The Best (and Last) of the Bs

Cover imageIn common movie parlance, B stands for B, not A. The B movie could be made cheaply (“on a shoestring”), feature a cast of up-and-comers (Lee Marvin, Dennis Hopper), actors who’d found their niche (Randolph Scott, John Payne), character actors (Riot in Cell Block 11), or actors whose glory days were behind them (Van Heflin). Because of a tight script and competent behind-the-scenes personnel, B-movies could exceed expectations and even become classics. A prime example of this is Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), directed by low-budget master Don Siegel, produced by big-time Hollywood veteran Walter Wanger. B movies can have an edge major studio productions lack. Had they been large-scale studio films they might have been censored under the restrictions imposed by the Production Code until they were shadows of their former selves. The B movie was also termed a “programmer,” i.e., a small-scale production that could run as a matinee feature or part of a double bill with another B film plus cartoons and newsreels.

B movies have a heritage that goes back to the ’30s. Examples include the Three Cover imageMesquiteers western series, some of which starred the young John Wayne. “Poverty Row” studios like Monogram and Producers Releasing Corporation churned out innumerable B films in various genres, sometimes hitting a home run with the likes of PRC‘s Detour (1945).

It’s convenient, of course, to plot trends by decade, but it’s rarely true. The best and last of the Bs extended from the ’50s into the ’60s. Slowly TV took over as prime purveyor of film entertainment, helped when color became common by the end of the decade. Why go to the theater for a modest western when a modest western was on the tube every night? Double features and matinees were also on their way out. The “beach” movies petered out well before decade’s end. They were B movies to be sure, but hardly art or “good” except for the now iconic pop stars and groups who showed up to serenade the surfers, motorcycle men and molls, beach bums and assorted older actors and actresses generally slumming as crackpots or square adults.

The quality B movies released between 1951 and 1962 that are held in Chester County Library’s Multimedia Department are:

Cover imageFixed Bayonets (1951) — Gene Evans’ Sergeant Rock (!) doesn’t care if Corporal Denno (Richard Basehart) uses one or six bullets to kill a Commie, just do it!

The Prowler (1951) — Webb Garwood (Van Heflin) ingratiates himself with Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes) after she complains about a peeping-tom. Adultery leads to murder and a slag heap.

When Worlds Collide (1951) — A star christened Bellus approaches the solar system and threatens life on earth. A rocket is constructed to transport a selected few to safety on Bellus’s orbiting planet, Zyra.

The Thing from Another World (1951) — A flying saucer crashes in the arctic. The Air Cover imageForce men who find it also discover its pilot, a very tall humanoid, frozen in a block of ice. Too late do they realize that an electric blanket has thawed out the less than benevolent visitor from space. “Keep watching the skies!” urges reporter Scotty.

Kansas City Confidential (1952) — A flower delivery man (John Payne) is set up to take the fall for a bank robbery in this intricately plotted heist film.

The Narrow Margin (1952) — Tough as nails police detective (Charles McGraw) escorts to a trial via train a prime witness who’s targeted for murder. Surprise ending.

Invaders from Mars (1953) — “Moo-tants! What would they want here?” is the anguished question Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter) asks the astronomer (Arthur Franz). But is it all a young boy’s dream?

It Came from Outer Space (1953) — Crash landing their spacecraft in the American Southwest (typical ’50s environment), aliens try to keep humans at bay while fixing their spacecraft. Richard Carlson helps them finish their task and tells teacher Barbara Rush they’ll return when the time is right.

Cover image99 River Street (1953) — John Payne again, this time as a one-time boxer turned cabbie framed for his shifty wife’s murder. With help from the underrated Evelyn Keyes (The Prowler), he proves his innocence and takes down the criminals.

Split Second (1953) — Murderous convict Sam Hurley (Stephen McNally) and his wounded companion take hostages in a Nevada ghost town the day before a scheduled atomic blast.

War of the Worlds (1953) — Although H. G. Wells’ classic adventure is updated to 1953 Los Angeles, it’s a decent rendering of the novel.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) — The last of the now iconic Universal monsters Cover imagemakes his auspicious debut (he/it appeared in two other ’50s films) in the Amazon, where in a classic scene the creature parallels from underwater Julie Adams swimming above. Once again, it’s a beauty and the beast fable.

Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) — Character actor all-stars in Don Siegel’s docudrama. Psychopathic Crazy Mike Carney (Leo Gordon) was actually incarcerated before becoming an actor and writer.

The Tall Texan (1954) — With a plot similar to the same year’s A production, Garden of Evil, this film features a bow and arrow sequence that is supremely dangerous.

The Big Combo (1955) — Subtext abounds in this gangster saga. Police Lieutenant Diamond (Cornel Wilde) aims to take down the criminal empire of Mr. Brown (Richard Conte) even as he develops a craving for his moll (Jean Wallace). Significant noir features Cover imagethe compelling hitmen duo of Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) — The threat of nuclear holocaust is the backstory in this noir classic featuring Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane’s uber tough private eye Mike Hammer.  How appropriate that his assistant is named Velda?

Shack Out on 101 (1955) — Propagandistic anti-communist tract is unintentionally hilarious tale set in a beanery on the California coast where hash-slinger Cottie (Terry Moore) dreams of working behind a desk in a great, big government building while fending off the advances of short order cook Slob (Lee Marvin), who just might have invented the V-neck t-shirt.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) The first and best of the “pod” movies features Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter as Santa Mira residents who discover their hometown has been infested by alien seed pods that recreate humans as emotion-less automatons. Where can you hide in a small town where everybody knows your name and residence?

Running Target (1956) — Modern-day western features a Colorado sheriff (Arthur Franz) reluctantly leading a posse to retrieve escaped convicts dead or alive.

The Killing (1956) — One of director Stanley Kubrick’s early films is a heist saga told from different viewpoints. Needless to say, the race track robbers don’t quite succeed. Chalk up another topnotch escapade for Sterling Hayden (The Asphalt Jungle).

Slightly Scarlet (1956) — One of the few fifties noir films in color features John Payne yet Cover imageagain, this time fending off two redheaded sisters, Rhonda Fleming and Arlene Dahl, who has the best line: “Oh please call me Dor, won’t you? A frank and open door.”

The Brass Legend (1956) — Just before his stint as TV’s Wyatt Earp, Hugh O’Brian faced down outlaw Raymond Burr, so large we feel sorry for his steed.

Seven Men from Now (1956) — One-time sheriff Randolph Scott tracks the men who killed his wife during a freight office robbery. Complicating matters are a husband and wife heading west, Apaches, and a gunman. It all comes down to a showdown between Scott and Lee Marvin.

Decision at Sundown (1957) — Randolph Scott stirs up the residents of Sundown, where he intends killing John Carroll, whose affair with Scott’s wife led to her death—or did it?

Cover imageThe Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) — After a radioactive cloud envelops Scott Carey (Grant Williams) during a fishing trip, he begins shrinking. In short order he must beware of the cat and what has become for him a giant spider.

The Tall T (1957) — Taken hostage along with fellow stage traveler Maureen O’Sullivan, Randolph Scott ingratiates himself with kidnapper Richard Boone and sows dissention among Boone’s cadre comprised of Skip Homeier and Henry Silva. When Boone goes to collect the ransom and Silva follows to make sure he’ll return, Scott gets his chance to survive.

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) — Returning from Venus, a U.S. spaceship crashes off the Italian coast. A small container holds a strange reptilian creature that proceeds to grow and terrorize the inhabitants.

The Blob (1958) — Seminal goo movie has a Cold War subtext.Cover image

Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) — Riding into the Texas-Mexico border town of Agry, Randolph Scott finds himself at odds with two feuding families and stymied in his attempt to start a ranch.

Fiend Without a Face (1958) — At a Canadian research facility, scientists inadvertently unleash swiftly-moving brains that feast on human ones. Excellent special effects.

Hell’s Five Hours (1958) — Prescient thriller features Vic Morrow as mentally deranged, hostage-taking terrorist intent on blowing up a rocket fuel plant.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) — Sometimes ranked the best science fiction B movie of the decade, this film can be seen as an inspiration for Alien and was itself triggered by The Thing from Another World (1951).

Thunder Road (1958) — Robert Mitchum had hoped Elvis would play his younger brother Cover imagein this drive-in circuit cult favorite about moonshiners.

The 4D Man (1959) — Robert Lansing invents an “electronic amplifier” that allows him to walk through solid objects and naturally visit vengeance upon his enemies.

