Grand Old Blogging News – September 2014

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For all you great readers who follows this blog, I have some news. Grand Old Movies is now out in the world! Yes, I’m right there, behind you; look fast or you’ll miss me.

Actually, I’ve had two articles published in The Dark Pages newsletter, a quarterly publication dedicated to all things film noir. My most recent essay is in the “Noir Tangents” issue, which came out September 2014. Contributors write about films that, although not considered noir movies, display noir influences. My own piece looks at MGM’s 1949 adaptation of The Secret Garden, a movie that, in spite of being a children’s film, shows the noirish touch in its cinematography, set design, and even in plot changes from novel to film. I had earlier written a piece for the June 2014 “Femme Fatale” issue on Lizabeth Scott in Dead Reckoning; and later in the year I’ll be contributing an essay to the “Supporting Men” issue on the great Lawrence Tierney, an actor with certifiable noir genes (two brothers, one of whom was Scott Brady, also appeared in noir films). The Dark Pages is put out by Karen at the essential Shadows and Satin film noir blog, with an assist from senior writer Kristina, who blogs at the fabulous Speakeasy blog, writing on a broad range of classic-film subjects.* Please click here to find out more about The Dark Pages and its issues.

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It may sound like a 180-degree turn from film noir to The Thin Man, but, yessir, I’ve done it. Over at the marvelous Pre-Code.Com blog, Danny is putting together a book on everything cinematically (and more) Thin-Man, and yours truly volunteered an article on Mrs. Asta. That’s right, Mrs. Asta. You needn’t scratch your heads and furtively consult the IMDB; I’m not making her up. Mrs. Asta made a solo appearance in the 1936 sequel After The Thin Man, and then vanished from the Thin Man universe; and I am curious about this four-pawed lady. So I wrote an essay on her, about who she is and why she’s there and what she might mean. The book is scheduled to come out December 2014, so get your cocktails ready. For more information on this fascinating book project, please click here.


In late October 2014, I will be participating in the Classic Movie Blog Association’s blogathon on Forgotten Stars. My entry will be on the great Ann Harding, an actress who, like Lillian Gish, could seem both ethereal yet grandly passionate; she was a sylph on fire. Her heyday was the early 1930s in Hollywood, so she could be considered a pre-Code-era actress (with such films as The Animal Kingdom and Double Harness), but she really needs to better known for all her film work. A biography, Ann Harding – Cinema’s Gallant Lady, written by Scott O’Brien, came out in 2010, so attention is now being paid. As with Warren William, another pre-Code actor finally beginning to receive his due, a serious reappraisal and renewal should be undertaken on this marvelous actress, and I will do my humble bit to help crank up that revival engine and start it puffing down the track.

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And here’s a GOM piece of info you may not be aware of. Grand Old Movies also has a blog at Tumblr, where I generally post photos, videos, and other items not necessarily limited to cinema. I’ve recently begun a series of articles there on M.R. James, one of the greatest writers of ghost stories in the 20th century. My first Jamesian essay can be read here. I’ll be coming out with another piece soon on his early tale “Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book” (honest, it’s coming), so keep an eye on my sidebar, over at—well, at the side here (as she helplessly points, although no one can see her; it’s to your right, if you’re facing this page), and also on my Twitter feed, for announcements.

And a new GOM post is coming soon – thanks to all my fabulous readers!

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*This post has been corrected for an error on my part, confusing Shadows and Satin and Speakeasy. My apologies to both Karen and Kristina, who write respectively at these two wonderful blogs – please make sure to visit them!

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  1. I have a correction: at Speakeasy I’m Kristina, regular at the Dark Pages who likes to do the preview post (thanks so much for saying my blog is fabulous!), but DP is the brainchild of the even more fabulous Karen who blogs at (this might explain to you why I hadn’t connected your name in DP to this blog). One thing that’s not in question is how great your contribution was, many thanks for being a part of it 🙂 cheers!

  2. Daniel Boyd

     /  September 14, 2014

    Congrats on your imminent eminence!

    As for Mrs. Asta, I remember reading in the tabloid press of the times something about a messy divorce and a reported doggie-treat habit, but that may have been put out by a studio wanting to dump her after her excessive salary demands.

    • No doubt that was linked to the scandal at that time surrounding Rin Tin Tin Jr, but kept very hush-hush. There was also the contractual issue of demanding as many close-ups as were given co-star Myrna Loy; Mrs Asta was, unfortunately, a bit of a doggy diva. Thanks for your great and funny comment!

  3. Congratulations and well done on your writing ventures. Will look forward to your work.

  4. Thanks for the plug, GOM, and for your most awesome contributions to the Dark Pages. It’s so coincidental — and very cool — that you’re doing Ann Harding in the blogathon. I was watching Double Harness just yesterday, and thought of changing my choice to Ann Harding — but then I figured that somebody had already snatched her up. I look so forward to reading your post about her — she is truly one of my favorites, and so underrated. Cheers!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment! It’s great to know that there are other Ann Harding fans out there who love her movies; she’s deserving of revival. I’m really looking forward to this blogathon.

  5. Rick

     /  September 16, 2014

    Looking forward to all these GOM writings! Will the M. R. James series include “Casting the a Runes”‘ the short story that inspired a personal fave: NIGHT OF THE DEMON?

    • Hi, Rick, and thanks for stopping by! Yes,I will look at James’s “Casting the Runes” (one of my own favorites) in my MR James series. A number of James’s stories have also been dramatized by the BBC; he seems a writer to have inspired many film/tv adaptations.

  6. Congratulations on all of your writing projects!

    I watched “Double Harness” for the first time a couple of years ago and became an Ann Harding fan instantly. I’ve seen more of her films since, finally realizing that I had actually first seen her many years ago in “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” as Fredric March’s long-suffering ex-wife.

    • Thanks for commenting and for your kind thoughts! Ann Harding seems almost to have had 2 careers in Hollywood, first starting off as an actress in pre-Code movies, where she often played strong-minded young women. She then seemed to move quickly into middle-aged and mother roles beginning in the 1940s; she plays mothers in both Two Weeks With Love (Jane Powell’s) and It Happened on Fifth Avenue (Gale Storm’s). I think she had that mature quality that actresses of the classic-era period possessed, which is why many could move into character roles. But she always gave such thoughtful performances, that she always stood out.


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