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Black Lamb


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Archive for the 'All Movie Issue' Category

September 2003 in Black Lamb

Volume 1, Number 9 — September 2003

September 1st, 2003


The All-Movie Issue

In this special issue in which the Black Lamb writers are asked to recall life-changing films, Terry Ross remembers those snuggly drive-ins when he was a callow teenager (I Didn’t Lose It at the Movies). In our page 2 feature, Magnificent Perfection, Cate Garrison nominates her best movie of all time: The Magnificent Seven. In The Thing Is… Michele Gendelman documents the horror of the first mainstream movie to depict the arrival of extra-terrestrial life on earth. Stephen Starbuck salutes the oozey creepiness of Alien in Illiberal Aliens. In Trial by Fire, Gillian Wilce recalls the shattering first movie she even saw, at the age of three: Bambi.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

The All Movie Issue

I didn't lose it at the movies

September 1st, 2003


In June, loyal readers will remember, I asked Black Lamb’s occasional contributors and regular columnists to write on a book that had influenced them. This month, I’ve asked them to do the same for a film. The result is the All-Movie Issue.

Thanks be to God, the writers didn’t repeat June’s prank. Back then, a mischievous subgroup of your favorite columnists played a nasty trick on their indulgent editor and sent in a passel of splendorinthegrass.jpgbook articles on a single author, James Michener, a noted ransacker of libraries. I thought they’d all lost their minds simultaneously. Scared the hell out of me. This time, I feared an onslaught of articles praising the acting talent of Clint Eastwood or the films of Blake Edwards.

Mercifully, I was spared these indignities.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Ross | Link to this Entry

Magnificent perfection

The best movie of all time

September 1st, 2003


hollywood.jpgAll writers, rumor has it, fancy themselves as movie critics. What could be easier, after all, than expressing one’s viewpoint after a trip to the cinema? Doesn’t everyone do that naturally? Imagine the joy of opining for a living!

Me, I’m the proverbial exception, especially when it comes to my favorite film. I know why I like it, of course, but a list of splendid qualities hardly makes for interesting reading. What, after all, can be said about perfection? The best example of the best genre, the best casting, the best dialogue, the best music, a classic story line, a seminal role in cinematic history, along with all the usual best director, producer, leading and supporting actor categories — these are but a few of the attributes of my personal Oscar winner.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

The Thing is…

September 1st, 2003


When first asked to write about the movie that most influenced my life, I groaned. My cinephilia began on a small black-and-white Zenith with the Early Show every afternoon, Creature Feature on weekends, and Saturday matinees at the neighborhood popcorn palace. Add the film history classes in high school and college, graduate school in film and television studies, plus the last twenty years seeing no fewer than seven movies per week, and even a lowball estimate shoots the 10,000 mark. Pick one?!

Okay, The Thing from Another World. When I first saw it, in the late Fifties, I was a kindergartener in a grimy Garden State exurb of Gotham where my dad taught high school while pursuing his doctorate at NYU. We were just scraping by on hand-me-downs and mac-and-cheese dinners, but we were blessedly within broadcast range of the Metromedia network’s New York station and its magnificent library of old movies.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

Illiberal aliens

September 1st, 2003


Dripping. There was a lot of dripping in Alien. Some oozing, some corrosive bloodletting, too, but mostly it was the drip drip drip — that time-keeping water torture as we waited for our hapless heroes, spelunking down the obscure dank corridors of that interstellar rustbucket, to get it one by one. Classic.

