Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Films!

Here is a select list of films to get you in the mood for the holidays!

It's a Wonderful Life (1947) directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell and an enchanting Henry Travers. The quintessential holiday film --let the bells ring!

Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) based on the play by Kaufman and Hart -- and starring Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside -- the one and only. Also starring Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Billie Burke and a delightful appearance by Jimmy Durante. Madcap fun!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) Bob's recommendation -- all about the nightmare of getting stuck with a stranger in a web of transportation delays -- Merry Christmas!

The Trouble with Angels
(1966) directed by Ida Lupino. With a working title Mother Superior, the successful comedy starred starred Rosalind Russell and followed by the sequel Where Angels Go -- Trouble Follows.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Starring New York

New acquisition "Starring New York: Filming the Grime and the Glamour of the Long 1970s" -- Stanley Corkin provides a new reading of the films that defined the decade. He focuses on the changing social fabric of the city by examining a number of the classic films of the time -- Midnight Cowboy (1969), Klute (1971), The Godfather Parts 1 and 2 (1972 and 1974), the blaxploitation films, The French Connection (1971), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and others.

New York City in the 1970s was quite a place -- and the films that defined the decade were exceptional.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Overhearing Film Dialogue

Written by Sarah Kozloff and published by the University of California Press in 2000 -- this book provides an interesting look at film dialogue and its importance to the visual medium. The author discusses why dialogue has been neglected in analysis and, through example, emphasizes the importance of dialogue to the narrative. The author looks at the role and nature of dialogue in four film genres: westerns, screwball comedies, gangster films, and melodramas.

You can search for memorable quotes in the IMDB -- search on film title or search Google by famous line(s) -- this is a wonderful scene from Tootsie.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shopping Scenes

In case you didn't get enough of Black Friday and shopping in the post-Thanksgiving weekend -- check out these selected films for more shopping fun! From

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Fair Lady (1964)

Enjoy this beautifully played scene with Audrey Hepburn having a grand time. Cecil Beaton's costumes are magnificent. And, Rex Harrison does a happy dance.

Based on the musical, which was based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, the film was directed by George Cukor, music by Frederick Loewe, book and lyrics by by Alan Jay Lerner.

Marni Nixon provided the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn.

The film won 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Costume Design, Color. Rex Harrison took the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

A beautiful and witty adaptation -- one of the best film musicals.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Photoplay Covers

Gorgeous Photoplay covers from the 1920s.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marty (1955)

One of the first feature-length films to be based on a television play, Ernest Borgnine stars as the title character in this bittersweet romantic tale. Marty is a sympathetic character, a single butcher living in the Bronx, confronting lonliness, peer pressure, and the desire to experience a loving relationship.

The character was a shift for Borgnine who played a ruthless character in From Here to Eternity (1953) a few years earlier. Borgnine enjoyed a strong career in film with leading and supporting roles. He became well-known with television audiences in the 1960s as Lt. Commander McHale in the comedy series McHale's Navy.

The film is based on the teleplay "Marty" written by Paddy Chayefsky, who also wrote the screenplay. The film was directed by Delbert Mann and starred Betsy Blair as Clara -- Marty's love interest. The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Writer -- in addition to be nominated in several other categories.

The television play, which aired in 1952 on Goodyear Television Playhouse, was also directed by Delbert Mann and starred Rod Steiger in the title role.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ethel and Ernest -- who knew?

"It was a storybook celebrity marriage that captured a public’s imagination, and then suddenly it was over before they even had a chance to complete their wedding registry." -- from the New York Times

One of Hollywood's shortest marriages, Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine -- apparently the marriage fell apart during the honeymoon. In her autobiography entitled Merman (1978) - the chapter entitled "My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine" consists of one blank page.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scary Movies & Thrillers!

In the spirit of Halloween, here is a selected list of scary movies & thrillers from the Criterion Collection. Be sure to check out the extras and be sure to check out the many more outstanding thrillers from Criterion.

Happy Halloween!

