Safety Last: Harold Lloyd


One of the most hair-raising sustained scenes of physical comedy ever filmed. Only Buster Keaton could rival Harold Lloyd when it came to feats of physical stamina and inventiveness on the silent screen.

Magic tie-in bonus: Lloyd was an amateur magician who once had a magic trick published in Ted Annemann’s The Jinx.

Thanks to YouTuber ict4eso

Emotion: When Samantha Sang Sang


One of my favorite ballads from Saturday Night Fever.

Despite the video here, the movie track was not sung by the Bee Gees, but by Australian singer Samantha Sang, with backing vocals by Barry Gibb. Sang had a modest career, but this was her biggest hit.

Thanks to YouTuber chanjky

The Comedian: Robert De Niro




The Comedian is the new Robert De Niro movie in which he plays a washed-up comedian trying to make a come-back years after his initial fame. It has a great cast including Danny DeVito and Patti LuPone, and a raft of cameos. Is it worth seeing? You can hear my review of the film, which was broadcast yesterday on radio station WBAI, by clicking on the grey triangle above.

City Lights


Critic James Agee called the final scene of City Lights the “greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid.” I much prefer Modern Times and The Great Dictator as complete Chaplin films, but I still do love the ending of City Lights.

The set-up: The Tramp befriends a blind girl (Virginia Cherrill), but she mistakes him for a wealthy man. The Tramp vows to raise money so that the girl can have an operation to restore her sight. He fails at a succession of jobs, but manages to help a drunken millionaire who gives the Tramp $1000 for the girl’s operation. He gives the girl the money, then leaves, the girl’s illusion of his wealth remaining intact.

The Tramp is arrested by the police who assume that he stole the money, and he is put in jail. Months later, he is released; the girl has had her operation and she now runs a small flower shop … you can pick it up from there…click on the video to play.

Thanks to YouTuber okonx

“The Most Important Person in the History of Baseball”: Ken Burns on Jackie Robinson




Last Thursday WBAI broadcast the interview I did with filmmaker Ken Burns, whose new PBS documentary Jackie Robinson airs April 11-12. Burns talks with me about the myths that have grown around the legend of Jackie Robinson, and the whole process of filmmaking.

If you have any interest in baseball, film, or American history I think you’ll greatly enjoy listening to this interview with a great American documentarian.

Thanks to Mario Sanchez for helping to edit this radio piece.

Click on the grey triangle to listen.

The Vessel With the Pestle: Danny Kaye


The great Danny Kaye was a master of the patter song, but this wonderful scene of tongue-twisting word play gets laughs even without music. I somehow missed this one in my own childhood, but was happy to catch up with it during my son’s growing up.

Click on the video of this clip from Danny Kaye’s whimsical The Court Jester to find out if the Vessel With The Pestle has The Brew That Is True.

Thanks to YouTuber sirstrongbad

This Land Is Mine


Nina Paley is a brilliant animator/cartoonist whose work is simultaneously smart, beautiful, and provocative. She is probably best known for her epic video called Sita Sings The Blues. There’s nothing quite like her animation videos. This short film above, This Land is Mine, about the violence in Israel/Palestine over the past centuries is a fine example of her oeuvre. Click on the video to play.

Waving A Red Flag


One more great scene from Charlie Chaplin’s wonderful movie, Modern Times. The set-up is that he’s just been released from the hospital (nervous breakdown from his last factory job), so he’s not fully aware of what is going on in the outside world.

The flag, of course, is red.