History vs Hollywood fact-checks "based on a true story/inspired by true events" popular movies, and tries to match faces and events with their real-life counterparts.
Last December, we (The Dissolve) ran an excellent essay from familiar face Chris Klimek on the regrettable history of the PG-13 rating. He explained how the huge gulf in content between PG and R films necessitated the creation of a middle ground. The PG-13 rating was created expressly to attend to that problem, but that created a handful of problems all its own… Animator Mack Williams cooked up the video below, which reshapes Chris’ essay into a snappy, informative, and visually slick cartoon.
Matte Shot (previously) presents: Magicians of the Miniature, an overview and image gallery of miniature effects work.
Bathsheba Sherman is best known as the Satanic witch who murdered her infant and then hanged herself from a tree, thus cursing her property and all its future inhabitants. The true story of a couple haunted by her demonic presence inspired the 2013 movie The Conjuring. Except how true was the story? Historian J'aime Rubio writes up The True Story of Bathsheba Sherman. [more inside]
Ecto-1 and the Working Cadillac - While a lucrative business for Caddy in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, these professional vehicles weren’t all that common. In 1959, just 2102 chassis were made, the lion’s share going to the Miller-Meteor company in Ohio. Divided again between ambulance, limousine, dual-purpose and the odd flower car or two, not many more than several hundred Futura Duplexes were made in total. - A history of the Ecto-1, chariot of the
This is a tale nobody wanted to be told. It’s a cautionary tale about an obscure 1980s horror movie cobbled together from work by two separate groups of filmmakers working on the same set with two totally different casts. There’s also a savage businessman, crooked real-estate dealings, betrayal, madness, death, ex-Green Berets, ex-porn stars, and one of the founding fathers of the United States. - The Dissolve on "Spookies"
The exhaustively researched Hollywood history podcast You Must Remember This (Previously) presents a two part episode focusing on Madonna's use of classic Hollywood imagery and references as a form of conceptual art and her early attempts to trade pop idol success for movie stardom within the context of two high-profile relationships with Sean Penn and Warren Beatty. Episode One. Episode Two. Meanwhile, Todd In The Shadows creates video reviews for every movie Madonna was ever in. So far he's done Desperately Seeking Susan, Shanghai Surprise, A Certain Sacrifice, and Who's That Girl.
Because the film is a period piece, The Godfather actually presents a fascinating record of what 1940s-era New York City locations still existed in the early-1970s. Sadly, many of them are now gone. What still remains? Let’s take a closer look.
Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
Most of America's silent films are lost forever, according to the newly released Library of Congress report The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929. (You can look up the ones that survive in this handy database). [more inside]
The Eidophusikon, an early form of motion picture, is a theatrical technology developed by fine art painter and theatrical set designer Philip de Loutherbourg using sound, colored filters, mechanical works, light from newly invented Argand lamps, mirrors and more . It was first exhibited at his home in 1781, featuring five scenes of land and seascape. In recent years, recognition of this as an early chapter in cinema history has prompted several institutions to recreate the experience. Among the most successful is the 2005 storm at sea depicted in Eidophusikon Reimagined by the Australian National University.
"I'm here because my family went through slavery" - Steve McQueen on 12 Years A Slave, the story of Solomon Northup. ‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Mother of George,’ and the aesthetic politics of filming black skin. Before Solomon Northup: Fighting Slave Catchers in New York. The final fate of Solpmon Northup remains unknown. (Previously)
“Movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn,” Smith says, “because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.” Movie theaters were trying to appeal to a highbrow clientele, and didn’t want to deal with the distracting trash of concessions–or the distracting noise that snacking during a film would create. - So Why Do We Eat Popcorn At The Movies Anyway? (Smithsonian Mag)
Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
PTSD and Gene Kelly's lost wartime star turn: For the last six decades or so, a copy [of "Combat Fatigue Irritability"] has been filed away, along with thousands of other films, at the National Library of Medicine. The only people it has been lost to are the public and Gene Kelly’s devoted and still numerous fans. But now the National Library of Medicine is featuring Combat Fatigue Irritability in Medical Movies on the Web, and the film will be given a well-deserved, though very belated, New York premiere, on October 5, 2013, at the New York Academy of Medicine. [more inside]
The Story of Film: An Odyssey is a documentary in 15 parts which documents the evolution of the medium from first steps of silent film to the present day multi-national blockbuster (trailer). This amazing work is currently available on Netflix, but will also be playing on TCM starting this month (full schedule available at the bottom of this link).
