Friday, May 31, 2019


Normally I don’t talk about blogathons in advance other than my own, but I’ve signed up for one that represents another first for this blog. Silver Screen Suppers pairs movie and TV stars with recipes. You might be aware that I’ve gotten into cooking in recent years, and I’ve found it fulfilling. The blog’s creator, Jenny Hammerton, has self-published Hollywood cookbooks, and she’s currently working on one devoted to the show Murder She Wrote. She has a ton of recipes lined up and she’s giving her readers the opportunity to cook them before the book comes out. Instead of a blogathon, it’s a cookalong!

So yes, I intend to cook a recipe and blog about it here on WSW. The recipes in the cookalong are tied to the MSW cast and its guest stars, many of whom come from Old Hollywood. The one I’ve chosen is for a guest star, Glynis Johns. I’m unfamiliar with her; a basic search reveals she was in Mary Poppins, and was quite the hottie in her youth.

I hope to find the MSW episode she was in and write about that (no guarantees), but even if I don’t, I’ll cook the recipe associated with her, chicken paprika. Apparently it’s her own recipe, or at least it’s attributed to her. The cookalong runs from September 30-October 5. My post will go up in October. (EDIT: Just remembered this won’t be the first time I’ve cooked for the blog, but it will be the first time I’ve documented the process.)


I’m afraid I don’t have much to say about Doris Day. I was never a huge fan. One of my mother’s favorite songs is “Que Sera Sera.” She used to sing it a lot when I was a kid. I’ve seen Day in Pillow Talk (liked it) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (don’t remember it). Ivan used to do a feature called “Doris Day(s)” that he keeps promising to bring back. Maybe her death will spur him into reviving it, so you should visit him and prod him if you’re interested. I know she wasn’t all sweetness and light, like her public image had been. Maybe if she had more of an edge in her films, I might’ve been more interested in them? Dunno.

As for Tim Conway, here’s an anecdote about him from Carol Burnett’s memoir This Time Together. Burnett was friends with Cary Grant, who was a big fan of her TV show. He particularly enjoyed Conway and Harvey Korman. Burnett introduced them to each other, and one day Conway, Korman, Grant, and their respective wives hung out together. Grant had an awesome time. He thought Conway and Korman were hilarious. The following week, Grant invited Conway and Korman out again, and again Grant was fully entertained by the duo’s antics. The third time, same thing, and the more this kept going, the more Conway and Korman feared they’d run out of material. But this was, after all, Cary Grant, and they didn’t wanna let him down. Finally, Conway got a call at the same time Grant always called him, and he said, “If that’s Cary Grant, I’m not home!”


Sometime within the next week I expect to finish my experiment in binge-watching television. I chose the first seasons of two streaming programs, Ozark and Longmire. I’m watching the former one episode at a time, and when that’s done, I’ll watch the latter all at once, and then I’ll compare. The more I read about bingeing, the more convinced I am that I should take precautions when I binge — and some people have expressed concern (I ain’t no Morgan Spurlock), so for the record, I intend to alternate between sitting and standing often, snack healthily (fruit, nuts, berries, etc.) with a break for a home-cooked dinner. Given what I’ve read, and the responses to my inquiries about bingeing from my friends, I think I know what my results will be, but I’m gonna see this through anyway.

More after the jump.

Friday, May 24, 2019

These are the days: Sitcom king Norman Lear

I have vague memories of watching All in the Family in syndication, but my family and I definitely lined up every week for The Jeffersons. George & Louise were nothing like my parents, and I never projected myself into their fictitious lives, but even to my young and highly impressionable mind, I believe I was aware of the significance of seeing them, an affluent black couple, on television. I may not have been able to fully process the racial and sociological politics at play, but I recognized George as a dude who took no shit from fools and was true to himself. Though I liked Weezie (I regret not knowing well anyone named Louise so I could call them Weezie), I identified more with George. I loved Florence, the maid. She was awesome.

