I have this interest in an as yet unrecognized sub-genre, films “old” Hollywood made in the ’60s to appeal to the new “youth culture”. Think of some sixty-year-old studio exec or agent exclaiming about how the kids love David Niven, their idea of a hip swinger. The most typical film of this genre is PRUDENCE AND THE PILL, which is based on the asinine premise that women couldn’t tell the difference between a birth control pill and an aspirin. Ha ha. Obviously made by people who had never seen a birth control pill FOR people who had heard of but had never seen a birth control pill. Its like the Orson Welles story about the frog and the scorpion – Hollywood was trapped by their very nature.


One of a series of self-serving propaganda films made by RKO during the period it was owned by Howard Hughes. This was made circa 1955 (there is one 1956 Dodge seen on a dealers lot, all other cars are 1955’s or earlier). It is a peon to the Air National Guard and emphasizes its importance in defending America – from what? The implication on the minds of audiences at the time was of course that Soviet bombers would penetrate US airspace and attack places like Marietta, Georgia, even though it was a 24-hour ride from the closest point in Russia.


Unintentionally one of the weirdest mainstream movies ever made. Let me put it this way: if you can’t get your hands on a copy, try recording it when it’s on TCM, invite the kids over, and pass a cold 40 around with the holder having to take a slug every time the word “meat” is mentioned. My guess is that you will all wind up in the emergency room with alcohol poisoning. Maybe you’ll meet some baby boomer there whose parents were influenced by this film and now suffering chest pains. This film is so meat mad that one suspects that times were so lean at MGM that CONFIDENTIALLY CONNIE was an early example of product placement, cooked up by the meat industry. It’s a shame that none of the filmmakers are still around to be grilled.


Many, many years ago, in a universe far, far away, film criticism was bound on one side by studio style, and on the other by cycle, or what we would call today, ‘genre’. History was rendered chronologically, year by year. Early talkies like COQUETTE (1929) were dismissed as stagy because of the primitive sound equipment available during the transition to sound. The dynamic photography and fluid narrative of late silent cinema was sacrificed. SINGING IN THE RAIN satirizes this period, which was also known for the fall of gigantic movie stars who couldn’t, for one reason or another, make the transition to sound.


For me the most interesting aspect of ALIBI is the fact that at this point (1929) the film industries of the US, Britain, Germany and France were equally capable of producing this type of film. The urban crime drama may have been pioneered by the French feuillade whose roots go back to written literature but it was perfected by Lang and the German School. Film Expressionism cried out for the geometrical shapes and dark shadows of the urban setting and the speed of what was just becoming known as ‘modern life’. After all it was only in 1920 that 50% of the American population lived in cities even though the Jeffersonian ideal of the rural ideal was to linger in both film and literature until WW2.


Due to the shade of illumination provided by the lamps arranged throughout the temporary tent set up there, the corner of West 48th street & Avenue of the Americas became a red light district on the evening of Wednesday, October 4 when Fox News Channel held a party to mark its 10th anniversary. Anticipating that the space might qualify as a red state in miniature within the blue sea of Manhattan, I donned my raspberry sherbet-hued suit jacket for the occasion, and likewise was unsurprised to find that all of the servers and bar staff had been outfitted with sartorially apposite red ties as part of their uniforms for the evening.