When Hollywood turned to talkies, it created a not-quite-British, not-quite-American style of speaking that has all but disappeared.
Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Ecstasy of Hedy Lamarr - Science! Fascists! Orgasms! Libel! Escapes From Literal Castles! (SoCH previously and Anne Helen Petersen previously)
Anne Helen Petersen, the voice behind "Scandals Of Classic Hollywood" (previously) and "doctor of celebrity gossip" gives us an academic rundown of the hows and whys of the last hundred years of Hollywood Star Making, celebrity, PR, marketing, fandom, and scandal management.
The History of Film in one convenient, zoomable graphic. 2000 "important" American, British, and a few other European films, grouped by genre and year. [more inside]
During the Golden Age of Hollywood and until 1967, mainstream movie studios were banned by the Production Code from depicting taboo topics like drug addiction, explicit murder and venereal disease, or even showing explicit nudity. But in the 1930's and 1940's, films marketed as "educational" could and did fly under the radar, and three of the best known 'educational' propaganda exploitation films are: Sex Madness (1935), Reefer Madness (1936) and The Cocaine Fiends (1938). [more inside]
Three years ago, Phil Jablon (aka The Projectionist) started a concerted effort to start documenting the rapidly-vanishing stand-alone movie theaters and former theaters in Southeast Asia. Today his website, The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project is a historian and movie-theater lover's dream. Jablon has captured the faded, the lost, the torched, the almost lost, the repurposed, the reborn, and the unbounded. [more inside]
The Vikings Of Bjornstad a "a living history and educational group, concentrating on the Viking age " reviews every viking movie ever made for its authenticity in depicting Vikings and Viking Culture. Every. single. one. [more inside]
Are small theaters punching a ticket to oblivion? Radical changes in the traditional structure of the lab processing and exhibition sides of the film industry have been filling the lives of small theater operators with uncertainty and worry for the last few years. Will filmstock be the next Kodachrome? (And what will that mean for the future of film preservation?) [more inside]
Will Your Favorite Star Survive Color? This article from a 1935 issue of the Hollywood fan magazine Photoplay breathlessly anticipates a new standard of screen beauty due to the spread of Technicolor motion pictures. You can read or download the whole magazine, for free, legally, at the Media History Digital Library. [more inside]
In an effort to preserve the rich story behind this landmark film, CONELRAD has spent the last two years thoroughly researching DUCK AND COVER's production history as well as its initial public reception in 1952. Interviews were conducted with living participants involved in the making of the film as well as surviving family members of those key players who had passed away. In the course of our research, CONELRAD also uncovered a wealth of archival material that leaves no doubt that a tremendous amount of thought went into the making of this nine minute motion picture that has been the subject of so much dismissive ridicule over the years. (More CONELRAD goodness previously)
The Girl With the Golden Wardrobe. Long after the Golden Age of Hollywood has dimmed, and its legendary stars taken a bow, history's most iconic film costumes are returning to the spotlight as actress Debbie Reynolds sells her showcase collection.
The Catalogue (PDF)
The Catalogue (PDF)
Boxoffice, an industry magazine for the movie theater business, has been posting back issues dating to 1925. Via Trailers From Hell.
Finnish YouTube user Ishexan has uploaded seven English subtitled movies in parts: Broken Blossoms (1919), Aelita (1924), The Gipsy Charmer (1929), The Tragedy of Elina (1938), The Activists (1939), The Wooden Pauper's Bride (1944), and Sampo (1959), which is based on the epic poem The Kalevala. The films are mostly Finnish, though Aelita is a silent Russian sci-fi film, and Sampo was a joint Finnish and Soviet production. More film clips inside (mostly Finnish documentaries and "dorky musical numbers"). [more inside]
The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything. The vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It's just numbers.
When John Van Antwerp MacMurray was dispatched to Asia in 1925 as the American Envoy to the Republic of China, he brought a Kodak motion picture camera with him.
