Tag Archive: Michael Curtiz


20th century fox cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

For a century, 20th Century Fox was a production machine, churning out volumes of motion pictures annually, but never achieving the greatness seen by the likes of MGM and Paramount.  Yet its key movie star assets, its box office successes, and award-winning films were few and far between.  In 20th Century-Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio, writer Scott Eyman takes movie fans back to the beginning and introduces readers to sometimes successful, sometimes not successful businessmen who built theaters and the movies to screen in them, keying in on the mergers that brought William Fox, formerly immigrant Wilhelm Fuchs, to build a corporation that Darryl F. Zanuck would take through important decades of the 21st century.  Both film buffs and historians of the era of film’s Golden Age will find a history in Turner Classic Movies/TCM’s latest film production chronicle, connected by memorable films from its first Oscar-winner, 1927’s Sunrise, to its last, 2019’s Ford v. Ferrari, telling a story of the rise and fall of a movie empire.  TCM’s 20th Century-Fox is just out from publisher Running Press and available here at Amazon.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For both film buffs and a new generation of a movie fans, a definitive guide to the most influential film directors–spanning a century of Hollywood creativity–will soon be a fixture in libraries everywhere.   Turner Classic Movies/TCM and film writer Sloan De Forest, author of TCM’s Dynamic Dames (reviewed here) and TCM’s Must-See Sci-fi (reviewed here), chronicle 58 directors, their works, and influence on the filmmaking in TCM’s The Essential Directors: The Art and Impact of Cinema’s Most Influential Filmmakers.  From Charlie Chaplin to Steven Spielberg, these are the directors that film aficionados will be unlikely to quibble with.  Some made their marks as household names, others are legendary auteurs, while others provided a singular film or image that has made them synonymous with Hollywood royalty.  From epic dramas, to laugh-out-loud comedies, readers will find TCM’s Essential Directors as the go-to source for the heavy-hitters behind the biggest movies in history.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If Turner Classic Movies says that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then the discussion is over finally, right?

It’s that time of year again and Turner Classic Movies is back showing some of the best Christmas movies from across the decades.  This year host Ben Mankiewicz is interviewing author Jeremy Arnold before and after the screening of movies Arnold has selected to feature in his new book, TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season.  And yes, Arnold’s list includes Die Hard.  So as the British say, “end of.”  Most readers and movie fans will likely agree with at least twenty of the selections discussed in the book, and the rest are there ready for some good discussions with friends over some egg nog this holiday season.

It’s also likely this bucket list of movies has several films that even avid movie watchers may have missed.  I set up my DVR to pick up a few in the book I hadn’t seen yet and was surprised at how superb a selection Holiday Affair is.  It stars Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum, Wendell Corey, Henry Morgan, plus young Gordon Gebert in what must be the best-ever performance by a child actor in a Christmas movie.  This is exactly the kind of value you get with a book like Christmas in the Movies–this movie will now be added to my own favorite Christmas movie list.  For each entry Arnold discusses the actors, plot, audience reception and the impact of the film, and why it’s a good Christmas season film for audiences today.

Along with Die Hard, which is smartly defended by Arnold, you’ll find the usual suspects like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf, plus some lesser known gems, like Remember the Night, the first of four films that would pair Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, plus Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten in I’ll Be Seeing You, and Humphrey Bogart in We’re No AngelsArnold picks up genre films Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and even a few Westerns, including 3 Godfathers starring John Wayne.

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Miss Fury first anthology cover

Miss Fury was ahead of her time.  The superhero moniker and nickname of Marla Drake, she was less a femme fatale, cast aside by the males that shared the comic page as with other contemporary tales, instead planted in the center of the action.  She was a true heroine, who, while maintaining her sex appeal and motherly nature (adopting a child during the series run), she was a strategic thinker and always the most cunning person in the room, despite male dominated conventions of the 1940s.  In fact, despite some handsome and well-intentioned male friends and companions, it’s the women of the series that are the most interesting, with oafish and blumbering men left for the supporting roles.

June Tarpé Mills was ahead of her time.  Serving as story writer and artist for the popular nearly decade running Miss Fury comic strip, she created the first costumed super-heroine when Superman and Batman were just getting their footholds in the fantasy realm.  Her character drawing is incredible and modern readers might compare her comic art style with modern-day Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang, her compositions with Alex Ross, and her glamour with Adam Hughes.  All of these comparisons are accurate and compliment each of these artists.  Mills’ story arcs collected in Tarpé Mills & Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1944 – 1949 anthology hardcover from IDW Publishing are intriguing and compelling–so much so that you could overlook the detailed “costuming” of Mills’ men and women.  But what you would miss.  Men were dressed appropriately in snappy suits, her women sport a historical catalog of designs, fabrics, colors, and styles, as well as a variety of 1940s hairdos.  Miss Fury might as well be a sourcebook for clothing historians.

Mills accomplished something many modern comic book readers beg for–less costumed character stories (i.e. Batman stories) and more secret identity doing the detective work out of the costume (i.e. Bruce Wayne stories).  In fact, you will hardly see Marla Drake appear in her catsuit in the pages of Miss Fury.  And it won’t bother you one bit.

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