Dlwelcyyqd2ko99d91rymq.jpg?ixlib=rails 3.0

Jill Blake

Freelance writer

Location icon United States of America

Portfolio

Streamline: The Official Blog of FilmStruck

Filmstruck
An Unusual Western: William Wyler's The Westerner ('40)

To view The Westerner click here. In 1940, immediately following his adaptation of Wuthering Heights (1939), William Wyler directed his first major full-length Western, The Westerner, starring Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan. Although he hadn't yet made any Westerns for producer Samuel Goldwyn, this wasn't Wyler's first time working in the popular genre.

Filmstruck
William Wyler's Wuthering Heights ('39)

To view Wuthering Heights click here. Following the success of Dead End (written about here) in 1937, director William Wyler headed over to Warner Bros. to direct Jezebel (1938), a romantic drama set in the antebellum South, starring Bette Davis and Henry Fonda. The film was a critical and commercial success, and earned Davis her [...]

Filmstruck
From Stage to Screen: William Wyler's These Three (1936)

To view These Three click here. In 1934, Lillian Hellman's play The Children's Hour debuted on Broadway. Starring Anne Revere, Katherine Emery and Robert Keith, the production was a huge critical and commercial success, running for almost two years. But Hellman's story almost didn't make it to the stage because of its then-controversial subject matter.

Filmstruck
The Bleak Reality of William Wyler's Dead End (1937)

To view Dead End click here. Following the success of These Three and the film adaptation of Sinclair Lewis's Dodsworth (written about here and here), both released in 1936, William Wyler brought another popular Broadway play to the screen: Sidney Kingsley's Dead End. Kingsley's play tells the story of a group of young boys growing [...]

Filmstruck
William Wyler: Constant Chameleon and The People's Auteur

To view the films available with the "Directed by William Wyler" theme, click here. In reflecting on the history of Hollywood filmmaking, William Wyler undoubtedly remains one of the greatest and most influential directors of his time. Twelve Academy Award nominations for Best Director (the record for most nominations of a director), winning three times [...]

Filmstruck
The Greatest Early Douglas Sirk: Lured (1947)

To view Lured click here. Writer and director Douglas Sirk is mainly known today for his exquisite technicolor melodramas, such as Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956) and Imitation of Life (1959), his last feature-length film. His work throughout the 1950s, and specifically these four films, are not [...]

Filmstruck
A Lonely Climb to Happiness in The Apartment (1960)

To view The Apartment click here. Sometimes the saddest stories are the most beautiful. Life is never easy or clear cut, and we all know that there's often sorrow found on the road to happiness. In The Apartment (1960), director Billy Wilder takes two decent, lonely, broken people looking for real love, and cultivates their developing [...]

Filmstruck
A Modern Screwball Comedy: The In-Laws ('79)

To view The In-Laws click here. Weddings can be stressful. The planning of the actual event, along with facing the responsibilities surrounding a life-long commitment to another person, creates both an exciting and terrifying experience for the couple involved. But all of the wedding nonsense can't compare to the stress of the couple's parents meeting [...]

Filmstruck
More Than a Two-Word Review: This is Spinal Tap ('84)

To view This is Spinal Tap click here. I can't quite remember exactly when I first saw This is Spinal Tap (1984), but I do know it was sometime in the late 80's. It was in fairly heavy rotation on cable in various edited forms, and the first few times I only saw bits and pieces-usually [...]

Filmstruck
The Gentleman Jewel Thief: David Niven in Raffles ('39)

To view Raffles click here. Currently on Filmstruck, several of director Sam Wood's films are spotlighted as part of the streaming service's "Directed by Sam Wood" theme. Of those featured films, the most well-known are Kitty Foyle (1940), starring Ginger Rogers, and 1942's The Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright (which [...]

Filmstruck
If Only You Believe in Miracles

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936), now streaming on The Criterion Channel of FilmStruck, is a lovely, albeit odd little comedy based on a short story written by H.G. Wells, directed by Lothar Mendes and produced by Alexander Korda. The always endearing Roland Young stars as George McWhirter Fotheringay, an average man who works [...]

