Sep 29, 2021
Podcasts for Classic Film Fans: September Round-up
Sep 17, 2021
Book Review--Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, Revised and Expanded Edition
Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir
Sep 15, 2021
On Blu-ray: Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon in Madame Curie (1943)
Madame Curie (1943) gives the biopic of the famous scientist and her husband Pierre the MGM treatment, with sentimental strings, kindly professors, and lofty announcements to the stars, but it is also diligent in its approach to the work and the relationship at its core. I recently watched the film on a new Blu-ray release from Warner Archive.
Sep 8, 2021
On Blu-ray--Chain Lightning (1950) with Humphrey Bogart and Eleanor Parker
I’ve watched the test pilot drama Chain Lightning (1950) a few times since I first saw it via the home edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival, the most recent viewing on a new Blu-ray release from Warner Archive. I haven’t connected with the film; the story is uninspiring, the script is flat, and the airborne action offers moderate thrills. However, I keep coming back to it, because of my fascination with its leads Humphrey Bogart and Eleanor Parker.
Sep 3, 2021
Book Review--Eartha and Kitt: A Daughter's Love Story in Black and White
Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black & White
Shapiro tells a story counter to many of those told by children of famous parents. Eartha was devoted to her daughter and kept her close, taking her on airplanes to various engagements as soon as Kitt’s doctor said it was it safe. One could speculate that her constant need for her daughter’s company could be excessive, and it is revealed that need had much to do with her lonely, abuse-filled childhood, but Shapiro’s take is that she accepted and embraced her role as her mother’s companion because she wanted to fill that need and found it mutually beneficial. It’s interesting, and refreshing the way Shapiro understood her mother and committed to her with a good perspective on what she sacrificed and what she gained.
The chapters are arranged in categories, telling a somewhat chronological story of their relationship, but the overall feel is the unordered flow of a woman reminiscing to an intimate audience. Shapiro shares her mother's struggles and triumphs, recognizing the net positive of a woman overcoming brutal odds achieving an unusual level of success in a wildly adventurous life.
While Eartha Kitt did make her mark in film and television, that was only a small part of a diverse career. Shapiro likewise doesn’t devote much attention to her career as an actress, though she does share a few interesting insights. She recalls watching classic films with her mother which were sometimes cast with stars who she had befriended or shared the screen. There’s also a touching moment where seeing Eartha by chance in an old television show gives her much needed strength.
Overall this is a tender and engrossing story. Shapiro shares the complications and blessings of her remarkable relationship with her mother with grace and an understanding that leading with love often means forging your own path.
Sep 1, 2021
On Blu-ray: MGM's Galaxy of Stars in Ziegfeld Follies (1945)
Ziegfeld Follies is a mixed-bag. Full of musical and comedy acts meant to emulate the feel of the legendary Broadway version of producer Flo Ziegfeld’s Follies, it alternates between magnificence and moments that elicit indifference. Fortunately the episodic nature of the film allows the viewer to easily curate the viewing experience, because the best parts of this film are among the most memorable in MGM history. I recently revisited the movie on a new Blu-ray release from Warner Archive.