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February 25, 2016

The Hollywood Heritage Museum, which was closed for several months in 2015 for renovation, celebrated the 100th anniversary of Universal City last October. The festivity came a few months late due to the Museum's makeover, but the observance was memorable nonetheless!


This was another post I originally meant to publish in 2015, but alas, here we are...

February 13, 2016

This piece is my contribution to the 4th Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon a ScreenOutspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club. The event runs Feb. 6-27, and there are a handful of participants and a variety of topics that will be covered. Please visit any of the three sites to expand your Oscar knowledge!


I've managed to write about most of my favorite films on this blog - from I See A Dark Stranger (1946) to Dear Heart (1964) to Gun Crazy (1950) to The Innocents (1961). However, there's one I haven't gotten around to yet: The More the Merrier (1943).

February 1, 2016

You may recall that I posted about Issue #1 of The Pre-Code Companion back in September. Well, fast forward five months and here we are, at Issue #4 already!  My piece in Issue #1 focused on censorship and 1933's Baby Face, the topic of my undergrad thesis. This time around, I started from scratch with 1933's Midnight Mary, a picture I was barely familiar with but had heard positive things about.


Issue #4 covers three films, two actors, and one director with articles penned by yours truly and four other fabulous writers. Pick up your copy today on for $2.99. As always, all proceeds go to ASPCA.

January 13, 2016

Disclosure: Peggy Cummins has mesmerized me since I first watched her in Gun Crazy (1950) years ago. Her role in that film is so entrenched in my mind that it's almost difficult to accept her in a comedy or any role where she doesn't portray a hot-blooded femme fatale.


This picture, 1957's Hell Drivers, comes kind of close to Gun Crazy. Sub trucks for guns and keep the violence and you've got a similarity. A British production from blacklisted writer/director Cy Endfield, Hell Drivers can be pretty accurately summed up by the poster to the left. Men, trucks, recklessness, and ferocity. 

December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve!


In honor of the holidays, I give you this throwback to last year: my article for MovieMaker magazine online called "Not Another Christmas Movie: Five Alternative Classics to Watch This Year." Some of these selections are more well-known in the holiday sphere, while others simply take place during the season.

December 15, 2015

2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Archive celebrated with several retrospectives, one of them titled "The Greatest Showman: Cecil B. DeMille."


Two films that screened together, The Cheat and The Golden Chance, celebrated their 100th anniversaries this month.

December 2, 2015

So questions Kay Johnson as the film's title character.


Answer: I do, I do!


And so did a large number of people in Los Angeles, judging by the attendance at a screening at the Egyptian Theater.

November 23, 2015

This piece was written for the fourth annual WHAT A CHARACTER! Blogathon hosted by Kellee (Outspoken and Freckled), Paula (Paula's Cinema Club) and Aurora (Once Upon a Screen). Please feel free to check out any of their sites for links to more pieces on character actors, classic and modern!


When you use the word 'character' in reference to Marsha Hunt, the discussion can veer in two very different directions. On one hand, her film work naturally comes up, for which she was once termed the "youngest character actress in America."

November 17, 2015

To be honest, it's been a while since I've watched any of the Forbidden Hollywood DVD collections; I'm actually astonished to find that there are nine of them now!


Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9 includes four pre-Codes - Big City Blues, Hell's Highway, The Cabin in the Cotton, When Ladies Meet - and one (barely) post-Code picture - I Sell Anything. The set provides a hearty variety of comedy, drama, and social commentary, and all the films appear here for the first time on DVD in the US.

November 6, 2015

I first stumbled upon Consolation Marriage (1931) and Ann Vickers (1933) years ago on TCM. As a big fan of Irene Dunne's, I noticed that both films remained near the top of my imaginary list of Dunne favorites over the years (and they definitely are my top two adored pre-Codes of hers). However, I also made note that both pictures remained somewhat elusive, available for several years only on VHS.


