Daily Archives: January 31, 2021

Review of LETTERS FROM HOLLYWOOD

Letters from Hollywood:

1977-2017

by Bill Krohn. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2020. 312 pp., illus. Hardcover: $95.00.

Long overdue, this impressive if pricey collection by the long-standing —indeed, longest-standing — American correspondent for Cahiers du cinéma is eclectically divided into four sections. After an Introduction consisting of a new five-page memoir (“How I Became the Los Angeles Correspondent for Cahiers du cinema”), a fascinating 25-page interview with Serge Daney (then the magazine’s editor) from 1977, entitled “The Tinkerers”, and a brief 1992 obituary for Daney, one encounters “Directors Who Started in Silents” (ten essays), “Directors Who Started in Talkies” (seven essays), “Directors Who Started in Television” (seven essays), and “Directors Who Counterattacked” (ten essays). 

These classifications can’t do justice to all that the book has to offer: even if one can puzzle out what Krohn means by “counterattack,” the first “director” he treats who “started in television” is Lucille Ball, justly celebrated for I Love Lucy rather than as a director, and someone whose career as a performer, as Krohn shows, actually began in theater, movies, and radio. But they do point up how original Krohn’s way of positioning himself often turns out to be. A Yale graduate who likes to apply some of the methods and lessons of Harold Bloom, Northrop Frye, Mikhael Bakhtin, and Roland Barthes to artists in (or just off) the American mainstream, ranging from Ford, Hawks, Hitchcock, and Walsh to Blake Edwards, John Frankenheimer, Monte Hellman, Phil Karlson, John Landis, Edgar G.… Read more »

“Homage to Carole Landis” by Donald Phelps

From Rouge No. 11, July 2007.

Introduction

Chiefly known as a B film actress who later played a few supporting roles in A pictures at Fox, Carole Landis (1919-1948) appeared in over fifty films. Almost half of these were uncredited before she achieved some recognition in One Million B.C. (Hal Roach, 1940), in which she and her co-star Victor Mature were both cast by D.W. Griffith (who filmed her screen test). She would work again with Mature at Fox in I Wake Up Screaming (a 1941 noir, also co-starring Betty Grable and Laird Cregar) and My Gal Sal (a musical biopic of 1942, also co-starring Rita Hayworth, in which Mature plays Paul Dresser – the popular 1890s composer and older brother of Theodore Dreiser, who started out working in a carnival). A feminist since her youth who tried to start a girls football team at her Wisconsin high school, Landis was born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste, and chose her first name because of her admiration for Carole Lombard. In 1944, she published Four Jills in a Jeep – a book about her first wartime USO tour, entertaining troops in England and North Africa – and appeared as herself in the Fox film derived from it.… Read more »

DVD Beaver Poll (2020)



Top Blu-ray Releases of 2020 

1.  CzechMate Second Run Features
2.  Cluny Brown Criterion
3.  House by the River Kino Lorber
4.  America as Seen by a Frenchman Arrow Academy
5.  Bless Their Little Hearts Milestone
6.  City without Jews Flicker Alley
7.  Vitalina Varela Second Run
8.  Le Petit Soldat Criterion
9.  Hollywoodland Kino Lorber 
10. A Bread Factory Grasshopper Films (includes 1 Blu-Ray, 1 DVD)

Top 4K UHD Releases of 2020

1. Sudden Fear Cohen Film Collection (my mistake–this was released in 2017)
2. Showboat Criterion
3. A Bread Factory Grasshopper Films (includes 1 DVD, 1 Blu-Ray)


Top Box sets of 2020 

1. Ida Lupino: Filmmaker Kino Lorber
2. The Complete Films of Agnes Varda Criterion
3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: The Complete Fourth Season (Warner Archive)

FAVORITE LABEL: Arrow Academy

FAVORITE Commentary of 2020 (or commentaries): Jeremy Arnold, Sudden Fear, Cohen Film Collectiomn



Best Cover Design Nominations: The Complete Films of Agnes Varda, Criterion

Favorite DVD of the Year: Beau travail, Criterion… Read more »