Posted by & filed under Movie Recommendations.

“Yes, I’ll accept the charges.”

When you think of October, what comes to mind? The first crisp mornings of the year? Pumpkin spice lattes? Midterms peeking over the horizon? Unfortunately, none of those things capture the je ne sais quoi of October. What you should be thinking of is Halloween, and if you really think about it, there’s no other month that is defined by it’s very last day. It’s a special day where all things spooky can come out and have their time in the limelight without worrying about exorcisms and proton packs. So to celebrate and praise those who are shunned for the majority of the year, we’ve decided to dedicate the whole month to ghouls, goblins, ghosts, and that piece of pizza that slid under the fridge but you’re too scared to take a look at ’cause it’s been two weeks and you’re all out of bleach. Everyday in October, the Media Library Blog will highlight something in our collection to satisfy that creepy itch. Today’s entry is the slasher film classic Halloween (DVD 15702 Blu-ray DVD 235) I don’t think there’s a bigger fan of the holiday than the star of this film, Mike Myers. He puts in so much time and effort to make Halloween as terrifying as possible. The film follows your typical slasher formula: teens plan party/sleepover, party is crashed by our festive slasher, teens scream and some die, slasher get’s what’s coming to him… OR DOES HE?! Check out some of the sequels that are not nearly as good, but still fun to watch. There’s even a remake made by Dragula enthusiast Rob Zombie (DVD 15710 Blu-ray DVD 9644)

Posted by & filed under Board Games.

Every Tuesday, UNT Media Library highlights a title from their growing collection of tabletop games. This week, read about: Settlers of Catan Boardgame box cover

The Settlers of Catan, Boardgame 14

Number of Players: 3-4
For Ages: 10+
Duration of Play: 45-90 minutes
In The Settlers of Catan (also “Settlers” or “Catan”), the first player to 10 victory points wins. It’s a game of strategy, network building, trading, and managing your cards. You build settlements (each worth 1 victory point) and cities (each worth 2 victory points), but there are some rules. You must have at least two roads in between each of your settlements and/or cities. There must also be at least two spaces between your settlements/cities and any other players’, so mind your neighboring players who might get in your way!

From the publisher:

In The Settlers of Catan you control a group of settlers trying to tame the wilds on the remote but rich island of Catan. Start by revealing the island’s many port sites and regions: plains, meadows, mountains, hills, forests, and desert. The random mix creates a different board for virtually every game. Then embark on a quest to settle the island. Guide your settlers to victory by clever trading and cunning development. Instead of money, you use combinations of resources – grain, wool, ore, brick, and timber – to purchase development cards or build roads, settlements, and cities. Acquire your resources through trades or the luck of the dice. But beware! Someone might cut off your road or buy a monopoly! And you never know when the robber will appear and steal away with your precious gains!

— Mayfair Games

Many thanks to UNT Gamers for gifting this title to the UNT Media Library!   If you like The Settlers of Catan, you may also enjoy these titles, also available at UNT Media Library:
Alhambra box cover  Puerto Rico box cover  Agricola box cover

Alhambra, Boardgame 201

Puerto Rico, Boardgame 93

Agricola, Boardgame 302

Posted by & filed under Board Games.

Every Tuesday, UNT Media Library highlights a title from their growing collection of tabletop games. This week, read about: Munchkin Boardgame box cover

Munchkin, Boardgame 10

Number of Players: 3-6
For Ages: 10+
Duration of Play: 60-120 minutes
The goal is to be the first player to 10 points! Sounds easy, right? There are three ways to get points: play a level-up card, sell 1,000 gold pieces’ worth of items (no change given!), and oh, just fight a bunch of MONSTERS while your opponents plot against you! Your tenth level has to be earned in battle. Good luck!

From the publisher:

Go down in the dungeon. Kill everything you meet. Backstab your friends and steal their stuff. Grab the treasure and run. Admit it. You love it. Munchkin is the mega-hit card game about dungeon adventure . . . with none of that stupid roleplaying stuff. You and your friends compete to kill monsters and grab magic items. And what magic items! Don the Horny Helmet and the Boots of Butt-Kicking. Wield the Staff of Napalm . . . or maybe the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment. Start by slaughtering the Potted Plant and the Drooling Slime, and work your way up to the Plutonium Dragon . . . And it’s illustrated by John Kovalic!

