Monday, September 21, 2020

Making an American Citizen

Making an American Citizen is a 1912 comedy short silent film directed by Alice Guy-Blaché.


from Wikipedia:
Alice Ida Antoinette Guy-Blaché (née Guy; July 1, 1873 – March 24, 1968) was a French pioneer filmmaker, active from the late 19th century, and one of the first to make a narrative fiction film. She was the first woman to direct a film. From 1896 to 1906, she was probably the only female filmmaker in the world. ...

Guy-Blaché was an early influence on both Alfred Hitchcock and Sergei Eisenstein. ...

Guy-Blaché almost died from the Spanish flu pandemic in October 1919 while filming her final film Tarnished Reputations. Following her illness, she joined [husband] Herbert in Hollywood in 1919 but they lived separately. She worked as Herbert's directing assistant on his two films starring Alla Nazimova. Guy-Blaché directed her last film in 1919. In 1921, she was forced to auction her film studio and other possessions in bankruptcy. Alice and Herbert were officially divorced in 1922. She returned to France in 1922 and never made a film again. ...

Guy-Blaché never remarried, and in 1964 she returned to the United States to live in Wayne, New Jersey, with her only daughter, Simone. On March 24, 1968, at the age of 94, Guy-Blaché died in a nursing home.
from the Women Film Pioneers Project:
From 1896 to 1906 Alice Guy was probably the only woman film director in the world. She had begun as a secretary for Léon Gaumont and made her first film in 1896. After that first film, she directed and produced or supervised almost six hundred silent films ranging in length from one minute to thirty minutes...

Her Gaumont silent films are notable for their energy and risk-taking...

Variety has an overview of her career and says,
Alice Guy-Blaché was the first woman to direct a film. She helmed or produced over 1,000 movies, in addition to writing, editing and set decorating many of them. Guy-Blaché also cast interracial actors long before Hollywood ever did. ...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A Trace of Memory

A Trace of Memory is a science fiction novel by Keith Laumer. It is a science fiction adventure story and great fun to read. from the back of the book: 

Help wanted: Soldier of fortune seeks companion 
in arms to share unusual adventure. Foster, Box 19.
Legion was desperate -but not that desperate. Even petty larceny seemed preferable to that kind of proposal. But fate stepped in, and now he is on the run, pursued by cops, the CIA and a few not-so-friendly acquaintances of Foster. And Foster has lost his memory -not to mention about thirty years of his age! The key to Legion's dilemma, and to Foster's forgotten past, is in a row of metal cylinders aboard a spaceship that has been orbiting Earth for thousands of years. And Legion's troubles have really only begun...
You can read it online here. It begins,
He awoke and lay for a moment looking up at a low ceiling, dimly visible in a faint red glow, feeling the hard mat under his back. He turned his head, saw a wall and a panel on which a red indicator light glared. 
He swung his legs over the side of the narrow couch and sat up. The room was small, grey-painted, unadorned. Pain throbbed in his forearm. He shook back the loose sleeve of the strange purple garment, saw a pattern of tiny punctures in the skin. He recognized the mark of a feeding Hunter.... Who would have dared? 
A dark shape on the floor caught his eye. He slid from the couch, knelt by the still body of a man in a purple tunic stained black with blood. Gently he rolled the body onto its back. 
He seized the limp wrist. There was a faint pulse. He rose—and saw a second body and, near the door, two more. Quickly he went to each.... 
All three were dead, hideously slashed. Only Ammaerln still breathed, faintly. 
He went to the door, shouted into the darkness. The ranged shelves of a library gave back a brief echo. He turned back to the grey-walled room, noticed a recording monitor against a wall. He fitted the neurodes to the dying man's temples. But for this gesture of recording Ammaerln's life's memories, there was nothing he could do. He must get him to a therapist—and quickly. 
He crossed the library, found a great echoing hall beyond. This was not the Sapphire Palace beside the Shallow Sea. The lines were unmistakeable: he was aboard a ship, a far-voyager. Why? How? He stood uncertain. The silence was absolute. 
He crossed the Great Hall and entered the observation lounge. Here lay another dead man, by his uniform a member of the crew. He touched a knob and the great screens glowed blue. A giant crescent swam into focus, locked; soft blue against the black of space. Beyond it a smaller companion hung, gray-blotched, airless. What worlds were these?


