American Cinema Foundation, Podcast #1

 

Hello, Ricochet! Here’s the first of my projects through the American Cinema Foundation. I’m planning a weekly podcast talking about movies new and old, as they come into the news. What I want out this series of half-hour discussions is to give people a sense of the depth of thought involved in movies, even in popular movies that do not pretend to be sophisticated. It’s probably going to take me a while to figure out a format that works for an American audience, but I can guarantee that you’ll hear things that make sense as soon as you hear them, but which you haven’t heard before, as well as things that make no sense or seem very obscure.

I’m all about showing what’s serious about the movies I talk about, and so are my friends and guests. I’m hoping to make a bit of a splash, not least so that I find it easier to invite directors and writers on the podcast to talk about what’s worthwhile in American cinema. So please share this wherever you can! I’m grateful for whatever suggestions you can make, if you think they might help me improve the podcast and spread the word about my work here. Ultimately, I want to help people think about movies. Our leisure to a large extent is about movies and series. I’m all about giving people ways to get as much as possible out of the movies they love or even are merely curious about.

Beyond what’s basically conversation, the podcast will help me chronicle American history through the eyes of various writers and directors. I’m trying to make movie-makers not respectable, but interesting–able to say interesting things, to articulate the important things for human beings, and even to teach whatever part of the audience wants to be taught how to ask what makes us human!

By the way, if you want to get yet another sample of the dangerous thinking I’m famous for, here’s my new essay over at the Federalist, on Alien: Covenant.

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Members have made 49 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    Read The Federalist piece. It was pretty good.

    • #1
    • May 19, 2017 at 5:24 pm
    • Like3 likes
  2. Profile photo of Emphyrio Member

    Just listened to your first podcast and found it fascinating. I was 14 years old when Aliens came out and to say it scared would be an understatement. I am looking forward to your podcasts on the older classic films, dare I say, including black and white films. In my early 20’s, I was shocked, shocked I say to find so many of my contemporaries would not watch black and white movies. To never watch Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Bring Up Baby, Dr. Strangelove, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sunset Boulevard, how sad, tragic even…

    • #2
    • May 19, 2017 at 5:36 pm
    • Like6 likes
  3. Profile photo of Eeyore Member

    Titus Techera: …you’ll hear things that make sense as soon as you hear them, but which you haven’t heard before, as well as things that make no sense or seem very obscure.

    In other words, every Titus post ever…

    • #3
    • May 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm
    • Like8 likes
  4. Profile photo of Steve C. Member

    Emphyrio (View Comment):
    In my early 20’s, I was shocked, shocked I say to find so many of my contemporaries would not watch black and white movies. To never watch Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Bring Up Baby, Dr. Strangelove, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sunset Boulevard, how sad, tragic even…

    I worked with a 33 year old man who’d never heard of the Marx Brothers.

    Me: You should see A Night At The Opera, great comedy.

    Him: Is it in black and white?

    Me: Yes, it was made in 1935.

    Him: I don’t watch movies in black and white.

    • #4
    • May 19, 2017 at 7:33 pm
    • Like3 likes
  5. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Emphyrio (View Comment):
    In my early 20’s, I was shocked, shocked I say to find so many of my contemporaries would not watch black and white movies. To never watch Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Bring Up Baby, Dr. Strangelove, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sunset Boulevard, how sad, tragic even…

    I worked with a 33 year old man who’d never heard of the Marx Brothers.

    Me: You should see A Night At The Opera, great comedy.

    Him: Is it in black and white?

    Me: Yes, it was made in 1935.

    Him: I don’t watch movies in black and white.

    He’s right. The jokes would be too sophisticated for him.

    • #5
    • May 19, 2017 at 7:44 pm
    • Like8 likes
  6. Profile photo of Steve C. Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Emphyrio (View Comment):
    In my early 20’s, I was shocked, shocked I say to find so many of my contemporaries would not watch black and white movies. To never watch Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Bring Up Baby, Dr. Strangelove, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sunset Boulevard, how sad, tragic even…

    I worked with a 33 year old man who’d never heard of the Marx Brothers.

    Me: You should see A Night At The Opera, great comedy.

    Him: Is it in black and white?

    Me: Yes, it was made in 1935.

    Him: I don’t watch movies in black and white.

    He’s right. The jokes would be too sophisticated for him.

    Oh, a wise guy, ey?

    • #6
    • May 19, 2017 at 7:57 pm
    • Like4 likes
  7. Profile photo of Gary McVey Member

    Here’s to the inaugural edition, and to many, many more! Titus’s ACF is sliding down the launch ramp into fair seas…may it float in Champagne forever!

    • #7
    • May 19, 2017 at 7:59 pm
    • Like8 likes
  8. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Emphyrio (View Comment):
    In my early 20’s, I was shocked, shocked I say to find so many of my contemporaries would not watch black and white movies. To never watch Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Bring Up Baby, Dr. Strangelove, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sunset Boulevard, how sad, tragic even…

    I worked with a 33 year old man who’d never heard of the Marx Brothers.

    Me: You should see A Night At The Opera, great comedy.

    Him: Is it in black and white?

    Me: Yes, it was made in 1935.

    Him: I don’t watch movies in black and white.

    He’s right. The jokes would be too sophisticated for him.

    Oh, a wise guy, ey?

    That cupcake has never even seen the Stooges.

    Tear up his man-card.

    • #8
    • May 19, 2017 at 8:16 pm
    • Like4 likes
  9. Profile photo of Trink Reagan

    Titus, let this cupcake know when you’re reviewing “Topper” or maybe “How to Steal a Million.” Can’t-Won’t watch “Alien”. Nuh-uh. 😉

    • #9
    • May 20, 2017 at 3:36 am
    • Like2 likes
  10. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    How do I put this on my mp3 player (not an apple product)?

    • #10
    • May 20, 2017 at 5:43 am
    • Like2 likes
  11. Profile photo of I. M. Fine Member

    I just listened to your first podcast and thoroughly enjoyed it; I’m looking forward to the next and the entire series! I am particularly interested in hearing you (and your future guests) discuss how cinema can serve to “chronicle American history.” The comment that made the biggest impression on me from this first podcast was how the term “alien” moves from being an adjective to a noun. A pretty profound thought – especially when one considers 1979 America. I’d be interested in hearing a comprehensive discussion on film alien characters over the years, tracing how they evolved from curiosity to enemy to monster.

    You asked for suggestions. My only thought is I would enjoy a slightly more conversational approach. I’d love to hear Titus mix it up with the guests!

    • #11
    • May 20, 2017 at 6:35 am
    • Like2 likes
  12. Profile photo of Jim Beck Member

    Morning Titus and Felix,

    So are those sad, angular European faces, evidence of a dolichocephalic head or am I just hearing Ann Miller dancing in my mind? Super podcast. Do you think we are learning about the nature of man from this movie, or are we learning more about the patterns how the “elite” culture thinks about Western life. The heartless capitalistic corp. willing to sacrifice the crew, this is such an old plot. Also, the notion that Western folks are noted by their rule following behavior is nonsense, if we compare the West to any other culture or history. Maybe if we explored the way men are made docile via science or AI algorithms might be an interesting examination, how can man be ruled by machines. Also, the nature of “will to live” monsters, isn’t a virus more descriptive of a “will to live” monster, and the “Alien” more a creation of perhaps the “Id”, or a desire to have a scary monster.

    • #12
    • May 20, 2017 at 6:40 am
    • Like5 likes
  13. Profile photo of Hang On Member

    I would never think that being willing to risk your life to save a cat is a sign of humanity – simply stupidity. And I was convinced at the end of the movie when I first saw it way back in 1979 that the cat was certainly the host for an alien since all cats are evil anyway.

    • #13
    • May 20, 2017 at 7:02 am
    • Like4 likes
  14. Profile photo of St. Salieri / Eric Cook Member

    Bene, bene, bene…

    I’m thrilled by this – just what is needed. God speed on the Champaign seas.

    By the way, if you ever need an interlocutor on silent film, I have a suggestion or two! Too bad you never got to meet or talk with David Sheperd.

    Best as ever.

    • #14
    • May 20, 2017 at 7:26 am
    • Like2 likes
  15. Profile photo of Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera Post author

    MLH (View Comment):
    How do I put this on my mp3 player (not an apple product)?

