2011 Best of the Blogathons RoundUp

There were many things about 2011 I’d rather forget, and am quite eager to sweep under the rug and write off as a (semi) total loss.

It was, however, a fantastic year for bloggers. And especially so for the classic film community– a niche that hitherto has been of a largely insular nature, existing on the fringes of filmdom, never quite enjoying a resounding presence in its own right. An eclectic makeup of film theorists, essayists, historians, fanboys and fangirls, visual artists, poets, and everything in between, classic film enthusiasts the enjoyed a real renaissance in 2011 and can confidently start the new year with a newly defined sense of community. (And if that’s overstating things, it is only because I believe we have every reason to start the new year with a newly defined sense of community!)

The exponential growth of social media has made it possible to nurture a culture of mutual respect and graciousness within the blogging community, resulting in work that is enlightening, enlivening and always entertaining.

Perhaps nowhere is this better illustrated than in the “blogathons” that permeate the blogosphere. Sponsored by either an independent site, or a conglomerate (like CMBA), blogathons rally writers together by challenging them to dig deep into their resources and contribute a piece on a specific topic. Typically lasting anywhere from a day to a week, not only do blogathons result in a hearty cornucopia of material, they are an invaluable tool for writers to connect with fellow colleagues on an international scale.

The Pictorial signs off for 2011 with a review of some of our favorite blogathons of the year. If you missed any of these, I can’t think of a better way to spend some of the idle holiday hours than by giving them a good long read.

Grand work, everyone! Every last one of you is, without doubt, an:

Film Noir Blogathon
Hosted by Self Styled Siren

The Nicholas Ray Blogathon
Hosted by cinemaviewfinder

Margaret Lockwood Blogathon
Hosted by Shroud of Thoughts

The Dick Van Dyke Show Blogathon
Hosted by Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

The CMBA Guilty Pleasures Blogathon:
Hosted by CMBA (Classic Movie Blog Association)

The Films of 1939 Blogathon
Hosted by CMBA

The Late Films Blogathon
Hosted by Shadowplay

The Charlie Chaplin Blogathon
Hosted by Park Circus Films

Carole-tennial(+3)
Hosted by Carole & Co.

For The Boys Blogathon
Hosted by The Scarlett Olive

Fashion in Film Blogathon
Hosted by The Hollywood Revue

Dueling Divas Blogathon
Hosted by Backlots

The Loving Lucy Blogathon
Hosted by True Classics

The Queer Film Blogathon
Hosted by Garbo Laughs

The Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier Appreciation Blogathon
Hosted by Viv And Larry

Blog it for Baby: The Jean Harlow Blogathon
Hosted by… Us 😉

We've Been Liebstered! (I didn't know what it meant either…)

The Liebster AwardThe Kitty Packard Pictorial has been Liebstered! C’est a dire, we’ve been presented with the “Liebster Blog” award from one of our favorite fellow film fanatics, The Lady Eve Sidwich, the cinemaven behind The Lady Eve’s Reel Life. Take a sampling of her recent posts and you’ll see exactly why this blog stands so well out of the crowd. From a profile of legendary art director Lyle Wheeler, to a portrait of early Hollywood playground Catalina Island to serious critical analysis of rarely seen screen gems, Eve’s Reel Life is  at once intelligent and academic, yet wonderfully entertaining.

Thank you so much Eve for singling us out– MWAH!

RULES:

There are always rules, but the rules are actually the real fun of these web awards since they allow you the opportunity to recognize fellow bloggers who, let’s be honest, the spotlight should always be on. In this case, I am to choose five.

To the five blogs mentioned below, the rules dictate you link back to the Pictorial, and pick five other blogs on who to give the award…

1. SHADOWPLAY. David Cairns is a genius. And I mean that quite literally, without the least bit of hyperbole. This guy really is the genuine article. By following his blog, you’re liable to bounce from a D.W. Griffith melodrama to 70s Blaxploitation to  modern effects epics and back again, unified by a singular, uncompromising wit that makes this blog, well … genius. (I defy you NOT love a post about KING KONG entitled “The Skull Island Follies of 1933”)

2. SILENT VOLUME. Chris Edwards’ Toronto-based Silent Volume is so much more than just another blog.   Edwards cuts through the crap, calls a spade a spade, and his encyclopedic knowledge of  silent film, as well as his keen sense of politics, make his posts opinionated but fair.  He writes with energy and relevance– bearing truth to his blog’s motto: this medium is not dead. With  Edwards around, silent film is not only  alive– it is full of life.

3. VIV AND LARRY. London-based blogger Kendra has created one of the most decadent, swoon-worthy blogs on the internet, bar none. An ever-evolving love sonnet to the classical patron saints of 20th Century theatre, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, Viv and Larry is more than just eye-popping gorgeousness. Respectful, insightful and at times even provocative, Viv and Larry is the Savoy Hotel of fan tributes.

