Monthly Archives: December 2016

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

The basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is well-known. While doing research on the duality of human nature, Dr. Henry Jekyll, a renowned London physician, invents a potion that will separate good from evil, the civilized man from the barbarian. After that many people draw a blank. The original novel by Robert Lewis […]

Baby Face (1933)

In William A. Wellman’s 1931 film Safe in Hell, Gilda Karlson, the feisty, spirited heroine played by Dorothy Mackaill, fought back against any man who treated her badly. She never had a chance. There were so many horrible men in Gilda’s world – and they were so relentlessly horrible – that her only escape was […]

Safe in Hell (1931)

In 1919 an American veteran of the Lafayette Escadrille named William A. Wellman met the actor Douglas Fairbanks. Fairbanks, who was impressed with the young man’s rugged good looks, quickly offered him a lead role in an early silent western called Knickerbocker Buckaroo. Although Wellman, who had come to Hollywood wearing his uniform, could have […]

Carlos (2010)

On December 21, 1975, six militants who called themselves the “Arm of the Arab Revolution” attacked the semi-annual meeting of OPEC leaders in Vienna, Austria, and took more than sixty hostages. The Arm of the Arab Revolution, who were led by a Venezuelan man named Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, then divided the hostages into three groups. […]

Where are My Flying Cars?

Cranford, NJ is a town of 22,625 people about twenty-two miles outside of Manhattan. There is no reason why you would want to come here. It is a boring place with boring people, pretty much like any suburb of New York City, except maybe a bit more boring. I live in Roselle, the next town […]

The Birth of a Nation (2016)

When Barack Obama leaves the White House this January he will be worth over $12.2 million dollars.  Barring the unlikely possibility that he takes the path of Jimmy Carter instead of Bill Clinton, I suspect this is only the beginning, that over the next few decades the first black President will amass a vast fortune. […]

Free State of Jones (2016)

Free State of Jones, which stars Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, a Confederate Army deserter who led a multi-racial uprising against the Confederate government in south-east Mississippi, is that rarest of Hollywood productions, an openly leftist film about the United States Civil War. If it hasn’t gotten more attention I think it’s probably for two […]

American Madness (1932)

You’ve probably never heard the name Amadeo Giannini. You’ve almost certainly heard about The Bank of America. With 210,516 employees, $256.2 billion dollars in equity, and $2.185 trillion in total assets, it’s the very definition of a multinational corporation. Yet when Giannini founded The Bank of America in 1904 as the Bank of Italy, it […]

Clean (2004)

While David Roback, who makes an appearance at the end of French director Oliver Assayas’ Clean, is not exactly a household name, he was the lead guitarist of Mazzy Star, one of the best, and perhaps most representative bands of the 1990s. Mazzy Star, which looked back to the acid rock scene of the 1960s, […]

Love & Friendship (2016)

Back in the 1990s, American cinema was flooded with adaptations of Jane Austen novels. Some of them, like the Gwyneth Paltrow vanity project Emma, were pretty bad. Others, like the 1995 BBC adaptation of Persuasion, were competently done but boring. Still others, like Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, were entertaining in and of themselves, but bore only […]