Announcing The Universal Backlot Blogathon at Journeys in Classic Film

Kristen of Journeys in Classic Film has announced The Universal Backlot Blogathon. In Kristen’s own words: Starting September 14th and running through the 16th, this blogathon will salute this studio tour. Have a review of a film that used the backlot (either completely or just for a scene counts)? Interested in the history of the site? As long as it pertains to Universal Studios Hollywood and the backlot it counts! You can comment below to sign up or email me at journeysinclassicfilm (at) Don’t worry if you don’t have a topic right now, I’ll place a formal call for topics about a month before the blogathon. Also, if you don’t have a blog that’s okay, I’m willing to host your post! Several great blogs have already signed up, and I’m excited to read their posts. Make sure you check out both the links above for full information, and let Kristen know if you’re interested! I plan to write about a topic I have done some research on already, my goal being to make the topic fun and not sound like a social studies textbook, but I make no promises, kids.

August Movies to Watch For

The following are a few films on Sundance, Fox Movie Channel, and TCM that you might want to check out this month. All times Eastern. Remember, these films may be edited, time compressed, in the wrong aspect ratio, canceled, rescheduled, or filmed in invisible ink. You know how it is. *** SUNDANCE Deliverance (1972) August 2, 10:05 PM and 3:20 AM (Also twice on August 21) John Boorman’s classic action-thriller about four city men who find themselves fighting nature and rural Appalachians during a canoe trip.   Blood and Wine (1996) August 5, 8:15 PM and 1:30 AM (Also August 13 and 24) Jack Nicholson, Judy Davis, Michael Caine, and Jennifer Lopez in a thriller about a wine dealer who pulls a big jewel heist that goes wrong once his wife finds out.   Ghost World (2001) August 8, 8:00 and 11:00 PM (and four more times during the month) C’mon, it’s Ghost World. Starring Thora Birch, Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johansson.   It’s Hard Being Loved by Jerks (2008) August 13, 4:00 PM About the 2007 civil trial of a French magazine accused of being racist for publishing satirical images of Mohammad.   FOX MOVIE CHANNEL Silver Streak (1976) August 6, 6:00 AM Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in a comedy-thriller about an art heist and murder.   Mel Brooks mini-marathon on August 6: 8:00 AM Silent Movie (1976) 9:30 AM High Anxiety (1977) 11:10 AM Young Frankenstein (1974)   Highlander (1986) August 13, 1:00 PM Christopher Lambert as … Continue reading

The Phantom Creeps #8: Hey, Bob!

The Phantom Creeps Chapter 8: Trapped in the Flames   When we last left G-Man Bob, he was about to crash yet another airplane, leading us to several inevitable questions: How large is the FAA file on this guy?  Has he ever actually landed a plane? What are the gross annual earnings of the half-dozen scrap metal businesses that thrive on the broken, mangled airplane wreckage Bob leaves in his wake? The crash heralds a few minutes of what I refer to as Mostly Dark Theatre; it’s impossible to see what is going on, and while it might be the terrible print that exhibits a plethora of deep scratches and murky greys, the lack of light also conveniently concealed poor special effects. The bad guys and their hired sailors gloat about taking down G-Man Bob, which you’ll notice they did with a couple of department store rifles they picked up as an impulse buy at K-Mart while grabbing some snacks and a couple of folding chairs. The thing is, the spies didn’t really succeed at anything. G-Man Bob is contractually obligated to destroy all planes whether he’s being shot at or not .   Note the extra on the left: That’s character great Al Bridge, known mostly for his roles in Preston Sturges flicks. He does pretty much nothing in chapters 7 and 8 except say “Yes, sir” and stand around. By the time he was in Creeps he had been in over 100 films, mostly small roles, though usually … Continue reading

Adrienne Ames

The glamour of Adrienne Ames would not be denied; despite my long-ago promise otherwise, I will be posting my pics here on the blog instead of on Tumblr. I’d say I was sorry, but I’m not sorry, and admit it, neither are you.  