    Good point! I had not thought of it! I’ll figure a way to get an mp3 online that’s downloadable!

    • #15
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:57 am
    • Like2 likes
  16. Profile photo of Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera Post author

    Hang On (View Comment):
    I would never think that being willing to risk your life to save a cat is a sign of humanity – simply stupidity. And I was convinced at the end of the movie when I first saw it way back in 1979 that the cat was certainly the host for an alien since all cats are evil anyway.

    Heh, that’s how my folks feel. Too many cats for too many years… That said–these people are desperate for their lives–stepping beyond that desperation & assuming responsibility for another life–a bit of protection–that’s what’s left to defend humanity or morality in face of a threat that might get people to do whatever it takes to survive!

    • #16
    • May 20, 2017 at 10:59 am
    • Like2 likes
  17. Profile photo of Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera Post author

    By the way, the picture up there–that’s my friend Felix with me in front of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence, last year. He’s also a Ricochet member but, this podcast to the contrary notwithstanding, a silent partner!

    • #17
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:00 am
    • Like3 likes
  18. Profile photo of Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera Post author

    St. Salieri / Eric Cook (View Comment):
    Bene, bene, bene…

    I’m thrilled by this – just what is needed. God speed on the Champaign seas.

    By the way, if you ever need an interlocutor on silent film, I have a suggestion or two! Too bad you never got to meet or talk with David Sheperd.

    Best as ever.

    As soon as I get my feet planted in this new territory, I’ll be sure to do that. My own nephew watches silent movies without any trouble–although, admittedly, it’s especially comedies. I think there’s much to be brought back from that kind of story-telling! But it’s a long way to get there!

    • #18
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:02 am
    • Like3 likes
  19. Profile photo of Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera Post author

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    I just listened to your first podcast and thoroughly enjoyed it; I’m looking forward to the next and the entire series! I am particularly interested in hearing you (and your future guests) discuss how cinema can serve to “chronicle American history.” The comment that made the biggest impression on me from this first podcast was how the term “alien” moves from being an adjective to a noun. A pretty profound thought – especially when one considers 1979 America. I’d be interested in hearing a comprehensive discussion on film alien characters over the years, tracing how they evolved from curiosity to enemy to monster.

    You asked for suggestions. My only thought is I would enjoy a slightly more conversational approach. I’d love to hear Titus mix it up with the guests!

    You won’t have to wait long for a more conversational approach. We’re trying out several different formats, but much of what we’ll do will be much more like our conversations. But without the drinking. I don’t have a good podcast equivalent of rum cocktails & cigarettes. I’ll work on it…

    I do think there’s a lot to what happened to aliens. Secretly, I fear that America gradually moved from ignoring Lovecraft to believing him!

    • #19
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:05 am
    • Like4 likes
  20. Profile photo of Gary McVey Member

    1979, Hollywood Boulevard. A projectionist friend of mine showed the film in its first run. He was especially fond of the scene where Sigourney Weaver undresses, she thinks, to sleep, and noted that it was (I forget exactly; say,) 81 minutes into the film. He’d look out the booth window affectionately at 7:21, 9:21, and 11:21 each night to catch the show. One can never be sure what a viewer will focus on. “Alien” was regarded as an anachronistic shock in ’79, a throwback to the scary Fifties. After all, the new paradigm of human-alien encounters was, well, “Close Encounters”.

    Historical fact: Sigourney is the daughter of Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, one of the smartest and best of early TV executives.

    I have to say, isn’t Titus’s speaking voice excellent? And none of the usual “ahh” or “umm” that all of us are prone to when a microphone appears. Felix does well too.

    • #20
    • May 20, 2017 at 11:48 am
    • Like5 likes
  21. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    silent movie

    Blancanieves

    much better, imo, than The Artist

    • #21
    • May 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm
    • Like1 like
  22. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    1979, Hollywood Boulevard. A projectionist friend of mine showed the film in its first run. He was especially fond of the scene where Sigourney Weaver undresses, she thinks, to sleep, and noted that it was (I forget exactly; say,) 81 minutes into the film. He’d look out the booth window affectionately at 7:21, 9:21, and 11:21 each night to catch the show. One can never be sure what a viewer will focus on. “Alien” was regarded as an anachronistic shock in ’79, a throwback to the scary Fifties. After all, the new paradigm of human-alien encounters was, well, “Close Encounters”.

