Cracked Rear Viewer’s 4th Anniversary Celebration!

Holy Moley! I’ve been so busy lately I failed to realize today marks the 4th anniversary of this humble little blog, until I saw an alert from WordPress.  Where does the time go? I’m usually on top of these things, but with the new job taking up a large amount of my time, I’ve been slacking on the blog front. Yes, Cracked Rear Viewer made it’s debut on June 26, 2015 with a post on one of my favorite little ‘B’ films, 1941’s THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK  starring Peter Lorre (who coincidentally was born on this date in 1904!).

Since that initial post four years ago, CRV has branched out into not only informing you Dear Readers about classic movies, but books, music, TV… pretty much anything that holds my interest (including the occasional rant – and thanks for indulging me!). Most posts get reblogged on Through the Shattered Lens, where I share space with great writers like Lisa Marie Bowman, Ryan the Trash Film Guru, Case Wright, and others (follow the link to check it out, you’ll be glad you did!). The Cracked Rear Viewer Facebook Page has taken on a life of it’s own, with daily extras you don’t find on my main site. As for Twitter, I’m not really on there too much anymore… too much political crap for my tastes!

Between all the different platforms, there are 2,457 viewers out there, and I thank each and every one of you kind people. You given me 100,818 visits and 164,162 views of my 1,024 posts. Hey… I hit the 1,000 post milestone?? Yikes, missed that one completely (told you I’ve been busy!!). And now (drum roll, please) here are CRV’s Top Ten All-Time Posts:

Familiar Faces #8: In Search of Angelique Pettyjohn

Top Ten Reasons CASABLANCA is The Greatest Movie Ever Made!!

I Wish I Were A Fish: Don Knotts in THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET (Warner Brothers 1964)

Star Vehicle: Burt Reynolds in WHITE LIGHTNING (United Artists 1973)

The Origin of Billy Jack: BORN LOSERS (AIP 1967)

(tie) That’s Blaxploitation! 11: Jim Brown in SLAUGHTER (AIP 1972)/Victim of Love: Clint Eastwood in THE BEGUILED (Universal 1971)

Boldly Going Indeed! : PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW (MGM 1971)

Existential Exploitation: BOBBIE JO & THE OUTLAW (AIP 1976)

Tag Team Turmoil: …ALL THE MARBLES (MGM 1981)

Why I Think ERASERHEAD Sucks!

How’s that for an eclectic group of films for an eclectic group of readers!

So what will the future bring? Unfortunately, the new work endeavor means I’ll have to slow down a bit from the three-times-a-week schedule I’ve been trying to maintain here. You see, in my real life I work long hours in the substance abuse field, and helping people save their own lives is my passion, even above and beyond watching and writing about old movies. I think I can manage to get in at least two a week, though… at least I hope so! Be that as it may, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for supporting my humble efforts to entertain and enlighten you here on Cracked Rear Viewer, and as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. As the great Stan Lee used to say, “Excelsior!”.

Much love and thanks from Gary Loggins, your humble Cracked Rear Viewer!

 

Happy National Classic Movie Day!

So apparently, today has been delegated National Classic Movie Day, and no one told me! It was created in 2014 as some sort of “grassroots movement” (according to Facebook), and isn’t really a National Holiday. But it should be! What better way to bring people together than watching a classic film starring Bogie, Bette, Duke, or Bela, and then actually TALKING about it. I’ve struggled with creating an All-Time Top Ten List for years, so I’m not even going to attempt it. Instead, here’s a list of 20 films off the top of my head that I could watch over and over again (and in the interest of fairness, I’ll present them in  alphabetical order):

ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (Warner Bros 1938)

Cagney and O’Brien, Bogie and Ann Sheridan, The Dead End Kids – what more could a classic film fan ask for??

BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (Banner Pictures 1953)

I can hear you all taking a deep intake of breath and saying, “What the f…”, but I don’t care! I love this no-budget masterpiece, and I love Lugosi, so there!!

CASABLANCA (Warner Bros 1942)

I’ve written plenty of praises for my favorite movie, so I’ll just move right along…

CITIZEN KANE (RKO 1941)

Some say it’s the greatest film ever made, and who am I to argue? Orson Welles broke all the cinematic rules here, and invented some new ones!

DUCK SOUP (Paramount 1933)

Groucho, Chico, and Harpo at their most anarchic! “Remember, we’re fighting for this woman’s honor… which is more than she ever did!”

