Yes Virginia, it's done!

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My Michael Curtiz manuscript is at the publisher with the book scheduled for publication in 2017.  “Done” is a relative term as there is still a considerable distance to travel before I am holding a completed book in my hand, but the work itself is completed and it’s a good feeling.  With that, I will be returning to my blog and updating the web site on what is going on with me and the world of classic film.



Alan's sporadic takes on Film Noir and other aspects of pop culture

Posted by on in Commentary
Wildly praised, Oscar nominated film is a major disappointment   I don’t know why I partially bought into the press release journalism that passes muster as legit movie criticism nowadays. There Will Be Blood has been lauded to the critical heavens as an all-time classic with one notable scrivener comparing Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic to Citizen Kane. High praise indeed. I knew better, but I still should have known better. Part of it was my admiration of Daniel Day Lewis’ acting craftsmanship in My Left Foot and Gangs of New York. My interest was also piqued by Anderson’s stated inspiration of The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) - a pantheon classic and personal favorite - that he reportedly used as a template for his latest movie. And yes, I admittedly got a little dizzy after being bombarded by the pre-Oscar media cacophony of rave reviews for a reputed epic that was...
©Alan K. Rode

Posted by on in Actors and Actresses
  No actor exemplified the downtrodden film noir schlemiel better than Percy Helton. If his hunched frame and marsupial-like features weren’t enough to convince audiences of his servile timidity, there was always the unique Helton voice which made his screen characterizations permanently distinctive. Never was a vocal inflection more perfectly suited to a performer. Percy Helton uttered his lines with a breathy vocal lilt akin to the sigh of an exhausted calliope. When alarmed or threatened- a frequent occurrence- he reached a higher octave reminiscent of a damaged ukulele. Even though the diminutive performer seemed to be specifically constructed as a mid-century urban whipping boy, Helton’s thespian roots dated back to the nineteenth century. He made his stage debut in 1896 with his vaudevillian father, Alf Helton, at the Tony Pastor Theatre on 14th Street in New York City. Percy Helton was two years old. At age eleven, he appeared with...
robinson helton
©Alan K. Rode

Posted by on in Commentary
  Watching Horror and Science Fiction movies from the 1950’s is a serendipitous journey back to my boyhood. Yes, Virginia, before film noir, I was a Monster Kid. Growing up in the greater New York metro area during the pre-cable and video era, I feasted on scary fare shown during weekend evenings on WPIX-11’s Chiller Theatre, WOR-TV-9, Supernatural Theatre and Million Dollar Movie and WNEW, Channel 5’s Creature Features. This trailer may bring back some fond memories for 1960's era denizens of the N.Y./N.J. metro area. In retrospect, a lot of these films can’t endure the slightest critical scrutiny, yet I retain a soft spot for many of them: She-Demons, The Cyclops (featuring the worst special effects in movie history), The Hideous Sun Demon, (made by RKO contract actor Robert Clarke and some film students for about $1.50), Indestructible Man (a mute Chaney Jr. running amuck through mid 20th century downtown...
creature features
©Alan K. Rode

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