Constance Cummings Saves an American Bank

Here’s a depressing activity: Do an online search of the term “bank run”. In doing so, you’ll likely come across this cheerful tidbit on Investopedia: A bank run occurs when a large number of customers of a bank or another financial institution withdraw their deposits simultaneously due to concerns about the bank’s solvency. As more people withdraw their… Continue reading Constance Cummings Saves an American Bank

Drama · Film Noir

John Garfield: Film in a Dangerous Time

We’ve been musing about pathetic fallacy. Now, we don’t want you to miss all the fun, so here’s a quick definition: Pathetic Fallacy attributes human qualities and emotions to inanimate objects of nature. The word “pathetic” … is not used in the derogatory sense of being miserable; rather, here, it stands for “imparting emotions to something else”.… Continue reading John Garfield: Film in a Dangerous Time

Drama · Historical

Life Lessons for Roman Emperors

Let’s talk about Roman Emperors. They’re often viewed as despots – and despots, by definition, are unreasonable people. They’re unwilling to accept critical feedback; they don’t like to lose, even at card games; and they treat the state treasury like a piggy bank. But if you’re a leader preoccupied with carving out your place in history, you can’t be a Nice Guy.… Continue reading Life Lessons for Roman Emperors


Olivia de Havilland Visits the Snake Pit

Here is one of the most moving scenes in the 1948 drama The Snake Pit: Residents and staff of a mental hospital are attending a dance. There is a four-piece band  on stage, and chairs line the sides of the floor. Patients dance and flirt and talk with old friends. If you didn’t know these people had mental… Continue reading Olivia de Havilland Visits the Snake Pit


Gregory Peck’s Show Trial

*Spoiler Alert Starting in 1936, leaders of the Soviet Union commissioned a series of show trials. These were public trials in which alleged enemies of the state were found guilty then executed. They weren’t real trials, of course. Show trials are not about Justice; they are meant to Send A Message. In a show trial, no amount… Continue reading Gregory Peck’s Show Trial

Drama · Film Noir

Requiem for Captain Quinlan

Spoiler Alert! Hank Quinlan’s death, at the conclusion of Touch of Evil (1958), is not glamorous. There he is, the celebrated police captain, floating belly up in a pool of wastewater. It’s not the way any of us want to go. If you’ve seen Touch of Evil, you may not have been surprised by this ending. After all, Captain Quinlan… Continue reading Requiem for Captain Quinlan


Hoffman and Redford: Writing the Big Story

All the President’s Men (1976) is an intense, paranoid drama about journalism. It’s about writing a story when you don’t know what the story is. Naturally, this is a film about words and, to emphasize this, we see evidence of words everywhere. Newspapers and manuals crowd journalists’ desks. Shelves of books line editors’ offices. Stacks… Continue reading Hoffman and Redford: Writing the Big Story