A new movie, The King’s Speech, (official site / trailer / clips) depicts King George VI of England's struggle to overcome his problem with stuttering and find his voice, in time to deliver the historic radio speech that prepared London for WWII. The film is being hailed as a potential Oscar-contender, for its unique, sensitive portrayal of stuttering -- a sharp contrast to the way movies traditionally present those who suffer from the disorder.. Slate offers a slideshow of ten video clips: A History of Stuttering in the Movies [more inside]
Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
Lights, camera ... Edison! Thomas Edison & Co. made the first movie ever shown in public - Blacksmith Scene - a film about drinking on the job. They also had many other cinematic firsts: The first sound film, the first romance (The Kiss), the first blockbuster (The Great Train Robbery), and the first splatter film (The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots).
Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high, There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. The MGM musical version of L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz turned 70 this week. It wasn't the first time it was a movie, nor the last time it was a movie or a movie musical. [more inside]
The bumping off of a famous person is the sort of oyster that any detective delights to open, so you can just bet the family jewels that I was pretty much elated when my Chief, the late Thomas Lee Woolwine, District Attorney of Los Angeles County, called me into his private office on the morning of February 3rd, 1922, and assigned me to represent his office in the investigation of this greatest of all murder mysteries. -- Excerpted from an article archived at Taylorology, a site exploring the life and death of William Desmond Taylor, a silent movie actor and director whose unsolved murder was among the earliest Hollywood true crime scandals. Researcher Bruce Long first published his accumulated information about the case as a small fanzine which evolved into a monthly electronic newsletter and is now a vast archive of articles and interviews, official documents, photos, and more. Although the Taylor case is the main focus, there's also a wealth of supplemental information about the silent film industry and its stars. [more inside]
You know the trouble with Historically-Based Movies? Unless you're an uneducated, ignorant moran, you know how they're gonna end. At least that's the argument of this Premiere article on 10 Movie Endings Spoiled By History. Of course there are ways to avoid that problem, as Cracked.com's (yeah, them) 11 Movies Saved by Historical Inaccuracy declares. Books have been written about Historical Movies' accuracy or inaccuracy, and everybody has an opinion on what the Best Historical Movies are, but if you want your History purely entertaining, there's only one
mandog you can count on: here are Mr. Peabody, Sherman and the original Wayback Machine dropping in on Cristopher Columbus, Pancho Villa and Francisco Pizarro and the Incas (sorry, no USA History episodes on YouTube). [more inside]
Moving Image Source is devoted to the history of film, television, and digital media. It features original articles by leading critics, authors, and scholars; a calendar that highlights major retrospectives, festivals, and gallery exhibitions at venues around the world; and a regularly updated guide to online research resources. [more inside]
ROMANO-Archives has a YouTube channel with over 270 color film clips, called Unknown WWII In Color. "World War ll has usually been seen in black and white, but our recent research has unearthed an abundance of superb color film that shows what it really looked like to those who were there. The Author presents mainly WW2 recently declassified and other previously unavailable material, exclusively filmed in color." They also have over 900 videos of Automobile History USA l lots of pages of images with history, like Jammin' with Betty Boop. [In English and Italian] [more inside]
Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films (official site w/Flash) Filmmaker Arthur Dong covers the good (YT), the bad and the players (link to Flash video clips) in his latest award-winning documentary. Related MeFi post.
The first drive-in movie theater was opened on June 6, 1933, by salesman Richard M. Hollingshead in Camden, N.J. On the bill was a twilight showing of the British comedy Wife Beware. And so the drive-in era was born, peaking in 1958 with almost 5,000 theaters in the U.S alone. These days you'd be hard pressed trying to find one but thankfully there are plenty of handy lists online telling you just where to find one (there's even one for Aussies like me!). And that's not all we have to be thankful for; the drive-in scene is apparently witnessing something of a "mini-revival" at present. Don't feel like going out? Then why not make your own? First you'll need instructions on how to build one. Then you'll need intermission-advertisements (you can download or even just watch heaps of them for free here). And then you'll need a handy list of the kinds of films they used to show at the drive-in. If you're in the US, you'll need to know some of the special rules the FCC has for drive-ins, and if you have any more questions, I'm sure the fine folk at the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association could help. All of this sound like too much work? Then just sit back and check out the videos and photos on this nice site (it's about drive-ins, of course!).
Edward Samuel's Illustrated History of Copyright A fascinating illustrated historical tour, looking at how different technologies have shaped how we think about copyright and intellectual property.
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