The Precarious Attainment of Relevance

It may be the end of 2011, but I have no year-end lists or resolutions or anything of substance to say, really. Just a few goals for SBBN, a slight modification to my previously-announced plans, and a bit of randomness. One of the best and first film bloggers I have encountered in our vast blogoverse was Arbogast on Film, whose keen eye for sublime cinematic visual moments and incisive analysis made his blog a must-read for anyone.  Arbo has announced his blog is shutting down, and while I am happy to hear that he’s retiring from blogging because his real life work has picked up, I’m still ridiculously sad. I learned an immeasurable amount from his blog over the years and Arbo has earned my undying gratitude. Thank you, Arbo, for everything, and best of luck!*** My dear SBBN readers, there is no schedule for this month, but I would like to refer everyone to my BBFF Ivan’s January TCM schedule post. It is comprehensive and uncommonly good, just like those cookies made by tree-dwelling two-dimensional freaks of nature. As for the schedules posted on SBBN, if anyone really really reallyreally wants me to keep including Sundance Channel, this is your last chance to say so. Their schedule is more TV shows than movies, plus the online schedule webpage is clunky and late to update, so I’m inclined to drop Sundance altogether from my future schedule posts. Things have been a bit sparse around here lately, but at least it’s … Continue reading

Book Review: The Hammer Vault

On Tuesday, Marcus Hearn’s new Hammer compilation The Hammer Vault will be released in the U.S. I was lucky enough to snag a copy of this extensive book before the official drop date, and I’m glad I did. It’s a hefty thing, nearly 13 inches by 10 inches in size with 175 thick pages. The Hammer Vault manages to combine substantial historical information with a coffee table book aesthetic, making it appealing to Hammer Horror buffs and casual fans alike. My husband was impressed with the amount of female nudity in the publicity of later Hammer films. Amongst the dozens of promotional pictures and lobby cards are more interesting items such as scripts, internal memos, behind-the-scenes photos and promotional items, such as a set of paper fangs distributed for Dracula: Prince Of Darkness. Some unexpected celebrities that show up in the photos are Joan Crawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Luciana Paluzzi. The most fascinating items though are the props, all quite deteriorated but still very recognizable, such as a formerly-fuzzy bat from Kiss of the Vampire and one of my personal favorites, the heart revived by Frankenstein in The Evil of Frankenstein (1963). A few of the posters shown are nearly the entire size of the 13 inch by 10 inch pages; I already liked this book, but seeing that the Quatermass and the Pit poster was one of these large reproductions made me full-on love this book. Pre-order it today or buy it Tuesday at Amazon,Barnes & Noble, or … Continue reading

TCM Remembers 2011

The TCM Remembers memorial video for 2011. Another difficult year, but to be honest, we feel this way every year. The song is “Before You Go” by OK Sweetheart.

Harry Morgan: 1915-2011

Character great Harry Morgan passed away today at his home. He was 96. Courtesy Bright Lights Films. It’s no exaggeration to say that I grew up with Harry Morgan. His character of Colonel Potter on “M*A*S*H” was important to me during my childhood where (for good or ill) television parental analogs were as comforting to me as the real thing, often more so. Col. Potter was a hard-edged Missouri man with a heart of gold, a description that matched my own father… or half matched, rather.  One of the few times I saw my dad laugh with more than wry sarcasm was when Col. Potter’s Jeep flipped and could not be fixed; Col. Potter, an old cavalry man, took out his pistol and shot the Jeep as if it were a mortally wounded horse. As an adult, I discovered Morgan’s career as a character actor in films. He was always an interesting actor, not content with playing a part conventionally. Morgan was talented, professional, and often very brave. His roles in Westerns may have been small in lines but never small in importance, and that was largely due to his solid acting ability. Harry never gave less than what he thought that role deserved, and if that meant crying as he watched My Darling Clementine on an episode of “M*A*S*H” then he would do it. A few years ago I wrote a post about the picture of Mrs. Potter on Col. Potter’s desk, and received some lovely emails from a … Continue reading

The Marie Prevost Project: Nana (1926)

For anyone interested in using these posts for research, please read the notes at the bottom of this post. Thank you. *** Don’t watch Jean Renoir’s Nana (1926) if you’re looking to see Marie Prevost, ’cause she ain’t in it. Marie is supposed to have played Gaga, a character who, in Emile Zola’s novel, is a worn-down middle-aged former courtesan. There is no identifiable character like that in Renoir’s film, although toward the end there is an older woman who briefly shows up as a cautionary example of what Nana (Catherine Hessling) could turn into. The older woman is not named, at least not in the subtitles, so I cannot confirm if she is supposed to be Gaga. It’s also possible the character of Gaga was left on the cutting room floor (this may explain why the Marie Prevost in the film, whoever she was, received no credit), or perhaps the character of Gaga was turned into one of the random hangers-on that surround Nana at her lush apartment or at the racetrack and did not resemble the character from the book. However, it doesn’t make sense for a 27-year-old Marie at the height of her fame in the United States to travel to France for either the role of a middle-aged Gaga or for a reworked version of Gaga that became a tiny, uncredited role. Thanks to Larry Harnisch, I had the opportunity to look through all of the Los Angeles Times articles around the time Nana was released … Continue reading