Sunday, January 31, 2016

CMBA Blogger Profile: A Person in the Dark


The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're celebrating Marsha from A Person in the Dark, who is also our current CMBA Chairperson.

Classic movie bloggers have a great sense of humour, and no one demonstrates that more than Marsha of A Person in the Dark.

Marsha's blog will make you laugh out loud, but she also writes with great empathy about some of classic Hollywood's tragic figures. One example is this profile of actress Alma Rubens.

"I do not consider myself a critic, only a fan," says Marsha. "I love the movies and I love the stars of old Hollywood. I especially like to write about them from a fan's perspective and am always happy if I can collar a convert along the way."

Marsha's twin passions for classic film and Cary Grant is evident in this post HERE. She's sharing it because, she jokes, "the restraining order has expired."


CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
A Person in the Dark: At around age 11 or 12, I was too lazy to get up and change the channel after a showing of the Bowery Boys on NY WNEW on a Sunday afternoon and was seduced by James Cagney in The Public Enemy. Who was this man? Who were these people? I had to know. From there, it was endless trips to the library and endless viewings of whatever might be showing all week on WOR’s Million Dollar Movie.



CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
A Person in the Dark: I think a classic film is one that speaks the same language to many hearts, no matter what the era.


CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
A Person in the Dark: I have never known anyone NOT to enjoy Singin’ in the Rain, Double Indemnity or Casablanca.  And – if you can get someone to give silent films a try, City Lights usually gets thumbs up from even the most resistant viewer.


CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
A Person in the Dark: Did Woodrow Wilson really say that Birth of a Nation was like writing history with lightening? Probably not, but the cultural and historical significance of film is precious. Watching a film from the early 20th century is our only way to see, in motion, how people looked and lived, and what our country actually looked like so long ago. Watching films from the 30s and 40s not only shows us the styles of the time, but it gives us the slang, the lingo and trend factors of the day. All of these reflect the basis for our shared dreams and fantasies. Sometimes it is fun, sometimes it is frivolous, and sometimes it is art.


CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
A Person in the Dark: You know, if you are passionate about football, chances are there are lots of people in your life you can share that with. But finding people to share an interest in classic film with is not so easy. The very best thing about blogging is discovering a community that shares my love of film and finding a way to express that passion.


CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
A Person in the Dark: I think most bloggers would agree that finding new topics and new angles after you’ve exhausted your repertoire is a challenge. It’s very hard to write something fresh about a great film that has been analyzed and reviewed by tip top writers.
Sometimes it helps to just take a breath and step back. Conversely, it also helps to sign up for blogathons, because they force you to meet a deadline and stop fooling around.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
A Person in the Dark: Write your passion and be generous with your comments and praise to other writers. Getting to know other bloggers and forming a mutual admiration society is a great thing.

Thank you for joining us, Marsha! You can visit her blog by clicking HERE.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

CMBA Blogger Profile: Caftan Woman


The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're paying tribute to Patricia from Caftan Woman.

Remember when you were a kid and you had that one relative who really understood you? When it came to special occasions, that relative always gave you gifts you couldn't wait to show your friends.

Patricia from Caftan Woman is just like that relative. Her blog covers many films that don't receive a lot of love these days, and her reviews make you want to watch these films and immediately show them to others. This is because her well-researched posts shine with a passion for classic film.

"John Ford is my religion," she writes in her profile, and says she has a "particular fondness" for westerns, screwball comedies, musicals, B mysteries and film noir.

An example of Patricia's fondness for film noir – that is also an example of her shrewd powers of observation – can be found in this post on Claire Trevor's fashion decline in Born to Kill (1947).



CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Caftan Woman: Bonding moments with my movie buff dad and three younger sisters.  TVOntario's (public television) Saturday Night at the Movies hosted by Elwy Yost, produced by Rise Schuman. A double bill each Saturday of uncut, commercial free classic films with interviews and an educational component. It made reverence for the films acceptable. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide and other books which inspired a personal stewardship toward the movies I loved.


CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Caftan Woman: A classic film is a window into the artistry of its creators and the heart of the viewer.