The Jeffersons was the first time I saw an interracial couple. It was the first time I saw black people interacting with people from wildly different cultures (if you can call England wildly different). It gave me a sense of black history as a tangible thing, not just something you read about in books —even if George tended to exaggerate his upbringing, calling himself the son of a sharecropper. It showed me how diverse black people can be within a single program: Weezie was different from Florence, and they both were different than Helen. And nothing, I mean nothing, beats that theme song

The significance of this show wouldn’t register in my mind until much later in life, but looking back, I can appreciate how much it meant to me back then — and for that I can thank Norman Lear.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Classic Movie Tag

Raquel wants to know about her readers’ classic movie viewing habits, and I haven’t written anything in awhile, so I’ll play along. If you haven’t visited Out of the Past lately, it has grown considerably in the past year or two. Raquel has developed it into a smart, professional and dare I say essential blog for learning about Old Hollywood. More than any other blogger I know, those movies, that industry, that era, truly inspires her.

1. What’s one classic movie that you recommend to people over and over and over again?

You really can’t go wrong with Billy Wilder and The Apartment. Equal parts comedy and drama, complex characters, a story that feels modern without coming across as too highfalutin’, featuring one of the greatest actors in American cinema, Jack Lemmon. I still haven’t written a post for it in all the years of this blog, which seems odd, but maybe now I don’t have to.

2. What was the last classic film you saw and what were your thoughts about it?

I guess that would be Marty.

3. Name a classic movie genre you love and one you dislike.

I’d imagine the film genres of the past are still in use today, but when I think of Old Hollywood, one thing that comes to mind are the rom-coms. From the European sophistication of Lubitsch to the battiness of Sturges, they’ve been as ubiquitous as they have been versatile. Fred and Ginger dancing the Continental. Powell and Loy trading bon mots as they uncover whodunnit. Spencer and Kate redefining the battle of the sexes. Rom-coms have never been done better than in the classic era.

As for a genre I dislike, well, “dislike” is too strong a word, and Paddy will no doubt slap my wrists for saying so, but while I appreciate Westerns, I still haven’t developed a great love for them. Yet.

4. Name a classic movie star with whom you share a birthday or a hometown.

How about five? (Okay, they’re not all from the old days.)

5. Give a shout out to a friend or family member who shares your love of classic movies.

I’ve talked about how Sandi and I have watched old movies together. For any newcomers here, Sandi is one of my writer buddies. She writes mostly poetry. She also lives here in Queens and she’s become a good friend. She’s a TCM fan and she’s absolutely devoted to Errol Flynn. I tried to tell her about Becky once, but Sandi bows to no one in her love of Flynn!

6. Name a classic movie star who makes your heart skip a beat or whom you admire greatly.

Oh, you mean my crushes? (Again, not all of them are classic era.)

7. Describe one memorable experience watching a classic movie.

Wow. Take your pick. The time I watched a DVD with friends on a ratchety player? The unsettling things I learned about my mother based on a movie we watched? The thrill of seeing a great film in an old movie palace?

8. Describe the craziest thing you’ve done because of your passion for classic movies.

Besides starting this blog? I suppose devoting all of 2015 to classic film seemed pretty far out for me. At the time, I had given serious thought to making the switch permanent. This seemed like a reasonable compromise that would give me an idea of what bloggers like Raquel go through. Among the things I learned in the end was I preferred blogging about Old Hollywood only part of the time.

9. What’s something classic movie related that you love to collect?

Nothing, other than books. I’m currently reading one about the making of All About Eve, which I’ll write about soon. Check the “books” label on the sidebar for other film books I’ve read.

10. What’s your favorite way to share your passion for classic movies?

This blog.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


TCM viewing

I don’t think it matters who you are or where you’re from; on some level, everybody can relate to Marty: coming up short in certain people’s eyes, feeling pressured to be something you’re not, fearing your luck will never change. If you wanna talk romance, I have a friend in his sixties who got married a few years ago. Sweetest guy you’d ever wanna meet: witty, smart, extremely talented.