— Steve Jackson Games

If you like Munchkin, you may also enjoy these titles, also available at UNT Media Library:
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game box cover

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Boardgame 145

Coup Game box cover

Coup, Boardgame 280

Smash Up game box cover

Smash Up, Boardgame 158

post by Julie Patterson

Posted by & filed under Denton, Home Movies, Local History.

vlcsnap-2015-10-06-10h07m02s537

On November 22, 1963 Dallas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder used his 8mm Bell & Howell film camera to document President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as it passed through Dealey Plaza. This home movie, now referred to as “The Zapruder Film,” unexpectedly captured the assassination of President Kennedy and subsequently became one of the most analyzed films in history. Though most of us are familiar with this iconic film, we are perhaps less well-acquainted with the historical value of home movies as a genre. As noted by filmmaker and preservationist Martin Scorsese, home movies “do not just capture the important private moments of our family’s lives but they are historical and cultural documents as well.”

Officially celebrated across the world on  October 17th, 2015, this year’s “Home Movie Day,” is an opportunity for individuals, families, and communities to see and share their home movies, to learn about the historical significance of home movies, and find out how to best preserve these valuable artifacts. Though your home movies may not capture nationally historic events, they do document and preserve cultural practices for current and future scholars. They tell us not only what kind of fashion people wore but also how they wore it. They visually preserve architecture and now-demolished skylines.They show us how people from different backgrounds celebrate holidays like birthdays and Thanksgiving. Better than a written account or still photograph, home movies are capable of showing how people actually lived.

For the month of October, the Media Library is celebrating Home Movies with an exhibit of home movie technologies and a home movie compilation curated by Media Arts student and filmmaker Valarie Gold. The compilation will play all month long in our lobby and includes materials from the University of North Texas Special Collections, the Denton Public Library, and The Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Stop by to see how downtown Denton has changed since 1940 and stay to watch former Speaker of the House and Lieutenant Governor of Texas Ben Barnes show off his horseback riding skills in a parade through Denton ca. 1971. Take a look at some groovy dancing at a 1965 quinceanera and a Thanksgiving pinata. Just in time for the Texas State Fair, prepare to be impressed by robotic dinosaurs at the 1936 Centennial celebration. Perhaps you can even help us identify the people and events taking place in “Bank Day” (ca. 1940), donated by the Chamber of Commerce?

If you have any questions or additional information about the home movies you’ve seen in our exhibit or have questions about preserving your own home movies, please contact the Moving Image Preservation Librarian, Laura Treat (laura.treat@unt.edu).

We also encourage you to continue this proud tradition of home movie making and (whether with your smart phone or camera) visually preserve your memories!

 

Posted by & filed under Board Games.

In case you’re looking for something new to do with your best friend, doppelgänger, significant other, or alien, here’s a selection of board games provided at the media library made for two (or more!):

  kittensinablender1 Kittens In A Blender (Cards) (Boardgame 135) Yes. That’s the name of the game. In this card game players try to save their kittens from the blender and save as many by putting them in the box. If you feel twisted enough to put kittens in a blender, this is your chance to release that desire in a less immoral way. 2-8 players.   BattleshipBattleship Galaxies Battleship (Boardgame 17) & Battleship: Galaxies (Boardgame 73) If war games are more your style, the media library has two different battleship games. Whether playing on sea or space, you’ll still get the chance to destroy your friends. 2-4 players.   zombies-board-game-zombie-gifts-zombie-toys Zombies!!! (Boardgame 77) There is never enough time to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. The goal of Zombies!!! is to be the first player to reach the center square of the “Helipad” tile, kill the zombie there and escape the advancing zombie horde. Alternately, a player also wins if he is the first to collect 25 zombies. 2-6 players.   adventure-time-card-wars-1050x631 Adventure Time Card Wars (Cards) (Boardgame 218 & 252) Guys seriously how awesome is this. Battle as Adventure Time characters with the collector packs available at the media library. 2 players. pic1996866_md Street Fighter (Cards) (Boardgame 295) If you’re looking for a more retro option, check out Street Fighter. Choose your fighter and challenge your rivals. Take on the role of Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Balrog, M. Bison and others to claim yourself as the world’s best street fighter. 2-5 players.   yahtzee dr. who   Yahtzee Dr. Who (Boardgame 235) It’s exactly what the title implies. Shake up things with this cute little police box. Roll dice for scoring combinations and try to get the highest total score. 1+ players.   tummple Tummple (Boardgame 193) Tummple is like Jenga on speed. Using plastic pebbles and wood blocks, attempt to balance in the most inconceivable manner! 2-4 players.  