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Caftan Woman: I have had success introducing "haters" to 12 Angry Men, The Set-Up and Winchester '73


CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Caftan Woman: I have found that most people who don't care about classic film also don't care about history. A civilization that forgets its history is shallow.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Caftan Woman: Sharing my love of classic film and learning from and being inspired by fellow film bloggers.


CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Caftan Woman: My biggest challenge is being lazy, and I overcome that by signing up for the imaginative blogathons that come our way.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Caftan Woman: Don't wear yourself out.  Write about what moves you passionately.  Don't compare yourself to others.


Thank you for joining us, Patricia! You can visit her blog by clicking HERE.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: The Lady Eve's Reel Life


The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're spotlighting Patty from The Lady Eve's Reel Life.

When you think about it, classic film is an iconic documentation of society. Which makes it utterly cool.

The Lady Eve’s Reel Life captures the zeitgeist of classic film, and shows us why these films are important. Patty's blog is like hanging out with the coolest prof in film school, the one who never talks down to you and is excited to share new discoveries.

"Since movies were a part of my life from the beginning, is it any mystery that I knew who Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Tyrone Power were before I knew the names of some of my relatives?" she writes. "I recall noting in my diary when I was about nine that I had watched The Great Lie, 'starring Bette Davis.'"

One film that impacted Patty's love for the classics is the Astaire & Rogers classic, The Gay Divorcee. You can read about her passion for this, and classic films in general, by clicking HERE.


CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: I was raised on the films of Hollywood’s Golden Age thanks to TV, plus my mother grew up in that era and loved movies, so it was a combination of nature and nurture, I think.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: A “Classic” in my world is a film that remains interesting and/or relevant no matter what year it’s from. Generally, films that stand the test of time are blessed with a strong director, screenwriter, composer and other technical elements; they are always well cast (with or without stars) and tend to deal with universal themes.


CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: Years ago I wanted to introduce one of my young nephews to classic film. This was in the “Little Mermaid,” “Ninja Turtle” era and VCRs were still in common use. I thought Hitchcock might be the way to go, particularly some of the films from his Technicolor years in the mid/late ‘50s. Rear Window was the first, and I made a point of trying to emphasize the mystery. For example, at the moment when the sound of a glass shattering and Mrs. Thorwald’s scream is heard I asked him, “Did you hear that? What do you think happened?” He was intrigued and re-wound the tape of that scene over and over (of course). In the end, it worked, he loved it. Next came North by Northwest.  I think most of Hitchcock’s best American films, from Rebecca to Psycho, would be good introductions for those who say they don’t like “old” or “black and white” movies.


CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: You can’t make anyone care about a subject they have no interest in, but if a person has any level of passion for movies, delving into the classics will enrich that passion a thousand-fold.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: Well, I love to write and I love to research and I love classic film, so combining all those loves into one process is very rewarding. What makes blogging even more worthwhile is the response of those who comment on my blog posts – I always answer comments, by the way.


CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: To avoid getting stale I began to mix things up on my blog by focusing on different approaches and subjects: reviews, profiles, interviews, covering film festivals and events, and trying the occasional slightly unconventional piece. One off-the-wall post I enjoyed doing evolved into a look at the career of Hollywood hairstylist Sidney Guilaroff. It began when I read a short article on the popular French stylist who created Marie Antoinette’s outrageous hairdos in the ­­­­18th century. I was able to take that bit of French history and make my way to the MGM spectacle, Marie Antoinette (1938), on which Guilaroff worked, and then take it from there to briefly profile his career as well as the history of a couple of iconic hairstyles. It was a lot of fun.


CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
The Lady Eve's Reel Life: Work on developing your own distinct voice and look for fresh perspectives. So many of these films have been written and written and written about over the decades that it can seem there’s nothing new to say. Good example: I wanted to tackle Vertigo a few years ago. Even though it hadn’t yet been selected by Sight & Sound’s critics as the greatest film ever, it had already been sliced and diced to pieces for decades. So, I decided to create a month-long event; it wasn’t exactly a blogathon, though many bloggers participated. Each blogger approached the film from a different angle: its roots as French roman noir, the major and minor performances, Bernard Herrmann’s score, etc.