4. HOLLYWOOD REVUE. Angela’s Hollywood Revue slogan is “Where We’re Always Ready for Our Close Up” and that’s just what she specializes in: insightful profiles of favorite Hollywood faces and films big and small. The reason to get up close and personal with Angela at her blog this month is her day-by-day coverage of Turner Classic Movie’s Summer Under the Stars festival. We are now midway through August and she is still going strong, producing solid feature film reviews on a daily basis.

5. DEAR OLD HOLLYWOOD. Robbie’s blog is a real treasure. In many ways, Robbie is a cinema archaeologist. Since 2009, he has been exhaustively documenting Southern California filming locations of many of movies great and small—classic and even, well … not so classic. But more than that, the ever-inquisitive Robbie takes us to former stars homes, watering holes and haunts. In my opinion, he does more to make old Hollywood a tangible reality than any other blog around.

We’ve Been Liebstered! (I didn’t know what it meant either…)

The Liebster AwardThe Kitty Packard Pictorial has been Liebstered! C’est a dire, we’ve been presented with the “Liebster Blog” award from one of our favorite fellow film fanatics, The Lady Eve Sidwich, the cinemaven behind The Lady Eve’s Reel Life. Take a sampling of her recent posts and you’ll see exactly why this blog stands so well out of the crowd. From a profile of legendary art director Lyle Wheeler, to a portrait of early Hollywood playground Catalina Island to serious critical analysis of rarely seen screen gems, Eve’s Reel Life is  at once intelligent and academic, yet wonderfully entertaining.

Thank you so much Eve for singling us out– MWAH!

RULES:

There are always rules, but the rules are actually the real fun of these web awards since they allow you the opportunity to recognize fellow bloggers who, let’s be honest, the spotlight should always be on. In this case, I am to choose five.

To the five blogs mentioned below, the rules dictate you link back to the Pictorial, and pick five other blogs on who to give the award…

1. SHADOWPLAY. David Cairns is a genius. And I mean that quite literally, without the least bit of hyperbole. This guy really is the genuine article. By following his blog, you’re liable to bounce from a D.W. Griffith melodrama to 70s Blaxploitation to  modern effects epics and back again, unified by a singular, uncompromising wit that makes this blog, well … genius. (I defy you NOT love a post about KING KONG entitled “The Skull Island Follies of 1933”)

2. SILENT VOLUME. Chris Edwards’ Toronto-based Silent Volume is so much more than just another blog.   Edwards cuts through the crap, calls a spade a spade, and his encyclopedic knowledge of  silent film, as well as his keen sense of politics, make his posts opinionated but fair.  He writes with energy and relevance– bearing truth to his blog’s motto: this medium is not dead. With  Edwards around, silent film is not only  alive– it is full of life.

3. VIV AND LARRY. London-based blogger Kendra has created one of the most decadent, swoon-worthy blogs on the internet, bar none. An ever-evolving love sonnet to the classical patron saints of 20th Century theatre, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, Viv and Larry is more than just eye-popping gorgeousness. Respectful, insightful and at times even provocative, Viv and Larry is the Savoy Hotel of fan tributes.

4. HOLLYWOOD REVUE. Angela’s Hollywood Revue slogan is “Where We’re Always Ready for Our Close Up” and that’s just what she specializes in: insightful profiles of favorite Hollywood faces and films big and small. The reason to get up close and personal with Angela at her blog this month is her day-by-day coverage of Turner Classic Movie’s Summer Under the Stars festival. We are now midway through August and she is still going strong, producing solid feature film reviews on a daily basis.

5. DEAR OLD HOLLYWOOD. Robbie’s blog is a real treasure. In many ways, Robbie is a cinema archaeologist. Since 2009, he has been exhaustively documenting Southern California filming locations of many of movies great and small—classic and even, well … not so classic. But more than that, the ever-inquisitive Robbie takes us to former stars homes, watering holes and haunts. In my opinion, he does more to make old Hollywood a tangible reality than any other blog around.

Bass. Saul Bass.

Last month, the Kemistry Gallery in London held a show presenting the poster art of legendary graphic artist Saul Bass.

Even if you don’t recognize the name, if you’re a film fan then you know his work well. If I say Vertigo, chances are one of the first things you’ll think of is that iconic movie poster of an angular black silhouette falling into blood red background. Bass is responsible for those marvelously clever, Cubist-flavored film posters from the Cold War era that absolutely summed up the tired-but-true cliche: a picture is worth a thousand words. Bass’ first work on poster art was for Otto Preminger‘s Carmen Jones and, impressed with the results, Preminger pressed Bass for ideas on the title sequences. Bass’ work helped pushed forward the artistic possibilities for opening/closing credit sequences and embarked him upon a highly successful and influential career as one of the preeminent graphic artists working in Hollywood.