All of these games are available to use at the media library! If you’re interested in taking games out of the library, we have also recently added two different games available for check out:

  betrayaltickettoride Betrayal at House on the Hill (Boardgame 39) & Ticket to Ride (Boardgame 48) These games are available to check out of the library! Betrayal at House on the Hill is a horror-themed tile game where you build the house using haunting scenarios.3-6 players. Ticket to Ride is where players attempt to gain the most points through claiming routes and completing paths of routes. 2-5 players.            

Posted by & filed under Bonnie and Clyde, Denton, Hollywood, Local History.

This clip from the KXAS-NBC 5 News Collection shows Warren Beatty, Estelle Parsons, and Michael J. Pollard participating in the North Texas State Fair parade in downtown Denton prior to the Southwest Premiere of Bonnie and Clyde on Sept. 13, 1967.

 

Much has already been written about the 1967 biographical crime film, Bonnie and Clyde. Directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, this film was considered by some contemporary viewers as a groundbreaking portrayal of sex, violence, and anti-establishment sentiments while others criticized it for glamorizing violence and for inaccurate historical representations. Despite this tension between glamour and fact, exploitation and authenticity, many North Texans actually participated in the creation of Bonnie and Clyde when Hollywood stars and production crews came to towns such as Lavon, Ponder, Pilot Point, Venus, and Midlothian. The region played such a large role in the film’s production that Denton even hosted its Southwest premiere.

This September 13th, as we celebrate the 48th anniversary of the Southwest Premiere of Bonnie and Clyde, please join us for a meandering trip down memory lane and explore how the communities of North Texas participated in and influenced this historic film.

Production – ca. October – November 1966

The earliest mention of Texas I’ve found concerns location shooting in Lavon in October 1966. The Wylie News reported that camera crews had been shooting at the Lavon Café (owned by Miles Williams) on Monday October 17th and Tuesday October 18th with local extras Carolyn Feagin, Mrs. Miles Williams, Billy Joe Rogers, Bob Morrow, and Mrs. W. A. Gray. From Lavon, the cast and crew moved on to Ponder, TX where Bellville resident and former Ponder resident Mrs. Leo Chatham observed the filming. Mrs. Chatham told her local paper, The Bellville Times, on November 03, 1966 that four Ponder residents had been included and “This was quite a day for the little town of Ponder.” The crew did some shooting in Dallas and then travelled back north again to shoot at the Farmers and Merchants Bank building and Mike Amon’s service station in the town of Pilot Point.

BC Picture WN 102066 BC Photo_Wylie News_1966_10_20
BC Photo_DRC_1966_11_30

Newspaper reports indicate that production began in Pilot Point on Wednesday November 9th with Barrow’s bank robbery filmed at the Farmers and Merchant’s Bank. Newspaper accounts indicate that shooting continued through November 10th, though some eye-witness reports indicate the shooting may have taken at least 3 days. Local extras included relatives of Mayor George Hilz—his 11-year-old daughter Karen Hilz and nephew 14-year-old Michael Hilz. The two kids were joined by Mrs. Harold Smith (wife of then Chamber of Commerce President) during a lively getaway scene. As reported in the above clipping from The Campus Chat, North Texas State University’s (now UNT) custodian Dee Ray Jones was hired as an extra in the bank robbery scene because his haircut matched the 1930’s style better than another man considered for the job. His wife was also hired and he can purportedly be seen walking from the rear of the bank, looking through the bank teller’s window, and raising his hands.

