Monday, March 25, 2013

Shorts #3

Shorts or 5 Things to Know This Week is a weekly posting that features short blurbs on interesting topics related to film and theatre studies, research and resources, theatre goings on in New York City, lots of library-related news and other stuff.

1.  NEW YORK THEATRE GOINGS ON  -- I recommend Jackie at City Center. The play is scheduled to close on March 31. Tina Benko gives a powerful performance as Jackie Kennedy Onassis in this complicated telling by "Jackie" about Jackie. Written by Elfriede Jelinek.

2.  The documentary Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness by Joseph Dorman is now available in DVD format. The film uses archival footage and features enactments of excerpts from Aleichem's stories. I will be viewing it this week.

3. Youtube never ceases to amaze! I was surprised and delighted to find a radio performance of Dodsworth with Walter Huston and Bette Davis (1943). I will be posting a Feature later this week on the film Dodsworth -- which also starred Huston with Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor -- one of my favorites.

4. It's a Bird...It's a Plane... It's Superman -- thanks to Encores! I caught this musical this past week. The first 35 minutes were amusing -- then it became tiresome. The question is -- will this musical find a stage in New York City -- I think it could attract a cult following!

5. The Bowery is one of the most interesting streets in New York City -- try to imagine several of the 2,000 seat theatres that lined the street in the 19th century -- for a time -- it was the center of popular entertainment. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Watch Lucy this Spring Break!

Lucille Ball (1911-1989) was an American actress on stage, screen and television -- she was also a brilliant comedienne and television executive. Her role in Stage Door (1937), one of her best performances on film, helped her to achieve star status however she was often miscast or put into roles that never tapped into all of her talents. She made pictures for RKO and MGM but the real turn in her career came in 1940 when she married Desi Arnaz. More than a decade later, the couple would find that their marriage would lead them to producing and starring in one of the most successful sitcoms in television history. The show -- appropriately titled I Love Lucy --  focused on the married life of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo -- played by Arnaz and Ball. Ricky Ricardo was a Cuban bandleader and Lucy played the housewife who dreamed of a career in show business. They lived in New York City. The sitcom premiered in 1951 during the early years of television -- when television was beginning to offer more varied programming. The show was a hit for CBS -- staying on the air for six more years. Ball's comedic genius was given full rein. The show also starred Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel and Fred Mertz. There were frequent celebrity guest stars who played themselves on the show. One of the many famous episodes starred Harpo Marx.

Early television was performed before a live audience and generally not recorded. I Love Lucy made television history by shooting the program on film -- using three cameras -- in front of a live audience. The show enjoyed continued success in syndication decades later.

I Love Lucy: the complete series is available on DVD from the Butler Media Collection -- all 34 discs!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Opening Film at Cannes Film Festival

Baz Luhrmann's 'Great Gatsby' will open the Cannes Film Festival.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire, as his friend, Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, and Joel Edgerton, as her husband, Tom.

For more information, see the New York Times article

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shorts or 5 Things to Know This Week!

Welcome to the second issue of Shorts.

Shorts or 5 Things to Know this Week features short blurbs on interesting topics related to film and theatre studies, research and resources, theatre goings on in New York City, lots of library-related news and other stuff.

1.  NEW YORK THEATRE GOINGS ON -- Get yourself to 59E59 for All in the Timing. Written by David Ives, All in the Timing is a collection of one-acts which premiered at Primary Stages in 1993. Twenty years later, Primary Stages has brought it back featuring an excellent cast and expert direction by John Rando. The material -- smart, snappy, and hilarious. Extended through April 14.

2. FEATURED JOURNAL -- WINTERTUR PORTFOLIO -- is an outstanding journal for learning about the American past through the study of material culture.  First published in 1964, the journal is published three times a year and the complete run is available in e-format from JSTOR.

3. FEATURED DOCUMENTARY -- COLUMBIA REVOLT -- is a 50 minute documentary about the Columbia University protests in 1968. The film features interviews with students who were involved in the takeover of university buildings. Columbia affiliates can view a streaming version of the film through American History in Video -- which includes ability to make clips and provides a running transcript. It is also freely available through the Internet Archive.

4. FEATURED BOOK -- DIRECTORS CLOSE UP 2 -- published by Scarecrow Press Inc. (2013) -- this volume includes interviews with directors nominated for best film by the Directors Guild of America 2006-2012. The volume is available from Butler Library.

