Susan Doll (aka suzidoll)
Susan Doll

When I was six years old, my cousins took me to see my first film in a theater-a matinee of Visit to a Small Planet, starring Jerry Lewis, at the old Bula Theater in Ashtabula, Ohio. And, I have been hooked ever since.

As a kid, I was always breaking up weekend playtime activities with my neighborhood friends because I had to go home to watch the Saturday afternoon movie shown on a local television station. Despite the missing scenes, bad splices, and millions of commercial breaks, watching On the Town, The Road to Utopia, Bringing Up Baby, and even the Bowery Boys\' adventures was always worth it. As a matter of fact, my week was organized around the movie schedules of Cleveland\'s TV stations: Weekday afternoons were reserved for the horror and suspense films hosted by the legendary Ghoulardi; on week nights, I watched major Hollywood movies with parents on Monday, Wednesday, or Saturday Night at the Movies. Much to my teacher\'s chagrin, I was the only kid in my third-grade class who habitually watched The Late Show, and then during the summers, The Late, Late Show. What she didn\'t realize was that I was getting a cultural education.

In college, I discovered film classes and couldn\'t believe someone was actually going to give me a college degree in "movies." I couldn\'t think of anything better than sitting in a classroom watching westerns, screwball comedies, Cuban films, Russian films, Italian films, thrillers, documentaries . . . and then talking about them! I rode that train as far as it would go, finally getting a Ph.D. in film studies from Northwestern. If there had been another level of degree I would have stuck around for that.

Since then, I have been able to parlay my obsession into a career by teaching, researching, and writing about the movies for over 20 years. How lucky is that? And, thank you Jerry Lewis.

Posts by Susan Doll

“The patterns of which this piece speaks are behavior patterns of little human beings in a big world—lost in it, intimidated by it, and whose biggest job is to survive in it.” So said Rod Serling about his 1955 tele-drama Patterns, which was adapted into a feature film the following year. The quote by Serling […]

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I enjoy reading and writing about the cinematic history of my adopted home state of Florida . From the silent era when Jacksonville almost became the center of the industry until now, Florida has served as an attractive location for film production.

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Jerry Lewis, the consummate auteur, exerted a degree of creative control over all of his solo films. In 1959, Lewis was working with Frank Tashlin on Cinderfella: He served as producer and star while Tashlin was hired to direct. A gender-reversal version of the classic fairy tale, Cinderfella had been written by Tashlin as a vehicle […]

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Francis Ford Coppola cut his teeth in the film industry working for B-movie master Roger Corman as a script doctor, dialogue writer, sound tech, and all-around jack of all trades. As a supplement to Coppola’s education in cinema studies at UCLA, Corman’s tutelage provided a “film education” from a practical perspective. Later, Corman would enhance […]

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Director Garry Marshall, who died last month at the age of 81, owned American popular culture in the last quarter of the 20th century. His sitcoms from the 1970s introduced characters so iconic their costumes are on display in the Smithsonian, and his romantic comedies of the 1980s re-set the conventions for the genre. Set […]

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My favorite days of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars are those devoted to character actors, neglected stars, or actors whose careers were limited to one genre—sort of, the forgotten and forsaken of film history. It’s not that these actors were not famous, established, or major stars in their day, but to today’s audiences, they lack […]

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Get out those goggles and fins and join Esther Williams as she swims her way onto our TV screens today as part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. Williams has a special connection to my new home state of Florida because her aqua-musical Easy to Love, which airs at 12:30, was shot on location at […]

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The sheer volume of movie reviews suggests that everyone and their mothers have become film critics. And, I mean that literally. I once worked as the managing editor of a video magazine. One day a young woman phoned to tell me that she and her mother would like to review movies for the magazine, particularly […]

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A few weeks ago, my friend and wonderful colleague Daphne Rosenzweig left an article in my mail cubby at Ringling College titled “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMIlle. ” The article described the enormous Egyptian-style set built for Cecil B. DeMille’s 1925 version of The Ten Commandments and also chronicled the efforts of filmmaker […]

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In last week’s post, I talked about the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF), and its series devoted to Hollywood director Otto Preminger. This week, I thought I would follow up by bringing a couple of documentaries, indies, and foreign flicks to your attention. At a midnight screening on my last night in Karlovy Vary, […]

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