The Phantom Creeps #7: We’re On Our Way to Big Money and World Conquest!

The Phantom Creeps Chapter 7: The Menacing Mist Our story so far: Formerly bearded mad scientist Dr. Zorka (Bela Lugosi) has a lot of super spiff inventions that he wants to sell to unspecified enemies of the United States. His former scientific partner Dr. Mallory  (Edwin Stanley) discovered this and narked on him to the FBI, causing G-Men Bob West (Robert Kent) and his suspiciously able sidekick Jim Daly (Regis Toomey) to pursue the mad scientist. Zorka outwits them (not hard) by faking his death and using his belt of invisibility; when he is invisible, he calls himself The Phantom, sorta, when he remembers to do so, which isn’t as often as one would expect given the title of this serial. The title The Phantom Creeps, by the way, is supposed to mean Dr. Zorka Creeps Around While Invisible, not There Are Creeps Who Are Also Phantoms In This Serial.  I tell you this because it took me two full viewings to comprehend the title; I didn’t read “creeps” as a verb, I read it as a noun, and I suspect some of you did, too. Meanwhile, spies working for a different set of unspecified enemies of the United States want to steal Zorka’s inventions, primarily by obtaining a meteorite Zorka used to create all of his neat toys. Plucky girl reporter Jean Drew (Dorothy Arnold) smells a hot story and follows the FBI and/or spies around to uncover the news, irritating pretty much everyone ’cause dames are nothin’ but … Continue reading

The Phantom Creeps #6: In the Scientific World, Nothing is Impossible!

This is the final repost of The Phantom Creeps recaps from the old She Blogged By Night. The posts are the same, though I have occasionally added new photos or corrected mistakes.  Starting with the next episode, Chapter #7, the recaps will be brand spankin’ new. They won’t be posted at the rate of three a week like these reposts were, but they will be relatively frequent. *** The Phantom Creeps Chapter 6: The Iron Monster It’s been a while since we spent time with The Phantom Creeps, the 1939 movie serial and cinematic blunder brought to the screen by schlockmeister Ford Beebe and his semi-acceptable co-director Saul A. Goodkind. While I’m sure most of you memorized every word I wrote about the previous five chapters, a few of you need a little refresher course. That’s okay; nobody’s perfect. Here’s what’s gone down in Creepville so far: Dr. Zorka (Bela Lugosi), bearded evil scientist, has possession of a really neat meteorite that does all sorts of cool x-ray spex types of things. Whatever the plot demands, the meteorite delivers! Dr. Mallory (Edwin Stanley), former partner to Dr. Zorka, snitches to the Feds about Zorka’s plan to sell evil meteorite-based technology to an unspecified foreign enemy. Zorka fakes his own death to escape the Feds, and becomes a non-bearded evil scientist who stays really super-duper hidden in the basement of his own home, where both spies and Federales come looking for him every five minutes or so. Zorka is assisted by … Continue reading

To Hate a Thing, and Love It, Too: The Lodger (1944)

This article on The Lodger (1944) is my entry for The Best Hitchcock Movies (That Hitchcock Never Made) Blogathon, hosted by Tales of the Easily Distracted and ClassicBecky’s Brain Food. Please visit the list of contributors here.  The entries thus far have been absolutely stunning, and include ClassicBecky’s entry on the other major gaslight-based film of 1944, Gaslight. Check ’em out! This post contains spoilers for both the 1927 and 1944 versions of The Lodger.   *** Seventeen years may have passed between the two films, but Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 silent The Lodger casts a deep shadow over the 1944 version. Despite being very late in the sound era, well past the days of early talkies, this 1944 version seems to have been self-consciously produced as a talkie remake of the silent flick. Heavy use of German expressionistic techniques so popular in the silent era are used throughout, several actors in the 1944 remake had already appeared in Hitchcock’s early films, and literally every actor has a beautiful speaking voice. Most noticeably, The Lodger plays heavily off the audience expectation that they knew who the murderer was based on the famous 1927 version. It is 1888, and London is gripped with the news of Jack the Ripper, an unseen serial murderer who brutally kills women in the poverty-stricken area of Whitechapel. Just as the extra editions hit the streets screaming of another murder, a man named Slade appears on the steps of the Bonting home, in response to Mrs. Bonting’s … Continue reading

The Phantom Creeps #5: Somebody Left the Door Open and Stole the Meteorite at the Same Time!

