Friday, July 14, 2017

CMBA Blog Profile: Stars and Letters

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Janet from Stars and Letters.

Stars and Letters is a movie (and history) lover's dream.

The site provides letters written by Classic Hollywood filmmakers such as David O. Selznick, Marilyn Monroe and Richard Burton, among many others. With each letter (or note or telegram), Janet provides a transcript in case the image of the original is somewhat illegible.

These letters are gems, providing an intimate snapshot of contract negotiations, responses to fans and even celebrity life. For example, look at Greta Garbo's 1963 letter to Jackie Kennedy.

"Although Garbo's letter is just a very short thank-you to her hostess," says Janet, "I really like the story behind Garbo's letter, the fact that it solved the mystery of President Kennedy's missing 'tooth'."

You can read Greta's letter to Jackie HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Stars and Letters: Both my parents are classic film fans so I grew up watching old films. The films I saw during my childhood were mainly westerns, swashbucklers and MGM musicals, and most of them I initially watched dubbed in German. (I am Dutch, grew up without cable television and classic Hollywood films were mainly shown on German television.) Much later I discovered other films I liked, like film noirs and even later pre-codes. Although I also like a good modern film, I do have a strong preference for classic films. (And there are enough classic films I haven't seen yet to last me a lifetime!)

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Stars and Letters: I would call a Hollywood film a "classic" if it was made between the late 1920s and mid-1960s (my favourite decades being the 1930s and 1940s). Obviously, in a different sense, a "classic" is a film that has stood the test of time, that can be viewed over and over again and still be amazing, whether an old classic like Casablanca or a modern classic like The Shawshank Redemption. 
CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Stars and Letters: I would simply recommend some of my personal favourites, such as Stage Door, His Girl Friday, The Apartment, The Adventures of Robin Hood (my favourite swashbuckler), Remember the Night (my favourite Christmas film)How can anyone not like these?!

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Stars and Letters: Because they are so sophisticated and stylish, and not just because of the way they look (set design, cinematography, costumes, glamorous looking actors/actresses), but also because of the way people talked, the dialogue, without using the f*word all the time. And even with a bad classic film (and there are a lot of those), there is almost always something in it worthwhile. Also, classic Hollywood provided genres which have basically disappeared now. Screwball comedies, film-noir, westerns, swashbucklers, musicals and pre-codes (if you can call the latter a genre) – they are part of a bygone era and should all be cherished.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Stars and Letters: My blog is different from other CMBA blogs. I post classic Hollywood correspondence along with related background information. I love searching the internet for letters and the stories behind them. And when I find something interesting or surprising, I can really get a kick out of that! That Clara Bow was a Marlon Brando fan, for example, I never knew before doing this blog.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Stars and Letters: I rely on material I can find on the internet and while there is enough classic Hollywood correspondence to be found, it's not always easy to come up with something exciting. And because of the lack of time, I don't post as much as I want to.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Stars and Letters: Pick a topic you like and write about that (whether it's reviews or something else). I think it's imperative that you love what you're doing, it should be fun and not feel like homework. Only when you enjoy doing your blog, it will be able to survive. And try to post on a regular basis (I should follow my own advice!). But even if you don't post regularly, if you love your blog you will always come back to it.

Thank you for joining us, Janet! You can visit Stars and Letters HERE.

Friday, June 30, 2017

CMBA Blog Profile: An Ode to Dust

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Nicole from An Ode to Dust.

You could say An Ode to Dust is an adventuresome blog.

In addition to film critique and Hollywood history, Nicole delves into many subjects on her site, such as book reviews, festival coverage and road trips to discover areas connected with classic film.

She has an appreciation for the legends, such as Audrey Hepburn and Buster Keaton, but she has a very special connection with Lon Chaney who, like Nicole, was a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults).

"I have been looking for ways to connect Deaf culture to film history," says Nicole, "and when I found out that Lon Chaney was also a fellow CODA, I was over the moon. Every so often, I try to share little bits of Deaf culture (along with my experiences as a CODA) through my writing, hoping to shed some light on a subject that is so unfamiliar to many."

