No one can say for certain who gave the name “Oscar” to the Academy Awards statuette. Bette Davis said it was she, because it reminded her of then-husband Harmon O. (Oscar) Nelson. Some say the Academy librarian, Margaret Herrick, named it after her Uncle Oscar. Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky says he named the statuette Oscar… Continue reading Why Do We Have the Oscars?
We’ve been musing about the busy British monarch Henry VIII (1491-1547), and wondering how his personal life might look if you framed it on a baseball card. You know Henry, he of six successive wives, the fate of each summarized in this rhyme: Divorced, beheaded and died Divorced, beheaded, survived Before we proceed, however, we must ask all… Continue reading The (not so) Private Life of Henry VIII
Dear Studio System: We (as in, yours truly) are fascinated by you and your impressive film-making output during your prime, from the 1920s to the late 1940s. Rumour has it you made as many as 400 movies per year. Some of them were achingly beautiful, and they continue to enchant audiences today. Not every film… Continue reading The Hollywood Studio System: Art as Industry
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
John Peter Zenger lived under a government that did not tolerate criticism from the press. If your newspaper printed articles that made the government look bad, you’d be arrested – and just never mind if you had evidence to prove your claims. Forget it! Truth was no excuse for treasonous behaviour. Can you guess where… Continue reading Eddie Albert: Freedom of the Press
What do you think about people who love the sound of their own voice? Do you find them fascinating, or do you want to strangle them? We were thinking about this during a recent screening of Cyrano de Bergerac, the famous story about the big-nosed Parisian who loves a young woman named Roxanne, but cannot find… Continue reading Cyrano de Bergerac’s Guide to Relationships
George Arliss battles Napoleon and swooning ladies. Frankly, we feel some movies are best left in obscurity. Ever heard of The Iron Duke from 1934? No? There is a reason for that. We hadn’t heard of this movie either, until last week. We thought we would benefit from an unknown British historical drama about the Duke of… Continue reading George Arliss: Ladies’ Man and War Hero