Ride Lonesome (1959) — Bounty hunter Randolph Scott captures James Best, who warns Scott about the toll his brother Lee Van Cleef will take. Enter Karen Steele, the ingratiating gunmen Pernell Roberts and his sidekick James Coburn (his first film), and Indians. And don’t forget, Van Cleef is still out there.

Terror is a Man (aka Blood Creature, 1959) — A U.S.-Filipino co-production version of H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau has atmosphere in spades and the gorgeous Ms. Denmark, Greta Thyssen, as she who soothes the monster in this beauty and the beast scenario.

Comanche Station (1960) — Jefferson Cody (Randolph Scott) buys a recently captured white woman (Nancy Gates) from the Comanches but needs the help of Ben Lane (Claude Akins) and his gunslingers to make his way back to civilization. Surprise ending.

Night Tide (1961) — On leave sailor (Dennis Hopper) encounters the seashore sideshow Cover image“mermaid” Mora (Linda Lawson), who just might be the real thing. Besides the story, this is a snapshot of a California entertainment pier in the early ’60s.

Carnival of Souls (1962) — One of those movies that are probably less than meets the eye but have influenced future filmmakers.

Panic in Year Zero! (1962) — Veteran star Ray Milland acts in and directs this thoughtful apocalyptic thriller where the protagonists make sensible decisions to stay alive after a nuclear attack.

Were there any foreign language B movies in the ’50s and ’60s? Yes. The Italian “sword and sandal” mini-epics spawned by Hercules (1958) and Hercules Unchained (1959), and the late ’60s and early ’70s spaghetti westerns generated by Sergio Leone and Clint Cover imageEastwood’s “Man with No Name” trilogy (but not the classier Once Upon a Time in the West, Red Sun, and Duck, You Sucker). Also horror like Italy’s Black Sunday (1960). Japan contributed Godzilla (1954) and its kin, such as Rodan and Mothra. As for Britain’s Hammer Studios, their Gothics may have been lower budget than more mainstream films, but the use of color, sets, music and excellent acting raise them to a higher level.

Post written by Kim Holston

June Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks
art of the stealDocumentary: The Art of the Steal
This excellent documentary follows the struggle for controlling the art collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes and the Philadelphia Barnes Foundation. It is about how you can steal art worth billions and violate Dr. Barnes last wishes.villa lobos

CD: Villa-Lobos Par Lui-Même by Villa-Lobos
This disc is for the Villa-Lobos lovers and has a lot of historical value. It is Villa-Lobos’s vision of his work and almost all pieces are conducted by himself. Recorded between 1954 and 1958, and performed by the Orchestre National de la Radio Diffusion Française.

Jamie’s Picks
Lady_Bird_posterMovie: Lady Bird
Funny and affecting coming-of-age story of a Sacramento teenager and her complicated relationship with her mother. Excellent acting by Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.
when-they-call-you-a-terrorist-1
Audiobook: When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
A powerful memoir that poignantly depicts what it was like to grow up black around LA at the height of the war on drugs and the generational effects of imprisonment and surveillance on a community.

Jessie’s Picks
cocoMovie: Coco
Heart-warming Pixar film about a young Mexican boy that loves music, but his family does not. He travels to the Land of the Dead, meets his musical idol, and discovers his family’s history.still life

Audiobook: Still Life by Louise Penny
The first book in the numerous awards-winning Three Pines mystery series. The characters and the setting, which makes you want to travel to small Quebecois towns, sets this series apart from other mysteries. In this book Chief Inspector Gamache travels to Three Pines to solve the murder of a retired school teacher/ amateur artist.

Kim’s Picks
panic in year zeroMovie: Panic in Year Zero!
Only months before the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, moviegoers were presented with this apocalyptic film about a middle-class California family on vacation trying to survive a nuclear attack and remain civilized.  Academy Award-winning actor Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend, 1945) directed this very compelling low-budget thriller.

