Bigger Than Life (1956)

Bigger Than Life is a terrific combination of three film types that flourished in the repressed cinema of the 1950s: the thriller, the suburban melodrama, and the “message movie.” However, a description of its fairly simple premise—James Mason is a teacher addicted to cortisone used to treat a chronic illness—makes it sound less than compelling. […]

It’s A Wonderful Life (1945)

Singin’ In The Rain is the best musical, Casablanca is the greatest love story, Vertigo is the best thriller, Bringing Up Baby is the best screwball comedy, Double Indemnity and Out of the Past are the tops in film noir, Chinatown is the best modern film noir, Tokyo Story is the finest non-English-language movie, Annie […]

What’s so great about movies?

A movie is a unique art form and as such should be unlike any other. This goal is most challenging for filmmakers who are making movies based on something else–another art form, such as a novel, play, short story, painting, ballet, or magazine article; or real life events, such as someone’s life or a historical […]

Cyd Charisse (1921-2008)

Unfortunately, actress-dancer Cyd Charisse, the last survivor of the golden age of the Hollywood musical died yesterday at the age of 86.  Charisse added her own brand of class and sex to such classics as Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Silk Stockings, paired in each film either with Fred Astaire or Gene […]

Capra Corn

I’m not really a big Frank Capra fan. Earnestness is typically the biggest turn-off for me when it comes to entertainment. This goes for movies, as well as TV and music. (For instance, I should have liked the West Wing, but I could never get through an episode. It seemed so calculated.) Well, anything called “Capraesqe,” […]

BIG v. little

Why has big screen success eluded so many of our finest small screen comedians? It seems that without exception the biggest masters of television comedy have been denied any sort of movie career. Lucille Ball did make a lot of movies, but she rarely rose beyond chorus girl, wife, secretary, or friend of the leading lady, and she […]