It’s unclear when location shooting wrapped in North Texas, though one article mentioned they hoped to finish by December 1966. Local news reports about the picture slowed down until the summer of 1967 when preparations were underway for its premiere.

Returning to the Scene of the Crime: North Texas Publicity Tour

It’s unclear just exactly when or how it was decided that Denton, Texas would be the location for the film’s Southwest Premiere. By August 1967, however, the Campus Chat had announced that the film would receive its regional premiere in September 1967 following the New York World Premiere and a showing in Montreal. By late August, reviews from the East Coast arrived in Texas. The Pilot Point Post-Signal reported on August 31, 1967 that resident Bob Athons received a letter from his son “Sonny” Athons, an employee at the New York Daily News, who “enjoyed the film tremendously” and thought he may have spotted his father in a crowd. Mr. Athons told the Post-Signal that Sonny would be attending the Denton Premiere in September.

BC Photo_Holiday Inn

Taken by an unknown photographer this photograph features (left to right): Holiday Inn manager Jim Poteet, Estelle Parsons, Warren Beatty, Mrs. Jim Poteet, and Michael J. Pollard. I am still trying to locate the photographer who posted this online. Please contact me if you know who took this great photo!

 

On September 11th or 12th, 1967 three of the film’s stars—Warren Beatty, Estelle Parsons, and Michael J. Pollard—along with Warner Bros. executives arrived in Denton and checked-in at a local Holiday Inn. Noticeably absent was Faye Dunawaye who was shooting another film in Hollywood and unable to attend. On September 13th–the day of the premiere–they began a day-long adventure through North Texas. Taking advantage of local hospitality, Estelle Parsons was escorted around the area that morning by Denton Record Chronicle Executive Bill Rives.

Later that morning, Beatty, Parsons, and Pollard spoke at a drama seminar at the Holiday Inn. Beatty discussed accusations that the film glamorized criminals and violence:  “Violence is a matter within an individual. The Depression brought on Bonnie and Clyde’s spree. They had an excuse to strike out at the Establishment and they grabbed it” (DeCola, 1967). Regarding the graphic violence and reports of 11 patrons fainting at the London screening the evening prior, Beatty told the Denton Record Chronicle “the theater was overheated” (They’re People!, 1967). Beatty also discussed the choice to use local actors and shoot on location in Texas:  “We could never have attained the effect we wanted by filming it all in Hollywood, using nothing but professional actors. We felt from the start that the movie had to be filmed in this area.” He also said that the British audience had been impressed by the locally shot scenes. (DeCola, 1967). The DRC reported that in the middle of seminar, several of the students in the audience left “adhering to the school bell” prompting Beatty to feign being upset and ask the students: “Was it something I said?”

Following the seminar, the stars boarded a large bus and were taken back to the scenes of their crimes. In Ponder, they were greeted on the town square by school children dismissed from class for the occasion and were fed doughnuts and coffee. After signing autographs and posing for photos, they were back on the bus headed to Pilot Point. Unfortunately, I’ve found relatively little about the visit to Ponder.

According to the Pilot Point Post-Signal, the bus arrived at 12:40 p.m. led by a Denton County and local police escort and a crowd of “at least several hundred equipped with cameras, autograph books, and promotional material quickly encircled the plush vehicle” (Bonnie-Clyde Celebration, 1967). The crowd included children dismissed from school to participate in the festivities originally billed as “Bonnie and Clyde Day.”  The actors were escorted by Chamber of Commerce President Robert Henzler to the unoccupied Farmers and Merchants State bank building where the filming took place the previous November. On the bank steps, the stars signed autographs and posed with mannequins made up to look like Bonnie and Clyde (complete with sub-machine guns). The Denton Record Chronicle noted that actor Michael J. Pollard “took a back seat to his wife” who was “easily mistaken for a starlet” and reportedly signed autographs “Mrs. Michael J. Pollard.” The Chamber of Commerce sold souvenirs including special-edition newspapers and “Bonnie Parker Cigars.” The Denton Record Chronicle reported that a Warner Bros. executive at some point during the day “climbed on a horse and showed Pilot Point residents that New Yorkers can ride too” (They’re People!, 1967). The festivities ended with a barbecue hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and catered by Jetton Catering Service of Ft. Worth. A tent was erected on the west side of town with a large portion of the square roped off and traffic re-routed. The cost for residents was $2 per plate.