Audiobook: The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston the lost city of the monkey god
Preston, a prolific author of crime (the Pendergast series), true crime (The Monster of Florence), and modern-day adventure (Talking to the Ground:  One Family’s Journey on Horseback Across the Sacred Land of the Navajo) here details another authentic contemporary saga:  the expeditions into the pristine Honduran department known as  Mosquitia in search of La Ciudad Blanca, the fabled “white city,” aka City of the Monkey God.  Writing for National Geographic, Preston accompanied the camera crew, archaeologists, sponsors, and two British ex-special forces men into a savage habitat replete with poisonous snakes, sucking mud, and disease-carrying insects.  The journey was only possible after the forest canopy was penetrated with lidar (Light Detection and Ranging).  The explorers paid a high price for their discoveries as many came down with the horrific and often fatal parasitic disease known as Leishmaniasis.  Despite the discovery of a lost civilization, serious issues must be addressed:  who created the white city and its satellite population centers centuries ago, what catastrophes caused the citizens to leave, and how can we combat the spread of tropical diseases and potential pandemics when deadly microbes take advantage of global warming to move north?

Mary’s Picks
divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhoodMovie: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
A true chick flick, with a great female cast. After years of mother-daughter tension, Sidda’s mother’s friends kidnap her to try to bring them closer together.the secret

Audiobook: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Great introduction to the law of attraction, the power of positive thinking and how it effects your entire life. Listeneing to this audiobook just puts you in a good mood.


Stephanie’s Picks

young adult.jpgMovie: Young Adult
Raw and honest, funny yet uncomfortable to watch at times, Young Adult is the story of a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart.

Audiobook: Defending Jacob by William LandayCover image
“Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next. His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.”

All quoted summaries from catalog.ccls.org.

May Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Jamie’s Picks
the-crownTV Series: The Crown
Beautifully filmed with fantastic costumes, this series chronicles the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The chemistry and tension between Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Philip is palpable, and as an American I found it interesting to learn more about palace dynamics– such as how much control the “courtiers” have on the royals.
emotion
CD: E·mo·tion by Carly Rae Jepsen
Super catchy and poppy; a distillation of being a boy crazy young girl without being too juvenile or sugary, meaning anyone can give this a listen and enjoy it.

Jessie’s Picks
ant-manMovie: Ant-Man
“Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.”between shades of gray

Audiobook: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
“In 1941, Lina and her family are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers.”

Kim’s Picks
running targetMovie: Running Target!
Future Academy Award-winning cinematographer Conrad Hall shows his early skill with this beautifully photographed color adventure set in the Colorado Rockies.  Future Academy Award-winning composer Ernest Gold provides the significant score.  The story:  a sheriff (Arthur Franz) reluctantly leads a modern day (circa 1956) posse into the wilderness to recapture four escaped convicts.  Richard Reeves’ obsession with his weapon (his “brother”) remains germane today.

Audiobook: Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Hendersonsons and soldiers
The author follows a half dozen German-born Jews who as teenagers in the 1930s were sent or made their way from Hitler’s increasingly-dangerous Reich to the United States.  As they reached military age and Germany declared war on the U.S., they enlisted and found themselves training at Camp Ritchie, Maryland.  These “Ritchie Boys” learned interrogation techniques and because of their familiarity with the German language and culture became invaluable assets in front-line units from D-Day until the war’s conclusion.  Some actually made contact with their families, others expected and found the worst:  their kin had died in extermination camps.  This is an exciting and moving tale one hopes Hollywood will turn into an epic film—with actors of the appropriate age as the real Ritchie Boys.

Mary’s Picks
chocolatMovie: Chocolat
A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village. Their unconventional style changes the rigid community.

CD: Eden by Sarah Brightmaneden.jpg
Sarah’s best album with a mix of English, Italian, French and Latin, as well as a mix of classic Opera, pop and New Age.


Stephanie’s Picks

hungerAudiobook: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Listening to Roxanne Gay read her beautifully-written memoir Hunger was like listening to a close friend divulging some of her most intimate yet painful feelings and memories. It is quite literally the story of her body, and the way she and others have treated it. Powerful, raw, and heartbreaking, it is a must read.

CD: Beast Epic by Iron & Winebeast epic
After multiple albums of experimenting with new sounds, it seems that singer Sam Beam has gone back to his sweet melodic folk roots. This is his best album since Our Endless Numbered Days.

All quoted summaries from catalog.ccls.org.

April Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

Image result for home again posterMovie: Home Again
Very, very, light, fairy tail comedy with no strong characters. But, if you are looking for entertainment, this movies does deliver it!