You can read Nicole's piece on Lon Chaney HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
An Ode to Dust: I can only recall watching a lot of older comedy shows with my dad while I was growing up—mainly I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Three Stooges, and assorted cartoons like Tom & Jerry and Felix the Cat. As far as films, I do remember watching The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Singin’ in the Rain, and The Birds. As I got older, I found myself becoming more interested in watching films from the 1950s and 1960s, and one way or another, I wanted to see even more of what classic cinema had to offer.

CMBA: What makes a film a “classic” in your opinion?
An Ode to Dust: I would say “classic” means something that is timeless, highly-revered, spans across multiple generations, and holds some sort of significant meaning to people. However, if we’re talking “classic” as an adjective rather than a noun, I usually think of classic films ranging from the talkie era to somewhere before the 1970s. The cutoff date is still a bit hazy for me.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
An Ode to Dust: I would have to tailor my suggestions depending on the person and figuring out which aspects they seem to like in a film. However, I will hands-down recommend Buster Keaton to anyone at any time. I find his work so accessible, down-to-earth, and fun for all ages. I’d probably start off by showing one of his early silent shorts, maybe something like One Week or The Scarecrow.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
An Ode to Dust: I personally find it fascinating that classic film allows us to see people in past eras living and breathing and moving (even if they are acting out a story), and that life was still going on in a way that words and still images can’t fully capture. Film records a certain essence of time in motion, and in a much more spatial sense. From its beginnings, you can see layers of history develop through the history of film itself.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
An Ode to Dust: I love that I have a space to share my own thoughts and be able to look back on memories or sentiments regarding a specific film or event. It is an extension of my passion and a place where I can hone my writing skills, all while connecting with many like-minded people of whom I would have otherwise never met before.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
An Ode to Dust: I tend to go overboard on proofreading. While it may be good practice, I end up stressing myself out a lot because of it. Another issue is finding the time and energy to write during the middle of a busy semester. Somehow, I’ve been able to get through the latter all right by updating at least once a month, but I’m still struggling to find a way to break my intense proofreading dilemma.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
An Ode to Dust: Definitely have a strong enthusiasm for what you want to write about and share. Even if it’s for an audience of none, just keep writing whenever you can. Don’t worry too much about finding a “niche” or a “voice” right away. With time, that will develop. Find other blogs you’d enjoy reading and interact with them. You can learn a lot through others. Joining a blogathon is a good way of doing this!

Thank you for joining us, Nicole! You can visit An Ode to Dust HERE.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

CMBA Blog Profile: GlamAmor

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Kimberly from GlamAmor.

Kimberly of GlamAmor is a true CMBA celebrity.

Not only is she the manager of marketing at Sony Pictures Television, she's a popular lecturer at the historic Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica with her series on "History of Fashion in Film".

Kimberly has spent her time in the trenches doing research on – and writing about – fashion and film history, and she acts as a consultant for several organizations including TCM, BBC Worldwide, Christie's Inc., and the Los Angeles Tourism Board.

GlamAmor is a fascinating site with articles, event coverage and taped interviews. One of her favorite interviews is with Monika Henreid, the daughter of an accomplished Hollywood actor.

"I thoroughly enjoyed doing my interview with Monika Henreid," says Kimberly. "It offered the opportunity to put a spotlight on costume designer Orry-Kelly as well as delve into the backstories of both Now, Voyager and Casablanca with the daughter of Paul Henreid. I also want to work more in front of the camera, so this was a great experience to both host and produce the project."

