The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon Is Here – Day Three

by Paul Batters

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It is the final day for the 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon and our final contributions are coming in. Again, if you are a little late, please don’t be dissuaded – I am more than happy to add you in afterwards. Every contribution is valued!

Again, a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed and as a first time host I hope I’ve ran the blogathon correctly. I will be announcing a new one in the next couple of weeks as well, so watch this space!

For Day One entries, please click on the link here

For Day Two entries, please click on the link here.

So to bring the blogathon to a close, let’s not waste any further time and look at our final contributions.

The Count Of Monte Cristo (1975)MovieRob

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1948)MovieRob

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Three Reasons: Pride And Prejudice (1940)Old Hollywood Films

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Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan (1984)Diary Of A Movie Maniac

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Code Concepts: Code Concepts From Classic LiteraturePure Preservation Entertainment Society

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A Glowing Mist: Sherlock Holmes And The Scarlet Claw (1944)Pale Writer

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There are a few entries still to come so please re-visit as Day Three will be updated.

Thank you for your wonderful contributions and happy reading everyone!

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Paul Batters teaches secondary school History in the Illawarra region and also lectures at the University Of Wollongong. In a previous life, he was involved in community radio and independent publications. Looking to a career in writing, Paul also has a passion for film history.

The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon Is Here – Day Two

by Paul Batters

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It’s Day Two of the 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon and there have been some amazing contributions so far. We still have a few contributions on the way and of course Day Three is yet to come!

For all contributions for Day One , the link is here.

Here are the contributions for Day Two.

Rebecca (1940)Stars And Letters

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Finding Answers With Ben Hur –  Taking Up Room

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Camille (1921)His Fame Still Lives

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Moby Dick (1956)Dubism 

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Crimes At The Dark House (1940)The Old Hollywood Garden

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Lord Of The Flies (1963)Cinema Catharsis

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Dracula (1931)MovieRob

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Join us for Day Three and if you’re a contributor who is a little late, please don’t let that dissuade you! If you have been inspired by these writers and would like to take part, your presence would be most appreciated and I’ll be happy to add you in.

Sit back, grab a coffee and enjoy these great articles. Your comments, shares and likes are also greatly appreciated, so please don’t hesitate.

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Paul Batters teaches secondary school History in the Illawarra region and also lectures at the University Of Wollongong. In a previous life, he was involved in community radio and independent publications. Looking to a career in writing, Paul also has a passion for film history.

A Look At Two Versions Of Anna Karenina (1935 and 1948)

by special guest Robert Short

General abstract:  In 1877 Russia, Anna Karenina, wife of Alexei Karenin, a senior government official, and mother of their young son Sergei, travels to Moscow from St. Petersburg to visit her brother Stepan Oblonsky, his wife Dolly, and their children.  The family is in turmoil due to Stepan’s unbridled womanizing – a circumstance that foretells Anna’s own future situation.  Upon her arrival in the Moscow train station, she meets Count Alexei Vronsky, a cavalryman.  A romantic attraction and affair ensue, despite the fact that Dolly’s eighteen-year-old sister Kitty is also attracted to Vronsky. 

Bachelor Vronsky is eager to marry Anna.  Unable to secure a divorce from her high-minded husband, Anna nonetheless leaves him, and their son, to live with Vronsky.  Initially moving to Italy, where they can be together, Anna and Vronsky return to Russia, where she is shunned by Russian society, while Vronsky is able to pursue his social life.  Becoming further isolated and anxious, Anna grows increasingly possessive and paranoid about his imagined infidelity, resulting in tragedy.

ANNA KARENINA (1935)  Director:  Clarence Brown.  Starring Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone, Maureen O’Sullivan, Freddie Bartholomew, May Robson, Reginald Owen.  Screenplay by Clemence Dane and Salka Viertel.

From her stunning first appearance behind a clearing cloud of train steam, Greta Garbo set the 1935 “Anna Karenina” in motion with her extraordinary presence.  Known as “the Swedish Sphinx” among other sobriquets, Garbo’s exquisite face could seemingly express a thousand thoughts while remaining totally blank; she was the epitome of the legendary Gloria Swanson line in “Sunset Boulevard”, “We had faces then”.

