David Kalat
David Kalat If you ask where I'm from, I have to give an essay in response: I was born in Philadelphia, lived briefly in Atlantic City and then Durham, before spending most of my childhood and formative years in Raleigh, NC. I went to college at the University of Michigan (where I was in the second cohort of students to go through U of M's Film and Video Studies Program), and spent a year in Freiburg, Germany. After graduation, I lived in Washington, DC for a year, then followed my wife Julie to Bloomington where she attended law school. After a summer in New York, we both returned to DC, moved to the Alexandria suburbs, and then moved to the outskirts of Chicago where I am now. One thing has been a constant through all that-I love movies. I eat them. It was a weird confluence of science fiction/horror and slapstick comedy that first commanded my heart. As a little kid I thrilled to Godzilla and Hammer horror, in revival screenings at Raleigh's Rialto and similar theaters, while watching Batman and Doctor Who on TV. At the same time I was obsessed with the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and the Three Stooges. By the time I was twenty-five I'd already seen THE GENERAL in five different theaters in five different cities. My career path has been as peripatetic as my lifestyle. I once aspired to making movies of my own and one of my short films was released on DVD, even though I was the one who published it, so maybe that doesn't count. I started writing about movies in 1997 with the publication of A CRITICAL HISTORY AND FILMOGRAPHY OF TOHO'S GODZILLA SERIES, a book that won me a lot of attention and acclaim but which I eventually grew to dislike. I rewrote it, and had the completely revamped text published under the same title as if it were just a second edition. Joke's on you! I've also written about J-Horror and Dr. Mabuse, while contributing essays on subjects such as Fantomas, French horror and Edgar Ulmer to various anthologies. From time to time I record audio commentaries as well. Now I blog.
Posts by David Kalat

If you’ve grown tired of my singular focus on slapstick comedy these last 4 weeks, have no fear—I now plan to be singularly obsessed with 1950s and 60s Japanese New Wave Cinema for the next 3 or 4 weeks. Not sure yet how long I can keep this up—or which of us will blink first. […]

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For the last several weeks I’ve been circling around the legacy of Charlie Chaplin, with posts about him, his influences, and his contemporaries. This week I return to where I started, the man himself, to look not as Chaplin’s aesthetics but his ethics. There’ s something very important about the little fella I haven’t remarked […]

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It’s March 1, 1916 (or its November 1915 if you want to be pedantic and argumentative. I know who you are, and I’m ready for you). Let’s start again: It’s March 1, 1916. There. This is the day that the first film in the “Mishaps of Musty Suffer” series is released: Cruel and Unusual. For […]

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There’s an autographed photo of Charlie Chaplin, inscribed “To the one and only Max, “The Professor”. From his disciple, Charlie Chaplin. May 12th 1917.” The “Max” in this scenario was Max Linder, the seminal French comedian.  Chaplin was often stingy about acknowledging his debts to his various collaborators and peers, but he was never shy […]

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Lately I’ve been enjoying the outstanding Blu Ray box set from Flicker Alley of Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay films from 1915-1916 (do you own one of your own?  Why not?). And while watching them, I found myself falling down a rabbit hole. It’s a rabbit hole that other Chapliniacs (Chapliniados? Chaplinners? Chaplinians?) have fallen down before—some […]

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A few weeks ago, my post on the legacy of Star Wars films prompted an interesting debate in the comments thread. Syd wrote: “[W]hat saddens me is that the comic book genre is sucking all the oxygen out of the theaters. Shirley Temple’s movies were the most popular films during the Golden Age of Hollywood, […]

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There are many pop culture traditions at Christmastime that are important to me. Charlie Brown Christmas, of course—its power only grows over time. The Grinch (the original 60s cartoon). A Christmas Story, preferably on some kind of marathon loop. And then there’s Jalmari Helander’s looney cult flick Rare Exports. Perhaps that one is less familiar […]

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I’m not sure if you’ve heard but there’s a new Star Wars movie out now. Some of you are probably exasperated by this—I know that the (stereo-)typical audience for classic movies is an audience that is impatient with Hollywood bloat, skeptical of contemporary blockbusters, tired of the marketing frenzy. Perhaps Star Wars has a little […]

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Two lovers, locked in a room—the future of the state itself depends on whether their roiling lust for each other will override their other emotions and compel them into a marriage. The last time these two saw each other, Danilo (Maurice Chevalier) thought Sonia (Jeanette MacDonald) was a whore. The first time they saw each […]

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It was a little over 100 years ago that the writing team of Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre first began cranking out Fantômas mystery novels for a voracious European public. To keep apace with the relentless publication schedule, Souvestre and Allain traded writing duties. They would playfully build impossible cliffhangers before handing off to one […]

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