CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Be My Guest: Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Due to the Classic Actress tourney in March, there was no guest done during that time. So this month we get two fabulous guests. Valarie Joyce already dropped by and had a crazy good time. Now comes Ivan G, who I think everybody will just love. Take it away Ivan.

1. What made you start blogging? 

There are two responsible for inspiring Thrilling Days of Yesteryear—the first was an online friend of mine of many years who asked me one day when I was planning to start a blog.  “As soon as I find out what you’re talking about,” I told her.

But the biggest influence on the blog was the political snark site World O’Crap, who featured a reference to an old-time radio soap called Aunt Jenny’s Real Life Stories in one of their posts.  Since I knew a little bit about the subject, I kind of filled in a detail or two on Aunt Jenny’s history and frequented WO’C quite often until one day I said: “How hard could this be?”  As it turns out, it wasn’t easy because my first blog, Weapons of Mass Detraction, was around for a week or two before I vaporized it…I just wasn’t that good at being snarky about politics.  But I did know a bit about OTR, and so I started TDOY in November of 2003.  It focused a good deal on that for a while but gradually morphed into a classic film and television blog.

2. Who are your favorite classic film stars? Name as many as you want

Among the male stars, I like Bogie, Cagney, Eddie G., John Garfield, Roberts Mitchum and Ryan, Charles McGraw, Boris Karloff, Joel McCrea, Orson Welles…and many of the great comedians like Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy, the Marxes, the Stooges, W.C. Fields, etc.  On the distaff side: Jean Arthur, Ingrid Bergman, Gloria Grahame, Judy Holliday, Celeste Holm, Mercedes McCambridge, Agnes Moorehead, Maureen O’Hara, Maureen O’Sullivan, Marie Windsor, Lee Remick, Claire Trevor, Thelma Todd, Jan Sterling.  That should do for starters.

3. What are some of your favorite films?

Casablanca is probably my favorite film—but I really have a megaton of movies that I love to revisit over and over again.  Winchester ’73, Touch of Evil, The Glass Key, North by Northwest, To Be or Not to Be, 3:10 to Yuma, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, All About Eve, Bad Day at Black Rock, Born Yesterday, Call Northside 777, Citizen Kane,City Lights, Curse of the Demon (Night of the Demon), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying the Love the Bomb, Duck Soup, Force of Evil, Foreign Correspondent, Freaks, Gun Crazy, High Noon, His Girl Friday, His Kind of Woman, Horse Feathers, I Walked with a Zombie, In a Lonely Place, In Cold Blood, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It’s a Wonderful Life, Johnny Guitar, King Kong, Kiss Me Deadly, Man on the Flying Trapeze, Medium Cool, Miracle on 34th Street, Modern Times, Monsieur Verdoux, Murder My Sweet, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, A Night at the Opera, Nightmare Alley, Out of the Past, Pandora’s Box, Paths of Glory, Petulia,Quatermass and the Pit, Rear Window, Ride the High Country, Road to Utopia, Sailor Beware, Safety Last!, Salt of the Earth, Seconds, Shadow of a Doubt, Sherlock Jr.,Shock Corridor, Singin’ in the Rain, Some Like it Hot, Sons of the Desert, Stalag 17, Stars in My Crown, Strangers on a Train, Sullivan’s Travels, Sunrise, Sunset Blvd.,Sweet Smell of Success, Targets, The Breaking Point, The Court Jester, The Freshman, The General, The Grapes of Wrath, The Gunfighter, The Kid Brother, The Killing,The Lady From Shanghai, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Maltese Falcon, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Pawnbroker, The Searchers, The Set-Up, The Swimmer, The Talk of the Town, The Third Man, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Wizard of Oz, Thieves’ Highway, Way Out West.  (Just the tip of the iceberg, I should add.)

4. Describe your first classic movie experience. Like where and when…at a cinema, on TV, etc…

Probably my earliest exposure to classic films had to do with all the cartoons I watched as a kid—though at the time, I wasn’t aware that these shorts had originally appeared in theaters and were made for audiences of all ages.  I also watched a lot of the two-reel comedies like Our Gang and Laurel & Hardy…with a specific emphasis on a lot of the Columbia product.  Columbia had a reputation for hiring either people who were on their way up or on their way down—I saw a lot of the comedies with Buster Keaton, Charley Chase and Harry Langdon as a little sprat.  These movies are hardly these gentlemen’s best work…but it encouraged me to seek out more and more of their movies.

