88 retro logos on YouTube. Remember these from the ends of certain TV shows? They’re all here: Screen Gems S From Hell, Lorimar Line Of Doom, and the notorious Paramount ID with “Closet Killer” music. The latter would pop up after being lulled into submission with a Brady Bunch episode, and then it was all AAAAAAAHH!!!! SCARY PARAMOUNT!!!! Gee, thanks for traumatizing me.
Film critic Jim Emerson’s list of
101 102 essential films serves as a handy guide to the greats, or at least what the consensus has decided is great (via Kottke). Looking over the list, I find that I’ve seen 79 of the 102 films. Many I haven’t seen in decades, and many other I’ve just gotten to in the past year or two (mostly because I could never stand watching cropped and chopped widescreen movies on TV — thank you, DVDs). I still haven’t seen Dr. Strangelove, Persona, Red River and many other undisputed classics. The Road Warrior is another one which has eluded me, although I really don’t know how that ended up on Emerson’s list. How many have you seen?
What a list like this ultimately proves is that enjoying anything is very subjective. There are always examples where I prefer something else by the same filmmaker over that which everyone decided is the classic (like Manhattan over Annie Hall). And there are other, isolated examples where I completely can’t get a grip on why a filmmakers’ work is considered classic. Such as:
- Charlie Chaplin. Too obvious and sentimental. Buster Keaton basically kicks his butt in the silent comedy dept.
- The John Ford/John Wayne collaborations. Liked The Searchers and The Quiet Man, but Ford confirms my view that Westerns are only interesting when they have some subversive element to them (Johnny Guitar; Sergio Leoné).
- Ernst Lubitch. Trouble In Paradise and The Shop Around the Corner are mildly amusing, but his other work seems insufferably cute.
The San Francisco Chronicle salutes the 25th anniversary of Journey’s Escape album (via Waxy.org). Although I never cared much for Journey, I can remember loving the airbrushed art on that album cover — especially the type treament where the letterforms were rotated and stylized so that they looked like some sort of weird alien alphabet. Undoubtedly it led me to draw pages of rotated, spacey type in my school notebooks.
A fascintating showbiz tale from the past: Mark Evanier’s recollections of writing a cheesy Gold Key Comics adaptation of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. Evanier’s on a roll — check his entries on the odd movie watching and eating habits of crazy old Howard Hughes.
Meanwhile, in Seattle: glamorous weblogger/ersthwhile game show contestant couple Vince and Rosemarie Keenan have embarked on a collaborative weblog called Shame-faced, in which they write about the classic literature and films that they’ve never experienced until now. Nice!
Mega-successful ’80s producer David Foster might be the least likely person on earth to undergo an ironic hipster resurgence — admiring his work is something akin to finding Laura Ashley dresses hot and sexy. Just keep it to yourself, weirdo. But I have to admit that his production on Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry’ still raises goosebumps, and it’s safe to say that this style of music never really went away. Tune into American Idol and you’ll find the Power Ballad (which Foster was the architect of) very much alive and well. So I’m gonna go ahead and share a couple of numbers which may have had your Mom rocking on the drive to the mall. Foster’s production on the impossibly lush St. Elmo’s Fire love theme fairly screams “Class of ’86 Senior Prom last dance”. He also twiddled the dials on Paul Anka’s comeback single “Hold Me Till The Morning Comes,” notable for having duet partner Peter Cetera’s voice mixed in more prominently than Anka’s. Both pieces showcase Foster’s unnerving way of making synthesizers and drum machines sound warm and organic.
An item at the fun My Name Is Earl Kress weblog give a little bit of info on Disney’s ongoing Song of the South saga. Apparently Disney prez Bob Iger has decided to bow to stockholders’ concerns and pull it from the schedule. That’s a pisser. I can remember seeing this film during its 1980 re-release, but honestly I don’t remember anything potentially offensive about it at all. It had nice Technicolor photography and the animated sequences were enjoyable in a mid-level Dumbo or Cinderella way. The film’s portrayal of black characters was similar to what you’d find in Gone with the Wind or other fancy films from that period — somewhat stereotypical, but more well-rounded than usual. I even thought the Uncle Remus character was very warm and benevolent, serving as a surrogate dad for the two kids. What’s so offensive about that? A comprehensive DVD with warnings that it’s the product of a different era would ultimately do more good than harm for the company’s image — but I guess Disney doesn’t want to risk the bad p.r. and would rather release Bambi 6: The Spawning or Not Another Crappy Tween Musical instead. Whatever.
Now’s a good time to point to Song of the South.net, which contains everything you’d want to know about the movie.