Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"At The Matinee" Looks back at 2014

1977 advertisement in Boxoffice Magazine
for Washington-area cinema chains, film
laboratories, and distribution branches.
I can't believe that 2014 has been a quick and successful year for my blog, At The Matinee.  It's been a joyful and interesting year, writing about classic/contemporary/cult film, television, music, and technology.

Here are some of the most notable events that happened throughout the year (not only on this blog, but in the area as well):

-My article in the January 2014 edition of The Woodsboro-Walkersville Times (formerly The Woodsboro Times, on the bottom-half of page 15) on the town's movie theater in the Woodsboro Bank building* that operated for nearly forty years.

-Praised by Turner Classic Movies for my article on the network's twentieth anniversary.

-A conversation with Mr. Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project, and how those weren't Warner Bros. Vitaphone discs on the wall of the Shepherdstown Opera House (it must have been the labels that threw me off, from this News-Post photograph of the theater's office).

-Mentioned in The Digital Bits (in Mr. Bill Hunt's My Two Cents column) on MGM's negligence to restore and preserve the "roadshow" print of The Alamo (1960).  This was published shortly after veteran film preservation expert Robert A. Harris' account of the condition of the film.

-Finally got to see several classics on the big screen in one of the classes that I enjoyed at Hood College, History of American Film. They included the classic Laurel and Hardy short- The Music Box, The Marx Brothers' 1932 comedy classic- Horse Feathers, and Orson Welles' 1941 masterpiece- Citizen Kane.

-Spreading the word about At The Matinee to fellow students and friends at Hood, along with flyers about the blog on the library bulletin board.  Will make new fliers in 2015 (not only on bulletin boards on the Hood campus, but in other area locations with community bulletin boards).

-Helped stop WJLA-TV's constant preemptions of Me-TV's Saturday lineup (including iconic horror host Svengoolie, portrayed by Rich Koz).  This was done with the help of fellow Me-TV viewers in the area.

HOPEFUL WISHES FOR FELLOW FILM BUFFS IN THE NEW YEAR:

-Revival screenings of classic films shouldn't be ignored by Frederick's cinema venues.  Sadly, classic cinema is still under-appreciated in the Frederick area.  As I've said before- classic films should be shown the way they were meant to be seen, on the big screen.  This is why Frederick needs a repertory cinema house (besides The Weinberg Center For The Arts).

-Hood College shouldn't be ignorant of showing classic films on the big screen in their Hodson Auditorium film series (which would be a great way to compliment their "blockbuster film series").  Yet unfortunately, their "Film club" hasn't responded to my message, nor have they set up any club meetings.  Even worse, my application to the college's "Campus Activities Board" (the organization programs the "blockbuster film series") was rejected.  I wonder if I should start a classic film club of my own at Hood...

-MGM should finally come to their senses, and restore the "roadshow" version of The Alamo before it's too late (or at least have someone else restore the film).  There won't be enough time to save it (due to the deteriorating Eastmancolor stock) if MGM is ignorant of the film.

Thanks to all for reading!  Happy New Year to everyone from the author of At The Matinee!

*There will be an update on the movie theater that was in the Woodsboro Bank building in 2015.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from "At The Matinee"!

Circa 1938.

At The Matinee wishes all readers (along with fellow classic/cult/contemporary film and television buffs) a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Television Corner: Farewell to several Late Night favorites: "The Colbert Report", the "Late Show" Christmas Tradition, and "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson"

At The Matinee bids farewell to several Late Night favorites (and one Holiday tradition): The Colbert Reportthe iconic "Christmas Tradition" on CBSLate Show with David Letterman. and the last episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Here I am standing next to Stephen Colbert's portrait at the
National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., during a
Frederick Community College Political Club field trip in 2008.
FAREWELL TO THE "COLBERT NATION": Nation- on the evening of December 18th, Comedy Central aired the last episode of The Colbert Report.  After nine years of his popular satirical show (a "spin-off" of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), Stephen Colbert bid farewell along with a cavalcade of iconic guests (including Jon Stewart) that have appeared on the show over the years, joining the legendary "fake pundit" in a rousing rendition of We'll Meet Again.

To those that haven't heard, Colbert will be the successor host of CBS' Late Show, when David Letterman retires from his show on May 20th, 2015.  Daily Show correspondent and comedy writer Larry Wilmore will take over Colbert's old Comedy Central time slot on January 19th, with a new spin-off series- The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

I'll be watching his 2009 Christmas special for the Holiday season, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All (in addition to reading his best-selling books, I Am America and So Can You! and America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren't)!

SPEAKING OF LETTERMAN- THE LAST "LATE SHOW" CHRISTMAS TRADITION: One of the most interesting aspects of CBS' Late Show with David Letterman is the show's annual Christmas tradition with Jay Thomas and iconic singer Darlene Love.

The "Late Show Christmas Tree Meatball Challenge" has been an annual favorite since 1998, where Thomas and Letterman throw footballs to hit the "meatball" (in place of the traditional star) on top of the Late Show Christmas tree.  In addition to the "meatball challenge", Thomas recounts his famous story (when he was a disc jockey in Charlotte, North Carolina) about his encounter with "The Lone Ranger"- Clayton Moore.

Years before the "meatball challenge"- another iconic guest on Letterman's Christmas show is Darlene Love, who sang her legendary 1963 Christmas song (from the Phil Spector Christmas album)  Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)- with musical accompaniment by bandleader Paul Shaffer.  She has sung her popular Christmas song on the program since 1986, dating back to Letterman's previous show on NBC- Late Night. 

This will mark the final Late Show Christmas tradition, due to Letterman retiring from late night television (in May 2015).

THE FINAL "LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON":  After the final Late Show Christmas Tradition, CBS aired the final episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (which is also produced by Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants).  To commemorate Craig Ferguson's  special opening montage, past guests of The Late Late Show decided to honor the host in a special rendition of the song "Bang Your Drum" (including Regis Philbin).  The final program also included an interesting "farewell" to the series (NOTE: I'm not giving away the ending- including Secretariat's real identity, you'll have to see the conclusion for yourself).

For nearly ten years, the Scottish comedian/actor has entertained many with his edgy, off-the-wall jokes during the opening monologue and his "tweets and e-mails" segment.  Earlier this year, Ferguson announced that he was stepping down from The Late Late Show, to concentrate on his new game show, Celebrity Name Game and other projects.  British comedian James Corden has been named as the successor host to The Late Late Show in March 2015.   Farewell to Craig, his wise-cracking skeletal robot sidekick- Geoff Peterson (voiced by Josh Robert Thompson), and "Secretariat."

