Category Archives: Film, TV, and the Arts

How Good Was Judy Garland?  Better That That!
Film, TV, and the Arts

How Good Was Judy Garland? Better That That!

Judy Garland sang as well as anybody, connected to emotional the core of a song better than anybody, danced toe to toe with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and was a great dramatic actress,

Did Greta Garbo Go Wilder in “Ninotchka”
Film, TV, and the Arts

Did Greta Garbo Go Wilder in “Ninotchka”

Billy Wilder, who co-wrote the screenplay for “Ninotchka,” Greta Garbo’s only comedy, said it has “the [producer/director Ernst] Lubitsch touch.” I say it has the Wilder touch.

Movies I Watch an Infinite Number of Times and Don’t Get Bored
Film, TV, and the Arts

Movies I Watch an Infinite Number of Times and Don’t Get Bored

Because I get Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and have a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), I have an unusually long list of movies I’ve seen a million times, all different genres, and never get tired of. Do they all have anything in common?

They Don’t Make Romantic Comedies Like They Used To
Film, TV, and the Arts

They Don’t Make Romantic Comedies Like They Used To

Hollywood does not produce as many great romantic comedies today. Big studios, the Hays Code, and repertory companies of great supporting actors and off-screen craftspeople no longer exist. Talent and star power are not what’s missing.

“The New Journalism” Is No Longer New
Film, TV, and the Arts

“The New Journalism” Is No Longer New

Journalists gave themselves permission to be writers, not just chroniclers. We explored our reactions to the people, subjects, and events we wrote about, instead of trying to hide them. We used fiction-writing and story-telling devices to tell true stories. We became participants, even characters, in our stories.

Hattie McDaniel: Always A Servant, Never Subservient or Servile
Film, TV, and the Arts

Hattie McDaniel: Always A Servant, Never Subservient or Servile

Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in Gone With the Wind,” and movie maids all her life, was criticized by African American leaders for perpetuating racist stereotypes. But the maids she played were smart, strong, dignified, and often superior to the white people they served.

History of American Film Comedy Is Scholarly, Not Funny
Film, TV, and the Arts

History of American Film Comedy Is Scholarly, Not Funny

Books that try to explain why comedy is funny are never funny. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said about pornography, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” Comedian Jack Paar once said, “Who cares?”

“Star Trek” Was Pitched to the Network as Another “Wagon Train”
Film, TV, and the Arts

“Star Trek” Was Pitched to the Network as Another “Wagon Train”

To sell “Star Trek” to TV networks, Gene Roddenberry had to present it in terms TV executives understood. He compared it to the Western series “Wagon Train,” which is still running on cable.

The Movie “The Fountainhead” Is So Serious, It’s Silly
Film, TV, and the Arts

The Movie “The Fountainhead” Is So Serious, It’s Silly

“The Fountainhead” was a serious effort to make a good movie. It’s so silly because it takes itself so seriously. The book and movie are vehicles for Ayn Rand’s controversial philosophy, which says greed is good, and strong people take what they want without apology. She influenced today’s privileged “1%”and conservative Republicans.

“White Heat,” (1949) Was James Cagney’s Most Menacing Gangster
Film, TV, and the Arts

“White Heat,” (1949) Was James Cagney’s Most Menacing Gangster

When the production team on White Heat first met, they asked themselves how to make James Cagney’s character the toughest, most menacing gangster ever filmed. Cagney said he told them to “make him nuts.”

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