Filmstruck
To Be or Not to Be (1942) and the Importance of Satire

Whenever I'm feeling really low, I reach for the Lubitsch. I suspect I'm not the only one who does this. From personal favorites such as Trouble in Paradise (1932), Design For Living (1933) and The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Lubitsch's films never fail to bring a smile to my face, lifting my spirits and [...]

Filmstruck
Gaslight (1944) and the True Meaning of Fear

Gaslighting: The idea that a person will eventually become convinced of something through conditioning by an individual in a position of power and influence, despite being in direct opposition to what the person knows and believes to be true. It is a word we hear tossed around a lot these days, usually in reference to [...]

Filmstruck
A Look at David Lean's BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945)

To view Brief Encounterclick here. It's not often you come across a story centering around infidelity that is portrayed as sweet and innocent, deserving of the respect and empathy of its audience. In film, especially classics, adultery is typically met with some form of harsh punishment, particularly for the women involved.

Filmstruck
A Tale of Two Hydes

Robert Louis Stevenson's late-19th century novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been the inspiration for countless stage, film, radio and television adaptations and inspired works. The first adaptation was Thomas Sullivan's stage play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which debuted in 1887, a year after the novella's original publication.

Filmstruck
Take Time for Time Without Pity ('57)

Isn't Michael Redgrave simply marvelous? No matter the role, Michael Redgrave brings a sort of respectability and class; he commands the screen. Take his brief performance as the unnamed, mysterious uncle in Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961). The few minutes he is on screen, sharing a scene with that naive, inexperienced governess played by Deborah [...]

Filmstruck
Sharing a Smile and a Tear With My Kid

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I made a promise that I would share my love of music and film with her. All throughout my pregnancy I cranked up the classic rock, 80's alternative, James Brown and Frank Sinatra. My husband and I sat immediately behind Robert Osborne during a screening of Steamboat Bill [...]

Filmstruck
Irma, I Love You, But You're Breaking My Heart

When I decided to write about Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce (1963) for this week's StreamLine piece, I originally intended to argue on the film's behalf. In discussions of "lesser Wilder films" Irma La Douce is guaranteed to be on the list, arguably one of Wilder's most baffling creations, along with The Spirit of St.

Filmstruck
Hollywood Magic Is Real

In the supernatural comedy I Married a Witch (1942), director René Clair serves up an irresistible potion consisting of revenge, sex, politics and romance. Based on the novel The Passionate Witch by author Thorne Smith, I Married a Witch stars Fredric March and Veronica Lake, an unlikely romantic leading couple if there ever was one.

Filmstruck
I (Don't Really) Know Where I'm Going!

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) is a lovely, simple tale of stubborn self-confidence, the unexpected nature of life and unlikely romance. Wendy Hiller, known best for her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in the Anthony Asquith/Leslie Howard production of Pygmalion (1938), is Joan Webster, a determined, self-assured British woman who [...]

Filmstruck
Longing For SUMMERTIME

Each winter, after all the excitement of the holiday season has passed, I always feel a touch of melancholy. The shortened days with their gray skies, bare trees and cold winds have a lonely feel to them. Although winter this year has been quite mild, with plenty of sun-filled, picnic-perfect days, I still find myself [...]

Filmstruck
To Share or Not to Share: Kids and Classic Film

To view Stagecoach click here. One of the things I like to write about most is the journey of introducing my daughter to classic films, especially my personal favorites. From the time she was about three, Ellie knew Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire by name.

Filmstruck
Remembering Robert Osborne

This week we bid farewell to the patron saint of classic film, the venerable Robert Osborne. News of his death hit hard amongst the classic film community and beyond. Although he had been dealing with health issues in recent years and had taken an extended leave of absence from his hosting duties on TCM, many [...]

Filmstruck
Discovering Men Are Not Gods (1936)

To view Men Are Not Gods click here. One of the exciting thrills of being a film fan is that there are always new-to-me movies to be discovered. Throughout my journey as a cinephile, I've become a fan of actress Miriam Hopkins. I've always found her life both on and off the screen to be [...]

