Favorite Christmas Movies: Part 2–Revisited

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White Christmas, the 1954 film about two former soldiers from World War Two, who turn song and dance men and who help their former commander as he attempts to run a floundering ski resort, has special meaning to me. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features the songs of Irving Berlin.  As a major piece of American film history, that would be enough to be of interest to me, but it has a much more profound connection.

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My parents were both of “the greatest generation,” which is a description with which I agree. They were born and raised during the depression and were part of the multitudes of America who fought and supported World War II. My father was a Marine, and my mother worked in the Signal Corps.  This group of Americans had a toughness that was forged in the fire of great tumult, both national and international.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

 My mother loved this movie, and it was a tradition in our family to watch it when it aired on television, which was, if I remember correctly, every Christmas Eve. If not that night, then it was always on a nearby night. Of course, as a child who was born a while after World War II, it was all ancient history to me then, but for my mother and father, it spoke directly to their lives and to their hopes and dreams.

Both of my parents have been gone for quite a while now, over 20 years–they were married for 48 years and died within 2 years of each other. As I have become older, I have learned to appreciate what my parents did for us, which, I have to admit, when I was young and stupid, I did not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, –it is amazing how smart my parents got as I got older. And I appreciate and try to continue some of the family traditions, including watching White Christmas.  I still feel the connection to my Mom and Pop when I watch this movie.  This movie speaks to the connection of people, of hope, of joy, of happiness, and of the power of music.

And this year, the forecast says we might get a bit of snow on Christmas!

 

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More from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

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I have blogged about this book before, but I am compelled to write about it again. After seeing the new movie The Man Who Invented Christmas about Charles Dickens and his writing of that famous book, I must once again spread the word about his message.  By the way, I give the movie a five star, completely enthusiastic, review! Go to see it if it is showing near you.

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In the past, I mentioned the quotation from the ghost of Jacob Marley when he comes to Scrooge to tell him of the soon-to-be visitations from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Scrooge says to Marley, “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob”

I quoted part of Marley’s reply: “Business! . . . Mankind was my business.”

In today’s post, I want to include the rest of this quotation:

“The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence, were, all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

The rest of Marley’s words clearly demonstrate that the business of the human race is the rest of humanity and not the acquisition of wealth and goods. These words remind us that we are all connected in this world. This admonition is as current in our times as it was in the age of Dickens.

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Happy Birthday to Bram Stoker!

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Today is the 170th anniversary of Irish writer Bram Stoker’s birthday. As the author of Dracula, a book I consider one of the finest Gothic novels ever written, he has had enormous impact on the worlds of writing, theater, and film.

To commemorate this day, the wonderful librarians at Lehigh University’s Linderman Library organized a showing of the classic film Dracula (1931) and starring Bela Lugosi. I was asked to give a short presentation about the film, which I enjoyed doing.  Given the opportunity to talk about this book and film, I always grasp the chance.

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So I wish Bram Stoker a happy birthday!

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Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French is available for purchase on Amazon either as an ebook or a print book!

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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Science-Fiction Films of the 1930s: Frankenstein

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The movie that I will discuss in this installment is Frankenstein.  This 1931 film was directed by James Whale and produced by Carl Laemelle, Jr. Universal Studios was following up its huge success with Dracula earlier in the year, so this film seemed like a natural choice to make. I have posted on Frankenstein before in my series on horror films, but like its namesake novel, it can also been seen as early science-fiction.

While the title and characters come from the 1818 Mary Shelley novel, it is a loose adaptation of the text.  Interestingly, the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, is a much more faithful treatment of the novel than this first film. This movie, one of the most important in horror film history, introduces Boris Karloff as the Creature. Karloff gives an impressive performance as the lost and lonely being who is unsure of who he is and his place in the world.  This sounds like so many teenagers and young people, and while frightening, Karloff also gathered empathy from viewers in his nuanced performance.

Bela Lugosi had been offered the part of the creature but apparently turned it down because of its lack of speaking lines.  Lugosi made a terrible career choice, because Karloff would supplant him after this film’s success as the top box office star and would continue to dominate Lugosi’s subsequent film career.

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The movie is powerful and atmospheric and is highly influenced by the artistic movement German Expressionism that had a stylistic impact on cinema especially in the 1920s and 1930s. Whale used large Gothic structures in the set and deep slashing shadows in creating the atmosphere of the film.

Jack Pierce designed the Creature’s distinctive makeup, which was an ordeal to apply and remove from Boris Karloff each day before and after filming. It is a work of design masterpiece, but it is completely different from the Creature’s appearance in the novel.

For those familiar with the novel, it is significant that not only the Creature’s appearance but also his personality and level of intelligence are vastly different from that of the character from the book. In Mary Shelley’s work, the creature is one of the narrators and is both intelligent and self-educated.  Both of those characteristics are missing from the inarticulate and not very bright film Creature. This kind of vastly different portrayal of characters and themes is something that is, unfortunately, typical of many horror films, or should I say, many film adaptations of books. That, however, should be the topic of another post.

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This movie incorporates the stuff of science-fiction, and we see Dr. Frankenstein and his then advanced technological equipment as he attempts to capture the essence of life. In fact, there is more such machinery in the film than exists in the book. So, is Frankenstein horror or science-fiction? I argue it is both.

The film was very successful financially for Universal Studios.  It is also considered by many cinema historians and critics to be one of the most important films made. It spawned numerous sequels and parodies, not limited to movies.  From Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein to the character of Herman Munster in The Munsters to Young Frankenstein, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation have been fertile ground for satire and spoofing.

