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Stories by Scott Marks

The Tobacconist: Stogie story

Other than an innate ability to turn heads with each passing performance, what do Montgomery Clift, Alan Arkin, Alec Guinness, Bud Cort, and Viggo Mortensen share in common? At a given moment in each man’s ...

July 9, 2020
Football: a career low for Lucille Ball

Do you miss the prospects of a football-free 2020? Not me, especially with this trio of celluloid scores to spike in celebration. Easy Living (1949) Jacques Tourneur had never seen a football game when RKO ...

July 3, 2020
The Truth: no better suited than Catherine Deneuve

For decades, Fabienne Dangeville has been the face of French culture (and haute couture). Considered by many to be one of history’s most celebrated beauties (and Europe’s greatest actress), the icy blonde was set to ...

July 2, 2020
John Wayne and a latex octopus

Finding this week’s selections was as easy as giving the old external harddrive a spin. There, nestled alphabetically in the “W”s, were a trio of “Wakes,” all new to me. There’s one to dream, one ...

June 26, 2020
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things: Sultana of song

In one seemingly simple sentence, musician Laura Mvula concisely sums up the everlasting appeal of Ella Fitzgerald: “She made it seem like anything is possible.” (It’s likely that at one point or another, generally in ...

June 25, 2020
Girlfriends on film: Henry Orient, Thora & ScarJo, and Cattle Annie & Little Britches

Spinning ‘round the turn comes this week’s sure-bet trifecta, a trio of thoroughbred friendships of the unforgettable teenage girl variety. The World of Henry Orient (1964) While strolling through Central Park one day, Val (Tippy ...

June 19, 2020
Da 5 Bloods: a Spike Lee war joint

When Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo first began shopping their sprawling story of a Vietnam treasure hunt around the studios, it was conceived with four white veterans in mind. IMDB reports that Lloyd Levin, producer ...

June 18, 2020
Claude Sautet: melodramatic throwback

It’s been almost four decades since Romy Schneider’s career was cut short by cardiac arrest at the unripe age of 43. Schneider made her acting debut when she was 15, and during her time spent ...

June 12, 2020
The King of Staten Island: after the disaster

The real Scott Davidson, Pete’s father, was a New York firefighter and first-responder who died in 2001 when the World Trade Center collapsed around him. Anyone familiar with his son’s Comedy Central appearances knows how ...

June 11, 2020
Isolation drills from Groucho Marx to Sam Rockwell

When the lockdown first caught hold, I pinky-promised myself not to devote column space to movies focused on quarantines, vaccines, epidemics, or violently insane world leaders who suggest injecting household chemicals as a cure for ...

June 5, 2020
Working Man: Blue collar blues

At the same time many Americans are clamoring to get back to work, here comes a film about a man who refuses to be ousted from his job. Work gives us purpose; our jobs help ...

June 4, 2020
Al Capone’s film legacy

I have a hood on my back. No sooner do I finish Capone, Hollywood’s latest footnote to the legacy of the Prohibition-era crime lord, than our trustworthy friend Jon over at Rarefilmm.com posts what is ...

May 29, 2020
Jon Hyatt’s Screened Out warns of “brain hackers”

“What’s with all the movies?” was one of my father’s pet questions. “Don’t you ever read a book?” (This coming from a man who never cracked a spine in his life.) Years later, Dad’s counsel ...

May 28, 2020
Brackett and Wilder go to Hollywood

Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett collaborated on fourteen pictures together before going their separate artistic ways in 1951. (Wilder went on to have an equally fertile collaboration with I.A.L. Diamond with whom he shared screenwriter’s ...

May 22, 2020
Capone: Gangster geriatrica

You know Muni and Robards and Rico Bandello/ Steiger and Gazzara and Dame Judith who was no fellow/ But does Tom Hardy present a compelling scumball/ or is Capone yet another long haul?/ Così cosà. ...

May 21, 2020
Action in the 1970s: Gene Hackman, Walter Matthau, and Whit Bissell

A trio of ‘70s action flicks for your amusement, led by Gene Hackman, Walter Matthau, and... Whit Bissell? French Connection II (1975) The porkpie hat is as unmistakably American as the beret is French. And ...

