Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coming Soon - Hollywood on Hollywood, the CMBA Fall Blogathon!

The Classic Movie Blog Association is proud to present its fall blogathon, Hollywood on Hollywood, running from October 17th to 21st. Please tune into the blogs below on the dates listed to read some writers discussing how the movie capital of the world has turned its lens in on itself!


The Lineup So Far


And here are other banners for members to choose from:

 






This page will be updated as we get closer to the date.

For CMBA members who wish to participate in the eBook for this blogathon, please email the CMBA account with their entries in either plain text or a Word document. Please, no footnotes, links, or images. Entries will be due on October 22nd. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: The Man on the Flying Trapeze



The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th of the month. Today we're featuring David from The Man on the FlyingTrapeze.

If you remember the Spike Jones version of the song “The Man on the Flying Trapeze”, you’ll recall the mixture of admiration and humour in the lyrics. The song is kind of a reluctant love letter to a venerated trapeze artist who has stolen the songwriter’s girlfriend.

The blog, The Man on the Flying Trapeze, is an unabashed love letter to classic Hollywood film. David writes with admiration and wit about the films from the Golden Age, especially pre-code films. These he's chronicled in his "Pre-Code vs Post-Code" series.

“I love pre-code movies,” says David, “and I love to dig into how they were ‘cleaned up’ (and usually made worse) to meet a set of silly standards.”

One example compares Grand Hotel to Week-End at the Waldorf. You can read this post HERE.


CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: When I was a kid, my cousins lived across the street and I was over there a lot. My uncle was a fan of Warner Brothers gangster movies, and in those days (late 1960s) a local TV station showed them every night at 6:00. So instead of playing with my cousins I’d find myself in front of the TV watching people shoot at each other with tommy guns in black and white, and to this day the experience remains magical to me. (Those Warner gunshots have a sound all their own!)    

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: A great script, classic dialogue, terrific performances, striking photography or an intangible something that captures the zeitgeist of the moment and yet still seems timeless. 


CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: I don't know if it's his cynical outlook or his contemporary storytelling style, but I've had good luck introducing people to Billy Wilder movies – Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment and Double Indemnity.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: Because it helps explain us as a people and it demonstrates where our storytelling traditions come from. As a culture we are too fascinated with newness for its own sake. New automatically equals cool/good. That people can be reluctant to look at anything considered "old" makes no more sense to me than someone refusing to look at something just because it's blue.   

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: The illusion that everyone is paying attention to what you post – and the feedback that you get from a dedicated handful of people with the same obsessions as yours.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: I don't know why, but I always have a hard time figuring out what movie I'm going to write about next – sometimes to the degree that I just freeze up and don't write anything. I know this sounds weird, but I honestly think I'd be better off if there was someone standing over my shoulder telling me what movie to write about next. 

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: Don't knock yourself out at first – this is a marathon, not a sprint. Try to post regularly, but not obsessively. And don’t beat yourself up if a few weeks go by between posts.

Thank you for joining us, David! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: Spellbound by Movies



The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th of the month. Today we're featuring Beth Ann from Spellbound by Movies.

Beth Ann Gallagher knows how to "sell" classic film.

Her blog, Spellbound by Movies, is an eclectic collection of all things classic film – filmmakers, film events, and the films themselves. She's one of those bloggers who make classic Hollywood seem fresh and hip.

Her blog is like a vintage boutique that specializes in unique pieces. One example is a look at Alfred Hitchcock and his terriers.

“It remains my most popular one four years after posting,” says Beth Ann. “I love animals, and I'm a Hitchcock fan, so I had a lot of fun writing the piece, and I'm sure that shines through.”

You can read her post on Hitchcock and his terriers HERE.


CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Spellbound by Movies: As a child, classic film was around me and part of everyday life. It was readily available on TV, and my family watched it with me. On Saturday mornings, a local station called WLVI would run comedies like Our Gang/The Little Rascals, Abbott and Costello, The Three Stooges, and Laurel & Hardy. Comedy is a great entryway to classic film! Later that day, the network would run their Creature Double Feature and show films like King Kong, Universal's horror pictures, Hammer Studios flicks from the fifties, and Toho Studios giant monster movies like Godzilla. My mom would put the Million Dollar Movie on, and we'd watch classics together. I remember watching classics at her parents' place, like Yankee Doodle Dandy. I also grew up in a New England town with a lot of history in and around it. Classic movies don't seem old when your town history includes losing its Revolutionary War naval battle. As I got a little older, VHS and AMC made classic movies even more accessible before TCM came about. There was something wonderfully aspirational to me as a kid about the people in screwball comedies. I loved the glamour of the stars' clothes and stylings and the rapid-fire repartee.


CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Spellbound by Movies: I see the phrase “classic film” meaning different things in different contexts. There's the classic film era, which stretches from the silent
era to the 1960s. Something like The Torchy Blane film series was made in the era, but it's not well-known outside of film buff circles. Then there are classic films everyone agrees on. These are the movies that everyone agrees are part of the official canon, like Bringing Up Baby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Wizard of Oz. The final category of classic is personal. They're the movies someone loves and can watch over and over again without diminished enjoyment. These classics might not always have the quality of a prestige picture like Now, Voyager, but they pack as strong an emotional wallop. They may be "contemporary" classics, made outside of the classic film era. A Christmas Story is a great example of that kind of picture. It's become part of people's Christmas traditions due to its subject matter, the feeling of family and the holidays it shares, and how smart it is in depicting kids, their inner worlds, and the scrapes they get into. If a film is going to end up either type of classic, it has to have a strong emotional impact and material that appeals, that will remain of its time yet timeless, and that will endure repeated viewings.


CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old
movies?
Spellbound by Movies: I would find out what topics or genres of movies people like, and then I'd find a corresponding classic film to recommend to them. For example, if they like fashion or biting dialogue, I'd recommend The Women. If the person was a complete blank, I'd recommend a comedy. People are more open to comedies than other types of pictures. Laurel & Hardy's The Music Box would be a great one to start with. It's short, and slapstick is a universal visual language. If the person was up for something more verbal and anarchic, I'd suggest The Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Spellbound by Movies: Some people are put off by black and white movies or the phrase "classic film", but the best of these films are wonderfully alive and engaging. They may show the people and fashions of their times, but they have a timeless quality. They preserve the culture of that moment which usually has something to say about this moment. People don't change that much at the core however more sophisticated education, media, and technology have made the average person. If you can be open to classic film you can be open to a lot of experiences in life, and you can have a lot of fun at the same time. You'll learn about yourself, too.

  
CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Spellbound by Movies: I love learning more about movies from writing about them. That makes me re-watch them more closely, research them, and better understand what works and doesn't work about them and how they affect me and other viewers. Writing is a type of thinking for me. Beyond that, I hope to connect with other people online about movies. I'm a relocatee to California, and my job as a field representative involves travel, so blogging and tweeting about films helps me with my online social life, which has solidified in some face-to-face friendships.

CMBA:  What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Spellbound by Movies: My job often can take up more than full-time hours in the week. Sometimes I'm travelling and sometimes I'm commuting. Either way that can be a lot of hours stuck in traffic. All of this can be very energy depleting, which affects how much I writing I can produce. I try to write more outside of my job's hectic periods. Another issue is making sure not every post has to be a big, obsessively detailed one. My goal is to fit in more shorter pieces into my blog along with the in-depth ones. I want to make sure my blog reflects more of what I'm watching and festival going-wise and to add some fun features like lists, which can be short and snappy.

  
CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Spellbound by Movies: A lot of people can seem like experts on classic film or film in general. That can be intimidating. Everyone started out watching and loving movies. Let that passion propel you into being an active blogger. Get well-versed in films from watching them and start forming your own opinions and reactions. Then read up on the movies and find out the histories behind them. With so many people blogging out there, your blog's biggest asset is what you feel and think, your individual reactions, and how you present them. If you can, never hit the post button the same day you finish a write-up. At least give yourself an overnight to see if any new ideas or changes come to mind. Re-read your posts before they go live. Then you can spot gaps in your explanations, factual errors, jumps in reasoning, or writing errors. Find a friend or family member who's a good at editing or commenting on your writing. No matter how good a writer is, she or he is better with constructive feedback. Join blogathons to get practice writing something you might not have, to meet other bloggers, and to promote your blog. You will grow a lot as a writer and as a person through blogging, but don't forget to have fun with all of this!

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: A Trip Down Memory Lane



The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th of the month. Today we're featuring David from A Trip Down Memory Lane.

David’s experience with blogging likely sounds familiar to a lot of people. You might start a blog with a specific goal, only to have it morph into something else.

“I started my blog in March of 2010,” says David. “I started it so I could put all the information and tidbits of classic Hollywood in one place, but then it evolved into a blog showcasing memories of great entertainment and stars that I enjoyed. My blog was originally called The Great Entertainers Archive, but a year later I changed it to A Trip Down Memory Lane.”

A Trip Down Memory Lane is a valuable resource for those looking for information on celebrities of classic Hollywood. David chronicles lesser-known personalities, too, such as Nedra Sanders Broccoli.

“She was the widow of singer Buddy Clark as well as the wife of James Bond producer Albert Broccoli,” explains David. “Nedra had a lifetime of heartache and disaster. There were no other stories on her anywhere, so I researched what I could find on her for months. I was proud of the reaction I got, and it was used on other websites and publications. I also got emails from her two children who were toddlers when she died thanking me for writing the article on her. Even though her story was a sad one, I felt happy that I had the opportunity to tell it.”

You can read David’s post on Nedra HERE.



CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
A Trip Down Memory Lane: Growing up I was very close to my Grandfather, and he instilled in me a love of old music and movies. He has been gone for 13 years now, but the memories of my Grandfather and I crying as we watched the drama Penny Serenade (1940), or singing along to the musical Good News (1947), remains with me to this day as I raise my young children.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
A Trip Down Memory Lane: I used to say that a classic film was one that was made before I was born (pre-1974). However, to me a classic film is a film that generations can enjoy and a film that is timeless.


CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
A Trip Down Memory Lane: It has taken me 11 years of marriage to convince my wife that not all old movies are truly “old”. I started off by showing my wife movies that did not really age such as Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) and White Heat (1949). Then I moved on to more obscure movies like The Face Behind The Mask (1941). I have watched every genre of movies with her now – except for silent movies. I need a few more years of marriage for that!


CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
A Trip Down Memory Lane: I think people should care about classic films, because each film – whether a good movie or a bad movie – tell a person of what life was like in that time. Each film is a time capsule to a bygone era.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
A Trip Down Memory Lane: The most rewarding aspect about blogging is sharing a love of classic movies and entertainment with like-minded individuals. It is great to meet people who think Gigot (1962) is a great movie or who always wondered what happened to singer Dick Todd.


CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
A Trip Down Memory Lane: It gets discouraging sometimes when you put your whole heart into writing an article and no one comments or you have only a few views. To overcome it, I remind myself that I am writing this blog because I love talking about old movies, and I also remind myself that sometimes I can publish a story on my blog years ago and it just gets discovered. Whatever you publish on the internet never is truly forgotten or lost!

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
A Trip Down Memory Lane: What advice I would have for a new blogger is to not get discouraged. Publish a blog for the right reasons, and also be patient. It takes awhile for your blog to be discovered and to build up a fan base.


Thank you for joining us, David! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: Journeys in Classic Film





The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th of the month. Today we're toasting Kristen from Journeys in Classic Film.

If you're looking for all-out zeal for classic movies, you'll find it at Journeys in Classic Film.

Kristen, a prolific blogger, podcaster and CMBA Board Member, infuses her website with a fresh, energetic vibe. She offers film and book reviews, news updates, and interviews with classic film biographers and actors – such as actress Jane Withers.

"I still get readers who ask me about getting in touch with [Jane] and mentioning how she shaped their lives or other personal anecdotes," says Kristen. "This was the second interview I ever did and the first with someone directly connected to what I was writing about. Jane was so sweet and funny (and actually wanted a picture of me!). I could have talked to her for hours."

