Category Archives: Movies

New Project Underway to Celebrate Film History

I have good news and bad news, my babies. And in typical human fashion, I will bring you the bad news first. The Little Jazz Baby blog is closing its virtual doors at the end of the year.  However, I am keeping the Facebook fan page because it is rapidly growing these past couple months and, odd enough, is more popular than the blog itself.

The decision to drop this blog was not a hard one.  I have stumbled into a lot of issues with it almost from day one—everything from technical problems to life getting in the way.  So prepare yourselves, darlings, because in December this blog will be no more! Continue reading

The 5 Most Overrated Actors in Old Hollywood

Yesterday a friend of mine mentioned something about Johnny Depp being overrated.  I agree.  (Even though I do love him in Benny & Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? But that’s it…)  He along with 99% of “actors” (I use that term loosely) today are way overrated.  I bore very easily with new movies because of CGI and lack of talent.

That is not to say everything about old Hollywood was fantastic.  On the contrary.  There were a lot of hideous movies and hideous actors in the old days.  And today I am going to share a list of five classic film actors I think were overrated in old Hollywood, and are still overrated today. Continue reading

An Emotional Attachment to Works of Fiction

Cover of "The Crack-Up"

I think we have all cracked up. Yeah?

On the surface, it sounds completely insane to become so wrapped up in characters or story lines in works of fiction that you become emotionally attached to them.  But millions of people all over the world are afflicted by this every day.

Just take a look at super religious types.  They are so emotionally attached to their holy books that they believe they are written by a divine entity.  They are ruled by their books.  They make them, and the stories in them, real.

I know I will catch a lot of flak for that from the religious folk out there, but you know it is true.  And I know that there has to be a name for this “disorder” (if you want to call it that) out there, but I will be danged if I know what it is. (If anyone knows, please tell me…)

I am a vicious little heathen, but I can relate to an observant religious person’s unyielding love for well-written and compelling works of fiction.  But instead of the heroes in the Bible, or any holy book of one’s choice, I am more attracted to the anti-hero in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, or horrible, brutal villains in Peter Lorre films.

Make no mistake, darlings, I always root for the bad guys.  I’m wicked that way.

Whatever the case might be, this is something that affects most of us.  And why do you think that is?  Why do we place such importance on people and things that do not really exist?

Is it because we see ourselves in characters and situations portrayed in books and on film?  Or is it something else entirely?

Colonel Gimpy Crack-Up

Look at that face. Who wouldn’t fall head over heels? ;) (Peter Lorre as Colonel Gimpy in the 1936 film Crack-Up.)

My best friend tells me that when I describe the aforementioned F. Scott Fitzgerald works, or my beloved Colonel Gimpy from the movie Crack-Up, I sound like the biggest, most faithful religious zealot in the world.  I treat them not as works of fiction, but as people and situations that are real, and that I have somehow personally experienced what is going on.

I feel compelled to convert everyone into fans of what I love, just like a Missionary in Africa wants to convert the “lost” in some remote African village (or something) to their religion so their heathen souls go on to paradise in the afterlife.

What’s more, it is a compulsion that I do not want to get rid of.  Indeed, I want to feed it and make it grow.  And it is something that I have plenty of enablers for, believe it or not.  I ask for people to justify my mania and they do.  All the time.

By now you are probably either thinking I am completely insane—or you are nodding your head and completely identifying with everything I have said.  So what are your thoughts?  I will ask again:  what is it you think is the reason, if any, behind people’s emotional attachment to works of fiction?  Is it a mental disorder or is it something that is a completely normal part of being human?

(By the way, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Play The Crack-Up and Peter Lorre’s film Crack-Up are not in any way related…)

The Saddest Movie in the World

A Star is Born I am sure that at least one of you have seen one version of the film A Star is Born, right?  More than likely these days, people are familiar with either the Judy Garland version from 1954 or the Barbra Streisand version from 1976.  Both are musicals, and both have similar story lines—a talented singer is discovered by a man seemingly hell-bent on destroying himself.  As her career takes off, his falls apart and the downward spiral spins out of control, fueled by copious amounts of booze.