May 15, 2020
Possessor: body horror head case

Brandon Cronenberg’s second feature will no doubt confirm those nasty rumors that daddy David set his son on the road to dreamland every night with Videodrome projected on the nursery wall opposite the baby’s crib. ...

May 14, 2020
Three Lloyd Bacon comedies starring James Cagney

This week’s triad features a tangy-as-always James Cagney starring in three comedies under the direction of Warner Brothers’ swift-footed Lloyd Bacon. Picture Snatcher (1933) In his column in the January 21, 1933 edition of Editor ...

May 8, 2020
Clementine: Overwrought meets underripe

We open on a note of anticipatory anxiety: an offscreen voice awakens Karen (Otmara Marrero). Soft tones profess, “You’re beautiful,” followed by, “You’re gonna break my heart.” Other than an eager exchange with a pooch ...

May 7, 2020
A close look at religions in San Diego

There Is One God "The equality of all people and all religions is central to our faith. We didn't want to seem as though we were saying, 'No! We're not Muslims! Don't attack us! Those ...

May 2, 2020
Vietnam vet turned dirty-water hot dog vendor

For Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who told Fox News that older Americans should sacrifice their lives for the good of the economy, we offer up a handful of ass-kicking seniors, led by pandemic paraclete ...

May 1, 2020
Jim Thompson's Série Noire, translated

When a sock to the chin connects in a Jim Thomspon novel, it does so with such force that you’ll be reaching to condole your jaw. A quick turn of the page, and the stench ...

April 30, 2020
The Filthiest People Alive

The first installment of the three part documentary feature Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time premiered on numerous VOD platforms this week. Here are three essential exploitation epics for further research. Pink Flamingos ...

April 24, 2020
My Spy: Children’s Intelligence Agency

Two months’ worth of bi-weekly trips to the multiplex yielded at least a dozen opportunities to memorize the trailer for My Spy. Originally slated for a mid-March opening, it was the next film on the ...

April 23, 2020
The best use of a clip from The Searchers this side of Mean Streets

Theft, drugs, and bad romance drive this week’s trio of tales. The Whistlers (2019) Birds warble in the background as career detective Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) pulls up to Gilda’s (Catrinel Marlon) house. Or do they? ...

April 16, 2020
Video: San Diego Joyride '95

Before making it my home, San Diego was an annual vacation destination for 15 years. “1995” was written across the spine of the TDK-HS video cassette, but the exact date of this joyride is unsure. ...

April 15, 2020
The death knell for death metal

This week, we’ve got metalheads, handmaids, and a tour of New York you don’t want to take. Saigon Metalhood (2020) Three generations of musicians representing the past, present, and future of Vietnamese metal are given ...

April 7, 2020
Ugly Easter

Two tales of troubled towns — and one set in New York, which has enough real-life troubles at the moment. Blow the Man Down (2019) It isn’t long after the Connolly sisters lay their mother ...

April 2, 2020
A NASA intergalactic message from Girl Scouts

This week’s duo sends voices across the universe. Is anybody listening? Troop Zero (2019) Do words travel through the universe — and if so, does Christmas Flint’s (Mckenna Grace) late momma hear them? A representative ...

March 20, 2020
Opening weekend of an officially declared COVID-19 pandemic

A stanchion sign in the entranceway to the Reading Grossmont greeted customers with the request, “Please Purchase Tickets At The Concession Stand.” After years spent logging an average of eight movies a month in La ...

March 19, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2013

Movie lover's paradise Meanwhile, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have shuttered their local outlets. Owner and buyer Guy Hanford understands why. “When you went into a Blockbuster or Hollywood to rent a film, you never engaged ...

March 14, 2020
Andrew Heckler’s Burden: Raised racist

Writer-director Andrew Heckler’s Burden opens in mid-rage before descending into even more tumultuous turf. A sledgehammer shatters the lobby window of the Echo, a vacant South Carolina movie theatre. If the perps are of that ...

March 12, 2020
Will a Landmark ruling save the Ken?

The first question I asked Landmark President and COO Paul Serwitz was as direct as a remedy: as of today, did he foresee anything that might prevent the closure of the Ken on March 22? ...

