Buster Makes A Break For It

It’s the concluding scenes from Buster Keaton’s The Scarecrow. (The opening scene was here).

Here’s what you need to know: Buster is being chased by the following: an overly friendly dog, his One True Love’s father, and his roommate, a rival for his Love’s affections.

There’s a Happy Ending!

Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story

In 2017, Mark Baumer an artist activist with all the energy of a young Jim Carrey, started walking across the United States, barefoot. His aim was to warn of the dangers of climate change, but came up against his own dangers. I spoke with Julie Sokolow, the director of a new documentary called Barefoot about that journey. In interviews and on-the-road footage she paints a portrait of an artist fighting to save the natural world he loved so much while grappling with his own need to find significance in his life.

Click on the triangle or link above to hear the interview as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show over WBAI.org and Pacifica stations across the nation.

Uncle Moses: A 1930s Yiddish Anarchist Film

Here’s a remarkable 4 minute clip from a 1932 film, Uncle Moses, in Yiddish with English subtitles. The plot of the film is quite convoluted, but its depiction of class relations and militant immigrant workers is far more advanced than just about anything you’d see in a theatrical release today.

And is that Edward G. Robinson I thought I saw entering the room at about 3:23?

High Anxiety

Monday morning, while waiting for our Insect Overlords to choose our leaders, the rest of us chumps remain in a state of High Anxiety.

Kudos to Mr. Brooks for the perfect Sinatra phrasing and Nelson Riddle-like arrangement.

Thanks to Youtuber OST&Covers&so and Jeffrey St. Clair at Counterpunch for reminding me about this song.

Breakfast With Buster

From The Scarecrow, made in 1920, it’s Buster Keaton who lives in a house “where all the rooms are in one room.” Keaton multi-tasks and makes multi-use of every square inch of space. New York City apartment dwellers, take note.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber iconauta

Hi-Jinx: Tommy Rall

Another of the great, but lesser known, film dance stars, Tommy Rall, who died this month. As a youngster, he was in a group of dancing teens called the “Jivin’ Jacks and Jills” at Universal Studios, which included Donald O’Connor. He was trained in ballet, and his amazing high jumps, pirouettes, and flips rival anything else seen on the screen. He appeared in movie musicals almost every year in the 50s, but somehow he never made it into super-stardom. O’Connor thought Rall was one of the greatest dancers living, a better dancer than either Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire.

Here he is with Ann Miller in “Why Can’t You Behave?” from Kiss Me Kate, where he mixes dance with some practical jokes in a fun character piece.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber JOHANNQUETEBEO

The Fabulous Lois Bright and the Miller Brothers

The amazing African-American tap dancer, Lois Bright. She was married to Dan Miller one of the two tap-dancing Miller Brothers that you see in the clip above. Unfortunately, Lois Bright Miller never got her full recognition in show business, as the act was called simply, The Miller Brothers and Lois. But as you can see, she did everything that the brothers did and more.

Clearly, if you’re talking about the great female tap dancers of the last century such as Ann Miller and Eleanor Powell, then Lois Bright Miller is right up there.

Ginger Rogers, eat your heart out.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber lavenderhousefilms

The Social Media Trap: The Social Dilemma

In the new documentary film, The Social Dilemma, a group of founding tech wizards warn of the dystopia awaiting us because of our fundamental misunderstanding of the true nature of the social media giants like Facebbok, Twitter, and Google. I was happy to be speaking with the director of The Social Dilemma, Jeff Orlowski, about how social media manipulates all of us.

To listen to my conversation with Orlowski, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation, click on the triangle or mp3 link above.

Diana Rigg, 1938-2020

Diana Rigg died this week. A fine actress, the clip above shows her in a few of her famous roles.

But my favorite thing that Diana Rigg ever did as an artist was to write a book called No Turn Unstoned: The Worst Ever Theatrical Reviews. Stung by unkind reviews that she had received over the years, to cheer herself up, Rigg compiled a book of horrendous reviews that other celebrated actors had received over the years. If you can get a hold of a copy, it’s a fun read.