You can read Kristen's interview HERE.

  
CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Journeys in Classic Film: I've been asked this several times before and I'm not sure if it was a spark or a slow culmination. I'd always had classic movies on in my house in some form - predominately Disney animated features or The Wizard of Oz. When I was in sixth grade, we did a Tudor history unit where I was the only one who adored the 1969 film Anne of the Thousand Days. If any film could be the catalyst it was that one. For the first time I saw a sumptuousness that I didn't see in current cinema. When I was a senior I took a film class and after watching Singin' in the Rain and Splendor in the Grass I was hooked on classic cinema completely.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Journeys in Classic Film: There are two ways to approach the classic conundrum - time and content. The simplest answer would be, when reviewing films for my site, I limit to the "classic" era of pre-1980. Yes, I know most people only consider studio-era as the true classic, but the 1970s was a landmark decade and an ocean of time separates those films from today. From a content standpoint a classic is a movie that's timeless - that, regardless of changing fashions or technology, you can still appreciate what it sets out to do. 

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Journeys in Classic Film: Horror is the easiest way to get people into classics since everyone loves a good scare and there's little that time can do to change fear, so I always recommend Bride of Frankenstein or Psycho. Other titles that are good beginner tales are Singin' in the Rain - gives you a nice historic overview of cinema - or The Wizard of Oz.



CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Journeys in Classic Film: You can only appreciate the cinema of today by looking at the past. So much regarding changing content, ratings, genres, directorial influences all have their roots in classic cinema. There's a reason Quentin Tarantino fills his movies with references to old Hollywood and knowing those references makes you a more informed viewer, better able to appreciate film in its totality. On the other side of the coin, classic cinema can really help you from a personal standpoint. I know I've measured surgeries, sickness, and family issues through the classic films that helped me get through them.



CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Journeys in Classic Film: The people I've met, and I'm not saying the stars who have graciously agreed to talk to me, I'm talking about the readers. My site started out as experiment just to see if I could maintain it. I never assumed I'd still be running it nearly four years later and that's because people keep stopping by to read it! I've had people stop me at TCM Film Festivals and say they love my work or bring up my weird quirks that I've mentioned on the site (like my undying love for Cliff Robertson). It never ceases to humble me because these people don't have to read my site - I think there are writers far better than me - but they do and that will always be the best reward.



CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Journeys in Classic Film: I'm a perfectionist so I'm always trying to better my writing. I review a lot so there comes a point where saying a movie is good or bad in words that sound coherent and eloquent just doesn't happen and, I'll admit, some of my reviews are written out of a need to just finish and move on. I always feel that I'm not verbose in my thoughts enough. When I'm hitting that wall I try to watch movies I don't have to write on and just let the thoughts go. Or I'll read film books and look at their word choices and hopefully that'll inspire me. Of course the other challenge is finding the time to write and/or getting all the content out in a timely manner. In those instances all I can do is try to pre-plan as best I can.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Journeys in Classic Film: Other than the tired adage of "If you think you'll make buckets of money you're wrong?" Really I'd say write because you want to and develop a voice that's your own. Readers come back to me because they know what to expect. They feel comfortable agreeing or disagreeing with me because I've clearly stated my opinions. Also, make sure whatever your writing on gives you variety. It's easy to say you'll just be a reviewer but that can cause you to burn-out quickly. Depending on your focus try to include top 10 lists, articles, and other forms of media that'll give your mind a break while engaging readers.


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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

CMBA Blog Profile: Silver Screen Modes



The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, on the 1st and the 15th. Today we're celebrating Christian from Silver Screen Modes.

Author and researcher Christian Esquevin has an infectious passion for classic film costume design.

His blog, Silver Screen Modes, presents a thoughtful, fascinating look at Hollywood costume designers and the design process. He's also the author of Adrian: Silver Screen to Custom Label.

