Old Hollywood

All About Joe


One of the most captivating trivia questions in popular culture has to do with awards (naturally!).  Only 1 individual has won back-to-back (i.e: two consecutive years!) double oscars (i.e: each year, this person took home two Academy Awards).  Who might this be?

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Imagine a movie initially conceived as a romantic drama that becomes fast-tracked to hit theaters as a highly stylized assault on fascism and repression.  Rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity surrounding the Allied invasion of North Africa in November of 1942, the Warner Bros. feature Casablanca has come to be regarded as one of the most revered motion pictures of all time.  The film was a solid, if unspectacular success in its initial run.  Shot entirely on Warner Bros’ Burbank lot (except for one key sequence showing the arrival of Major Strasser) the entire production budget for Casablanca was about $1,000,000.

Today that would barely cover catering!

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Often thought of as a parable relating to the meaning of truth, Akira Kurosawa’s groundbreaking motion picture from 1950, Rashomon surprised nearly everyone involved, including Kurosawa himself.  Based on a short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa entitled In A Grove, the film gathers its mojo and momentum from an intriguing plot device involving various characters providing alternative, self-serving and, of course, contradictory versions of the same incident.

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The Lady Eve


I can’t begin to tell you who said it, but it has long been known in the annals of popular culture that comedy is serious business.  No single person epitomizes this wisdom more than Preston Sturges.  Through his captivating tales and playful approach, he came to be associated with what has often been called the “screwball” genre, though in fact his focus and his way of telling a story were extremely innovative and ground-breaking.

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In a time before now, there was a great continuum between popular art and the ways in which societies defined themselves.  It may have been in the composition of the frame, the staggered and foreboding shadows falling at the feet of the fleeing heroine.  It may have been the lost and searching eyes.

When Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni unleashed his torrid and dreamlike L’Avventura on the world in 1960, few were ready for its dizzying impact and incredible staying power.PurpleMonica More than an Italian art film, L’Avventura radically reshaped they ways in which popular culture viewed itself, and its alleged impact on the world at large.

For many years longer than I can actually remember, I had a paperback copy of the script.  I think I must have picked it up in a used bookstore one afternoon.  I was in college at the time, so you know how that goes! Those years were largely spent in a fog, as I was constantly laboring under an overly vague notion of some day working in the film business.  I think I may have been drawn to the cover, which as I recall, featured a close-up shot of the sultry and mysterious Monica Vitti, with her pouty lips working overtime.  The purple-tinged duotone photo treatment gave the image an artsy, from-another-world sort of look.

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