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, I assure you, 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 still have 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

To view Tom Jones click here. It often happens that something comes along, sets a standard, is recognized as being trailblazing, then gets copied and co-opted, until finally we take it for granted and think, “oh, that one’s so overrated.” Such is the case with an adaptation of a novel published in 1749 by the […]

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To view The X from Outer Space click here. “The monster is now on a rampage, headed for Tokyo.” That line comes from a scene that lies at the heart of a movie I love, The X from Outer Space (1967). It belongs in the tradition of the Japanese Kaiju films, monster movies that enjoyed a golden […]

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To view The Four Feathers click here. The novel that The Four Feathers (1939) is based upon was written by A.E.W. Mason in 1902, just a few short years after the Mahdist War ended. Containing far more detail and side-stories than any film version, its central theme, cowardice in the face of possible death, does […]

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To view The Last Metro click here. François Truffaut was a nostalgic sentimentalist, someone who enjoyed the idea of telling stories without too much cinematic edge or experimentation getting in the way. If you’ve ever read about his relationship with Jean-Luc Godard, or watched the documentary Two in the Wave (2010), you know that Truffaut […]

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To view Judex click here. The first time we see the magician, he is standing alone, legs spread slightly apart, a lifelike bird mask covering his head. Next to him, on a stone block, lies a lifeless white dove. He picks it up in one hand and holds it gently as he walks through the […]

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To view In the Mood for Love click here. There is a clamor in the apartment house as people come and go, eat dinner, play mahjong and discuss the day. The shots are tight. We see faces, bodies moving past us, jammed hallways. Then, everything stops. The clamor is gone. The soundtrack now plays only […]

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To view Breaking the Waves click here. There are two moments near the beginning of Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves (1996) that capture a little bit of what I love so much about his style of filmmaking, moments that make the film seem unrehearsed, almost as if it weren’t a narrative piece at all. The […]

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To view The American Friend click here. Tom Ripley only ever wore a cowboy hat once. In Hamburg. And Wim Wenders loved it. Playing Tom Ripley, Dennis Hopper dons the hat as he roams about, confused and paranoid, running an art forgery scheme to make money off of ignorant investors. At one of those art […]

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To view Robinson Crusoe click here. Luis Buñuel, the controversial and much banned filmmaking genius, has become so associated with the surreal cinema that the idea of him directing a straightforward adventure seems, well, surreal. But in 1952, gaining funding for a joint Spanish and English language production of Robinson Crusoe (it wouldn’t be released […]

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To view Le Silence de la Mer, click here. Jean-Pierre Melville directed Bob le flambeur (1956), Le Samouraï  (1967), L’ Arme des ombres (1969) and Le Cercle rouge (1970), all acclaimed works by an acclaimed director but his first effort from 1949, Le Silence de la Mer (The Silence of the Sea), stands as one of the great directing debuts in movie history. […]

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