The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 12


And here I am at my final stop, gifting the last of my favorite bloggers with a movie-related clip that is also related to their movie interests. (If you’ve missed out on this epic journey, click here for an explanation of what it’s all about.)

Last but not least to be rewarded is Debbie of the blog Moon in Gemini, another blog that is mostly movie-themed but also provides reviews of books and other pop culture ephemera. Debbie’s critiques are always so bright and sunny, I wanted to give her something that reflected that.

Below is a brief history and performance of “Optimistic Voices,” a musical cue from the classic The Wizard of Oz (1939). If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the music played when Dorothy and her friends leave the poppy field and take their final stroll towards Emerald City.


This is a short but beautiful piece of music that has charmed generations of listeners (see some of the comments about it on YouTube), but in the movie, it’s practically buried. I never really noticed it until I bought the multi-CD Turner Classic Movies soundtrack of the film, where you can enjoy it in all of its stereophonic glory.

The embedded clip explains the tune’s origin and provides an audiotape of the melody being conducted by Herbert Stothart, who also co-wrote it. The clip handily shows how much trouble the movie’s makers went to for every aspect of the movie, even for a 70-second piece of underscoring.

My thanks to the 12 bloggers I honored here, as well as to the blog readers who indulged me. Happy holidays to all!





The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 9


For the ninth day in a row, I’m playing Cinematic Santa, passing out online movie and TV clips to my favorite bloggers in a concerted effort to match their tastes. (Visit here for a more complete synopsis of my new Blogmas tradition.)

Today I reach into my bag of goodies (forgive me if my phrasing offends) for Kellee of the blog Outspoken and Freckled. Kellee loves a little of everything movie-wise, and as her blog’s title implies, she has as many opinions about film as she has sunkisses on her physique.

In fact, Kellee likes so many kinds of movies, I hardly know which interest to pinpoint — so I’m going for the obvious. Kellee lives in Kansas, which was the birthplace of one of her many movie idols, Buster Keaton. And if we’re talking Buster, I can’t do any better than to reward Kellee with one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen — Keaton’s solo film debut, One Week (1920).

It doesn’t even do justice to the movie to try to summarize its plot; it goes for big belly laughs from the get-go (and it succeeds) long before the main plot even takes hold. The movie is embedded below, so just hang onto something (so you won’t fall to the floor with laughter) and watch — and please join us tomorrow for Day 10!

The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 7


Here I am again as Fake Santa, happily gifting my favorite bloggers with movie and TV clips based on their favorite genres! (If you haven’t been following this blog “story arc” of mine, click here for an explanation.)

Today’s lucky recipient is Maddie of the blog Maddylovesherclassicfilms — and the title certainly fits, because there doesn’t seem to be a movie that Maddie doesn’t love. On her blog, Maddie recently asked readers to share their favorite “unsung classic” films on their own blogs. I’ll do better than that — I’ll gift Maddie with an entire movie!

Ponette (1997) is a very sobering French drama in which the title character, a four-year-old girl (beautifully played by Victoire Thivisol), loses her mother in a car accident. Ponette, of course, is too young to fully grasp the concept of death, and her father, drenched in his own grief, is no help to her. So she pieces together some half-baked answers she’s gotten from friends, with the heartbreakingly naive assumption that if she just wishes the right way, she’ll bring her mother back to life.

I do have to say that this movie seems to be a matter of taste. On my recommendation, my brother-in-law watched it, and he was completely bored with it. Perhaps because I could relate to the story all too well — my own mother died when I was four, and my father was similarly in denial of reality — I found myself blubbering like a baby all the way through the movie. So I hope Maddie will give this movie a shot — with the requisite box of Kleenex nearby while she’s watching it.

(The movie is complete in 10 parts on YouTube. Here’s the first part. And be sure to come back tomorrow for Day 8!)

The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 6


Today puts me at the halfway point of my new Christmas tradition, wherein I gift my favorite bloggers with movie and TV clips that relate to both their movie interests and mine. (Click here for a complete explanation of this scenario.)

I focus today’s spotlight on Fritzi at the blog Movies Silently. I used to pride myself on being more knowledgeable about silent movies than the average moviegoer, but Fritzi has it all over me. She knows about more silent films than I’ve even heard of, and she writes about them in a scholarly yet captivating style.

There are any number of silent movies that would be worthy of a gift for Fritzi, but I’ve decided to keep it simple. Here are two and three-quarter minutes of French silent-film master Georges Melies making some simple movie magic with only stop-motion photography and some quick costume changes. I give you The Untamable Whiskers (1904), with a beautiful modern score by Kieron McIntosh.

(Be sure to come back tomorrow for Day 7!)

The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 5


Once again it’s Kris “Nitrate” Kringle, rewarding great TV and movie clips to all the good little bloggers he follows! (If you have no idea why I’m carrying on like this, click here to read about the roots of my newly minted, self-absorbed Christmas tradition.)

Day 5 belongs to the lovely Theresa of the blog CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch. Like most of my favorite bloggers, Theresa’s tastes are all over the place (in a good way), with a light emphasis on TCM-fave, 1930’s classics. I’ve always like Theresa’s blogging, but she officially won me over the day I discovered she liked W.C. Fields.