After an hour and 15 minutes in Pilot Point, the group boarded their bus and returned to Denton for radio and television interviews. At some point that afternoon, it’s reported that Estelle Parsons was so hot that she jumped into the Holiday Inn pool in her street clothes (“They’re People”, 1967). Unfortunately, I found no photographs.  After a full day of publicity, at 5:30 p.m. the group hopped into vintage cars and appeared in the North Texas State Fair parade (seen in the above video from the KXAS NBC 5 news collection).

Bonnie and Clyde Was Here: The Southwest Premiere

BC Photo_CC_1967_09_22_Ad bonnieandclydeposter

bonnieandclydewashere

Clockwise: Advertisement from the Campus Chat (09/22/1967); Promotional Poster at the Campus Theater; Campus Theater Employees in the box office. Both stills are taken from the KXAS-NBC 5 film.

The Southwest premiere was scheduled for September 13th at 7:30 p.m.at Denton’s Campus Theater. The Pilot Point Post-Signal reported that portions of West Hickory had been roped off to accommodate the Denton High School Band and “a gigantic and luxurious red carpet” that was spread across the street” (Bonnie-Clyde Celebration, 1967). Ushers were in formal attire and wore new red blazers with the Interstate Theaters crest seen in the still above. The box office featured bullet-hole stickers and the words “Bonnie and Clyde Was Here.” Crowds began to gather including reporters from as far away as Detroit and Chicago. The screening was sold out but occasionally someone would turn in an unused ticket. Keith Shelton of the  Denton Record Chronicle reported that “an Interstate official would hold up his hand to the crowd—just like a Texas-Oklahoma football game” and the ticket would soon be purchased. At 6:45 p.m. the doors opened to the 1,300 advance premiere ticket holders while hundreds of spectators waited for the stars to arrive. By 7:40 p.m., the stars hadn’t arrived. The band continued playing outside while audience members inside were entertained by organist Les Mills. Interstate Executive Vice President W.F. Mitchell announced that the band would get free popcorn and drinks when the event disbursed and they were through playing (Shelton, 1967).

Thirty-minutes late, at 8:00 p.m., the stars finally arrived in limousines and were rushed into the crowded theater. Once inside, Executive Editor of the Record Chronicle, Bill Rives was the master of ceremonies. The actors were invited onstage and Pollard came on stage minus one patent leather shoe stating he had tripped in the bathroom and injured his foot. Rives joked about Pollard’s velvet tuxedo and red silk turtleneck shirt, noting that Pollard was certainly “no coward” for coming to Denton in that type of ensemble (Shelton, 1967). Rives then played a tape recording from Faye Dunaway who proclaimed she could not have made it from Hollywood to Denton “no way short of using a shotgun like Bonnie Parker…at midnight your time, have a drink on me” (Shelton, 1967). Following the introductions, Beatty left but Parsons and Pollard remained for the rest of the screening.

Reviews and Reactions

Local reports indicate that audiences cheered loudly when their town or familiar faces were projected on the big screen.  The Pilot Point Signal-Post reported (Bonnie-Clyde Celebration, 1967) that the “long awaited Pilot Point segment came about midway in the picture with thunderous applause following the local scenes as well as the appearance of local residents.” The Denton Record Chronicle reported that Pilot Point resident, 60-year-old Joe Spratt, received applause for his speaking part. Spratt, who witnessed the real Bonnie and Clyde’s 1934 visit to Grave’s Café in Pilot Point was given a speaking role as a poor farmer whose money was spared by Clyde during a robbery. The Pilot Point Signal-Post reported that Joe had been paid $100 a day for two days plus $12.50 for the use of his cows.

Farmer3 Farmer2
We believe that these stills taken from a bank robbery scene Bonnie and Clyde (00:55:15 – 00:56:18) show Mr. Joe Spratt in his Hollywood debut. 

