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

I am teaching a section on mise-en-scene later this semester, and I am going to use stills and clips from the 1936 sci-fi classic Things to Come, which is adapted from H.G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come. While it is tailor-made for art and film students, any recommendation for others comes with a […]

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It’s that time of year when I ask students to select one or more Hitchcock films as part of the course material in my upper level film history class. I like to offer a pre-WWII Hitchcock film as one of the choices to represent his early spy thrillers, in which various spies and secret agents […]

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I remember the first time I recognized Bill Paxton in a film. In Near Dark (1987) Paxton played Severin, a member of a roving band of vampires in love with the night, the nomadic lifestyle and the violence of their existence. “Turned” into a vampire decades earlier, Paxton’s character seemed a remnant of the Wild […]

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If you are a fan of film noir, and who isn’t, I suggest checking out the French film movement from the 1930s known as Poetic Realism. Noir fanatics are attracted to the genre’s dark romanticism with its haunting fatalism, melancholy mood and doomed characters—conventions shared with Poetic Realism. Until the end of February, FilmStruck is […]

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One of the best perks of going to college back in the day was the campus film series. Each weekend, I eagerly attended the movie of the week, which could be a Hollywood classic, a recent popular movie or a foreign film. The campus film program was my introduction to international classics by Bergman, Fellini, […]

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The theme of this semester’s campus film series that I co-direct with my fellow faculty member and partner-in-crime is “Movies About the Movies.” So, I was excited to discover that The Stunt Man (1980) is currently streaming on FilmStruck. Directed by maverick filmmaker Richard Rush, The Stunt Man stars Steve Railsback as a Vietnam vet […]

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Movie lovers of all generations are still reeling from the deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, within a day of each other. Photos, memes and personal testimonies flooded the Internet as an expression of collective shock and grief. Fisher’s character in Star Wars (1977) and Reynolds’s participation in Singin’ in the Rain […]

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I once took a couple of noncredit courses on the early films of John Ford. I thought I knew a great deal about Ford, but, as taught by talented filmmaker and learned film scholar Michael G. Smith, the courses proved to be a revelation. I was surprised at some of Ford’s influences (German Expressionism!!!!), and […]

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Recently, I re-visited the extraordinary stars of the past by viewing The Love Goddesses (1965), a documentary streaming on The Criterion Channel of FilmStruck. Directed by Saul J. Turell, this little-known documentary traces the popularity of female stars as a barometer of America’s attitude toward sex and romance throughout the decades. Though I found the […]

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Comic book films and action movies tend to use a fast-paced style of editing combined with close framings and jittery camera movement. The editing has been dubbed post-classical or hyper-editing, while the camera movement is referred to with the derogatory term “shaky cam.” I have also heard this obvious, inelegant style called “chaos cinema” or […]

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