Garbo’s 1935 portrayal of Anna was in fact her second on-screen portrait of the Tolstoy heroine; an earlier 1927 silent version, bearing the title “Love”, had co-starred Garbo with John Gilbert, her highly-publicized real-life romantic partner, as Count Vronsky.  Performed in more modern dress, its story reduced to the essential occurrences of the Anna – Vronsky narrative, “Love” may be considered either a clever adaptation or, to a Tolstoy purist, a complete abomination.  Supporting characters such as Stepan, Dolly and Kitty were jettisoned entirely; many other liberties were taken with the story.  Most notably a contrived happy ending filmed for American audiences replaced the original tragic conclusion; the European prints retained the more dramatic finale.  Nevertheless, despite its numerous literary transgressions, “Love” enjoyed the benefit of the almost palpable chemistry between Garbo and Gilbert; the two could transform a scene in which virtually nothing was happening into something resembling an erotic dream.

 

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Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in ‘Love’ (1927)
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Greta Garbo and Fredric March in ‘Anna Karenina’

Returning to the role was Garbo’s idea; in October 1934 the actress had requested that David O. Selznick produce a remake of “Love”, but with greater adherence to the Tolstoy tome.  Paring down the original literary source to a manageable screen adaptation required necessary deletions; Tolstoy’s massive and complex chronicle, running over 800 pages, featuring over a dozen major characters, and presented in eight parts, included more than the narrative of Anna and Vronsky, although their story was a major component of the plot.   Unlike the earlier 1927 version, the “side” stories not focused on Anna, such as Oblonsky’s marital infidelities and Kitty’s infatuation with Vronsky and eventual marriage to Konstantin Levin, were presented, albeit rather superficially.  While screenwriters Clemence Dane and Salka Viertel, the latter of whom was a close friend of Garbo’s and eventually became the mother-in-law of actress Deborah Kerr, remained reasonably loyal to the original themes addressed in the literary work, including desire, betrayal, faith, family, marriage, and Imperial Russian society, creative license was taken in their presentation.  Various incidents were re-sorted and revised from Tolstoy’s original chronicle; alterations and additions to the script were made in order to avoid censure from the prevailing Production Code.  Under great pressure to complete a finished screenplay in the shortest possible time, the screenwriters prepared an oddly unbalanced script, affecting the rhythm of the scenes.

Fredric March was Garbo’s selection for the role of Vronsky.   Producer Selznick’s own first choice was Clark Gable, who was not interested.  Ronald Colman was another consideration; cannily aware that the film would belong to co-star Garbo, Colman purportedly doubled his asking price, effectively taking himself out of the running.  March, an Academy Award winning actor for his 1931 dual portrayal of “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde”, was no stranger to Tolstoy’s work; in 1934 he had starred in “We Live Again”, based on Tolstoy’s 1899 work “Resurrection”, with Anna Sten.  Undeniably beautiful but ultimately unsuccessful in her career, Sten was, rather ironically, producer Samuel Goldwyn’s hoped-for answer to Garbo.  Having had his fill of period pieces, March did not want to play Vronsky, accepting the role on the order from his studio.  Nor did he, by his own admission, generate the same level of passion with Garbo as had Gilbert in the earlier 1927 version.  Describing the love scenes in the 1935 presentation, March was quoted as saying that they were “nothing so tempestuous as in the silent film”.

Directed by Garbo’s favourite director, Clarence Brown, with cinematography by William Daniels, Garbo’s favourite photographer, “Anna Karenina” emerged a financial and critical success.  Andre Sennwald of The New York Times noted “Miss Garbo, always superbly the apex of the drama, suggests the inevitability of her doom from the beginning, streaking her first happiness with undertones of anguish, later trying futilely to mend the broken pieces, and at last standing regally alone as she approaches the end. Bouncing with less determination than is his custom, Mr. March gets by handsomely as Vronsky.”  For her efforts, Garbo won the New York Film Critics Circle Award as Best Actress; the film itself was named one of the top ten films of 1935 by the National Board of Review, USA.

ANNA KARENINA (1948) Director:  Julien Duvivier.  Starring Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Kieron Moore, Hugh Dempster, Mary Kerridge, Sally Ann Howes, Niall MacGinnis.  Screenplay by Jean Anouilh, Guy Morgan, Julien Duvivier.