The Blob (1958) --cult classic, great special effects, with Steve McQueen,

Diabolique (1955) -- Thriller from Henri‑Georges Clouzot -- is the story of two women who hatch a daring revenge plot -- stars Simone Signoret -- truly terrifying

Flesh for Frankenstein (1978) -- written and directed by Paul Morrissey - new twist on the dysfunctional family and the Frankenstein story

Knife in the Water (1962) -- a middle-aged couple invite a young hitch-hiker aboard their sail-boat for an outing in the Polish lake district -male competition, knife-wielding action, a thriller from Roman Polanski

Peeping Tom
(1960) -- from the remarkable Michael Powell -- this thriller focuses on a voyeuristic maniac who kills women while filming them with his 16mm camera

Repulsion (1965) -- another thriller from Roman Polanski -- stars Catherine Deneuve as a fragile young woman who comes apart when left alone in her apartment -- surreal and spectacular

Silence of the Lambs (1991) -- from director Jonathan Demme -- starring Anthony Hopkins in a superb performance as Hannibal the Cannibal and a wonderful Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling, winner of numerous Academy Awards -- absolutely terrifying

The Vanishing (1988) -- suspense thriller about a young man and his obsessive search for his girlfriend after she mysteriously disappears during their sunny vacation getaway

Friday, October 21, 2011

Celebrate the Book

“I don’t know what it is, man — books,” Mr. Squibb said. “I just feel better." From article on Occupy Boston.

Granito: a story in three parts

From Skylight Productions -- Granito: a story in three parts looks at the turbulent history of Guatemala -- and the genocidal campaign of the 1980s. Directed by Pamela Yates.

Victorian Popular Culture

This resource was recently added to the Columbia University Libraries website -- exceptional content of English texts from the 19th century with information and discussion on a wide-range of topics including spiritualism, mesmerism, psychical science and secular magic together with various forms of entertainment.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Films in the Courtroom or the Courtroom in Film!

Several outstanding films that closely examine the judicial process and how decisions are played out in the courtroom.

(Pictured -- Charles Laughton in Witness for the Prosecution)

Anatomy of a Murder (1959) -- amazing jazz soundtrack and wonderful performances by James Stewart, Eve Arden, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, and Arthur O'Connell. Temporary insanity... or not?

A Few Good Men (1992) -- Military lawyer defends Marines accused of murder -- features an outstanding Jack Nicholson

Inherit the Wind (1960) -- stars Spencer Tracy and Fredric March -- based on a real-life case in 1925 -- teacher brought to trial for teaching evolution

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)-- another outstanding performance from Spencer Tracy -- an American court in Germany tries Nazi judges

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) -- a bitter divorce and custody battle result in a devastating courtroom scene beautifully played by Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman

My Cousin Vinny (1992) -- hilarious courtroom scenes --with a wonderful Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, and Fred Gwynne

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) -- based on the novel by Harper Lee -- Gregory Peck inhabits the character of Atticus Finch, a lawyer set to defend a black man against charges of rape amidst racial prejudice in the Depression-era South

Twelve Angry Men (1957) -- Henry Fonda stars as a juror that tries to convince the others that the case is not simple --directed by Sidney Lumet -- beautifully crafted and acted

The Verdict (1982) - stars Paul Newman as a lawyer trying to salvage his career

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) -- an Agatha Christie knockout -- with a fantastic Charles Laughton

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) -- from director John Ford and starring Henry Fonda -- fictionalized account of the young Lincoln's legal career and his work in a dramatic court case

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jane Fonda: the Private Life of a Public Woman

"Patricia Bosworth tackles her subject’s myriad personae in an exhaustive biography of a woman whose personal growth so uncannily mirrored the social changes of her era and who, 50 years after her most controversial political actions, still manages to polarize. For the full Review in The Washington Post.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Vogue Archive

The Vogue Archive contains the entire run of Vogue Magazine (U.S. Edition) from 1892 to the present day. The magazine serves not only as an essential resource for the study of fashion, the more than 400,000 pages provide a rich resource for gender and social and cultural studies.

The database enables browsing of individual issues and full-text searching.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Resources in Film Studies and Performing Arts

Please join me for one of these sessions. I will provide an introduction to a wide-range of resources supporting research in Film Studies and Performing Arts --- including advanced searching in Google, how to find books, articles, plays, films, images, and more.

Location: 306 Butler Library
When: September 22 -- 11am - 1pm & September 30 -- 10am - 12noon

Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Berg Fashion Library

Winner of the 2011 Dartmouth Medal, the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair Digital Award and the 2011 Bookseller FutureBook Award for Best Website, the Berg Fashion Library is the only resource to provide integrated text and image content on world dress and fashion throughout history. Invaluable for scholars, students, professionals, and anyone interested in dress, it includes the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, an extensive e-book collection, an image bank and more

Monday, May 9, 2011

ARTbibliographies Modern

ARTbibliographies Modern indexes journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, and dissertations on all forms of modern and contemporary art dating back to the 1960s through the present day. Topical coverage is wide-ranging and includes performance and theatre arts as well as film and art production.

