Films etc. – Three Years Down the Road

Film blogger in jailLast Saturday, April 25, marked three years since I started this blog. Since that time I’ve written 77 posts and have gathered 644 followers. I know these aren’t big numbers by Internet standards, but I’m not complaining. Here’s a kind of recap and a preview.

In my very first post I wrote, “I realize the world hardly needs another blog about anything, but I’m going to take a run at it anyway. I plan to write mainly about movies, and also television, books, or anything else that gets my attention that I feel compelled to pass along. I love movies of all kinds, shapes and sizes, from truly great films, e.g. Children of Paradise, Tokyo Story, and Grand Illusion, to the totally bizarre, e.g. the totally inept yet strangely wonderful Plan 9 from Outer Space. I’ll try to be entertaining and informative, whether writing about old films or new. Hopefully readers (assuming there are any) will let me know how I’m doing with this goal.”

I’ve tried to live up to that. My biggest challenge, as always, has been how to overcome procrastination. As I wrote about this in a post last year, “If this was an actual job where I had to turn in something every Friday, for example, I’d be able to do it. Might not start until Thursday night, but I’d get it done. I’m the world’s worse boss to myself. It’s too easy to go to another movie, which is ironic, since this blog is ostensibly about movies. Seeing all these movies gets in the way of writing about them.”

Even though it can be a struggle, this is the most sustained writing about film that I’ve done over the years. Early on I knew that if I wasn’t going to be making films, I wanted to write about them. When I returned to the University of Iowa after four years in the Air Force, I wrote reviews for the campus paper, The Daily Iowan. After that, in Minneapolis, I wrote film reviews for a monthly, The Minneapolis Review of the Arts, and a weekly, The Twin Cities Reader. In 1975 I wrote a short piece for a New York magazine, Filmmakers Newsletter, about an annual film festival at the University of Iowa called “Refocus.” I was excited to see myself in print in a national magazine, and planned to continue this when I moved to New York City in 1977. But I didn’t make that happen until now, though I did manage to see thousands of movies in the meantime.

Some of the posts I’ve enjoyed writing the most, and that I think tend to hold up pretty well, include the following:

Famous Monsters and Me (May 17, 2012)

Seeing Movies with an Audience (November 17, 2012)

Kubrick and “The Killing” (April 2, 2013)

Burt Lancaster – “If it’s killing you want…” (May 23, 2013)                        

James Gandolfini and Richard Matheson – Jersey Boys (June 27, 2013)

“Born in Chicago” – Black & White Blues (August 9, 2013)

Gunfights at the OK Corral (January 31, 2014)

Christopher Walken & Talkin’ (& Dancin’) (May 25, 2014)

“Coherence” – No Exit  (June 18, 2014)

“Rosebud was his sled!” – Random Notes on Orson Welles (November 11, 20114

John Huston – The Stuff That Dreams are Made Of” (December 31, 2014)

Looking ahead, there are a lot of films and filmmakers I plan to write about, including the following:

— The profoundly disturbing horror film Island of Lost Souls (1932), based on H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, with Charles Laughton in an over-the-top performance that’s perfect for this film’s nightmare world.

— Robert Aldrich’s corrosive World War II drama, Attack (1956), and his brutal Western, Ulzana’s Raid (1972), with Burt Lancaster.

— The amazing series of strange and unusual films produced by Val Lewton for RKO from 1942 to 1946, especially I Walked with a Zombie and The Seventh Victim (both 1943).

— Edgar G. Ulmer’s unhinged The Black Cat (1934), with Boris Karloff as a necrophilic devil worshipper and Bela Lugosi as a good guy for once (albeit more than a little nuts).

— John Frankenheimer’s deeply paranoid Seconds (1966), with John Randolph as an unhappy man surgically reborn as Rock Hudson reaching for a second chance.

— Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country (1962), with two of my favorites, Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott.

— The silent films of the impossibly great Buster Keaton.

— Ed Wood’s totally inept yet always entertaining films, especially the strangely brave and wonderful Glen or Glenda (1953) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

— The great series of Westerns Budd Boetticher made with Randolph Scott and Anthony Mann made with James Stewart (as well as Mann’s terrific film noirs from the late ’40s).

Robert Wise, Robert Siodmak, Don Siegel, Jacques Tourneur, Jules Dassin, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Jean Renoir, and many many others, plus drive-in movie theaters, and film noir, always noir.

Plus I’ll be writing about new films that get my attention as they come along, as well as some of the great stuff on television these days, such as Daredevil, the Neflix series based on the Marvel Comics character that began streaming last month, which I liked a lot.

One of my goals is to pick up the pace and follow through. Hopefully, saying this in print will motivate me to do that. — Ted Hicks

Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo, "Kiss of Death" (1947)

Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo, “Kiss of Death” (1947)


About Ted Hicks

Iowa farm boy; have lived in NYC for 40 years; worked in motion picture labs, film/video distribution, subtitling, media-awards program; obsessive film-goer all my life.
This entry was posted in Books, Comics, Fiction, Film, Home Video. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Films etc. – Three Years Down the Road

  1. Tom Thel says:

    Your frequency averages once every two weeks, which seems pretty high to me. I’m guessing that your total word count over the past three years exceeds that of many critics who do get paid. As it is, I feel guilty about not seeing many of the films that you do cover. Plus sometimes your entries are time sinks because I have to think about what you have written.

    Part of me is cheering your procrastination.

    • Ted Hicks says:

      Thanks! I have long dreamed of being a time sink. But seriously, thanks for your comments. Every two weeks isn’t so bad. But I feel bad when I let an entire month go by without a post, as I did this April. Though I stop short of flagellating myself with a knotted rope.

  2. Jim Schwantes says:

    Keep on your road Ted. I really enjoy your writing.

  3. Kimball Jones says:

    Congraulations on your 3rd anniversary Ted! Great work.

  4. Doug c says:

    Ted, you’re in for life, not just a film critic but a film fan for life. Let us all break out for new adventures in film. Hope to see you next week with cousin Randy. Doug

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