A "tip of the hat" to Steven Colbert, Darlene Love, Jay Thomas, Craig Ferguson, and to one of the greats of late night television- David Letterman.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Frederick's cinemas ignore another holiday classic (Paramount's first "VistaVision" film)



1954 advertisement for 
White Christmas at the
City Opera House (now
Brewer's Alley), from the
November 18th edition
of The News.

NOTE: Though this may be brief (due to upcoming finals at Hood College), there will be more Holiday-related posts on At The Matinee soon.  Be on the lookout for further developments!

Paramount Pictures and NCM Fathom Events will present a revival screening of Irving Berlin's White Christmas in theaters nationwide for two days only (on December 14th and 15th).  The 1954 classic features Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, and Dean Jagger.  It was directed by Michael Curtiz, and was Paramount's first feature film in their exclusive widescreen process, VistaVision (it was utilized from its introduction in 1954 until 1960, when Paramount decided to release upcoming features in Technirama and Panavision).

Unfortunately (according to the Fathom Events list of participating theaters), the Frederick area will miss out on this Holiday classic, same with last week's double feature revival screening of A Christmas Carol (1938) and Christmas In Connecticut (1945). It's funny how the film was welcome with open arms in the area during its run in 1954, and sadly ignored by Frederick's cinemas for its sixtieth anniversary re-release.  It would be nice to experience White Christmas the way it was meant to be seen, on the big screen.

To all cinema venues in the Frederick area: I've said it before, and I'll say it again- don't ignore special revival screenings of classic films! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving From "At The Matinee"!

1941 MGM Trade ad for Shadow of The Thin Man,
encouraging theaters to book the fourth installment
for Thanksgiving weekend.
At The Matinee wishes everyone out there a happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving!  In addition to watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, there'e one other "special event" that will take place on Thanksgiving day...

MST3K "TURKEY DAY MARATHON" 2014: Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without the Mystery Science Theater 3000 "Turkey Day" marathon! Presented by Shout! Factory (along with special "Turkey Day" introductions by series creator and original host Joel Hodgson), six episodes of the cult series will be streamed on the official MST3K YouTube channel, starting at Noon (EST)/9 AM (PST).

To all readers, have a happy, joyful (and safe) Thanksgiving weekend.  At The Matinee will be back in December with extensive features on classic/cult/contemporary Holiday films.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Frederick's cinemas bid "Humbug" to two classics for the holiday season

Trade ads for A Christmas Carol (1938) and Christmas In Connecticut (1945).
Yet once again, Frederick's cinema venues are missing out on
special double feature revival screenings of these holiday classics.
Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros., and NCM Fathom Events will present two holiday classics on the big screen for one day only- the 1938 MGM adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (with Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, and Kathleen Lockhart), and the 1945 holiday comedy Christmas in Connecticut (with Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, and S.Z. Sakall).  The double feature screening will have a filmed introduction by TCM weekend host Ben Mankiewicz, and will be shown in theaters on December 7th at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM EST.  This is being done not only for the holiday season, but to promote Warners' new Blu-Ray releases of A Christmas Carol and Christmas In Connecticut (from new High-Definition transfers).

According to the theater roster for the special one-day cinematic event (via Fathom Events' website), cinemas in the Frederick area are not participating in this special revival screening.  Neither the area's sixteen-plex eyesore (Regal Cinemas), nor Frederick's iconic twinplex (MDL Holiday Cinemas)*, nor Frederick's "crown jewel" (The Weinberg Center For The Arts)* are participating in this classic Holiday film event.

In my view, I think that the Frederick area shouldn't miss out on this special "double feature" revival screening event of two holiday classics.  Both films (A Christmas Carol and Christmas In Connecticut) should be shown the way they were meant to be seen, on the big screen (in the Frederick area).

*NOTE: MDL Holiday Cinemas and The Weinberg Center For The Arts may not be able to show the one-day double feature revival screening of A Christmas Carol and Christmas In Connecticut due to licensing costs and/or availability of the NCM Fathom system.  It would be nice if the Frederick area had a "revival house" (or repertory) cinema venue.

If anyone from Hood College's Campus Activities Board (CAB) is reading At The Matinee, you could obtain the nontheatrical rights to one of the two classic films for possible screenings during the holiday season.  You could add some life to your "blockbuster movie showcase" series by offering revival screenings of classic films!  Just a suggestion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 4th: Today is Mid-Term Election Day


DID YOU VOTE TODAY?

Today is mid-term Election Day throughout the nation.  Again, don't stay home on election day.  Get out to your local polling place and vote.  Every vote counts (regardless of one's political preference or beliefs).  Don't forget to vote today!  

A Public Service Message from At The Matinee.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from "At The Matinee"

At The Matinee wishes everyone a Happy (and safe) Halloween!
Screen shot of my portable 7" Haier TV, set to Svengoolie (portrayed
by Rich Koz).  This was taken back on vacation in 2013, since
our Hotel cable TV service did not carry the local Me-TV subchannel.

If you haven't heard, today is also Rich 'Svengoolie' Koz Day in the State of Illinois (through a recent house resolution from the Illinois General Assembly, to commemorate iconic Chicago horror host Rich "Svengoolie" Koz and his 35 years of showcasing classic horror features on television).  At The Matinee salutes Svengoolie (Rich Koz) on this momentous occasion!

SPEAKING OF SVENGOOLIE... HE'S BACK ON ME-TV (WJLA 7.2) IN THE WASHINGTON AREA! If you've read the previous post on WJLA preempting Me-TV's Saturday lineup for their new owners' sports service, it has generated a significant amount of attention.  Now, WJLA has listened, and has decided to stop preempting Me-TV's Saturday schedule (including Svengoolie)!  Channel 7 has finally listened, and they have moved the Saturday College Football games (through Sinclair's American College Sports Network) to the soon-to-be-defunct Live Well Network (Comcast 204/Over-The-Air 7.2).

Special thanks to Friend of the Matinee Patricia Lupoli for contacting the executives of Me-TV about WJLA's shenanigans to their simulcast of Weigel Broadcasting's nationally-known classic television subchannel.  Thankfully, classic TV (and film) enthusiasts in the Washington area will be able to enjoy Svengoolie uninterrupted on Me-TV for years to come!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Happy 45th Anniversary to Holiday Cinemas!

MDL Holiday Cinemas (October 2014).
At The Matinee celebrates the 45th anniversary of Holiday Cinemas (MDL Holiday Cinemas) in Frederick, Maryland.

Advertisement for the grand opening of
Holiday Cinemas (from the 

October 22nd, 1969 edition of The News).
The cinema opened on the night of October 23rd, 1969.  It was originally owned by the Weinberg family, who also managed the Tivoli in downtown Frederick (The Weinberg Center For The Arts).  The first film that was shown there was William Wyler's 1968 musical comedy, Funny Girl (based off of the Broadway musical of the same name, starring Barbara Streisand, Omar Sharif, Anne Francis, and Walter Pidgeon).