Click here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ball of Fire

Directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, this wonderful screwball comedy also features an outstanding supporting cast which includes some of the best character actors in Hollywood at the time. The screenplay was written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and is based on an original story by Wilder and Thomas Monroe.

When Professor Potts hits the streets to get the angle on some real slang, an unlikely romance takes shape --once Sugarpuss O'Shea gets into the act. The film has a lot of boogie, a good dose of yum-yum, and a little bit of corn!

Also featuring a dynamite performance by Gene Krupa and his orchestra. Miss Stanwyck's costumes were designed by the legendary Edith Head and the photography was by Gregg Toland, one of the most sought after cinematographers in Hollywood.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Remembering Sidney Lumet

A scene from TWELVE ANGRY MEN.

Filmakers Library Online

Filmakers Library Online – Filmakers Library Online provides award-winning documentaries in the areas of race and gender studies, human rights, globalization and global studies, multiculturalism, international relations, criminal justice, the environment, bioethics, political science, current events, psychology, arts, literature, and more. This database is being offered on a trial basis until May 15.

Access is currently limited to on-campus.

Please send comments to

Monday, April 4, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride

The second film in this tribute to Elizabeth Taylor is Father of the Bride. This 1950 film, directed by Vincente Minelli, stars Elizabeth Taylor as the lovely Kay on the eve of her wedding. Spencer Tracy plays her father, Stanley Banks, a suburban lawyer, who looks back to the day three months earlier when he learned that Kay became engaged to Buckley Dunstan, played by Don Taylor. Joan Bennett is the lovely Ellie Banks, mother of the bride. The wedding reception is one Stanley will never forget. With both joy and heartache, Stanley and Ellie wish Kay off to her honeymoon.

Taylor is touchingly sweet in this role and we clearly understand the depth of affection between "Pops" and Kay. Also starring Billie Burke. The film's release coincided with the wedding of Taylor to Nicky Hilton. Costumes (and Taylor's real-life wedding gown) were designed by Helen Rose.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO)

Now covering 15 major subjects, OBO offers peer-reviewed annotated bibliographies on specific topics. The latest additions focus on Victorian Literature, International Relations, Communication, and Public Health. Coverage for each subject area is extensive -- and the articles are regularly updated by their authors. OBO is an excellent resource for online research.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor

For the next several weeks, I will be highlighting films starring Elizabeth Taylor -- in what I consider some of her best performances as an actress.

The first film is Who's Afraid of Virigina Woolf?

Based on the play by Edward Albee, the film featured Elizabeth Taylor opposite Richard Burton as the battling and drunken duo, Martha and George. Taylor played a character considerably older than her 32 years and successfully managed the haggard look with weight gain, makeup and unglamorous costumes. Under the masterful direction of Mike Nichols (in his directorial debut), Taylor gives a searing performance. There is never a dull moment as this dark story plays out over the course of an evening. Often funny, the film is an emotional roller-coaster also featuring excellent performances from Burton, George Segal, and Sandy Dennis (her film debut). The film received five Oscars including a Best Actress award for Elizabeth Taylor.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor Dead at 79

The end of an era.

Read the New York Times obituary.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My film pick for St. Patrick's Day, check out The Last Hurrah directed by John Ford and starring Spencer Tracy as Frank Skeffington, the Irish-American mayor of a New England city. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Frank Skeffington is based on James Michael Curley, the multi-term Mayor of Boston serving in the early -mid 20th century. A changing world and the changing nature of "big-city" politics eventually leads to Skeffington's decline. Masterful acting from Tracy and an a-list supporting cast including Pat O'Brien, Basil Rathbone, Donald Crisp, and John Carradine.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Watch Elvis this Spring Break!

Have some fun this spring break by watching a few films starring Elvis Presley.

Presley rose to fame in the 1950s to become one of the most celebrated performers in America. As a singer, he helped popularize rock 'n' roll music with his unique sound and his famous dance moves which usually created near hysteria from fans. His music topped record charts with such major hits as "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog." He was heard on radio and seen on television with appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. By 1956, already a major star, he turned to film acting and took on roles ranging from somewhat autobiographical story lines to romantic musicals. He received positive reviews for a number of his films including Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas.

Check out these films from Butler Media!