FRANKENSTEIN (Universal 1931)

Karloff as Mary Shelley’s tragic creation turned a minor actor into the Undisputed King of Horror. And the sequel (1935’s BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN) is as good (if not better) than the original!

THE GODFATHER (Paramount 1972)

Francis Ford Coppola’s portrait of an American family, who happen to be in the Mafia. It’s much more than just another gangster movie.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (United Artists 1967)

Of all the Spaghetti Westerns ever made, this one’s my favorite. Cool Clint, Ice Cold Van Cleef, and Crazy Eli are a trio that can’t be beat, and Sergio Leone dazzles us with his movie-making magic.

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD MAD WORLD (United Artists 1963)

Often imitated, but never duplicated. How could it be, with Spencer Tracy heading up a cast of classic comedians doing their thing!

KING KONG (RKO 1933)

No amount of technological advancement or big-name stars can top this marvelous movie. A fairy tale for the ages!

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Continental Distributing 1968)

A movie that scared the crap out of me when I first saw it… and still does!!

 PSYCHO (Universal 1960)

They don’t call Alfred Hitchcock the Master of Suspense for nothin’!!

THE QUIET MAN (Republic 1952)

The lush Irish landscape, John Wayne and Victor McLaglen’s big brawl, and Maureen O’Hara at her most gorgeous make this one of John Ford’s most poetic movies.

THE SEARCHERS (Warner Bros 1956)

Wayne and Ford again. Simply the greatest Western ever made.

SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (RKO 1949)

Three in a row for the Ford/Wayne combo. A very underrated Western.

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (MGM 1952)

A musical masterpiece about Old Hollywood. Gene Kelly never ceases to amaze me!

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (Warner Bros 1951)

Another Hitchcock thriller, a delicious cat-and-mouse game between Robert Walker and Farley Granger.

SUNSET BOULEVARD (Paramount 1950)

A Hollywood Horror Story, with Billy Wilder and Gloria Swanson pulling out all the stops!

SOME LIKE IT HOT (United Artists 1959)

Wilder creates one of the screen’s greatest comedies, with a little help from Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, and the superb Joe E. Brown! “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

THEATER OF BLOOD (United Artists 1973)

Because every classic movie list should include a Vincent Price flick!

Editorial: On Classic Hollywood and Historical Perspective

TRIGGER WARNING: Tonight’s post has been cancelled so I can present the following editorial. All views expressed are mine alone. Not all of you will agree with me. If you’re too sensitive, please just keep it moving. For the rest of you, read on…  

*sigh* I shouldn’t even have to be writing this. 

The New York Yankees baseball  team have stopped playing Kate Smith’s immortal “God Bless America” at their games. Hockey’s Philadelphia Flyers have followed suit, and Philly’s Wells Fargo Arena has gone so far as to  remove a statue of Ms. Smith from the premises. Meanwhile, at Kentucky’s Bowling Green University, plans are afoot to rename the Gish Sisters Movie Theater, named after pioneering film stars Lillian and Dorothy Gish.

What’s going on here, you may well ask?

Let’s start with the venerable Kate Smith. For those of you unfamiliar, Kate Smith was a popular songstress whose career took off in the late 1920s. Her radio program aired from 1931-45, and introduced the world to Abbott & Costello . She appeared in films like THE BIG BROADCAST, HELLO EVERYBODY!, and THIS IS THE ARMY, and helped sell more War Bonds during WWII than any other star in the country. Kate Smith was eventually given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1982. Besides the iconic “God Bless America”, her hits included “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain”, “River, Stay Away From My Door”, “The Last Time I Saw Paris”, “White Cliffs of Dover”, and “Don’t Fence Me In”.

Kate Smith also recorded a hit called “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” in 1931, and sang a little ditty titled “Pickaninny Heaven” in the 1933 film HELLO EVERYBODY!.

Lillian Gish in Victor Sjostrom’s “The Wind” (1928)

Then there’s Lillian Gish. Famed for her performances in D.W. Griffith’s early silent classics INTOLERANCE, BROKEN BLOSSOMS, WAY DOWN EAST, and  ORPHANS OF THE STORM, as well as later roles in LA BOHEME, THE WIND,  DUEL IN THE SUN, PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER , and THE WHALES OF AUGUST, she starred on stage, screen, and television, earning numerous accolades, including an honorary Oscar in 1971 for “distinguished contribution to the progress of motion pictures”, the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979, and a Nation Board of Review Best Actress Award for THE WHALES OF AUGUST at age 93. Miss Gish was also instrumental in early efforts to preserve silent films. After her death, Lillian’s will established a trust fund for the Lillian and Dorothy Gish Prize, given to those who’ve “made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life”. Among those receiving the prize have been Ingmar Bergman, Bob Dylan , Isabel Allende, Ornette Coleman, Pete Seeger, Chinua Achebe, and Spike Lee. She was arguably the biggest star in silent cinema, so influential the great Francois Truffaut dedicated his film DAY FOR NIGHT to Lillian and her sister Dorothy.