Holiday Cinemas was the first newly-built cinema venue in the Frederick area in over 43 years (after the Tivoli opened its doors in 1926).  The cinema venue on the "Golden Mile" was renowned for its unique "Rocker-Lounger" movie seats in the theater (as the ad on the right states- "an over-sized, permanently mounted rocking chair!")  According to Cinematour reviewer Paul Rosenberry, Holiday Cinemas has the distinction of being the first fully-automated cinema venue on the east coast.

In addition to the main theater, a private screening room (reserved private parties and groups) was also available until the theater was converted into a twinplex cinema at the end of the 1970's.  After the expansion of various cineplexes in the area (the Frederick Towne Mall twinplex, the Frederick County Square triplex, the Westridge Cinema 6, and the Francis Scott Key Mall triplex- which are all defunct), the Holiday would be relegated to screening second-run features at discount prices- which it still does to this day.

Throughout the years, Holiday Cinemas has been operated by several different theater entities.  After the Weinberg family sold the theater (they still own the property around the cinema), it was operated by R/C Cinemas of Reisterstown, Manos Quality Theaters, Neighborhood Entertainment, Inc. (which was a subsidiary of Cineplex Odeon), and Regal Cinemas.

I remember that in 2001, Regal was planning on closing the Holiday for good (possibly because the chain wanted to focus on first-run cinemas, rather than second-run cinemas).  The future for the Holiday looked bleak, until former manager Jack Loudin (who managed the theater during its Neighborhood Entertainment days) bought the theater, along with his son Mark, forming MDL Entertainment.  The theater reopened as MDL Holiday Cinemas in June 2001.

Regal would re-enter the Frederick market by taking over Westview Cinemas from R/C on Buckeystown Pike (that theater was built in 2002, and was sold to Regal after R/C's short-lived comeback to the area).  .

Though many of the cinema venues on the "Golden Mile" have come and gone over the years, Holiday Cinemas is still one of the prominent venues for motion picture exhibition in the Frederick area.  The prices are still reasonable, compared to the outrageous prices at Regal's Westview cineplex (which I still call the "16-plex" eyesore, in my view).

Another problem would occur for the Holiday.  If you've read the January 24th edition of At The Matinee you may have learned that the major studios decided to discontinue releasing feature films on physical motion picture prints.  The studios declared that all future film releases would be distributed on digital files to theaters (with digital projection equipment).

While this was no problem for major cinema chains to upgrade their theaters to digital technology, this was difficult for smaller, independent cinemas.  They either had to comply with upgrading to expensive digital projection equipment, or be forced shutter operations due to the transition from physical film prints to digital files.  MDL Holiday Cinemas had to act quickly, so that it could upgrade to digital projection.

The theater had to take out a loan to upgrade one of its theater rooms to digital projection, while they encouraged the general public to give what they could for a second digital projection system in order to showcase future second-run releases.  According to their website, it looks like that they were successful in getting the second digital projection system (thanks to funds from the general public).

For 45 years, Holiday Cinemas has been delivering the best in motion picture entertainment to area moviegoers.  Kudos to MDL Entertainment for showcasing (second-run) feature films at popular prices.  Here's to many more!

AND SPEAKING OF HOLIDAY CINEMAS... On the evening of October 30th, MDL Holiday Cinemas will have a double feature screening of two horror flicks from area director Edwardo Sanchez.  They include The Blair Witch Project (1998) and Sanchez's latest film, Exists.  According to the theater's Facebook page, Sanchez will be in attendance.

A "happy hour" (with cash bar) will take place from 6:00-7:00 PM.  The Blair Witch Project will start at 7:00 PM, and Exists will start at 9:00 PM (after a brief intermission).  A Q&A segment with Sanchez will take place after the double feature.  All proceeds from that evening's double feature showcase will go towards Frederick Memorial Hospital's Cancer Patient Assistance Fund and the JoAnn Garrett Foundation.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Reminder: Don't Forget to Vote in the upcoming 2014 General Election!

(Vintage Ad Council billboard for Voter Registration).
Source: Duke University Libraries
LAST DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND IS OCTOBER 14TH: If you are a resident in the State of Maryland, and haven't registered to vote in the upcoming statewide General Election- please do so.  Regardless of party or political platform (Independent, Democrat, or Republican), every vote counts.  More information can be found here at Register Maryland.

ABSENTEE VOTING: Information for Absentee Voting can be found here (via the Maryland State Board of Elections).

EARLY VOTING: Early Voting (for registered voters residing in the State of Maryland) takes place from October 23rd to October 30th, and lasts from 10:00 AM-8:00 PM.  For the home office of At The Matinee (Frederick County, Maryland), here are the following locations for early voting (via the Frederick County Board of Elections):

Frederick Senior Center: 1440 Taney Avenue, Frederick, Maryland 21702

Thurmont Senior Center: 76 East Moser Road, Thurmont, Maryland 21788

Urbana Regional Library: 9020 Amelung Street, Frederick, Maryland 21704

I will have to participate in Early Voting, since my college (Hood) does not get Election Day off.

GENERAL ELECTION: The General Election in the State of Maryland takes place on November 4th.  If you are unsure about your voting precinct location on Election Day, the Maryland State Board of Elections has an online tool titled Voter Lookup, where you can look for your detailed voting precinct location.

As I look back at the statewide Primary Election (that took place in June), I was an interim election judge for the Frederick County Board of Elections.  I thought that it was an interesting experience, and I wish I could perform the same duty again in the General Election (due to Hood College not getting Election Day off).

Unfortunately, voter turnout was low during the statewide Primary Election,  I hope that more registered voters in the area will show up and vote (during Early Voting or in the General Election).  I just hope that turnout in the 2014 General Election will not be a repeat of the 2010 General Election (though I voted in the 2010 General Election, low voter turnout was present).

No matter what your political beliefs (or viewpoints) are, be sure to study the candidates and their platform before you head out to the polls during Early Voting (October 23rd-30th) or on Election Day (November 4th).  Get out and vote!

TO ALL REGISTERED VOTERS ACROSS THE NATION: Remember- every vote counts.  Don't stay home on Election Day.

A Public Service Message from At The Matinee.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Classic Hearst "Screen News Digest" Films Available on Internet Archive

Opening Title Card (circa 1965) for
Hearst's Screen News Digest.
Years ago, I remember that The History Channel* (before it became another tasteless "reality show" channel) showed classic Hearst Metrotone Screen News Digest short subjects during their early morning History Channel Classroom programming block.  In recent years, the vintage Screen News Digest shorts have been replaced with repackaged versions of the old History Channel program, History's Lost and Found (to fill out the commercial-free "classroom" block, just like what the network did with Screen News Digest).