When I learned, secondhand, that he was lonely, I wished I could hook him up with someone, but he doesn’t live in the New York area. Several years ago, he began posting pictures of himself and his new girlfriend on Facebook, and I was pleasantly surprised. When they got married, I was thrilled for him, in part because if he could find love at his age, there was hope for me, right? And then I met Virginia and here we are.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame 
seen @ Cinemart Fiveplex, Forest Hills, Queens, NY

I was gonna pass on this. One friend said on Facebook he was gonna go watch a French New Wave movie playing in his town instead of Endgame (I believe he said it was Cleo From 5 to 7). I was willing to wait until it came to cable, at the very least. Then I rewatched Infinity War and Guardians 2 and Thor: Ragnarok on Netflix out of boredom (not all at once) and decided I needed to tell my grandchildren I was there for Endgame, or some such bullshit excuse. And in all seriousness, I truly wanted to know what would become of the Guardians.

As little kids, we would dream about our favorite Marvel comics becoming movies, but we never conceived it would happen by turning civilization into fans. Fans of the characters, mind you; the kind who would wear a Captain Marvel t-shirt or write a college paper about the Black Panther or eat Pez from a Groot dispenser but not buy the actual comics. Then the movies came: Blade, Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. Some were cool, some sucked, but none of it prepared us for the era that began in 2008 with the first Iron Man film and culminated this year with Endgame. Props to Kevin Feige and everyone at Marvel Studios for creating a series of movies that captured everyone’s imagination — and in so doing, conquering the world.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Links and a new challenge

Long before the ascension of the streamers, binge watching TV was a thing thanks to DVD box sets of entire seasons of shows. Now that the streamers distribute their original programming similarly — releasing whole seasons at once — a generation is growing up not needing to wait a week between episodes.

I never saw that as a detriment as a kid. The anticipation of the next episode was part of the excitement of watching TV. The instant gratification of bingeing on entire seasons at once rubs me the wrong way. Sure, there are more programs than ever these days, in multiple media, but we can’t watch them all... can we? More to the point, do you appreciate a show more when you binge?

Over the next month, I’m gonna attempt to find out. I will take two shows available on Netflix and watch them both ways; one the old-fashioned way, one at a time; the other in a day (maybe two), and compare notes on both. Both shows have been recommended to me by friends.

The first will be Ozark, a Netflix original starring Jason Bateman and one of my favorite actresses, Laura Linney. One of my novel beta readers recommended it. This will be the one-at-a-time show. The other show is Longmire, an import from A&E. Paddy mentioned it in the comments here a few weeks ago. That will be the binge show. You can follow my progress on Twitter under the hashtag #bingexpmt. Next month I’ll share what I’ve discovered.


Turner Classic Movies turned 25 last month. Like my classic movie blogger pals, I’m grateful for what they do in providing Old Hollywood movies uncut and uninterrupted, 24-7, and I hope they keep going for 25 more years. My attitude, from the outset of this blog eight and a half years ago, has always been to use the movies of the past to better understand the movies of today, and vice versa. This isn’t something I see in the classic film blogs I read and enjoy; many of those bloggers would rather celebrate Old Hollywood full stop, and that’s fine. Long time readers will remember I devoted all of 2015 to classic film — but that experience made me appreciate more the need for contrast: to see what changes over the years in the industry and what stays the same. For instance, what are the SF/fantasy franchises but the modern incarnation of the serialized films of the past: The Thin Man, Blondie, Charlie Chan, Lassie, etc.

There was a period a few years back when we thought TCM was in danger of either extinction or at least alteration, the way AMC abandoned classic film in favor of original programming. TCM weathered that, and while I know some fans still grumble over the occasional post-80s movie, from what I can tell, TCM is still recognizable as the station adored by many cinephiles. That’s good.


Your links for this month:

Aurora compiles a list of testimonials in praise of TCM.

Paddy files this report from the Toronto Silent Film Festival.

Fritzie finds evidence of fan nitpicking during the silent era.

The head of AMC Theaters is AOK with the Disney-Fox deal.

The future, under Disney, of Fox archive titles that get theatrical bookings.

Disney’s forthcoming streaming service will edit the original Dumbo and exclude Song of the South.

Two all-star casts will recreate All in the Family and The Jeffersons in a live prime time TV special this month.

Which is more amazing: a high school class putting on a stage adaptation of Alien or Sigourney Weaver visiting them?

What does Avengers: Endgame look like to a Marvel virgin? (Possible spoilers.)