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

There is a secret conspiracy that rules the world. This hidden power can make or break a fortune at a moment’s whim.  It decrees the rise and fall of nations.  It chooses who lives, and who dies. There are some—like the heroic British spy with a number for a name, or the alluring Mata Hari-like […]

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Last week I unleashed a rant about how much better the 21st century media environment is to any previous era, and I mentioned in passing the world of gray market bootleg VHS. I figured I’d circle back to that idea to flesh it out: partly a history lesson, partly a critique, and partly an explanation […]

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Recently, a number of classic film-oriented message boards and blogs have gotten bogged down in absurd arguments with some commenters, whose petulant sense of entitlement was somehow enraged when their favorite movie wasn’t scheduled for screening on TCM, or made available for free download, or somesuch. I’m not going to repeat the specifics of their […]

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One of the things about being known as “the guy that wrote that book about Godzilla,” is that when something like this new Godzilla movie comes along, everyone assumes that’s what you want to talk about.  The fact is, I’ve written more words and spoken on more total audio commentary tracks regarding silent and early […]

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Recently I’ve been reading Sam Wasson’s wonderfully spirited biography of Blake Edwards.  Wasson argues eloquently that Edwards is long overdue for a significant critical rehabilitation as one of comedy cinema’s great directors, to be spoken of in the same breath as Ernst Lubitsch, Preston Sturges, or Woody Allen.  But here’s the thing: even in this […]

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One of my wife’s favorite things at Disney World is when the costumed characters get dressed up in costumes themselves.  So far we’ve only seen things like Winnie the Pooh in a Halloween ghost costume—nothing quite so meta as having, say, Mickey Mouse wear a Donald Duck costume.  But we can hope. Sometimes movies wear […]

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One of my favorite bits from His Girl Friday is when Cary Grant’s character explains to a minion how to recognize Ralph Bellamy’s character: “He looks like that fella, you know, Ralph Bellamy.” It was a somewhat controversial gag.  Columbia boss Harry Cohn objected that it undermined the integrity of the film by violating the […]

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Last week’s post on Jean Renoir’s The Elusive Corporal brought to light a pocket of fans of Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps—and so in honor of that long-suffering cohort, this week I figured I’d properly pay tribute to one of Lang’s unsung classics.

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There’s a risk in peaking too early.  Just ask Jean Renoir—one of the greatest names in cinema history, whose prolific career was eclipsed by its first act.  Having made too many masterpieces as a young man, he set a bar he could never cross again.  And nowhere is that clearer than in 1962’s delightful The […]

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Later this week, TCM is running a programming block to pay tribute to all of the 1937 Best Supporting Actor Nominees.  Which is one of those gloriously random, weirdly specific programming decisions that makes TCM such a delightful destination for obsessive compulsives.  The channel will run Leo McCarey’s screwball classic The Awful Truth, in honor […]

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