Lillian Gish was also the star of Griffith’s 1915 BIRTH OF A NATION, when she was just 22 years old.

So what gives here? Why, all of a sudden, is “God Bless America” no longer heard in Philly and NYC? Why does Bowling Green want to remove the Gish Sisters from their theater’s name? Were Kate Smith and Lillian Gish mouth-drooling racists? Here’s where a little historical perspective comes in handy.

Segregation in America

America in the early 20th Century was a segregated nation. The Civil War was over in name only. White fear of miscegenation was rampant, and that didn’t stop at black folk. Chinese, Native Americans, and other ethnicities were under close scrutiny by the white ruling class. Hell, my Irish and Portuguese ancestors who first came over weren’t exactly greeted with open arms either, relegated to working the hardest of hard labor jobs for what amounted to slave wages. This was an age in American history before Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and the Civil Rights Movement came into being… America would have to wait until the upheaval of the 1960’s before tolerance of “the other” even began to enter the conversation.

Is “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” a racist song? Ab-so-fucking-lutely (so is ‘Pickaninny Heaven”, for that matter). Kate Smith was as unenlightened about race relations as the rest of White America back then. But does this mean we should simply erase Kate and “God Bless America” from our collective consciousness, pretend it doesn’t even exist, and (I hate to use the term) “whitewash” Kate Smith from American History?

Paul Robeson in James Whale’s “Show Boat” (1936)

If so, we’re going to have to ban Paul Robeson as well. Mr. Robeson was the pre-eminent black actor of the early 20th Century, a performer and singer of great power who was blacklisted for his political beliefs, an early Civil Rights activist. In 1931, the same year Smith recorded “That’s Why Darkies Were Born”, Mr. Robeson also recorded a version of the song. Does this make him a “bad person”, too? Do we now remove Robeson’s legacy, depriving future generations of films like THE EMPEROR JONES, SANDERS OF THE RIVER, and the 1936 version of SHOW BOAT – in which Robeson sings another (allegedly) racist song, “Ol’ Man River”.

And what of Lillian Gish? True, BIRTH OF A NATION is an abhorrent love letter to the KKK, but it’s also historically important in the development of the motion picture industry. I’ve sat through it, cringing as I did, for the simple fact it deserves to be seen – from a historical perspective! Just because Miss Gish is in it, does that mean we need to erase her contributions to the history of cinema? If so, you’d better fasten your seatbelts, as Bette Davis once said. Future director Raoul Walsh plays the part of John Wilkes Booth in the film. Shall we ban his filmography, which includes silent classics THE THIEF OF BAGDAD and WHAT PRICE GLORY, and later movies such as THE ROARING TWENTIES , THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, HIGH SIERRA , and WHITE HEAT ?

DW Griffith’s epic “Birth of a Nation” (1915)

It gets worse: future director David Butler (DIMPLES, ROAD TO MOROCCO , CALAMITY JANE) is also in the cast, as is future Three Stooges producer/director Jules White. Do they get rubbed out of Hollywood history, too? Where does it all end? Do we deprive ourselves of seeing the comedic talents of Willie Best and Mantan Moreland because the parts they played were stereotypes? Are the SJW’s coming for GONE WITH THE WIND next? (Some say they already have). America’s history of racism is not pretty; in fact, it’s goddamned ugly. But we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. What we can do is study it, learn from our mistakes, and move forward. Banning things that make you feel uncomfortable just makes people desire that forbidden fruit even more, and they will go out of their way to find out what makes it so special. Look at Prohibition in the 20’s, or the War On Drugs today. That is just human nature.

In the 1930’s, Nazi Germany banned books with ideas the powers-that-were didn’t agree with, and burned them in public. Among those targeted were Albert Einstein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, and Ernest Hemingway. Is that where we’re headed next? Historic celluloid and recordings in flames, all in the name of… what? “Social justice”? Can erasing the distasteful past, banning ideas no longer accepted by mainstream society, be considered justice?

