Where Forgotten Films Dwell

Welcome to this site! It exists for one reason: to preserve the memory of films that have been forgotten about or under-appreciated throughout the ages. Take a seat, read an entry, leave a comment. You might discover your new favorite movie!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blogathon Schedule

Alright everyone! There's just a few days left until the My First Movie Blogathon! I just want to say really quickly that regular reviews at this site will continue immediately after the blogathon ends and the awards are handed out.

Here is the schedule.

August 1st

Pat McDonnell

August 2nd
Chris Michael


August 3rd
Ivan Lerner

WB Kelso


August 4th


Alright everyone! August 5th will be the day we hand out awards!  We're going to be handing out 3 awards.  They will be voted upon by the participants. On August 4th everyone will email me their favorite 3 entries and I will tally them up for first, second, and third place.

See y'all then!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Directed by Delbert Mann
The United States of America

Whenever I have conversations with friends about my favorite movies of all time, I find myself fumbling over my selections. It used to be so much easier back before I became a serious film buff. Now, the list seems to change every week. But despite all of my revisions, there is one film that always ranks among my favorites. That film is Delbert Mann’s Marty. The film starred Ernest Borgnine as Marty Piletti, a depressed and lonely thirtysomething butcher from the Bronx.  It always seems to catch people off-guard when I mention Marty alongside more famous classics like Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975) and Akira Kurosawa’s Ran (1985). When pressed for an explanation, I usually chuckle and say, “Well, that film saved my life.” At that point, I usually manage to divert people’s curiosity by changing the subject. Most people assume that I’m joking. But the truth of the matter is that I am dead serious. Marty saved my life. In light of Borgnine’s death, I feel like sharing my story for the first time. This won’t be like my traditional Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear reviews. This article is about my personal relationship with a film that too many people have forgotten.

I have struggled with depression my entire life. The earliest I can remember feeling clinically depressed was around twelve years old. For four years I fought against a mental illness without the help of psychiatry or medication. The entire time I suspected that I was depressed, but nobody really believed me. It wasn’t that they didn’t care. The truth was as a child I had a tendency to be a drama queen. I overreacted to simple situations, threw tantrums over trivial problems, and generally made a nuisance of myself. So you can understand how people would be suspicious of claims that I might be depressed.

It wasn’t until I had my first panic attack that my parents took me to a doctor to get tested for clinical depression. For the next three years I bounced from one medical prescription and therapist to another with various degrees of success.  The lowest point of this era was when I was hospitalized in a clinic for mentally disturbed teenagers after a suicide attempt.  But then I graduated from high school and moved on to college. Things began to get better as I made new friends, but I was barely there for a few months before I had to be hospitalized a second time for trying to hurt myself. During this incident I had a mental breakdown so severe that I disturbed my dorm-mates. This resulted in my expulsion from the dorm. For the rest of the year I lived at home. Because I didn’t have a driver’s license, I had to be driven by my parents to and from my classes every day, a roundtrip that took two hours.

It was around this time that I started getting into movies in a serious way. A college film club’s screening of Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) sand-blasted my mind so severely that afterwards I knew that I had to make films. I started to watch as many films as I could. Sometimes I would watch 5-7 films a day. Of particular interest to me were the films that had won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I made a goal to watch as many Best Picture winners as I could. Eventually, I came to Marty, the 1955 recipient.

I immediately identified with Marty. He was working a dead end job, was over-weight, desperately wanted someone to love, but could never catch a break. There was a scene where Marty calls a friend that absolutely broke my heart. In one long, unbroken take, the camera slowly zoomed in on Borgnine’s face as he realized that the person on the other end of the phone wanted nothing to do with him. I’ve always found one-sided telephone conversations corny. But watch Borgnine’s face. Watch the disappointment. Watch his sad acceptance of a fate that, to him, seems inevitable. I’m not so sure if he was acting.

By the time Borgnine starred in Marty, he had already been in Hollywood for four years. During that time he had made a reputation as a mean tough-guy in such films as From Here to Eternity (1953), Johnny Guitar (1954), and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). But Borgnine’s onscreen persona couldn’t be further than reality. A warm, likable fellow, he was the gap-toothed son of Italian immigrants and grew up during the Great Depression. He served 10 years in the United States Navy where he served in the Pacific Theater on-board the USS Lamberton. He only took up acting because his mother suggested it, reportedly saying, “You always like getting in front of people and making a fool of yourself, why don't you give it a try?”

And yet, this cheerful man was type-casted as a brute, as a thug, as a murderer. He was 38 years old when he starred in Marty. At that point, I wonder if Borgnine considered his career set in stone. That sad resignation permeates the film. And yet, Marty is always cheerful. He meets a lonely school-teacher who manages to see beyond his exterior. They quickly fall in love. However, everyone in Marty’s life, from his friends to his family, tries to talk him out of the relationship. Eventually, the bullying was too much and he stood her up.

In the film’s final moments, Marty sits at a bar in silence while his male “friends” lounge around, complaining about how there’s nothing to do. And then, something amazing happens. He yells a line that changed my life:

"You don't like her. My mother don't like her. She's a dog and I'm a fat, ugly man. Well, all I know is I had a good time last night. I'm gonna have a good time tonight. If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna get down on my knees and I'm gonna beg that girl to marry me. If we make a party on New Year's, I got a date for that party. You don't like her? That's too bad!”

And the film ends with Marty calling the schoolteacher.

I won’t claim that my life has been perfect since I first watched Marty. I’ve had many, many ups and downs. But I honestly believe that without Marty I wouldn’t be here today. That film did more to help me fight depression than any medication, therapy, or doctor ever has. It reinvigorated my life. Suddenly, suicide seemed insane. There was a schoolteacher out there for me, too. All I had to do was find her.

