Saturday, December 17, 2011

Film or Digital?

Word is that standard movie theaters are converting to digital, that within a year or two, new movies will be available and screened only in that format. This should increase the value of, and need for, repertory movie theaters which show classic movies on film, the way they were meant to be shown. Nothing matches the film experience. Film as a medium is subliminally warmer, clearer, and more colorful than the digital format. “El Cid” shown on film exemplifies this, which is why I still plan on presenting, someday!, this greatest of all movies the way it’s supposed to be viewed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Great Movie Couples

One of the compelling aspects of "El Cid" is that the two leads, Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren, in strength of personality are equally matched. A key aspect of the plot is that Chimene, daughter of a strong father, is looking for a strong mate. The contempt she shows the young king, for instance, is a sign that she holds men to an almost-impossible ideal. Indeed, in some ways she's the strongest character in the story, and is as strong a presence as Heston on the screen.
What are the best movie couples? What makes a great on-screen pairing?

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as Rhett and Scarlett in "Gone With the Wind" might be thought of. Theirs is an interesting relationship. Rhett is physically dominant, while Scarlett dominates Rhett-- and everyone else in the film-- in other ways, through her mind and her will. It's obvious that Rhett is looking for a daughter-- someone he can spoil-- as much as a wife, and in effect says this. This is in part attributable to the age difference. We have a fascinating coupling, who balance each other out, but it's not a combination of equals.

I've selected three movies, past and more recent, where the chemistry between the leads is dynamic . I'd argue, because their equals. They try, but neither person in each of the three pairings gets the upper hand.

1.) "WESTWARD THE WOMEN." 1951. A hugely underrated film about a wagon train taking potential brides west to California. After encountering Indians, floods, and other disasters, the women end up virtually taking over. You'll never see a more "feminist" film! If you haven't seen it, do so. A true classic.

The leads are Robert Taylor and Denise Darcel, he playing the cowboy hired to get the wagon train to its destination, she one of the more improper ladies along. They clash often-- including a fantastic riding scene-- but in the end. . . .

2.) "NORTH BY NORTHWEST." 1959. Top-shelf Hitchcock involving spies and, interestingly, another cross country journey. Cary Grant trying to rescue cold and edgy Eva Marie Saint is nothing so much as a man going after his mate.

3.) "OUT OF SIGHT." 1998. Based on a Elmore Leonard novel, this able film is a about a U.S. Marshal, Jennifer Lopez, tracking down an escaped convict in the person of George Clooney. More travel! What is it about sending your characters out into the world? There are several key moments between the two in the film. For my money, the best movie either of them has made. The sparks are palpable.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Are the Great Movies?

The only way to judge movies is in a movie theater, before a huge screen, experiencing the work fully. I've gone to a lot of "revival" houses and seen many of the best movies this way, from "The Third Man" to "Godfather II."

What's the ideal movie experience? Not only should every element come together artistically, from dialogue to image to sound and score, the artwork should assault you on many levels, intellectually and emotionally. The greatest movies, like all great art, reach down into your very soul and shake it, so you stumble from the darkness of the movie house, the world of imagination, back into reality wondering if you'll ever recover from what you've just heard and seen.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Pertinent Quote

Here's a quote from Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart, page 230.

"There is something to be said, surely, for Nietzsche's prophecies regarding the 'Last Men.' At least, when one considers our culture's devotion to acquisition, celebrity, distraction, and therapy, it is hard not to think that perhaps our vision as a people has narrowed to the smaller preoccupations and desires of individuals, . . . it is hard not to lament the loss of cultural creativity that seems an inevitable concomitant of this secular beatitude. When one looks, for instance, at the crepuscular wasteland of modern Europe-- with its aging millions milling around the glorious remnants of an artistic and architectural legacy that no modern people could hope to rival, acting out the hideously prolonged satyr play at the end of the tragic cycle of European history-- it is hard to supress a feeling of morbid despair. This was Nietzsche's greatest fear: the loss of transcendent aspiration that could coax mighty works of cultural imagination out of a people."

Friday, September 30, 2011

You Don't Beat Something with Nothing

Secular Western culture is spiritually bankrupt. It's an artistic dead end. It lacks meaning. The absence of meaning and truth is its point.

Western culture needs to return to its roots. I'm a Christian because this gives life meaning and purpose.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Changing the Culture

THE ONLY thing which will rescue America is to re-embrace the concept of America. This starts with renewing American culture—with promoting the idea of unique American culture which has been lost in a mad rush toward unthinking irrelevant Globalism which posits all cultures no matter how backward or barbaric as equal to the achievements of Western civilization. America is one of those achievements.

To do my part I’m working to re-introduce the concept of American literature. I’ve been doing this at another blog,

(See the All-Time American Writer Tournament there.)

My next objective is to renew the American short story, which lost its way several decades ago when it left the vigorous stories of the past to fall into a morass of elitist solipsistic navel-gazing overcrafted literary junk.

My first shot? The new ebook, Ten Pop Stories, now on sale at Amazon’s Kindle Store, ( and as a Nook Book at Barnes & Noble ( The ebook contains entertaining American fiction. It’s ridiculously affordable. Purchase your copy now!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lauren Collins Cries Islamophobia

There's a rather biased article in the July 4th, 2011 issue of The New Yorker magazine titled "England My England" in which Lauren Collins or her editors freely throws the "Islamophobia" word around.

Consider this. When you express an opinion which Lauren Collins and her editors disagree with, you're phobic. You have a mental illness. This is their viewpoint. (So much for The New Yorker magazine's commitment to free speech.)

The essay by Lauren Collins is about the effort by working class folks in Britain to retain their nation's cultural identity.

Cultural identity isn't an issue that Lauren Collins herself has ever had to personally deal with. She has existed her entire life within the safe bubble of privilege. Graduate of Princeton University, the Lauren Collins career has taken place within the upper levels of Manhattan magazine publishing. She works with and no doubt socializes with other high social caste persons exclusively like herself.

Lauren Collins grew up in the restricted enclave of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. A quick check of demographic information about Wrightsville Beach reveals the population there to be 99.1% white. There are no black residents. Not one. There are 23 Hispanics. Anyone care to bet how many of the 23 Hispanics are employed as domestic help?

Is Lauren Collins of New York City and Wrightsville Beach, Vogue and The New Yorker, in a position to be lecturing anybody about "Islamophobia," or cultural issues in general?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More John Bolton

Here's Bolton telling an anecdote about George Washington. What's striking about him is his genuineness. He believes what he says. He's not a politician-- and he's clear-eyed about what America is about.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

John Bolton in Philadelphia

WHILE Presidential candidate Herman Cain was walking around with security at Philadelphia's Independence Day Tea Party rally, arguing with Ron Paul people, and giving an energetic-if-demagogic speech, I spotted former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton standing by himself behind the stage. Bolton was refreshingly humble, chatting with those who recognized him and posing for photographs. He's not a large man as one might think, and is also soft-spoken, so he was overlooked amid the fire and brimstone.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Twisted History

Because universities today teach a distorted version of the history of the Crusades and the medieval age, we see the spectacle of American college students raised in a Christian background sympathizing with Islam against their own heritage. That Jesus was a man of peace and Muhammed a man of war is something they don't wish to hear.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The way the “coalition” is handling the Libya matter is a throwback to the French-British Suez excursion in 1956. Confusion, weak leadership, and no plan.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


An interesting case, involving Brigham Young University in Utah, where a star basketball player has been suspended for breaking the school’s or team’s Honor Code. He had premarital sex with his girlfriend.

Sports radio hosts have called the suspension “Wacky.” Indeed, in the everything-goes context of America now, it surely seems so. The idea of any rules , barriers, or restrictions—at all—must clearly be wacky.

On the other hand we have the example of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and countless others like them, who have callouses on their foreheads from the intensity of their five-times-a-day praying. For Western Civilization, what that civilization has become, this is the opponent. Characters capable of total commitment, complete dedication. How do you defeat such people?

The move “El Cid,” made fifty years ago when ideals of codes and honor in America were not archaic, is instructive. For the Cid and his bride, honor isn’t archaic. It’s everything.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Western Civilization

The question isn’t whether radical Islam will predominate through half of the planet, as seems possible, if not likely. The question is what kind of alternative, weak or strong, will be offered? I’m talking about strength of ideas. Western culture, once so glorious, is in a down period and badly needs to revitalize. If people don’t believe in themselves, their civilization, their time, if they stand for nothing, then they’re not equipped to oppose anything.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Muscular Liberalism"

This, the recent phrase of UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

It would be more difficult to create such an attitude in the United States, for various reasons. Commitment to the idea of Western Civilization among many groups in this country is nil. Among the elites, the young generations have all been brainwashed into the notion that all cultures are equivalent. Most are embarrassed to think of themselves as American. It's a sad situation. While Obama is the first American President fully imbued with these notions, he may not be the last, thanks to the sad condition of American higher level educational institutions. (Or lower level ones. I've worked as a substitute teacher in urban high schools before and saw the nonsense therein propagated.) Nonsense across the board.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Strong Horse

Does anyone want to bet against the Muslim Brotherhood taking power in Egypt, should Mubarak be toppled? History shows that in times of revolution, the most committed and focused cause wins. The Bolsheviks swept aside Kerensky in 1917, as sixty-some years later in Iran, Khomeini pushed aside the liberals and Leftists who’d been his allies. Today, radical Islam is on the march in many countries. The radicals know what they want and they’re willing to fight for it.  They sense weakness on all sides. They’re emboldened. They believe that this is their time. Let’s be clear-eyed enough to see that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another Iran?

EVENTS in Egypt, the protests of millions in the streets, resembles the Iranian Revolution circa 1979-80. The U.S. administration blew things then. The question is whether the same thing will happen again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


As the value of the currency declines, so does the culture. It’s an inevitable law of nature. As inflation skyrocketed in the 1970’s, the values of society went by the board. Standards of art vanished. Literature became overinflated postmodern monstrosities, a mountain of words, which had no meaning, little coherence, little value.

With film one can look at the decline of production values, cheaply masked by computer gimmickry. Fifty years have revealed a slow decline even in this still-potent art.