If you haven’t seen either one of those movies, you now know what they are about.  They are terribly depressing dramatic pictures full of modern music.

Did you know that there is also a non-musical version released in 1937 that both musicals are based off of?  If you didn’t, you do now. Continue reading

3 Often Overlooked Peter Lorre Characters

Peter Lorre character "Colonel Gimpy" in Crack-Up (1936)

Peter Lorre as “Colonel Gimpy” in Crack-Up (1936)

Before I took my hiatus from blogging last month, I had planned to do a June baby extravaganza, featuring posts about classic stars born in the best possible month to be born in.  Can you tell I am a little biased about June here?  It’s probably because the 7th anniversary of my 29th birthday was on June 22.

Now that I am back to blogging regularly, I have decided to periodically post about my fellow June babies for the rest of the year.  Yay!

First up is Peter Lorre, who was easily the most recognized character actor to ever grace Hollywood. Continue reading

Here Comes Another Bad Review for Gatsby 2013…

gatsby 2013I have mentioned The Great Gatsby 2013 more than a few times over the past several months without having seen it.  Based on the trailers alone (and the fact that Baz Luhrmann directed it), I declared it offensive and complete and utter rubbish.

Many people have told me I was too quick to judge, that I should actually see it before casting any judgment—good, bad, or otherwise.

Well, my darlings, I saw it this past Sunday and can now say with confidence that all my suspicions were right—it is absolutely horrible.  I’ll give you the highlights here and you can decide for yourself whether you want to see it. Continue reading

The Top 5 Best Actresses in Black and White

Best Actresses, Clara BowLast month I brought you the ten best actors in black and white, and today I am going to talk about who I believe are the top five best actresses in black and white.  They were all world-famous at one time (some of them for things other than their acting skills…unfortunately), and still have enduring qualities today.

And I admit that I do not pay much attention to actresses on the silver screen, so I really do not have a solid top 10 best actresses.  The other five vary with my mood.  But there are five dames who constantly, and will always, be the best actresses of all time to me.  And I hope they are to you, too.

Are any of your favorites on the list? Continue reading

Peter Lorre’s Sympathetic Psychopath

Peter Lorre in M (1931)

Peter Lorre in M (1931)

Peter Lorre, the pint size, bug-eyed actor with a nasal Viennese (yeah, it was totally Viennese) accent, made his name in Hollywood playing ruthless murderers and hooligans.

Lorre got his start in Germany in (shocker of shockers) comedies and musicals on the stage. But it was his breakthrough performance in the Fritz Lang thriller M (1931), along with his unconventional, sinister looks, that set him on the path of being typecast as some of the most despicable creatures ever put on film.

In M, Lorre plays Hans Beckert a serial killer in an unnamed city who preys on children, luring them with candy and toys. Continue reading

Dear Hollywood, Please Stop Reinventing Gatsby

The Greaty Gatsby

Cover of the first volume in the series (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My second post on this blog asked “Does the world really need another Gatsby?” speaking of the the various adaptions of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby.  And a while back, I wrote a more creative post on how one can learn from Gatsby’s mistakes.  I also included the novel in a short list of must-reads by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I think it is safe to say that I love The Great Gatsby more than life itself.  I am also extremely protective of F. Scott Fitzgerald and all the hard work (and hard drinking) he put into everything he wrote.

When I love something, I put my entire being into it.  I want to preserve it and get people as interested in it as I am.  That is one of the reasons I started this blog.

And I want people to love F. Scott Fitzgerald as much as I do.  I want them to appreciate and respect his genius.  Like most true artists, that something he did not get to experience much in his lifetime. Continue reading

The 10 Best Actors in Black and White (Part 2)

10 Best Actors, James Cagney

James Cagney and Ann Sheridan in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

As promised, this is the second part of the post I did yesterday on the 10 best actors in black and white.

You may recognize some of them, and there are others you may not know at all.  Whatever the case might be, I feel they should be included on any top 10, top 20, or even top 50 of anyone’s list.  They were brilliant onscreen.

Are your favorites among them? Continue reading