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And you can’t learn from something by erasing it.

 

RIP Jan-Michael Vincent: A Pictorial Tribute

Jan-Michael Vincent has passed away at age 74. Though the actor suffered many trials and tribulations in his personal life, there’s no doubt his onscreen presence connected with audiences of the 70’s and 80’s. In his honor, we present ten shots from the film and TV career of Jan-Michael Vincent:

Tribes (TV-Movie 1970; D: Joseph Sargent)
Going Home (1971; D: Herbert B. Leonard)
The Mechanic (1972; D: Michael Winner)
The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973; D: Robert Scheerer)
White Line Fever (1975; D: Jonathan Kaplan)
Damnation Alley (1977; D: Jack Smight)
Big Wednesday (1978; D: John Milius)
Defiance (1980; D: John Flynn)
The Winds of War (TV-Miniseries 1983; D: Dan Curtis)
Airwolf (TV Series, 1984-87)

Rest in peace, Jan-Michael Vincent (1944-2019)

CRV’s Random Thoughts On Last Night’s Oscars!

As Alfred Hitchcock (who never won an Oscar!) used to say, “Good ev-en-ing”. Since the Academy Awards ran a little late last night, and I had to get up early to work a twelve-hour shift, I had no time to prepare a post about last night’s ceremony. I know it’s kinda late news already, so I’ve assembled a list of some  Random Thoughts On Last Night’s Oscars for your amusement and edification! Hang on, here we go:

  • If the Academy wants to cut down on show length, I suggest they get rid of the vapid Red Carpet crap and start the ceremony at 7:00 EST. Hey, some of us poor schmucks have to get up in the morning!
  • Who needs a host when you’ve got Queen kicking things off?
  • That opening montage of 2018 movies was pretty stunning work. Thanks for including STAN & OLLIE , even though your silly rules prevented the film from Oscar consideration this year!
  • FREE SOLO beating RBG for Best Documentary was the night’s first upset. It’s just too bad neither WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR or THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD received a nomination, though.

The Rolex “To A Future Filmmaker” ads were good, but my favorite was this one from Google:

  • I can’t wait to not watch WHISKEY CAVALIER.
  • When ROMA won for Best Foreign Film, you knew its chances at Best Picture were zero. Alfonso Cuaron will have to console himself with his Oscars for Best Director, Cinematography, and Editing. A keen student of film (didn’t hear anyone else quoting Billy Wilder!), Cuaron will be back.
  • Oscar Watching Tip: If you crank up the sound on your TV, the Best Song performances make a great time to grab a quick snack or hit the bathroom!
  • The political rhetoric was kept to a minimum, always a good thing. Except for Spike Lee, but since this was his first Oscar win in a brilliant thirty year career, I’ll cut Mr. Knick a little slack. Congratulations, Spike!
  • Someday, I will visit the Academy Museum. Bank on it.
  • The bad news: Sam Elliot did not win. The good news: Spider-Man did!
  • I don’t know about you, but I really miss Wayne and Garth.
  • Line of the night: “I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!”
  • Lady Gaga gave the most heartfelt acceptance speech of the night. Runner up: Olivia Colman.
  • In Memoriam: Okay, it wasn’t too bad, but if they could make a last-minute change to add Albert Finney, why not Stanely Donen ? Or Dick Miller ? Gloria Katz gets a mention, but not Gary Kurtz ? And what about Classic Stars of the Golden Age like Gloria Jean , Mary Carslyle, Patricia Morison, Jerry Maren? Delores Taylor ? Sondra Locke ? I could go on, but you get the picture.
  • I will definitely go see ROCKETMAN!
  • Who’d thought that Freddie Mercury, who released his first album with Queen back in 1973, would have a hit biopic BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY 45 years later that won four Oscars, including Rami Malek’s Best Actor nod for playing him? Certainly not me!
  • Best Picture: GREEN BOOK. Didn’t see it, but congrats to Peter Farrelly from over the border in nearby Cumberland, Rhode Island, a mere forty miles away from your humble scribe!

See you at the movies!

My Favorite Super Bowl Commercial 2019

Well, there were slim pickings in this year’s Super Bowl commercial race. Mercedes Benz featured The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Stella Artois gave us the return of The Dude, and that Bud Light/Game of Thrones mash-up was pretty cool. But the ad that had everyone at the Super Bowl I attended roaring with laughter was this one starring Craig Robinson:

Yeah I know, it’s sophomoric, but also funny as hell!!