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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Awards Weekend at Greenbriar

I don’t know where The Dardos Awards began, but Greenbriar Picture Shows has recently won three of them from fellow bloggers and is most pleased and proud. According to what I’m told, The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. The object is to promote fraternization between bloggers (and) gratitude for work that adds value to the Web. I’m all for open lines among bloggers. A lot of them have been kind and helpful to me by way of links and favorable mentions. None of us get read lest someone spreads the word, and I’m grateful to those who’ve plugged Greenbriar at their own fine sites, many of which I check daily and much enjoy. Winning a Dardos means spreading the award to favorites of your own, per these rules: 1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

Greenbriar’s awards came from three varied locales who’ve served the blogging community with perceptive writings and arresting imagery. All are experts in their respective fields of interest and I admire (and envy) their knowledge and erudition:

1): Frankensteinia … is just what the name implies. A history and ongoing celebration of all things Frankenstein, and goodness knows how Pierre Fournier comes up with such rarities! He recently found a comic book Son Of Frankenstein (published 1939) that I never knew existed and followed that with a thoughtful career overview of main man for many of us, Colin Clive. I love his site’s design and presentation as well.

2): Operator 99’s blog is dedicated to The Screen Stars Of The Twenties and Thirties and Their Alluring Images. In fact, his banner reads simply Allure, and is surely that for me and all fans of a great era in movie history. He writes about people I like (especially precode ones!) and has an unerring eye for gorgeous photos culled from magazine covers and collectibles of the day. I’ve saved lots of Allure from this wonderful site --- in hopes perhaps that some of it may rub off on me?

3): One Way Street is Alan Rode’s Sporadic Takes on Film Noir and Other Aspects of Pop Culture, but there’s nothing sporadic about Alan’s talent for ferreting out jewels concealed along darkened byways of Noir. His favorites are mine as well, and what a gift he has for appreciating them! Alan’s writings are second to none, as witness a recent biography of actor Charles McGraw that is a must for all students of Noir. Oh, and he recently interviewed Ernest Borginine … and paid tribute to Ricardo Montalban … and … well, just go there!!

OK, back to The Dardos Rules:

2) Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award. I’m going to bend policy here by naming sites a bit outside the strict blog category, but ones I find invaluable and clearly products of intensive effort and enthusiasm on the part of those who administer them. I’ll try contacting who I can, even as identities among some winners remain a mystery while others are products of group effort. Anyway, here goes my five:

1): The Classic Horror Film Board: This is the Miracle Mile of online discussion groups. Sometimes I'll go down that rabbit hole and not come out for hours. It’s like stumbling across a thousand issues of Castle Of Frankenstein you never knew existed. All the big name monster experts are here. I learn lots from them every time I visit, often emerging bleary-eyed from spirited debates as to who actually wore the Gill-man suit for underwater as opposed to dry land sequences in Universal’s three Creature (From The Black Lagoon) features, or say, why was there cardboard on that lamp shade during a bedroom scene in Dracula? Some might think we're plain nuts to care. Those who understand are likely reading the CHFB at this moment. Bravo to them and this paradise for monster mavens!

2): Nitrateville: Bless you, Mike Gebert, for giving silent and early sound enthusiasts such a warm place to hang their coats. I feel positively Lilliputian beside the assemblage of masterminds who contribute here. Where did they learn all this stuff? Yesterday, I got immersed in speculation over something Norma Talmadge might have said to a fan outside a restaurant back in 1934. You see, this is just the sort of thing my girlfriend’s been complaining about! Someone might better do a Nitrateville intervention on me, but in the meantime, and after the fashion of Will Hays at the Don Juan premiere, I offer my felicitations and sincerest appreciation to the silent era’s most generous and accomplished latter-day friend.

3): Silent Comedians. Com: Here is comedy’s glorious counterpart to Nitrateville. I go here for any and all questions about the greats of voiceless clowning. These people always have the answers. For those who’d claim knowledge of Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, etc., it’s a mightily humbling address, but they don’t call (most of) this crowd The Silent Comedy Mafia for nothing. Just mention one of Buster’s leading ladies you thought everyone had forgotten and an hour later one of these folks will have produced her birth certificate (if not dental records!). There’s no richer soil to till than that of a slapstick era a lot of us grew up collecting. Here is its clubhouse we always dreamed of joining.

4): Those Who Toil At The IMDB: Well, maybe toil is a misnomer. These people, and I don’t know who they are, clearly love to write and are often brilliant at it. Some post multiple comments throughout a day, with inspired observation seeming to roll off tips of their quills … dispensing insight while a schlub like me barely manages once a week appearances. Their identities are perhaps as guarded as that of masked heroes at Republic, but I salute them and you might too upon introduction to such prodigious output: ecarle, telegonous, majikstl, swanstep, and artihcus022 are just a few voices amidst the IMDB universe. There are undoubtedly lots of others, maybe some (lots?) as good as these, but where does one get the time to keep up (hundreds contribute at IMDB)? Suffice to say they write for the joy of expression and I’m always happy to revisit them.

5): DVD Savant: F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that not a half dozen men have been able to keep the whole equation of pictures in their heads. Well, here’s one DVD reviewer who can and does. Glenn Erickson’s twice weekly coverage of disc releases (mostly vintage ones) is always original, sometimes provocative, and never less than the best of any and all DVD critiquing on the Web. I go to Savant's archive to get his slant on whatever pic I’ve just watched, and never come away shy of insight I’d not considered. He’s prolific and been at it a long time, thus a mile-high backlog with just about all the essential titles. You never get the sense of his having to look things up. He just knows. Not many have that depth of knowledge nor ability to mine background and context so adroitly. Savant should write a book (wait a minute, he has --- and it’s terrific).

Numerology and bouquet tosses behind me, I’d now submit images shown here which have turned up since earlier postings on various features, some dating back a year or two, and others more recently. Do click on these titles in case you missed the past stories, and consider what’s here as supplement … footnote … whatever.

1): Psycho: This is the New York first-run ad I hoped I’d come across eventually. Notice Hitchcock’s personalized policy statement for these two Manhattan venues. This was a make-or-break engagement for the great gamble of AH's career up to that time. You really get a sense of his showman’s genius here, and one can imagine newspaper readers’ excited response upon checking this out in June 1960.

2): The Maltese Falcon: This was a splashy first-run at the famed (and still there) Chicago Theatre. Did (undoubted) throngs crowd in to see Bogart, or live wire on-stage Martha Raye? Note the Cappy Barra Boys also billed. They were a harmonica act that earlier did a specialty in 1938’s Mad About Music with Deanna Durbin. One of them actually called me years ago in response to an ad I ran in the old Film Collector’s World paper (he bought my 16mm film and assured me that Deanna was a sweetheart).

3): Dr. No: These are the ads for New York’s Premiere Showcase opening and subsequent wide saturation that I referred to in recent James Bond posts. This was how the city first came to know 007 on movie screens (and yes, ads for Irma La Douce were lots bigger).

The Marx Brothers: Here’s an article you must click and enhance. It’s news coverage about material for Go West being tested on patrons at the Chicago Theatre in May 1940. The Marxes did a seventy-minute act for those coming to see Warners’ It All Came True. I’d heard Go West was road-tested prior to production. Here is confirmation.The remaining stills are various Academy Award recipients you’ll recognize. Laurel and Hardy are holding an Honorable Mention certificate from the Academy for The Music Box, which I don’t quite get, as I’d always understood it won for Best Short Subject that year (1932). This photo of them is one I’ve not seen before and came from a British publication of the time. Kirk Douglas receiving his award is actually a scene deleted from The Bad and The Beautiful prior to release in 1952.


Blogger Uncle Gustav said...

Congrats on the Dardos!

Love those Dr. No ads. Looking at the smaller of the two, I see it played at East Meadow's Meadowbrook Theater in '63, when I was only six. I'd end up seeing Dr. No there five years later in '68 when it was reissued with Goldfinger. ("Miss Honey and Miss Galore have James Bond back for more!") By that point, any Bond movie had me nailed to the seat and my eyes glued to the screen.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many well-deserved congratulations, John.

The quality of writing and the degree of scholarship and CARE you take with every subject you tackle is second-to-none.

The certificate Laurel & Hardy are holding is precisely the same as the two Oscar nominations my grandfather rec'd in 1944-45. It's possible, however, at that time, since shorts were considered to be of lesser importance, they awarded them a scroll instead of a trophy. When I met Stan Laurel, he had just been given his honorary Oscar, which he kept on top of his television set, in a place of honor, next to a little framed photo of Queen Elizabeth, which we found charming. "You know my Mr. Clean", he said, by way of pointing it out.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mr. Gable!

Congratulations again, John. R.J.

7:26 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thanks Flickhead, and glad you liked the "Dr. No" ads. I was really thrilled to find these, as I wondered what the newspaper campaign looked like for NYC's Summer 1963 run (and I was surely nailed to my seat at the Liberty in 1968 for that Goldfinger/Dr. No combo --- Col. Forehand gave me the pressbook afterward!).

Your nice comment much appreciated, RJ. Did you actually get to visit Stan Laurel at his Oceana apartment? Tell Tell!

7:42 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Kudo for your Dardo.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Thank you kindly, sir! (For the NitrateVille mention.) An apt moment as this is one of those months when I've found my masthead image at your site, which I am always happy to point people toward as well.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had been corresponding for awhile, in the early 60's, after my father had brought home a book called "Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy", from the local bookstore in B.H. called Martendales'.

One day, Dad says, "Stan Laurel is listed in the phone book and he'd probably love to hear from you." (Sounds reasonable, I thought). I finally got up the nerve to ask him if I could come up and visit. He wrote back, gave me his phone # and said to call him-up some early evening. I did. We arranged it on like a Fri. or Sat. in June.

I asked my mother to come with me, as I really was not sure what to expect, and I'm like 10 years old. It was a late afternoon in Santa Monica when we arrived, and the man at the front-desk called Mr. Laurel's apt and announced-us, then said that we were expected. The door to his apartment was slightly ajar. As soon as I knocked on that door and heard this eerily-familiar voice saying "Come in", I knew this was going to be special. Same voice, same inflection.

He was sitting at his desk, and outside of looking a little older, balder and plumper, looked pretty-much the same. My mother took his hand, and this part I remember so well, said, "Mr. Laurel this is like meeting royalty". Smart woman, my mom. She always knew EXACTLY the right thing to say, in any situation. He liked that. It was June 16, which turned out was Mr. Laurel's birthday -- which also turned out was my mother's birthday! They became fast-friends, on the spot.

As I said, he pointed-out his honorary Oscar, which he had just-received. But, this is even more interesting, I think -- and another exclusive for you, John, as I've never heard nor read this anywhere before. Above his desk, was a framed, inscribed photo of then Pres. Kennedy, which we immediately noticed, after he invited to make ourselves comfortable on the couch, which was next to his desk. It was the first-thing we asked him about. He was very casual about it. "Oh, it just arrived in the mail one day", he said,"I understand he's a fan of mine". That was it. No further elaboration of any kind.

Now, John, you must realize that my exposure to them and knowledge of the length and breadth of their careers was to say the least quite limited at that time, so the questions asked, and the answers he gave were of such a "general" nature, with "stock" answers that he obviously had been asked a million times, and have been printed so often over the years, that I don't know if it's worth anybody's while to go over it here in minute-detail. "How did you and Mr. Hardy meet?" "How did the two of you develop your well-known mannerisms?" Like that.

Couple-things I do remember he said: "We never worked well in crowds, you know,we were always better sitting in a corner". He did talk about Babe's preference for the track, and the golf course, and that it was his own pleasure to stay at the studio "after working hours" doing the cutting, and preparation on the next picture. "I was the worker, Babe was the playboy", is how I recall his phrasing-it.

I should also mention that his apartment there right beside the ocean was attractively-furnished, and while he lived perhaps "modestly" for such a big star,it was also far from squalor. His living room was decorated with many drawings, paintings, even a pair of marionettes, salt & pepper shakers, and so-on, that had been sent by fans from around the world. He had a large spacious window that looked out over the sea.
His wife wasn't present that afternoon, so I asked him about her. "Did you meet your wife in show business, Mr. Laurel"? "No" he answered, then explained that she had been a Russian opera singer at one time, or something. A beat, a pause. "Did you meet ANY of your wives in show business?" He leaned back and roared!

As it was his birthday that day, his phone as I recall, was ringing quite a lot with calls from his various friends and well-wishers. We had brought a camera to take a pic, he had to beg off he said, because of eye-problems, flash bulbs affected him. He suggested instead I take a picture holding his Oscar. (Have you ever held one of those babies? They're damned heavy -- weighted with lead!) My mother took the snap. Mr. Laurel started instructing her where to position the camera. Then he said to me, "Hold up your head, lad. That's right, now lower the Oscar a little , stand back a little,look toward the camera --" He was directing us both! I was being directed by Stan Laurel! Creative guy, all the way!

Truly a nice memory. And a very nice man.
I trust, as Mr. Fields might have said, "this satisfies your morbid curiosity!"

I at least, tried to keep this as brief as possible. If you have any specific questions, let me know, you may pry something from memory I might have overlooked, or forgotten. As always, R.J.

11:34 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Well RJ, I'm just speechless here. You made me feel as though I was there. If only I'd been a few years older and living on the west coast! A snapshot directed by Stan Laurel ... it just couldn't get any better.

Thank you so much for that recollection.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Pierre Fournier said...

John, thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad you participated and shared some great blogs with us. More fine places for me to visit.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John and RJ

congrats on your blog, John. It's become one of my daily haunts. Very addicting. Intelligent, packed with history, ideas and incredile images.

