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Everything posted by BingFan

  1. This appears to be yet another dimly-lit British production in which grey is the predominant color. I didn't like this kind of art direction when PBS featured it on programs like Poirot, and I doubt that I'll like it here -- although maybe the full program is more compelling than the trailer. Granted, A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, so it's certainly appropriate to set a spooky mood with the art direction. And perhaps it's more "authentic" to light a story set in the 1800s with what appears to be candlelight and other sources that would have been used in those days (although they're obviously using electric lights in reality). But this fad for dim, grey productions is getting a bit tiresome. I just find it unpleasant aesthetically. I like to see some rich colors occasionally, and some brighter light in at least some scenes. With these faddish productions, it's just a bit too much work to try to follow what's going on when it's difficult to see who's talking or what the action is. (I have very sharp eyesight -- when I'm wearing my glasses, which is always -- so it's not me.) I love A Christmas Carol as a story, and there are few film or TV productions of it that I don't appreciate, whether they feature Reginald Owen, Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Albert Finney, or Mr. Magoo. Maybe I'll end up liking this FX version if I see it. But I wish the art directors would get over their fad for dim, grey productions, and move on to whatever their next fad is -- which I hope will be full of richer color and somewhat brighter lighting.
  2. BingFan

    New Pop Up Ads During Films

    I hope this is a fluke. Pop-up ads are an absolutely horrible idea and would ruin the movie for me. I'll vow never to purchase anything from an advertiser that invades TCM's movies.
  3. Same here -- I think Tennessee Williams had a real knack for vividly descriptive titles. To your list, I'd add Period of Adjustment, Williams' sole comedy as far as I know, and a Christmas movie to boot! The title phrase is used in the movie, when Tony Franciosa is helping Jim Hutton with the trials of his new marriage, assuring him that he and his new wife are just going through a "period of adjustment." The irony is that Tony's own marriage is facing some serious challenges. I'd highly recommend this movie, which also features a great early performance by Jane Fonda.
  4. BingFan

    Your Top Ten Horror Flicks

    I'm not a big horror fan, but I do enjoy some of the classics. My favorites are Cat People (1942) and The Uninvited (1944). And if you count any ghost story as a horror film, I also love Blithe Spirit (1945), which is a very funny comedy.
  5. Criterion just announced its 50%-off sale at Barnes & Noble, running Nov. 1 to Dec. 1: NEWSLETTER - NOVEMBER 1, 2019 Roar! Starting today, all Criterion Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off at Barnes & Noble, both online and in stores! This includes new editions of When We Were Kings, Matewan, 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg, and Häxan. You can also preorder our upcoming releases of The Daytrippers, Cold War, Betty Blue, Now, Voyager, and All About Eve. The sale runs through December 1.
  6. BingFan

    Criterion cartoon

    I'm often stumped by Criterion's cartoons, which give hints about upcoming releases. But this one I got right away. Any guesses about which movie it identifies?
  7. BingFan


    If you're interested in hearing Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast, it can be found here: It's episode 16 on this page (OW91). [Edit: I originally didn't notice that a prior poster had already helpfully provided a link to the broadcast.]
  8. BingFan

    Why I love TCM

    In case you want to go to Eddie's Noir City events but aren't in the San Francisco area, he also holds them throughout the country. According to the write-up on the Film Noir Foundation web site, Eddie introduces films on some nights, with an FNF board member and film historian handling the duties on other nights. (Although I live in the DC area, where Eddie holds Noir City events every fall, I haven't gotten around to attending yet; we live about 60 miles from the AFI Silver Theatre, where they're held, unfortunately.) Here are the upcoming Noir City dates: NOIR CITY D.C.: Oct 11-24, 2019 NOIR CITY Xmas (San Francisco): Dec 18, 2019 NOIR CITY 18 (San Francisco): Jan 24-Feb 2, 2020 NOIR CITY Seattle: Feb 14-20, 2020 NOIR CITY Hollywood: Mar 5-15, 2020 NOIR CITY Austin: May 15-17, 2020 NOIR CITY Boston: Jun 12-14, 2020 NOIR CITY Chicago: dates TBD NOIR CITY Detroit: dates TBD
  9. BingFan