You can watch Kimberly's interview HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
GlamAmor: Like so many, my interest began with my family. My father was a police officer and would watch film noir when he came home after work – The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and many others. As a child, I came to love them, too. Then when I was older, the Hitchcock films became another gateway into more and more classic cinema.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
GlamAmor: Of course there's much debate about this. I tend to think of movies from the dawn of Hollywood through 1979 as being part of classic cinema. But there are movies beyond that timeframe that have a high quality about them – from direction to acting to production design – as well as a timelessness that can qualify them as classics, too.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
GlamAmor: Oh, the Hitchcock movies are an easy way to address this. They have a certain style about them that appeals to most people. I see people light up when I mention them.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
GlamAmor: This is my mission in life, really, teaching and reminding people why they should care about classic film. Those movies are the originals – so much of what we see coming from Hollywood today relate in some way to those classics. This is also true in something that I focus on in my work, which is the costume design and overall style. The fashion industry draws inspiration from classic cinema all the time. Really, for anyone in the arts, classic cinema remains a source of inspiration. It proves the ongoing relevance of these films.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
GlamAmor: Sharing what I know and love about classic film, and being able to reach an audience around the world.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
GlamAmor: I don't think the website itself has presented challenges, other than the technical ones we all deal with.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
GlamAmor: Make sure you write about something that you truly know and love, not what you think you should be writing about for the audience or advertising, for example.  Also make sure you pick a pace - how often you post - that's something that you can do without it overwhelming you. It's not as much about quantity as it is about quality.

Thank you for joining us, Kimberly! You can visit GlamAmor HERE.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CMBA Blog Profile: Speakeasy

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Kristina from Speakeasy. 

As an enthusiastic supporter of classic movies, Kristina not only writes about film on her website, Speakeasy, and in The Dark Pages Newsletter, she co-hosts numerous blogathons including the annual Great Villains Blogathon and the O Canada! Blogathon.

She's introduced many well-known films to new classic movie fans, but you might say her speciality is discovering and promoting lesser-known gems. One such film is Highway 301.

"The 1950 crime movie Highway 301 is a good example of all the reasons I do this," says Kristina. "It's the excitement of discovering a new favourite, of seeing some memorable technique and style, spotting connections to iconic and modern films, and the fun of highlighting underrated and overlooked people and movies."

You can read Kristina's review of Highway 301 HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Speakeasy: Seeing Hitchcock movies for the first time was big, so was watching the wonderful Elwy Yost talk about classics on TV (in Canada). Really there was no one spark, since my family liked all movies, new and old, so I grew up being interested in everything, and learned not to be a snob, curmudgeon or closed off to any era, country, genre or subject of movies. I love new ones as much as classics, I just like to blog classics because they can always use more attention, and I like to get people interested enough to look at them without snark or cynicism.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Speakeasy: No matter when it was made, it still has power to move you, it says something relevant about life today, has lasting value in storytelling, acting or filmmaking, was groundbreaking, or perfectly captures a universal experience. To me there’s no strict cut-off date, and there are B’s, guilty pleasures and recent movies I think are as classic, entertaining and valuable as pre-1960, art films or Oscar winners. 

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies? 
Speakeasy: Depends on what they like and what their complaints are about old movies. Pre-Codes are a good eye-opener for people who think oldies were tame and prudish, or didn’t address the realities of life and society. So movies I recommend are: Three on a Match, Baby Face, Trouble in Paradise, Invisible Man, Horse Feathers, Scarface – there are tons from that era. Other good gateway movies: The Thin Man, Gun Crazy, Rear Window, Nightmare Alley, Rio Bravo, My Darling Clementine, Adventures of Robin Hood

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Speakeasy: Because a good movie is a good movie, forget what year it was made. If you call yourself a movie fanatic then you should be open-minded and curious, eager to explore and see how we got here. 

Because they’re fascinating looks into history and how acting and filmmaking developed. 

For the thrill of discovery, because most things have been done before, and it’s always fun to have those eureka moments when you watch something old and see where Tarantino, DePalma, Scorsese, Miller, Mangold or whoever, got that thing you like.

For the joy of falling in love with some new-to-you director, actor, genre or country, and wanting to eat up everything else they did.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Speakeasy: Bringing attention to overlooked movies and, in my case, the comments section, because I’m lucky to have many commenters who know tons about movies. They point out things I didn’t know, and suggest what I should see next. 

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Speakeasy: Finding time and desire to stop and write something when I’d rather use my free time to watch another movie. Also, since I’m no expert or critic, I often feel I have nothing new or important to say and I’d rather think and learn more instead of rushing to do an insta-review – not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I love to tell people about a cool movie I just saw, so that enthusiasm is always good motivation. 