What were they thinking? I normally hate movies that arbitrarily divvy up some juicy but dim gang for their serial disposal — dismemberment, engorgement, disemboweling — as if the scriptwriting crew were just emptying out some dictionary of violent death, Thesaurus Rex on a measured rampage. But Alien had something more compelling than mere fluency with the vocabulary of filmic suspense.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Starbuck | Link to this Entry

Trial by fire

September 1st, 2003


Life-changing films? Well, I first smoked dope after seeing an American public education film on the evils of marijuana (raucously enjoyed by its 1970s audience, but not quite in the spirit its producers intended) at the Electric Cinema in the Portobello Road. Similarly, I had my first snog (in the unlovely teenage argot of the day) in a double seat at the Rushden Ritz at the precise moment when God, as mediated by Cecil B. de Mille, was inscribing the Ten Commandments in stone. But I somehow don’t think it was exactly this kind of counter-suggestible behavior that my editor had in mind.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Wilce | Link to this Entry

Hope and despair

September 1st, 2003


csablanca.jpgIn being asked to write on this topic, we were warned against a “laundry list” approach. But, naming one movie that changed my life is even harder than thinking of one book. What with Kubrick and Welles and Ingmar Bergman and all.

So I’ll cheat a bit.

In 1951 King Kong was re-released, and my mother took me to see it. It was the first movie that knocked me out, and it put me on the movie-slut road. The Marx Brothers laid the foundation for my view of the universe as essentially unknowable, but funny. The Wild One warped my social sensibilities; La Strada and The Seventh Seal introduced me to, ahem, film. And John Waters’ Pink Flamingoes became not just one of my favorite movies, but a test of friendship: if you sat through this movie with me and were still my friend, it was true love.

But, there are two movies — and they work as “films” as well — that informed my world view and politics more than any others: Casablanca and The Third Man.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Goldberg | Link to this Entry

The lawyer as hero

September 1st, 2003

tokillamockingbird.jpgBY BUD GARDNER

It’s not as if I go down to my office on Monday morning, sit down at my desk and try to transform myself into Atticus Finch, but I suppose, like most lawyers, I’d sure like to be seen as that wonderful, patient, and wise lawyer-dad character Gregory Peck made famous in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus, with his solitary and principled stand against ignorance and bigotry, with his commitment to a process intended to protect the individual against those very forces, but which are perverted into a vehicle for prejudice and injustice. The attentive and patient single parent, giving his young children their first life lessons in morality and social conscience.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Gardner | Link to this Entry

On location

September 1st, 2003


We were sitting around the table, someone said something stupid, and we all chuckled nervously. After all, we were on camera. But later, the editor made the most of it and turned our discomfort into quite something else in an episode in which, after all, truth is in the mind of the beholder.

Making movies was my father’s profession — commercials, to be exact — and so this rewriting of reality was more than familiar to me, the importance of appearances in our Midwestern culture. “If you want to be successful in life,” Dad would say, “comb your hair a hundred strokes a day.”

“What’s going on here?” I asked the man suited, head to toe, in thick rubber. He was standing, out of sight, behind the sink where we’d just recorded the cheer of a simulated housewife, washing dishes with some product or other. I suddenly remembered she’d been wearing rubber gloves, too.

“You probably thought,” the man told me, “that it was water pouring into that sink where all those cruddy dishes became miraculously clean.” He paused for effect.

“Well?” I asked.

“Sulfuric acid,” he said with a smile.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Albright, All Movie Issue | Link to this Entry

A pretty good ride

September 1st, 2003


No one in my family remembers when I first announced that I wanted to become an actor. (I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else.) My parents, detecting in me no other obvious signs of insanity, naturally assumed that I would grow out of it. Surely at some point their boy would aspire to replace PeeWee Reese at shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite my genuine affection and respect for Mr. Reese and his compatriots, it never happened.

In 1947, however, I said something that made them feel a little better. They took me to see a movie called The Farmer’s Daughter, which I can heartily recommend, and on the way home I said, “That Ethel Barrymore is good!” My mother and father looked at each other, and their thought couldn’t have been clearer: “Well, he may or may not have talent, but at least he’s got taste. Things could be worse.” And in fact their toleration, if not complete acceptance, of my bizarre ambition was such that three years later, when All about Eve came out, they absolutely forbade me to see it!

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Bogert | Link to this Entry

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