I was thirteen years old when our public library sponsored a showing of King Kong—an event that some 300 people turned out for (in a town that numbered about 4,000).  It made a tremendous impression on me (it’s still one of my all-time faves) and I think that and showings of Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (which the library showed chapter-by-chapter every week) kind of put the ring on my finger as far as classic movies went.

5. What films upon first viewing did you not like, then later on when re-watching them, loved them?

I know quite a few movies that haven’t aged well since the first time I saw them…but I’m kind of stymied as to whether there’s every been a situation in reverse.  The only movie I can think of—and whether or not it can be called a “classic” is certainly debatable—is Animal House.  I couldn’t figure out what the fuss was all about when I watched it the first time (probably late-night on cable) but on subsequent viewings I started to see why it’s a cult favorite.  (Seeing it with drunk fraternity types helps, too.)  There are probably some more movies I’ve changed my opinion on after a second or third viewing but I’m drawing a blank.

6. Describe the perfect way for you to watch a classic film.

Ideally, it would be inside a real movie theater with an audience.  But since that opportunity doesn’t come around too often, I generally enjoy just watching them late at night by myself, with a nice snack at the ready because… (see next question)

7. How many friends, family member or co-workers share your love of classic films?

In terms of friends I see every day—there aren’t many.  (I have to exclude folks from the Classic Movie Blog Association, since I interact with them mostly online.)  And my family is even worse.  My sister Kat derisively refers to my obsession as “my black-and-white.”  My mother will on occasion sit down and watch one with me—she likes the Universal horror films and the Warners gangster movies in particular.  My father avoids classic films unless John Wayne is in one or someone’s seated on a horse.  (And if it’s a movie we’ve already seen, he likes to wisecrack: “That one turned out the same as it did last time.”)

8. What is your favorite time period: the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's or 60's?

I always answer the 20s for a couple of reasons.  Silent filmmaking was an amazing art form.  There were so many amazing films made at that time—Sunrise, Docks of New York, Pandora’s Box, etc.  Many foreign directors were making some of their finest works at the time, too: Lang, Murnau, Pabst.  It was also the time when the great movie comedians were at the peak of their powers: Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, etc.

9. What are some of your favorite film quotes?

"...if I always knew what I meant, I'd be a genius..." – Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell), Murder My Sweet (1944)

"I'm just tryin' to get along without shovin' anybody, that's all..." – Tom Joad (Henry Fonda), The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

“I’ll see ya all of a sudden, Sam…” – Dan Milner (Robert Mitchum), His Kind of Woman (1951)

“In the world of advertising there’s no such thing as a lie—there’s only expedient exaggeration…” – Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), North by Northwest (1959)

“I’d horsewhip you if I had a horse…” – Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff (Groucho Marx), Horse Feathers (1932)

“Drown in a vat of whisky…death, where is thy sting…?” – The Great Man (W.C. Fields), Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

“Ice cream, Mandrake?  Children’s ice cream?” – General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying the Love the Bomb (1964)

10. What classic films have you yet to see for one reason or another?

Jill at Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence asked this on Twitter sometime back.  I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie in its entirety.  I have nothing but the utmost respect for their terpsichorean talents, but they’re just not my particular cup of Earl Grey.

Other films I’ve not made appointments to see: Mutiny on the Bounty (both 1935 and 1962), Wuthering Heights (1939), Fantasia (1940), Watch on the Rhine (1943), The Constant Nymph (1943), Since You Went Away (1944), The Red Shoes (1948), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), The Ten Commandments (1956), The Diary of Anne Frank(1959).  There are also a number of foreign film classics I’ve not yet watched—but I’ll refrain from listing all of those.

11. What is your favorite genre?

I really enjoy getting my classic movie groove on with a good film noir flick…but it seems a shame to limit it to just one since I also enjoy horror movies, westerns, screwball comedies, etc.