This is the recap for the fifth episode of The Phantom Creeps. Originally published on the old She Blogged By Night, I am reposting them here as a lead-up to the final episodes. Enjoy, won’t you?   ***   The Phantom Creeps Chapter 5: Thundering Rails When we last left our least favorite characters in The Phantom Creeps, they were languishing in an unmanned plane flying through fog at low altitude, yet we all knew damn well that there was no reason to get our hopes up. No explosion leading to a fiery, comet-like decent ending only with a satisfying slam into the cold hard earth was forthcoming, at least not this early in our 12-part serial. And indeed, PGR shakes G-Man Bob awake — a sure cure for any cracked skull — just in time for him to take control of the plane and thwart all our hopes and dreams. Er, I mean thwart disaster. Whatever, they’re alive and I’m disappointed, that’s all I know. Meanwhile on the ground below, this is still going on. Damn hipsters, stinkin’ up the place with their goggles and fake moustaches and tweedy three-piece suits. The plot quickly gets back on track once a couple of spy goons toss Toomey into a car and drive away from the airfield. G-Man Bob remembers he can fly an airplane. PGR has nothing to do now that she’s done shaking him, so Bob suggests she make herself useful and look around for the briefcase full of … Continue reading

TCM Tributes for Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine

TCM has schedule changes for two nights this month, in honor of the recently-departed Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine.     On Wednesday, July 18, TCM will show four movies to celebrate the film career of Andy Griffith, including the rarely-seen Hearts of the West (1975): 8 p.m. – A Face in the Crowd 10:15 p.m. – No Time for Sergeants 12:30 a.m. – Hearts of the West 2:15 a.m. – Onionhead And on Thursday, July 26, a full 24 hours of Ernest Borgnine films, including his Private Screenings interview: 6:00 a.m. – The Catered Affair 8:00 a.m. – The Legend of Lylah Clare 10:30 a.m. – Pay or Die 12:30 p.m. – Torpedo Run 2:30 p.m. – Ice Station Zebra 5:15 p.m. – The Dirty Dozen 8:00 p.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine 9:00 p.m. – Marty 10:45 p.m. – From Here to Eternity 1:00 a.m. – The Wild Bunch 3:30 a.m. – Bad Day at Black Rock 5:00 a.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine

The Phantom Creeps #4: You Have Sold the Source of My Power to My Enemies!

Welcome to the fourth repost of The Phantom Creeps recaps, brought over from the old She Blogged By Night blog. If good things happen — and it won’t; listen to Louis CK, kids, because he’s right about everything — once the reposts are all moved over, I’ll finish the recaps, giving me time to move on to the next poorly thought out project of mine. *** The Phantom Creeps Chapter 4: Invisible Terror By all rights, this should have been called Chapter 4: Officially Out of Both Sanity and Ideas. Watching this chapter was one of the most pointless 20 minutes I have ever spent and was only redeemed — slightly redeemed — in that it captured on film the emotional and physical pain Regis Toomey had to endure to make a living in Hollywood. Chapter 4 starts out well enough by not completely cheating on the cliffhanger. While the crashing antenna missed the car, Regis’ expert defensive driving technique does cause the vehicle to careen off the road and down a mild hill. Pretend this cute little model is an actual car.   The prisoner Monk escapes during the chaos. G-Man Bob is unscathed as always (I hold out hope that around Chapter 10, it will be revealed he is a robot made of Teflon and fiberglass), but the Toomster gets knocked out again. By all rights he should have experienced enough head trauma to be entertainingly off-kilter at this point; alas, he is no Zaroff or Uncle Charlie. … Continue reading