The Internet Archive- along with the Bishop Dwenger High School Library has uploaded select issues of the vintage Hearst classroom newsreel series.  So far, six classic issues of Screen News Digest are available for viewing on the Internet Archive, and more editions (ranging from the 1960's through the 1970's) will appear on the site in the near future.

The series premiered in 1958, and my guess is that it was created as a response to Warner Bros.' News Magazine of the Screen-  which was a series of then-recent newsreel series that were reformatted for classroom presentation (from Warners' Pathé News unit, which was acquired by the studio in 1948- and was discontinued due to competition from television in 1956).  According to Geoff Alexander's 2010 book, Academic Films for the Classroom: A History- Hearst's classroom newsreel series was created by Jerome Foreman (who left Hearst's newsreel division in 1960 to form Allegro Productions, a company that is known for producing the Science Screen Report).

Many topics were presented throughout the series' run, consisting of current events or historical subjects. After Hearst discontinued their newsreel unit in 1967 (the same year that rival Universal Studios discontinued their long-running newsreel service), the producers of Screen News Digest relied on past stock footage from the Hearst Metrotone/News of the Day/Telenews library, in addition to new footage filmed by Hearst's television news bureaus.  The series migrated to color footage in the late 1960's, and ran until Hearst discontinued the series in the early 1980's- as videocassette recorders would replace 16mm film projectors in schools across the country.

I am very excited that the Internet Archive (in conjunction with Bishop Dwenger High School's library) is adding classic editions of the Screen News Digest series.  I just hope that they add the 1977 short, The Talking Machine: Tinfoil to LP- which commemorated the centennial of recorded sound (it was shown on The History Channel's "classroom" block many years ago).

*The History Channel (along with its sister network, A&E- which also showed the Screen News Digest shorts in the past) is a joint venture of Hearst and ABC.  Yet sadly, that channel (which has shortened its name to "History") has morphed into another boring "reality show" cable channel. Same goes for A&E (in my honest opinion).

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Gone With The Wind" 75th Anniversary Screening To Be Shown In The Frederick Area

Trade ad for the 1961 re-release of David O. Selznick's
1939 epic, Gone With The Wind.  MGM decided to
reissue the film in theaters that year to commemorate the
centennial of the American Civil War (1861-1865).
Not that long ago, Frederick's cinema venues missed out on numerous opportunities for revival screenings of classic feature films.   This includes the the one-day 70th anniversary screening of Casablanca in 2012, and the 50th anniversary screening of A Hard Day's Night earlier this year.  If you've read previous posts on At The Matinee, you may have noticed that revival screenings of classic (and contemporary) feature films are under-appreciated in the Frederick area.

David O. Selznick's 1939 Academy Award-winning monumental epic, Gone With The Wind (directed by Victor Fleming, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Margaret Mitchell) will be shown in select theaters across the nation on September 28th and October 1st.  The digital presentation is presented by Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros., and NCM Fathom Events, with a filmed introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne.

To my surprise, as I was reading the list of cinema venues that planned on showing the film- I noticed that Frederick, Maryland was on the list of theaters that are showing Gone With The Wind.

Now here's the unfortunate part about this revival screening: it won't be shown at Frederick's "crown jewel"- The Weinberg Center For The Arts, nor will it be shown at MDL Holiday Cinemas, but it will be shown at the area's 16-plex eyesore (in the view of this author), Regal Cinemas.  From looking at Fandango, the ticket prices are outrageous for this limited engagement. The price for a single ticket to this revival screening (according to Fandango) is $12.50.

Aside from that, cinema enthusiasts in the Frederick area will be able to experience Gone With The Wind the way it was meant to be seen- on the big screen.  If the price was right (and if it was shown at a better cinema venue), then I would definitely go see it.  If you're interested in seeing Gone With The Wind on the big screen in the Frederick area, it will be shown at the Regal Cinemas Westview 16 complex on September 28th (at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM), with an encore screening on October 1st.  For more information on this event, visit fathomevents.com.

ATM REMEMBERS: At The Matinee remembers longtime actress Polly Bergen, who passed away at the age of 84 on Saturday, September 20th.  Bergen started her career as a singer on the radio, and her first film appearance was in the 1950 comedy At War With The Army, with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (she would appear in two more Martin & Lewis comedies- That's My Boy in 1951, and The Stooge in 1952).

She is best remembered for her role in the 1962 film, Cape Fear (opposite Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck).   She also appeared in the 1964 film Kisses For My President (opposite Fred MacMurray).  She had her own short-lived variety show series on NBCThe Polly Bergen Show- which ran on the network from 1957 to 1958.  Bergen won an Emmy Award in 1958 for her portrayal of singer Helen Morgan in the anthology series Playhouse 90.  She was also a celebrity panelist on the hit Mark Goodson-Bill Todman game show, To Tell The Truth, during its original network run on CBS.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Rant: Washington's WJLA-TV preempts Me-TV's Saturday Lineup

I was looking forward to watching the Saturday evening Me-TV lineup (after a long week). But on the evening of Saturday, August 30th- I was quite disappointed to see what was in place of Me-TV’s Saturday lineup. Instead, Washington area viewers were treated to "bottom-of-the-barrel" sports programming from this new start-up service- the American College Sports Network.

This has been going on every Saturday since then- and this blog writer is very disappointed in Channel 7’s preemption of Me-TV’s Saturday evening programming.  I learned that the local affiliate that carries Me-TV in the area, WJLA (ABC) decided to preempt a good chunk of the Saturday schedule- consisting of classic westerns in the afternoon and science fiction programs in the evening.

Viewers in the Washington are also missing out on Me-TV’s telecast of The Adventures of Superman, thanks to Channel 7’s new owners.  The main highlight of Me-TV’s Saturday lineup is iconic Chicago horror host Svengoolie (portrayed by Rich Koz), and his showcase of vintage Universal Studios horror feature films. Svengoolie is also preempted by Channel 7’s stale sports programming.

This is because of WJLA’s new owners, forcing the station to carry programming from their American College Sports Network instead of the great shows on Me-TV. Recently, WJLA (and its cable outlet, NewsChannel 8) was acquired by the controversial Sinclair Broadcast Group (which is based in Baltimore, and operates the American College Sports Network). This was part of Sinclair’s acquisition of Allbritton Communications’ TV stations (after Allbritton’s heirs decided to focus on their Capitol Hill rag, Politico). Sinclair has been on a massive buying spree over the years, acquiring TV stations left and right (all thanks to rampant corruption in the Federal Communications Commission, along with greedy Capitol Hill lobbyists- in this blog writer’s view).