After her Oscar-winning tour de force performance as the wilful Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”, British actress Vivien Leigh had returned to the movie screen only three times, in 1940’s “Waterloo Bridge”, in 1941 as the eponymous “Lady Hamilton”, also known as “That Hamilton Woman”, co-starring husband Laurence Olivier as Admiral Horatio Nelson, and as Cleopatra in George Bernard Shaw’s “Caesar and Cleopatra” in 1945.  During the intervening years, Leigh had performed on stage, and endured sieges of illness and depression; the opportunity of portraying Tolstoy’s tragic heroine lured Leigh back to the silver screen for a fourth post-”Wind” appearance.  Interestingly, critical elements of her character’s life mirrored Leigh’s own; similar to Anna, who left her husband and child to pursue a new love, Leigh ended her seven-year marriage with husband Herbert Leigh Holman in 1940 in order to marry Laurence Olivier, her co-star in the 1937 British productions “Fire over England” and “21 Days Together”.  Holman ultimately gained custody of his and Leigh’s six-year-old daughter Suzanne.  During the production of “Anna Karenina” Oliver received his investiture as Knight Bachelor; Leigh was thereafter styled as “Lady Olivier”.

Unfolding at a more leisurely 139 minutes, as opposed to the 95-minute running time of the earlier Garbo version, the 1948 “Anna Karenina” was a truer, and more encompassing, adaptation of its classic literary source.  The original screenplay prepared by director Julien Duvivier, in collaboration with French dramatist Jean Anouilh, had been an experiment in angst-ridden existentialism, a relentlessly downbeat chronicle transplanted to a French setting; British writer Guy Morgan came on board for script alterations and revisions.

Unlike the 1935 film, which began with an invented scene showing Vronsky in various stages of revelry, the 1948 edition began with the novel’s famous introductory line “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” superimposed over a scene revealing the turmoil in the Oblonsky home.  More screen time was devoted to the characters of Stepan and Dolly, Anna’s brother and sister-in-law, and Dolly’s sister Kitty.  Most importantly, major segments of the story were not featured in the Garbo adaptation at all, including Karenin’s initial decision to divorce Anna, his change of heart after Anna’s near death after giving birth to Vronsky’s child, stillborn in this version, contrary to the novel, and his re-acceptance of Anna in his home.  These scenes, possibly omitted in 1935 due to Production Code restrictions, were particularly critical in Karenin’s character development; as portrayed by Basil Rathbone in the earlier presentation, Karenin was a tyrant, whereas Ralph Richardson’s Karenin, while still a cold, emotionally sterile man, displayed a glimmer of humanity.

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Vivien Leigh and Kieron Moore as Anna and Vronksy
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Ralph Richardson and Vivien Leigh as Karenin and Anna

Filmed in 1947, and released in the United Kingdom in early January 1948, the making of “Anna Karenina” would appear to have been an unhappy affair; director Duvivier, reportedly autocratically inflexible, was disliked by cast and crew.  The role of Vronsky had originally been offered to Michael Redgrave, who chose to appear in two American projects; handsome Irish-born actor Kieron Moore undertook the part.  Out of his acting depth, Moore had requested a release after only a few weeks of filming.  Producer Sir Alexander Korda refused to grant it; Moore’s ensuing performance, described by fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, a friend of Garbo’s, as a “disaster”, suggested none of Vronsky’s animal magnetism.

Expensive and well-appointed, Leigh’s “Anna Karenina” was ultimately unsuccessful, both commercially and critically.  British reviewers were a little kinder to the film; opening in the United States in April 1947, its American print shortened by twenty minutes, the movie prompted New York Times critic Bosley Crowther to comment in his review “With all due respect for an actress who would willingly undertake a role that has twice been rendered immortal by Greta Garbo within the past twenty years, it must be confessed by this observer that the ‘Anna Karenina’ of Vivien Leigh is a pretty sad disappointment, by comparison or not.”

These harsh words notwithstanding, the 1948 “Anna Karenina” offered much to admire – the first image of Leigh’s beautiful face looking though the frosted window of a train, the sumptuous costumes and settings, cinematographer Henri Alekan’s moody, light-and-shadow photography displaying every shade possible in monochrome.  Crowther’s review did contain, nonetheless, an element of validity.  The 1948 film was a more faithful, albeit still imperfect, screen adaptation of Tolstoy’s chef-d’oeuvre.  Benefiting from an additional forty-five minutes in running time over its 1935 counterpoint, the British presentation explored motifs and situations to a fuller extent; from a literary standpoint it emerged the victor over the earlier Hollywood version.  However, all its physical adornment and homage to literature could not compete with the jewel in Hollywood’s crown, namely Garbo.  For all its faults as a cinematic translation of a major work of literature, 1935’s “Anna Karenina” was clearly the most entertaining; as described by critic Pauline Kael, “God knows it isn’t all it might be, and Garbo isn’t even at her best, but she’s there to be gazed upon.”

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have Robert Short as a guest writer for the 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon. 

The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon Is Here – Day One

by Paul Batters

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The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon has arrived! It’s my first blogathon as host and I hope you’re as excited as I am to read the wonderful contributions that will be made over the next three days.

As a reminder, the focus is on the great novels, short stories, plays and writers that have produced some of classic literatures greatest tales and how cinema has taken those stories and transformed them onto the silver screen. It is testimony to those stories that they have endured.

So without further ado, here are our contributions for Day One!

 

Wilkie Collins: Unappreciated In HollywoodHollywood Genes

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Hans Christian Andersen (1952)Classic Movie Muse

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The Picture Of Dorian Gray (1945)Silver Screenings

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Nicholas Nickleby (1947)Caftan Woman

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The House Of The Seven Gables (1940)Films From Beyond The Time Barrier

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A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)MovieMovieBlogBlog

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The Wrong Box (1966)Real Weegie Midget Reviews

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My Cousin Rachel (1952 and 2017) –  Cary Grant Won’t Eat You

 

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945)Maddy Loves Her Classic Films

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To Kill A Mockingbird (1960)18 Cinema Lane

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A Look At Two Versions Of ‘Anna Karenina (1935 and 1948) – Robert Short

 

Some wonderful articles to kick us off, so please sit back, relax and enjoy reading them. Hopefully you will also be inspired to watch those films if you haven’t ever seen them or interested to revisit them if it’s been a while.

What a fantastic start!

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Paul Batters teaches secondary school History in the Illawarra region and also lectures at the University Of Wollongong. In a previous life, he was involved in community radio and independent publications. Looking to a career in writing, Paul also has a passion for film history.

The Films That Brought Us To Love Classic Film – Part Two

by Paul Batters

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Part Two continues with the wonderful, personal stories of how our featured writers came to discover and love classic film.

Maddy 

Blog: Maddy Loves Her Classic Films   Twitter: @TimeForAFilm

I grew up in the 1990’s and was brought up on the animated Disney films such as Bambi and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. I was very into dance when I was little and my parents bought me the documentary That’s Dancing (1985). That introduced me to so many classic era actors and films. It especially got me interested in Fred and Ginger, The Nicholas Brothers, Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell. I started to seek out many of their films as I grew up.

If I had to pick one film in particular that made me fall in love with this era of filmmaking, then it would have to be Top Hat. It was the first b&w film I saw and I loved everything about it – from the characters and the dancing, to the stunning sets and beautiful costumes. This girl was hooked! In my teens I discovered Alfred Hitchcock. His films made me a classic film fan for life. They were what first made me aware of the language of cinema and got me interested in how films were made. Rear Window was the first I saw and I remember eagerly returning to the Library every weekend to borrow more of his films.

Theresa Brown

Blog: CineMaven’s Essays From the Couch     Twitter: @CineMava

I would need to go into some type of hydro~therapy, deep dark hypnosis to pull the memory of what film led me into loving classic films; and also to get into my past life as Cleopatra. My parents told me I used to run into the living room and stand in front of the tv set during commercials. Commercials, for heaven’s sake!! Were they bite-sized movies for the tiny Baby Boomer I was? It’s hard for me to say just what film set me on this path of being a classic movie buff. My mom took us to practically ev’ry Disney movie back in the 1950’s. American TV of the 60’s and 70’s threw away a lot of “old movies” and I was up all hours of the night trying to get my fill. Maybe seeing these films was a way to connect to my father and aunt with movies they grew up seeing on the big screen. For my 16th birthday my father gave me my first movie book: on Bogart films. Cinemabilia was a NYC book store I got lost in for hours. Classic films are just in my DNA.

Aurora

Blog: Once Upon a Screen    Twitter: @CitizenScreen

I arrived in the United States from Cuba at the age of five and immediately fell in love with movies. We were given a secondhand television set where one day I happened upon Delmer Daves’ Dark Passage. The unique point of view sequence at the onset of the movie fascinated me even then. I longed to see the face that peered out at the dark, grim world. I have loved film noir ever since. The only other genre that competes is the musical; it is what truly made my imagination soar. I remember vividly seeing On the Town and marvelling at the notion that my father had brought me to a place where people danced on the street. We lived in a crowded New York City apartment. I remember too wishing that my family were just like the Smiths in Meet Me in St. Louis. Alas, there are too many of those moments to recount, too many ways the movies made me who I am. It is to those days, when I knew no one outside my family, when those characters were as real as any person I had ever met, that I owe my love of movies.

Robert Short – Writer

Having been a fan of classic films for over fifty years now, I find it difficult to ascribe any specific movie as the pivotal film that inspired my love of the golden era of filmdom.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the decades in which I chiefly grew up, the cinematic offerings from the 1930’s and 1940’s were the general fodder of movie viewing on television; I undoubtedly saw many from a very young age.  I can say with greater certainty that I had developed a conscious interest in “old movies”, a relative term, by the age of twelve or thirteen.  Perhaps the interest grew organically; perhaps it was a moment of epiphany.

Again, while I cannot pinpoint any definitive “watershed” title, there is possibly one film of note which served as a cornerstone in my movie-watching career.  “Juarez” marked my first “late show”, the late-night movies that I was finally permitted to watch after beginning high school in September 1969.  A typically lavish production from Warner Bros., and another quality contribution from 1939, the film was immensely entertaining, albeit often historically inaccurate.  Admittedly, the fact that “Juarez” was my introduction to the venerable institution of the late show, now gone by the wayside in the wake of our modern digital era, may seem very trivial and unimportant.  However, the late show itself was once the chief means to watch classic films; through it my access to many wonderful movies was greatly expanded.

Amanda Garrett

Blog: Old Hollywood Films  Twitter: @oldhollywood21

My lifelong love of affair with classic movies began when I stumbled across director John Ford’s Western Stagecoach (1939) on PBS when I was in grade school. It soon became my favourite movie mostly because I wanted to be BFFs with Doc Boone played by Thomas Mitchell (I didn’t understand that what I thought was very funny behaviour was caused by alcohol), and I secretly wanted to be Andy Devine mostly because I thought driving a stagecoach seemed like a cool job. I’ve watched Stagecoach dozens of times since then, and while I’ve given up my ambition of being a stagecoach driver, I still find the film a rewarding experience all these years later. There are several reasons for this including the masterful plot, which Ford unfolds with clockwork precision, and the roster of great character actors. Most of all, I return to Stagecoach because of Ford. The gruff director despised being called an artist or even worse an auteur, but the truth is he was both. Ford’s fluid camera work makes Stagecoach poetry in motion, and he would return to the theme of one man’s quest for justice throughout his career.

Name: Jay

Blog: Cinema Essentials   Twitter: @CineEssentials

Although I grew up watching classic films, most were colour films from the 1950s and 1960s. If there was one film that overcame my childhood resistance to black and white, then it was Green for Danger. It’s a brilliant comedy-thriller that plays with the conventions of the murder mystery genre.

Alastair Sim plays an eccentric detective sent to investigate a series of suspicious deaths at a hospital, where he finds a range of suspects. Sim is unquestionably the star of the show, but there are many good supporting performances, from Trevor Howard, Sally Gray, Leo Genn, Megs Jenkins and Rosamund John.

The film was made by Sidney Gilliat, who co-wrote The Lady Vanishes and its spiritual successor Night Train to Munich. That gives you an idea of the sort of humour and playful tone of the film, which are mixed with a bit of tension and an intriguing mystery.

I first saw Green for Danger when I was 7 or 8. I’ve seen it numerous times since, but I usually forget who the murderer is, because it’s the performances and characterisations that make it irresistible. And the film is so entertaining anyway, that it doesn’t really matter if you remember the solution or not.

Margot Shelby

Blog: Down These Mean Streets

It’s hard to say exactly when, how and why I became a classic film fan. Neither my parents nor my grandparents were interested so I discovered them myself. I was probably around five and I assume some classic film came on TV and I was hooked. I loved history (still do) and somehow old movies were like a history lesson, a window into another world. Something just clicked. I wish I could remember what the first movie was that really left an impression on me, but I really can’t.

I’m so jealous of the people who had friends and family who also like classic films.

Unfortunately I had nobody I could share my love of classic films with. My friends weren’t interested either, everybody was just shaking their heads about my obsession.

Well thankfully nowadays we have the internet and yes, there are other people like me out there. I’m not a freak! Good to know. 🙂

Carol

Blog: The Old Hollywood Garden

I created The Old Hollywood Garden because I wanted to express my love for the classics. I wanted to make people want to watch them, and I wanted to share my undying fascination with Hollywood’s Golden Age with the world.

I became a classic movie buff after viewing my very first classic movie which was Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946). All the way back in 2007 when I was fifteen years old. I was flipping through the channels, and I stumbled upon it on an retrospective type of channel which shows old films and TV shows. Its black and white cinematography caught my attention straight-away and I put the remote down and watched it. I had no doubt in my mind this would be the start of something great for me and I couldn’t wait for it. I was barely half way through it and I already knew that I wanted to consume as many of these wonderful movies as possible. I was mesmerized by Rita Hayworth – who isn’t? – and I loved the love-hate relationship between Gilda and Johnny (Glenn Ford). It was hot. It was exciting. It was a masterclass in screen chemistry. Years later, I still think it’s the sexiest movie ever made.

I was drawn in by them mostly, but right from the start, I thought Gilda was so fascinating. Johnny’s voice-over narration in the beginning (‘To me, a dollar was a dollar in any language…’) was everything I’d imagined these things to be. Great lines, no non-sense attitude; straight-up cool. The plot was interesting enough – small-time gambler Johnny is hired by Ballin Mundson (George Macready) to work in his casino, not knowing Ballin’s wife is his ex-lover Gilda – and the performances were fantastic. Especially Rita Hayworth’s. Her most iconic role was also her greatest. A flawed character, multi-layered and yet mysterious. Confident and yet vulnerable. A sort of anti-heroine that no doubt paved the way for many female characters that followed it. It is still one of my favourite performances of all time and the reason I couldn’t take my eyes off Gilda the first time I saw it. A ‘femme fatale’, I later read. I was transfixed by this. Film noir was intriguing.

Years later, of course, I realised that Gilda isn’t quite a film noir (noir melodrama?) and Gilda isn’t really a femme fatale. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Looking back, Gilda was ahead of her time, in many ways. But back then, I just knew that this was endlessly fascinating. I had to watch more of these. So many more. I had to watch more stuff with Rita Hayworth in it. And Glenn Ford. I had to watch all of these films noirs. And the screwballs and the Pre-Codes. And the musicals! I had to watch all the Golden Age of Hollywood had to offer. Needless to say, I’ve been doing just that for twelve years and it has been absolutely blissful.

It’s been an absolute honour to share the memories and feelings that classic film fans have about the films that matter to them and the experience of discovering classic film. The beauty is that those feelings do not go away but grow and flourish, as the journey continues and as we all discover and re-discover the films we have come to love. But it is also a wonderful thing to connect with classic film fans from around the world and share those experiences.

It has been an honour to share these contributions and my personal thanks to all who have contributed.

The Films That Brought Us To Love Classic Film – Part One

by Paul Batters

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Classic film lovers are passionate about the films they love and all share a special feeling for those films with others. The classic film community is one bound by that love for classic film and it is a romance that will not die. If love forever after ever exists, you will certainly find it amongst those who love it and also write about it.

This article will be the first of two parts which will celebrate the films which brought people to love classic film. A number of people have shared how they came to love classic film as well as the film or films which began that journey for them.

John Greco 

Blog – John Greco Author/Photographer

I can’t name just one movie. Each film I watched was like a piece of a puzzle with the right ones fitting the overall picture. It was an assembly of films and filmmakers that gave me inspiration and a love of cinema.

Many noir and crime films were early influences of both my love of movies and in my fiction writing. The first gangster films I remember seeing were “Al Capone” and “Baby Face Nelson.” On television, I discovered “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Roaring Twenties,” “The Public Enemy,” and many others. A bit later, I discovered Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” “Psycho,” “North by Northwest,” and many others. After Hitchcock, I started following the careers of film directors, and it was works like Polanski’s “Repulsion” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” John Frankenheimer’s “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Seven Days in May,” Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity,” “Some Like it Hot,” “Ace in the Hole” that cemented my love of celluloid. There were plenty of others, Wyler’s “The Collector,” Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” Lumet’s “The Pawnbroker,” Brooks’ “The Professionals,” Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” and Hiller’s “The Americanization of Emily” were and are influences and all still rank high in my admiration.

