Greg Ferrara
Greg Ferrara

It was in grade school that I starting going out of my way to see whatever movies I could from the Golden Era of Hollywood, movies I had read about in the "Motion Pictures" entry in the encyclopedia. I'd stay up late or convince my mom to take me to whatever revival in whatever town I could find. It was with my mom that I saw the double feature of "Creature from the Black Lagoon/It Came from Outer Space," both in their original 3-D, complete with the red and blue glasses, and even though she wanted to leave after the first feature, I convinced her to stay for the whole thing.

It was around this time that my middle school library got a brand new book, just published! And it was about film! That didn't happen often, I can tell you. The book, published in 1976, was "Silents to Sound: A History of the Movies" by Juliet P. Schoen, an author I'd not heard of before and have not heard of since but it was she who introduced me to the movies in a real way. Oh sure, the book was general knowledge, just like the encyclopedia, but it had so much more detail, so many wonderful stories. I read it every week in the library until, one day, quite absent-mindedly, I put it in my backpack and walked out. I didn't mean to and promised myself I'd return it just as soon as I read it a couple more times. Then a little more. Then just a little more. Okay, just one more time!

I've still got it today.

Though it no longer holds anything for me in the way of film knowledge or analysis, I can't get rid of it and the school doesn't even exist anymore anyway. No matter, the love remained, the film studies continued and the reception of so much joy, of spiritual fulfillment, taken from the cinema daily is something that remains powerful to this day.

Posts by Greg Ferrara

Many actors spanned the silents to sound, some with great success than others.  Some had careers so all-encompassing, Lillian Gish comes to mind, that it’s hard to even fathom an actor today going through the same amount of period adjustment.  But the one who had the most impact on me when I was young was […]

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Today is Ruby Keeler’s day here on TCM and fellow Morlock Suzi Doll did a fine write-up of her on Monday (read it here), talking about how many bygone stars there are out there that many of us know very little about.  Even many movie lovers, she states, probably wouldn’t know more than a handful […]

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the movies, and it’s questionable on certain days if I even have, it’s that many stars famous for one thing are much more multifaceted than they appear.  Case in point: Musical stars.  Today, it’s Cyd Charisse’s day here at TCM and Charisse is known for her dancing prowess, […]

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The world of cinema is still new enough that we break it down by decades, much as we do television and popular music.  That’s all well and good for now but eventually the cinema will be hundreds of years old and decades won’t do anymore.  Not only that, I can’t imagine cinema in a hundred […]

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… Classic Hollywood Style. [SPOILERS ABOUND] Fighting for justice on the movie screen is often portrayed in the courtroom as noble but flawed lawyers with names like Atticus Finch and Frank Galvin fight for the rights of the underdog.  Or maybe it’s a senator like Jefferson Smith fighting in the halls of democracy for the people. […]

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Whenever I see a movie made at the cutting edge of a new technology getting grief for not being an utterly refined example of said technology, I think, “Well, of course not! They were the first!”  I think of this often whenever I think of the early days of sound and how much criticism the […]

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… but does it matter? Tonight on TCM, the 1979 adventure adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask, in this case titled The Fifth Musketeer, airs and it’s a good case of a movie that has no genuine concern for what anyone sounds like.  The actors playing the famous characters from Alexandre Dumas’ The […]

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“Get your stinking paws off of me, you damned dirty ape!” There are classic movie lines and then there are lines delivered by Charlton Heston to talking apes. The latter is pretty unbeatable. From that iconic moment when the apes realize that Bright Eyes, aka Taylor, aka Chuck Heston, can talk to his fist pounding […]

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Tonight on TCM, The Best Man airs, the 1964 political drama that plays like a suspense thriller.  It’s one of the best political movies ever made and recalls a time when political conventions actually made a difference.  In the very same year, Henry Fonda, star of The Best Man, also starred in another politically charged […]

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Yesterday, TCM ran one of my favorite sci-fi thrillers of the seventies, The Stepford Wives.  It belongs to a category of movie not often made, a satirical thriller in which the satire is played straight, rather than for outright laughs, and the thriller aspect is methodical, slow, patient.   I’ve written up thrillers before, as […]

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