Category Archives: classic hollywood

Tinsel Town Trailblazer: Anna May Wong

SEPT / OCT 2017: BY SCARLETT GRANT

Representation in film is, and will always be, a topic of debate. There has been improvements, for example with last year’s Hidden Figures (2016), but also setbacks, like the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson in Ghost In The Shell (2017). Long before in the Golden Era of Hollywood, one woman decided to create positive representation—Anna May Wong. Continue reading Tinsel Town Trailblazer: Anna May Wong

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Harsh Lessons from the Twilight Zone

JAN / FEB 2017: BY LILA DONOVAN

What causes a hero or heroine in a story to choose one person over their rival? A lot of times it’s explained to us as “chemistry” but there are times when plots are more complex. Jess-Belle is an episode of the fourth season of the 1960’s version of The Twilight Zone. It’s a different episode from most of plots that appear on the show. Many focus on science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian societies. This one takes place in the country, we’re not told exactly where, but it’s hinted it’s probably the Blue Ridge Mountains, told as a folktale.

Jess-Belle is a beautiful dark-haired country gal, who had a relationship with Billy-Ben Turner. Their relationship is over and he’s chosen to court Ellwyn Glover, another country beauty with golden hair. Jess-Belle privately confronts him about why he broke things off, accusing him of choosing Ellwyn because she comes from a wealthy family. Billy-Ben assures her that isn’t the reason, he says he loves Ellwyn in a “quiet way.” This implies there was unnecessary drama when Billy-Ben was dating Jess-Belle, and that he got tired of it and chose to have a peaceful relationship with Ellwyn.

In desperation, Jess-Belle runs to the home of Granny Hart, a local woman rumored to be a witch who people seek out to help them with their problems. Jess-Belle asks if she is truly a witch because the people in the village that sought Granny Hart’s help have ended up with mixed results, their problems were sort of solved with side effects. Granny Hart laughs it off. Jess-Belle asks for her help to win back the heart of Billy-Ben. Because Jess-Belle is poor and doesn’t have any money, Granny Hart offers her another deal, and she’ll “know” what it is in time, but warns her the price is high. Jess-Belle agrees and is given a tonic to drink which unleashes a series of unfortunate events that leads to Billy-Ben still choosing Ellwyn.

witchJess-Belle could have ended up with Billy-Ben because he chose her first, but she lost him due to her attitude. I feel like if Jess-Belle would have worked on her attitude and not relied on a witchcraft, she could have improved her relationship with Billy-Ben and ended up with him. This episode reminds me of when King Saul, didn’t receive an answer from God, and went to the Witch of Endor for help, even though earlier in his reign he had driven out mediums and magicians.

Most Christian theologians point towards the actions of King Saul and that he spent a lot of time disobeying God before he went to the witch. I think it’s safe to assume that this is why God wasn’t answering him at this time. King Saul had the same attitude Jess-Belle did, they both wanted quick and easy answers to their problems. In the end, Jess-Belle was her own worst enemy, not Granny Hart, Ellwyn, or anyone else. She could have had her own happy ending and didn’t have to end up playing second fiddle.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lila Donovan is a Christian and a university student. She loves to read, draw, write, and has a blog.

Vincent Price Double Dare

HALLOWEEN 2016: BY CAITLIN HORTON

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I admit it, I am that individual who jumps at their own shadow and can count the modern horror movies they’ve seen on one hand. One finger, actually. And I watched it during the day with light pouring from every lamp and the mute button on and discovered that without scary sounds and music, modern horror is, well, cheap and melodramatic and very much pantomime. So how I wound up watching two 1950s horror movies with Vincent Price in one week and liking them is still a mystery! Perhaps it’s because I know that pre-1960s films had to adhere to a stricter film decency code and only so much “horror” could actually take place. But more likely it’s because I knew it would be a more surreal, more artistic horror that leaves much to the imagination. Continue reading Vincent Price Double Dare

The Maltese Falcon

SEPT / OCT 2016: BY SHANNON H.

