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

When you talk about “classic cinema” you talk about motion pictures that influenced the culture. Films that inspired other films, established careers, wormed their way into the memories of audiences, endured in our cultural heritage in some way… Well, by that definition, you could argue Airplane! is of greater cultural significance than Citizen Kane. It’s […]

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What’s wrong with comedies? I don’t mean that as in, “why aren’t today’s comedies as good as the olden days?” Because that’s nonsense—the breadth and depth of innovative, hilarious comedy being done today is staggering: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Portlandia, The Comeback, Nathan For You, Inside Amy Shumer, Parks and Recreation, The Daily Show, […]

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So what do we find here? Two different fortune tellers, neither one genuine. A dead man who isn’t dead—or, put another way, a man who is killed twice. Two different characters who kill a loved one, a set of secret microfilm that is stolen twice, a fake blind man, fake cops, a fake delivery of […]

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I’m here to talk about farces. About romantic comedies, TV sitcoms, and silent slapstick. About Charley Chase, the Marx Brothers, and Charles Coburn. I’m inspired this week by the lovely 1943 romantic comedy The More the Merrier, with Jean Arthur, which TCM is running Monday night. But I’m also hoping you’ll not only set your […]

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Sorry, Opie, but this is appalling. The other night, a back-to-back broadcast of the original 20-minute Grinch cartoon was paired with the bloated monstrosity of the 2000 film starring Jim Carrey brought back waves of revulsion and anger to the surface, after almost 15 years of suppression.  As I’ve written here before, I don’t like […]

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There’s nothing on the books that says that a “classic” has to have been liked much when it first came out. In fact, enormous swaths of what we now revere as America’s film heritage are comprised of what were flops on their first outing. Take, for example, the Cary Grant- Katharine Hepburn romantic comedy Holiday […]

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Apologies: this week’s post is about racially insensitive jokes in silent comedy (Yes, Ben Martin, this one’s for you), and so I’ve got some unpleasant screen grabs, illustrating some gags most of us probably wish hadn’t been filmed, and then to make matters worse I’m going to speak clumsily and awkwardly about these things while […]

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Hi everybody–I’m taking the week off to give my spot over to my daughter, Ann Stapel-Kalat.  She’s gonna talk about space movies.  OK, Ann–take it away! Before I say anything about this topic, let’s get two things straight. 1. I really freaking love space. 2. I know absolutely nothing about space. You could throw anything […]

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Sometimes you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time—a misfit in your own life. Perhaps, for example, you’ve got it in you to be a fine hotel manager, but all you are is the elevator boy. Maybe you’re a lounge singer paid to sing love songs, while your own heart is breaking. Or maybe […]

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Undoubtedly one of the strangest and most interesting bad movies ever made, Zenobia is a jumble of bad creative decisions so inscrutable as to be almost indefensible.

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