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

TCM joins with Bonham’s auction house to present “Treasures from the Dream Factory,” a selection of high-profile movie memorabilia to be sold this November. This is the third year for the event, which is open to everyone. The first year, the statue from The Maltese Falcon sold for $4 million; last year, the piano from […]

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A Lady Without Passport, which aired last Friday on TCM as part of the Summer of Darkness series, takes place in Havana during the postwar era. Hedy Lamarr stars as a Viennese woman adrift in Cuba after WWII, hoping to immigrate to the United States. Believe it or not, the original idea for the film […]

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In watching Side Street (left) last Friday as part of TCM’s Summer of Darkness, I noticed how cleverly the locations were integrated into this story of an average guy stepping into a web of intrigue out of his control. As a matter of fact, he was such a “regular Joe,” that the character’s name was […]

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I love movie posters from the Golden Age, because they were designed and executed by graphic artists and illustrators. They retained the expressive flavor of paintings and illustrations and followed the aesthetics of those artistic mediums. In contrast, today’s photography-based posters, no matter how artistic, are grounded in the realism inherent in that medium. Film […]

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Researching, re-viewing, and re-visiting film noir this summer through TCM’s Summer of Darkness has led me beyond the trio of hard-boiled novelists/screenwriters generally discussed as the genre’s literary architects: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Daniel Mainwaring, author of Build My Gallows High on which Out […]

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Spectacle and the movies fit like a hand in glove. Ever since Georges Melies innovated a few camera tricks in his charming turn-of-the-century fantasies, the cinema has used spectacle to attract viewers to the theater with the promise of seeing something larger than life—something out of the realm of the ordinary. Today, spectacle in films […]

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“TCM Presents: Jaws 40th Anniversary” swims its way to select theaters on Sunday, June 21, and Wednesday, June 24. The program, which is presented in conjunction with Fathom Events and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, includes the movie plus a filmed introduction by Ben Mankiewicz. Jaws has long-since been a staple of the home-viewing industry—cable-TV, video, […]

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Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, and Dashiell Hammett are the triumvirate of noir writers hailed not only for their hard-boiled novels but also for their work as scriptwriters and script doctors during the Golden Age. No one can dispute their importance and influence, but those hallowed names tend to overshadow other writers who contributed to […]

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I am proclaiming 2015 the year of film noir. Not only am I teaching a course on noir this fall, but TCM is presenting 53 films in the noir-themed “Summer of Darkness,” which airs every Friday in June and July. In preparation for my course, I am reading detective novels, perusing the latest books on […]

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Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp as long-time Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, opens in theaters this fall. I am excited to see the film not only because of Depp but also because I am a fan of the director, Scott Cooper, whose Out of the Furnace was one of my favorite movies of 2013. Two years […]

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