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Detective stories are the things that makes us turn each and every page, scratch our heads, and, yes, even get us to think. Sometimes, it’s the obvious; sometimes it’s not who you expect. Likeable characters become villains and so-called villains turn out to be good guys. Whether it’s Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian detective drama, we always know to expect the unexpected. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett embodies the spirit of a good detective mystery that leaves the reader on the edge, anticipating the next big surprise along with a stunning 1941 film adaptation that defines the genre of film noir. Continue reading The Maltese Falcon

West Side Story: The Updated Romeo and Juliet

JULY / AUG 2016: BY CAROL STARKEY

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Leonard Berstein took Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and made it applicable to more modern audiences. While no one would say Romeo and Juliet is irrelevant, Bernsteins’s story takes on a life of its own. With numerous musical numbers and strong actors, West Side Story is a musical not soon forgotten. Continue reading West Side Story: The Updated Romeo and Juliet

Angel and the Badman: Vengeance or Love

MAY / JUNE 2016: BY RACHEL KOVACINY

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One of the things I like best about stories set in the Old West is the endless possibility for diverse characters to encounter each other. Characters from every imaginable background, ethnicity, ideology, religion, and lifestyle can very naturally get thrown into contact with one another because, in real life, western settlers really were a diverse bunch. You had immigrants from Europe, Civil War veterans, Chinese railroad workers, Native Americans, and Mexicans all rubbing shoulders with families coming out from the eastern United States. And whenever you have that varied a mix of people, you get conflict. And when you have conflict, you get dramatic stories.

Angel and the Badman (1947) tells you right in the title that it’s about the pairing of two very different people. An angelic woman and a bad man—what could they have in common? How would they meet? What kind of love story might they create together, and how could it be anything but doomed to failure? Bad men don’t get to marry angels, do they? Continue reading Angel and the Badman: Vengeance or Love

Royal Meets Reality: Roman Holiday

MAY / JUNE 2016: BY RACHEL SEXTON

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We all watch movies enough to have become familiar with certain on-screen formulas. The narrative theme of two different worlds colliding is usually shown within the confines of a romance. We’ve all seen the rich girl fall for the poor boy and her dad be determined to keep them apart (“But Daddy I love him!”). Done well, this formula can be fine, but when something with more layers, unpredictability, and depth manages to find its way onto film, that’s special—and Roman Holiday does just that. The plot deftly illustrates a meeting between classes through humor, romance, and emotion. Continue reading Royal Meets Reality: Roman Holiday

The Modern Sherlock Holmes

JAN / FEB 2016: BY CHARITY BISHOP

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Few literary figures are better known or loved than Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting sleuth, occupant of 221B Baker Street. Since his first literary appearance in 1889, he continues to capture the devotion of millions through short stories, novels, radio plays, television series, and films. And during WWII, he inspired people by shedding his deerstalker to enter the modern age and deliver much needed hope worldwide. Continue reading The Modern Sherlock Holmes

Norma Shearer

JAN / FEB 2016: BY LILA DONOVAN

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Norma Shearer (August 10, 1902-June 12, 1983) was born to a wealthy family in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Around World War I her family lost their fortune. Certain sources say she was born in 1900 and others claim she was born in 1904. Many actresses in Hollywood’s Golden Age lied about their age and backgrounds so they could get a foot in the door in Hollywood. Continue reading Norma Shearer

East of Eden: Being Good or Bad

JAN / FEB 2016: BY CARISSA HORTON

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Director Elia Kazen had the magic touch in 1950s Hollywood, even with the “red scare” of communism that threatened to knock him out of play. So many brilliant, award-winning films were brought to life at his hand: On the Waterfront, Baby Doll, Splendor in the Grass, A Streetcar Named Desire, and, of course, East of Eden. Continue reading East of Eden: Being Good or Bad