    Marsha Hunt is 102

    Happy Birthday, Marsha! Another member of the Over 100 Club: Norman Lloyd, who turns 105 on Nov. 8.
  10. Your wish has been granted! I just received a Criterion email saying that the flash sale has been extended for two hours, to 2:00pm ET today (Oct. 16, 2019): NEWSLETTER - OCTOBER 16, 2019 Heads up! We’re extending our 24-hour flash sale at—it will end at 2 p.m. ET today. All in-stock Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off SRP. No promo code needed! Check out our curated categories like Director-Approved Editions, Staff Picks, New York Stories, Documentaries, and more! Themes will be updated hourly to help you choose from our growing library of over 1,000 films. Happy shopping! PS: Please select your desired format (Blu-ray or DVD) when ordering as we can’t change or cancel orders once received. Note that we only ship within the United States and to Canada. For further information on Criterion and our products, please visit our website at If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to be added, please click here to register at To unsubscribe, click here. © 2019 The Criterion Collection.
  11. Criterion just announced a 50%-off "flash sale" that runs from 12:00 noon EST Oct. 15 to 12:00 noon EST Oct. 16: NEWSLETTER - OCTOBER 15, 2019 Something’s in the air . . . Run toward the savings at the Fall Flash Sale! For the next 24 hours all in-stock Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off SRP. No promo code needed! Need help navigating our growing library of over 1,000 films? Check out our sale page and shop from curated categories like Director-Approved, Staff Picks, New York Stories, Documentaries, and more. We’re updating the categories hourly, and our real-time dashboard shows you what’s selling fast. The sale ends at noon Eastern time tomorrow, October 16, so don’t delay! PS: Please select your desired format (Blu-ray or DVD) when ordering as we can’t change or cancel orders once received. Note that we only ship within the United States and to Canada. For further information on Criterion and our products, please visit our website at If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to be added, please click here to register at To unsubscribe, click here. © 2019 The Criterion Collection.
  12. BingFan

    Marsha Mason

    I recently re-read Neil Simon's two excellent volumes of memoirs. The second volume prominently features Marsha Mason, who was married to Simon from 1973 to 1983. While Simon alluded to the problems that led to their divorce, it sounds like he always had a great deal of respect for her and remained friendly with her after their parting. One thing was clear: Simon, who can be assumed to have known something about actors, was obviously very impressed with Mason's talent (as well as her very vibrant personality). He wrote so enthusiastically about her that I decided to revisit The Goodbye Girl, along with several other Simon-based films not featuring Mason that I watched as I re-read the memoirs. My history with The Goodbye Girl wasn't very positive. I saw it in the theater when it first came out, and it's one of the few movies I've ever walked out of, primarily because I found Richard Dreyfuss's character abrasive and Quinn Cumming's young girl annoyingly precocious. I'm not a particular fan of Mason's, but I originally thought she was OK in the film. (I think the only other movie I've seen her in is the Simon-penned The Cheap Detective.) Despite my initial reaction to The Goodbye Girl, I had seen small parts of the movie on TCM over the years, and I thought I might change my mind about it if I ever saw it again. Simon's memoirs pushed me to give it another try. I ended up enjoying The Goodbye Girl the second time around and found Mason's performance very impressive, capturing many facets of her character and relating to the other characters in a way that seemed realistic. I also found Dreyfuss and Cummings much easier to take during this re-viewing -- I actually enjoyed their performances as well, in sharp contrast to my original reaction all those years ago. I can see Mason having been Oscar-nominated for her Goodbye Girl role, although I'm glad she didn't win, as I'm a big fan of Diane Keaton's performance in Annie Hall. Mason was certainly a credible candidate, matching up well against Keaton, Jane Fonda in Julia, and Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine, both from The Turning Point. (It's one of the few times I've seen all of the nominated performances!)
  13. BingFan

    Julie Andrews Guest Programmer 10/29

    Julie has a book coming out on Oct. 15: Homework: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years. I imagine she'll be discussing it with Ben (or whoever the host is that night). The book will probably be of interest to many TCM viewers, given the subject matter. I read her earlier memoir, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, and really enjoyed it, even though I'm not a particular Julie Andrews fan. I always like her when I see her, though -- she's great in Mary Poppins, The Americanization of Emily, and Victor/Victoria, which may be the only movies of hers that I've seen all the way through. Still, I really enjoyed Home and plan to read Homework.
  14. BingFan

