Reminder: Hollywood Uncensored Talk Next Thursday at the Penn Hills Library!

On November 3rd, I’ll be speaking on the delight of watching Pre-Code films. We’ll dive into the history of the code, why and how it was enacted, and you’ll leave with a list of must-watch films!

If you’ve never watched a pre-code film before, you’re in for a treat.

I’ll once again be at the Penn Hills Library.

You can visit the Library’s event page here for more information.

Upcoming Events!!

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be giving 3 talks this fall/winter at the Penn Hills Library. If you missed either of my first two talks, you’ll have a chance to catch them in October and November. In December, I’m debuting brand new material.

Right now, there is no need to formally register on the Penn Hills website. I’ll update you here on the blog if that changes as we get closer to the dates.

Mark your calendars and I hope to see all of you there!

Bogart and Bacall…the Lives and Films of Hollywood’s Greatest Romance

Thursday, October 6 @ 5:30 pm

The love affair of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall  should have been doomed.  They faced a twenty-five year age gap, a jealous wife, and neither had grown up in homes with happy marriages.

Come hear the story of how Bogart and Bacall overcame every obstacle to becoming Hollywood’s greatest romance and making a fistful of iconic films in the process.  As Bacall herself rightly said, “No one has ever written a romance better than we lived it.”

Hollywood Uncensored:  Rediscovering The Pre-Code Films of 1930-1934

Thursday, November 3 @ 5:30 pm

Many think classic films are stuffy relics of a bygone era when families ate dinner together every night.  Yet early talking films shocked audiences with their boundary-pushing depictions of violence, drinking, and sexually liberated women.  After a backlash, a code was enacted that strictly dictated Hollywood film content.  These “pre-code” films are enjoying a renaissance with modern audiences.  Come learn the history and charm of the pre-code era, and leave with a list of must-see films.

The Dueling De Havillands:  Hollywood’s Juiciest Sibling Rivalry

Thursday, December 1 @ 5:30 pm

Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine were both accomplished actresses, starring in such classics as Gone With the Wind and Rebecca.  They also had a lifelong feud.

What was fact and what was exaggerated to sell magazines?  Did Olivia rebuff Joan’s congratulations when she won an Oscar?  Did they go years without speaking after Joan made a cutting public remark about Olivia’s first husband?

And why did the 101 year old Olivia sue the 2017 series Feud over its portrayal of her relationship with her sister?

Find out in this 40 minute talk that celebrates their lives and films.

Updates: Upcoming Engagements and Trib Live Features the Blog

I’m thrilled to return to the Plum Borough Community Library to speak once again on the Golden Age of Hollywood. I will present “Bogart and Bacall … the Lives and Films of Hollywood’s Greatest Romance” at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26. The talk is free but registration is required. Click here to register. I had such wonderful support the first time around, and I hope to see you all there!

Yesterday the Plum Advance Leader featured the talk and my writing. I’ll hope you’ll read my interview with Harry Funk, where we had a lively discussion about Bogart & Bacall, the appeal of old films, and 3 recommendations to get you started if you’re a newbie looking to discover classic films.

You can read the full article here.

Come See Me Speak!

For those in the Pittsburgh area, I’ll be speaking on April 12 at the Plum Borough Community Library. I’ll be discussing the heroines of pre-code films, those films made between 1930-1934, before the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code that dictated what could be shown onscreen. These films are sexy, funny, raucus, and often celebrate women behaving badly. Come to learn about the Hays Code and how Martin Quigley spoiled all the fun. We’ll celebrate such pre-code stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Harlow, and Mae West.

Want a primer on pre-code heroines? Check out Natasha Lyonne’s article for Criterion here.

You’ll have a good time and leave with a list of films you’ll want to watch, many of which you can check out from the Carnegie Library system for free.

Hope to see you there!

*The event is free, but please register here if you plan on attending.

One Last Look at 2021

The start of a new year is like a fresh snowstorm, the world a momentary blank slate waiting to see who will leave their footprints on it.

I’ve got big plans for 2022; and if I’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s that 2022 has got plans for me that I know nothing about yet.

Before we charge forth, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this site’s most viewed posts over the past year.

Top 3 Most Viewed Posts Written in 2021

  1. The First Divine Feud: Bette and Miriam
  2. The Posse Turns 40
  3. Hedy Lamarr: Cursed by Beauty

My Favorite 3 Posts Written in 2021 (in addition to the above)

  1. The Heiress (1949): Ascending to New Heights
  2. Sunrise (1927): Hollywood Rowboat Murders Go Way Back
  3. Notorious (1946): Hollywood’s Longest, Sexiest Kiss

Thank you all for making 2021 a record year for this blog in terms of visitors and views. Wishing you health and happiness and a trail of footprints in 2022.

Five Years of Blogging

Thirty years of scribblings…

Exactly five years ago today, I hung my shingle out on the internet.  Over the past five years, I’ve blogged with varying amounts of regularity, shooting for at least a post a week.

When I started, I wasn’t sure how long the blog would last, but I had an idea that I would take to it.  For while it’s been five years of blogging, I’ve spent most of my life putting words on paper. 

The earliest notebook in the photograph above is a diary I started on Christmas Day, 1990, at nine years old.  I’m a sporadic diary keeper at best, and most of the paper in the stack are novels and short stories.  The diaries are mainly commonplace books where I collect quotes and ideas.  This blog has become the record of my daily life.

Over the past five years, I’ve written 160,000 words across over 700 posts.

To take a quick trip down memory lane, here are links to some of the highest viewed posts in the blog’s history.

2016 – Movie Night At the Cheswick

Eulogy for movies nights at our local cinema.

2016 – Dear Michael Phelps

Growing up with the king of the pool.

2017 – Epic Quests for Rings

Lacey Chabert is the Tom Brady of Hallmark movies, which aren’t that different from watching a football game.  A personal favorite, and an opinion I still stand by.

2017 – The Girls in the Stacks

Who says nothing exciting ever happens in libraries?

2018 – Whole 30 Fail

I try the Whole 30 diet so you don’t have to.

2019 – Night At The Airport

How I nearly ended up on a terrorist watch list.

2020 – Stella Dallas: Barbara’s Four-Hanky Smash

Barbara Stanwyck’s Oscar that got away.

2021 – The First Divine Feud: Bette and Miriam

If you thought Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were rivals, you should’ve seen Bette and Miriam Hopkins. They did all but pull one another’s hair onset. Actually, they probably did that too.

And the most viewed post in the five-year history of this blog?

2020 – Double Indemnity: The Crown Jewel of Film Noir

Even in a bad wig, never bet against Barbara Stanwyck.

Time is the most precious thing we have. I appreciate you giving me some of yours. Hidden diaries have their uses, but writers need readers to complete the circle of creative life.

Thanks for being here.  See you Sunday.