March 5, 2020
Ordinary Love: Worth fighting for

A January or February release — when half the country is either deep in hibernation, or worse, catching up on award-winners — has become the time of year designated as Hollywood’s dumping ground for films ...

February 27, 2020
Landmark's Ken Cinema to close its doors March 22

Has it really been 6 years since I stepped in and helped to save the Ken Cinema from the wrecking ball? On Sunday, March 22, Landmark Theatres will officially pull the plug on the Ken ...

February 24, 2020
Dog days of Jack London and William A. Wellman

One wonders how replicant Harrison Ford will fare playing opposite a CG tail-wagger — or is it the other way around? — in the latest incarnation of The Call of the Wild. Just in case, ...

February 21, 2020
Beanpole makes Cries and Whispers look like Blazing Saddles

If you thought Russian interference with the last election was reprehensible, wait until you see what Putin’s putas are doing to the movies. When was the last time a picture scraped the humor right out ...

February 20, 2020
The Traitor: Family unfriendly

Family. It’s why Charlie lent a helping hand to his hair-triggered cousin Johnny Boy in Mean Streets. But go against Mr. French in The Departed and he’ll soon forget how once upon a time your ...

February 13, 2020
Backstage musicals courtesy Michael Damien and Phil Karlson

A pair of backstage musicals both old and new. High Strung Free Dance (2018) New to blu-ray, this affectionately bunched bundle of backstage musical cliches plays like a smaller-scale musical mock-up of La La Land ...

February 6, 2020
Created Equal: an unduly sympathetic portrait of Clarence Thomas

Spectacles, or no spectacles? That is the question that opens Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words. (Thomas settled upon two eyes instead of four.) The next voice you hear is that of writer ...

January 30, 2020
No match for bad dad Robert Mitchum

Bad dads: there are no George Baileys or clownfish named Marlin in this reprobative grouping of sires. Home from the Hill (1960) There were two venal Vincente Minnelli patriarchs to choose from, neither of whom ...

January 24, 2020
Quezon’s Game: A Filipino Schindler’s List?

For a month, the link languished in my mailbox — I put off playing Quezon’s Game until the latest possible moment. Frankly, the thought of a Filipino Schindler’s List held about as much interest as ...

January 23, 2020
Dolittle: Robert Downey, Jr. goes down

It is with deep and abiding regret that we report the passing of Robert Downey, Jr. — one of the last of his generation of trailblazers — over to the dark side. Admittedly, the transition ...

January 16, 2020
The best and worst films of 2019

Of the nearly 250 films I viewed in 2019, here are the front-runners and slopsuckers. For more on this year in film, visit the Big Screen. Favorites: 10.) Last Letter A romantic drama void of ...

January 9, 2020
Family movies with ghosts of cartoons past

This week’s goal was to find three films to unite families around the set that didn’t contain any references to Christmas. The first two came easy. For some crazy reason, I had it in my ...

January 3, 2020
The reign of Dag Hammarskjöld

Where were you when you first learned of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld? For some, it will be wherever they’re reading this review. But at the time, his mere existence was viewed by some as ...

January 2, 2020
New Year’s Eve from Las Vegas to New York’s Fillmore East

Las Vegas and a mock Fillmore East play home to this pair of New Year’s Eve-themed comedies. Ocean’s 11 (1960) Frank Sinatra and a group of Korean war buddies regroup to knock over the five ...

December 27, 2019
Uncut Gems: Adam Sandler plays a bad man with a plan

Who says television isn’t educational? Ever hear of African Jews? Diamond man (14 carat, not baseball) Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) hadn’t, not until the night a documentary introduced him to a tribe of landlocked nomads ...

December 26, 2019
Richard Jewell: American hero

Were cash and prizes all that motivated Clint Eastwood, he’d have had himself de-aged, made another Dirty Harry sequel for Netflix, and been done with it. But there’ll be none of that small screen hoo-hah ...

December 19, 2019
63 Up: Grow old along with me

The late ’50s-early ‘60s proved to be a wellspring of worldwide experimentation in documentary realism. Banking on unscripted reactions to outrageous situations as his key to success, American television personality Allen Funt tucked his Candid ...

December 12, 2019

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