Therefore, the only reasonable filmic gift for Theresa is Fields’ rough-edged early talkie, The Golf Specialist (1930). It’s a two-reeler that looks like it was filmed for about 25 cents, and it has an almost completely disposable first half (in that the movie’s main appeal is Fields’ extended golfing routine in the second half). So of course, the film’s sloppiness only makes it that much more endearing to fans of Fields, who was never much known for making tidy movies anyway.

The movie is embedded below. Enjoy, and come back here tomorrow for Day 6!


The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 4


Again, I make with the Santa routine on Day 4 of The 12 Days of Blogmas, where I “gift” a movie or TV clip to one of my favorite bloggers as it relates to his or her interests. (Click here for a more detailed explanation of my gift-giving theme.)

Today’s lucky winner is Wendell of the blog Dell on Movies. Wendell’s movie tastes are cheerfully all-encompassing, but being African-American, he seems to have a predilection for black-themed movies. (You should read his takes on the blaxploitation genre.)

That being the case, I hereby gift Wendell with one of my all-time favorite movie musical scenes, from Spike Lee’s invigorating School Daze (1988). The movie is a mostly plotless but highly energetic look at life on the campus of an all-black college. One of the movie’s many subplots is an ongoing conflict between the campus’ two groups of females: the “Jigaboos” (darker-skinned women with short, often unkempt hair) and the “Wannabes” (the lighter-skinned sorority girls who ‘do their hair to look fancy).

Early on in the movie, the groups’ conflict comes to a head in an eye-popping, brilliant musical number titled “Straight and Nappy.” If you haven’t seen the movie, you might not get the full force of this number out of context. For me, it was one of the most joyous moments I’ve ever seen on screen, with lovely women of all shapes and sizes letting it all hang out and enjoying every minute of it. (Look at those beaming faces at the end of the number). I just love it.

The number is embedded below — sorry for the poor picture quality, but it was the only version I could find on YouTube. And be sure to be with us tomorrow for Day 5!




The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 2


As I explained yesterday, I am doing The 12 Days of Blogmas here at my blog, rewarding some of my favorite bloggers with movie and TV clips related to their interests. (You should try it — it’s gift-giving at its most cost-free!) Click here if you need further elucidation of my conceit.

For Day 2, I am rewarding Aurora, who runs the blog Once Upon a Screen. Aurora writes charmingly about her favorite movies and TV shows, and she has made it clear that she is a fervent fan of “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” That TV series deserves its classic status, but there is one scene from it that has gone strangely unheralded in all histories of the show.

The 15th episode of the show’s second season, “The Cat Burglar,” centers around the unseen titular character, who has thus far burgled four homes in the neighborhood of Rob and Laura Petrie (Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore). In a goodwill gesture, Rob’s neighbor-friend Jerry (Jerry Paris) lends Rob a rifle and a bullet in case Rob needs to defend himself against the burglar.

In the middle of the night, Laura hears a strange noise and wakes Rob to fend off a possible burglary. From there, the scene turns into a tour de force for Dick Van Dyke to show off his gift for impeccable physical comedy.

I wasn’t able to find the single scene, so I’ve linked to the entire episode on YouTube (embedded below). The scene begins at the 8:20 mark.

Come back to my blog tomorrow for Day 3 of the Blogmas!













The 12 Days of Blogmas – Day 1


Two years ago, I hosted the A Movie Gift to You Blogathon, wherein I asked bloggers to pick a favorite movie that they’d like to present to someone as a Christmas gift, and then explain why they were gifting that particular movie.

This year for Christmas, I decided to do a variation of that theme, but with me playing Santa Claus. I’ve picked 12 of my favorite bloggers. Each day for the next 12 days, I would like to “gift” them with one of my favorite movie scenes as it (hopefully) relates to the movie interests they’ve expressed on their blogs.

Let me preface this with some ground rules and disclaimers. I’m not providing a list of the recipients in advance — I’ll just “gift” them on my blog here each day. If you are not one of the recipients, please don’t feel offended. I based my gifting list mainly on bloggers with whom I’m very familiar and who semi-regularly correspond with me online. (If, at the end of my 12 days, you’re really that disappointed that you didn’t make the cut, leave me a comment in the “Comments” section — maybe I’ll do a second list!)

Also, I will link to each recipient’s blog to give them a little plug. If you’re not already familar with the chosen blogs, follow the link and seek them out — you’ll have some fun movie-reading ahead of you! (By all means, check out the chosen movies as well.)

Time to play Santa…


My first recipient is Salome at the blog BNoirDetour. She knows her way around the film noir genre like Philip Marlowe knows his way around a shapely dame, and her blog is encyclopedic, insightful, and a breezy read.

To Salome, I gift what is probably my favorite scene in film noir. In Double Indemnity (1944), insurance claims adjuster Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) is arguing with his boss, who is trying to get out of paying a claim to a widow whose husband fell off a moving train and killed himself.

Keyes’ boss is trying to convince Keyes (and maybe himself) that the man did not accidentally fall out of the train but deliberately committed suicide, and therefore the claim should be nullified. From there, Edward G. Robinson hits the heights, as Keyes turns a long, dry list of suicide statistics into a Shakespearean soliloquy.

Here’s the scene. Come back tomorrow for Day 2 of the Blogmas!