Jul 26, 2023
Watching Classic Movies Podcast: The Wild World of Sixties Film Fashion with Fashion Instagrammer Rachel Boyce
Fashion Instagrammer and actress Rachel Boyce lives her love of 60s and 1700s period fashion. While we tend to refer to previous decades when talking about fashion trends, Rachel looks back centuries when sharing her extensive knowledge about how past looks influence the present. We talked about how many years of different styles found their way into the cultural explosion of the sixties, including the wide variety of films made in that decade.
Listen to our previous episode about Sharon Tate and owning vintage fashion:
Jul 19, 2023
Watching Classic Movies Podcast--Talking Cult Movies with Millie de Chirico Co-Author of TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema
Millie de Chirico has long been a knowledgeable and accessible champion for classic film in her work programming for TCM and the TCM Classic Film Festival, as co-host of the essential I Saw What You Did podcast, and now as co-author with Quatoyiah Murry of the amazing book TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema. I loved having her back on the show to talk about how changing access to films has widened the landscape for cult flicks and dig into some of the fascinating movies Millie wrote about in the book.
Learn more about Millie and Quatoyiah’s book TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema here
Listen to my previous conversation with Millie about late career Elizabeth Taylor. It’s one of my favorite episodes:
I also did a video review of the book when it first came out:
Jul 14, 2023
If there’s anything that screams out for a 4K restoration, it’s an Erich von Stroheim film, and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and The Museum of Modern Art have done so in a stunning collaboration, now available on DVD/Blu-ray from Flicker Alley. Full of elaborate scenes and meticulously-constructed details, Foolish Wives (1922) is typical of the director’s craft and a wonder to see with such clarity.
Touted as the first one-million-dollar film, a figure far from the original budget, Foolish Wives shows all of that on the screen. Director, writer, and star von Stroheim is a slippery con man who calls himself Count Wladislaw Sergius Karamzin and scams wealthy wives in glamorous settings. Here it’s Monte Carlo, actually a luxurious set constructed in Northern California, but you wouldn’t know it.
The fake count is partners in crime with his supposed cousins who go by Princess" Vera Petchnikoff (Mae Busch) and "Her Highness" Olga Petchnikoff (Maude George). They are tended to by their maid Maruschka (Dale Fuller), whom Sergius takes advantage of in every way.
This convincingly glamorous trio does its best to strip high society for parts, targeting victims with the focus of a billionaire buying up failing corporations. They have no heart or ambition beyond acquiring wealth and it is ultimately a losing proposition for them, but they have a merry time going to hell.
Von Stroheim films their journey with a sense of eroticism and sensation, in addition to luxuriating in the lush surroundings. It’s such a decadent setting that it’s a bit shocking when he slows down to show reverence to a World War I vet who is an amputee. As one of the Count’s victims waits to be whisked to him in the night, she sees the armless man, and tenderly places a cape that has fallen to the ground on his shoulders again.
It is moments like these that give von Stroheim’s work the feeling of being truly rooted in life, despite their outrageous settings and characters. Whatever sensations he pursues, he doesn’t look at them with tunnel vision, any drama has another story happening alongside of it. It’s a testament to the richness and complexity of his work. There simply has never been a filmmaker quite like this and we are fortunate to be able to see his work presented so beautifully over one hundred years after he put it on film.
The Flicker Alley print is jawdropping in its clarity. I couldn't believe how clean and clear it looked. The set includes a lot of helpful and illuminating bonus material, including the archival Filming Foolish Wives (1922), the documentary The Waves and Merry-Go-Round: On Location with Erich von Stroheim, and the wonderfully detailed Erich von Stroheim and Hollywood’s First Million-Dollar Picture. All are essential viewing, because the production of the film is as interesting as the work itself. I also appreciated the essays in the accompanying booklet, including Searching for Foolish Wives: The Decades-Long Effort to Reconstruct Erich con Stroheim’s Masterpiece by James Layton.
Many thanks to Flicker Alley for providing the set for review.
Jul 12, 2023
Watching Classic Movies Podcast: The Fact and Fiction of True-Crime Masterpiece Chameleon Street (1989) with Paula Guthat of Cinema Detroit
The 1989 film Chameleon Street, written, directed by, and starring Wendell B. Harris Jr. won the grand jury prize for a dramatic film at Sundance Film Festival in 1990. But that honor didn’t lead to the accolades and long directing career that it should have. This quirky masterwork tells the true crime story of William Douglas Street, Jr., a con artist from Detroit who has successfully impersonated athletes, lawyers, reporters, and doctors over a long career of scamming. He is currently in prison for identity theft. I spoke with Cinema Detroit co-founder Paula Guthat about this fascinating film, the wild story behind it, and how Harris molded this tale of the con into a reflection of life, society, and the performance of being human.
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Jul 10, 2023
Jul 5, 2023
Watching Classic Movies Podcast: Bogie, Bacall, and The Hollywood Home Front Trilogy with Martin Turnbull
I was happy to welcome back novelist Martin Turnbull, my most popular guest on the podcast to date. We talked about Bogart, Bacall, Hollywood and Warner Brothers Studios during World War II and how they are featured in his Hollywood Homefront Trilogy including the recently released finale to this fascinating blend of fact and fiction You Must Remember This.
You can learn more about Martin Turnbull’s many books, including his Hollywood Home Front Trilogy, at his official website.
I also highly recommend following his fascinating Twitter account where he shares lots of photos and information about vintage LA & Hollywood.