6 Degrees Film Round-up for April

This April, 6 Degrees is focusing on the great films that are found on the small screen. Our big screen blockbusters have often been eclipsed by the amount of content that has been available to everyone through streaming and all the online services.

Even the Oscar winner CODA made history (which was overshadowed by ‘the slap!,’ by being released through a streaming platform and not a traditional studio. Another big event was the Best Director Oscar going to a woman for the third time! There is change afoot, but it is always a bit slow…

Turner Classic features Strong Women on Film

 

There are always great movies with strong female leads on Turner Classic. This month, my favorite picks are Ninotchka, The Harvey Girls, The Philadelphia Story and Rachel & the Stranger.

The Harvey Girls and Rachel & the Stranger deal with the real-life background stories of women who were true pioneers. The Harvey Girls were women who had the courage to move out west and try to bring ‘civilization’ to the rough and tumble world that existed past the Mississippi River! And Rachel & the Stranger dealt with the reality that occurred when your spouse died. It meant that the need to replace a strong worker was real, and it came before love or romance or anything else when you were out on a farm on the lone prairie!

The Philadelphia Story is beloved for the scene where Cary Grant thinks better of assaulting his ex-wife and instead pushes her down. This is one of those controversial moments in old films. because it would be considered an acceptance of violent acts against women in modern times. In this case, it somehow fits the storyline and also tells us that there are and were characters such as Katherine Hepburn, who could fight back with words as well as deeds to make the men appear small! And Ninotchka is well-known from the Golden Age of Hollywood for the great publicity line, “Garbo Laughs!” This was a rarity in Garbo’s career, as she didn’t appear in many comedies.

 

Books on Film

 

For National Library Week, we have tried to highlight the many great books that have been written about film. Some are listed on the website and each Friday, in 6 Degrees of Film at the Movies, we feature the best recommended blogs as well as books and reviews on film.

This week, we have recommended some books I love including “Film Noir” -edited by Alain Silver & Elizabeth Ward. There’s a great pictorial guide from Life Magazine-“Life goes to the Movies.”  And “The Story of Film” is a short history of film by Mark Cousins. There’s one with all sorts of great stories from films Golden Age called “The Great Movie Stars” from David Shipman. Another reference volume I love is “The Movies,” from Griffith & Mayer.

Another good read for writers is “Writers in Hollywood” by Ian Hamilton.  And one of the more recent books that I really like is from Alicia Malone:Girls on Film: Lessons from a Life of Watching Women in Movies.”  And finally, of course you can take a short walk through the history of film with my own “6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village.  We are celebrating our ninth year in publication with a new Ebook Addendum out soon!

From the Friday Flix Files

 

Finally, on the topic of resources for film, there is our Friday Flix magazine.  Friday Flix has a mix of articles on the Golden Age of film as well as news about the latest adventures in Hollywood (Yes, the ‘slap’ is there as well!) Some of the latest not-to-miss topics include:

  • Life Changing Movies: The Atlantic delves into the question of what elements can make a movie life changing; And from my book, I have a post about films that did affect my life. Some films can definitely be life-changing…
  • Coen Brothers: The unique film-making qualities that comprise the films made by the Coen Brothers are the reason that their films have been so successful. In this piece, there are ten tips that make their films stand out from the rest…
  • Critics Choice: One of the unique tidbits that we found out this past week concerned the invention of the “Two thumbs up” sign for a movie’s success or failure. Siskel & Ebert were the great film critics out of Chicago who dominated the film review industry for years. Ebert’s widow, Chaz, has put together a special article that lists some of the reasons that Roger Ebert was one of the great film critics of all time.
  • 50 Years of The Godfather: Friday Flix features several articles celebrating the fifty years since one of America’s most beloved films made its debut. Some facts about the making, some behind-the-scenes look from the cast members and some thoughtful pieces that try to pinpoint why this film has made such a powerful impact upon the psyche of our lives and times.

How Star Wars changed the Film Industry

 

And finally, Cine-vue.com has a piece that marks the definitive ways in which Star Wars has impacted and changed the film industry since its 1975 debut. That is also one of the sections that is covered in my book,6 Degrees of Film.” Here is a short excerpt:

“…Peter Bogdanovich said, “There’s a general juvenilization of movies that’s happened over the last ten years that’s pretty scary. The other day, somebody read a script that I was working on and said, ‘Oh, I get it: This is an adult comedy.’ I said, ‘What do you mean—that it’s a comedy FOR adults?

 He said, ‘No, no, no, it’s a comedy ABOUT adults.’ Most of the comedies, the rest of the comedies, are about kids. I think a lot of things have gone wrong. Movies are far less complex in their structure and in their execution than they’ve ever been.”

In their defense, let’s remember Spielberg gave us The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, and other films that are definitely not children’s films. Additionally, Lucas has had a different vision and a different view that he has worked to put on screen. He has transformed the movie business in ways that many Hollywood insiders have not been able to comprehend. Also, it may surprise many that Lucas is not computer-driven. Not by a long shot. He is a moviemaker, and his vision is still really framed by the American Graffiti boy in him who brings to light the creations of a world where movie serials existed along with hot rods and drive-ins. This is his vision, and this is where he is coming from as a visionary auteur and a creator of movie magic. Lucas saw that as the computer age hit, so did the decline of the technical aspect of filmmaking in direct proportion to the rise of computers. Movie technology, per se, virtually fell off the map.

 Lucas stepped in and created something new that filled a void and a great need. The special effects and storyboard plots are dominant because that is what the public wants to see. Remember that film was declared a business enterprise in 1915; therefore, it’s not considered an art medium. And also remember the director’s adage: “After about fifteen million or so, you have to put the white hats on the good guys and the black hats on the bad guys.” In other words, Jake and Lizzie are still the target audience for most modern-day moguls. And the degrees of separation from The Birth of a Nation to Avatar is actually much closer than six degrees…”

 Excerpt: Films that have Affected my Life

“…I would like to take a moment to write about the films that have affected my life, for the most part in a very positive way, but for better or for worse, the films that I remember from the past have made a distinct impression on me and have shaped my views and attitudes throughout my life. 196 One of the first memories I have of a film shaping my perceptions was the film Roman Holiday. I saw it on television as a child and even then it was dated, probably well over ten years old. But I had only known films with happy, Hollywoodmanufactured endings and had taken it for granted that when boy meets girl, boy will end up with girl, and in this case, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn were involved in a romance. The film was light and funny, and yet the end was the only part I remembered. When Gregory Peck walks away from the Princess Audrey Hepburn knowing that their two lives will never intersect again, it was a stunning revelation for a small child. Happy endings are not always a given, even in Hollywood! Another film that affected me very much was a much lesser-known film with Eleanor Parker called Many Rivers to Cross. It begins with a dedication to all pioneering women of the Old Frontier as they shaped the manifest destiny of our country. The film is about a young woman who sees a good-looking man who wanders into their small frontier village in the wilderness and decides to marry him. He is just indulging in a mild flirtation before moving on, but she is determined to catch him. The end result is a silly comedy, but the point involves a completely determined woman who is a forerunner of every Martha Stewart or Hillary Clinton or Sandra Day O’Connor that has strived to live in a man’s world. This character impressed me as no other before that a bound and determined woman could do anything she wanted to do….”

 

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