Last Friday night, my wife and I watched the 1954 version of A Star is Born - the one starring Judy Garland and James Mason. Aside from being almost perfect, this film catches Hollywood at an important moment in film history. The film industry was experiencing its biggest changes since the talkie revolution. And you … Continue reading My thoughts on A Star is Born (1954)
You probably already know and love Some Like It Hot, Groundhog Day, City Lights, Annie Hall, The General, and Duck Soup. They're classics. But an awful lot of great comedies never reached that status. Some were wrong for their time. Others were hits, but were largely forgotten over the decades. Some are just acquired tastes. … Continue reading Forgotten Laughs: Comic gems that few remember
Talented screenwriters, like the best directors, put their own stylistic fingerprints onto the films they make. And few did it as well as former Chicago newspaperman Ben Hecht. At his best, Hecht's pre-war work showed a playful approach to ethics. Many of his protagonists, such as Paul Muni's gang leader in the original Scarface, appear … Continue reading Joyful Amorality: Films written by Ben Hecht
I've never seen any film version of The Great Gatsby. I've read the book, and loved it. But none of the movie adaptations earned much respect; certainly not enough for me to seek them out. Which is odd, because the book seems easy to adapt. It's short. It's almost entirely dialog and action. A screenwriter … Continue reading Who Should Have Directed Gatsby?