    Historical fact: Sigourney is the daughter of Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, one of the smartest and best of early TV executives.

    I have to say, isn’t Titus’s speaking voice excellent? And none of the usual “ahh” or “umm” that all of us are prone to when a microphone appears. Felix does well too.

    Gary, I see you “liking” all the comments: like a proud parent!

    • #22
    • May 20, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    • Like4 likes
  23. Profile photo of Gary McVey Member

    MLH (View Comment):.

    Gary, I see you “liking” all the comments: like a proud parent!

    Yep! Towards the end of this story, Titus is going to get fed up with my tyrannical, authoritative ways and we’re going to have one hell of a knock-down drag-out fistfight. For the first time ever, I’m going to get my ass whupped. That’s when I stand up, shake his hand, look Titus in the eye and tell him that now I know I picked the right man to get a thousand head of cattle to the railhead in Missouri.

    • #23
    • May 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm
    • Like5 likes
  24. Profile photo of Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera Post author

    I think I’ve got someone lined up for the crotchety ol’Walter Brennan role, but that crackling voice & the Oscars? Hard to cast…

    • #24
    • May 20, 2017 at 1:19 pm
    • Like2 likes
  25. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    Listened to the ‘cast. Good job! Did you script yourselves?

    I vote for trying to get David Mamet as a guest.

    • #25
    • May 20, 2017 at 1:26 pm
    • Like3 likes
  26. Profile photo of Dorrk Member

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    I am particularly interested in hearing you (and your future guests) discuss how cinema can serve to “chronicle American history.”

    Here’s a very good book on this subject that I finished just a month or so ago. It was originally published just before Star Wars — it’s amusing to read his dour conclusions, unaware that a major change is about change everything — and then was updated in the 1990s.

    Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies
    by Robert Sklar
    http://amzn.to/2rD968W

    • #26
    • May 20, 2017 at 1:31 pm
    • Like2 likes
  27. Profile photo of Quinnie Member

    When an intelligent person is passionate about something, I am open to listening. I will be tuning in.

    • #27
    • May 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm
    • Like3 likes
  28. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Thatcher

    Barb and I listened to the podcast today as we drove through Oklahoma. I’m a fan of Scott’s first film, The Duellists, despite its bizarre casting (though the Harvey Keitel character seems a precursor of the creature in Alien in his mindless, relentless pursuit of a human).

    I usually react viscerally to movies so I appreciated the insightful commentary. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Alien. Need to do so again.

    • #28
    • May 20, 2017 at 5:47 pm
    • Like2 likes
  29. Profile photo of Gary McVey Member

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):
    Barb and I listened to the podcast today as we drove through Oklahoma. I’m a fan of Scott’s first film, The Duellists, despite its bizarre casting (though the Harvey Keitel character seems a precursor of the creature in Alien in his mindless, relentless pursuit of a human).

    I usually react viscerally to movies so I appreciated the insightful commentary. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Alien. Need to do so again.

    From one GM (okay, a GMcV) to another GM, I have to say that’s a helluva romantic image, like a print ad in a Twenties magazine: “Take Your Beautiful Girl And a Picnic Basket, And See This Gorgeous Country of Ours!”

    • #29
    • May 20, 2017 at 5:52 pm
    • Like3 likes
  30. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Thatcher

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):
    Barb and I listened to the podcast today as we drove through Oklahoma. I’m a fan of Scott’s first film, The Duellists, despite its bizarre casting (though the Harvey Keitel character seems a precursor of the creature in Alien in his mindless, relentless pursuit of a human).

    I usually react viscerally to movies so I appreciated the insightful commentary. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Alien. Need to do so again.

    From one GM (okay, a GMcV) to another GM, I have to say that’s a helluva romantic image, like a print ad in a Twenties magazine: “Take Your Beautiful Girl And a Picnic Basket, And See This Gorgeous Country of Ours!”

    The images throughout the film are stunning, including the closing shot.

    • #30
    • May 20, 2017 at 5:54 pm
    • Like2 likes
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