BOOK REVIEW – Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures

Robert Wise is one of my favorite American directors but (as I've noted in the past) he rarely receives the kind of critical attention that's heaped on his peers. Wise was a proud product of the Hollywood studio system and a very private man. Throughout his career, he purposefully avoided the spotlight and regularly praised … Continue reading BOOK REVIEW – Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures

Celebrating Black Film Artists

In honor of Juneteenth, I decided to collect links to some of the articles I've written where I discuss the work of black film artists in one celebratory post. I hope it will encourage readers to seek out work by black directors, actors and writers that I've singled out and discover more of their incredible … Continue reading Celebrating Black Film Artists

Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier

2013 has quietly developed into a groundbreaking year for black actors and directors. Steve McQueen’s 12 YEARS A SLAVE starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION starring Michael B. Jordan and Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER starring Forest Whitaker are all possible Oscar contenders for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor while Idris Elba’s performance in MANDELA: A … Continue reading Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier

Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

A beautiful young woman named Sapphire (Yvonne Buckingham) has been murdered. Her bloodied corpse was found in London’s Hampstead Heath park. A seasoned detective (Nigel Patrick) and his young partner (Michael Craig) are called on to investigate the case but as they try to piece together the puzzle of this post-war whodunit the mystery only … Continue reading Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

On Sunday many will be glued to their television sets watching the annual Oscar ceremony unfold. At this time of year I tend to contemplate all the new releases I’ve seen in the past 12 months and linger over the films that have captured my imagination, awed me, inspired me, or just made me think … Continue reading THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Ralph Nelson’s Duel at Diablo (1966)

As soon as the credits start to roll in Ralph Nelson’s DUEL AT DIABLO (1966) you know you’re in for something very different. A knife suddenly appears to cut through the screen and immediately starts slashing apart the United Artists logo. This stunning gesture told audiences at the time that they were about to watch a … Continue reading Ralph Nelson’s Duel at Diablo (1966)

TALKING WITH TRINA: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRINA PARKS

Tomorrow night TCM Underground will be airing the surprisingly surreal and smart blaxploitation comedy, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS (1975). I hesitate to tag DARKTOWN STRUTTERS with a simplistic label like “blaxploitation” because it’s really a cult movie that deserves a category of its own. The film manages to combine just about every popular movie genre imaginable including classic westerns and musicals, … Continue reading TALKING WITH TRINA: AN INTERVIEW WITH TRINA PARKS

MELVIN VAN PEEBLES: THE STORY OF A THREE-DAY PASS (1967)

In the late 1950s, Melvin Van Peebles went to Hollywood after completing a number of short films. He had aspirations of becoming a director’s assistant but an agent quickly squelched his ambition after telling him, “If you can tap dance, I might find you some work. But that is about all.” When he couldn’t find … Continue reading MELVIN VAN PEEBLES: THE STORY OF A THREE-DAY PASS (1967)

GORDON PARKS: FILMMAKER, PHOTOGRAPHER & RENAISSANCE MAN

“Something mighty there is inside a man that takes him from being the youngest of 15 children raised in Kansas poverty, something that lets him clear the cruel hurdles implanted by a racist society, something that permits not merely survival but mastery of all that he embraced. A poet, and a pianist, a classical music … Continue reading GORDON PARKS: FILMMAKER, PHOTOGRAPHER & RENAISSANCE MAN

Three Reasons to Spend Time with Cleopatra Jones

Decades before Wonder Woman made her feature film debut and the all-female Dora Milaje fighting force was introduced to movie audiences in BLACK PANTHER (2018), Tamara Dobson was winning hearts and kicking-ass with her powerful portrayal of Cleopatra Jones. Released by Warner Bros. in 1973, CLEOPATRA JONES was the studio’s big-budget response to a slew … Continue reading Three Reasons to Spend Time with Cleopatra Jones

“A FILM IS A PETRIFIED FOUNTAIN OF THOUGHT.” – JEAN COCTEAU

When Jean Cocteau’s name surfaces most of us think of the visionary artist, poet and director who made films such as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1946), BLOOD OF A POET (1930), LES PARENTS TERRIBLES (1948) and ORPHEUS (1949). Cocteau is all these things and more but he also happens to be one of my favorite film critics. I hesitate to call … Continue reading “A FILM IS A PETRIFIED FOUNTAIN OF THOUGHT.” – JEAN COCTEAU

Got a Library Card? You Should Be Watching Kanopy!

We're living in precarious times. As a result, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by current events and spending time glued to the news or our social media feeds can often add to our stress and discomfort. To make matters worse, many of us are also living paycheck to paycheck and things like streaming services can … Continue reading Got a Library Card? You Should Be Watching Kanopy!

EQUAL SHARES FOR ALL: THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960)

The League of Gentlemen (1960) contains one of my favorite moments from postwar British cinema; a group of ex-soldiers carrying submachine guns plow through London’s narrow streets with their faces concealed behind gas masks. Instead of dodging an attack they are preparing to rob a bank and their military uniforms have been replaced by civilian … Continue reading EQUAL SHARES FOR ALL: THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960)

WILLIAM MORTENSEN IN HOLLYWOOD

William Mortensen in his studio with a photo of Jean Harlow. Last month I was gifted with a copy of American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen. This beautiful coffee table worthy book contains a compilation of work by William Mortensen (1897–1965), a brilliant, innovative and visionary photographer who once worked in Hollywood … Continue reading WILLIAM MORTENSEN IN HOLLYWOOD

ELISABETH LUTYENS: THE HORROR QUEEN OF FILM COMPOSERS

Female film composers are a rarity but there are some wonderful examples of talented women working behind the scenes who managed to flourish under the tight deadlines imposed by film studios while creating memorable music for the movies. One of my favorite female composers is the late Elisabeth Lutyens who was born on July 9th … Continue reading ELISABETH LUTYENS: THE HORROR QUEEN OF FILM COMPOSERS