Revue: The Great Gatsby (1949)

the-great-gatsby

The year is 1949. Nine years prior, F. Scott Fitzgerald died at the Garden of Allah Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. Just under four miles away, Paramount Pictures began an adaptation of The Great Gatsby, the first since the 1926 silent film version (now lost).

It was only twenty years since the book’s publication, but even then, the Jazz Age was already being romanticized. You could see it in the opening scenes of the film. Macdonald Carey’s Nick Carraway talks about jazz, Prohibition, gangsters, and the stock market. The world had changed so much since then – there was a depression and a world war back-to-back. The Twenties must’ve seem eons ago by comparison.

Continue reading “Revue: The Great Gatsby (1949)”

“The Pat Hobby Stories” Book Review

The-Pat-Hobby-Stories-F-Scott-Fitzgerald

It would be easy to dismiss The Pat Hobby Stories as mere fodder for magazines – cheap laughs to sell issues. Even Fitzgerald himself might’ve dismissed them as such. They were loose, quick, and always ended in a punchline. The author might have even considered himself a punchline at that point in his life. But despite everything, The Pat Hobby Stories might have concluded the fizzle of life in F. Scott Fitzgerald more accurately than any of his other writings.

Continue reading ““The Pat Hobby Stories” Book Review”

“Footlights” Book Review

“In the dusk of twilight, as the light of London’s street lamps became bolder against the saffron sky, Thereza Ambrose, a girl of nineteen, was sinking out of life…”
— Footlights

Footlights-Charlie-Chaplin

Remembrances of an old world never fell far back for Chaplin. As an artist on the search for inspiration, it was the past he mined for his films, never the present, nor the future unless to pointedly critique it. That Dickensian childhood of his haunted him time and again, and in his old age, would come to define his definition of ‘beauty’. In his later years, Chaplin was known to prowl the streets of South London in anonymity. Once in the ’70s, actor Michael Caine did the very same thing – and he ran into Chaplin, both reminiscing about the places and cobblestones that defined their childhoods. Footlights is the story of that world.

Continue reading ““Footlights” Book Review”

“Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.” Book Review

audrey-hepburn-style

Fifth-Avenue-5AM-Sam-Wasson

What we learn in this deceptive hint of film history by author Sam Wasson isn’t the factual making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s – though that does hold in and of itself many cultural themes, but the culmination of a character’s transformation. That character is Audrey Hepburn, and no other word can possibly describe her better than “character”.

By recounting the midcentury lives of Hepburn, author Truman Capote, director Blake Edwards, and all others players associated with Breakfast at Tiffany’sFifth Avenue 5 A.M. disseminates the cultural impact of the feminine image and how it affected the ultimate tone of the film.

Continue reading ““Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.” Book Review”

“My Autobiography” Book Review

“But the truth is so boring!”
— Chaplin (1992)

My-Autobiography-Charlie-Chaplin

In Richard Attenborough’s 1992 biopic Chaplin, the shroud of mystique that permeated Chaplin’s imagination was lifted to reveal a fragile, sensitive soul. All his life, the man struggled to be more than that. More than a comic, more than an actor, more than a human being. He wanted ephemera in his fiber – to be an artist, a magician, immortalized in film.

Continue reading ““My Autobiography” Book Review”

“The Love of the Last Tycoon” Book Review

“It is a tragedy it is unfinished…. It has a kind of wisdom in it, and nobody ever penetrated beneath the surface of the movie world to any such degree. It was to have been a very remarkable book.”
— Maxwell Perkins

The-Last-Tycoon-F-Scott-Fitzgerald

What might’ve been had its great author lived to complete this novel, we’ll never know. F. Scott Fitzgerald was many things, but a Hollywood hack, he was not. His friend Billy Wilder once claimed asking Fitzgerald to write a script was akin to “a great sculptor who is hired to do a plumbing job.” An apt comparison can be made to a line of dialogue in the novelist’s magnum opus where Nick Carraway says to Jay Gatsby, “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

Continue reading ““The Love of the Last Tycoon” Book Review”

“My Lunches with Orson” Book Review

My-Lunches-with-Orson-Peter-Biskind

To be privy to the friendship of Orson Welles must have been a strange thing. For a figure whose reputation was so towering, his celebrity so at-large, his rejection of the Hollywood machine inevitably came at a price – for as famous as he was, Welles never ceased being the outsider. And in Peter Biskind’s transcriptions of Welles’s conversations with filmmaker Henry Jaglom, that frustration is revealed to be marrow deep.

Continue reading ““My Lunches with Orson” Book Review”

Revue: An American in Paris (1951) 🇫🇷

an-american-in-paris.jpg

an-american-in-paris-poster

Often overlooked and often compared to its more iconic counterpart, Singin’ in the Rain, is one of my favorite pictures to watch on days when there’s nothing to do or when there’s too much to do. If Singin’ in the Rain is that classic Hollywood romp you watch late at night until 1:30am in the morning (and what a lovely morning!), then An American in Paris is its daytime Parisian companion piece.

The charm and positive attitude of An American in Paris is what always gets to me. Hollywood will always be Hollywood with its sawdust soundstages and thin wooden sets, but the old-world charm of the Paris setting completely transports you to a land of culture where everyone is either in the arts or sipping espressos in the Latin Quarter.

Continue reading “Revue: An American in Paris (1951) 🇫🇷”

Revue: A Trip to the Moon (1902) 🌝

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.

george-melies-mephisto-de-faust

In the days of Georges Méliès, 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 cinémagicien.

Continue reading “Revue: A Trip to the Moon (1902) 🌝”

Revue: Royal Wedding (1951) 👑

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 on Easter Parade.

Continue reading “Revue: Royal Wedding (1951) 👑”