Apr 30, 2012

Classic Links

Before I get to the links I want to take a moment to wish all the best to Dawn of Noir and Chick Flicks (and former guest linker), who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I know you can fight this Dawn! I’m looking forward to your triumphant return to blogging.— Noir and Chick Flicks

It was so much fun to dig through all the great links my guests shared over the past two weeks. Thanks again to everyone. Now on to the links:

This is a fascinating, brief clip in which Douglas Sirk demonstrates his trust in his audience and the power of imagination— Criterion Collection 

Many moons ago (ha!) there was a blogathon in honor of A Trip to the Moon (1902). I just discovered it, so I have a lot of reading ahead of me— Film Squish 

This footage of Charlie Chaplin directing City Lights (1931) makes me feel nervous for Virginia Cherrill— Silent Beauties 

Seven Shadows sounds like an interesting film noir blog event— Shadows and Satin

Apr 29, 2012

Quote of the Week

I have never heard one person get as many vibrations into her voice as Barbara got into hers then. It was like a symphony chorus in the Hollywood Bowl instead of just one person speaking.

 -Mae Clarke, about Barbara Stanwyck

 Image Source, Quote Source

Apr 27, 2012

The Short Animation Blogathon: Random Picks

This post is for the Short Animation Blogathon at Pussy Goes Grrr this week. There have been some diverse, fascinating entries this week. Check out the site for more shorts.

I didn’t have a theme in mind when I compiled my clips for this event. These are simply the films that have grabbed me and which I rewatch on a regular basis:

Fantasmagorie (1908)

In this short created by French artist Émile Cohl (1857-1938), actions flow from one to the other, as smooth as running water, but wild as a summer squall. Cohl stumbled into animation at the age of fifty, following decades of work in a series of mostly creative pursuits, including caricatures, journalism and the theater. This is one of the first animated films (some say the very first), and I think it’s still one of the best.

Betty Boop and Cab Calloway

I love all the pre-code Betty Boop cartoons created by Fleischer Studios. They are wild, surreal and naughty in a playful way that seems to have died in that era. My favorite Boop cartoons are the ones featuring Cab Calloway and his band. His wild style and slinky movements fit the loopy spirit of these toons. He was sort of a living Fleischer character. There were three Boop/Calloway collaborations:

Minnie the Moocher (1932)

The animators rotoscoped movements from footage of Calloway dancing so he could make an appearance as a ghostly walrus in this short. According to Max Fleischer’s son, he was so amused to see the cartoon version of himself that he fell off his chair laughing.

The Old Man of the Mountain (1933)

Calloway gets to dance again as the titular rascal of this slightly naughty toon.

Snow White (1933)

This time Koko the Clown dances for Calloway as he sings St. James Infirmary Blues.

The Tell Tale Heart(1953)

This gloomy, unsettling version of the classic Poe tale always sets me on edge. The discordant music scrapes away like an angry cheese grater, and the spare, shadowy animation makes me afraid to look into the darkness. James Mason’s performance as the smooth-voiced, but clearly unhinged narrator always gives me goose bumps. I can see why this was the first animated film to be rated X by the British Board of Film Censors. It certainly could sow the seeds of many childhood nightmares.

Thank You Guest Linkers!

Hooray! We’ve wrapped another fantastic year of guest classic links!

Thank you to all of my talented participants:

Terry, Laura, Jessica, Thingy, Jill, Matthew, Stacia and Ivan.

It was great fun to see the enthusiasm and creativity you put into your posts. I loved seeing classic links through your eyes.

I hope you all will join me in June for the Mary Pickford blogathon. (You've got a month to recover!)

Apr 26, 2012

Guest Classic Links: Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Though Ivan would probably scoff to hear it, I really think he is the chairman of the board when it comes to nostalgia blogs. At Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, he crafts an astonishing number of posts, and they’re all so good. He is also the curator of Classic Chops, at the Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMB), a service that is much needed, as we classic movie bloggers tend to get lost in that massive group of movie sites. In addition to all this, Ivan has the enviable talent to consistently write funny, and I mean “ha ha” funny. Thank you for agreeing to guest link Ivan!

First…let me just say how thrilled I am to be the final guest “linker” here at K.C.’s blog. Second…that figurine was broke when I got here.

A few links of interest:

With the passing of Dick Clark last Thursday (April 19) at age 82, we sometimes forget that even though he was the host of such TV series as American Bandstand, The $10,000 Pyramid and TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes that he also did the occasional bit of acting (for example, Dick was the guilty party in the final episode of Perry Mason, “The Case of the Final Fade-Out”). My pal Scott at World O’Crap resurrected a previously published review of 1960’s Because They’re Young in memory of “America’s Oldest Teenager.” 

This blog post at The Comic Book Catacombs has my vote for the “Strangest Movie Tie-In of the Week” Award. It’s a reprint of a story that appeared in an issue of Red Circle Comics in April of 1945—Dorothy Lamour in “Slave Goddess!”

Mill Creek Entertainment has inked a deal with Sony Home Video to release some of the older and newer product on DVD…among the classics will be Bonjour Tristesse, Ship of Fools, The Chase and The Last Detail.

And with the May 13-18 For the Love of Film III Film Preservation almost along the corner, here’s a fun article from io9.com with a list of 24 Weird and Wonderful Movies That You’ll Never Get to See (and its sequel, 24 Weird and Wonderful Movies That You’ll Never Get to See II: Texas Blood Money).

K.C. often features notable birthdays here on the blog, and though she’s covered a few already I thought I’d fill in the blanks with some that may not be as noteworthy (but are still important in the TDOY universe): 