 

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Favorite Science-Fiction Films: A Trip to the Moon (1902)

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I teach a course for the Wescoe School at Muhlenberg College: English 255 Literature & Film, which makes me very happy, because I am able to look at both literature and film, both media which I love. In one of the lectures for the class on film history, I speak to the earliest examples of cinema.

One of the first movies is also a science-fiction film: A Trip to the Moon (La Voyage Dans La Lune). Georges Méliès, one of the innovators of cinema, was the director, and he based the film, at least loosely, on Jules Verne’s novel From The Earth To The Moon (1865).

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This movie is revolutionary not only in its being an early example of cinema but also in the treatment of science-fiction. Human beings have been explorers for the entirety of our existence, and this movie suggests that it was possible to move our journeys from the Earth to other worlds, a concept that informs our science-fiction cinema from the beginnings to our current films.

The plot shows scientists explaining how to get to the moon, the trip there, including a spaceship being shot out of a cannon, landing on the moon, being chased by inhabitants of the moon, and finally escaping back to Earth. This film explores adventure, imagination, advances in technology, and human potential.

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This movie is usually considered by critics to be one of the most important in film history. It can be seen at https://archive.org/details/ATripToTheMoon1902 . If you are interested in the history of film and science-fiction, you should see this important historic and artistic film artifact.

The film runs, depending on the print from about 10-15 minutes.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

 

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Liebster Award!

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Thank you very much to Angie Dokos for nominating me for the Liebster Award! It is always an honor to be recognized by other bloggers, so I am happy and humbled. Please visit Angie Dokos at https://angiedokos.wordpress.com and you will find a lively, intelligent, and entertaining blog.

The Rules:

  • Say thank you to the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Answer the 11 questions you have been asked.
  • Nominate and notify 11 bloggers for the award.
  • Ask those you have nominated 11 questions.

The Questions:

1. Why did you choose book blogging over something else?

Actually, I blog about books, writing, film, tv, quotations, and anything else that comes to mind!

2. What is one thing you’re really passionate about beside books?

I love to learn about the world, in a myriad of aspects. This includes philosophy, art, physics (although I do not have great math skills), and many other areas of exploration.

3. Have your reading tastes changed over the years?

Not counting being very young, I have always loved reading a wide variety of kinds of books.

4. What is your favorite vacation spot?

Either going to a lake or for a vacation of the future–going to Italy!

5. Do you collect anything (other than books)?

I have a collection of odd knick-knacks related to books, superheroes, and fishing.

6. What has been your favorite book so far this year?

I reread The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and it remains one of my favorite books!

7. What is one law you would change if you could?

I would have all states have immediate voter registration as people turn 18. Voting should be inclusive not exclusive.

8. If you had to donate money to a charity, which one would you choose?

To Teddy Atlas’ foundation — The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation — which serves the needy in New York. It is not well known,  but he does extraordinary work with this charity.

9. What is your favorite genre to read?

This is difficult, since I love so many, but if I had to choose, it would be Gothic.

10. What is your dream car?

A reconditioned 1967 Volkswagon Beetle!

11. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

I finally finished my Ph.D. in English Literature several years ago.

My nominees:

K. D. Dowdall   https://karendowdall.com/

Sarah Higbee  https://sjhigbee.wordpress.com/

Chape  https://chapeblog.com/

Shehanne Moore  https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/

Yinglan  https://yzhengblog.wordpress.com

David Prosser  https://barsetshirediaries.wordpress.com

Jeanne  https://seasonsapoeticjourney.com/

Annette Rochelle Aben  https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/

Esther  https://femiiesther.wordpress.com

pjlazos  https://greenlifebluewater.wordpress.com/eco/

KSBeth   https://ididnthavemyglasseson.com/

The Questions:

1.) What is your favorite, or one of your favorite, movies?

2.) What is your favorite breakfast?

3.) What was the last live performance of a play that you attended?

4.) Are you a day or night person?

5.) Are you writing something now? If so, what are you writing?

6.) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

7.) Is there a book that you reread?

8.) Where would you like to visit that you have not yet gone to?

9.) Do you have a historical time period with which you are fascinated?

10.) What is your favorite season of the year?

11.) Do you prefer coffee or tea?

 

Again, I thank Angie Dokos for nominating me for the Liebster Award.

 

 

Favorite Horror Films of the 1940s: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This film might seem like an unusual choice for my series on horror films, especially since it is primarily a comedy, but I do have a fond place for this movie in my heart for several reasons.

As a youngster, I loved the hosted horror films shows that often appeared on Saturday afternoon, and I saw most of the Universal Studios horror films on those shows.  Also, I heard several times from my parents that they saw this movie when they were on their honeymoon in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, it is an extremely funny movie.

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

This film, made in 1948, was the completion of the Universal classic horror movie cycle, and it included the big three monsters of the Universal pantheon: The Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman.  One of the signals of the end of a film genre cycle is when it reaches parody, and this film qualifies.  Horror very often is a reflection of the concerns of the larger world, and with World War Two completed, the fears of the world had changed and would be seen more in new science fiction films. (I examine some of these movies in my series on Science-Fiction films.)

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The premise is silly and features Dracula attempting to revive the Frankenstein Creature, and Larry Talbot, the wolfman, trying to find a cure for his lycanthropic infection. I should add that this is one of the finest performances by Lon Chaney Jr. despite the comedic tone of the movie.  Of course, Abbott and Costello are brilliant in their comedic routines. This movie never fails to make me laugh, no matter how many times I have seen it. Bela Lugosi plays Dracula for the last time, and Glenn Strange takes his turn as the Creature.

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(https://ils.unc.edu/dpr/path/horrorfilms)

If you have not seen this movie and you enjoy the classic Universal Studios horror films and you love slapstick 1940s comedy, then you should watch it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview