Author: Ray Olson


Gregory La Cava–“The Best Mind in Hollywood”

Then, in 1936, comes My Man Godfrey, a romantic comedy of near-Shakespearean richness that turns around speculator-turned-bum-turned-butler Godfrey Parke. My touchstones of comparison are As You Like It, Measure for Measure, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all of which resonate in this marvelous movie.


The Ealing Comedies

Will Barker, a commercial traveler with a passion for photography, bought “the Lodge” overlooking Ealing Green in West London in 1902 for the purpose of making movies. Cinema–very often television programs rather than movies–has been made there ever since. Recently, a couple of its studios hosted the servants’ quarters of Downton Abbey. The place reached its perihelion after World War II, when the production company, Ealing Studios, made a string of 17 comedies, from Hue and Cry in 1947 to Davy in 1958.  Those films brought British cinema to world consciousness as few never before, pleasing critics as well as...


Reading for the Movies 3:  Lavender Blue

Twenty years before Rascal (1963), one of the true masterpieces of American children’s literature–heck, of American literature, period–Sterling North gave us Midnight and Jeremiah, a beautifully illustrated (by Kurt Wiese; I’m trying to figure out the media, guessing pastel crayon and brush and ink on textured paper) novella that I suppose would be called a “chapter book” for young readers in today’s market. It’s a honey of a story, about an orphaned little boy in rural southern Indiana, circa 1903, who persuades his grandmother to let him bottle-raise a black lamb rejected by its dam.  The boy is Jeremiah Kincaid,...


Real-life Work in the Movies by Ray Olson

Real-life Work in the Movies By Ray Olson Since my post on William Wister Haines, I’ve seen the 1937 adaptation of his novel (first and best of the four of his I’ve read), Slim (1934), about a young electric lineman; his sweetheart, Cally; his mentor, Red; his friend, Stumpy, a grunt or ground worker; and the foreman of his line crew, Pop. I’m exceedingly happy to say that it’s a minor classic. Reducing the novel to a screenplay, Haines conflates several incidents in the book; for instance, Slim is injured twice in the novel, only once on screen, and Cally nurses him...


Reading for the Movies

Revisions 1:  Reading for the movies: A. I. Bezzerides by Ray Olson It’s my habit, ever since reviewing movies in the Sixties for the Minnesota Daily, campus paper of the University of Minnesota, to read the book a movie’s based on before I see the movie.  Not always, but whenever the book’s or its author’s reputation piques my interest, I give it a try. A. I. Bezzerides is well-known as the writer of a handful of very good films noir. The screenplay of Kiss Me Deadly is his, based on one of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer mysteries and, says James...