Saturday, June 25, 2022

Save the Historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco

The Castro Theatre is well-known even to those of us who aren't from the Bay Area or have spent significant time in San Francisco. The theatre was founded by the Nasser Brothers, who had begun showing movies at their father's grocery and candy factory and later a small, 600 seat theatre. The architect who designed the Castro Theatre, Timothy L. Plueger, would also design the  the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company Building in San Francisco. He would also design other theatres, including the Alhambra and El Rey in San Francisco and the Paramount in Okalnd  Its opening on June 22 1922 was attended by then San Francisco mayor Sunny Jim Rolph. The first film shown at the Castro Theatre was Across the Continent (1922), starring Wallace Reid.

The Castro Theatre was operated by the Nasser family until 1976, at which point they leased the theatre to San Francisco film exhibitor Mel Novikoff. After that lease ended, the Castro Theatre shifted to showing repertory movies and hosting film festivals. Among the festivals it has hosted are the Berlin & Beyond Festival, CAAMFest, the San Francisco Film Noir Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and others.

Unfortunately, it was earlier this year that Another Planet Entertainment partnered with the Castro Theatre's current owner, Bay Properties. Another Planet Entertainment plans to level the theatre's floor (taking away its slope) and removing seats for rock concerts. As connoisseurs of classic theatres know, removing the slope and removing seats would ruin the Castro Theatre's effectiveness as a movie theatre. The Castro Theatre Conservancy has then been formed in order to retain as much of the interior of the Castro Theatre as possible. Among its supporters are such big names as Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Danay Delaney, David Byrne, Leonard Maltin, and yet others.

The Castro Theatre Conservancy has set up a petition on "to ensure that the historic orchestra seating and sloped floor that are so essential to preserving the filmgoing experience are maintained." If you love beautiful old movie palaces, by all means sign this petition.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Godspeed Maureen Arthur

Maureen Arthur, who played Hildy both the Broadway production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the 1967 movie adaptation, died on June 15 2022 at the age of 88. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's  disease for some time.

Maureen Arthur was born on April 15 1934 in San Jose, California. She grew up in St. Louis. Her father operated a movie theatre and as a little girl she would perform on stage during vaudeville nights. She was attending Northeastern University when she won a talent contest on The Garry Moore Show. She won a gig at the Palace in New York City for a week and the chance to compete on the television talent show Chance of a Lifetime. She won Chance of a Lifetime for six straight weeks. Maureen Arthur acting at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York City.

Miss Arthur made her television debut in 1956 as a regular on Tonight! starring Steve Allen. In the Fifties she guest starred on the TV shows Flight, Whirlybirds, Bourbon Street Beat, Not For Hire, and Richard Diamond, Detective. She made her film debut in Hot Rod Gang in 1958.

In the Sixties Maureen Arthur was a regular on the TV shows Holiday Lodge and What's It All About, World?. She guest starred on the shows General Electric Theatre; Bachelor Father; The Red Skelton Show; Perry Mason; Branded; I Spy; Hank; Get Smart; The Hero; Please Don't Eat the Daisies; The Monkees; The Flying Nun; That's Life; Gomer Pyle : USMC; and Love, American Style. She toured with How to Succeed in Business Without Trying for two years before appearing in the play on Broadway. She also appeared on Broadway in Something Different.  She appeared in the movies How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying? (1967), Thunder Alley (1967), The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (1968), A Man Called Dagger (1968), Killers Three (1968), How to Commit Marriage (1969),  and The Love God? (1969).

In the Seventies she guest starred on the TV shows Love, American Style; Night Gallery; Sanford and Son; The New Dick Van Dyke Show; Kolchak: The Night Stalker; Joe and Sons; Laverne & Shirley; CPO Sharkey; and The Stockard Channing Show. She was a regular during a story arc on the live action Saturday morning television show The Red Hand Gang. She appeared in the movies The Love Machine (1971) and Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976).

In the Eighties Maureen Arthur was a regular on the show Empire. She guest starred on the TV shows Mork & Mindy; The Duck Factory; Too Close for Comfort; Murder, She Wrote; Highway to Heaven, and Matlock. In the Nineties she guest starred on Empty Nest.

In addition to acting, Maureen Arthur also recorded the singles "Don't Make the Angels Cry" and What Does He Do With Her" on the Carlton label

Miss Arthur was president of the Variety Club of Southern California children’s charity for several years.

I have to think Maureen Arthur will always be remembered best as Hedy in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and with good reason. She was wonderful in the role. And it seems as if many of her roles in both television and movies were similar to the not-too-bright Hedy. She played Lois, a divorcee pursuing Frank Benson (Bob Hope) in How to Commit Marriage. In The Love God? she played the cover girl of the magazine The Peacock, a nudie magazine along the lines of Playboy.  On television she played gangsters moll Ruby in the Monkees episode "Alias Micky Dolenz" That having been said, Maureen Arthur was fully capable of playing other sorts of roles. In The Love Machine she played a not so nice character, publicist and office tramp Ethel Evans. In the Get Smart episode "The Contessa," she played a KAOS agent, Contessa Montenegro (who would seem to be at take off on the Gabor Sisters). In addition to being a talented actress, Maureen Arthur was also a very good singer. She devoted literally years to Variety, the Children's Charity. Maureen Arhtur was entirely wonderful. While she will probably always be best remembered as Hedy, she did much more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Announcing the 9th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon

I am proud to announce the 8th Annual Rule, Britannia Blogathon, which will take place on September 17, 18, and 19 2022.

While many people think of Hollywood when they think of classic movies, the fact is that the United Kingdom made many significant contributions to film over the years. From the Gainsborough melodramas to Hammer Films to the British New Wave, cinema would be much poorer without the British.

Here are the ground rules for this year's blogathon:
1. Posts can be about any British film or any topic related to British films. For the sake of simplicity, I am using "British" here to refer to any film made by a company based in the United Kingdom or British Crown dependencies. If you want to write about a film made in Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man, then, you can do so. Also for the sake of simplicity, people can write about co-productions made with companies from outside the United Kingdom. For example, since 2001: A Space Odyssey is a British-American co-production, someone could write about it if they chose.

2. There is no limit on subject matter. You can write about any film in any genre you want. Posts can be on everything from the British New Wave to the Gainsborough bodice rippers to the Hammer Horrors. I am also making no limit on the format posts can take. You could review a classic British film, make an in-depth analysis of a series of British films, or even simply do a pictorial tribute to a film. That having been said, since this is a classic film blogathon,  I only ask that you write about films made before 2012. I generally don't think of a film as a classic until it has been around for thirty years, but to give bloggers more options I am setting the cut off point at ten years ago.

3. I am asking that there please be no duplicates. That having been said, if someone has already chosen to cover From Russia with Love (1963), someone else could write about the James Bond series as a whole.

4. I am not going to schedule days for individual posts. All I ask is that the posts be made on or between September 7, 18, and 19 2022.

If you want to participate in the Rule, Britannia Blogathon, you can simply comment below or get a hold of me on Twitter at mercurie80 or at my email:  mercurie80 at

A Shroud of Thoughts: The Ipcress File (1965)

Reelweedgiemidget Reviews
: Holocaust 2000 (1977)

The Stop Button
: Kind Hearts and Coronets

Taking Up Room: A Hard Day's Night

Silver Screenings
: The Iron Duke (1934)

Moon in Gemini: Into the West (1992)

Films From Beyond the Time Barrier: Stolen Face (1952) and Blackout (1954)

Liberal England: "Children and Bomb Sites in Poast-War Britain"

18 Cinema Lane: Tommy (1975)

Below are graphics you can use for the blogathon or you can always make your own!