Revue: A Trip to the Moon (1902) ๐ŸŒ

There must’ve been something pure about making movies back in the 1900s. There was no structure put in place that demanded certain expectations of what a motion picture was, no ego involved that required the creation of celebrity, or the net profits reaped from the industry of filmmaking.

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In the days of Georges Mรฉliรจs, filmmaking wasn’t even an “art form”, it was a plaything. The movie camera was a new toy for magicians and engineers to fool around with. They used it to record performances – and when they realized the potential of technical, visual trickery, they began using the movie camera to manipulate the proscenium arch, devising realms of impossibility. In those days, a filmmaker was a cinรฉmagicien.

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He Wants Me to Like Him: Chaplin the People-Pleaser

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“He was someone – more than anyone, more than any artist I know – he loved people. He was such a generous man, and he loved people. That’s what his films are about. They’re about people and a love for humanity, and an optimism for humanity!”
โ€” Geraldine Chaplin

One of my favorite podcasts is Maltin on Movies, a discussion of movies by film critic Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie. I was happening upon one of their latest episodes in which they interviewed comedian Bill Hader at SXSW when their conversation turned towards the eternal Chaplin vs. Keaton debate. This succinct conversation seemed, in my mind, to have encapsulatedย the hundreds of books and articles written comparing the two titans of silent film comedy, exploring their craft, sense of humor, and styles of performances.

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Footlights: In the Shoes of the Tramp ๐Ÿ‘ฃ

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Having lived in Los Angeles for a while and being always humbled that I get to walk through Hollywood history on a daily basis, I sometimes forget that the most average streets may hold some kind of connection to yesterday’s Golden Age.

As a history buff, my love of classic movies runs deeper than just the content of the pictures and the people involved – I love the vintage culture of L.A. back in those days and the early history of Hollywood, when Echo Park was Edendale and Tudor Revival was all the rage with the movie stars.

For this month’s Charlie Chaplin Blogathon, I decided to do a semi-exhaustive location scout of some of the more prominent houses and studios Charlie Chaplin reigned over – and see what they look like now. I wanted to limit my adventure to Los Angeles itself, and the important locations he lived and worked at.

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The Lovely Haute Couture of Liza Minnelli

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This Wednesday, I went to the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills to check out Love, Liza: The Exhibit, a showcase of over 1,000 items by showbiz entertainer Liza Minnelli. It would be a disservice to the skills of the lovely Liza to boil her down to “actress”, “singer”, or “performer”. As the kind of shooting star who lights up the screen with her very presence and attitude, Liza Minnelli is nothing less than a born entertainer, regardless of career or medium.

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Revue: Royal Wedding (1951) ๐Ÿ‘‘

MV5BY2FlZmMyMjktOTAzYy00ZmYzLWJhNjMtMjljOWY1ZjVhZjM3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc0MzMzNjA@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpgIn what must’ve been the most biographical picture of Fred Astaire’s career, the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten (soon to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip) serves as the most delightful backdrop to not one, but two intercontinental romances. This is the film that gave us not one, but two iconic Astaire dance numbers. And so late in Astaire’s second career – after all, he had only come out of retirement three years prior to work with Judy Garland onย Easter Parade.

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My Close Brush with Mary Pickford

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Pickford in “Tess of the Storm Country” (1922). Photo courtesy of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

This past weekend, I went to the estate sale of Seymour Stein in the Hollywood Hills. I love going to estate sales in and around West Hollywood/Beverly Hills because you never know what Old Hollywood history you’re going to encounter.

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An Introduction ๐Ÿ‹

After mulling it over and threatening for years to start a film blog, I have finally begun the task of doing so! It’s been difficult containing my love affair with old classics to my private film journal, and since I’ve been getting more involved with the classic film community, I thought it only fair to make that quantum leap into bloggerdom.

My diet of movie-watching these days consists solely of the Turner Classic Movies channel and whatever classic films play on television. Here in Los Angeles, we have a bevy of local channels dedicated to vintage entertainment, from MeTV Hollywood and COZI to KCET, Antenna TV, and RetroTV.

This nostalgic compulsion, I suppose, has drastically risen from a fatigue of current events. The more we’re assaulted by the political ramifications and media blitz of the now, the more I find myself retreating back into history. Inย The Terminal, one of my favorite pictures, Tom Hanks aptly remarks, “It’s history, it’s truth.” Give me a good David McCullough biography, a Gershwin composition, an Astaire-and-Rogers dance number.

Old movies are picture-locked into time – they give us a chance to forget the world for a while and indulge in stories said and done. I turn to old films in solidarity. The assurances of Frank Capra and George Cukor calms me; the attitudes of Clark Gable and Katharine Hepburn dazzles me; the music of Elmer Bernstein and Henry Mancini warms my soul.

So now, I go unto the film blogging world! I don’t know if I’ll blog about any specific topics, except whatever movie musings happen to be on my mind, be they two-reeler Chaplin shorts or the filmography of Leslie Caron, but I know I’m gonna have a lot of fun talking about them and interacting with everyone who shares my love of them!

Onwards!

Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.
โ€” Charlie Chaplin

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