William Desmond Taylor (1872-1922), film director whose sensationalistic murder remains one of Hollywood's greatest unsolved mysteries
Ethel Griffies (1878-1975), character actress (Billy Liar, The Birds)
Eric Campbell (1879-1917), Charlie Chaplin foil
Ma Rainey (aka Gertrude Pridgett) (1886-1939), "Mother of the Blues"
Elizabeth Risdon (1887-1958), character actress (Theodora Goes Wild, Make Way for Tomorrow)
Anita Loos (1888-1981, screenwriter (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Women)
Edgar Kennedy (1890-1948), king of the "slow burn"
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams (1899-1962), character actor (The Glass Key, A Star is Born)
Douglas Sirk (1897-1987), director (Written on the Wind, Imitation of Life)
Fred C. Brannon (1901-1953), journeyman director of serials (Zombies of the Stratosphere)
Niven Busch (1903-1991), screenwriter (The Westerner, The Postman Always Rings Twice)
Dorothy Sebastian (1903-1957), actress (Our Dancing Daughters, Spite Marriage)
Charles K. Feldman (1905-1968), producer (Red River, A Streetcar Named Desire)
Denis O'Dea (1905-1978), actor (The Fallen Idol, Treasure Island)
Jean Vigo (1905-1934), writer-director (Zero for Conduct, L'Atalante)
Cecila Parker (1914-1993), Hardy Family member
(Marian) Vic Perrin (1916-1989), OTR-film-TV actor and the Control Voice of The Outer Limits
Stafford Repp (1918-1974), character actor ("Chief O'Hara" on Batman)
Florence MacMichael (1919-1999). character actress ("Winnie Kirkwood" on Mister Ed)
Mike Kellin (1922-1983), character actor (The Incident, Midnight Express)
Jack Douglas (1927-2008), British comic actor (Carry On film series)
Bruce Jay Friedman (1930- ), screenwriter-playwright (Steambath, Splash)
Bernie Brillstein (1931-2008), TV/film producer (NewsRadio, Just Shoot Me!)
Carol Burnett (1933- ), actress-comedienne (The Carol Burnett Show, The Four Seasons)
Gareth Gwenlan (1937- ), Britcom director-producer (Only Fools and Horses, Waiting for God)
Duane Eddy (1938- ), rock 'n' roll guitarist ("Rebel Rouser," "Because They're Young")
Maurice Williams (1938- ), lead Zodiac ("Stay")
Giorgio Moroder (1940- ), composer (Flashdance, Top Gun)
Claudine Auger (1941- ), actress (Thunderball, Twitch of the Death Nerve)
Bobby Rydell (1942- ), rock 'n' roll vocalist ("Wild One," Bye Bye Birdie)
Gary Wright (1943- ), pop vocalist ("Dream Weaver," "Love is Alive")
Bill Warren (1943- ), film buff and author (Watch the Skies!)
Ron McLarty (1947- ), character actor ("Sgt. Frank Belson" on Spenser: For Hire)
Giancarlo Esposito (1958- ), actor (Do the Right Thing, Bob Roberts)
Joan Chen (1961- ), actress (The Last Emperor, “Jocelyn Packard” on Twin Peaks)
Debra Wilson (1962- ), actress-comedienne (Mad TV)
Kevin James (1965- ), actor-comedian (The King of Queens)

Apr 25, 2012

Guest Classic Links: Stacia of She Blogged By Night

I don’t know how I first came upon Stacia’s site, She Blogged by Night, but I do remember being impressed by her blog name. That’s always a good start, eh? Her posts live up to that clever moniker too. Anyone who has equal room in her heart for Marie Prevost and Bill Shatner is tops in my book. Stacia has also been writing up a storm at Spectrum Culture. Check out her articles; they’re great stuff. Thank you for agreeing to guest link Stacia!


KC, I want to thank you for the opportunity to share some of my favorite links with your readers. I'm delighted to be asked to contribute, and can only hope that I live up to expectations, and by that I mean not embarrass the stuffing outta myself.

Sheila O'Malley at The Sheila Variations has embarked on an epic project to essentially rehabilitate Elvis Presley's cinematic reputation. You will not find anyone more knowledgable about Elvis than Sheila, but don't think that means her posts are dry. Everything is immensely entertaining, passionate, and she has a wonderful ability to pick out pieces of Elvis' life and arrange them in a way that adds depth to his life as an actor, a subject that has, honestly, never really been delved into properly. Recently she participated in a Q&A with Jeremy Richey of Moon in the Gutter about Elvis films. It's a terrific introduction to all of her Elvis posts, which you can get to by clicking on the Elvis tag at the bottom of the Q&A.

Radiation Cinema is unquestionably a must-read for any film buff, no matter what genre is your favorite. Mykal's posts are full of details about the films you never knew as well as the pure joy of discussing something he loves. Usually I point people to his 2009 post The Unbroken Dream of Edward D. Wood, Jr., but this time I thought I'd shake it up a bit and include a more recent essay, Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). This is a film that has gotten a lovely treatment from Criterion and many people in the film blogosphere have seen it, but I've found a good write-up on this flick is very rare. Mykal effortlessly strips the film down and exposes just what it is we love about it, and is a joy to read while doing so.

It's tempting to tease my BBFF Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear for, well, pretty much anything, but what I can't tease him about is his love for the films, radio, and television he writes about. A recent recurring feature on TDoY is B Western Wednesdays, and trust me when I tell you that you don't have to like Westerns to like this feature. Last week, Ivan dug deep into the archives to find Rawhide (1938) starring -- get this -- Lou Gehrig. It's a fun read with great comments as usual (everyone else who comments on TDoY contributes information, I just say goofy things) and highly recommended.

It's almost comically easy to see movies nowadays. I have a stack of roughly 500 films in my To Watch pile today, yet I remember the days when I had to dig through the Sunday paper for the local TV guide to find the late late movies I wanted to see. Of course, I was forbidden from staying up late, but when we got a TV upstairs -- it was the monitor for our computer, if you can imagine -- I was able to sneak in and watch a film without waking the parents. Now so many movies are readily available, practically at a moment's notice. This is good and just and one of the things that is right in this crazy mixed-up world. We got here not overnight but through a series of gradual changes, though a big turning point was MST3K, which is where many of us had our first exposure to B movies. It's certainly where most of us first encountered 80s B-movie great and all around nifty dude Reb Brown. Many of Brown's films have been available in greymarket forms for years, but not until recently has the truly unbelievable campfest Yor: Hunter of the Future (1983) been easily obtainable. I remember clearly when it appeared on TCM, because that day the excitement lit the film blogosphere up like Jack Nicholson's Christmas tree. Over the past year since Yor became more widely available, there have been a lot of reviews online, a lot of them pale imitations of what they think MST3K would have said about the film. Yet there are terrific reviews, too, and two of the best were from my pals Mr. Gable of and Scott Clevenger. Scott of World O' Crap and Better Living Through Bad Movies fame wrote a terrific guest post on my blog last year. Meanwhile Mr. Gable of Mr. Gable's Reality, a saucy horror movie blog that is both awesome and NSFW, wrote his review last monthreview last month. Both reviews are epic, amazing, hilarious, and full of naughty words. You must read them.

And finally, a little shout out to my favorite classic Hollywood film reviewer Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times with his review of Of Human Bondage (1934). What I love about his reviews is how well they illustrate what was in vogue at the time regarding film plots and acting styles. Many people think Bette Davis is an unmitigated ham in Of Human Bondage without understanding the context of what cinema was in 1934, or without realizing that the film was one of (if not the) last film released before the enforcement of the Hays Code.