I’m gutted to have missed Kemistry’s exhibit, and present a selection of their featured prints below:

Le Vieil Homme et l'Enfant (1967)

Seconds (1966)

The Human Factor (1979)

Advise & Consent (1962)

Death Walk: Louis Malle

Louis Malle. The letters are languorous and they roll (make that, rrrollllll) off the tongue slow… and sexy … and, well, French. He’s a conundrum. A New Wave filmmaker very much apart from his fellow New Wave filmmakers. He was not one of the Cahiers, did not have a byline with Truffaut or Rivette. He did not particularly put stock in the Auteur theory and, to prove it, created a body of work that is extraordinarily diverse… perhaps stubbornly so.

For me, Malle is the cinematic equivalent of Rene Magritte. Magritte, refusing to surrender to definition, insisted that interpretation of his paintings was futile. Malle, likewise, alternated from the mainstream to the avant garde. Melodramatic? Sure, at times,  if he needed to be. Inspired and deliriously visionary? Always.

Skirting, flirting with brilliance… perhaps Malle reached greatness by never overtly (or consciously) striving for it.

“Filmmakers don’t work for posterity,” he once wrote. “We create with celluloid and chemical pigments that … fade away. In 200 years there will be nothing left of our work but dust.”

With all due respect, Monsieur Malle, I hope to God you’re wrong.

Au Revoir les Enfants may be one of Malle’s most famous works, but my favorite is Elevator to the Gallows. Is it Noveau Vague? Noir? Define it as you wish. I don’t care. I love it for many reasons–especially this scene. It lasts only two minutes. No action. No dialogue. Just … emotion. The lens focusing, blurring, sharpening on the beautifully broody Jeanne Moreau. Here she wanders through the streets of Paris in a state of torture over her lover whom she believes has abandoned their plan to murder her husband for a happily-ever-after Life on the Lam.

It’s quiet. It’s visceral. It’s understated, underplayed, under-exposed and utterly… Louis Malle.

BIG FIVE GLORIES: CLASSIC MOVIES ONLINE

Cover of "Scarlet Street (Remastered Edit...

Scarlet Street

We were just given a heads up about a site dedicated to viewing classic film online called “Big Five Glories.” Suspicious at first, I am currently having the most delicious time eating my words.

The quality isn’t the greatest on some of the films, but there are no gimmicks here: no membership fees, no pop-ups, no nothin’– just a growing library of readily watchable classic movies.

As for the library itself? You know, is pretty decently balanced: from silents and screwballs to noir and neorealism. Pardon me now, won’t you, as I sign off to settle in to Scarlett Street

The Film Foundation: 20 Years of Preservation

The Red Shoes, 1948

In many respects, The Film Foundation is more than just the leader in film preservation. It IS film preservation.

There isn’t an organization out there that has been more instrumental in raising awareness and support for film preservation than The Foundation. For the past twenty years, the non-profit spearheaded by Martin Scorsese and a roster of distinguished colleagues,  has forged partnerships with the world’s most important film archives and has funded the restoration of well over 500 films. The Library of Congress, BFI, Cineteca di Bologna, UCLA Film & TV Archive and the Academy are among the archives that have contributed to the Foundation’s tireless rescue and restoration of both American and World cinema treasures—pieces of history that would have otherwise been lost forever.

“Movies touch our hearts,” says Scorsese. “[They] awaken our vision and change the way we see things. They take us to other places. They open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime. We need to keep them alive.”

And not just keep them alive, but promote the awareness of their inescapable and incalculable importance. “Films are both works of art and cultural and historical documents, representing the collective memories and dreams of the twentieth century,” says the Foundation. “Many Americans are not aware that these valuable artifacts of America’s cultural heritage are highly unstable and vulnerable to deterioration. “

To help bring awareness to this issue, The Foundation  launched a truly one-of-a-kind educational program called The Story of Movies which provides educators with a curriculum to teach middle-school students how to understand the significance of film in a cultural, artistic and historical sense, and how to interpret its visual language.

In celebration of the Foundation’s 20th anniversary, LACMA is presenting a retrospective of restored Foundation films throughout the month of October.

The Film Foundation’s race against time has certainly paid off and among the films slated to be screened at the LACMA are John Stahl’s Leave Her to Heaven, Michael Powell’s The Red Shoes, Satayajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, Luchino Visconti’s Senso, Joseph Mankiewicz’s The Barefoot Contessa, Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse and Elia Kazan’s Wild River and Baby Doll.

We urge to you make every effort to attend and support this event. A full program schedule and ticket information can be found on the LACMA website.

And also please check out this very informative short film about The Foundation.

Shadow of a Doubt, 1943

Wild River, 1960

Baby Doll, 1960 (copyright BFI Archives. All Rights Reserved.)

Leave Her to Heaven, 1945 (Copyright BFI Archives. All Rights Reserved.)

Pather Panchali, 1955 (Copyright BFI Archives. All Rights Reserved.)

Bonjour Tristesse, 1958