    Criterion cartoon

    Here's the latest Criterion cartoon, included in an email sent on 9/26/19 about the release of Local Hero. I think the Fail Safe guess may be accurate.
  15. BingFan

    Movies About Movies - Need Suggestions

    Here are some very worthwhile comedies about movie folk: Boy Meets Girl (1938), starring James Cagney and Pat O'Brien as a screenwriting team who write a movie about a cowboy and a baby. This hilarious screwball comedy also includes Ralph Bellamy and Frank McHugh. It Happened in Hollywood (1937), starring Richard Dix and Fay Wray, and co-written by Samuel Fuller. Dix is a silent movie cowboy star whose career is sidetracked by the coming of sound. Bombshell (1933), starring Jean Harlow, Lee Tracy, Frank Morgan, Franchot Tone, Pat O'Brien, and C. Aubrey Smith. Harlow is a movie star whose life is beset with problems caused by the studio publicist (Tracy) and her dissolute father (Morgan). Pat O'Brien is a movie director making a film with Harlow that parodies her real movie Red Dust. The Moon's Our Home (1936), starring Margaret Sullavan and Henry Fonda. Fonda and Sullavan meet and fall in love without either realizing that the other is famous, Fonda as a best-selling author and Sullavan as top movie star.
  16. I don't know for sure, but I get the sense that at least Eddie Muller and Alicia Malone both write their own presentations. Both have referred in their presentations to doing research on a movie, with Alicia mentioning that within just the last few weeks. And Eddie in particular often includes significant content based on his personal interactions with the actors and directors -- e.g., the folks he's interviewed on stage at his noir screenings. Both Eddie and Alicia are authors, so writing their own presentations doesn't seem like a stretch. With Jacqueline Stewart of Silent Sundays also being a subject matter expert, like Eddie and Alicia, I wouldn't be surprised if she also writes her own presentations. I don't know whether Ben M. and Dave Karger have their presentations written for them -- it wouldn't surprise me if that's the case. That's not to say that these hosts don't have research assistance. But with TCM apparently cutting costs and down-grading some of their on-air material (e.g., no announcers on the "what's on next" segments), they may be looking for the hosts to do more of the real work.
  17. To answer your question, no, every film picked by Ava DuVernay does not have a black cast, although some do. Neither are the films picked by new Silent Sunday host Jacqueline Stewart mostly ones with black casts or made by women filmmakers, although some may be. A look at the schedules for September and October reveals much more variety in their choices: Essentials 9/7 Sounder - dir. Martin Ritt, starring Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield 9/14 Roshomon - dir. Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshiro Mifune 9/21 Les Rendez-Vous D'Anna - dir. Chantal Akerman 9/28 A Warm December - dir. and starring Sidney Poitier 10/5 Ashes and Embers - dir. Haile Gerima 10/12 West Side Story - dir. Robert Wise, starring Natalie Wood 10/19 Pather Panchali - dir. Satyajit Ray 10/26 Cabin in the Sky - dir. Vincente Minnelli, starring Ethel Waters and Eddie Anderson Silent Sunday Nights 9/15 Two Arabian Nights - dir. Lewis Milestone, starring Wm. Boyd and Mary Astor 9/22 The Racket - dir. Lewis Milestone, starring Thomas Meighan 9/29 Cleopatra (1912) - dir. Charles L. Gaskill 10/6 The Symbol of the Unconquered - dir. Oscar Micheaux 10/13 Faust - dir. F.W. Murnau, starring Emil Jannings 10/20 The Phantom Carriage - dir. Victor Seastrom (Sjostrom) 10/27 The Haunted Hotel - ? Putting aside the films that I'm not familiar with, here's what I see in these films: Essentials -- Of the directors, 3 white American directors, 1 black American director, and directors from Japan, France, and India. Of the casts, 3 black casts (or with black stars), 2 white casts, and casts from Japan and India. Silent Sundays -- Of the directors, 1 black American director, 1 white American director (two films), and directors from Germany and Sweden. Of the casts, 4 are white and 1 is black. The question of whether the Essentials films are actually "essential" is a matter of opinion. It looks like Ms. DuVernay is choosing films that she believes are important but aren't seen often enough, maybe including Pather Panchali and Les Rendez-Vous D'Anna. At the same time, she's also including very popular commercial movies, like Sounder, West Side Story, and Cabin in the Sky. No, they're not necessarily the movies that prior Essentials hosts might have chosen, but we've already seen those choices. Do we really need to see Casablanca, Citizen Kane, or Mutiny on the Bounty on The Essentials again? It seems like Ms. DuVernay is trying to expand the viewers' horizons. I might not choose, or even like, some of these films, but I'd sure say that Roshomon, West Side Story, and Sounder are "essentials" in my book. I also like it that she's trying to feature possibly great movies that I haven't seen -- maybe I'll really love one of them, and it'll enrich my life. I'd say much the same about the Silent Sundays line-up. I'm not a silent movie expert, but I think Prof. Stewart is trying to show us some films that aren't the usual suspects. Believe me, I love The Gold Rush and Sunrise, but I don't need to see them (again) on Silent Sundays. I've heard of The Phantom Carriage, for example, but have never seen it -- now I'll have the chance because of Prof. Stewart's choice. The movies that any of us might pick as "essential" can often be as much a reflection of our personal tastes as a judgment on what we think is historically significant. For example, years ago, Martin Scorsese highly recommended a Jeanne Crain sorority-house drama called Take Care of My Little Girl. Sounds cheesy, right -- like something that's not worth your time? Well, for some reason, I remembered that title for years, and then finally had a chance to see the movie. I loved it! I've enjoyed that movie through multiple viewings, just because Scorsese brought it to my attention on some list of films that he was compiling. It may not be Citizen Kane, but there was something about it that Scorsese really liked, and I agreed with him. That's the kind of thing I hope for from The Essentials, Silent Sundays, and, for that matter, Noir Alley -- that the hosts will occasionally show me a film that's new to me and becomes part of my personal canon. I think it's worth the time to take a chance on that result.
  18. BingFan