The following morning, the stars were escorted to Love Field and flew back to Hollywood. Though national opinion was mixed about the film and its message, Keith Shelton of the Denton Record Chronicle reported of local reaction: “most were in agreement that it was not your ordinary crime movie.” He credited the film for portraying violence and death “as real violence and death…not ‘bang, bang, you’re dead.” He observed that it was a “subdued audience” that filed out of the Campus that night. Campus Chat reporter Pat Bryan reviewed the film in the September 22nd edition of the campus paper and described Bonnie and Clyde as “real, human and true-to-life, unlike other modern Hollywood productions.” The movie, which was scheduled to run only 2 weeks, played 5 times daily at the Campus Theater to sold-out audiences. The Pilot Point Post-Signal reported on September 20th that the events were “an occasion and experience which will long be remembered among the people of this area.” Pilot Point’s mayor, George Hilz, called the production and the celebration, “the biggest thing that’s happened since I’ve been mayor.”

Bonnie and Clyde and the film about the duo continued to receive press in the North Texas papers as reviews came in from North Texans in faraway places like Georgia. The Pilot Point-Signal reported on 09/16/1967 that Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Holford had received a phone call from their daughter, Mrs. Jim Bridges, stating that they had viewed the film. The couple reported “it was nice to see their friends on screen” and that they had “spent the intermission bragging a little about Texas” (Report). The film’s message as well as its style also influenced teenagers. The Campus Chat reported on 12/15/1967 that the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority was holding a pledge party at the abandoned Farmers State Bank in Ponder (shown in the film) with pledges wearing 1930’s attire.

Outside of North Texas, the provocative film continued to receive mixed reviews though it won two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress for Estelle Parsons and Best Cinematography for Burnett Guffey.The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor (for both Hackman and Pollard), and Best Costume Design. Over the last 48 years, film has remained a mainstay in best-of lists and film canons and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Share Your Memories

While the film has earned recognition, the stories of the Texans and local communities who helped make this film have yet to be fully explored. If you or someone you know has information about the filming or premiere, please contact Laura Treat, Moving Image Preservation Librarian, at laura.treat@unt.edu. I’m especially interested in talking to people who witnessed the filming and premiere and am hoping to find more information about the September 1967 promotional visit to Ponder.

If you still haven’t seen the film, you can check it out at the UNT Media Library (DVD 5866)and keep an eye open for locals. If you’re a super fan or local history enthusiast, you might consider attending Pilot Point’s “Bonnie and Clyde Days” on Saturday October 10, 2015.

Resources:

Bonnie-Clyde Celebration Termed Success Here (1967, September 21). Pilot Point Post-Signal. P. 1. Bonnie-less Clyde Makes First Southwestern Showing (1967, September 22). The Campus Chat, p. 1. Bonnie and Clyde Return to Crime Scene (1967, September 07). Pilot Point Post-Signal. P. 1. Bryan, P. (1967, September 22). Screen Returns Life to ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’ The Campus Chat. P. 1. DeCola (1967, September 14). Star Trio’s Words Take New Truth. Denton Record Chronicle. Pp.1-2. Denton Set to Host Film Premiere Sept. 13 (1967, August 18). The Campus Chat. P. 4. Mrs. Chatham Watches Movie Filming (1966, November 03). The Bellville Times. P. 12. Local Sees ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967, August 31). Pilot Point Post-Signal. P. 1. Location Shooting (1966, November 06). Witchita Falls Times – Features Magazine. P. 1. Pilot Point Filming Due (1966, November 07). Denton Record Chronicle. P. 1. Report on ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967, September 16). Pilot Point Post-Signal. P. 1. Rives, B. (1966, November 11). The Years Roll Back for Film. Denton Record Chronicle. P. 1-2. Shelton, K. (1967, September 14). Movie Left Its Viewers to Thoughts. Denton Record Chronicle. Pp. 1-2. They’re People! Film Stars Show a Personal Touch (1967, September 14). Denton Record Chronicle. P. 1. WBAP-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.). [News Clips: LBJ Library contract, Auditor warns of county deficit, Final rites for fallen Marine, Dr. Peale criticizes rioting, Denton premier for new picture], Video, September 13, 1967; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc701867/ : accessed September 11, 2015). Warner Bros. Shooting Café at Lavon for Bonnie and Clyde (1966, October 20). The Wylie News. P.1.

