gregferrara
gregferrara

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. When I started writing online in 2007 I named my blog "Cinema Styles: From Silents to Sound." By 2009 I had dropped the "From Silents to Sound" part but 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 gregferrara

Tonight on TCM (late tonight) a classic from James Whale airs and it’s one of my favorites.  No, it’s  not Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein or even Old Dark House.  It’s The Man in the Iron Mask and it’s an excellent adaptation of the famous story by Alexandre Dumas though it’s rarely thought of […]

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No, no, not silent movie acting (who do I look like, David Kalat?*), acting without words.   Those moments in performances when an actor does more, much more, with a look or a reaction than they could ever do with a line.  There have been many great all silent performances, too, where an actor like […]

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The great thing about the movies (and books, music, theater, and literature) is that you don’t have to enjoy the whole work to take something away from it.  It certainly helps if you like the whole movie and my favorite cinematic experiences are the movies that speak to me from start to finish.  But every […]

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Tonight on TCM, Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys airs, a comedy about two old Vaudeville performers getting back together for a televised benefit.  One of those performers is played by George Burns who, it turns out, was the right age for the part.  For his performance, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, becoming […]

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Peter Suderman of Reason.com writing on the lack of a nomination for Selma director Ava Duvernay, notes,  “it’s always a little bit weird to see a movie nominated in the Best Picture category but not in the Best Director category, as if a film could be the best movie of the year but not also the best directed. […]

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When I was in my teens and twenties, with the advent of cable and VHS, I watched about two or three movies a day, usually at night after work or school, depending on where I was in life.  One after another, over and over and over.  That’s a lot of movie watching.  Even if you […]

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Parody rules the night on TCM as Murder by Death is followed by The Cheap Detective, both starring Peter Falk.  Murder by Death is a parody of the Agatha Christie style mystery in which a group of detectives, including a couple of Agatha Christie knockoffs of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, are called together to […]

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Robert Stroud was not a nice man.  He spent most of his life behind bars (almost 55 years) and not for a few petty robberies and aggravated assaults.  Robert Stroud was in jail because he was a murderer.  His murder victim was a john who’d roughed up one of his prostitutes (yes, he was a […]

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Today on TCM, with only a couple of exceptions, it’s a day for comedy.  Comedies run from morning until night so, naturally, one may assume, it’s a day for laughter.  For some people.  For others, like myself, it’s a day for appreciating comedy while we laugh inside, right here [points to heart].   Laughing out […]

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Today Henry Fonda is featured on TCM and he’s an actor for whom I’ve never really had any particular affinity.   The problem was never his talent.  I recognized his greatness as an actor early on.  The first movie I ever remember seeing him in was The Lady Eve and thought he was quite good […]

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