Thank you, Mrs. Peel.

Thanks to YouTuber Guardian News

“Being Adventurous Means Going To Places You Don’t Know Exist! “

CAC-3 Photo credit Alma Har'el

(photo by Alma Har’el)

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What do Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Laura Linney, and Patti LuPone have in common? They all were students of Moni Yakim, the legendary acting teacher at the Julliard Drama Division, who is the subject of a recently released film documentary, Creating A Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy.

You can hear my review of the film as broadcast today on WBAI 99.5FM NYC, WBAI.org and Pacifica affiliates around the country, by clicking on the triangle or mp3 link above.

If you are at all interested in acting or teaching, I highly recommend this film.

Now On Your Virtual Doorstep…

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Eagle-eyed readers of this blog may have noticed that recently I put up a new website link at the top of the blogroll over there on the lower left hand side of the page.

That’s a link to the shiny new Arts Express Newsletters archive. As you may be aware, every month we’ve been putting out a full color newsletter filled with interviews, scripts, essays, photos, and more. It’s a kind of companion to the Arts Express radio program. We offer a continuing subscription to the newsletter for free as an email attachment to those who drop us a line at artsexpresslist@gmail.com and put the word “subscribe” in the subject line (Try it and see!)

Recently, we were requested to create an archive of past newsletters which we’re glad to do. By clicking on this link or the picture above, you’ll be taken to the archive of past newsletters, where you can access any of the individual issues.

So now there are two ways to get your monthly Arts Express Newsletter fix: either rushed to you by email on the first of each month, or by accessing past issues at the archive.

Poster Boy

mixed magic Jerry Zolten

A while back, I posted about the Buster Keaton short, “Mixed Magic”.

I recently had a pleasant email exchange with noted author and producer Jerry Zolten who told me that he had picked up a one-sheet poster for the Keaton short from a collector who ran an appliance store. The collector had been deeded a bunch of movie posters by the daughter of a movie house owner who didn’t know what to do with the extra posters lying around, so she gave them to him.

Jerry kindly gave me permission to display the poster here.

Jerry is a very interesting guy, and in addition to teaching university courses on stand-up comedy and the roots of rock ‘n’ roll he produced a remarkable audio documentary about the music and radio of the Vietnam War. It’s so difficult to capture the true spirit of a former time, but if you were alive at the time, this will give you flashbacks:

http://atimetoheal.wpsu.org/soundtrack/

I highly recommend you take a listen.

Begin The Beguine: Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell

Three minutes of heaven as Eleanor Powell, in heels, gives Fred Astaire a run for his money.

The clip above is from the film Broadway Melody of 1940. Powell was probably Astaire’s most accomplished tap partner. Astaire reportedly claimed he would never work with Powell again because Astaire (himself a notorious perfectionist)  never wanted to work as hard again.

Thanks to YouTuber CatCORViN

 

Chaplin and The Great Dictator

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Charlie Chaplin’s birthday occurs on April 16th, but really we can celebrate him anytime we like. Simply the greatest comedian on the big screen ever. Here’s a piece I produced that was broadcast today on WBAI’s Arts Express, WBAI.org, and on Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to listen.

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly: One Time Only

The one time Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly danced together on the big screen (except for the That’s Entertainment series) was in the 1946 film The Ziegfield Follies. Just sublime. Take a look at this utterly delightful clip.

Thanks to YouTuber Claq & Co – Tap Dance Specialist

Bedlam: Part Two

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Last week , I posted Part One of an interview with Dr Ken Paul Rosenberg, the creator of the book and film documentary, Bedlam. He talked about the present crisis state of  mental health care in the US. This week we continue with the final part of that conversation as we talk about political considerations —-and Dr. Rosenberg’s personal stake in the story.

