Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Reading Room

Fine thing, when life interferes with your movie viewing. This year, the Siren missed the Oscars due to flu stalking the household. And then the Siren keeps seeing bits and pieces of movies, like the final two-thirds of Freaks, and the first half of The Spiral Staircase. Freaks she had never seen, and she loved the beautiful, silent-movie look of the film. The Spiral Staircase she has seen several times but that didn't stop her from watching as much as she could. Ditto Invitation to the Dance, the deeply weird but weirdly lovable all-dancing box-office disaster from Gene Kelly. The Siren has seen that one several times too, but she can never resist the middle sequence--La Ronde with a bracelet. One day she will blog about her unreasoning love for portmanteau movies, as well as "storm raging outside the old dark house" movies.

In the meantime, clearly it is cheating to blog about 1/2 of a movie, so the Siren has decided to share a few sites with you.

The Oliver Reed Net. Oh, how the Siren loves this site. It is almost unique among fan sites in that whoever made it went to the trouble of archiving a large selection of Oliver Reed interviews and articles, in their entirety. Since Reed was nothing if not good copy, the site is endless pleasure. Settle in for a nice long time, and marvel at Reed's talent and his prodigal waste of same, his raucous wit, his liver, his rampaging chauvinism and his unerring ability to piss people off.

The Best of Everything: The Joan Crawford Encyclopedia and Lana Turner Online. Absolute models of what diligently researched fan sites should be. Extensive cross-linking, great selections of stills, and plenty of quotations from biographers, critics, gossip columnists, colleagues and the ladies themselves. Reading these sites from A-Z would give you a pretty good grasp of a big chunk of Hollywood history in general.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers. Extensive and fascinating.

Censorship at the Movies. Oddly structured university site that has a great deal of valuable information about the Production Code, its evolution and enforcement.

For the Love of Opera Gloves. One of those cases where a rather eccentric personal obsession becomes an intelligent and encyclopedic site. You have never seen so many references, cross-references and carefully captured screen images in your life.

Frou-Frou Something of the same idea as For the Love of Opera Gloves, but this site is dedicated to petticoats. The movie section isn't as detailed as the opera-glove site--yet. But it is still one hell of a job of cataloging.

Brian's Drive-In Theater Well-written, lovingly detailed site dedicated largely to B features, or A features that think they are Bs.

Skylighters: Pinup Era Section of a World War II site showing pin-ups of the period. Nice selection of pictures you probably haven't seen elsewhere. Bits of tasteful nudity too, if you like that (and don't we all?).

Crime Culture: Crime Films. Not only film noir, but also the heist pic, the mystery and the carefully constructed puzzle movie.

Hollywood Cult Movies. The summaries here are glancing, but you can still have a great time browsing various categories and looking up your lesser-known favorites. Beware the hockey-organ theme music that plays with each section.

The Make-Up Gallery. Well-organized still archive covering all kinds of movie makeup. The section on blackface and yellowface makeup is particularly fascinating. You can see that awful cross-racial makeup has persisted even well into our own era.

British Film: It's Not Just Michael Powell. Title says it all. Marvelously varied and hours of good reading. Sample review, of The Rocking Horse Winner: "Valerie Hobson and John Mills are among the actors desperately trying to ignore Lawrence's sexual symbolism."

Flapper Jane: Your Gateway to the Roaring Twenties. I recently linked to her piece about Marie Prevost, and it was wonderful to get a non-sensational take on the star's life. There are articles by the site's creators as well as pieces archived from the fan magazines of the times, bibliographies and some swell images. All this, and Jean Arthur's fudge recipe, too.

The Siren is also adding a few more blogs, including The Letter Shaper, The Crowd Roars, The Bloodshot Eye, Trouble in Paradise, Stuff That Dreams Are Made of..., as well as the splendid Greenbriar Picture Shows which I check all the time but somehow never blogrolled, and The Sheila Variations, another swell site I have repeatedly forgotten to add. Enjoy!

(Pictures, from top: Gene Kelly accepts Tamara Toumanova's Invitation to the Dance; in a publicity shot for The Band Wagon, Cyd Charisse proves Rita Hayworth wasn't the only one who could rock the opera gloves; John Mills and John Howard Davies on a ride to destruction in The Rocking Horse Winner.)


Peter Nellhaus said...

That quote on The Rocking Horse Winner made me think of .

Peter Nellhaus said...

The words that somehow didn't transfer above should be "this film title".

Campaspe said...

Ha!!!!! well, MGM would have probably starred Margaret O'Brien and made it heartwarming somehow, so ignoring the subtext doesn't seem so bad. :D