STRANGE THRESHOLD OR BEHIND THE DOOR FROM PETER LORRE

Rick’s Journal  —  MY FILM CAREER

When I was a student at UCLA the perks included not just the regular experience of hearing Colin Young and Hugh Gray and Arthur Ripley as regular classroom instructors.  They were always bringing outstanding  —  nay!  THRILLING  —  guest speakers for us.

I was late for class the day Mr. Ripley brought Peter Lorre with him.  I could see through the open door that not a seat was left.  I was able to stand in such a way that our guest could not see me but I could see him.  Even from outside the room, though, his presence was still vivid.  From where I crouched, I seldom distinguished any of his words; but I could hear the buzzing nasal hum of an internationally recognizable voice.

The Speaker

Right there, before my squinting eyes, stood M, a redder-faced, heavier M, heavy but not sloppy, neat in an expensive gray suit.  I was looking at Ugarte, at Joel Cairo, at Julius O’Hara.

In those good and glamorous days at UCLA, Peter Lorre was the only speaker I had to hear from such an uncomfortable distance.  I was close to all the others, usually in intimate classroom settings  —  small classrooms.  Billy Wilder  —  when only three of us showed (!), and we had him all to ourselves; and he graciously gave us an hour and a half.  Bette Davis  —  in a small classroom.

Dalio in CASABLANCA (photo courtesy of reader dmg)

 

I can’t remember why Marcel Dalio was in town when prof Hugh Gray brought him to class to talk with us.  And blithering, often hungover youth that I was, I cannot now report much of what he said to us.  He was candid, unsentimental and quintessentially French relating anecdotes from the sets of Casablanca but especially The Rules of the Game and Grand Illusion.

Coming Soon:  George Seaton.  Billy Wilder.  Jean Renoir.  And Bette Davis:  dynamite in a small classroom.

Coming Soon:  Farrell, Kidman and Dunst in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.

Note:  Consult imdb for Arthur Ripley, Hugh Gray and Colin Young.

NEXT FRIDAY POST July 28

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

MORE DREAMS FROM THE FIELD

RECOMMENDED READING

In the June 18 Akron Beacon Journal Clint O’Connor interviews Akronite actor Dwier Brown who played the father in Field of Dreams and later wrote the book If You Build It  —  a Book About Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams.  O’Connor’s article contains some good and useful information about the film; and, most importantly, O’Connor writes knowingly and sensitively of a film which treats the father/son motif as knowingly and sensitively as few films have.  (Clint O’Connor, “‘Field of Dreams’ Isn’t Just a Film.”  Akron Beacon Journal, 6/18/17).

Field of Dreams
Philip Alden (writer/director)
1989
based on the book Shoeless Joe by William P. Kinsella

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On Thursday, June 22 in the Akron Beacon Journal Clint O’Connor appears again, this time interviewing Akron’s own (San Francisco’s own, cinema’s own) Kurtiss Hare.  In an illuminating full-page piece, O’Connor talks with Hare who, through the Nightlight Cinema, brings the best and most challenging of world cinema right to the door of northeast Ohio.

Akron Beacon Journalhttp://www.ohio.com

NEXT FRIDAY POST July 14
Until Bastille Day, then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

 

ONE MORE DELAY

Rick’s Flicks asks you to accept one more apology.  Hardware problems beyond our control delay the promised post until June 30.  Please hold your breath until then, and return.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Rick

 

AT THE STAGE DOOR – NEWCOMER, OLDTIMER

Rick’s Journal    —    MY FILM CAREER

THEATER ALLEYS AND STAGE DOORS IN NEW YORK

One of my prime reasons for wanting to go to New York the first time was to see Richard Hart on stage.  He was appearing in Goodbye, My Fancy with Ruth Hussey.  I had been more than impressed by him in MGM’s version of Elizabeth Goudge’s novel Green Dolphin Street.  He was dashing and talented, and he was believable as dull, self-centered, good-hearted William, the center of two women’s worlds.  A new star was alight in the screen’s sky.  But he would make only two more films and die of a heart attack at thirty-five.  I would come to a re-evaluation of Green Dolphin Street as a botch of a lengthy but intriguing novel.

At the time I am recalling, though, Richard Hart was my latest discovery, and he was back on Broadway where, before his first film, he had achieved solid success playing the witch boy in Dark of the Moon.  And after his current play, I was sanding at the stage door with my Playbill.  I told him that I had come all the way to New York to see him.  He was unimpressed and was really interested only in the small attractive young woman on his arm.  But he signed my program and thanked me.

I watched them walk to the end of the theater alley and turn right; and I was still at the stage door when lovely Ruth Hussey appeared.  She signed my Playbill, too.  She was alone and looked tired through her prettiness.  She made an effort, though, and thanked me.

Finally Conrad Nagel, also in the cast, signed for me, too.  I told him that my mother had played hooky from school to see him in the silent film Three Weeks.  I fear he did not appreciate the comment of which I was so proud.   With a sigh he said, “That was a LONG time ago.”  Like Richard Hart, he too had a very attractive young woman on his arm,  But he did graciously sign my program.

NEXT FRIDAY POST June 9
Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

PAST AND FUTURE GHOSTS

RECOMMENDED READING

An important article for film buffs:  Nick Bilton, “That’s All Folks!” in Collector’s 23rd Annual Special Edition, 2017 of Vanity Fair.  Beginning on p.140.  This is a meaningful article for anyone interested in the past and/or the future of Hollywood moviemaking or interested in any aspect of film.

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MOVIES ARE EVERYWHERE

…and especially in good books.

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“Eliot Ness?  You mean like Robert Stack?”
“So it’s not like the movies?”   –   “Is anything?”

That first quotation from Casey Daniels’ paranormal mystery Graveyard Shift has to do with television, but  quotable cinematic goodies dot the pages throughout the latest comic but scary and suspenseful adventures of sleuth Pepper Martin.

“Crawling inside the house was another story.  /  I got in, and not gracefully, and found myself in a back room that was obviously used as a sort of den.  My flashlight app revealed a flat-screen TV in one corner,a couch across from it, and movie posters on the walls:  Road to Perdition, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco. /   I pictured Dean in there watching hour after hour of endless gangster movies, feeding his obsession day and night.”

Another entry:  “With the door fully open and Caleb standing back, I toed the doorway, totally stunned and feeling like Dorothy must have when she plunked down into a Technicolor Oz.”

Yet another entry and the finest of all:  “…I knew something was up as soon as my knuckles hit the front door.  /  It swung open. / I might not have a big brain, but I’m nobody’s fool and I’d seen plenty of horror movies.  /  I knew this was not a good sign, but just like all those heroines in all those horror movies, I went in, anyway.”  (Hear!  Hear!)

Graveyard Shift by Casey Daniels.  Great Britain and USA, Severn House, 2017

NEXT FRIDAY POST May 19

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick