Posted on May 23, 2012
Filed Under miscellany

This is a link to the online home of JOAN DARK, an in-progress graphic novel being drawn by the great Spain Rodriguez. Please stop by and give us a “Like.”

And… wait for it… gonna ask for money now…

this is a link to the Kickstarter page for JOAN DARK. We need $38,000, and we’re offering all sorts of cool rewards to our backers. Please stop by and give us lots of money.

“We” and “us” because I’m the writer adapting the JOAN DARK original screenplay into a graphic novel script for Spain, which is part of the reason I haven’t been around much lately.

It’s been a long break, lots to talk about, but at the moment I’m concentrating on JOAN DARK and our fund-raising campaign–so  I hope you take a minute to look over the Kickstarter campaign and pass the word, or even make a donation.

Hey, one of the rewards is to have Spain draw you into the comic–how cool is that?

More soon–but now I have to go clean up my long-neglected Twitter feed…

previous: Sagebrush Trail (1933)

Sagebrush Trail (1933)

Posted on August 16, 2011
Filed Under films

An excellent example of the early sound-era Western is Sagebrush Trail (1933), starring 26-year-old John Wayne, the second in a series of low-budget Wayne pictures produced by Lone Star Films for Monogram Pictures. Wayne plays a man wrongly accused of murder who escapes custody and joins an outlaw gang to find the real killer. Yakima Canutt plays the head of the outlaw band—he has an evil scar on his face, perhaps a brand—and Nancy Shubert, in her only credited film role, plays the upstanding storekeeper’s daughter Wayne wins at the end of the picture. Despite its tinny-talkie stiffness, Sagebrush Trail is a worthwhile slice of cowboy action fodder distinguished by a couple of commendable flourishes.  Read more

Guns: The Great Train Robbery (1903)

Posted on August 13, 2011
Filed Under films, silent films

The most famous shot in the most famous of all pre-nickelodeon films is literally a gunshot—or rather, several gunshots. It’s the moment at the end of Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903) when Justus Barnes, playing one of the train robbers, empties his pistol directly at the camera. (11:25 in the above.) It’s a medium close-up made with the camera right in front of the player. Edison’s sales circular suggested that the exhibitor could place the shot at either the beginning of the film or at the end. Placing it at the beginning made more sense, given that the audience sees the bandits shot down by a pursuing posse in the film’s climactic gunfight, but most exhibitors placed it at the end, because it made for a sensational close. Read more

I Love Lucy: the “Lost Pilot” (March 2, 1951)

Posted on August 6, 2011
Filed Under early television

I Love Lucy is high on the list of brilliant entertainments nearly derailed by corporate obtuseness. CBS and prominent sponsors objected to nearly everything about Lucille Ball’s proposed TV show: her demand that the show be shot in California, that it be shot on film in front of a live audience, and most of all to Ball’s insistence that the show co-star her real-life husband, Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz. Part of the resistance was good old-fashioned American racism—the suits were certain that the audience would reject the notion of an “all-American” girl like Lucy being married to a Cuban—and part of it was sober showbiz common sense. Read more

The Superman serials (1948/1950)

Posted on July 3, 2011
Filed Under films, serials

The movies’ first live-action Superman was Columbia contract player Kirk Alyn, who was the Man of Steel in two Columbia serials in the waning days of the chapterplay era. While Superman (1948) and Superman vs. Atom Man (1950), both 15 chapters long, are said to be the most successful serials ever made, they’re notable today principally for their obvious influence on The Adventures of Superman, the iconic early television series that starred George Reeves, and for their priority; these are the first entries in the film series that will soon include Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. The production credits note that both serials are “based on” the DC Comics character, but are “adapted from” the radio series then running on the Mutual Network. Read more