It has been reported that similar situations have been happening on Sinclair-owned (or managed) TV stations across the nation. Not just on their stations that carry Me-TV, but on stations that carry other digital networks (through their stations' sub-channels). Many (including this blog writer) have written on WJLA’s Facebook page, suggesting that they restore the Saturday lineup on Me-TV. The only other way to get Me-TV (around ATM’s home base) is through the sub-channel of Baltimore’s WBAL-TV 11 (owned by Hearst). But unfortunately, ATM’s home base is situated in a “DTV dead zone”- and Comcast only carries the Washington stations’ sub-channels in the Frederick area.

It would be nice if another Washington area station would be interested in carrying Me-TV (full-time). In this case, it may be pretty unlikely- as the only non-network owned stations (in addition to Sinclair’s WJLA) are Gannett’s W*USA-TV 9 (CBS, with Bounce TV and WeatherNation on their sub-channels) and Tribune’s WDCW-TV 50 (CW- which carries Antenna TV and This TV on their sub-channels).

To paraphrase an old slogan that WJLA used - it looks like that TV 7 will no longer be “a part of my life", nor will that station be “on my side”- until they stop preempting Me-TV’s Saturday schedule.

In this writer’s opinion, the executives at Sinclair deserve to have rubber chickens thrown at them for dumping Svengoolie.

TELL SINCLAIR/WJLA-TV: “DON’T MESS WITH ME-TV!” At The Matinee’s proprietor has voiced his opinion to WJLA (through their “contact” section on the station’s website). Now it’s your turn to tell WJLA (or any Sinclair-owned station that carries Me-TV) not to preempt Me-TV’s Saturday programming:

WJLA-TV 7
1100 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22209
wjla.com/ Phone: (703)-236-9555

SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP
10706 Beaver Dam Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030
sbgi.net/Phone: (410)-568-1500

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10th: Battle for Net Neutrality


It's been awhile since something new has been posted on At The Matinee (due to overwhelming classwork/homework since ATM's author has gone back to college to expand his educational prospects).

This is in honor of today, which is called "Net Neutrality Day".  In the view of this blog writer, the internet should belong to everyone- not to a select few.  The internet shouldn't be in the hands of giant, corrupt corporations such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.

Show your support by going to the website for Battle For The Net.  Again (in this blog writer's view), the internet should belong to everyone.

More from At The Matinee on Save the Internet day, which was held this past May...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

ATM's Author Returns to College (and More)

From Facts About Projection (1975 edition). 
Since August 25th, the author of At The Matinee has returned to college to expand his educational prospects (and hoping that it will lead to a well-rewarding career in the area).

I am attending Hood College in Frederick, Maryland (thanks to a scholarship), concentrating on the Communication Arts major (in the field of Digital Media).  I'm confident that this will help me in my search for a rewarding career, and that I will be able to make many new friends over there.

Perhaps I could help establish some sort of "classic cinema club" over there, so that fellow students and I will be able to enjoy classic films the way they were meant to be seen- on the big screen.

To all fellow Hood students- welcome back (or "welcome" to first-time students), and read At The Matinee when you have the chance to.  Enjoy At The Matinee, and feel free to write in the "comments" section to let the author know what you think about this blog!

Harold Ramis (1944-2014), Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray,
and Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters (1984)
.
GHOSTBUSTERS RETURNS TO THE SCREEN: In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Ivan Reitman's cult comedy classic (and one of my many favorite features), Columbia Pictures has re-released Ghostbusters (1984) to theaters across the nation, which began on August 29th.  Surprisingly, those in the Frederick area who haven't seen the film on the big screen before will now get the chance to (in an area where revival screenings are often ignored).

Yet unfortunately (in the view of ATM's proprietor), it is being shown at the overpriced 16-plex eyesore known as Regal Cinemas (for a limited engagement).  I was hoping that the digital revival screening of Ghostbusters would show up at MDL Holiday Cinemas, but according to their website (under the "coming soon" section)- the film isn't listed for future screenings.

Even though I would like to see it on the big screen (but not at Regal), I think I'll wait for Sony's Blu-Ray release of the film (not the one bundled with the ill-fated 1989 sequel) to come down in price.

AND SPEAKING OF MDL HOLIDAY CINEMAS... A locally-produced documentary film premiered at MDL Holiday Cinemas on August 28th, titled The Great American Wheat Harvest.  Produced by Conrad Weaver of Frederick-based Conjostudios, the documentary showcases several generations of hard-working harvesters across the nation, along with occurrences of triumph and tragedy in the profession.  The film has had positive reviews, along with financial backing from John Deere & Company.

The film will also be shown in Limon, Ohio; Guymon, Oklahoma; Garden City and Winfield, Kansas (September 5th); Grand Island, Nebraska (September 10th); Tulsa, Oklahoma (September 26th); and Mott, North Dakota (October 6th).  Portions of proceeds from ticket sales (from future screenings) will go towards helping the non-profit organization, Feed My Starving Children.

ATM REMEMBERS: At The Matinee remembers acclaimed actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough, who passed away at the age of 90 on August 24th.  Attenborough is best known for his 1982 cinematic masterpiece, Ghandi (featuring Ben Kingsley as Mohandas Ghandi).  The film won eight Academy Awards (including Best Director and Best Picture).  Attenborough was also known for his role in The Great Escape (1963, as Squadron Leader Roger Roger Bartlett- or "Big X"), and is familiar to modern film audiences for his role in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Jurassic Park (1993, as John Hammond).  Attenborough was knighted in 1976.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

At The Matinee Pays Tribute to Three Greats

Though this may be late, At The Matinee remembers three greats from the silver screen and television.

On the evening of Monday, August 11- the nation learned of the tragic death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, who took his own life at the age of 63.  He studied acting at The Juilliard School in New York, under the wing of noted actor-producer and drama director John Houseman (1902-1988).

His early stand-up routines led him to an appearance on Happy Days in 1978.  He portrayed Mork, an alien from the planet "Ork" to observe human behavior.  This led to a successful spin-off series, titled Mork & Mindy (with Pam Dawber) which ran on ABC from 1978 to 1982.

Williams would go on to play iconic characters in various films over the years, in comedies, dramatic, and animated features.   Some of Williams' iconic films include Moscow On The Hudson (1984), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), The Fisher King, Hook (both 1991), the Disney animated feature Aladdin (1992, as the voice of the Genie), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jack, Jumanji  (both 1996), the Academy Award-winning Good Will Hunting (1997), Patch Adams (1998), Bicentennial Man (1999), One Hour Photo (2002), the CGI-animated feature Robots (2005, as the voice of Fender), the Night At The Museum series (2006 & 2011, as Theodore Roosevelt), Man of the Year (2006), and his portrayal of President Dwight Eisenhower in Lee Daniels' The Butler (based on the real-life events of White House butler Cecil Gaines, portrayed by Forrest Whitaker in 2013).