CD: Lady Soul by Aretha FranklinImage result for lady soul aretha franklin
This is another Aretha classic and it includes the full-length version of Chain of Fools, as well as other hit songs. Enjoy the wonderful voice of the “Queen of the Soul.”

Jamie’s Picks

Image result for how to train your dragon posterMovie: How to Train Your Dragon
So much fun and so heartwarming! Any pet lover will relate to the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless. Witty and insightful script with great voice-acting by Jay Baruchel.Image result for the buried giant

Audiobook: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
A historical fantasy set just following the end of King Arthur’s reign. An easy read but a thoughtful one that reflects on the relationship between memory and trauma in a society.

Jessie’s Picks 

Image result for death in paradise posterTV Series: Death in Paradise
“British cop Richard Poole is a fish out of water when he is sent to the tiny island of Sainte Marie to solve a mysterious murder. Awaiting Richard is a ramshackle station and a very different type of policing.”

CD: La Roux by La RouxImage result for la roux cd
The debut album by La Roux, a synth pop duo comprised of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid. Heather Phares of AllMusic calls this group “…a standout, not just among the many other ’80s revivalists, but the entire late-2000s pop landscape.”

Kim’s Picks

Image result for stargirl jerry spinelliAudiobook: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The late John Ritter does a marvelous job reading another terrific Jerry Maniac Magee Spinelli book for teens that will go down well with adults.  The curiously named Stargirl arrives at Arizona’s Mica High and confounds the entire school by carrying on her person a pet rat, strumming a ukulele in the cafeteria, singing “Happy Birthday to You” to those she barely knows, and cheering for the home team and its opponent.  Initially confounded, then ecstatic, and finally fed up with this odd duck, her classmates shun her—all, that is, except Dori Dilson and Leo Borlock, but even Leo eventually bows to the crowd.  Nevertheless, Stargirl has made an indelible mark on her classmates.  A sequel, Love, Stargirl, takes place right here in Chester County.Image result for generation war

Miniseries: Generation War
Originally a TV mini-series, this epic German film beginning with the invasion of Russia in 1941 and concluding with the fall of Berlin in 1945, chronicles the calamitous events affecting five friends:  two brothers in the Wehrmacht, a nurse, a chanteuse, and a Jewish tailor.  A tragic tale writ large.

Mary’s Picks

Image result for pan's labyrinth posterMovie: Pan’s Labyrinth
In the Falangist Spain of 1944 a young girl tries to travel into a fantasy world to escape her evil stepfather.Image result for the secret life of bees

Audiobook: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
A picture of the South in the 1960’s with strong women working together to support each other. All act as mother figures for Lily while she searches for her own mother’s past.

Stephanie’s Picks

Image result for small great thingsAudiobook: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
“Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?”

CD: The Golden Echo by KimbraImage result for the golden echo kimbra
Kimbra famously sang on the major hit song “Somebody That I Used to Know” with Gotye, but she is a talent in her own right. This album includes collaborations with artists such as the Mars Volta, Muse, Foster the People, Silverchair, John Legend and Bilal. Heather Phares of AllMusic notes: “An album that just becomes more engaging with time, The Golden Echo lives up to its name: it refashions the best of what came before it into something alluringly modern and a lot of fun.”

All quoted summaries from catalog.ccls.org.

March Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

billions.jpgTV Series: Billions

A great soap opera exploring the world of high finance as a separate ecosystem that rules unto itself at the cost of most everyone else. Despite a lack of likable characters, Billions is addictive and highly entertaining. Season 1 released in 2016, Season 2 in 2017, Season 3 coming soon!

Nonfiction DVD: Joan Sutherland – The Complete Bell Telephone Hour Performances, 1961-1968joan sutherland

Opera lovers will find much to enjoy in this Joan Sutherland “Live Greatest Hits” compilation that spans nearly a decade of unrivaled bel canto splendor. Sit back and enjoy this perfect voice singing arias from Tosca, Rigoletto, Norma, Ernani, la Traviata, and more!

Jamie’s Picks

in the gardenAudiobook: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

A fascinating true account of an American ambassador’s front row seat to Hitler’s rise that reads like a movie or novel. Offers valuable insight into not only how Hitler consolidated his power but how the American foreign service failed to stop it.

