“This film has cross-over appeal that connects with progressive hippies and Tea Party members alike. It’s about government raids on local and organic farmers.” I’d had a long working relationship with the distributor who was telling me this over the phone, but in the past Jessica had been a broker for classics of the silent era as well as representing some of the biggest names in both the realm of foreign and contemporary arthouse movies. This was a very different and far cry from Dersu Uzala. It was a debut low-budget documentary called Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms.   [...MORE]

Facets Night School with Lew Ojeda: Cool Films on a Hot Night

Since its inception a couple of years ago, Facets Night School has morphed into more than a midnight movie series. It’s a place where cinephiles can watch and ruminate on a crazy mix of classic, exploitation, genre, and even silent films. The diversity comes from our unique spin on the midnight movie series: Each week a knowledgeable person introduces a film he/she has selected. Despite the late hour, audiences have been receptive to the pre-screening introduction and post-screening Q&A, because they get a context for appreciating the film and an opportunity to contribute their opinions and perspective. In addition, a weekly raffle and other shenanigans have created a relaxed atmosphere that suits the late hour.


Silent Whoopee Pictures

A friend recently brought my attention to a Craigslist posting for some 16mm films that were being sold by a private collector in Denver who was offering a 16mm Kodak Pageant 2505 projector, take-up reels, plus a collection of vintage 16mm shorts. Titles listed included: Grand Hotel, Matinee, The Plumber, and Krazy Kat. It seemed like a screaming deal, so I instructed my assistant to make the purchase for the Film Studies Program and then anxiously awaited their delivery to screen some of these shorts as part of my backyard cinema series. I did, and I’m lucky my neighbors didn’t call the police. The Krazy Kat short was actually titled Krazy Kat House, and while it did hearken back to the silent-era, the only thing animated about this was the sexual libidos of the lesbians engaging in various graphic and explicit acts. Grand Hotel? This was no excerpt of the John Barrymore classic but rather the sexcapades of four people in a hotel room. Although it was hard to tell, due to the angles and the way it was shot, I’m pretty sure it did not involve Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. These women, however, were certainly ready for their close-ups, but mainly in the gynecological sense. [...MORE]

J. Carrol Naish, Changeling

Careening across the countryside in a gypsy wagon, a lovesick hunchback cries out piteously for release from his twisted form. A hardworking Jewish-American father tries to appease his young son on his birthday, seeking to interest him in a baseball bat rather than an expensive violin.

A tired general on the Western frontier finds a few moments of solace in soldiers’ singing. An Italian soldier, willing to do anything to get back to his wife and baby, is stranded in the war-torn desert. A stoic Indian chief joins a wild west show, finding a way to keep his dignity despite his reduced circumstances. A broken matador tells an up and comer some hard truths. A Mexican dictator regretfully but decisively goes to war. A Japanese editor tries to correct his American-educated son’s corrupt Western ways.  And a half-monkey, half-man broods endlessly about his plight, especially since he’s stuck being an unpaid houseboy for his creator.

What do each of these diverse (and sometimes pretty outlandish) characters and at least 200 more have in common? Character actor and changeling J. Carrol Naish (1896-1973). I can’t possibly touch on the range of Naish‘s roles in this blog, but his remarkably productive career includes an enormous range of characters, far beyond the roles as heavily accented types he is often best remembered for today.


16mm Educational Films

A sampling of educational films from the '60's & '70's.

Last night I revisited an old VCR tape that had on it a short compilation of 16mm educational films compiled by Alpha Blue Archives titled Pink Slip. These were films primarily targeted at young women during the 1960′s and ’70′s that required a signed “pink slip” from parents before they could be seen by the kids, due to their “sensitive” subject matter. Topics on this particular collection deal with menstruation, juvenile delinquency, adult predators, therapy, menstruation again (but this time aimed at children with Down syndrome), and teenage runaways. [...MORE] is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
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