Apr 24, 2012

Guest Classic Links: Matthew of Movietone News

I was introduced to Matthew through his blog Movietone News, which I have always appreciated for giving me a strong UK perspective on classic movie love, among other things (he’s been doing a great series about Titanic movies lately). I’m particularly fond of his Movietone Cameos, where he writes excellent mini reviews of what he is currently watching. Other than that, I was not aware until recently just how many blogs this man has been maintaining. There’s Carfax Abbey (to which Laura linked in her guest post last week), The Tentative Oenophile, The Marx Brothers Council of Britain, Unsystematics, The Dennis Wheatley Project, Hammer and Beyond and his personal blog, appropriately titled Matthew Coniam. That’s impressive! Thanks for agreeing to guest link Matthew! 


Thank you, KC, for the honour and responsibility of selecting today’s classic links. I found it a more demanding task than I was expecting. There was so much I would have loved to include, and winnowing my choices down to the final short list was not easy.

First up, I crave your indulgence. Flipping through a recent issue of The New Yorker I came across the story of Quentin Rowan, aka Q. R. Markham, spy novelist and plagiarist. It’s the most stunning and compulsive true story I’ve read all year and I’m sure you’ll be gripped by it too. True, it’s not about cinema as such… but it would make a terrific movie. The New Yorker

You probably don’t need me to tell you that Mykal Banta’s Radiation Cinema is the best blog on the block if you like 1950s science fiction. But this post on The Andy Griffith Show was a delightful left-field surprise. 

I Thank You might be my favourite movie blog of all. Excellent writing, with an emphasis on the silents, it’s original and observant. And the fact that the author is often discussing films just seen for the first time makes it read more like a road trip than a lecture with slides. Here’s the whole site rather than a specific post. Dip in anywhere.

At my horror blog Carfax Abbey I never miss a chance to make the case for the Poverty Row studios PRC and Monogram. Despite or because of their low budgets and overnight turnover rate, they produced films that were just as unique, intoxicating and worthy of celebration as those of Fellini or Andy Warhol or Ray Dennis Steckler. They can also be just as bewildering. I loved reading Karl La Fong’s very personal encounter with Boris Karloff’s Mr Wong films at The House of Cobwebs.

It was through a shared love of Monogram and PRC that I first crossed paths with Eric Kuersten, whose blog Acidemic is a one-of-a-kind mix of the arcane and the passionate. He’s crazy and he’s sane, and he’s never saner than when he’s at his craziest. He might even be, as Bela Lugosi describes himself in The Raven, “the sanest man who ever lived”. Or he might just be crazy, which is, after all, the consensus view of Lugosi in The Raven. I do know that only he could come up with the idea of contrasting Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar – and then make it so genuinely insightful. Acidemic

I wish more people remembered Leslie Halliwell. Like thousands of others, his mammoth Film Guide and Filmgoer’s Companion were my gateway into film appreciation, and I still remember the excitement of meeting him shortly afterwards. He knew everything worth knowing about movies, and his unyielding conviction that the industry had been in terminal decline since the late 1940s delighted me, and infuriated exactly the kind of people that I wanted to see infuriated. Sadly, he died before his time. Get to know him a little better here.

And lastly, the Case of the Missing Mustard, a vintage classic from Silver Screen Suppers .

Apr 23, 2012

Guest Classic Links: Jill from Sittin' on a Backyard Fence

Jill is a busy gal these days. She just came back from a whirlwind weekend covering the TCM Film Fest for The Cinementals, a fantastic new classic film site, for which she is a key contributor. Jill also writes book reviews for Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence, and her recent Fredric March blog event, March-in-March was a great success. You can find yet more of her book reviews at Look Ma, I Can Read! Thanks for guest linking Jill!

The Cinementals provided full coverage of the TCM Film Festival:

Halftime report
Festival wrap-up

A newbie's take on the TCM Classic Film Fest

The Lady Eve has written a fantastic piece on Hitchcock's TO CATCH A THIEF The Lady Eve's REEL Life

Cliff at Immortal Ephemera has written a brilliant essay on Fredric March's performance in THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN

R.D. Finch at The Movie Projector is hosting a blogathon on director William Wyler. Details here

Apr 22, 2012

Dick Cavett and Marlon Brando: Two Boys from Nebraska

This post is a part of the LAMB Acting School 101: Marlon Brando event.

The man’s incorruptible and that’s what I hoped! -Cavett, about Brando

Dick Cavett once said that he was planning to write an article about his friendship with Marlon Brando. The title: Night of the Living Brando. That appears to sum up the relationship between these Nebraska natives.

The two were friends for several years. Brando would even call up Cavett in the middle of the night to talk to him. Though they had strong mutual respect, they also saw many things differently, from politics to entertainment.

I never had the impression that Brando regretted escaping to his island paradise in his later years, but in an interview upon his death, Cavett lamented that he’d taken the opportunity life presented him and “just pissed it away.”

One of the best examples of this good-natured, but serious-minded tug-of-war between the two is on the June 12, 1973 episode of the The Dick Cavett Show, where Brando was a guest. It is a few months after his rejection of the Academy Award for The Godfather, in protest of the treatment of American Indians. He is clearly determined to continue to speak of their plight. And so the tug-of-war begins.

Brando swaggers onto the set, confident and almost, but not quite arrogant. His gray hair is slicked back from his face. He wears black slacks, a maroon ascot and a strangely crisp denim jacket. From the first glance, he has a mischievous look in his eyes.

Brando looks hungry. He leans back in his chair, loose, relaxed, but physically commanding. Though he doesn’t take an intimidating posture, he looks dangerous, as if he is going to gobble up the trim Cavett in one gulp.

There is rapturous applause, and he takes it with grace, though he seems a bit impatient with all the praise. Finally the noise dies down, and he looks at Cavett with a wolfish, charismatic grin. The crinkles around his eyes form a perfect frame, he’s still beautiful, and it is clear why this man became a star. He is magnetic.

Brando has flown all the way from Tahiti to film this show. He likes Cavett, and he thinks that he will give him a platform to discuss his human rights concerns. He is mostly correct.

The first question bombs, “do you go to the movies?” Long pause. “Once in a while.” Another wolfish grin. This is the sort of exchange that makes me cringe throughout the interview. I want hate him for giving earnest Dick Cavett a hard time, but he’s so darn appealing, and he has integrity. I can’t help but be drawn to him.

It took me a while to appreciate Brando’s performance here, and I think he’s very aware that he is performing. I had to get over my superficial discomfort over his behavior to appreciate what he was trying to say. He makes some good points, but he forgets his manners while making them. Or am I just chafing at the way he rejects convention? I’m still not sure.