    TCM names new host for Silent Sundays

    I watched my recording of last week's Silent Sunday Nights and was very impressed by Prof. Stewart. Like Eddie Muller's, her presentation was full of very interesting material about the film and filmmakers. She also had a very poised delivery, showing the confidence of a subject-matter expert without in any way being too much. If I had to make one suggestion, I'd like to hear a bit more from her about why these movies are so enjoyable, with maybe an accompanying smile or two, similar to the very nice picture of her in the article above. I hate to focus at all on such superficial things, but it is TV, after all, where a friendly appearance can go a long way in drawing in viewers. (The other hosts have reached a good balance in this regard.) One thing I definitely didn't like is the new opening for Silent Sundays. Way too much gray, and too little display of the richness of silent-movie photography, which for me is one of the genre's most appealing aspects. The two previous SSN openings, and their theme music, emphasized the richness and almost romantic qualities of silent film, which I loved. It made me want to watch the movies even more. I'd like to see a revamped opening that captures more of the qualities that the old openings had.
  19. Definitely another disturbing book, for the same reasons. It seems odd to say that I "enjoyed" these unsettling stories about America gone very wrong, so maybe I should just say that I found The Plot Against America to be a very valuable reading experience, much like It Can't Happen Here. I might say that The Plot Against America was even more disturbing because the setting and characters were presented in a more realistic way. There, the anti-Semitic dictator wasn't fictional -- he was Charles Lindbergh!
  20. Your instinct is accurate, Lorna. According to this CNN article, It Can't Happen Here did indeed explode in popularity in January 2017. The article notes that it was one of Amazon's Top Ten best sellers for a while, above better-known books like 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale, and that it was sold out at the time of the article, as it had previously been in November 2016. Wikipedia notes that in addition to numerous articles about the book, the stage version of it was performed in 2016. Not bad for a book that's over 80 years old! I agree that it's an unsettling story, even after having read it three times, most recently a couple years ago. It's very disturbing to read about dictatorship taking hold in a familiar American setting, with a cult-like political party and concentration camps coming right along with it. It makes the reader (me, at least) think about how valuable our democratic freedoms are, and how easy it would be to lose them -- or to give them away with our votes by empowering the wrong person.
  21. I agree -- interesting list, but I wouldn't consider Sinclair Lewis (or Babbitt) "largely unread today." Lewis got a big boost a couple years ago because of the current U.S. political situation, when a lot of people re-discovered his 1930s novel, It Can't Happen Here -- the story of the rise of a fascistic demagogue as the American president. Ever since I first read one of Lewis's less-known (but very good) novels, Kingsblood Royal, whose main character is surprised when he learns his true racial background, I've been a big fan of his writing. His characters and plots remind me of a Frank Capra movie, but with a somewhat sharper edge. I haven't read all of Sinclair Lewis's books yet, but I'd highly recommend all of those I have: It Can't Happen Here, Kingsblood Royal, Babbitt, Dodsworth, and Arrowsmith. Just discussing Lewis here makes me want to read another of his books, as I have several on my shelves that I haven't gotten to yet (e.g., Main Street, Cass Timberlane, Ann Vickers, others). I may pull out one of them after I finish my current book, director Sam Fuller's excellent autobiography, A Third Face.
  22. BingFan