Thank you for joining us, Patty! You can visit her blog by clicking HERE.



Monday, December 14, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: ClassicBecky's Brain Food



The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're spotlighting ClassicBecky's Brain Food.

Reading ClassicBecky's Brain Food is like spending time with a smart and witty friend. You know such a friend will always give you good advice, and will usually make you laugh while doing so.

She recently celebrated her sixth blogaversary. "It's hard for me to believe I've been around that long," says ClassicBecky. "I started out with a small group of wonderful people, guided by our Fearless Leader of the Classic Movie Blog Association, Rick Armstrong, and eventually branched off to my own blog."

Her site is full of fascinating and amusing posts on films and classic movie stars, along with personal observations that will make you think.

One example of ClassicBecky's savoir faire is the well-researched and detailed Mobsters, Pals and Skirts – The Golden Age of Gangster Movies – The Complete Series – 1930 Through 1949. "I actually won a CMBA award, of which I was very proud," she says. "I love the old gangster movies...Cagney, Bogart, Robinson...they were the best!  These movies are some of the greatest of the classic era. " 


CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: My father was a great fan of classic film, and I began watching them with him on TV when I was very young.  We would stay up for the late movie just to catch these wonderful films. The first one I remember watching was Captain Blood with Errol Flynn, and that began a lifetime of love for the classics.  My Dad and I watched The Maltese Falcon, The Public Enemy, Citizen Kane, Now, Voyager ... so many others. I was hooked from the first. Dad was also a lover of Shakespeare, and I remember watching Olivier's Hamlet and Richard III. I have a particular love for those.



CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: When I think of classics, I think of silent movies up to and including the 1950's. Warner Brothers is my favorite studio, but of course all of them produced great movies. Obviously, wonderful movies have been made since then, and to be considered a classic by me, they must be unique, character driven, directed by strong filmmakers and, of extreme importance to me, have great scores.



CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate
old movies?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: I would say The Maltese Falcon, one of the best of the first film noir genre. I would recommend The Adventures of Robin Hood with The Great Flynn (that is how I always refer to him!), Jane Eyre with Orson Welles, the 1939 original version of Of Mice and Men, The Letter with Bette Davis (well, ANY movies of the Great Bette would be good), Key Largo with Bogart and Robinson, and Cagney's White Heat. I think they would pique the interest of even the most reluctant classic movie audience.



CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: Classic film reflects the history of American culture, and I believe this is a very important function. Many of the old movies are not exactly historically accurate in their telling of true stories, but that also shows us what audiences were interested in and what they loved. I also believe that the incredible music written for the screen in the classic era cannot be topped, and it is important to see just how important great music is in the telling of a story. The wrong music can harm even the best movie.  I think this was proven during the 1960's and 70's, in which some movies were scored horribly, and it lessened their impact.



CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: What could be more rewarding than writing about what I love, and it's great to know that my readers are just as enamored of great movies as I am. Conversations that begin with comments can be a lot of fun!  I write serious pieces, but I also enjoy snarking even movies I just adore! Stories about the great actors, directors, composers are all fascinating to me, and it's just plain fun!



CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: I have periods in which I am faced with writer's block, which I know is shared by most writers. Sometimes I feel that I have to be inspired to write something, and I forget that it is not necessary to wait for the Great American Novel in order to be a good writer. Most challenging to me, there have been times of illness or injury in which I have not been at all prolific with my blog, as has been the case in the last year or so.The biggest challenge I face is just plain remembering that writing is my first love, and that making myself do it is a necessary part of who I am.



CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
ClassicBecky's Brain Food: A new blogger should find their own unique voice and follow it. Some people are better with serious pieces, others with amusing articles. Some love to review films, others to write about the background trivia. Whatever you love, write about it! Also, use social media to spotlight your blog – Facebook, Twitter, whatever is available. Look for good organizations like our own CMBA, begin to follow the members, and put in an application to join. Tell your friends, including your cyber-friends. Get the word out!


Thank you for joining us, Becky! You can visit her blog by clicking HERE.