Things that irritated me the first time I saw the interview: the long pauses, the way he keeps going back to the American Indians while almost completely ignoring all other questions, how he constantly interrupts Cavett and changes the subject, still rankle me to a degree, but I understand what he is trying to do.

Perhaps he should have answered a few movie questions, after all, he’d never be there without his film career, but his concern for oppressed groups appears genuine and he, like many other stars, is simply attempting to use his influence for good.

Maybe Brando gives Cavett a hard time, but he respects him, and he doesn’t do it out of cruelty. He listens carefully, and he seems to think things through thoroughly before he answers. He’s is funny in a low key way, but he’s not going for laughs. He really doesn’t seem to care what people think about him. Part of it is that he seems to have faith in people drawing the right conclusions about him.

It still bothers me how frequently he cuts off Cavett, impatiently swiping away questions about his press coverage or the movies so that he can continue to speak about this cause which concerns him so deeply.

Though Cavett tries to stay the course with his questions, he does listen to Brando. He also devotes a third of the show time to his guests, representatives of the Cheyenne, Paiute and Lummi tribes. Still, there is a deep tension.

At the end of the show, Cavett asked Brando to come back the next night. I had the impression that he would like that, though he asks in a joking manner. Brando’s answer was silence, a grin, then, “sure Dick.”

That night, Cavett watched Brando punch photographer Ron Galella and break his jaw. He said it was one of the two weirdest moments in his life. To give you an idea of the impact of that incident, the other moment was when a guest died of a heart attack on the show, mid-interview.

Here’s the rest of the interview:

Part Two


Part Three


Part Four


Part Five


Part Six


Mary Pickford Blogathon Announcement

You know, I was going to wait to announce this after my guest linking event, but I’m starting to get a bit nervous. Blogathons are sprouting all over like dandelions!

So I've decided to put it out there: we need to talk about Mary. 

The legacy of Mary Pickford has taken a hit lately. First the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio is demolished by developers, then there's this kerfuffle between The Mary Pickford Institute of Film Education and The Mary Pickford Foundation (which I still don’t fully understand). I’d like to celebrate this mighty woman.

She was amazing!

·        She is to date the only woman to have had her own movie studio in Hollywood.

·        Her first marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, and the adoring crowds that accompanied them everywhere on their honeymoon, gave birth to the first celebrity couple.

·        Pickford was one of the first huge stars of the silver screen, and one of the most adored women in the world.

·        She was also was one of the first movie performers to drop the numbered poses of the melodramatic and often misused Delsarte method and act naturally for the screen. For this reason, her performances are still fresh today.

I think that last point is really important. Mary Pickford was a funny, riveting and ridiculously entertaining performer. The little girl image may make her seem old-fashioned, but Pickford’s movies are alive; they pulse with her irresistible energy. These flicks are entertaining by any standards. It is easy to see why people loved her so much.

So on June 1, 2 and 3, I invite you to send me new and previously-published posts about any aspect of Mary Pickford’s life and movie career. You can either send them to me at classicmovieblog@gmail.com or post them here in the comments.

If you haven’t seen any of Pickford’s movies, here’s a great opportunity to get to know her! Let’s do it for the memory of Mary!

In answer to my question about how one makes those cool blogathon banners, the Mythical Monkey graciously responded by sending me several excellent samples. Since the versions I eventually made are an embarrassment to banners, I'm going with these. Thank you Monkey!

Quote of the Week

Some of my foster families used to send me to the movies to get me out of the house and there I'd sit all day and way into the night. Up in front, there with the screen so big, a little kid all alone, and I loved it.

 -Marilyn Monroe

Image Source, Quote Source

Apr 20, 2012

Guest Links: Thingy from Pondering Life

It’s hard to describe the way Thingy blogs at Pondering Life. She’s brilliant in so many ways. Thingy mostly writes about her thoughts on the news of the day, and she does this with equal parts passion and wit, but she might also share an interesting fact she’s picked up or post a few pictures from the on-site cameras she loves to follow. It is lovely to see a national park on a sunny day, or to pick out the shapes of angels in cloud formations, so I appreciate that. She’s also a riveting poet. This woman can write the crap out of a haiku (I apologize for the visual that might have brought up). You can tell in the comments she gets that her writing really moves her readers. Thank you for agreeing to guest link Thingy!


Thank-you, KC, for this wonderful honor. April 20th is an interesting day in history. The birth of Adolph. The senseless killings at Columbine. It also happens to be, smoke a toke day.

 These events have left an indelible image in our psyches, and on film. (Unless you smoke- then you might not recall a thing) But, I digress... I have decided to link to some interesting articles that might give more insight about people involved in the craft of illusion, who were born on this day.

Harold Lloyd was born on this day, waaaaay back in 1893. I found an unusual post (new to me) about his glasses. They were his signature prop, and a prop they were. -The Glasses

I don't recall ever hearing about Elena Verdugo, but she sure had some interesting parts in movies. Ghoulskool can tell you more.

I doubt Andy Warhol's movies will ever be considered classics, yet, he certainly was one creative individual. Edie Sedgwick was one of his 'factory' workers, and starred in several of his films. She Was Too Hip for the Room

And then we have, Adolph. Documentaries have always fascinated me. In the hands of the right person, we can learn so much. In the hands of someone blinded by an ideology that did not value human life, we are subjected to a distorted and dangerous viewpoint. I think many would agree, Leni Riefenstahl was good at what she did. Very, very good. Unfortunately, she used her great talent to panegyrize a madman. She was a unique and likable person. Almost. Roger Ebert reviewed the documentary, The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Reifenstahl.

Happy Birthday to Abigal Breslin and George Takei! Ooooooh my.

Image created by Thingy

Apr 19, 2012

Guest Classic Links: Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood

Comet Over Hollywood is a lively, loving tribute to classic movies. Jessica has lots of great ideas, from her series about music videos that reference the classics to her experimentation with the beauty treatments used by stars of the past. She also recently hosted the successful Gone Too Soon Blogathon. Thank you for agreeing to be a guest linker Jessica!


KC here at Classic Movies features weekly links from classic film blogs and sources, a feature I’ve always really enjoyed. KC was gracious enough to invite me to share interesting movie links as I found around the interweb. Here are a few that I would like to share that were posted in the past few days:

My friends Katie and Hilary run Scarlet Olive blog. Hilary wrote a fun fictional piece about World War II soldiers attending the Hollywood Canteen. I thought this was a really creative way to present film knowledge and a great way to show off her creativity. Scarlet Olive

A movie is in the works about the making of Psycho (1960) starring Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, Helen Mirren as Hitch’s wife Alma and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh. In my opinion, both of the female roles were horribly miscast, but Hopkins doesn’t seem like a terrible choice. Photos of Hopkins in full Hitchcock make up came out on Wednesday. He doesn’t look terrible, but might look more like Mr. French from the 1960s television show Family Affair than the great director. Yahoo Movies

I remember seeing Man with a Cloak (1951) for the first time six years ago and being disappointed in my heart throb Joseph Cotton’s role. I also didn’t like Barbara Stanwyck’s bad girl role. Throw in Leslie Caron and it’s also just a plain weird cast. I enjoyed the review over at True Classics and agreed with her evaluation.