12. If you threw a movie theme party, describe how you would do it. The costumes, decorations, food, etc.

Well, to be honest—I’m not much of a partygoer; I prefer more intimate settings where I can have conversations with one, two or maybe three people.  But I’d love to throw a dinner party in the mold of The Thin Man at some point in my life: all the guests would be gathered because they’re suspects in a murder, and as they dine on splendid cuisine and drink the finest wines I’ll eventually finger one of them as the guilty culprit.

13. What are some films that are widely loved that you couldn't care less about?

Gone with the Wind would be at the top of the list.  I saw it once and honest to my grandma, I don’t get the love for the movie.  I’m also not particularly wild about The Philadelphia Story or The Best Years of Our Lives.  The More the Merrier and The Lady Eve are two screwball comedies that have their fans but I’ve never cottoned to them.  And don’t get me started on 2001: A Space Odyssey.

14. Who’s the biggest film fanatic that you know? Besides yourself of course.

If we were to define a fanatic as someone who genuinely loves movies—and not in a film critic sense or scholar or anything like that—it would probably be Laura G. at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings.  She just really seems to have an unabashed affection for all things cinematic, and rarely has anything bad to say about any film.  If we’re talking about a fanatic as a person who has movies on the brain 24-7-365…well, then that’s Stacia at She Blogged by Night.  (She’s been seeking help for this, by the way.)

15. And finally who are some of your favorite film characters?

Just about anyone W.C. Fields or Groucho Marx played in films—I love the anti-authoritarian bent of Groucho’s characters, and the fact that the Fields on film was able to get away with so many vices that are frowned upon in polite society: drinking, gambling, etc.  I also like most of Bogart’s anti-heroes, like Rick Blaine in Casablanca…and yet his villains are a lot of fun, too (Fred C. Dobbs, Captain Queeg, etc.).

Thanks to Ivan for being my guest this month with some wonderful responses and now we all know Ivan just a little bit more.


KC said...

Great to learn more about Ivan. I love that your library should Flash Gordon serials. It would be fantastic to see them that way, on the big screen, one week at a time.

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed reading how Ivan, morphed into a classic film and television blogging. He has great blogging style and I try and never miss a single of his posts..

Patti said...

How fun to get to know Ivan a bit better. Thanks, Ivan, for sharing a bit about your classic film loves.

I'm right there with you on Robert Ryan, James Cagney, and John Garfield, and I love seeing Judy Holliday on your list of gals. I don't know of anyone besides myself who appreciates the totally delightful Miss Holliday.

Right there with you, also, on "Casablanca," though it moves between my #1 and #3 film. Last year, I had the joy of catching it on the "big screen" twice, one time of which was at my city's historic (1927) theatre. Seeing that iconic film on the big screen was rather a surreal experience, and I found myself highly emotional.

I love GWTW, but there are plenty of other movies people rave about which I just don't get ("His Girl Friday" heads that list).

I got a kick out of your sister's attitude about your black and whites. People just don't understand!! I'm often mocked for "loving black and white movies and dead men."

Your party sounds awesome. I would love to attend...and hope that I wouldn't be fingered as the murderer.

Thanks again, Ivan, for sharing...and Monty for hosting.

Silver Screenings said...

Great film quotes!

I'm with Ivan - I don't get the fuss about "The Philadelphia Story" either. And I also agree that the best way to see a classic film is in an actual theatre.

Tiffany Brannan said...

What an interesting article! I agree with a lot of your opinions about actors and films. I would like to invite you to participate in my first blogathon, "The Great Breening Blogathon:" We could really use your talent!

Yours Hopefully,

Tiffany Brannan

Anonymous said...


Мы с моим другом Эдуардом нашли секретную лазейку к постоянному потоку денег из интернета,

Но не все оказалось так просто нужно было все сделать по человечески что бы было просто и понятно тебе...
И чтобы тебе было еще интереснее - я объявляю временную акцию и дарю тебе "Яндекс.Директ под Ключ" и еще до 8 ценных Подарков и Бонусов.
Забирай быстрее Подарки, пока мы не закрыли Акцию!


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