Until now. Thankfully, Warner Archive Collection righted that wrong, debuting both films on DVD alongside two other Dunne pictures, Sweet Adeline (1934) and Never a Dull Moment (1950).

November 5, 2015

I first stumbled upon Consolation Marriage (1931) and Ann Vickers (1933) years ago on TCM. As a big fan of Irene Dunne's, I noticed that both films remained near the top of my imaginary list of Dunne favorites over the years (and they definitely are my top two adored pre-Codes of hers). However, I also made note that both pictures remained somewhat elusive, available for several years only on VHS.


Until now. Thankfully, Warner Archive Collection righted that wrong, debuting both films on DVD alongside two other Dunne pictures, Sweet Adeline (1934) and Never a Dull Moment (1950).

October 28, 2015

In honor of Halloween this weekend, here's a real horror story: a movie most people probably haven't heard of, Ouanga, aka The Love Wanga, aka one of the craziest and most tragic productions in cinema history. 


The film screened as part of UCLA Film and Television Archive's 2015 Festival of Preservation earlier this year. A few months ago, I shared one of my favorites from the same festival, 1932's Bachelor's Affairs, a luminous, rarely screened pre-Code comedy. Well, Ouanga, an equally rare and incredibly bizarre indie horror flick, falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

October 22, 2015

Another Language (1933) and What Every Woman Knows (1934) are two of Warner Archive Collection (WAC)'s latest DVD debuts starring Helen Hayes, nicknamed the "First Lady of the American Theater."


I chose these two Hayes movies to review because of their release dates: July 1933 and October 1934, pre- and post-Code, respectively. I hadn't seen, or even heard of, either of these films before, and besides providing a quick review of each, I really wanted to compare and contrast both in terms of the Production Code.

October 13, 2015

Though I hate watching modern movies in 3-D, I've recently become fascinated with the format after attending the World 3-D Film Expo in September 2013 and watching a handful of movies that screened as part of "The Golden Age of 3-D" series at the Aero Theater.


One of the Aero's "Golden Age of 3-D" presentations a few months ago was a special evening full of 3-D Rarities. Sadly, I was out of town and couldn't attend, but luckily, the program was repeated a month later at the Downtown Independent, co-hosted by the LA 3-D Club and the Los Angeles Film Forum. 

October 1, 2015

The release of Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era Through 1965 this past Tuesday, September 29, appropriately co-branded with TCM, marks the end of an era. Though this book is the author's third Classic Movie Guide, Maltin has been penning and updating his Movie Guides since 1969, and his last edition of that publication, Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide, made its final bow last year. 


(Special thanks to TCM and Penguin Random House for providing me a review copy of the book).

September 23, 2015

Two years ago this month, the World 3-D Film Expo took place over 10 days at the Egyptian Theater. I volunteer at the Egyptian regularly, and I love film festivals, so helping out with this one was a no-brainer. 


Luckily, my schedule allowed me to catch several screenings, including I, The Jury (1953) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). While I got a kick out of all the movies I saw - some admittedly more for their campiness - by far the zaniest was Robot Monster (1953). That's a title I simply can't take seriously, which naturally compelled me to watch. (It also turns out it's a movie you can't take seriously either. One peek at the poster confirms this.)

September 14, 2015

Each year, Cinecon Classic Film Festival takes place at the Egyptian Theater over Labor Day weekend. And each year, I'm out of town.


Despite this being Cinecon 51, and despite me being an American Cinematheque volunteer for the past three years (Cinecon takes place at the Cinematheque) I sadly never hear or see much  marketing for the festival, which is a shame.

September 1, 2015

A few months back my friend Danny, who runs the wonderful, asked if I would be interested in contributing a piece on Baby Face to the new bi-monthly journal he was putting together called The Pre-Code Companion. I humbly agreed and happily went to work re-editing, condensing, and even re-writing parts of my undergrad thesis for the piece.