CD: The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unitnashville sound

An alt-country/rock album that has songs ranging from southern rock anthems to bittersweet duets. Favorite tracks are “Cumberland Gap” and “Molotov.” Isbell shows again that he’s an excellent songwriter.

Jessie’s Picks

unbreakable kimmyTV Series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

A quirky, lighthearted comedy about a former cult member that moves to NYC. Her optimism and naiveté despite her time in the cult endears her to those around her and to the viewer.

Audiobook: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolverpoisonwood

Dean Robertson does a good job narrating this audiobook and handling its various dialects and accents. Because of that the listener gets to experience the story of a missionary family in the Congo around 1960. The story is told from the perspectives of the four daughters and their mom. This is a powerful book and is one of Barbara Kingsolver’s best.

Kim’s Picks

wicker manMovie: The Wicker Man

The infamous British horror film received accolades after its first and extremely limited 1973 release and is now reckoned a veritable masterpiece.  The story:  a police inspector (Edward Woodward) travels to a remote Scottish island in search of a missing girl.  But is she really missing?  Who is Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) and what strange rites does he practice?  With Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland and cult fave Ingrid Pitt.

Audiobook: Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroydcharlie chaplin

Small but mighty is this 8-disc biography of he who was once the most famous man in the world:  Chaplin, the Cockney raised in poverty whose innate talents in mime, music and acting helped create the world of the cinema.

Mary’s Picks

leap yearMovie: Leap Year

An unlikely pair travel through the Irish countryside in this fun, romantic comedy.

Audiobook: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilberteat pray

A woman’s search to find herself after a nervous breakdown. An uplifting journey that speaks to all of us and truly opens your eyes to the beauty of life.

Stephanie’s Picks

an inconvenientNonfiction DVD: An Inconvenient Sequel

“A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the follow-up that shows just how close people are to a real energy revolution.”

CD: Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanukalove and hate

Dark, and at times, lonely and sad soul album. Standout tracks are the orchestral 10-minute opener, “Cold Little Heart,” and “Black Man in a White World.”

 

Quoted summaries from catalog.ccls.org.

2018 Academy Awards

2018 Academy Awards

Here is a summarized list of the 2018 Academy Award winners and nominees with links to their films in the library catalog (if available at this time). The full list of nominees and winners can be viewed here.

Best Picture

The Shape of Water (winner)
Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Actor in a Leading Role

Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour (winner)
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel Esq.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (winner)
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World

Actress in a Leading Role

Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (winner)
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

Actress in a Supporting Role

Allison Janney – I, Tonya (winner)
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Animated Feature Film

Coco (winner)
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049 (winner)
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Mudbound
The Shape of Water

Directing

Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water (winner)
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread

Documentary (Feature)

Icarus (winner)
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman (winner)
The Insult
Loveless
On Body and Soul
The Square

Music (Original Score)

Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water (winner)
Hans Zimmer – Dunkirk
Johnny Greenwood – Phantom Thread
John Williams – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Carter Burwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Music (Original Song)

“Remember Me” – Coco (winner)
“Might River” – Mudbound
“Mystery of Love” – Call Me By Your Name
“Stand Up For Something” – Marshall
“This is Me” – The Greatest Showman

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name (winner)
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber – The Disaster Artist
Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green – Logan
Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game
Virgil Williams & Dee Rees – Mudbound

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Jordan Peele – Get Out (winner)
Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani – The Big Sick
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

February Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks

The-Circle-2017-movie-posterMovie: The Circle

“When Mae is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company, she sees it as an opportunity. As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey, to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics and ultimately her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment, and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family and that of humanity.”

Audiobook: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbertsignature

“Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker, a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself.”

Jamie’s Picks

silver linings playbookMovie: Silver Linings Playbook

An offbeat romantic comedy about two individuals struggling with loss and mental health issues. Even with the somewhat heavy subject, this movie is very funny! Filmed in locations around Upper Darby and Landsdowne and includes much Eagles pride!

CD: Chris Thile – Thanks for Listeningthanks for listening

A compilation of topical songs that Thile wrote for the “Song of the Week” segment of A Prairie Home Companion. Timely lyrics paired with Thile’s complex bluegrass/pop compositions. I recommend a few listens to let it sink in!

