Category Archives: general comment

Coming soon!

Just to say that I’ve decided on my next two monthly blog themes! Hoping to squeeze in a couple more postings on Sinatra before the end of the month, and then in February I’ll carry on with my current 1950s obsession by moving on to Douglas Sirk movies. Then coming up after that, it’s Marlene in March, as I will be reviewing films starring Dietrich, my favourite actress.

 

Looking Forward – and Back

A slightly belated Happy New Year to all. I’ve been thinking I’ll try something a bit different on the blog this year and choose a theme for each month, either a star, director or a particular type of film. For January I’ll carry on writing about Frank Sinatra, since I was so busy in December that I didn’t manage to cover many of his films – and I was also lucky enough to get a box set of his movies for Christmas. Watch this space to see what comes next after that!

Albert Dieudonne in Abel Gance's Napoléon

Albert Dieudonne in Abel Gance’s Napoléon

My movie viewing fell to slightly lower levels than recent years in 2013, but I still saw around 130 films over the year. The biggest highlight for me was seeing Abel Gance’s silent epic Napoléon (1927) at the Royal Festival Hall in London with The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis. The final sections with the triptych, creating a widescreen image on three screens, are amazing. Author Kevin Brownlow also signed his book on the film for me!

James Stewart and Donna Reed

James Stewart and Donna Reed

I was lucky enough to see several other classic films on the big screen over the year, including It’s a Wonderful Life just before Christmas, and one of my favourite pre-Codes, Grand Hotel (1932), with its all-star cast including Greta Garbo and both John and Lionel Barrymore. Others included the noirs Notorious (1946) and Out of the Past, aka Build My Gallows High (1947), Marcel Carné’s great French drama Le Jour Se Lève (1939) starring Jean Gabin, and more recent classics Babette’s Feast (1987), and The Last Picture Show (1971). Hoping to see more classics in the cinema during 2014, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray.

I hope everyone visiting my blog has a good year in 2014 and thanks to all of you for your support and friendship during 2013. What were your film highlights over the past year?

Blogathons coming up

I just wanted to mention that I’ve been asked to take part in a couple of blogathons on classic movie themes which are coming up soon, and am looking forward to both of them.

First off, KC at Classic Movies is organising the Mary Pickford Blogathon on June 1, 2 and 3 – I will be writing a posting about Pickford’s silent film Daddy Long Legs (1919). There are a lot of bloggers taking part, including some experts on Mary Pickford (I don’t know much about her, must admit!), so I’m looking forward to learning a lot more about her work and the era of silent film. I think it is still possible to sign up to take part in this blogathon if you are interested.

Then from June 24-29, R.D. Finch will be running the William Wyler Blogathon at his blog The Movie Projector, to mark the 110th anniversary of Wyler’s birth.  I am going to contribute a piece about Wuthering Heights (1939), starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. The line-up for this blogathon has been finalised and it has a wide range of bloggers who will be covering many different Wyler films.

I’ll mention both of these events again nearer the time, but just wanted to give a heads-up now. Please do visit both KC and R.D.’s sites to find out more about what is planned, and thanks to both of them for all their hard work in organising these events!

Scores for silent movies discovered

Sorry not to have updated for a while – I’ve been busy and then was away on holiday. However, this is just a note to say that I was interested to hear a report about how Birmingham Central Library has discovered what could be the UK’s largest collection of silent movie scores, including a unique Charlie Chaplin theme tune.  The library’s Youtube channel also has two videos showing Ben Dawson, a pianist from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, playing some of the music discovered in the collection and talking about the pieces.

The BBC did a short report about this which mentioned that the scores may be used to help create music for nine silent Hitchcock films being restored by the BFI. A couple of brief snippets of unnamed films from the BFI archives (I don’t think they are the Hitchcocks) are set to music here and I think there may be a glimpse of John Barrymore in the first one, although to be honest I’m not sure if it is him or not – he is wearing a wig and doesn’t stand in profile. If anyone can answer this one either way, I’d be interested to know.

Quick note

Just to let anyone visiting my blog know that I won’t be online much for a few days as I’m going on holiday, so if you leave me a comment it might take a little while to appear. Your visits are much appreciated nonetheless!

John Huston blogathon

Just wanted to mention that there is a John Huston blogathon coming up based at the Icebox Movies site run by Adam Zanzie, from August 5 to 12 – I’m hoping to take part in this, and will probably write something about Huston’s little-known film ‘We Were Strangers’, starring Jennifer Jones and John Garfield, which has recently been issued on DVD in region 2.

Shakespeare productions

I just posted this to my other blog on costume dramas, but thought I’d copy it here too as the two blogs mainly have different readerships… so apologies to the couple of people seeing it twice.   Shakespeare is on my mind at the moment as next month I’ll be going on holiday to the Cotswolds and visiting Stratford upon Avon – and seeing an RSC production of  The Winter’s Tale while  I’m there. I was supposed to see an open-air forest production of the same play last year but we couldn’t go as my husband had (suspected) swine flu, so it will be good to see it this year instead.:)

Anyway, I was just thinking it would be nice to watch some Shakespeare productions on film to get me in the mood before going and I’ll probably write (hopefully short) pieces about anything I watch. On my other blog I mentioned that I liked the recent RSC production of Hamlet starring David Tennant, but since this one is more geared to older movies I’ll mention here that I also love the classic version with Laurence Olivier. Does anyone have any other  older (or new) Shakespeare productions to recommend?

The 13th British Silent Film Festival

Just to say that the website for the 13th British Silent Film Festival is now up  – it will run from April 15 to 18 in Leicester, and goodies in store include the chance to see William Wellman’s silent masterpiece Beggars of Life on the big screen, as well as Tol’able David, The Bridal Party in Hardanger and more great films, all accompanied by live music. The main theme of the festival is “Exploration, Science and Nature in British Silent Film”. I’m particularly intrigued to see that there will be a focus on the race for the South Pole between Scott and Amundsen and a chance to see Ernest Shackleton’s South - I’ve just been writing about two great mini-series focusing on these explorers at my other blog, Costume Drama Reviews, so all this would be of great interest to me. Sadly I can’t see myself being able to make it to Leicester, as I will be at work and it is a long way off, but I’m hoping some of the featured films may turn up at the BFI in London in future, as that is less of a trek for me.

Josef von Sternberg season at the BFI

Just thought I’d pass on word that there is going to be a season of Josef von Sternberg movies at the BFI (British Film Institute) in London during December, including some exciting rarities! I’m especially intrigued by the sound of Children of Divorce (1927), a silent movie starring Gary Cooper and Clara Bow, as I’ve just seen them both in Wings, which was made the same year.