Issue #1 includes five other articles from a handful of fantastic bloggers on three pre-Code films and actresses. Pick up your copy today on for $2.99 (all proceeds are going to ASPCA).

August 26, 2015

The 16th edition of Noir City: Hollywood in 2014 featured a tribute to Joan Fontaine, who has long been one of my favorites. Included in the lineup was Fontaine's semi-film noir soap Born to Be Bad (1950), which celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2015. As a special treat, the event also marked the big screen debut (I believe) of the film's 'alternate' ending, which was shown after the movie.

August 17, 2015

On a few rare occasions, I've loved watching a movie so much that I've had the urge to sit through the entire thing again. Immediately.   


One of those films is 1935's Romance in Manhattan, which I first saw several years ago on TCM. The film stars Ginger Rogers and the relatively forgotten (today) Czech actor Francis Lederer. Perhaps because it was released at the beginning of a year that included, for Rogers, roles in Roberta and Top Hat, the movie is sadly not as well remembered today, though it's charming, funny, and quietly moving.  

August 6, 2015

A piece I'm writing for an exciting project has kept me quite busy over the past several weeks, which has meant that I've sadly neglected the work I've been doing for this site.


I hope to return in a week or two, but in the meantime, below is a mini throwback piece from Norman Lloyd's Q&A after a screening of 1949's Reign of Terror (aka The Black Book) at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. 

July 27, 2015

Every two years, when the UCLA Film and Television Archive hosts their Festival of Preservation, I can always count on a few rare pre-code selections. The pre-code screening I enjoyed most at the 2015 festival was 1932's Bachelor's Affairs, boasting a director I had never heard of, writers I didn't know, and a main cast consisting of actors usually billed at least 3rd or 4th in the credits.


This is a film capable of catching an audience off guard, and boy did it ever! 

July 16, 2015

In honor of Barbara Stanwyck's birthday today, here are my thoughts on Victoria Wilson's massive biography, A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940


Sadly, I don't find myself reading as much on my own time as I'd like, since I go through a good amount of treatments and scrips at workSo, attempting to devour a 1056 page biography was no small undertaking for me.

July 9, 2015

Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel Ramona is a landmark piece of literature in many ways, one of those being that the work is generally acknowledged as the first book set in Southern California. For that reason alone, it's fitting that the film's world premiere restoration in March 2014, almost 86 years to the day of its original debut in 1928, took place in Southern California at the Billy Wilder Theater, home of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Archive assembled an extremely impressive and remarkably diverse group of educators and historians to highlight the different ways in which the film was groundbreaking for its time.

June 29, 2015

Obviously, it was not, but when I saw the movie, I had my suspicions.


The first time I watched Why Be Good? (original title: That's a Bad Girl) was at the 6th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival this year. Immediately after reviewing the schedule, this film made my must-see list for several reasons: 1. the film was thought lost for decades and only recently made available, 2. it was made in 1929 (you know what that means: PRE-CODE!) and 3. it's a sound/silent hybrid (no spoken dialogue but synced soundtrack and sound effects).

June 18, 2015

Back in January, “The Silent Treatment” screened William Wellman’s scarcely seen 1926 dramedy You Never Know Women. The title enticed me to read further, which was when I spotted this description on the Cinefamily’s website: “highly unusual circus romance.”

June 10, 2015

This past January, the Aero Theatre hosted the West Coast re-premiere of Arch Oboler's 1966 3D Sci-Fi classic The Bubble. This Thursday, June 11, the Aero will be hosting a free screening of the film at 9:30pm as part of the American Cinematheque's "The Golden Age of 3D" series. For more information on the screening and the series, please visit their website.

June 3, 2015

Welcome to part 2 of Noir Hollywood 17's Proto Noir wrap-up! The first two films that screened, The Ninth Guest (1934) and Let Us Live (1939), were posted last week here. Below are the two movies that rounded out the quadruplet: pre-codes Heat Lightning (1934) and Safe in Hell (1931). 


And yes, they both live up to their scorching titles. 

May 27, 2015

"Proto Noir" was the title of the closing evening program of Noir City Hollywood 17. I only know that because I tore hundreds of tickets labeled as such that day as a volunteer at the American Cinematheque.


An appropriately epic sendoff for the festival, the closing night featured not one, not two, not three, but FOUR films screened in a row. As did several of the selections that year, while some of these movies bordered on film noir, others were simply darker suspense tales or dramas leaning heavily on the melodramatic side.

May 19, 2015

2014-2015 seems to be the year(s) of Sophia Loren. Last November at AFI Fest in LA, Loren received a career tribute, and one of the gala events was a discussion with her, in addition to a 50th anniversary screening of Marriage Italian Style (1964).


Well, the following year, the TCM Classic Film Festival followed suit, welcoming the Italian icon as a guest, with, you guessed it, a "Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival" recorded conversation and another screening of Marriage Italian Style

May 11, 2015

...Well, they did bet on women. Or more accurately, woman. Just one.


As I've mentioned several times, pre-codes always register on my must-see TCMFF list.

This year, I happily had the chance to watch three pre-codes on the big screen, including 1931's Don't Bet on Women, which saw enough of a crowd for its first screening that the film was given a second one.

May 5, 2015

Authors David Pierce and James Layton spent Friday morning at the 2015 TCMFF presenting a fascinating lecture on the use of Technicolor in early movie musicals. The discussion was based in part on their book, The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935, which focuses on the Technicolor company's attempts to put color on the screen during its first two decades.


Since you can't have musicals without sound, the presentation concentrated on the early sound years, in particular 1929-1930. 

April 28, 2015

After acting in five Bond films, Sean Connery walked away from the iconic role. TCM's Ben Mankiewicz guessed the casting search rivaled the one for Gone with the Wind's Scarlett O'Hara decades before, but George Lazenby, the man who stepped into Connery's shoes, narrowed the number down: approximately 3000 actors were looked at and 300 tested on film. 


I don't know if those numbers are true or not - I took most everything Lazenby said with a grain of salt - but by his conversation with Mankiewicz, you could definitely tell why he won the role of James Bond. 

April 21, 2015

As I suspected, one of my must-see events at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, "Return of the Dream Machine," turned into a festival highlight for me.


The presentation was very TCM-esque and highlighted what the network does best at their annual festival: bringing together experts to create an atmospheric, memorable evening that brought film history to life.

April 16, 2015

“I love this!” Immediately after Shirley MacLaine looked out into the audience and uttered those words, she went giddy over a man’s bald head in the front row: “Look at his head. It’s so shiny!”


(Right off the bat, I wasn't expecting this interview to stay totally focused on the film at hand, which I was initially hoping for. But Shirley did discuss the movie a fair amount, so I was satisfied in the end).


The moment I heard that Shirley MacLaine would be a guest at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, I eagerly penciled one of her two films on my must-see list.  

April 10, 2015

(To be honest, I don't think they live too far out of town...)


During our final Social Producers meeting on Sunday morning, we were all asked to name our personal highlight of the festival thus far. To my surprise, almost everyone mentioned a different movie or presentation, which reminded me of the sheer variety and immense quantity of movies included in this year's festival. 

April 3, 2015

This piece is my contribution to the Pre-Code Blogathon hosted by Danny of and Karen of Shadows and Satin. Please visit either site for a great selection of articles on this fascinating era.


“I’ve always taken the rap for the Code, but it was really those Barbara Stanwyck pictures that did it,” Mae West was quoted as saying in a 1988 Los Angeles Times article. Indeed, one of Stanwyck's raciest pictures, Baby Face (1933), ranks among those that helped herald in the re-affirmation of the Production Code in 1934.

thanks for stopping by!

I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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