Monthly Archives: December 2011

Just for Fun #1 – The Most Memorable Short Film Reviews

  1.   “It seemed longer.”  (Anon.)   55 Days at Peking (1963)
  2.   “Loved Ben, hated Hur.”  (Anon.)   Ben Hur (1959)
  3.   “And to Hell it can go.”  (Ed Naha)   From Hell It Came (1957)
  4.   “This film needs a certain something.  Possibly burial.” (David Lardner)    Panama Hattie (1942)
  5.   “I loved it – particularly the ideas he took from me.”  (D.W. Griffith)   Citizen Kane (1940)
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“The Drawbacks to Being a New Year’s Baby”

Levy’s Wry humor column by Bill Levy    © Bill Levy 2003

I was born on January 1st.  Everyone assumes that New Year’s Day is a great day for a birthday.  Wrong.

I can never find anyone to share my birthday cake because this is the one day of the year when people seriously attempt to keep their dieting resolutions.

Actually, it’s pretty difficult to find anyone to share my birthday; most people are hung over or are too exhausted from frolicking the night before to remember their names much less my birthday.  And if they are coherent, they’re too mesmerized watching three dozen football bowl games or applauding the endless parades of smiling tulip floats on the television to worry about a certain birthday boy.

Being born on January 1st is terrible in terms of presents.  Unlike those lucky dogs who were born in the spring or summer, I get one gift for the two occasions.  Most people give me combination Christmas/Chanukah and birthday gifts and I don’t mean a new Prius from column A and season tickets  to the New York Knicks from column B.   Also, many of the gifts I receive – black orange, and pink colored ties, pink, orange, and black silverware, or orange, pink, and black animated, talking oysters – look suspiciously like those re-gifted Christmas gifts which my “friends” didn’t want and couldn’t returned.

There are other problems:    Until I was seven, I thought the world was celebrating my birthday on New Year’s Eve.    It’s difficult feeling like an adult when everyone calls you a New Year’s Baby.   And recently I read a magazine article that maintained that your personality is shaped by the environmental conditions surrounding the day you were conceived.  Nine months before January 1st is April Fool’s Day.

I have a cousin, Robert, who was born three hours before me at 11:00 pm on December 31st.  When we were growing up, he constantly teased me that I was a year younger.  Now, when I could retort that he’s a year older, it’s too late  – we both resemble Father Time.

My book, Using Humor to Combat and Conquer Stress  featuring twenty-five humor columns about aggravating dilemnas, will be published later in 2012.

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Ten Christmas “Forgotten Gems”

For the past ten years, I have been writing a regular movie column for the New Jersey publication, Fifty Plus.   Each “Forgotten Gems” column discusses an overlooked film from Hollywood’s Golden Era.   Each December, I offer a Christmas “Forgotten Gem.”   Below is a list  – in no particular order – of  ten motion pictures that have always been overshadowed by White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, and Miracle on 34th Street.

(1)   Three Godfathers (1948)  This John Ford desert western stars John Wayne and features a different version of the three wise men.

(2)  Remember the Night (1940)  This comedy/drama/romance depicts Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray as two jaded people  taking a trip back home to Indiana for the holidays.

(3)  The Great Rupert (1950)  This movie showcases the true Christmas spirit as well as the talents of Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, and special effects master, George Pal.

(4)  Trail of Robin Hood (1950)  This film has nothing to do with the legendary bandit of Sherwood Forest; instead, it is a Roy Rogers western with Christmas songs, Christmas trees, and a turkey named Sir Galahad.

(5)  Holiday Affair (1949)  This New York City Christmas story stars Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh as two strangers who meet and fall in love.

(6)  The Holly and the Ivy (1952)  This British Christmas drama features Ralph Richardson as a recently widowed and aging parson experiencing a tumultuous Christmas family reunion in England after the Second World War. 

(7)  Christmas in July (1940)  This uplifting Preston Sturges comedy stars Dick Powell as a slogan contest winner who embodies the Christmas spirit of generosity, kindness, and charity. 

(8)  Beyond Tomorrow (1940)  This Christmas fantasy features three wonderful character actors – Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith, and Charles Winninger – as three lonely, wealthy bachelors whose charity brings two strangers – Richard Carlson and Jean Parker – together.  

(9)  Christmas in Connecticut (1945)  This “House-of-Cards-About-to-Tumble” comedy stars Barbara Stanwyck as the Martha Stewart of her day who actually knows nothing about cooking, interior design, or child rearing.

(10)  Christmas Eve (1947)  This episodic Christmas melodrama tells the story of a wealthy spinister (Ann Harding) searching for her three foster sons – Randolph Scott, George Raft, and George Brent.  A “B’ movie with some bizarre turns, Christmas Eve illustrates the holiday messages of good triumphing over evil and family superseding individual needs.

My forthcoming book, Fifty Forgotten Gems featuring several of these holiday films, will be published by mid-summer, 2012.

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“Up Into the Breeze”

To celebrate the holidays, here’s a prose ode to optimism and progress that I wrote years ago and wish to share:

“Up Into the Breeze”     © Bill Levy  2005

A father and his son once went walking through a dark mysterious tunnel. The father showed the boy how to walk while stooping, and how to grope in the darkness for the damp walls. Suddenly, a storm of tremors descended upon the tunnel, causing numerous rifts and cracks in the dome, and creating rays of warmth that brightened segments of the grotto. The father continued to stare toward his feet while the boy looked upwards and saw sporadic wisps and hues of the Outside.

In time the father died and the former son walked the tunnel with his own boy. As the boy grew, the father proudly pointed out the views the splits and breaks in the dome allowed. The son loved to watch the gentle colors and motions of the Outside, but grew disturbed by the interruptions that obstructed a constant view. One day the boy raced ahead of his father and knocked down the ceiling of the cavern. The son could now see the skies and the mountain peaks continuously through the open dome, as he walked along side of his father.

In time the father died and the former son walked the roofless tunnel with his own boy. As the boy grew, the father proudly showed him the realm of the heavens. The son loved to observe the distant fragrances of the Outside, but grew annoyed that he could not grasp the horizons. One day the boy sped ahead of his father and tore down the walls. The son could now see all around, as he led his father along the pebbly road.

In time the father died and the former son walked the path with his own boy. As the boy grew, the father proudly displayed the panoramic vistas. The son loved to witness the visual tinges of the Outside, but grew restless to touch the foreign valleys and sense the alien spaces. One day the boy left his father and the path to wander through the sands and grasses, seeking and searching whatever held interest.

In time the father died and the former son walked the endless meadows with his own boy. As the boy grew, the father humbly offered to him the music of the Outside, and pointed back to the Past’s road, the roofless and rift-filled corridors, and the shadow of the dark tunnel. The son watched and saw, and, with the eyes of age, thanked all of his fathers, and swiftly danced — Up Into the Breeze.

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Signed Contract With Bear Manor Media

More exciting news!  I have just signed a contract with Bear Manor Media to publish my book on film director John Ford.  This book, The John Ford Stock Company, explores the careers and contributions of fifty actors and actresses who  were involved with at least five projects with Ford.  This book should be out by early summer, 2012.

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Nevil Shute’s Daughter To Write Book Foreword

Exciting news!  Nevil Shute’s daughter, Heather Mayfield, has agreed to write the Foreword to my book on her father, Beyond the Beach: The Wit and Wisdom of Nevil Shute.  I hope to have the book available by the end of 2011.

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