Kellee Pratt

Blog: Outspoken And Freckled    Twitter: @IrishJayhawk66

For me, my love for old movies came to me as a child when we lived in Taos, New Mexico. The local art center would screen slapsticks on Saturday mornings such as the hilarious Laurel & Hardy, Our Gang, and Mack Sennett. My maternal grandmother had a love for classic film and considered it a vital part of my education. I recall an early memory of her introducing a certain film being broadcast on tv, “Pay close attention, Kellee. This is an important film.” She was right, I still love WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION to this day and I included it in a film course I taught. Classic comedies were an early love in particular. For many of us fans, old movies, especially comedy, is a form of escapism. Some of the other films my grandmother brought into my life: “ THE GREAT RACE,” “IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD,” and “THE QUIET MAN.” That last film mentioned, a John Ford classic, was not just a silly film to her, it was propped up as the family how-to manual in our Irish Catholic family. These films are more than simply entertainment, they actually helped to shape my identity.

Michael W Denney

Blog – ManiacsAndMonsters.com   Twitter: @ManiacsMonsters

As a horror movie fan, I have a deep admiration for the classic films from Universal Pictures:  FrankensteinBride of FrankensteinThe Invisible ManDracula, et al.  And yet, they were not the gateway to my love of classic film.  Growing up, I regularly watched The Little Rascals, Laurel & Hardy, and The Three Stooges and I am certain that those short films planted the initial seed.  I am also a long-time aficionado and collector of shorts and memorabilia from the golden age of animation and in particular the Warner Bros. cartoons.  Those cartoons further developed an appreciation for the aesthetics, humour, and timing of classic film.  But if I have to designate a single feature film that cemented my love for the classics, I would have to choose the Marx Brothers’ A Day at the Races.  The first time I saw it, I was immediately enthralled by both the slapstick and the clever word play.  The frantic nonsense in the last act as the Marx Brothers do everything in their power to delay the steeplechase and then help jittery Hi-Hat win the race made me a devotee of that era of film making.

Patricia (Paddy Lee) Nolan-Hall 

Blog: https://www.caftanwoman.com/    Twitter: @CaftanWoman

Shane is the movie that made me love movies. I first saw Shane on a theatrical re-release in the mid-1960s when I was around 10 years old.

The enlightening experience began with Victor Young’s score. The music had such power and melancholy that it pulled me into the story. Years later when I read Shane I realized that I lived the movie the way the character of the young boy lived those weeks with Shane – observing, sensing, and understanding. I had laughed and cried at movies before, but never had the emotions felt so crystallized.

Strangely, the experience of Shane wasn’t purely an emotional response. One part of my brain was buzzing with the revelation that movies didn’t just happen. Movies had a how and a why to them. That must be why my dad always made us read credits. A switch was flipped and the whole movie experience became alive. I understood why the music moved me, why Shane was often framed away from the other characters, and so much more. It was all too thrilling. Every movie was better after Shane, but it still stands alone as the movie that made me truly love movies.

Toni Ruberto

Blog – watchingforever.wordpress.com    Twitter: @toniruberto 

My love for classic movies can’t be traced to one film but to an entire genre: horror movies. As a kid, I watched the “old movies” (as we called them) on TV with my dad: Universal Monsters, the giant bugs of the 1950s B-movies, the fantastical creatures of Ray Harryhausen. “Them,” “The Thing” “Tarantula” and are among those we watched over and over again – and still do to this day. I never tire of hearing that screechy sound of the big ants in “Them” or seeing the fight against the giant crab in “Mysterious Island.”

Classic horror movies bring back wonderful memories of sitting on the floor by my dad’s chair as we watched them together. I love to hear similar stories from others who share they also were introduced to the classics by a family member. Because of my comfort in watching the old horror movies, it never bothered me to watch a film in “black and white” like it did my friends. So I kept watching. Thanks to dad and all the creatures who helped me discover my life-long love of classic movies.

Blog – The Classic Movie Muse  Twitter: @classymoviemuse

I fell in love with classic movies before I knew it was happening to me. As a one year old (I’m told) I would watch The Wizard of Oz (1939) repeatedly. It seems that I had a penchant for musicals. When my parents visited a family friend who owned Show Boat (1951), that became my go-to while the adults chatted.

In our home we owned a few Gene Kelly musicals that introduced me to the dancing man and some MGM stars: Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), Anchors Aweigh (1945), and Singin’ in the Rain (1952). I also remember watching The King and I (1956) and The Sound of Music (1965) frequently in my adolescence.