    Classic World War 2 movies - chronologically

    This is an outstanding list. I haven't seen them all, but there are a lot of great WW II movies here that I have seen. In addition to Merrill's Marauders, I'd suggest Samuel Fuller's other great WW II movie, The Big Red One, starring Lee Marvin. It recounts Fuller's own experiences as a foot soldier in the First Infantry Division, showing his participation in the invasions of North Africa and Sicily, as well as the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Although he changed the names, the events are true -- they match almost exactly his descriptions in his excellent autobiography, A Third Face.
  23. I haven't seen all of the films on Colonel Gallagher's list, but I really like the eight on the list that I have seen. (I'm not a particular fan of war movies, but if it tells a good story, I'll like it.) I've recently been reading director Samuel Fuller's outstanding autobiography, A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking, which Eddie Muller highly recommended after showing Pickup on South Street on Noir Alley a few months ago. Fuller was an infantry foot soldier during WW II, participating in the D-Day landing, as well as the earlier invasions of North Africa and Sicily. The book describes his experiences in great detail. Fuller's experiences in the war were harrowing -- full of risk and death at the most personal level -- and they inspired the war movies he later made, such as Merrill's Marauders (albeit set in the Pacific) and The Big Red One, which was highly autobiographical. As Fuller says in his book, the focus of his war movies was the experience of the individual soldier, not the big picture that involves politics and military strategy. In other words, his movies were about the day-to-day survival of each soldier, which Fuller believed motivated him and his fellow dogfaces (his term) more than any cause or the desire to be a hero. I had never seen any of Fuller's war movies before I started his book. But the descriptions in the book of his real-life war experiences were so compelling that I sought out and watched a variety of his movies (war and non-war), including the two mentioned above. I wonder if Col. Gallagher has ever seen Merrill's Marauders or The Big Red One. The latter is one of the best war movies I've seen and, in my opinion, certainly deserves to be mentioned among the better-known movies that the colonel highlights.
  24. BingFan

    TCM names new host for Silent Sundays

    There's also a brief interview with Prof. Stewart in today's NY Times: She strikes me as someone who'll provide an interesting, knowledgeable perspective on the Silent Sunday films without hitting anyone over the head with academic theorizing. From what she says in the interview, she clearly has a great deal of respect for TCM viewers as people who want to learn more about the films they're seeing.
  25. BingFan

    TCM names new host for Silent Sundays

    I'm glad to hear that TCM is bringing in a subject-matter expert as the host of Silent Sundays. That approach worked very well with Eddie Muller, whose knowledge of film noir makes his appearances essential viewing for me. I never miss him because he provides so much fascinating information, and gives us the perspective of someone who really knows that part of film history. And he makes it all so entertaining. It sounds like Prof. Stewart has the background to make her appearances as compelling as Eddie's. There's a lot about the history of silent movies that I want to learn from her, while hearing why she finds those movies so enjoyable to watch. From what I've seen in the preview, she should be a great addition to TCM's outstanding team of hosts, all of whom have valuable strengths. (I do miss the glory days of Robert Osborne, who seemed able to do it all. But if it takes five hosts to replace him, so be it -- they all have an important place in the TCM universe.)

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