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Speakeasy: Write what the movie made you feel or think, and what point it's trying to make, don't just sum the plot. Do a blog your way, your voice, your pace, your taste. That’s what keeps it from feeling like a chore, makes it something worth writing and reading among the millions of blogs out there. 

Thank you for joining us, Kristina! You can visit Speakeasy HERE.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Underseen and Underrated, the CMBA Spring Blogathon!

The Classic Movie Blog Association is proud to present its spring blogathon, Underseen and Underrated, running from May 15th through 19th. Please tune into the blogs below on the dates listed to read some writers stumping for a few hidden gems!

May 15th 

·         24 Frames – Between the Lines ( 1977 )
·         A Person in the Dark – Carrie ( 1952 ) 

May 16th 

May 17th

May 18th 

·         Caftan Woman – Simon and Laura ( 1955 ) 

May 19th 

·         Pre-Code.Com – Rafter Romance ( 1933 ) 
·         Second Sight Cinema – Peter Ibbetson ( 1935 ) 
·         Backlots – The Dark Mirror ( 1946 ) 

And here are other banners for members to choose from:

This page will be updated as we get closer to the date.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

CMBA Blog Profile: Old Hollywood Films

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month. Today we're featuring Amanda from Old Hollywood Films.

Amanda at Old Hollywood Films brings a clear-eyed, journalistic approach to classic film.

Like any good journalist, Amanda concentrates on the important or most interesting aspects of a film she's reviewing. Her posts are lively and informative.

In addition to film reviews, she presents a weekly TCM Viewer's Guide that includes celebrity birthdays, TCM daily highlights, and a helpful feature entitled "Best Day to DVR".

Old Hollywood Films provides historical context with film reviews, which reflects Amanda's interest in history. One example is The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

"I think this film is a good illustration of films depicting history (in this case the Great Depression)," she says. In her review she notes, "[N]o one experienced more misery than those Americans who survived the Dust Bowl, which was one of the worst environmental disasters in American history."

You can read Amanda's post on The Grapes of Wrath HERE

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Old Hollywood Films: I've loved classic movies since I was a child. The local PBS station used to air a rotation of classic movies every Saturday night that included Maytime, Wuthering Heights, West Side Story, Summer Stock, Citizen Kane, The Third Man, and An American in Paris. My dad also had a collection of home videos that included most of the best John Ford films.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Old Hollywood Films: For the purposes of my blog, I consider a "classic" movie anything made between roughly 1927-1970. I mostly write about sound films made within the old Hollywood studio system, but I do sometimes write about silent movies and foreign films. Of course, the quality of these "classic" films vary, but, because of the manner in which the studio system operated, most of the movies are well-made and entertaining. Even the B pictures are better than some of the Hollywood product released today.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Old Hollywood Films: His Girl Friday because it's fast-paced and has modern gender roles and The Spiral Staircase for horror/suspense fans. For those who don't like black-and-white movies, I would pick late fifties Hitchcock (To Catch a Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much, North by Northwest).

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Old Hollywood Films: No. 1, classic movies are an art form. In my opinion, the movies of the old Hollywood studio system represent one of the greatest artistic achievements in history, right up there with the painters of the Italian Renaissance and the 19th century English novel (I know that sounds grandiose, but I think it stands up to scrutiny). Second, the movies are a living history of the 20th century from World War I right through to the atomic age. If you want to learn about Prohibition watch the gangster movies of the thirties, or if you want to understand nuclear paranoia watch the sci-fi movies of the 1950s.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Old Hollywood Films: I enjoy the creative process of writing the articles, but the best part is when people say that my articles have encouraged them to watch a classic movie.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Old Hollywood Films: I never have enough time to write all the articles I want. I haven't figured out a solution to time management yet, but that's life.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Old Hollywood Films: First, watch as many movies as you can and pay attention to the films while you are watching them. You will learn so much by simply being observant to camera placement, dialogue, style, etc. Second, go to the library and read as many books about classic movies as you can. There's a treasure trove of material out there about classic movies.

Thank you for joining us, Amanda! You can visit Old Hollywood Films HERE.