The Self-Styled Siren never disappoints with her posts, but I enjoyed this one in particular about actor modesty. She lists actors such as Robert Mitchum who said their own movies bored them or Ava Gardner who thought the Barefoot Contessa was horrible. Excellent read. Self-Styled Siren

Apr 18, 2012

Guest Classic Links: Laura of Who Can Turn The World Off With Her Smile

I found Laura’s blog when I participated in a movie monster blogathon last year. I liked her style right away. It was the banner that sucked me in. It’s perfect! As one who is clearly not inspired when it comes to naming things, I could admire her for the juxtaposition of that image and title alone, but she also writes clever, thoughtful posts about everything from Amy Irving to the Simpsons. I like Laura’s take on classic movies, because she really digs into her subjects. She elevates the lesser-known (like Frances Dee and The Light in the Piazza) and isn’t afraid to poke away at the weaknesses in critical favorites. Thank you for agreeing to be a guest linker Laura!


 As a long-time fan who's found many of her favorite sites through KC's classic links, I was flattered as could be that she asked me to fill in today! Hopefully I won't prove too poor a substitute. I considered winning your favor by linking to a map that led to treasure troves full of gold and silk, but the only such maps I could find are those treasure map dinner plates you fill in with crayons they give kids at diners. So you'll have to settle for some fabulous movie sites instead. Not a bad trade. Many thanks to KC for allowing me to clutter your screen with some favorite links of mine! And off we go!

You know those movies that just narrowly miss being train wrecks? And as such, you can't quite look away from the wreck's intriguing mix of near greatness and near disaster? Rachel, who's not only one of my all-time favorite classic bloggers but a wonderful and witty writer, explores the common phenomenon in this in-depth and bitingly funny piece on 'Fascination Films'.--The Girl With the White Parasol

Vulnavia Morbius is a wonderfully original writer, taking up the cause of many under-appreciated and forgotten films, from any genre or decade. Here she celebrates and analyzes a much-maligned yet revolutionary silent comedienne, Marion Davies, and her 1928 movie Show People, directed by King Vidor. Davies could have been a contender, up there with Lombard and Arthur as one of the archetypal screwball gals, if it weren't for a certain chap in her life refusing to let her take the occasional pie in the face. And then there was that young firebrand Orson Welles who made a certain 1941 film that maybe tampered with her reputation a bit, to Welles's regret.--Krell Laboratories 

I've got rather eclectic tastes. On the one hand, I'll eat up anything classic, from the sprawling gowns Vivien Leigh wore in That Hamilton Woman to Cab Calloway scatting up a storm in the old Max Fleischer shorts. Yet I can also be a bit of a comic book geek. Well, let me qualify that: usually only if it has to do with Batman. And I love it when my fandoms collide. So as a little nod to the few camps of both Art Deco and Batman fans, here's artist Ted Naifeh's Russell Patterson-inspired redesigns of the Batman heroes and rogues in 1920's get-up.--Project: Rooftop 

Followed this link from Roger Ebert's Twitter feed, and a stranger, more fascinating backstory to a movie I've never read. Have you heard of Bernie, the dark comedy coming out soon with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Black? It's about a nice Southern boy who befriends a cantankerous, borderline evil old lady, only to snap one day. Here's the incredible true story...from the evil old lady's nephew. Hopefully this will work for those without a Times account, it does for me.--The New York Times 

If anyone can convince you to go see an old obscure epic based on her words alone, it would be the Self-Styled Siren. Hers was the first film site outside of IMDb I started following, and it wouldn't be a lie to say her fabulousness was part of what inspired me to start my own wee blog. Here she writes about Blanche Fury, a 1948 gothic melodrama starring Valerie Hobson and Stewart Granger. I'd never heard of it before, but you better believe what I'm watching this weekend.--Self-Styled Siren

And now for something spookier. I'm a bit of a Hammer Horror and old-school gothic junkie, and no one gives me a better fix than the wry and enthusiastic Matthew Conian at Carfax Abbey. Here's a fascinatingly twisted tale: apparently Highgate Cemetery, a notorious London burial place and setting of such films as Christopher Lee's Taste the Blood of Dracula, once was also home to a frenzy of rumors than an actual blood-sucker haunted its premises. Some crazed frauds and hysterical publicity stunts later, the rumor still grows despite lack of, well, any substantial proof. Here's the whole story, meticulously researched--Carfax Abbey

Apr 17, 2012

Guest Classic Links: Terry from A Shroud of Thoughts

At A Shroud of Thoughts, Terry writes about all sorts of things in pop culture, including classic movies. I’m especially fond of his posts about social media, which always manage to pin down just why a certain site is irking me at the moment. He is also amazingly good about writing deeply touching in memorium posts for recently departed entertainment figures. He puts them up so quickly that he sometimes beats the mainstream media. Only TCM does as well as him when it comes to remembering great film personalities, from the big stars to the supporting players. Thank you for agreeing to be a guest linker Terry!

Before anything else I wanted to thank KC for the chance to share these links with you. As to the links themselves, these are links I have found very interesting as a classic film buff and even useful in writing blog posts. I hope you will find them entertaining and useful as well!

The first link is to the official website of British Pathé. British Pathé produced newsreels from 1910 to 1970. Their website not only features the old newsreels, but a wide variety of other short films as well. British Pathé is then a treasure trove for classic film buffs. One can find everything from early comedy shorts (some dating to as early as 1910) to newsreels featuring such big name stars as Charlie Chaplin and Margaret Lockwood. British Pathé

 My next link is to the British Film Institute Screenonline. In many ways BFI Screenonline can be considered the British equivalent of the Turner Classic Movies database or IMDB, only in some ways better. As might be expected, BFI Screenonline lists thousands of films and television shows, each with its own article, credits for the producers, directors, and cast, and sometimes even stills and film clips. In addition, the BFI Screenonline also has entries for studios and production companies (such as The Rank Organisation or Thames Television) and even specific subjects (such as "The Gainsborough Melodramas" or "'60's Spies and Private Eyes"). It is definitely a site for any fan of British film and television. BFI Screenonline

My next link is to Silver Sirens: The Golden Age of British Cinema. Silver Sirens is primarily dedicated to the most popular British actresses of the Thirties and Forties, such as Margaret Lockwood and Patricia Roc, although there are also pages dedicated to actors Stewart Granger and Sid Field. Silver Sirens contains a number of film summaries, photographs, film clips, and even as a forum where people can discuss their love of British film. Silver Sirens also sells DVDs (I do have to warn my fellow Americans, the DVDs are Region 2) and other British film memorabilia, and has links to British film DVDs sold on Amazon UK. It is another site British film fans would love. Silver Sirens: The Golden Age of British Cinema

My next link is to one of my favourite blogs. Now I read many blogs and I would include them all if I could, but I mention this one because of its highly specialised nature. All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! is dedicated to silent films and the early talkies. It is written by Jonas Nordin, whom I believe must be one of the world's foremost experts on the early talkies. If you are interested in silent films or pre-Code talkies, then I can guarantee you will enjoy All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!

