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Announcing the Agatha Christie Blogathon!

AgathaChristieLittle Bits of Classics and I are thrilled and excited to announce the Agatha Christie Blogathon – The Queen of Crime!

When? 

September 16th-18th

Why?

The inspiration for this blogathon is Domi’s of Little Bits of Classics. It is in honor of Agatha Christie’s 126th birthday on the 15th of September.

Rules

All things Agatha Christie are welcome! Anything and everything – her life, her writing style, her characters, her books, the movie adaptations of her books, tributes, retrospections – the more the better! We want to honor everything about the great lady.

The only rules we have are that we are Not Allowing Duplicates on individual Books because there are so many we hope to see covered. There are quite a few movies, too, so we thought we would put a limit of Two Posts Per Movie. However, there is no limit on how many posts can be written about Agatha Christie, her life or her characters. And if you want to compare a book with a movie, even though someone’s already chosen that movie or book singly, that’s great, too!

At the end of each day of the blogathon, either I or Little Bits of Classics will collect all the posts of the day in a recap. To send us your posts on those days you can give us the link to your post, along with your blog name, in the comments section of this post or via twitter (@_cwehner).

Little Bits of Classics and I really want to thank Ruth at Silver Screenings for creating the wonderful banners for this event! Please feel free to take one – which can be found at the bottom of this post – and help us promote.

Sign-Up

You can sign-up using the form below. Each day of the blogathon is dedicated to a different topic.

Friday the 16th – all things Hercule Poirot

Saturday the 17th – all things Miss Marple

Sunday the 18th – all the rest, including Agatha Christie or any other novels or movies not related to Poirot or Miss Marple.

If your chosen topic covers both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, feel free to choose whatever day you like. Also, we’ve provided a definition of your topic in the sign-up sheet. The purpose is to help distinguish if someone has elected to write, for example, about Witness for the Prosecution the movie, the play or the short story. That way, if you check the roster, you can see that though someone has perhaps chosen to write about the movie, the play is still open.

Also, please note that the Year of Release option on the sign-up form is for movies. That option is there to help in case of multiple adaptations of the same story. Like Murder on the Orient Express. Though we are not allowing multiple posts on individual movies, there are still several movie adaptations of that book.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either Little Bits of Classics or me. We can’t wait to read all your contributions in September!

 

Below is the roster for the blogathon so far. To view it in full, click here.

 

Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews – 4:50 From Paddington and Murder, She Said

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies And The There Were None

Critica Retro – Death On the Nile

Caftan Woman – Evil Under the Sun

M.C. Dulac – Death on the Nile

The Dream Book Blog – Poirot Series: “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case”

Cleopatra Loves Books – Murder at the Vicarage

Old Hollywood Films – An Overview of Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple

Serendipitous Anachronisms – The Mousetrap (play)

Silver Scenes  A Caribbean Mystery and Murder is Easy

Ah Sweet Mystery of Life After the Funeral

 

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65 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Books, Movies

 

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Liebster Award!

liebsterawardI would like to thank Film Music Central for nominating me to the Liebster Award!

There are only a few rules:

Answer the eleven questions asked by the blog that nominated you.

Link back to the blog that nominated you.

Nominate several other blogs and ask them eleven questions of your own choice. Be sure to tell them on their blog that they have been nominated.

Here are the eleven questions from Film Music Central

1 – What is your favorite animated film (anime counts)?

That’s a tough question. If asked that several years ago I would have said Beauty and the Beast, but now I believe Sleeping Beauty is the one.

2 – What is your favorite film soundtrack?

Hmm…this is another one that seems to change frequently, but currently I have to say the soundtrack for Love Me or Leave Me, which I’m not entirely sure counts, because it only features singing. For soundtrack for a non-musical, I would say The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, by Bernard Herrmann.

3 – Favorite snack to eat at the movies?

Anything chocolate.

4 – What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

The 1993 The Secret Garden.

5 – What is your favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

X-Men, because it features Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen facing off.

6 – The Enterprise meets an Imperial Star Destroyer in a battle: who wins?

I must admit to being slightly biased in favor of anything Star Wars, but I have to pick The Enterprise. They win so often and so creatively and we’ve seen more than one Star Destroyer bite the dust during the Star Wars saga.

7 – If you could travel to any place in the world (all expenses paid), where would you go?

Germany. I’ve always wanted to explore Germany, see the birthplaces of all the composers. Or maybe Constantinople and check out all the remnants of the Byzantine Empire.

8 – If you could watch only one tv show for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

Stargate SG-1.

9 – Who has played Batman the best?

This is embarrassing, but the only Batman I’ve seen is Adam West in the highly cheesy movie from 1966 (it had classic movie stalwarts like Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Alan Napier and Reginald Denny). I’m not sure if I should show my face after that admission.

10 – If someone made a movie of your life, who would play you?

Doris Day? Then it could be a musical! Okay, so she doesn’t look or sound like me, but that didn’t stop her from playing Ruth Etting.

11 – Favorite weekend activity

Either a BBQ or a walk/hike.

My nominees are:

My Live Action Disney Project

Diary of a Movie Maniac

Wolffian Classic Movie Digest

Mike’s Take On the Movies

Prince of Hollywood

If you are unable to participate, there is no pressure, I completely understand.

Here are my eleven questions

  1. Favorite movie adaptation of a book
  2. Least favorite movie adaptation of a book
  3. Book you wish Alfred Hitchcock could adapt into a movie
  4. Book you would love to see turned into a musical
  5. Movie you would most like to see remade.
  6. Song that most often gets stuck in your head
  7. Favorite swashbuckling hero
  8. Which legendary hero do you prefer: Zorro or Robin Hood?
  9. Name at least three or four actors from the classic movie era who you would cast in a Golden Age of Hollywood movie version of The Lord of the Rings
  10. Preferred movie watching weather ambiance: sunny, cloudy, rainy, blizzard, hurricane, overcast, daylight, midnight?
  11. And because it’s such an intriguing question: the Enterprise meets an Imperial Star Destroyer in a battle: who wins?

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear what everyone thinks about any (or all) of the 22 questions!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Books, Movies

 

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The Ox-Bow Incident – Movie and Book

Ox-BowI shouldn’t have read the book before watching the movie! Although I know that William Wellman’s searing The Ox-Bow Incident is a classic (and impressed me deeply the first time I saw it), this time around I was slightly underwhelmed. It still devastates, but felt like an opportunity missed.

The Ox-Bow Incident is the story of a lynching. It is set in the 1880s in Nevada and occurs over 24 hours. The book, published in 1940, was written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark and was adapted as a film in 1943. Director William Wellman had to fight to make The Ox-Bow Incident. Studio heads thought it wouldn’t make money. They were proved right, but the film has nevertheless become one of the great classics of movie westerns.

The film is a remarkably accurate adaption of the book, even employing much of the dialogue. One difference is the pacing. William Wellman is one of the most economical directors I’ve seen and The Ox-Bow Incident comes in at a mere 75 minutes. He gives a wonderful sense of the speed at which men can hear (mistakenly, as it turns out) of a death, how quickly a lynch mob is set in motion (without checking up on facts) and how that quick decision will carry them along whether they have doubts or not.

The novel actually builds more slowly. Clark is interested in exploring the facets of how a lynch mob is formed and the various motivations of people. The book is nearly half over before they even set out in search of the murderers. In the novel, the crime isn’t haste, so much as passivity. Men are angry, and furious speeches are made to rile them up, but most men don’t really want to kill anyone. There is a lot of milling around in town while storekeeper Davies tries to talk them out of going. But men are afraid of appearing weak, unmanly, not part of the group. And Clark is interested in the phenomenon where, once people set out to do something, they continue doing it simply because they don’t want to look foolish by stopping.

film-page-feature-image-front-main-stage-2Another change is in the lead characters. The novel is narrated by Art Croft (played by Harry Morgan in the movie), who isn’t a particularly heroic man. He’s good at observing people and understanding people – the kind of guy people talk to – but ultimately he has no more moral conviction than anyone else and simply sits by while three men are lynched. His friend, Gil Carter (played by Henry Fonda) is described as a bull of a man, not someone who thinks a lot, but enjoys a fight. He, too, sits passively during the lynching, though he doesn’t quite like it.

In the film, a lot of Art’s characteristics, dialogue and even actions are given to Gil (because he’s Henry Fonda). And because he’s Henry Fonda, he’s a lot more heroic. In the movie, Henry Fonda tries to pull a gun to stop the lynching and everyone gets in a tussle. I guess they just couldn’t bear to have Henry Fonda be a complete moral coward? Though I suppose if he wasn’t heroic there would be little for him to do. Even as the movie is, Henry Fonda still plays a less heroic role than usual. Initially, he and Art go along with the lynch mob because they are afraid of being seen as outsiders who don’t stand with the group. But still, I can’t help but think it was a slight missed opportunity. It really would have been something to see Henry Fonda stand by passively, even if his conscience was bothered.

46212I was really impressed with Dana Andrews as Donald Martin, one of the men wrongly accused of murder and cattle rustling: his alternating fear, despair, the sense of unreality, the futility of talking to men who have already decided he’s guilty. He tries to take it like a man, but is scared, grieving and concerned about his wife and children. His very human reaction embarrasses people (in the novel, men are repeatedly embarrassed by the frank revelation of emotion). It’s a wonderful performance that really communicates what it must feel like to be powerless in the face of a group of people determined to kill you.

One change that puzzled me related to Major Tetley, who wants the lynching to happen because of his son, Gerald. Gerald and Major Tetley loath and despise each other. Gerald is sensitive and feels like a coward, but Tetley wants him to participate in the lynching and believes it will make a man of him. In the book, Tetley is a soldier who fought on the Confederate side. In the movie, he is an impostor in uniform. I can’t think why they changed that, unless it was because they didn’t want to show a former soldier in a negative light during WWII.

Inevitably, the issue of blame is softened in the movie. When the sheriff asks Davies who was responsible for the lynching, in the movie Davies says, “all but seven.” These are the seven who vote against the hanging (there are only five in the book). But in the book, no one gets away from blame quite so easily. The people who you would think have the least to blame themselves for take it the worst. Davies is in torment by the end of the novel, convinced that he could have done more. He admits to Art that at the moment of the hanging he was glad he didn’t have a gun, because it meant he didn’t have the option of pulling a gun on Tetley to try and stop him.

176481-004-F5221D4AIn the book (as is mostly true in the movie), there are no heroes, no would-be heroes. But the situation doesn’t call for heroes, someone to come in with guns blazing to save the day at the last moment. It calls for the majority of men involved to check themselves, stop what they were doing and be willing to look weak or silly to do the right thing. It requires the majority of the people to even know what the right thing is.

But despite being somewhat underwhelmed, it remains a superb movie. I just shouldn’t watch it the day after finishing the book – it’s distracting! But Wellman directs a spare film and keeps the focus inexorably on the story. He doesn’t go overboard making Fonda a hero, he doesn’t add any unnecessary romance, conversation, scenery. The entire film is focused on one thing alone: the lynching. It’s a film impossible to ignore or to forget.

This post is part of the “Beyond the Cover Blogathon,” hosted by Now Voyaging and Speakeasy, who I would like to thank for hosting this wonderful event! For the rest of the contributions, click here for Day 1 and Day 2.

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16 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2016 in Books, Movies

 

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