Williams appeared in numerous stand-up comedy specials for HBO throughout his career.  His last TV series was the short-lived (yet critically acclaimed) CBS comedy, The Crazy Ones.  He was also known for his charitable work for numerous organizations, including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Comic Relief, and touring in several USO shows for troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Friday, August 15th- the Downtown Frederick Partnership's Movie Night On The Creek event paid tribute to Williams by screening his 1993 comedy hit, Mrs. Doubtfire.  On the August 18th edition of CBS' Late Show, David Letterman paid tribute to Williams (Letterman made a cameo appearance on an episode of Mork & Mindy in 1979- titled Mork Goes Erk).  The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is planning a tribute to Robin Williams for the upcoming Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, which will be held on Monday, August 25th.

On Tuesday, August 12th- actress Lauren Bacall passed away at the age of 89 (ATM first heard the news that night via WTOP Radio).

Born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924- she was raised in a middle-class household.  Her father was a salesman, and her mother was a secretary.  At the age of five, her parents split up, Perske would live with her mother and had no contact with her father.  She was a student of the American Academy of of Dramatic Arts, and also worked as a model- appearing on the cover of Harper's Bazzar magazine.

This caught the attention of Slim Hawks, who encouraged her husband, noted film director Howard Hawks to give the Harper's Bazaar model a screen test for his upcoming Warner Bros. film, To Have and Have Not in 1944 (adapted from Ernest Hemingway's novel).  At the suggestion of her agent (and from Hawks), she changed her name to Lauren Bacall.  In Hawks' adaptation, Bacall would star with Humphrey Bogart.  During filming, the young actress would be attracted to her co-star (there was a 25-year age difference between Bogart and Bacall).  To Have and Have Not would become a box office hit, and Bacall would become a major star overnight.   In 1945, Bogart and Bacall were married in Ohio (Bacall would become the fourth and final Mrs. Bogart).

The two would be in other notable feature films, including The Big Sleep (1945), Delmar Daves' Dark Passage (1947), and John Huston's Key Largo (1948, adapted from Max Anderson's 1939 play of the same name).  In addition to these major films, the actress devoted her attention away from film, and decided to spend time with her husband.  Bogart and Bacall produced a family together- a son, Stephen (born in 1949) and a daughter, Leslie (born in 1952).

Other notable film roles came along, including Young Man With A Horn (1950, with Kirk Douglas), How To Marry A Millionaire (1953, with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable- which was the second feature film photographed in Fox's Cinemascope process), Written on the Wind (1956), and Designing Woman (1957).  It was also during this time that Bogart's health began to decline (resulting from a heavy smoking habit), and that Bacall took care of her ailing husband- along with spending more time with her children.  Humphrey Bogart passed away on January 14, 1957.

After Bogart's death, Bacall had a short affair with Frank Sinatra- and had great difficulty finding successful film roles.  Bacall married fellow actor Jason Robards in 1961, and produced a son, Sam Robards (born in December 1961, who would become an actor beginning in the early 1980's).  Though she had several film and television roles throughout the 1960's, she still devoted time to her family.  Bacall and Robards divorced in 1969, as a result of Robards' alcoholic struggles.

Bacall would turn her attention towards Broadway, appearing in the musical Applause in 1970 (a musical adaptation of the 1950 film All About Eve), and won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.  She also appeared in the 1973 television adaptation.  Bacall appeared in Sidney Lumet's 1974 film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (as Mrs. Harriet Belinda Hubbard).  She was also in The Shootist (as Bond Rogers) in 1976- which was John Wayne's last feature film.  That same year, she was in a two-part episode of The Rockford Files (with James Garner) titled "Lions, Tigers, Monkeys, and Dogs".

Throughout the 1980's and into the millennium, Bacall appeared in numerous film and television roles- including Mr. North (1988, directed by Danny Huston, son of John Huston), Ready To Wear (1994, directed by Robert Altman), The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996, directed by Barbara Streisand, which earned Bacall a Screen Actors Guild award and her only nomination for an Academy Award), Manderlay (2005), and a cameo appearance on the critically acclaimed HBO series- The Sopranos. 

Turner Classic Movies will pay tribute to Bacall with a marathon of her most memorable films (including an airing of a 2005 interview with TCM host Robert Osborne) on September 15th and 16th.  A full schedule can be found here.

Don Pardo, on the set of NBC's Saturday Night Live.
On Monday, August 18th- longtime Saturday Night Live (and NBC) announcer Don Pardo passed away at the age of 96.  Born Dominick George Pardo on February 22, 1918- he became interested in theater while attending Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Connecticut.

In 1938, he began to work with local theater troupes- including the 20th Century Players- who performed on WJAR Radio in Providence, Rhode Island.  Pardo would become an announcer at the station about a year later.  He changed his name to Dom, but many called him "Don" (according to an oral history interview with the Archive of American Television in 2006).

In 1944 (along with friend Hal Simms- who would later become another nationally recognized announcer), he made a trip to the National Broadcasting Company's headquarters in New York.  When Pardo thanked NBC's supervisor of announcers for organizing the tour, he immediately ended up with a job at the network, working as part of the studio's night staff (which worked until sign-off).  Two years later, an NBC executive asked Pardo if he knew anything about baseball for the then-new medium of television.  Pardo and another commentator would work on three televised baseball games that year.

Until the mid-1950's, Pardo worked between NBC radio and television.  Beginning in 1956, he would be the announcer for a new game show on the network, The Price Is Right (hosted by Bill Cullen).  On that first incarnation of the game show, it was where Pardo began to develop his signature vocal delivery.  He also had additional announcing duties at the network- including being one of the first to break the news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on the network's flagship station, WNBC-TV.

After The Price Is Right moved to ABC that same year, Pardo chose to stay with NBC. He would become the announcer for another new game show created by Merv Griffin- the first incarnation of Jeopardy!, hosted by Art Fleming (which ran on the network from 1964-1975).

Pardo is best known for his announcing duties on NBC's Saturday Night Live, which he had since the program's premiere in 1975 (except for the seventh season of the program).  In addition to the popular NBC program, he also had a voice cameo in the 1984 "Weird Al" Yankovic song, I Lost on Jeopardy.  Pardo did sign-off news reports for WNBC-TV (as seen in this clip from 1980, courtesy of Rick Klein's FuzzyMemories.tv).  From 1980 to 1991, Pardo also did announcing duties for WNBC-TV's afternoon newscast, Live at Five.  His final announcing duties on SNL was at the end of the program's 38th season in May (he retired from NBC in 2004, but stayed with Saturday Night Live).

