low this one was ranked or why was another ranked too high. And most of the time, we rarely get a glimpse behind the process. Time Out London has just released their list of the 100 Best Comedies Of All Time but have done it in a fun and uniquely transparent way. They surveyed over 200 people who work in, with, or around comedy and asked them for their top tens. Then they averaged all those lists together to come up with the top 100. The best part, though, is that all the lists are public. So instead of just listing the 100 best comedies of all time, we can also find out which ten comedies »
- Germain Lussier
Originally published in the Guardian on 15 August 1977
Twelve years after his death, Stan Laurel has somehow managed to get the little Cumbria town of Ulverston into another fine mess. Stanley Arthur Jefferson didn't know what he was letting the place in for when he was born there in 1890. The comedian who found fame as the skinny, snivelling half of Laurel and Hardy was brought up by his maternal grandmother at 3 Argyll Street for the first six years of his life.
And last week Ulverston decided to put on a Grand Stan Laurel Exhibition. Ulverston's Most Famous Son, trumpeted the hoardings – until somebody pointed out that Councillor So-and-so, of fragrant memory, who introduced Belisha beacons to the town in 1952, or perhaps did something else even worthier, was more relevant to Ulverston than a dead film comic who disappeared off to America and, moreover, was married several times and was reputed to drink. »
Two days ago, David Phelps and I had the privilege to sit down and talk to Dave Kehr, who we consider to be one of America's best film critics. Luckily for us all, Kehr is still writing criticism; he currently writes regularly for the New York Times and casually hosts a small and impassioned film discussion community on his website, davekehr.com. He is now publishing a wonderful book of his criticism from the 1970s and 1980s in a collection called "When Movies Mattered: Reviews from a Transformative Decade", which includes terrific pieces on City of Pirates, Raoul Walsh (re-printed here), Risky Business, Carl Th. Dreyer, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, and many more. It is essential reading: crisp, clear prose that leads the reader through a film or a filmmaker's work, characterizing and encapsulating, providing evidence simply, accurately, and expressively. On the occasion of the book's publication, the »
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie QuotesGone with the Wind (1939)
The Godfather (1972)
"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." — Marlon Brando as Don Corleone »
5 items from 2011
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