Tag: movies

Edna Ferber & Showboat

Born in 1887 to Jewish parents in Kalamazoo, Mich., American novelist and playwright Edna Ferber was a hardworking, overly modest, frequently self-effacing writer who read the critics too carefully and was too easily wounded by their sloppily-aimed slings and arrows. Convinced, for instance, that no one would want to read her novel So Big, she advised…

Obit: Harry Rasky, Film Pioneer (2007)

Known for his award-winning cinematic portraits of such iconic artists as Marc Chagall, Tennessee Williams, Leonard Cohen, Henry Moore, Yousuf Karsh, Arthur Miller and George Bernard Shaw, Toronto-based documentary filmmaker Harry Rasky has died in Toronto at age 78. A co-founder of the news-documentary department of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Rasky made more than 50…

Bezmozgis directs ‘Victoria Day’

David Bezmozgis, celebrated author of the prize-winning book Natasha and Other Stories, was on skates in North York Centennial Arena recently, along with a camera crew and a group of teenaged actors in skates and hockey uniforms. All were involved in filming a scene from Victoria Day, a feature film that Bezmozgis is directing, based…

Colourful History of Warner Brothers

You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (Running Press) is an engaging, fully illustrated coffee-table book recounting the many cinematic milestones and many more B-films churned out by the Warner Brothers Studio, one of the major filmmaking factories of Hollywood’s golden era. One of the most significant films to emerge from the hallowed Warner…

Moonlight, Romance & Jewish Songwriters

“There may be trouble ahead,” begins Irving Berlin’s famed 1936 song, Let’s Face the Music and Dance, and if you are a fan of the classic American songbook and singers, you can easily hear Fred Astaire singing that line in your head. The song is remarkable, according to author David Lehman, because it puts all…

The ‘Dangerous’ Emma Goldman

In April 2001, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival screened a 42-minute documentary on Emma Goldman, the legendary American-Jewish anarchist and feminist who spent several periods of exile in Toronto. Coleman Romalis’s film Emma Goldman: The Anarchist Guest presented a refreshing and overdue account of Goldman’s productive years in Toronto. A recent book pays more attention…

Legendary Passion: Hellman & Hammett

From the moment Lillian Hellman met Dashiell Hammett in a Manhattan nightclub in 1930 until his death in 1961, she was “not only his best friend but also his only friend,” yet so thoroughly did she mythologize their relationship, and so widespread was her reputation for lying, that Gore Vidal once wickedly pondered: “Did anyone…

Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer

Louis B. Mayer, the Hollywood titan who built and ran Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as his personal fiefdom for three decades, was “probably the greatest single force in the development of the motion picture industry to the heights of prosperity and influence it finally attained,” according to Variety, the film industry Bible. To those who knew him, Mayer…

Gone but not forgotten: author Margaret Mitchell

Timorous and untested as an author, Margaret Mitchell persuaded herself during her seven-year literary labour that the manuscript she was working on was so terrible it would never be printed. Like a woman enceinte but too modest or superstitious to tell anyone, she kept the project a secret from friends and acquaintances. Only her husband…