And I will find her.

And it’s all thanks to Marty and the eternal Ernest Borgnine.

Rest in Peace.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Christmas in July

Directed by Preston Sturges
The United States of America

It begins, like so many other great stories, with a misunderstanding. Well, perhaps more of a deception in this particular case. Jimmy MacDonald is a run-of-the-mill office worker who can’t keep his mind on his work. All day long he doodles “$25,000” on office stationary and fumbles his receipts. For although MacDonald is just another office lackey, he dreams of much, much more. He has recently entered the Maxford House Coffee slogan contest which boasts a grand prize of $25,000. MacDonald considers himself a shoe-in to win. The problem is that nobody else understands the pure genius of his slogan. Even his girlfriend Betty Casey doesn’t get it. But how could she not understand such a brilliant piece of marketing genius: “If you can’t sleep at night, it’s not the coffee, it’s the bunk.” See? It’s a play on words!

 Jimmy MacDonald and Betty Casey

Well, MacDonald ends up getting the last laugh, let me tell you! One day he finds a telegram on his desk. What’s on this telegram, you ask? Why, nothing less than an announcement that he has won the grand prize along with a check for $25,000! See, what did I tell you?

MacDonald just heard the happy news.

But MacDonald’s good fortune doesn’t end there! He gets promoted to advertising executive with his own office! He goes on a lavish shopping spree at Shindel’s department store, buying gifts and toys for all of his neighbors and their children. He even picks out a futuristic sofa for his mother! You should see this thing. It turns into a bed with the press of a button!

 It's the bed of the future!!

There’s only one small problem. See, it turns out that a winner hasn’t been chosen in the Maxford House Coffee slogan contest. The jury is deadlocked. They never sent a telegram to a Mr. Jimmy MacDonald. They don’t even know who Mr. Jimmy MacDonald is. And they certainly didn’t send him a check for $25,000. That telegram and check on his desk? Well, that was put there by a couple of MacDonald’s co-workers as a practical joke. Things got out-of-hand too quickly for the pranksters to come clean. So when Dr. Maxford, the owner of Maxford House Coffee, finds out that somebody has “won” the contest, it becomes all too clear that things are going to go sour very, very quickly. But...not quite yet.

This has all been the set-up for Preston Sturges’ second directorial effort, Christmas in July. Fresh off his Oscar-winning success with his first film, The Great McGinty (1940), Sturges continued to establish himself with Christmas in July as one of the most brilliant writer/directors of the 1940s. Though it barely clocks in at over an hour, Christmas in July is one of Sturges’ most memorable, and perhaps one his most criminally under-appreciated, films.

Christmas in July was early enough in Sturges’ career that it still retained a kind of wide-eyed enthusiasm and belief in the inherent goodness of mankind. Prolonged studio battles and box office failures would eventually drain Sturges to the point of cynicism, a trait that becomes increasingly apparent later in his career with such films as Unfaithfully Yours (1948). But Christmas in July’s optimism was characteristic of the times. The later years of the Great Depression may have been an unparalleled time of suffering in American history, but it produced some of the most upbeat and hopeful films ever made. It was a time when 60-80 million Americans went to the movies every week.  This was the era of the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, idealistic Capra-esque heroes, and Busby Berkeley excess.

But while Groucho indulged in comedic anarchy and Berkeley in costumed extravagance, the most excessive part of Sturges’ films was the dialogue. Sturges had a talent for lightning fast and witty dialogue and the ability to cram three hours worth of it into a single feature. Much of his writing is so good that it goes over your head until you really sit down and think about it. Take MacDonald’s slogan: “If you can’t sleep at night, it’s not the coffee, it’s the bunk.” That turn of phrase sounds like the last half of a badly translated zen kōan. MacDonald came up with it after he read a medical journal by a Vienna scientist who claimed that coffee puts people asleep instead of keeping them awake. So, MacDonald figures, if you can’t fall asleep after drinking Maxford House Coffee, it must be the bunk that you’re sleeping on that’s keeping you awake!

Like I said, MacDonald’s slogan makes no sense whatsoever. But he believes in it so passionately that the audience begins to believe it, too.  And that’s what keeps the plot going: a willingness to go along with sheer enthusiasm. Dr. Maxford should have realized something was up when MacDonald’s check for $25,000 bounced. But instead he just insisted that he would cover it when the bank called. The Shindel department store should have been more suspicious when a random man walked in and went on a spending spree with a strange check. And MacDonald? Well, he shouldn’t have been so self-deluded as to think that his slogan had any chance of winning.

But much like Sturges’ own ambitions, Christmas in July is a film about impossible dreams coming true. It is a pure distillation of what made Sturges’ films so great: hysterical writing, sincere acting, and genuine heart. It affirms that American belief that if you work hard enough (and have a little luck) you can achieve anything. All we need, as Betty said, is a chance. Just...a chance.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Ladies and Gentlemen!
Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear is proud to announce that it will be hosting another blogathon this August!

That's right! This year's blogathon topic is My First Movie. Everyone has a "first movie." It can be the first time your parents took you to a movie theater as a child. Or maybe the first time you were watching a film on television and you realized that this was something much, much more than the regular everyday programming. This blogathon is devoted to our first memories of watching movies. You can talk about the movie itself if you want, but the focus should be the actual experience of watching a movie for the first time. This topic is open to interpretation. Maybe you could write about the film that first made you realize that you loved the cinema. Who knows?!

If you would like to participate, email me at nch257@nyu.edu and provide me with your:
-Preferred Date

If you don't have a website but would still like to participate, then send me an email anyway. We'll figure something out.

I look forward to reading all of your memories. Don't forget to advertise the blogathon by posting the banner overhead on your site. And please, tell your friends!

See you August!

Nathanael Hood