Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moth to a Flame

John Herbert Dillinger was born this day in 1902... he was shot to death on July 22, 1934 outside Chicago's Biograph Theater shortly after seeing his favorite actress (and ours!) Myrna Loy in Manhattan Melodrama

this isn't my favorite Loy film...as its title suggests, it is quite melodramatic. Gable is playful but the hilarious William Powell is far too serious for my liking. I prefer him as silly as a billygoat...

Friday, June 17, 2011

At the Nickelodeon - The Life and Death of 9413: a Hollywood Extra

The Life and Death of 8413: a Hollywood Extra is an early experimental short film from 1928 directed by Robert Florey and shot by famed cinematographer Gregg Toland who went on to gain fame for his work on Citizen Kane.  Made for only $97...a masterpiece of early cinema...

Sunday, June 12, 2011


There's been some fevered talk of late that a remake of The Thin Man is on the horizon.  Apparently Johnny Depp thinks he can improve upon William Powell's portrayal of Nick Charles...and rumors are flying that Rachel Weisz may be cast as Nora Charles - replacing the irreplaceable Myrna Loy. I never see remakes. I've yet to hear of any that have improved upon the originals...and the fact that my favorite film is going to get the re-issue/re-package treatment makes me see red! In response, I just need to post some gorgeous photos of Myrna - and suggest everyone go to their favorite used book store (and if those LOCAL resources are exhausted try online) to get her out-of-print autobiography, Being and Becoming, to learn more about this fascinating, intelligent, and beautiful woman. I'm also excited Emily Leider's upcoming biography of Loy, Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood due out this Autumn.

oh...and if anyone can make me the above dress from The Thin Man, I shall forever be in your debt!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

in praise of Lampyridae

With the warmer weather upon us, I am delighting in the return of the fireflies! Like most children, I chased after their intermittent beacons of light in my younger years and despite the desire to keep them close, I never captured them "for keeps". My appreciation of insects and spiders has always been high - any house "intruders were captured with dixie cups and released back into "nature". But it wasn't until I was 22 years old and wandering around the Garden for the Blind one night around 3am with a certain fella that my fascination with fireflies hit a fevered pitch. We discovered a glowworm (firefly larvae) nesting area. The little glowing nuggets were scattered all over the ground like fairy dust or stars that had fallen to earth. I scooped up a handful of dirt & glowworms and I felt like a prospector at Sutter's Mill. Who needs gold when you can hold the glory of nature in your hand?

a balancing act

daredevils seemed a lot bolder back in the day...

Carnival Season

Summer is here in all of its sweltering glory...time for some water ice, ice cream, fruit salad...or my new favorite: watermelon juice. It's also the season of the carnival! Side shows! Ring toss games! Freshly popped popcorn! Organ music! Roller Coasters! Goldfish in tiny glass bowls dodging ping-pong balls thrown by eager seven-year-olds! Unfortunately whenever I win a prize at one of these events I always feel a bit cheated. The prizes are flimsy (even the goldfish seem a bit sickly) and not so memorable. Perhaps that's why I've been delighting in antique carnival and state fair souvenirs...here are a few examples I've recently added to the shop...

                                a hot time on the banks of the wabash

see you at the carnival! save me some pink cotton candy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

At the Nickelodeon - Barbe-Bleue - Jean Painlevé 1936

Some of you may be familiar with the intriguing, early aquatic films of Jean Painlevé- all of which are mesmerizing in their groundbreaking cinematic achievement and natural subject matter. Today I've decided to highlight one of his only known non-documentary films, "Barbe-Bleue" (Bluebeard). From 1936, this is 13 minutes of whimsical and colorful stop-action animation with an operatic soundtrack...

If you'd like to sneak a peek at his documentary work, I highly recommend the Criterion Collection's "Science is Fiction: 23 Films of Jean Painlevé"