Click on the triangle above to hear the conversation as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Bedlam: Serious Mental Illness in America

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In his new documentary film and accompanying book, Bedlam, Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, presents a moving portrait of what it means to be a person living with mental illness in America today. And in his quest to find the truth about others, he had to confront difficult aspects of his own history, and America’s history, of dealing with people diagnosed with serious mental illness.

You can hear part one of my interview with the fascinating Dr. Rosenberg, as broadcast yesterday on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI NYC and Pacifica Radio affiliates across the country, by clicking on the triangle above.

Part two is here: https://jackshalom.net/2020/04/14/bedlam-part-two/

BEDLAM will premiere on Independent Lens Monday, April 13 at 10pmET on PBS

It Must Be The Night Fever

Monday morning, you look out the window at the empty streets and think of times when the Night Fever meant something else…

Thanks to YouTuber HD Film Tributes

Time Thieves

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The cliché is that time is money, and it must be true because there are plenty of folks out there looking to steal our time. My guest, Cosima Dannoritzer is the writer and director of an award-winning documentary film called Time Thieves, which takes an international look at the way time has become commodified and manipulated in modern capitalist society.

Click on the triangle above to hear the interview as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.

Trash To Gold

Gene Kelly, Michael Kidd, and Dan Duryea as three GIs about to be discharged, set out on a binge and do an incredible dance number with trash can lids. From the film, It’s Always Fair Weather, the last Gene Kelly–Stanley Donen collaboration.

Thanks to YouTuber Peggy Afuta

“I Am Spartacus”: Kirk Douglas

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Kirk Douglas died this month. Here’s a piece I did, broadcast today on Arts Express, WBAI 99.5FM NYC, about Kirk Douglas’s finest hour.

You can listen by clicking on the triangle above.

Where Did You Learn To Dance?: Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds

 

I was so happy to learn that the year after Singin’ in the Rain was made, O’Connor and Reynolds made another movie together (sans Gene) called I Love Melvin. Here’s a great dance number from the film.

Thanks to YouTuber warnerarchive

Get Your Arts Fix Here!

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Woo-hoo! It’s the new monthly Arts Express Newsletter, edited by yours truly and it’s free, free, free!

Think of it as a print extension of the conversation started on our global radio arts magazine, Arts Express, heard on WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC, WBAI.org, and Pacifica affiliates across the country, in Paris, Beijing, and Berlin.

Every month, it’s eight pages of Arts Express goodness, filled with fascinating interviews, top ten film lists, reviews, gossip, film, theatre, book recommendations and more.

Here’s a preview of what’s in our inaugural February issue:

Bill+Wyman

* An extraordinary interview with Bill Wyman, the legendary guitarist for The Rolling Stones.

* Broadcast Film Critics and Women Film Critics Circle reviewer and host Prairie Miller’s Top Ten Films of 2019–and the year’s worst!

* An Arts Express Extra: Jack London’s Preface to The War of the Classes–a supplement to our recent radio performance of London’s powerful essay, “How I Became A Socialist.”

*Plus: The Guest List–our favorite recent guests; The Back Room–news and gossip about WBAI and the Arts Express crew;

*And information about exclusive giveaways and how to win an opportunity to broadcast your own work on the air.

It’s all in the new free Arts Express Newsletter.

To get your free pdf copy every month to your email address, just send an email to ArtsExpressList@gmail.com and put Subscribe in the subject line. We’ll do the rest!

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Jack  London

 

 

 

 

Stevenson–Lost And Found

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As readers of this blog know,  I’m a longtime fan of cartoons from The New Yorker magazine—and the man who wrote and illustrated almost 2000 of those cartoons was a prolific artist named James Stevenson.

But Stevenson, as Sally Williams’s new film documentary, Stevenson—Lost and Found, uncovers, led an unexpectedly complicated, rich, varied, and sometimes dark artistic life. I was happy to talk with Ms. Williams, the director and producer of the film, about her film and her enigmatic subject.

Click on the triangle above to hear the radio interview, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI 99. FM NYC, and Pacifica affiliates across the country.