Posted by & filed under Movie Recommendations.

In yesterday’s post, we explored some films  that pay tribute to the worker and the working class experience. Today we lighten the mood with a selection of films and television programs available for checkout at the Media Library that celebrate the fun, the heartbreak, and the boredom of working.   

Office Space (1999) (DVD 1267)

This Mike Judge comedy was such an overwhelmingly obvious choice that I almost omitted it. I don’t even know where to begin as pretty much every scene in this movie about fed-up office workers and IT employees is memorable and quotable.  

Empire Records (1995) (DVD 12705)

“Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior…” A coming-of-age movie that led many to aspire to be underpaid record store employees, this cult classic takes place at an independent Delaware record store that is way cooler than anywhere I’ve worked. The store is populated by eccentric and very mid-90s characters who (in the course of one day) attempt to stop the store from being sold-out to a large chain. Enjoy some early performances from Ethan Embry, Liv Tyler, Robin Tunney, and Renee Zellweger.  

Clerks (1995) (DVD 1562)

I’m going to go ahead and say (against somewhat popular opinion) that I don’t actually like this movie. I’m sorry, I just don’t think it’s funny. That said, I do appreciate the depiction of the mundane and painfully boring parts of work. Also, other people like it.

 

The IT Crowd (2006-2013)

Cancelled much too soon, this is one of two British television comedies I find funny (see below for the second). Set in London at Reyhnholm Industries, the show revolves around 3 awkward and slightly inept IT staff members and their ridiculous upper management. Recommending Season 3 Episode 4, “The Speech,” wherein the guys convince Jen that the Internet is contained in a box.  

Working Girl (1988) (DVD 4731)

Come for the great 1980s fashion, stay for the highly problematic look at women in the workforce. Though this really is an unfortunate depiction of women and work, it has some entertainment value as a look back at 1980s “feminism” and fashion.  

The Office (2001-2003) (DVD 4083)

Although I’m not a fan of British television comedy (see above), The Office is certainly one of the finest television comedies produced in the US or the UK. On that note, I would like to heavily endorse the UK version over the comedically inferior US series. Although Steve Carrell plays the awkward and inept boss well, the ensemble is seriously lacking in comparison to its UK counterpart.  

Posted by & filed under Movie Recommendations.

Labor Day isn’t only an excuse to barbecue, procrastinate on homework, or seize your last opportunity to wear your best white ensemble. According to the U.S. Department Labor, it is a day “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers” and is a “yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”   As you prepare for your  three-day weekend, consider getting in the original spirit of the holiday by checking out some of these great movies about work and working.   

Harlan County USA (1976) (DVD 5828)

Directed by Barbara Koppel, this Oscar-winning feagure-length documentary follows the activities of coal miners and their families striking against the Brookside mine in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1973. This film was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991 and was voted one of the top 5 documentaries of all time by the International Documentary Association.  

Norma Rae (1979) (DVD 7973)

Starring Sally Field, this film depicts a factory worker who becomes involved in a labor union due to the poor health conditions at the factory where she works. The film was based on real-life union organizer Crystal Lee Sutton who was fired from her job at the J.P. Stevens textile plant in North Carolina for trying to organize a union. Her last action at the plant–depicted memorably in Norma Rae–was writing the word “UNION” on a piece of cardboard and standing on her work table, leading her coworkers to turn off their machines in solidarity before she was physically removed by police. Sally Fields won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this role and the film was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2011.   

Nine to Five (1980) (DVD 1001)

Although it’s a more light-hearted look at the plight of the worker, Nine to Five is one of my all-time favorite movies that also happens to feature two of my favorites– Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda. This film is a comedic look at how three working women get even with their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical” boss (played by Dabney Coleman) and manage to enact real, positive change in the workplace.  