Jessie’s Picks

mr and mrs smithMovie: Mr. & Mrs. Smith

One of the best Action/Romance movies! Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star in this movie as rival hitmen that married without knowing the other’s true occupation. Chaos and romance occur when they find out the truth about each other.

CD: The Cranberries – Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?Everybody_else_is_doing_it_so_why_can't_we_(album_cover)

This is the debut album of The Cranberries and has the hits “Linger” and “Dreams.” The whole album is full of great songs. The celtic influences and the late, great Dolores O’Riordan’s voice make this album a must-listen. My other favorite Cranberries album is “No Need to Argue,” which includes “Zombie” and “Daffodil Lament.”

Kim’s Picks

one-eyed-jacks.64315Movie: One-Eyed Jacks

In 1880 Rio (Marlon Brando) and Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) rob a Mexican bank but are cornered on a mesa by the Rurales.  Dad takes their only horse, promising to return, but he doesn’t and Rio spends years in a hellish prison.  Vowing vengeance, he escapes and finds Dad a respectable family man and sheriff of Monterey, California.  Revenge remains on Rio’s mind, and like virtually every character in the film he dishes out and becomes a victim of lies.  Marlon Brando took over from Stanley Kubrick and others to direct this 1961 minimally-flawed western masterpiece restored for the Criterion Collection.

Audiobook: Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waterscoming to my senses

Founder (1971) of the now iconic Chez Panisse, Waters traces her life from her youth in New Jersey to her Eureka! moment discovering French cuisine on the ground in France and dreaming of duplicating the experience back home in Berkeley, California, hotbed of the Free Speech Movement and liberal causes brought to a head by the Vietnam war.  Waters succeeded.  Her locally grown, organic products and preparation attracted a broad clientele, including such film directors as Coppola, Rossellini and Godard.  Like Julia Child’s books, Coming to My Senses creates a desire to eat and drink the French, or here, the California way.

Mary’s Picks

poldarkTV Series: Poldark

BBC drama at its best. Fall in love with great characters and breathtaking scenery of Cornwall, England.only time

CD: Enya – Only Time: The Collection

Mesmerizing music from Irish vocalist, Enya. Her first album, which includes “May It Be” from The Lord of the Rings movie.

Stephanie’s Picks

cool runnings.jpgMovie: Cool Runnings

“The comedy hit inspired by the true story of Jamaica’s first Olympic bobsled team.”

CD: Dum Dum Girls – Only in DreamsPrint

The Dum Dum Girls’ second album featuring a more polished sound than their first. Contains themes of heartbreak and loss. Tim Sendra of AllMusic writes, “Dee Dee had to change, the change was good, and it led to a fine, grown-up guitar pop record.”

Quoted summaries from catalog.ccls.org.

January Staff Picks

STAFF Picks (1)

Dragana’s Picks
wind at my back

TV Series: Wind At My Back

If you liked the Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea, you will love this Canadian TV series about the life in the small mining town during the time of depression in 1930s.

Great Courses Audio: Books That Have Made History: Booksbooks that have made history That Can Change Your Life

This 3-part series of lectures by the University of Oklahoma professor Rufus Fears presents the personal choices of some of the most essential writings in history, ranging in time from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 20th century, and in locale from Mesopotamia and China to Europe and America.

Jamie’s Picks

you've got mailMovie: You’ve Got Mail

My all-time favorite romantic comedy (maybe my all-time favorite movie). In true Nora Ephron form, the characters are quirky and the dialogue is perfect. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are a duo for the ages.Damien_Rice_O_album_cover

CD: Damien Rice – O 

Contains the popular song “The Blower’s Daughter,” and while that song is pretty good, I end up playing “Delicate” over and over again. Singer/songwriter coffeehouse vibes.

Jessie’s Picks

father brownTV Series: Father Brown

“Celebrated author GK Chesterton’s beloved character, Father Brown, is brilliantly brought to life in this charming ten-part BBC series starring Mark Williams (Harry Potter, Doctor Who). With the warmth of The Vicar of Dibley, the intellect of Miss Marple, the humour of Father Ted and the intrigue of Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown is a fresh new take on a classic genre. Set in the 1950s in the heart of the English countryside, Father Brown is a kindly cleric with a particular talent for solving crimes. Many years spent hearing confessions have given him an uncanny insight into the workings of the criminal mind, and in each episode the enigmatic priest discovers the truth of a crime by looking into the truth of the soul, the passions, dark secrets, hidden desires.”

Videogame: Little Big Planet 3 220px-LittleBigPlanet_3_boxart

“Sackboy, the knitted knight has been equipped with an all-new climbing ability and brand-new power-ups including the amazing Pumpinator. In LittleBigPlanet 3, explore a world filled with creativity as you explore all corners of the Imagisphere, meet the inhabitants of the mysterious planet Bunkum and face the nefarious Newton. Discover a variety of surprises that the LittleBigPlanet Community have created and shared for you to enjoy, with new levels and games to play every day. Then if you’re feeling inspired, flex your creative muscles with the powerful and intuitive customization tools, to bring your own imagination to life in LittleBigPlanet 3.”

Kim’s Picks

the alpsAudiobook: The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond by Stephen O’Shea

O’Shea drives the famous European mountain range in a Renault Megane Sport that elicits oohs and aahs until the admirers find out it’s a rental.  Regardless, O’Shea powers on, meeting up with a friend and “The Last Hippie,” all the while regaling us with the history of the Alps, its multi-lingual inhabitants, and its current state of play often compromised by environmental and technological degradation.  O’Shea’s saga is an often poetic paean to this unique parcel of the world.
brave enough

CD: Lindsey Stirling – Brave Enough 

The dancing violinist who was dismissed by two America’s Got Talent judges but went on to win a Billboard Music Award and came in second on Dancing with the Stars provides 14 of her own eclectic compositions.  They encompass various genres, including pop, rock, New Age, Celtic, and perhaps Mideastern.  Arabian Nights, anyone?  On 8 of the 14 tracks singers such as Christina Perri and ZZ Ward back Stirling up.  “Something Wild,” in which she collaborated with vocalist Andrew McMahon, was composed for Disney’s Pete’s Dragon (2016).

Zoey’s Picks

Big-Sick-Poster Movie: The Big Sick 

I’m not typically a fan of rom coms but the plot of The Big Sick intrigued me enough to give it a shot. And I was not disappointed. It was driven more by comedy than by romance. Kumail Nanjiani’s writing is full of wit and sincerity. It’s a good movie to curl up and watch during a snow day.
we are okay

Audiobook: We Are Okay  by Nina LaCour 

We Are Okay is entirely character driven, but that does not mean it is lacking in plot. LaCour easily plays on the notion of isolation and loneliness while cleverly retelling Marin’s, the main character, nightmarish last year. One of the best LGBT books published in 2017.

 

 

Quoted summaries from catalog.ccls.org.

2018 Golden Globe Awards

Here are the nominees and winners of the 2018 Golden Globe Awards! Some of these movies are too recent to be out on DVD or Blu-ray, but I’ve added links to the catalog where possible and will update this post as these movies come in to the library. The full list of winners and nominees can be viewed here.

Best Motion Picture – DramaThree_Billboards_Outside_Ebbing,_Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriWinner
Dunkirk
The Post
The Shape of Water
Call Me By Your Name

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Lady BirdWinner
The Disaster Artist
Get Out
The Greatest Showman
I, Tonya

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Winner
Guillermo Del Toro, Vanessa Taylor – The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig – Lady BirdLady_Bird_poster
Liz Hannah, Josh Singer – The Post
Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game

Best Motion Picture – Animated
CocoWinner
The Breadwinner
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent
The Boss Baby

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
In the Fade (Germany, France) – Winner
A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
First They Killed My Father (Cambodia)
Loveless (Russia)
The Square (Sweden, Germany, France)The_Shape_of_Water_(film)

Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of WaterWinner
Carter Burwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Johnny Greenwood – Phantom Thread
John Williams – The Post
Hans Zimmer – Dunkirk

Best Original Song – Motion Picture
This is Me – The Greatest Showman Winner
Home – Ferdinand
Mighty River – Mudbound
Remember Me – Coco
The Star – The StarGame_of_Thrones_Season_7

Best Television Series – Drama
The Handmaid’s Tale Winner
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
This Is Us
The Crown

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Winner
Black-ish
Master of None
SMILF
Will & Gracebig little lies

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Big Little LiesWinner
Fargo
Feud: Bette and Joan
The Sinner
Top of the Lake: China Girl