Category Archives: Film
From the official Cinefantastique website:
“During a decade when many mainstream critics were dismissing THE EXORICST as sadistic pornography, and when Forest J Ackerman was filling Famous Monsters with puny puns (e.g., “A Clockwork Lemon,” referring to a malfunctioning robot in FUTURE WORLD), publisher-editor Frederick S. Clarke created a little magazine with a big ambition: to cover the genre better than anybody, and to do it with all the seriousness of Cashier du Cinema, American Film, or Film Comment.”
For anyone fascinated by sci-fi, fantasty, or horror films riding on big dreams and a tiny budget, Cinefantastique is a goldmine. The writers do not simply dismiss their subjects as many critics are apt to do with genre films, nor do they shower their subjects with praise as in a fanzine. Cinefantastique was composed with both the genuine passion of a devoted fan and the thoughtful insight of a critic, resulting in an engaging editorial. Interviews, critiques, and in-depth explorations of special effects and prosthesis are complimented by film stills and behind-the-scenes shots on every page. There are also fantastic full-color spreads throughout, framed by well-designed layouts and text. Feature articles are prodigiously in-depth and as such have left behind invaluable sources for research and admiration relating to dozens of seminal genre films. There are very few advertisements and most are beautifully painted film posters regardless, making the magazine all the more enjoyable to read.
In 2000, Frederick Clarke, publisher since 1970, committed suicide. Mindfire Entertainment bought the magazine, renamed it “CFQ” and entirely remodeled its approach and aesthetic in an attempt to meet the demands of today’s consumer. In 2006 the last issue of CFQ was printed, and has been exclusively published online ever since.
In the periodicals section you will find 15 volumes of Cinefantastique beginning with the 4th volume, published in 1975, up until the final 2006 issue.
The picture collection has thousands of magazine covers, hundreds of which, sprinkled throughout the decades, are Film Magazine covers. 1970-1979 seems to have more than others, which is why I decided to give Film Magazines its own post for the 70’s. The 70’s is my favorite decade for cinema. What is yours?
Sometimes understatement and subtlety can backfire, especially when it is used for something as permanently identifying as a periodical’s title. Apparently referring to the word ‘film,’ V.F. Perkins wrote in a tribute to Ian Cameron (Cameron was the founder, designer and editor of Movie and Perkins an associate editor) that “the vulgar Americanism of the word gave it shock value and a pronounced identity.” Maybe that was true in 1960’s Oxford, England, but these days it’s just a really generic name that easily gets lost in our vast information shuffle. But it shouldn’t. Movie is a wonderful film magazine that took its cue and influence from the French Cahiers du cinéma.
For Movie, criticism stems from, and is the logical conclusion of, the fanaticism that the writers and editors share for film. They write about movies and directors that they are really passionate about. They have a pluralistic philosophy when it comes to criticism. Much of the motivation for starting the magazine was the disenchantment they felt for established film criticism, which they felt tried to insinuate that there is one official stance when it comes to films and filmmakers. In the opening editorial of issue #1 (June 1962) they proclaimed “there is no point in replacing one cult with another. Instead we would like films to be the subject of enthusiastic argument in which our approach would only be one of many.” Despite all this, Movie had some very specific ideas about what is good and what is less so, as demonstrated in this histogram (also from issue #1):
As you can see it’s a list of directors, not writers, actors, producers, or cinematographers. Movie was interested (in the least) with the Auteur Theory of film criticism. First written about in a 1954 article by Francois Truffaut in Cahiers du cinéma, the Auteur Theory asserts that the director is (or should be) considered the author of a film. There is a nice little history of the theory by Donald E. Staples in Cinema Journal, Vol. 6, (1966 – 1967), pp. 1-7 (which you can access through JSTOR).
You can find Movie in our back periodical stacks (dial M for Movie). Over it’s history the publication frequency was erratic, punctuated by frequent hiatuses, but they persisted for 29 years. We have 28 years: no.1(1962:June)-no.34/35(1990:Winter) (I believe they ceased publication with no.36 in 1991). If you take some time to read the densely packed, but artfully designed issues, you will find in-depth interviews with a vast array of filmmakers, and gobs of writing on closely analyzed moving images captured on celluloid. Ian Cameron was a well respected film critic, who apart from having this lovely mag as his periodic child, also wrote many books on film and helped England catch up with the (at the time) more cutting edge France and even the USA. It is a rich addition to our periodical collection. I’ll leave you with a couple more images from the magazine:
The Visual Arts Library recently acquired most of the dope:
Film Dope no.7(1975:Apr.)-no.50(1994:Apr.) We are missing the first 6 issues, and I believe no.50 is the last issue (I know it ceased some time in 1994). This is a British publication, the obsessively fussed over, though sometimes neglected love-child of David Badder & Bob Baker (Markku Salmi is credited as a co-editor on issue 7, but not after).
What is the Dope? Each issue of Film Dope provides information on 30 to 40 directors, actors, cinematographers, and writers. An exhaustive list of credits (mostly film and television, but also commercials) is given for each person that they profile. Now, if that is all that Film Dope provided, I would have not felt that it needed to take up precious space on our periodical shelves (even though they are beautifully bound, have great front and back covers, and a goodly number of production stills).
If credits were all that Film Dope offered, IMDB and Wikipedia would have rendered this fine publication obsolete. What keeps this publication relevant, endearing, and worth having around are its format, its subjectivity, and its rich collection of primary sources of information.
Issue 7 (April 1975) includes the following entries: Paddy Chayefsky, Nikolai Cherkasov, Maurica Chevalier, Marvin Chomsky, Montgomery Clift, Sean Connery and 33 others. Issue 50 (April 1994) includes the following entries: Al Pacino, Jack Palance, Dorothy Parker, Robert Parrish, Charles Parrott, Christine Pascal. The twenty years between those two issues chronicled people with last names that started with D to O. Sadly, they would never make it to R-Z, but what we are left with is a periodical that over the span of twenty years morphed into an encyclopedia. During that time they went from thanking the British Film Institute staff for “their patience and assistance” to thanking them “for [their] continuing financial assistance.” Obviously they were creating something of apparent value.
David Badder & Bob Baker were two very dedicated, knowledgeable, and intelligent chaps, and it is their input and discretion that gave a value-added aspect beyond free online sources before they even existed. Many of the issues include an editorial (which normally offers some apology for how long its been between issues). But their real editorial influence is both in the amount of time they chose to give to each subject and the very personal opinions that they have of almost everyone chronicled. Normally, out of the 30 or so people featured, a handful have a more extensive narrative biography, along with an interview, reprinted correspondence and/or reflections from peers. These are the primary sources of information I was touting earlier. Some of the interviews, such as with the director Louis Daquin, go on for ten dense pages. Other entries are little more than the credits, but more often than not include some sort of anecdotal information and very personal, though meaningful opinions, such as Bob Baker’s of Julie Christie:
After lauding and defending Julie Christie, the ever honest film critic/hound is forced to admit, “I can’t ever imagine her moving me very deeply. I am at a loss to account for this and hope to be proved wrong very soon.” It’s informative but deeply subjective and gives a contemporaneous context of critical reception and in this case emotional barometer.
The people that made it to these issues, though impressive in scope, are obviously not exhaustive of everyone that worked in the motion pictures in England and the USA up to that point. But the fact that it is limited and now static, lends the publication a curatorial quality. The scope is, however, quite large (say, maybe 1200 people in our 43 issues) and full of variety (from Bob Clampett to Boris Karloff). Film Dope is a marvel and a joy, not to mention a rich, important resource for film research.