Apr 16, 2012

Classic Links

Guest Classic Links

These are the last links you will see from me for the next two weeks. Starting tomorrow, I’ll hand the reigns over to eight talented bloggers for the next two weeks. This is going to be great fun. Please drop by and show them your support with lots of comments!

Now on to the links: 

Elizabeth Taylor’s love for jewels fascinates me. I like the way she considered herself a temporary custodian, rather than the owner, of these beautiful pieces. Now there’s apparently a new documentary about the Dame and her jewelry, but the article doesn't say what it's called or where it can be seen. Or am I missing something?—  The Times of India 

Taylor’s dog is in a custody battle. This sort of cracks me up. There’s articles being written about this dog and he has no idea. He’s probably thinking: food, walk, sleep, poop, repeat— Monsters and Critics 

I know I’m obsessing about this African Queen business, but I love this picture of Stephen Bogart on the boat— CBS News 

TCM Film Fest News:

Lovely Liza and company at the premiere of the Cabaret (1972) restoration (pics from the event are in the first five photos of this gallery)— Washington Post 

The Cinementals have been providing excellent coverage of the event. Here’s their half-time report— The Cinementals 

An interview with Stanley Donen, who made three appearances at the TCM Fest— LA Times 

Kim Novak: the handprint ceremony at Grauman's, her regrets about leaving Hollywood and her revelation that she has bipolar disorder— Laist

Apr 15, 2012

Quote of the Week

The problem with beauty is that it's like being born rich and getting poorer.

 -Joan Collins

 Image Source

Apr 13, 2012

Classic Links

A plea for the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education-- A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies 

I finally got to this article about Eadweard J. Muybridge. Wow, he was an intense guy— LA Times 

An account of the TCM Fest— The Guardian 

Bogart’s son is going to sail on the newly-renovated African Queen— IMDB 

Image Source

Apr 12, 2012

Book Review: Vertigo Retold by Its Heroine

The Testament of Judith Barton
Wendy Powers and Robin McLeod

I felt like the embattled heroine of The Testament of Judith Barton when I started reading this book. I meant to read a few pages, but then it sucked me in, and my only escape was to see it through to the end.

There are few movie characters I’ve felt more empathy for than Judy Barton in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). The poor woman comes to San Francisco alone, ready to begin her life, and it’s as if the men of the town are waiting to destroy her, grabbing at her like the animated trees in The Wizard of Oz.

First, she’s seduced and abandoned by a wealthy man, though it is never made clear whether it is money, passion or both that drove her to him. Then, when she thinks she’s met a decent fellow, he not only won’t acknowledge her identity, but totally strips it away from her until he recovers the apparition that obsesses him.

The Testament of Judith Barton tells the story of this young woman from Salina, Kansas. It takes her from childhood to the conclusion of the film in a rich, troubling and engrossing tale.

Due to a remarkable dispensation by the Hitchcock estate to use quotes from Vertigo in the book, the voice of the film haunts the story, but it somehow does not overtake it. I think this is primarily because the authors set up their own world before diving into the elements that are more familiar to fans of Hitchcock’s film.

I thought I would be impatient with the early scenes in Judy’s life. After all, I was interested in the book because I wanted to see Vertigo through her eyes, not necessarily the rest of her life. As her story developed, I found that I liked that background story as much, if not more than the San Francisco narrative connected to the movie.

Judy is portrayed as a straightforward small town girl. She’s a tomboy, who loves her jeweler father and spending time outdoors. Though she’s the opposite of her more feminine sister, they have a close relationship and her mother is supportive and loving.

 It was interesting to get to know the young Judy, and the people she knew in her early life. She’s an admirable, tough character. The girl has a bit of edge, but not so much that it obscures her decency. I relished her interactions with family and friends, and the details about gemstones and jewelry that unfolded as she learned her father’s trade.

Once Judy began her life in San Francisco, I became more critical, even skeptical of the direction the story was taking. Little details irked me, mostly when I thought that the Judy I knew in the movie would not behave a certain way. I wish I would have just trusted the authors, because they make it work.

Vertigo itself is not a very plausible story; this novel cannot be expected to be either, but in so many ways it is. I believed Judy could have been the way she is portrayed, and I felt for her as if she was a real person. Even knowing her fate, I kept hoping that something would change, and that was entirely due to the hold this riveting tale had on me.

Thank you to Wendy Powers for providing a copy of this book for review.

Purchase information here.

Apr 11, 2012

Classic Links

Monty has put up banners for his summer-long Cinematic Trip Around the World blogathon— All Good Things 

Here’s another great blogathon idea: The Best Hitchcock Films Hitchcock Never Made— Classic Becky’s Brain Food 

A beautiful review of God is the Bigger Elvis, a documentary about former Hollywood actor Mother Prioress Dolores Hart. I love this quote: ”In the clip of King Creole that opens the film, Hart's listening is so intense that it seems her heart is on the outside of her skin, which was one of her gifts as an actress.”-- Press Play 

This is a great post about the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills. It’s apparently an amazing resource for classic film fans. This must be true, because I see it mentioned in the notes of practically every movie book I read— Garbo Laughs 

An interesting James Hong blog event taking place this week— She Blogged by Night 

An overview of the TCMfest, which starts this week— The Lady Eve’s Reel Life

Apr 9, 2012

Classic Links

Google has found a wonderful way to celebrate Eadweard J. Muybridge’s 182nd birthday. If that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, the Google tribute will probably ring a bell— Google

The Short Animation Blogathon sounds like a lot of fun--
Pussy Goes Grrr

 The steamer that served as the titular African Queen (1951) has been made seaworthy again and is available for tours in Florida— UPI

Film locations from Gun Crazy (1950). I love this post!— Dear Old Hollywood 

Breakfast for Two (1937), starring Barbara Stanwyck— True Classics

A little Mary Pickford love in celebration of her birthday yesterday: 

Stella Maris (1918)—  A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies 

And a podcast about her influence and current Pickford news from The Cinementals

 Jessica has a great story about finding an autographed copy of Pickford’s bio. in her college library— Comet Over Hollywood 

Apr 8, 2012

Quote of the Week

One day I was having coffee on the set, just drinking coffee out of a styrofoam cup. And I was wearing the black dress with the red embossed roses. It was the day of the auction scene when there were a lot of extras around. And he came up to me and he said, "Eva Marie, you should not drink your coffee that way in front of all those people. Get Miss Saint a china cup and a china saucer for her coffee!" And they did, and he was absolutely right. Why would I just be walking around with a styrofoam cup?

