I receive a lot of auction catalogs; in fact, the amount of movie memorabilia being sold at auction these days is positively overwhelming. But I always look forward to the Autograph Catalog from Profiles in History, because the handsomely printed booklet is a collectible in its own right. You learn which pictures famous stars and filmmakers chose to represent themselves to fans and admirers.
Now that my eyes have uncrossed, I can tell you about the incredible experience of attending The World 3-D Film Expo this past month at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.
I knew it would be fun to see a lot of vintage 1950s films in genuine, double-system 3-D—the best method of all, which uses polarized filters and requires two projectors in “interlock” synchronization.
But I didn’t know that the festival would turn into a happening. My friend Michael Schlesinger, who helped to host the festival and provided many prints through Sony Pictures Repertory Division, likened it to Woodstock, and that’s exactly what it was: Woodstock for movie geeks.
Those geeks included a hardy handful of contemporary filmmakers who are also world-class film buffs, including Joe Dante, John Landis, Curtis Hanson, Guillermo Del Toro, and Quentin Tarantino, who confessed to me on opening night that he was playing hooky from finishing the sound mix on his new movie Kill Bill. He so harangued his editor, Sally Menke, that she finally agreed to let him go to see Andre De Toth’s The Stranger Wore a Gun if he’d take her along, too.
I was lucky enough to have seen some of the more popular titles during the last big 3-D revival, during the late 1970s and early 1980s in New York City. Both the 8th Street Playhouse and the venerable Thalia showed double-system prints of—
Remember when it was fun to go to the movies? That feeling of enthusiasm, bordering on sheer abandon, that’s largely disappeared from the moviegoing experience was recaptured at World 3-D Film Expo II at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood this month.
Jeff Joseph, Dan Symmes, Bob Furmanek and a hearty staff of film fanatics, organizers, projectionists, collectors, and volunteers turned the ten-day event into a “happening” of major proportions. As with Expo I three years ago there weren’t a lot of young people in the audience; they’ve grown up in the era of multiplexes and IMAX, and the notion of gathering to watch a bunch of often-tacky 1950s movies holds no allure. It’s their loss.
Opening night provided a perfect example. There wouldn’t be much reason to revive Those Redheads from Seattle, a 1953 Pine-Thomas production released by Paramount. It’s a pleasant-enough musical, but watching a double-system print projected by two interlocked projectors in Polarized 3-D—on a highly reflective silver screen, erected just for the festival—made it An Event. Who could have guessed that this modest film, produced by the B-moviemeisters popularly known as “the two dollar Bills,” would have such inventive use of 3-D?
An establishing shot of a steamship at night has a taut—
At year’s end it’s traditional to look back and make Ten Best Lists. The problem is that in the flurry of award season—and its attendant hype—one tends to forget how many mediocre films have come and gone, or how many months there seemed to be nothing worth going out to see. I wish I could forget suffering through Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for two and a half miserable hours, but that’s another story.
This was not an outstanding year for moviegoing. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some excellent work,
but most of the year-end lists I see are filled with good films, not great ones. The only titles I would refer to as great this year are Up in the Air, Up, and three imports, the remarkable District 9, the Chilean film The Maid and Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces (which, I’m sorry to see, is getting very little attention despite a sensational performance by Penélope Cruz. I fear that its distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, has succumbed to awards fever and is paying more attention to other entries.) I also liked Olivier Assayas’ quietly profound Summer Hours, and the outrageous political saga from Italy, Il Divo.
DARK HORSE ARCHIVES; Introduction by Sara Karloff
In 1960, Boris Karloff was recruited to host a weekly anthology show called Thriller. It was an obvious attempt to emulate the success of a not dissimilar show hosted by another movie figure with a “brand name,” Alfred Hitchcock. It lasted only two seasons, although Stephen King has called it the best series of its kind, which is no small compliment.
As it so often did, Dell Comics created a tie-in comic book series which featured an image Karloff on the cover and usually, in caricature form, in the introductory panel of each interior story. After two issues the publisher changed the title of the comic to Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery. Under that name, it outlasted the TV show and outlived Karloff, continuing for a total of eighteen years under the Gold Key imprint.
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