And RJ, your visit with Stan is an incredible anecdote. I had always wished I had met the man...your story makes the experience almost come to life. Thanks

Tom Ruegger

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tom,

Thanks for the kind words. And really glad I was able to give you a fairly-accurate picture. He was really a lovely gentleman. What I didn't mention here is that when we had sat down, and formalities were through, he immediately wanted to know all about ME! I swear. He started asking me all kinds of questions about myself. I was a "born ham" at that age, having done a little acting, and I think that (looking back), a veteran of Stan Laurel's - standing and background, can instantly recognize another young "would-be ham-bo". Don't forget, and this was brought-out on that hated "This is Your Life" program, that Stan came from show business himself, and a background, not that dis-similar from my own. And, my mother at that age, was this incredible "glamour gal" who had done some acting roles in some of my Dad's television shows at Ziv Studio. That, probably coupled with the Beverly Hills-street address where Stan had been writing me, and doubtless he could smell "show business"!
But, whatever the reason, he was truly the soul of graciousness, and we spent, as I remember, about an hour or so there, so a good piece of time. Here's a funny P.S. that I only remembered after writing this. My father, who had driven us down to the beach that day, but declined joining-us, spending some time (I guess) on the beach while we were there,(probably thinking about the current script he was doing), took us for a late-lunch/early dinner, whatever, somewhere down there in Santa Monica afterward. Memory has blotted out which restaurant. Naturally, he wanted to hear all about it. At the table next to us, was a man, and he and my parents start talking. This man was introduced to me as a famous actor, and I started very excitedly, animatedly, telling him of the day's events. He listened to this ten-year old child, as I recall, with enormous amusement. It was Lawrence Tierney.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wow! And I mean it! Wow!

Awesome stuff. What a highlight from childhood!

Thanks so much for adding to your story.


3:34 AM  
Blogger Joel Bocko said...

Wow, a shout-out to artihcus!

In the old days when IMDb was my primary stomping ground (now almost entirely abandoned in favor of the blogsophere), artihcus and I shared many a thread - my favorite being an impassioned, down-and-dirty, nitty-gritty defense of auteurism against an angry screenwriter who disparaged Hitchcock. Sadly, as IMDb is wont to do, the thread was crowded out when infrequently updated and eventually deleted.

So many memories, gone with the cyberwind...

10:08 PM  
Blogger swac said...

Well John, you named DVD Savant, and DVD Savant named If Charlie Parker... so I'm passing my thanks up the chain. I'm a big fan of both you and Glenn, so I appreciate us being in such esteemed company!

And RJ, your Stan Laurel story made me a little misty, thanks for that. I've always adored Babe & Stan (it seems apt that Babe passed away on my birthday), and Stan always reminds me a bit of my grandfather, in both manner and appearance, which probably further explains this ingrained love for their work that goes back as far as I can remember. Your anecdote will probably be the highlight of my day.

7:52 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Tom, your site is a treasure and a longtime favorite of mine. I still remember that amazing photo you posted of Lou Costello with Elvis!

So are you going to Cinefest again this year?

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, Thanks for the reciprocal kind words. Your work is some of the best!


Alan K. Rode

11:49 AM  
Blogger Mike Scott said...


As to L&H and the "Honorable Mention" cert. for "The Music Box", this was the first year for SS awards and this is, apparently, what they got. Here is a photo of Walt Disney with his certificate (also 1932) for Cartoon Short Subject ("Flowers and Trees"). The statuette in the pic is the honorary one he got for the creation of Mickey Mouse.


2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

swac,dear sir,

Thank you for the very kind words on how much my little story meant to you. Didn't mean to make you "misty" (I thought that was Johnny Mathis's dept.), but maybe what you mean is that it will add an "extra dimension" to his (their) work in the future. He was as down to earth, and "unaffected" in person, as we all assumed that he and Babe were, when we see them on the screen. Sort of like finding out Santa Claus really exists. Funny thing, as yet another P.S., and one that I "knows" our friend John will "groove on", my father said he used to see Babe in the 40's (during the war?) at the bar at Musso-Frank's in Hollywood, knocking back a few with his cronies. Dad told me that Babe was actually a rather handsome, distinguished-looking man out of character.

I love your site as well, swac, had a ball looking through it the other day!

Again, my thanks, R.J.

3:16 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thanks Mike, for the info on short subjects Academy Awards, and for the link to the Disney still.

RJ, most off-screen images I've seen of Babe Hardy do indeed reveal him to have been quite a dapper figure.

3:49 PM  
Blogger John Field said...

Congrats on your Win! Your site inspired me to share my love of all things Cinema as well. Your memories and insight are great.
Please drop by my place sometime:
Also, for those Laurel & Hardy fans in San Diego or passing thru, please drop by. Our schedule is at Now in our 31st Year!
My best,
John Field
Grand Sheik of the Saps

2:44 PM  

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