How Green was My Valley? (1941) (DVD 181)

Winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Supporting Actor, this John Ford picture tells the story of the Morgan family, a Welsh mining family living in South Wales Valleys in the 19th century  

On the Waterfront (1954) (DVD 1319)

Let’s forget for a moment Elia Kazan’s association with the Hollywood Blacklist and his history of ‘naming names’ and appreciate this beautiful film. Focusing on dockworker Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) and his brother Charley (Rod Steiger), the film concerns union violence and corruption on the waterfront of New Jersey. The film won 8 academy awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director. It was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989.    

Modern Times (1936) (DVD 1967)

In this satirical comedy written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, the Little Tramp struggles against the modern industrialized world with hilarious results.  This film was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989.  

Blue Collar (1978) (DVD 2434)

Paul Schrader’s directorial debut starring Richard Pryor and Harvey Keittel concerns three Detroit auto workers who are motivated by financial troubles and dissatisfaction with both their management and union leadership to rob a safe at union headquarters.    

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers’ struggle (1997) (MV 9576) and The Wrath of Grapes (1986) (MV 1309)

Both documentaries focus on the struggles of farm workers and the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). The Fight in the Fields explores the history of the UFW and its founder Cesar Chavez and includes newsreel footage of the groundbreaking 1965 Delano grape boycott. The Wrath of Grapes is an UFW production and takes a closer look at the struggles of farmworkers in commercial grape orchards.  Notably, the UNT Special Collections Department holds the collection of Wrath producer, director, and activist Lorena Parlee.  

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Ever wondered how filmmakers make themselves stand out enough to survive the rush of other aspiring filmmakers?

 

Check out this article from No Film School discussing what makes the Coen Brothers stand out among the crowd (O Brother, Where Art Thou? ring a bell? Yeah, those guys.)

Here’s a list of the Coen movies in our media library seen in the article’s attached video!

  Coen Brothers Table

Posted by & filed under Movie Recommendations.

Exploring Paul Schrader’s Film Canon

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It is no longer possible for a young filmgoer to watch the history of film and make up his or her own mind: there are just too many movies. It’s barely possible to keep up with the yearly output of audiovisual entertainment on TV and in theaters, here and abroad. Like book readers, filmgoers must rely on the accumulated wisdom of film studies—which films have endured and why—a “wisdom” increasingly polluted by populist or academic criteria. What is needed, disingenuously enough, is a film canon.
We also need the library. Though students and movie lovers can now quickly and easily view movies online through services like Netflix and Hulu, there are actually fewer options available and the thrill of discovery just isn’t the same. Streaming services and Redbox may offer convenience, but they often exclude obscure and classic titles or provide them for only a limited period of time. Thankfully, the Media Library continues to provide access to a wide array of films and television programs. In this posting, we provide just one helpful resource for approaching movies–the abandoned film cannon written by acclaimed critic, writer, and director Paul Schrader. In a 2006 article for Film Comment magazine, “Canon Fodder,” (quoted above) Schrader describes how he came to start and and ultimately abandon the task of creating a film canon. Presented here are his top 20 (Gold films). All but one are available to check out and/or stream through the Media Library. Only two are currently available on Netflix streaming.
  1. The Rules of the Game (1939, Jean Renoir)
  2. Tokyo Story (1953, Yasujiro Ozu)
  3. City Lights (1931, Charles Chaplin)
  4. Pickpocket (1959, Robert Bresson)
  5. Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang)*
  6. Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
  7. Orphée (1950, Jean Cocteau)
  8. Masculin-Feminin (1966, Jean-Luc Godard)
  9. Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman)
  10. Vertigo (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)
  11. Sunrise (1927, F.W. Murnau)
  12. The Searchers (1956, John Ford)
  13. The Lady Eve (1941, Preston Sturges)
  14. The Conformist (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci)*
  15. 8 ½ (1963, Federico Fellini)
  16. The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
  17. In the Mood for Love (2000, Wong Kar-wai)
  18. The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)
  19. Performance (1970, Donald Cammell/Nicholas Roeg)**
  20. La Notte (1961, Michelangelo Antonioni)
*These titles are available on Netflix streaming. **This one title is not currently available through the UNT Media Library.    

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