An hour later he had ranged the vast ship from end to end. In all, seven corpses, cruelly slashed, peopled the silent vessel. In the control sector the communicator lights glowed, but to his call there was no answer from the strange world below. 
He turned to the recording room. Ammaerln still breathed weakly. The memory recording had been completed; all that the dying man remembered of his long life was imprinted now in the silver cylinder. It remained only to color-code the trace. 
His eyes was caught by a small cylinder projecting from the aperture at the side of the high couch where he had awakened his own memory-trace! So he himself had undergone the Change. He took the color-banded cylinder, thrust it into a pocket—then whirled at a sound. A nest of Hunters, swarming globes of pale light, clustered at the door. Then they were on him. They pressed close, humming in their eagerness. Without the proper weapon he was helpless. 
He caught up the limp body of Ammaerln. With the Hunters trailing in a luminous stream he ran with his burden to the shuttle-boat bay. 
Three shuttles lay in their cradles. He groped to a switch, his head swimming with the sulphurous reek of the Hunters; light flooded the bay, driving them back. He entered the lifeboat, placed the dying man on a cushioned couch. 
It had been long since he had manned the controls of a ship, but he had not forgotten. 
Ammaerln was dead when the lifeboat reached the planetary surface. The vessel settled gently and the lock cycled. He looked out at a vista of ragged forest. 
This was no civilized world. Only the landing ring and the clearing around it showed the presence of man. 
There was a hollow in the earth by a square marker block at the eastern perimeter of the clearing. He hoisted the body of Ammaerln to his back and moved heavily down the access ladder. Working bare-handed, he deepened the hollow, placed the body in it, scraped earth over it. Then he rose and turned back toward the shuttle boat. 
Forty feet away, a dozen men, squat, bearded, wrapped in the shaggy hides of beasts, stood between him and the access ladder. The tallest among them shouted, raised a bronze sword threateningly. Behind these, others clustered at the ladder. Motionless he watched as one scrambled up, reached the top, disappeared into the boat. In a moment the savage reappeared at the opening and hurled down handfuls of small bright objects. Shouting, others clambered up to share the loot. The first man again vanished within the boat. Before the foremost of the others had gained the entry, the port closed, shutting off a terrified cry from within. 
Men dropped from the ladder as it swung up. The boat rose slowly, angling toward the west, dwindling. The savages shrank back, awed. 
The man watched until the tiny blue light was lost against the sky. ...

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Black Pirate

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearties! I'll be throwing out pirate jargon and watching a pirate movie to celebrate. If you've already seen this one, or if you're in the mood for a double feature or even a marathon, there's a list of pirate movies I've written blog posts on in the past at the bottom of the post.

The Black Pirate is a 1926 silent adventure film starring Douglas Fairbanks.

More pirate movies:

Peter Pan (1924)
Old Ironsides (1926)

Treasure Island (1934)
Captain Blood (1935)
Captain Kidd (1935)
Captain Calamity (1936)

The Sea Hawk (1940)

Sandokan: Pirate of Malaysia (1964)

Pirates of Penzance (1983)

Porco Rosso (1992)

Captain Phillips (2013)
Dark Waves (2015)

and of course, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Bees that Disappeared

The Bees that Disappeared is a short story by Keiichiro Hirano. You can read it online here. It begins:
For a time after the Cold War ended and Japan’s bubble economy collapsed, I used to rent a house in a small middle-of-nowhere village on the Sea of Japan in southwest Honshu. After all the amalgamations and shake-ups of local government in recent years, the place doesn’t even have the same name any more, and most people I mention it to have never heard of it. But every now and then I’ll meet someone who knows the area, and they’re always amazed to hear that I’ve spent time in such an out-of-the-way place. They’ll give me a look that says, Why? 
I don’t want to go into too much detail about it, but at the time I needed to get away from the big city for the sake of my health. Someone I knew from that part of the country told me about a house he thought would be ideal for an artistic type like me looking to kick back and recuperate in the countryside. Get back to nature and give your mind a rest, was how he put it. At first I went for quick getaways once a month or so. But my visits grew longer and more frequent, and soon I was staying for three months at a stretch. It was a real rural idyll: ...
The story was recommended here on Mae's Food Blog.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides is a 1926 silent film about the fight against piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. It stars Wallace Beery. Boris Karloff plays a Saracen guard. Gary Cooper is an uncredited seaman.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Expanse 42

This 42 is in the command center at Tycho Station in Season 2, Episode 8 of the science fiction television series The Expanse. The title of this episode is Pyre.

The quality of my screenshot isn't good, but the 42 is on the far right in the center.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Siren of the Tropics

Siren of the Tropics is a 1927 film, the first film of Josephine Baker. I first read about this film here at A Cinema History, where there's a plot description and some screen shots. This is a fascinating film.

You can watch it online at this link or below:

Wikipedia says, "Following the film's premiere in December 1927 in Stockholm, it received almost unanimously positive reviews from film critics."

Please join me at the T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. I'll be having a cup of spice tea (an instant mix I make every year from a recipe that was called Russian tea). My recipe is here.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Vampire of the Opera

The Vampire of the Opera is a 1964 Italian horror film. A dance company rents a theater in spite of the warnings of the long-time caretaker. The scantily clad dancers frolic and laugh and scream. The choreography and music are interesting. It's not the usual interpretation of the vampire myth.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Tongues of the Moon

Tongues of the Moon is a science fiction novel by Philip Jose Farmer. It's dated, including political entities like the Soviet Union, for example, that no longer exist. If you like action this book would be a fine choice. 

from the back of the book:
in a blaze of tiny lights -each one the funeral pyre of a great city. 
The watchers on the Moon saw their planet die -and with it all but a few of the human race. 
There were a few hundred on the Moon -a few thousand on Mars. And each group was in the clutch of a war-mad dictator!