7 items from 2015
Call it grassroots marketing in the Motor City. TCM is lending its feed this weekend to a Halloween-themed fundraiser for the last independent theater left in the heart of Detroit.
Cinema Detroit is run by Paula Guthat, a movie buff and TCM enthusiast who created the “TCMParty” hashtag on Twitter in 2011. That started a periodic live-tweeting effort for a movie airing on the Turner cabler but has since evolved into an 24/7 conversation thread for vintage film fanatics.
Guthat and her husband, Tim Guthat, recently moved their Cinema Detroit operation to a new facility. The theater programs a mix of contemporary indie and arthouse titles along with vintage and cult-fave pics. But Cinema Detroit needs to buy new digital equipment in order to continue screening contemporary movies, which come with encryption that only runs on pricey Digital Cinema Initiatives-compliant equipment. Cinema Detroit launched a crowd funding effort to raise $50,000 to buy a new projector. »
- Cynthia Littleton
Val Lewton’s third horror film, The Leopard Man (1943) initially seemed promising. Based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel Black Alibi, it had more pedigree than Lewton’s previous movies. He reunited his previous team: director Jacques Tourneur, writer Ardel Wray, even Dynamite, the black leopard from Cat People. Forced again to film on the Rko lot, he sent Wray to photograph Santa Fe, New Mexico and crafted meticulous sets around her snapshots. Despite this attention to detail, The Leopard Man is one of Lewton’s weakest efforts.
The plot is simple enough. Nightclub entertainers James (Dennis O’Keefe) and Kiki (Jean Brooks) arrive in Santa Fe with a leopard in tow; Kiki’s rival Clo-Clo (Margo) scares the cat, which escapes into the city. The leopard kills a Mexican girl, sending the city into a panic. Several other women die, but James grows convinced that the leopard isn’t behind them. »
- Christopher Saunders
1952's Si muero antes de despertar is adapted from a novella by William Irish, better known as Cornell Woolrich. Adapting the story to an Argentinian setting makes little difference, and in fact the added element of Catholic guilt perhaps darkens and intensifies the noir atmosphere. The poetic handling of this tale of murder and suspense, and the way a train blasts through the frame, strobe-lighting a frightened child, recall Val Lewton's production The Leopard Man, also set south of the border and also based on a Woolrich tale.Carlos Hugo Christensen had a particular liking for the film noir aesthetic and stories of shadowy deeds (the same year also saw him release a striking compendium film, No abras nunca esa puerta / Never Open That Door, based on two short stories by Woolrich). He brings expressionistic brio to the story of a truculent schoolboy who is sworn to secrecy by »
- David Cairns
Viewers expecting to see a lighthearted 'Cisco Kid' swashbuckler got a surprise with William Wellman's movie: it's a tragedy about a genuine historical California bandit who may have been an outlaw terrorist, avenging murderous discrimination against Mexican-Americans in the Gold Rush days. Hangings, rape and massacres -- not your average popcorn matinee fare for 1936. The Robin Hood of El Dorado DVD-r The Warner Archive Collection 1936 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 85 min. / Street Date May 26, 2015 / available through the WBshop / 18.49 Starring Warner Baxter, Ann Loring, Bruce Cabot, Margo, J. Carrol Naish, Soledad Jimenez, Carlos De Valdez, Eric Linden, Edgar Kennedy, Charles Trowbridge, Harvey Stephens, Marc Lawrence. Cinematography Chester Lyons Film Editor Robert J. Kern Original Music Herbert Stothart Written by William A. Wellman, Joseph Calleia, Melvin Levy, from a book by Walter Noble Burns Produced by John W. Considine Jr. Directed by William A. Wellman
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
I'm always »
- Glenn Erickson
Few comics sit at the intersection of “fan beloved,” “industry defining,” and “absolutely impossible to acquire” the way the EC Comics library does. For a while they almost felt like Comics’ very own Holy Grail. On one hand, you’ve got the Tales From The Crypt brand itself, which has left an indelible mark on pop culture with films, cable TV series, Saturday morning cartoons, and a line of revival graphic novels from Papercutz — a proud legacy, to be sure. But on the other hand, you enter into the more nebulous region of pop cultural osmosis, and it’s there that the legend of Bill Gaines’ little comic line that could grows to gargantuan levels. The baby boomers that ate his ghoulish “mags” up in the early ‘50s eventually grew into the genre fiction movers and shakers of the ‘70s and ‘80s — from cult directors like George Romero and Joe Dante, »
- Luke Dorian Blackwood
If you’re a diehard horror fan, you no doubt recognize the strides that “classic” horror films took to get us where we are today. While these films are indeed respected, they are often considered hokey, now that the bar for our tolerance of fear has climbed so high in the last 85 or more years. Naturally, as we change as human beings, so do the fears and expectations of each passing generation, be it the result of advances in science, social norms or the general state of humanity. A great example, as much as I find the subtle shadow play and slow-burn dread of John Carpenter’s Halloween terrifying, younger folks may find Rob Zombie’s loose remake/revision to be a much more frightening and socially-relative film with its abrasive depiction of graphic violence. A quality horror film, and what is often recognized as a “classic”, is one that »
- Josh Soriano
Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine' 1938: Jean Renoir's film noir (photo: Jean Gabin and Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine') (See previous post: "'Cat People' 1942 Actress Simone Simon Remembered.") In the late 1930s, with her Hollywood career stalled while facing competition at 20th Century-Fox from another French import, Annabella (later Tyrone Power's wife), Simone Simon returned to France. Once there, she reestablished herself as an actress to be reckoned with in Jean Renoir's La Bête Humaine. An updated version of Émile Zola's 1890 novel, La Bête Humaine is enveloped in a dark, brooding atmosphere not uncommon in pre-World War II French films. Known for their "poetic realism," examples from that era include Renoir's own The Lower Depths (1936), Julien Duvivier's La Belle Équipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937), and particularly Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) and Daybreak (1939). This thematic and »
- Andre Soares
7 items from 2015
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