According to The New York Times, show creator Lorne Michaels announced that Saturday Night Live will have a tribute to the iconic announcer at the beginning of the program's 39th season.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ken Burns' "Empire of the Air" (plus update about "Movie Night on the Creek")

Cover Art from Ken Burns' Empire Of The Air.
Credit: Antique Wireless Association (Artwork)/
Florentine Films/Public Broadcasting Service.
As a person who is interested in classic/contemporary film, I always enjoy watching the documentary films of Ken Burns (which are telecast from time to time on PBS).  The Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, The Congress, The Civil War, Baseball, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lewis & Clark, Jazz, Mark Twain, Horatio's Drive, The National Parks, The War, The Dust Bowl, and the upcoming documentary on the Roosevelts.

One of his documentaries, Empire of the Air- examines the pioneers of radio broadcasting (originally telecast in 1991). Narrated by Jason Robards (1922-2000), Ken Burns' documentary showcases three iconic innovators - Lee DeForest, inventor of the audion vacuum tube; Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of the regenerative circuit, the superheterodyne radio receiver and "frequency modulation"- or FM radio broadcasting; and David Sarnoff, who created one of the biggest communications companies.

Empire of the Air goes through the innovators' triumphs and struggles, programming during radio's "golden era", early FM broadcasts, radio's role in the Second World War, and early television technology.  The documentary features interviews (and recollections of radio) with noted radio dramatist Norman Corwin (1910-2011), sports commentator Red Barber (1908-1992), Jeanne Hammond- niece of Edwin Howard Armstrong, broadcast historian Erik Barnouw (1908-2001), and Garrison Keillor, writer and host of public radio's A Prairie Home Companion (which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year).

Ken Burns' Empire of the Air is an insightful documentary about the pioneers of broadcasting and communications.  If you've never seen the film before, see it when you have the chance.  It is available on DVD (also part of the Ken Burns' America box set, along with The Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, The Congress, Thomas Hart Benton, Huey Long, and The Shakers) and streaming through Amazon Instant.

UPDATE: "MOVIE NIGHT ON THE CREEK" At The Matinee's previous post was about the Downtown Frederick Partnership and their event, Movie Night on the Creek.  The author contacted the executive director of the organization, Ms. Kara Norman about the possibility of showcasing classic and contemporary motion pictures for future Movie Night events.

Yet unfortunately (according to the message), the organization doesn't have plans of showcasing classic/contemporary feature films for this year's event.  No other plans have been made for films that will be showcased for the 2015 Movie Night season.  ATM appreciates the Downtown Frederick Partnership and Ms. Norman's quick response- yet it would be nice if classic/contemporary films were added to future Movie Night screenings.

As this author has stated before, classic/contemporary/cult cinema is severely under-appreciated in the Frederick area.  It would be nice to see classic films (in the area) the way they were meant to be seen- on the big screen.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Downtown Frederick Partnership's "Movie Night on the Creek" (Kickstarter Fundraiser)

Downtown Frederick Partnership/Douglas Via Photography
Special Thanks to Friend of the Matinee Ashlee Fleming for spreading the word about this (via this author's Facebook news feed, leading to the Downtown Frederick Partnership's official Kickstarter site).  

The Downtown Frederick Partnership has organized Movie Night On The Creek, where people go out to see a feature film projected on an outdoor screen (near Carroll Creek in Downtown Frederick, Maryland). The first film that was screened for the event was the 2013 remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (held this past July).  The event was a major success, with over 400+ attendees viewing the film.

The organization feels that the current screen that they are using for the event isn't large enough, so they are encouraging the general public to donate funds towards a bigger outdoor screen for future Movie Night events, via their Kickstarter page.

The next scheduled event will take place on August 15th.  The film that will be shown on that night will be the 2004 Will Ferrell comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

While At The Matinee's mild-mannered author thinks this is an interesting idea, he wonders if any classic/cult/contemporary/independent features will be shown for future Movie Night On The Creek events (in addition to semi-current/cult feature films).  The author has contacted the Downtown Frederick Partnership about this.

Donate whatever you can to the Downtown Frederick Partnership's Movie Night On The Creek Kickstarter fund (whenever you have the chance to).

STILL NO WORD ON THE EBERT DOCUMENTARY: At The Matinee has mentioned Life Itself (the new documentary on the life of noted film critic Roger Ebert) in a previous post.  As of this writing, there has been no word from MDL Holiday Cinemas showing any interest in screening the film.  At this point, I guess I'll have to wait when the film airs later this year on CNN (who co-produced the film).  Again, I think it would be great if Life Itself were shown on the big screen.

ATM REMEMBERS: At The Matinee remembers documentary filmmaker Robert Drew (1924-2014), who passed away on July 30th, 2014 at his home in Sharon, Connecticut.   Drew was known for his pioneering documentaries, including the film Primary (about the 1960 Democratic presidential candidate primary race held in Wisconsin between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey).  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Sequel to "Creature From The Black Lagoon"

1955 promotional ad for Universal Studios'
second "gill-man" feature,
Revenge Of The Creature
To cash in on the success of the aforementioned 1954 film, Universal decided to make a sequel- titled Revenge of The Creature. Directed by Jack Arnold, the film featured John Agar, Lori Nelson, and John Bromfield.  In the second installment, a group of scientists capture the "gill-man", and is put on display at an ocean park in Florida (the actual location used for filming was California's Marineland of the Pacific).

Just like its predecessor, Universal released the film to cinemas in both polarized 3-D and standard 2-D versions for exhibition (most cinema venues in the nation showcased the film in 2-D).  Hoping that it would be more popular than Creature of the Black Lagoon, audiences and critics were disappointed in the sequel.  Universal produced a third (and final) installment of this film series, The Creature Walks Among Us in 1956.

Some 26 years later, Universal syndicated Revenge Of The Creature to local stations- not in polarized 3-D, but in anaglyph 3-D (the iconic red-and-blue 3-D method).  Local stations were encouraged to team up with area merchants to provide 3-D glasses to customers, in order to promote the 3-D telecast of the film.

One example would be Chicago station WFLD (an independent owned by Field Enterprises at the time), which teamed up with Chicago-area 7-Eleven stores to give away 3-D glasses to customers to promote the local telecast- hosted by Son of Svengoolie (portrayed by Rich Koz).  Examples of the July 1982 telecast can be found through archivist Rick Klein's FuzzyMemories.tv, The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Nearly 32 years later, the film was seen recently (in 2-D) on MeTV Network, and their Saturday night showcase of classic Universal horror/sci-fi features- hosted by Svengoolie (Koz- whose iconic Universal horror showcase has been seen nationally since 2011- when Chicago's MeTV Network launched on television stations across the nation).  Throughout the month of July, Svengoolie showcased the entire Universal "gill-man" trilogy.