 -Eva Marie Saint, about Alfred Hitchcock

  Image Source, Quote Source

Apr 7, 2012

Georges Méliès: The Lady in the Moon

I'm not sure why I always assumed that the moon in Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) was a man. It could be anyone under all that goo. I think it’s mostly because whenever I read about the movie, the writer would inevitably make that common reference to “the man on the moon.” But it isn’t a man, there’s a woman gamely performing in that mask of plaster (or whatever it is).

Her name is Bleuette Bemon (Bernon on the IMDB). Méliès recruited most of his performers from the stage, and he discovered her singing in a Parisian cabaret. In 1899, she made her film debut in Cendrillon (Cinderella), though I am not sure of her role (was she Cinderella?). According to the IMDB, she also appeared in Joan of Arc (1900), Bluebeard (1901) and Fairyland: A Kingdom of Fairies (1903). I wouldn’t be surprised if she appeared in more Méliès films, though I was not able to confirm this.

Whatever else Bemon did, there’s no doubt that playing the moon for a brief moment will be her claim to fame. It is remarkable the way that image has symbolized the early days of film for so many years. It continues to inspire admiration and awaken imaginations.

I was delighted to see my four-year-old daughter become fascinated by that moon, and the films of Méliès, as I prepared my posts for this week. I never get tired of her asking to see “the moon movie.” She also asks to see “some of the black and white ones.” Oh joy! This is by far the best thing that came out of this tribute. We had a little fun making our own cloudy sky and space ship and then taking turns playing the moon:

Of course, there aren’t flames shooting out of the back of the space ship in A Trip to the Moon, but we thought our ship looked prettier with a little extra flair:

Good fun!

 Image Source, Reference Source

Apr 6, 2012

Georges Méliès: His Influence on Popular Culture

It’s impressive how much influence Georges Méliès has had on popular culture over the past 100 years. When he first made his films, many filmmakers simply copied his ideas, often to the point of plagiarizing them. After his death, his images continued to inspire many different kinds of artists. Here are a few of the more direct ways Méliès has continued to have an impact.

The lovely video for Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins was also heavily influenced by Méliès:


The nostalgia evoked by the floating Méliès images in Queen’s Heaven for Everyone suits the bittersweet tone of the video and song:

Recently, Méliès has received a great deal of attention due to his inclusion in the graphic novel/novel hybrid The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick and the film of the story, Hugo (2011), directed by Martin Scorsese. I adore the mysterious, engrossing book. The film did not capture my imagination as much, but I thought it was a beautiful tribute to Méliès and early film.

Here’s the book trailer for Selznick’s book,(this is the first time I have ever heard of a book trailer). It’s actually an interview with the author with a lot of great shots of the book’s illustrations:


Here’s the trailer for the film Hugo (2011). I think Asa Butterfield was the perfect actor to play the title role. His sad, intense eyes just about broke my heart:

Classic Links

Oh sheesh, now the Mary Pickford Institute is in danger as well— Alt Film Guide 

The demolition of the Pickford Building. There’s no way I’m ever watching the video here of it being torn down, but there is some interesting information here about The Lot— LA Weekly 

A new blogathon. Actually, it’s a horseathon!— My Love of Old Hollywood 

The Monkey makes some good points here about preservation and the like.— A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies 

A glowingly positive review of Stewart Granger’s autobiography— Sidewalk Crossings 

I’m disappointed to hear that My Week With Marilyn (2011) is as full of clichés as I expected— Who Can Turn the World Off With Her Smile 

Image Source

Apr 5, 2012

Georges Méliès: Favorite Films

As much as I adore Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902), I tend to watch the shorter films of Georges Méliès more often. They are so playful, inventive and surreal. Here are a few of my favorites:

Le papillon fantastique (1909) 

I love the bright blue, yellow and orange hues chosen for this gorgeous color-tinted film. It features a beautiful butterfly and a spider with arms that look more like the wiggling appendages of an octopus:


L'homme a la Tête en Caoutchouc (1901) 

This film is a perfect demonstration of Méliès’ playful spirit. The oversized head shots provide a rare opportunity to see his amusing expressions in detail, as the close-up had not yet been invented:

Le Mélomane (1903) 

Here is a great example of the way Méliès often used his body, and particularly his head, to create surreal special effects:

Le Dirigeable Fantastique (1905)

Another beautifully-tinted color film:

I love the way Méliès literally brings this billboard to life:

There are so many more I’d like to share, and maybe I will in a future post.Though these clips can be found in many places online, I have found it much more satisfying to view them on DVD. As all of these movies were filmed from a distance with a single, stationary camera, the details are much easier to make out on a larger screen.

Here are a few of the releases I’ve enjoyed. I borrowed them from the library, but they all appear to be available for sale as well:

Georges Méliès encore: new discoveries (1896-1911), Flicker Alley 

Méliès the Magician, Facets (this one also includes an interesting Méliès documentary.) 

The Magic of Méliès, Kino Lorber 

Image Source

Apr 4, 2012

Classic Links

This is a wonderful birthday interview with Doris Day. She still sounds so Doris-y— NPR 

A couple of posts about the fight to save the Lot studios--
The Cinementals 

An interesting post about Mary Dees, Harlow’s stand-in—  Immortal Ephemera 

Warner Bros. acquires the Goldwyn library. There are some fantastic titles in this list. I’m looking forward to finally seeing Porgy and Bess (1959)-- ClassicFlix

Soundtrack Review: Le Voyage Dans La Lune by Air

Air is one of my favorite bands, so I would have thought I’d be delighted when I heard they would be composing the soundtrack for the color restoration of A Trip to the Moon (1902), but I wasn’t so sure about it at first. Though the band has always used a rich pallet of sounds, from banjos and pianos to keyboards and electronic effects, I’ve always thought of them as a very modern, even futuristic group. Would their style work with a 110-year-old film?