But his interests include more than costume design. He has a true appreciation for film itself, including films that are lesser known or are not widely appreciated, such as Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup (1966).
"The film is not everyone’s cup of tea, but part of the problem is that many people say they don’t understand it," says Christian. "[I want] to explicate the movie to others, or at least to point out that it does not follow a plot that has a neat resolution at the end. It also has a lead character that is not particularly nice to women, but he’s not nice to men, either, and that’s the story/character showing his alienation. On the other hand, it has tremendous vitality and shows swinging London in the 1960s. It’s a mystery where the answer dissolves the closer you look at it – much like life, really. I saw it in the theater in France when it first came out, and it left an indelible impression on my youth."

You can read Christian's review of Blowup HERE.


CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Silver Screen Modes: My father was a big movie buff and took us to see the new releases (now classics) when I was a kid. My great-aunt had worked as the head cutter-fitter in wardrobe at the RKO studios in the 1930s, and previously at other studios. She fitted Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Barbara Stanwyck, Ann Miller, Maureen O’Hara, and others for their costumes. But it wasn’t until they had gone that I developed a passion for classic film and began researching the background of their making and especially the art of costume design and the designers that worked during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
The RKO Wardrobe Department in the 1930s

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Silver Screen Modes: It takes the passing of some time certainly. And that’s because the opinions of viewers have to go through a maturing process and the stages of a film’s quality changes over time. It never fails to happen that polls of the top 25 or 100 “Best Films” are always skewed toward the newer films. Take the poll again in ten years and most of those newer films will be gone, and a fresh batch will have replaced them. The “classics” are the films that remain. Those classics will have been on umpteen lists including lists of the “classics”. Everyone has different favorite classics, and we in CMBA have a very broad and diverse list. Thankfully our viewing is not just restricted to that small spectrum of human endeavor the studios are now producing. 
CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Silver Screen Modes: That might depend on the age and sex of the person, but generally I would recommend The Magnificent Seven and The Killers (with Burt Lancaster) for young men. Double Indemnity and Vertigo would be other titles with some cross-over appeal, but these have no happy ending. And for women I would recommend Roman Holiday and Holiday (with Katharine Hepburn).

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Silver Screen Modes: Classic films were largely produced when character and story were more important than special effects or computer generated images. People talked, there was dialogue (or they had faces). Not that CGI can’t be an important part of the movie, but today it overwhelms human character to the point that only people with super powers seem to flourish, and then they go on to make sequels as often as super bowls. Classics include comedies and romances, and romantic comedies, not to mention westerns and musicals. These genres are virtually extinct today.


Tyrone Power & Loretta Young in Love is News

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging? 
Silver Screen Modes: Blogging is a way to share one’s love of the movies we write about, or for me the costumes and how they define character and how the designer had to go about the process of designing them and getting those costumes on the actors and on the screen. My fascination is always with what goes on behind the screen. We watch the movie and get wrapped up in the story (if it’s a successful movie). Even as bloggers we may concentrate on an actor or director. But it’s the whole process and the teamwork that makes such an interesting story, especially during the studio system. But the talent was equally with the craft people – the set designers and costume fabricators and make-up artists and many others. The screenwriter or lead actor or director may have failed to turn out a good movie, but the studio system craft people never failed to do their best. It’s writing about part of that process that interests me. And all the dynamics and interplay of the personalities and studio politics. 

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Silver Screen Modes: When I first started blogging in late 2009 I thought, how was I ever going to come up with enough ideas to keep going? Well the ideas kept coming. The challenge is finding time to keep the posts going. For my posts finding the images takes as much time as writing, and the research for the images and text is very time-consuming. I know this is the same for all of us. I work at it in chunks. Since I have a full-time job, this is often done at night, I often think I should have called my blog The Midnight Blogger.
CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Silver Screen Modes: Write about your passion. The typical advice in writing is write what you know – but you can learn as you go. If you have the drive based on passion you can keep going in the absence of much (or any) reward. But you owe it to your audience to know more than they do (most of them) on the topic of your blog post, or else why should they read it? Folks have limited time and they don’t spend a lot of it reading. Make it informative and fun.
 
Thank you for joining us, Christian! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.