More on Svengoolie will be featured in an upcoming edition of At The Matinee.  For those who haven't seen his Saturday night MeTV show, check it out sometime (check local listings for channel).  It is also available on DVD, as part of Universal's Creature From The Black Lagoon: The Legacy Collection box set of the complete trilogy.

FUN FACT: Revenge of The Creature was lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) around 1996, when that iconic program moved from Comedy Central to the Sci-Fi Channel (unfortunately known today as "Syfy").

Thursday, July 10, 2014

MGM is still neglecting "The Alamo" (1960)

From a 1960 issue of Motion Picture Daily 
(on United Artists releases for 1960).
Since the end of May, numerous film enthusiasts and archivists have called on MGM to restore the "roadshow" version of The Alamo.  This ongoing issue in the field of film preservation has gained significant media attention.  Many (including the author of this blog) have informed MGM that preservation work on the film needs to begin immediately.   This author has also written to The Library of Congress, so that The Alamo can be nominated in this year's National Film Registry.

As of this writing, MGM is still ignoring all options from the film community to save The Alamo.  A new article has appeared on The Digital Bits, written by columnist Bud Elder ("View from the Cheap Seats"). Elder explores the production history of the film, how Wayne's production company (Batjac) originally held  the rights to the film (until selling the rights to the film's distributor, United Artists), and film preservationist Robert A. Harris' warning on MGM's unwillingness to restore the film.

If anyone from the current incarnation of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) is reading this post, please consider restoring The Alamo.  The studio shouldn't be fooling around, they should be focused on preserving the vintage John Wayne film (with outside restoration experts) for all generations to see.  If the studio isn't willing to do this, they should let outside film preservation groups work on restoring the complete "roadshow" version of the picture.

To those that haven't informed MGM, tell them to save the complete "roadshow" version of The Alamo (via the studio's Facebook and Twitter feeds- in a positive manner).  The vintage John Wayne feature film should not be neglected, it should be preserved for all generations to see.

UPDATE: Two recent awareness videos (on MGM's ignorance of The Alamo) have appeared on YouTube- one from Mr. Chris Coombs, and another from Mr. Kevin T. Rodriguez (of The Movie Wizard).

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert in
Life Itself, a Magnolia Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit: Kevin Horan
 
STILL NO WORD (YET) ON "LIFE ITSELF" IN THE FREDERICK AREA:  If you've read the July 2nd edition of At The Matinee, you may have heard about the new documentary on the life and legacy of the late film critic Roger Ebert, titled Life Itself.  ATM is still waiting for comment from the management of MDL Holiday Cinemas (which usually screens second-run theatrical features) to show the Ebert documentary in the area.

ATM and its proprietor hopes to hear from them soon.  If talks falter (between ATM and the Holiday), the author may have to contact another venue for interest in screening the film*.  As I've stated before, since this documentary is being released by Magnolia Pictures- it is being released on various platforms (in addition to cinema exhibition).  According to a recent article in Variety, Life Itself will be telecast on CNN later this year (this film was co-produced by the network's CNN Films unit).

In my view, I think it would be best for the Frederick area to have Life Itself shown on the big screen.

*If any readers of this blog know of some venue (in the Frederick area) that would be interested in screening Life Itself, feel free to drop a line (in the "comments" section of this blog).  Information for theaters (or venues) that would like to screen Life Itself can be found at this link.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Fourth from "At The Matinee"

1959 Trade ad for United Artists and
their package of pre-1948 Warner Bros.
features (for TV), showcasing the 1942 
James Cagney musical Yankee Doodle Dandy.
NOTE: This was when UA had the rights
to the pre-1948 WB features.
At The Matinee wishes everyone out there a happy, fun, and safe Fourth of July weekend!

Turner Classic Movies will be showing many classics (in honor of America's day of Independence), including Yankee Doodle Dandy (which is featured on this post, and will air on the network at 4:15 PM EST), along with several Warner Bros. Technicolor short subjects related to the founding of the United States- Give Me Liberty (a 1936 short on Patrick Henry at 6:00 AM EST), Sons of Liberty (a 1938 short with Claude Rains as Haym Saloman at 8:45 AM), and The Declaration of Independence (also from 1938, which will air at 1:00 PM).

Other films that will be on that day's lineup are the 1972 adaptation of the musical 1776 (at 1:30 PM), a 1959 film on the life of John Paul Jones (with Robert Stack at 6:30 AM), The Howards of Virginia (1940, with Cary Grant & Sir Cedric Hardwicke at 9:15 AM), The Scarlet Coat (1955, with Cornel Wilde, Anne Francis, and George Sanders at 11:15 AM), and The Devil's Disciple (1959, with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Lawrence Oliver at 6:30 PM).  Future articles on the aforementioned films will be featured on ATM in the near future.

Of course, it wouldn't be Independence Day without the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which will air live on ESPN2 at 2:00 PM (a repeat broadcast will begin at 6:30 PM).

And there's always A Capitol Fourth on PBS (with Tom Bergeron as host), live at 8:00 PM.

INTERESTING FILMS (AT THEATERS) FOR THE FOURTH:  If you've read the last post on At The Matinee, then you know that Life Itself (a documentary about the life and legacy of the late, renowned film critic Roger Ebert) is being released nationwide.  It will be shown in theaters (and universities) on the fourth (and on various dates thereafter).  ATM is still waiting for correspondence from MDL Holiday Cinemas, on a possible screening of the film (hopefully sometime in the near future).

And let's not forget about Janus Films' revival screening of A Hard Day's Night (in honor of The Beatles' 50th anniversary, the film was released on July 6th, 1964) on the same day.  Rolling Stone had a recent interview with Ryan Hullings, who works as an audio supervisor for Janus/Criterion (along with Giles Martin, son of The Beatles' producer Sir George Martin) on restoring the audio content for the film.

Yet unfortunately, the Frederick area will miss out on the big-screen revival of A Hard Day's Night.  The closest theaters that will show the film are the West End Cinema in Washington, D.C., the Angelika Film Center at Mosaic in Fairfax, the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas in Ashburn (Loudon County) and Winchester, Virginia; the historic Senator Theatre in Baltimore, and the Cinemark Egyptian 24 (at Arundel Mills) in Hanover, Maryland.

The film is now available on DVD & Blu-Ray disc (via The Criterion Collection).  Though this author has seen the brilliant Janus restoration on TCM, it would be nice to see A Hard Day's Night on the big screen in the area (without having to travel far).

It would be great if Janus/Criterion would offer some similar option to theaters that Magnolia is doing with Life Itself (where theaters can easily request possible screening dates from the distributor, as shown here).

To all of the cinema venues in the Frederick area, you're missing out on several big opportunities. We cinephiles want to see vintage films that are being re-released!

With all that aside, do something great (and exciting) on the Fourth.  Happy Independence Day to all of our readers!