  • Blue Hawaii

  • Double Trouble

  • G.I. Blues

  • Girl Happy

  • Harum Scarum

  • It Happened at the World's Fair

  • Jailhouse Rock

  • Kissin' Cousins

  • Live a little, love a little

  • Speedway

  • Spinout

  • Stay Away Joe

  • Tickle Me

  • Trouble With Girls

  • Viva Las Vegas

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows aired on the ABC television network from 1966 -1971. Best described as a Gothic soap opera, meet Barnabas Collins, the vampire, Victoria Winters, and other family members as they encounter werewolves, ghosts, witches and other monsters. You will find familiar plot elements, very cool sets, unforgettable music -- and likely become transfixed by the characters and storylines. Never a dull moment in Collinsport!

Tim Burton is directing a film version starring Johnny Depp as Barnabus. Look for the film in 2012. For now, you can view hundreds of episodes on DVD now available from Butler Media!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Six Degrees of an Oscar Nominated Film!

Nominated for Best Picture, The Fighter was directed by David O. Russell (Best Director nominee). This bio-pic tells the story of professional boxer Micky Ward and the tumultuous relationship with his half-brother, Dicky Eklund. Love overcomes all kinds of struggles in this story with superb performances by Christian Bale (Best Supporting Actor nominee), Mark Wahlberg (sadly overlooked), Melissa Leo who gives an outstanding performance as the mother (Best Supporting Actress nominee), and Amy Adams (Best Supporting Actress nominee).

Six Degrees brings us to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (d. Ang Lee).

Butler Media

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Proximity Operators for Full-Text Searching

Sarah Witte, Reference and Women's Studies Librarian, posted to the Butler Library Blog an essential resource for proximity searching in full-text databases. Created by Bob Scott, DHC Head, the list is an aid to understanding the different choices in syntax depending on the database provider. It is frustrating that this is not more uniform, but well worth the effort.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

My recommendation, an unexpected love story -- The Awful Truth. The film was directed by Leo McCarey, the screenplay based on the play of the same name and written by Arthur Richman. The featured actors include Irene Dunne, who was nominated for Best Actress, and a fabulous Cary Grant. The real treat, Skippy! A true scene stealer, Skippy, as Mr. Smith, the dog in the forefront of a custody battle, displayed both great range of emotion and outstanding comedic talent. You may recognize Skippy as Asta (credited as) in M-G-M's The Thin Man series and Bringing Up Baby.

I suggest a new Oscar category -- Best Featured Dog or Cat! Skippy aka Asta -- deserves the Academy Award for Best Featured Doggy!

McCarey won an Academy Award for direction. Also starring, Ralph Bellamy. In the same year, McCarey also directed the brilliant and heart wrenching film, Make Way For Tomorrow.

The Awful Truth
Butler Media

Six Degrees of an Oscar Nominated Film!

Written and directed by the Coen brothers, True Grit (2010) is nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture. Its wide appeal has made this the highest grossing film for the Coen brothers. It is the second adaptation of the Charles Portis' novel, the first adaptation produced in 1969 starred John Wayne.

The trail of six degrees begins with Jeff Bridges and ends with Being John Malkovich -- the featured DVD of the week!

Being John Malkovich
Butler Media

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Six Degrees of an Oscar Nominated Film!

Nominated for 8 Oscars including Best Picture, The Social Network, chronicles the contentious events that led to the founding of Facebook. If you follow the first degree to Aaron Sorkin, nominated for his screenplay, you will eventually get to Kinsey!


Monday, January 31, 2011

Six Degrees of an Oscar Nominated Film!

In anticipation of the Academy Awards on February 27th, I will be featuring a DVD each week that is connected by six degrees to a film nominated for best picture. Beginning this week with The King's Speech as the film nominated for best picture -- I ended with Fargo! Can you trace the degrees?

Hint -- the degrees are comprised of films and actors only.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Academy Award Nominations Announced!

The King's Speech received the most nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and in the acting categories -- nominations for Best Actor, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role. For more information -- see The New York Times, Variety, and

Monday, January 17, 2011

BIG LOVE the fifth and final season!

The fifth and final season of this HBO series is underway. Not without controversy and mixed critical reception, the show is about the Hendricksons, a polygamous family living in Utah. Co-created by Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer and starring Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, and Ginnifer Goodwin -- the family continues to face challenges both at home and with their recent decision to go public about their religion and lifestyle. The show has featured Mary Kay Place, Harry Dean Stanton, Ellen Burstyn, Grace Zabriskie, and Bruce Dern.

Track the action with Arts Beat at the New York Times -- and if you are new to the series -- spend some time with the first three seasons all available from Butler Media.

Season 1 -- Offsite MPDVD00975
Season 2 -- DVD11793
Season 3 -- DVD11794
Season 4 -- on order!