Daily Archives: January 22, 2023

Holiday Jitters [Chicago Reader blog post, 12/1206]

From the Chicago Reader‘s blog, the Bleader. — J.R.

Holiday Jitters

Posted By on 12.12.06 at 03:06 PM


Allied Advertising recently informed me that the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum is being previewed only to the daily press, not to weekly reviewers — which naturally raises the question of whether the company in question (Twentieth Century Fox) is deciding in advance that we weekly reviewers won’t like this release. Whether that’s the meaning of their strategy or not, it does show a kind of uncertainty that is much more general among the so-called majors. For instance, Warner Brothers has at this pointed shifted the Chicago opening date of Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima several times, with the result that it’s bounced on and off my ten-best list according to whether it’s opening here in 2006 or 2007. New York and Los Angeles reviewers get to consider Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima as part of the same package; Chicago reviewers don’t.

I differ from some of my local colleagues in refusing to consider 2007 releases for my 2006 list just because many of the film companies persist in treating Chicago as a cow town in contrast to New York and Los Angeles — both of which will be premiering Letters from Iwo Jima this year. In

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One More Bibliographic List

Here are some links to some pieces of mine that are available online elsewhere, in chronological order. Many of them include various lists of their own. — J.R.

10 Favorite Offbeat Musicals (March 2006):


Ten Overlooked Noirs (April 2006):


A Dozen Eccentric Westerns (June 2006):


Ten Neglected Science Fiction Movies (August 2006):


Ten Overlooked Fantasy Films on TV (and Two That Should be Available) (October 2006):


A Dozen Undervalued Movie Satires (January 2007):


Eleven Treasures of Jazz Performance on DVD (April 2007):


18 Thrillers You Might Have Missed… (July 2007):


Ten Underappreciated John Ford Films (December 2007):


My Dozen Favorite Non-Region-1 Box Sets (June 2008):


My Dozen Favorite Non-Region-1 Single-disc DVDs (November 2008):


Trial and Era (on Jim McBride’s early films) (posted April 3, 2009):


The Consequences of Fame (on Roman Polanski’s arrest, posted Sept. 19, 2009):


Tony Tony Tony (on The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, posted December 23, 2009):


Great 30s Movies on DVD (…and a few more that should be available) (February 2010):


Too Many Greats Ignored (on the Oscars, posted March 4, 2010):


Gertrud and Light in August (posted October 26, 2010):

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The Bitter Tea of General Yen

From the Chicago Reader (September 1, 2006). — J.R.



Frank Capra’s very atypical drama about an American missionary (Barbara Stanwyck) taken prisoner by a Chinese warlord (Nils Asther) is not only his masterpiece but also one of the greatest love stories to come out of Hollywood in the 30s — subtle, delicate, moody, mystical, and passionate. Joseph Walker shot it through filters and with textured shadows that suggest Sternberg; Edward Paramore wrote the script, adapted from a story by Grace Zaring Stone. Oddly enough, this perverse and beautiful film was chosen to open Radio City Music Hall in 1933; it was not one of Capra’s commercial successes, but it beats the rest of his oeuvre by miles, and both Stanwyck and Asther are extraordinary. With Walter Connolly and Lucien Littlefield. 89 min. Also on the program: episode eight of the 1938 serial The Spider’s Web. Sat 9/2, 8 PM, LaSalle Bank Cinema.

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