5. FEATURED DVD -- FLIGHT -- from director Robert Zemeckis -- the film is about an alcoholic pilot -- is that scary enough? Denzel Washington is brilliant in the role of Whip Whitaker. Washington is one of our greatest actors today -- his range is amazing. Don Cheadle and John Goodman are both excellent in supporting roles. Let's just say -- it is a long and difficult path to salvation! The DVD is available from the Butler Media Collection.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Victorian Popular Culture

Victorian Popular Culture is an essential resource for the study of popular entertainment and culture in the 19th century and the early 20th century. From Adam Matthew Digital, the database is a portal for several collections including:

  • Spiritualism, Sensation & Magic 
  • Circuses, Sideshows & Freaks 
  • Music Hall, Theatre & Popular Entertainment 
  • Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments & the Advent of Cinema 

The database includes full-text reproductions from a variety of printed materials, still and moving images, slideshow presentations, essays, bibliographies and more. The collection of materials are drawn from an impressive list of participating libraries.

Each section can be searched by keyword or by an advanced search option. You can also choose to browse the list of entries. The content is expansive and each time I use this database -- I discover something new and sensational. I love the pictures of the kinora, reproductions of postcards, full-text of "Opportunities in the Motion Picture Industry," published in 1922, includes a wonderful entry on the role of the costume designer, and  "The Sphinx: a monthly magazine for magicians and illusionists." 

If you are interested in early popular entertainments such as vaudeville, magic, circus and the advent of cinema -- this is an essential resource.

Access to this resource through Columbia University Library is limited to current affiliates.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Shorts or 5 Things to Know this Week!

Welcome to the first issue of "Shorts" -- as in the Shorts of Features and Shorts.

Shorts or 5 Things to Know this Week will feature short blurbs on interesting topics related to film and theatre studies, research and resources, theatre goings on in New York City, lots of library-related news and other stuff.

1. MORE ABOUT ME -- I am Nancy E. Friedland, Librarian for Butler Media, Film Studies and Performing Arts at Columbia University. I know a lot about researching film and performing arts-related subjects. I was recently elected President of Theatre Library Association -- take a look at our work -- we are a dynamic organization. I also teach at Pratt's School of Information and Library Science and at LIU's Palmer School of Information and Library Science. I teach "Film and Media Collections," "Digital Humanities," and currently developing a course "Researching Local History: Cities and Towns." I love New York City and go to the theatre very often.

2. SILENT FILM ONLINE -- published by Alexander Street Press, Silent Film Online currently includes 381 videos mainly from the KINO International Catalog. Access to this database through Columbia University Library is restricted to current affiliates.

3. ON BROADWAY -- I just saw "Hands on a Hard Body" -- and loved it. This is a "new musical made in America" -- with Book by Doug Wright, Lyrics by Amanda Green and Music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green -- the  musical was inspired by true events surrounding 10 hard-luck Texans filled with hope and ambition. 

4. DETROPIA -- recent addition to the Butler Media Collection -- this documentary about the city of Detroit provides a "vivid portrayal of the connections between a city and larger economic and political forces."  Timely!

5.  NEW BOOK -- I recently acquired  "The Screenplay Business: Managing Creativity and Script Development in the Film Industry" by Peter Bloore -- the book is now on the shelf in Butler Library. If you are not a Columbia affiliate -- check with your local library for holdings.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Happy Sweet 16 -- Butler Media Collection!

The Butler Media Collection celebrates 16 years!

Established in 1997, the collection is rapidly approaching a count of 30,000 DVDs. With more than 6,000 VHS titles -- this collection is highly regarded as a major research collection for film studies at Columbia University. The collection supports both a popular circulating collection of feature films and a research collection strong in American and foreign feature films, early cinema, documentaries, television programming,  and video art.  The Starr East Asian Library is adding hundreds of films from China to the Butler Media Collection - for more information -- read the press release.

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA holds the distinctive call number -- DVD0001.

Recent feature film acquisitions -- THE MASTER, THE SESSIONS, FOOTNOTE -- and all seasons of the television program -- BREAKING BAD.

I am delighted to have helped in establishing this collection -- and continue to serve as the first and primary selector for this important resource.