In my teenage years I was introduced to Gone With the Wind (1939) and my life changed. I had to know more about this movie, the actors, and how in the world did they make something so grand in 1939? Thus began my endless journey of research and love of this golden era of film.

Jill -Administrator of The Vintage Classics Facebook Page and Group and Instagram.

The films that got me into Classic films were “East of Eden” & “Rebel Without a Cause.” I owe that to my Dad. James Dean played a huge part. My love for classic films has grown so much over the years. I love so many. I prefer the classics to the films of today.

Zoe K

Blog – Hollywood Genes

My dad and I were very close when I was growing up. He loved old movies and used to tape a few (remember VHS?) off of TCM for us to watch. The incredibly fun Bringing Up Baby filled with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant’s madcap antics was a favorite. Desk Set was another. I would sit at the coffee table while I watched with my dad’s work stationary and the giant pink Electronic Dream Phone (from the Milton Bradley game) in front of me. I mimicked Joan Blondell and her fellow ladies in the research department as I blew the minds of callers with my vast array of know-how.

My dad died when I was 11, but those tapes bearing labels with his handwriting remained on the shelf. I think I clung to them as a way to keep us connected. Though I’ve seen many more classic films since then, Bringing Up Baby and Desk Set remain two of my favorites. Good memories make all of the difference.

 

A huge thank you to our contributors for sharing the films that started their journey with classic film. Hopefully we are all inspired by their words to remember the films that also start our own love for classic film.

Tomorrow, we will continue with Part Two of The Films That Brought Us To Love Classic Film.

Paul Batters teaches secondary school History in the Illawarra region and also lectures at the University Of Wollongong. In a previous life, he was involved in community radio and independent publications. Looking to a career in writing, Paul also has a passion for film history.

The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon Is Coming!

by Paul Batters

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The 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon will be here in a week’s time and being my first blogathon as a host, I’m excited!

There’s been an incredible response and the choices made by contributors has been nothing short of inspirational. In these difficult days ahead, hopefully we are all inspired to be creative and support those who are being creative.

As the blogathon runs over the three days from April 3rd to April 5th, I will post the contributions over those three days, with a final wrap up on April 6th.

Please don’t hesitate to share with or suggest others who would be interested in taking part – the more, the merrier. Even if someone does not have a blog, I’ll be happy to take that person’s work and make it part of this event. The sharing of the blogathon posters on your social media would be greatly appreciated as well!

Below is the list of current contributors:

Pride And Prejudice (1940) – Old Hollywood Films

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) – Maddy Loves Her Classic Films

Sherlock Holmes And The Scarlett Claw (1944) – Pale Writer

Little Women (1994) and (2019) – Pale Writer

Nickolas Nickleby (1947) – Caftan Woman

Oliver Twist (1948) –Caftan Woman

Scarlet Street (1945) – Down These Mean Streets

Crimes At The Dark House (1940) – The Old Hollywood Garden

All Quiet On The Western Front (1930) – Overture Books And Films

Lord Of The Flies (1963) – Cinematic Catharsis

The Wrong Box (1966) – Realweegiemidget Reviews

Great Expectations (1947) – The Poppity

Oliver Twist (1948) – The Poppity

Camille (1921) – His Fame Still Lives

Anna Karenina (1935) and (1948) – Robert Short

Ben Hur – Taking Up Room

The Picture Of Dorian Gray (1945) – Silver Screenings

Wuthering Heights (1939) – Silver Screen Classics

Jane Eyre (1943) – Thoughts All Sorts

Moby Dick (1956) – Dubism

The Ministry Of Fear (1944) – The Wonderful World Of Cinema

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) – 18 Cinema Lane

War Of The Worlds – Midnite Drive-In

The House Of The Seven Gables (1940) – Films From Beyond The Time Barrier

Hans Christian Andersen (1952) – The Classic Movie Muse

The Prince And The Pauper –Backstory: New Looks At Classic Film

Wilkie Collins and his underrepresentation in classic film – Hollywood Genes

In Cold Blood – Are You Thrilled

My Cousin Rachel – Cary Grant Won’t Eat You

Cyrano De Bergerac (1950) – Pure Entertainment Preservation Society

Greystoke (1984) –Diary Of A Movie Maniac

Rebecca (1940) – Stars And Letters

The Count of Monte Cristo (1975), Dracula (1931) and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) – MovieRob

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – MovieMovieBlogBlog

Thank you for all your support with the 2020 Classic Literature On Film Blogathon!