Filmstruck
A Look at the Short Films of Harold Lloyd

To view Just Neighbors click here, to view Billy Blazes, Esq. click here and to view Never Weaken click here. As I prepare for this year's TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, I am revisiting the films of some of the actors and actresses whose work is being featured at the annual event.

Filmstruck
Listen to The Boy with Green Hair (1948)

In 1948, director Joseph Losey made his first feature-length film, the beautiful technicolor comedy-drama, The Boy With Green Hair for RKO Pictures. Based on the 1946 short story written by Betsy Beaton, The Boy With Green Hair stars the great Dean Stockwell, Pat O'Brien and Robert Ryan.

Filmstruck
Desperation and Bravery in Basil Dearden's Victim (1961)

To view Victim click here. In late 19th century England, the Criminal Law Amendment Act was implemented, not only banning homosexuality, but making it a criminal offense. For decades, this senseless, discriminatory and repulsive law targeted, and subsequently ruined, the lives of countless gay men in England.

Filmstruck
The Complicated Morals of a Revisionist Western

In 1961, legendary author and screenwriter Elmore Leonard released his critically-acclaimed modern Western novel Hombre, a story about a white man, John Russell, raised by Apaches and his eventual return to civilization, with its complex politics and rampant prejudice. Russell struggles with deep moral conflict and reluctance to live as a white man after witnessing [...]

Filmstruck
Revisiting Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

To view Jesus of Nazareth Part 1 click here and for Part 2 click here. Being raised protestant, specifically Methodist, I wasn't fully immersed into the culture of the Passion of Christ. Although we recognized Lent and all the holy days leading up to Easter, we didn't emphasize the suffering, but rather the resurrection part of [...]

Filmstruck
A Fish Called Wanda (1988): The Greatest Modern Comedy?

To view A Fish Called Wanda click here. There's nothing more disappointing than revisiting a film that was considered great at its release, only to discover that it's horribly dated. Many of the films that I loved as a teenager, particularly ones made in the 1980s and 1990s, don't hold up some twenty or thirty [...]

Filmstruck
Beautiful Girls (1996) and Settling in for The Big Fade

To view Beautiful Girls click here. Can you ever truly go home again? Well, the thing is, and rarely no one tells you this-and if they do, you certainly don't believe it: when you do finally go back home, even if it's just for a visit, it's never the same as it was before you [...]

Filmstruck
In Spite of Myself, I Think I Might Like Stewart Granger

To view the "Early Stewart Granger" theme on FilmStruck click here. I'll admit that I've always been fairly ambivalent toward actor Stewart Granger (or "the other Jimmy Stewart," as I like to call him). I've never found him, or his films, particularly entertaining. Every once in a while, I'll find myself in the mood for [...]

Filmstruck
Directed by Nicholas Ray: On Dangerous Ground ('51)

To view On Dangerous Ground click here. Three years after Nicholas Ray made his directorial debut with 1948's They Live by Night (which I wrote about here), he made On Dangerous Ground (1951), starring Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino. Written by Gerald Butler, On Dangerous Ground tells the story of a hardened cop, Jim Wilson (Ryan), [...]

Filmstruck
A Brutal Film Noir: Cavalcanti's They Made Me a Fugitive (1947)

To view The Made Me a Fugitiveclick here. Brazilian filmmaker Alberto Cavalcanti had quite an interesting career. After several years directing films in France, the director signed a contract with the prestigious Ealing Studios in England. While Cavalcanti only made a handful of films at the studio before departing due to a contract dispute, his [...]

Filmstruck
The Delightfully Perfect Blithe Spirit (1945)

To view Blithe Spirit click here. There are countless great movies, but so few are truly perfect. Some of the movies that I consider worthy of the "perfect" designation include Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), John Ford's Stagecoach (1939), Mervyn LeRoy's Random Harvest (1942) and Billy Wilder's [...]

Filmstruck
Nicholas Ray's Directorial Debut: They Live By Night (1949)

To view They Live By Night click here. FilmStruck has just added programming dedicated to director Nicholas Ray, including six films he made throughout his thirty-year career and one documentary feature directed by his widow Susan Ray. One of the films included in this impressive lineup is Ray's directorial debut, They Live by Night (1949), [...]

