A little more than a week ago, I came across a blog by Jennifer Garlen, Virtual Virago, subtitled “Classic movies, literature, and popular culture - welcome to my world!” I couldn’t help seeing a large number of similarities between Garlen and myself. She writes a blog about film, she has a PhD in English, she taught college English and literature for fourteen years at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and she continues to teach while homeschooling her kid (I haven’t asked her about all of this, I’m just taking the info from her G+ page).
A sampling of her recent blog posts gives a sense of what interests her: Two Smart People with Lucille Ball, Key Largo with Bogart and Bacall, Wee Willie Winkie with Shirley Temple, Love Me or Leave Me with Doris Day and James Cagney, and the Warner Brothers’ all-star extravaganza, Hollywood Canteen.
Another recent post rang some familiar chimes for many of us who write blogs about movies. In “Confessions of a Classic Movie Blogger”, she lets us in on a few secrets. “I start every movie hoping I'll really like it.” “I love genre films, even cheesy ones.” “In my other life, I was an English professor.” And perhaps my favorite, “I love what I do!”
It turns out Garlen has also written a book, Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching. In a G+ exchange about the book, I told her, “the first entry that I looked up was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Second was The Passion of Joan of Arc.” And I added, “What I found impressive was that you had something interesting to say about A&C Meet Frankenstein…. you made a couple of connections I hadn't thought of ... that Scooby-Doo comes from the same place, and that Lon Chaney, Jr. doesn't seem to be in on the joke.” One of her “confessions” in the above blog post was, ”I keep David Thomson's Have You Seen...? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films next to my bed at all times.” Beyond Casablanca includes only 10% as many films, but it’s another one to keep by your bedside. (Among the movies she discusses are personal faves like The Girl Can’t Help It, Rio Bravo, Night of the Hunter, and Top Hat.) She also includes with each film a list of other movies you might like in the same vein.
The seventh item on her list of confessions reads, “I wish I knew how to promote my classic movie guide and blog without being a pain about it.” I don’t mind being a pain. I recommend both book and blog, and look forward to a lot of reading.