I shouldn’t have been surprised that it did. After all, Air had its big break with the album Moon Safari, which they promoted with a video about a monkey going into space (Sexy Boy is still one of my favorite Air tunes). Nicholas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, the duo who form Air, have always had their thoughts on the moon.

The group has also successfully scored movies before, from The Virgin Suicides to Lost in Translation. With these films, and with A Trip to the Moon, they’ve always somehow managed to make music that suits the action and yet still sounds distinctly like Air. You can’t exactly call them musical chameleons, because they never change their colors, but the effect they have is something like that.

While the album is titled Le Voyage Dans La Lune, it obviously needed more music than the 12 minutes of soundtrack recorded for the restoration. The tunes that fill out the running time are all appropriately space age ethereal. Seven Stars is a dreamy tribute to the great beyond, with hushed vocals, soft piano, and synthy space sounds. Retour Sur Terre has a familiar Air cadence, but its melancholy, distant piano made me think of some of the quieter moments in the Blade Runner (1982) soundtrack. It had a nostalgic feeling, touched with space age mystery.

The music from the film soundtrack is much livelier and adventurous. I thought the music from the opening scenes, called the Astronomic Club, was especially interesting, with its oozing, detuned notes and barnyard animal yelps. I know that sounds terrible, but it works, and it gets better every time you see it with the film.

I also couldn’t believe the funky Sonic Armada worked so well for the scenes below the surface of the moon. This was the part of the soundtrack that was the most difficult for me to accept, and now it is one of my favorite pieces. It truly grasps the wildness of what these hapless space explorers are experiencing.

My favorite theme in the film was also the shortest: the few seconds of spooky, wordless vocals and electronic tones that scored the shot of the space ship landing on the moon’s eye were perfect. It was a moment that I couldn’t imagine anyone but Air executing so elegantly.

The hand-tinted version of A Trip to the Moon is like a surrealist painting in motion. While it is possible to place it in its time, the vivid hues somehow work to make it simultaneously timeless. The plinks and plops of the percussion and space station keyboards in the soundtrack worked eerily well with those frames from long ago. Having seen a great deal of Georges Méliès’ fanciful films, I wonder if he would have marveled at the way these often distinctly modern sounds support his work in such a bizarrely appropriate way?

As an Air album, this is a strong group of songs, on a level with their best work. I don’t think the movie soundtrack is going to inspire universal love. It’s too adventurous to attract that kind of affection, but I also think that the people who enjoy it will find it hard to view the film without it once it has gotten under their skin. That’s what happened to me.

Thank you to EMI Music for providing access to the album.

Apr 3, 2012

Georges Méliès: A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Color Restoration DVD

Twelve beautiful minutes, composed of 13,375 frames that were in fragments when they were discovered in 1993. The restoration of the hand-tinted version of  Georges Méliès' A Trip to the Moon (1902) is an artfully composed wonder of technology and skill.

I have noticed things in this version of the film that I have never been able to make out over the many years that I have watched it. Things like the faces on the moon medallions around the necks of the celebrated space travelers when they return to earth and the bolts on the space ship as it is built in a busy shop. The colors are rich, but also subdued. They enhance their surroundings rather than dominating them.

Though the film has been reconstructed from fragments and the images sharpened, the restoration team has also respected the character of the original creation. For example, they had the technology to even out the color, but chose instead to mimic the characteristics of the paint brushes that were originally used to color each frame of the film. So instead of a constant stream of color, it begins to fade in some instances, just as it would when a colorist’s paintbrush began to run out of ink. It is this kind of attention to detail that lends an air of reverence to the restoration.

One notable aspect of the restoration is the soundtrack composed by the French band Air. As there was no original score, the filmmakers had to start from scratch. The selection of this simultaneously ethereal and earthy group had me skeptical at first (despite the fact that they are one of my favorite groups), but not for long. It is a timeless soundtrack, meant to last for a hundred more years. By combining appropriately spacey keyboards with more classic sounds such as banjo, piano and timpani, Air has created an ambitious, but excitingly catchy score. I now find it impossible to erase it from my mind when I watch an unrestored version of the film. I’ll write more about that when I review the soundtrack album tomorrow.

A lot happens in the few minutes that make up this mesmerizing film. A scientist (played by Méliès) attempts to sell his colleagues on his plan to make a trip to the moon. He wins them over, and workers begin construction of a space ship.

With great fanfare, the ship is launched into the sky with cannon that appears to extend practically to the heavens. It careens into the eye of the lady in the moon, yes a lady, played by musical hall singer Bleuette Bernon. She takes it with good humor.

The space travelers look back at the earth, far away. They settle down to rest, and while they sleep, the heavens gaze down upon them. A snowstorm wakes them, and they attempt to escape it by going beneath the surface of the moon.

There they find a bizarre, magical landscape and meet a menacing moon man who bounces around on his bottom. They are captured by more moon men and taken to their leader. Within moments, the space travelers escape. They run to their ship and hurry inside. As they leave the moon, one of the aliens clings to the ship. The ship crashes into the ocean.

Upon their return to earth, the space travelers are honored in a joyful celebration. They are given moon medallions to wear around their necks, and dance in the streets. It even appears that the now captive moon man is dancing along with them.

It always amazes me that all this activity happens in only twelve minutes. The prescience of some of Méliès’ speculations is also astounding. While real astronauts don’t wear knee breeches and carry their umbrellas on the surface of the moon, the way they were shot into space is not too different a concept from the modern shuttle launch pad. The water landing is also reminiscent of actual landings. While it is a playful work of fantasy, the eerie accuracy of the speculation gives it a little more substance when viewed with a modern perspective.

The special features on the disc enhance the film delightfully. There is a charming documentary about Méliès and the restoration, The Extraordinary Voyage (2011), which I reviewed yesterday. Other features include two space-themed Méliès films: The Eclipse (1907) and The Astronomer’s Dream (1898), which are also inventive, if not nearly as ambitious. I was happy for the inclusion of an interview with Air; their explanation of their working methods and intended effect helped me to better understand and appreciate the soundtrack.

Another interesting feature was the inclusion of three black and white versions of A Trip to the Moon (1902). Each of these clips was meant to approximate the different ways viewers might have seen the film upon its original release. One version simply has a score. The other includes a narration from a script written by Méliès. A third version consists of actors reading lines to correspond with the action on screen. Apparently this last method was executed in the theater by having the performers stand behind the screen while the movie played.

Overall, this is a beautiful release. With every detail it is clear that it was prepared by people who deeply love the film. It would be a precious treasure for anyone who reveres Méliès and his masterpiece.

Thank you to Flicker Alley for providing a copy of the DVD for review.

Tomorrow: I review the soundtrack album by Air.