Filmstruck
Gunga Din (1939): An Original Blockbuster

It's summertime, which means we're eyeball deep in the season of the blockbuster. These popcorn flicks widely vary in quality and entertainment value, but they all have one thing in common: they make money. And if they don't make enough money during their run in the theater, they'll rake it in with lucrative marketing deals [...]

Filmstruck
Cagney Fills the Screen in Shake Hands with the Devil ('59)

To view Shake Hands with the Devil click here. During the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Peter Bogdanovich conducted a series of interviews with one of his idols: the larger-than-life, enigmatic director, Orson Welles. During their conversations, which Bogdanovich released as a book in 1992, Welles discussed his favorite actors and directors, citing the [...]

Filmstruck
You're Never Too Old to Discover Danny Kaye

To view Hans Christian Andersen click here. I have a confession to make, and this is just between us, ok? Up until a few months ago, I had never seen a Danny Kaye film. Not a single one. And before you think I'm accidentally forgetting White Christmas (1954) -nope.

Filmstruck
Desperation and Bravery in Basil Dearden's Victim (1961)

To view Victim click here. In late 19th century England, the Criminal Law Amendment Act was implemented, not only banning homosexuality, but making it a criminal offense. For decades, this senseless, discriminatory and repulsive law targeted, and subsequently ruined, the lives of countless gay men in England.

Filmstruck
Explosive Terror in The Wages Of Fear (1953)

To view The Wages of Fear click here. In The Wages of Fear (1953), based on Georges Arnaud's novel The Salary of Fear, director Henri-George Clouzot takes an incredibly simple premise and somehow creates over two and a half hours of psychological suspense in one of the greatest thrillers ever made.

Filmstruck
Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life (1956)

To view Bigger Than Life click here. In 1955, Nicholas Ray made the technicolor family drama Rebel Without a Cause, which focused on the experiences of teenagers in the seemingly perfect confines of postwar suburbia. The film was not only a huge success, but it helped to make its star, James Dean, a household name, [...]

Filmstruck
Mom, Me and Death Race 2000 (1975)

To view Death Race 2000 click here. When I was a kid, probably thirteen or fourteen, my mom and I would often spend Friday nights staying up late watching television. We would watch Letterman and weird infomercials. Sometimes we would catch a late-night movie-like The Birds (1963), or the utterly ridiculous made-for-TV movie The Boy in the [...]

Filmstruck
A Far From Perfect Understanding (1933)

To view Perfect Understanding click here. In 1929, after a successful career in silent film and at the height of her popularity, Gloria Swanson was preparing for her transition to "talkies," the earliest, raw experiments in bringing sound to motion pictures. Her sound debut was in the 1929 drama written and directed by Edmund Goulding, The [...]

Filmstruck
Targets (1968): Proof There Are Still Good Movies to Be Made

To view Targets click here. A few years ago, a friend convinced me to buy, sight unseen, Peter Bogdanovich's directorial debut, 1968′s Targets starring Boris Karloff. Because of the newly released DVD, there had been renewed interest in this rarely seen film. My friend promised that it would be money well spent, and that it [...]

Filmstruck
An Unusual Western: William Wyler's The Westerner ('40)

To view The Westerner click here. In 1940, immediately following his adaptation of Wuthering Heights (1939), William Wyler directed his first major full-length Western, The Westerner, starring Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan. Although he hadn't yet made any Westerns for producer Samuel Goldwyn, this wasn't Wyler's first time working in the popular genre.

Filmstruck
A Mother's Sacrifice in Stella Dallas ('37)

To view Stella Dallas click here. Children rarely understand the sacrifices their parents make for them. Nor should they. The difficult decisions and problems that parents often have to deal with aren't ones that should be the concerns of a child. In my own life, my parents made sacrifices that I didn't fully realize or [...]

Filmstruck
William Wyler's Wuthering Heights ('39)

To view Wuthering Heights click here. Following the success of Dead End (written about here) in 1937, director William Wyler headed over to Warner Bros. to direct Jezebel (1938), a romantic drama set in the antebellum South, starring Bette Davis and Henry Fonda. The film was a critical and commercial success, and earned Davis her [...]

Filmstruck
Filling in for History: Gary Cooper and The Pride of the Yankees ('42)

To view The Pride of the Yankees click here. Lou, what else can I say, except that it was a sad day in the life of everybody who knew you when you came into my hotel room that day in Detroit and told me you were quitting as a ballplayer because you felt yourself a [...]

Filmstruck
The Brilliance of Early David Lean: The Passionate Friends (1949)

To view The Passionate Friends click here. A few months ago, here on Streamline, I wrote about David Lean's film adaptation of Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit in 1945 (you can read it here), and how it is among very few films I consider perfect. As I've been reintroduced to much of Lean's early directorial efforts, [...]

Filmstruck
New Beginnings: Lessons from Dodsworth (1936)

At the end of every year I, like many people, take stock of the events that took place throughout the previous months. I reassess the bad moments, trying to find ways that I could've avoided them or handled them differently. I also try to reflect on all of the good moments, no matter how small.

Filmstruck
Head For the Bunker, It's A Carol For Another Christmas!

There are countless film and television adaptations of Charles Dickens's novella A Christmas Carol, a mainstay each holiday season. The most popular of these adaptations include the 1938 version starring Reginald Owen and Gene Lockhart; the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim; the animated classic Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962); the musical Scrooge (1979) starring Albert [...]

Filmstruck
Beatlemania: A Family Tradition

My mom's first experience with The Beatles was like most people of her generation; her first glimpse of the mop-topped foursome was on February 9, 1964, on America's favorite Sunday night pastime, The Ed Sullivan Show. Mom was only nine years old and hadn't heard The Beatles' music, and wasn't even quite sure who they [...]

Filmstruck
A Queen Too Many

Mary of Scotland (1936), released by RKO, is an interesting historical drama with a touch of romance directed by John Ford. In 1936, Ford was hardly a novice; he had directed over eighty productions, including Academy Award nominated films Arrowsmith (1931), The Lost Patrol (1934) and The Informer (1935).

Filmstruck
More Than Ashley Wilkes: Leslie Howard in The Scarlet Pimpernel

Many of us know the story: Leslie Howard negotiated with David O. Selznick for co-producer credits on the 1939 film Intermezzo: A Love Story (Ingrid Bergman's Hollywood debut and remake of the 1936 Swedish film Intermezzo, also starring Bergman). In exchange, Howard begrudgingly agreed to play the role of Scarlett O'Hara's unrequited love interest, the [...]

Filmstruck
Love in Enunciation: Leslie Howard in Pygmalion (1938)

Aside from George Cukor's visually stunning musical masterpiece My Fair Lady (1964), Pygmalion (1938), directed by Anthony Asquith (with Leslie Howard receiving co-director credits), is the only other significant film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 stage play of the same name. Of the two films, Pygmalion is the more faithful adaptation and arguably the [...]

Filmstruck
A Call to Arms: 49th Parallel (1941)

In 1940, the British government asked director Michael Powell to make a film supporting the ongoing war effort against Nazi Germany. Along with his partner, Emeric Pressburger, Powell wanted to use the sanctioned platform to sway the United States, who remained neutral at the time, into joining the fight alongside Britain.

Filmstruck
An Unexpected Farewell: Leslie Howard's Spitfire (1942)

With World War II ramping up in his native Britain, Leslie Howard felt compelled to redirect the focus of his film career to the war effort. He also wanted to expand into producer and directorial roles, spending less time in front of the camera. Unfortunately there wasn't a clear path for him to do so [...]

Filmstruck
Make Movies Short Again

One of the great things about films from Hollywood's pre-Code era (besides the excessive boozing, blatant depictions of sex and strong, independent women) is the runtime. A vast majority of films made between the early talkie era in 1929 and the enforcement of the Hays' Code in 1934 have runtimes under 75 minutes.

Email icon