I was telling Tracy about films coming to the base theater when I was a kid, and I suddenly remembered that – especially if you were stationed in a non-English speaking country – pretty much the only movie previews we saw were the ones shown at the theater. No endless plugs for movies as exposed to us on television.
But what we did have were film reviews, which was yet another path to loving the written word. It took a quite a long time for movies to make it to the base theaters, so one sort of glommed onto the reviews we read in Time, Newsweek, or other magazines. Well, yeah, there were more novelizations of movies around in those days, but it was pretty much the reviews we would remember.
Giants walked the earth in those days.
To name just some of the best. Hell, Harlan Ellison wrote about film, reviews which one wasn’t likely to forget.
Pauline Kael once famously wrote that Roscoe Lee Browne acted John Wayne off the screen in “The Cowboys” – and she was right.
A well-written review served two functions. Often you decided to either watch or skip a film based on a review, whether it was full of praise or brimming with contempt.
And second, for any aspiring writer, you’d often think to yourself, I wish I could write that well. If Judith Crist panned a movie in her TV Guide column – back in the days when TV Guide wasn’t tabloid trash – it might even have an effect on the ratings that week.
I don’t have any solid evidence to back that up, but I often skipped a movie that Crist didn’t care for.
And movie reviews were everywhere, in almost every magazine you seemed to pick up. Not capsule reviews, but full-bodied reviews, written with both style and knowledge. You wanted to be just like these folks when you grew up.
Occasionally folks would get riled up – as they still do – and write letters demanding that reviewers keep their opinions out of the review, as if film reviews were meant to be like those dreaded book reports we all had to write in school. It’s just a movie, they would cry to the heavens.
So here’s to all the writers who have aided my appreciation of film over the years, but especially those I read when I was living overseas. Not only thanks for adding to my education about film, but added even more fuel to my desire to be a writer worth reading.
The Usual Excuse
Had The Procedure again last week. Apologies for not writing as often as I should.
Getting better, though, I like to think.
My body, at least, if not my writing.
Listening to “The Best of Diana Krall” today. Why aren’t you?
Now on YouTube: Speaking of film . . .
My interview with film historian Frank Scheide, of the University of Arkansas.
“On the Air with Richard S. Drake” celebrates 27 years years on the air in 2018.
Quote of the Day
It’s an evil thing the liberal community does; it wants to see the slums cleared but doesn’t fight to see housing for lower-income groups built first. It reinforces all the terrible things we’re talking about in the big cities. – Florence Scala, quoted in Suds Terkel’s “Division Street: America.”