The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

“13 Barrier-Breaking Women of Early Cinema and Old Hollywood”

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Friend of the Gutter, Nitrate Diva writes about 13 women who helped shape cinema. “Hollywood is, in many ways, a more male-dominated environment today than it was 90 or so years ago. Scary, huh? In order to perpetuate a culture where more women make movies now, we need to recognize the women who made movies in […]

“(The Printing of) the Legend of Frances Farmer”

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“When she didn’t get an answer, Frances starting throwing punches.” You Must Remember This podcast looks at the life and legend of actor Frances Farmer.

“Super City: New York and the History of Comic Books”

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The Bowery Boys Podcast dedicates an episode to New York City in the history of comic books. “In the 1890s a newspaper rivalry between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer helped bring about the birth of the comic strip and, a few decades later, the comic book.  Today, comic book superheroes are bigger than ever — […]

“Elisabeth Luytens: Horror Queen of Composers”

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At Movie Morlocks, Kimberly Lindbergs writes about composer Elisabeth Luytens on the 106th anniversary of Luytens’ birth. “Much of Lutyens music, particularly later in life, is rather dark, jarring and cinematic. Her background in Theosophy and Eastern mysticism is apparent in the otherworldly atmosphere conjured up by her film scores and is also evident in […]

Later is when we have less time

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Impatience is a trait that can be irritating, both in other people and oneself, and often results in disaster. In one of my previous articles, Don’t Be That Guy, I used the term “incapacitatingly impatient” to describe all the crazy things people do because they can’t bring themselves to wait long enough to make a […]

Interview with Jim Jarmusch

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At Soundcheck, John Schaefer talks with Jim Jarmusch about “making music for someone else’s films, and a penchant for walking the tightrope between narrative and abstract art in his own movies. And if you thought his C.V. was looking a little thin, Jarmusch is also working on an upcoming opera about the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, with Robert Wilson and composer […]

A Collection of Calaveras

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The Library of Congress has scans of José Guadalupe Posada broadsheet illustrations, including many calaveras for your enjoyment!

“Stuff You Missed In History Class: Bela Lugosi”

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The “Stuff You Missed In History Class” podcast discusses the life of Bela Lugosi in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2.

Suffragettes, Amazons and Wonder Woman

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At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman […]

Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson

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A BBC documentary on the life and work of writer and artist Tove Jansson, best known for her Moomin books. (via Kate Laity)

RIP, Eli Wallach

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Actor Eli Wallach has died. He appeared in many, many films and television shows including The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Godfather: Part III (1990), New York, I Love You (2008), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) and Baby Doll (1956). He played Mr. Freeze in the 1960s […]

RIP, Carla Laemmle

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Actor and dancer Carla Laemmle has died. She appeared in The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Dracula (1931) and The Broadway Melody (1929). Laemmle returned to film with The Vampire Hunters Club (2001).  The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. Here Laemmle is interviewed by her niece. And […]

RIP, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

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Actor, producer and musician Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. has died. Zimbalist starred in the tv series FBI and 77 Sunset Strip. He had roles in Airport 1975 (1974) and Wait Until Dark  (1967). He had recurring roles in Remington Steele and Babylyon 5.  Zimbalist was the voice of Alfred in the Batman, Static Shock,  Justice League […]

Blurry Images Coming Clear: Hong Kong Cinema, Censorship and Me

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Every April, we like to switch things up at the Gutter, with the editors writing about something outside their domains. This week, Comics Editor Carol writes about subtitles, censorship and Hong Kong cinema. I don’t remember the first kung fu movie I ever watched. I am terrible at remembering “firsts.”  But I do remember the […]

“On The Trail Of The Golem”

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The Gutter’s own Keith tracks the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem–with some dips into alchemy and art–through Prague.  “So how did Rabbi Loew’s name become associated with the legend of the golem? Well, it’s no surprise, really, given how much weird, wizardy stuff is already attributed to him. It seems more or less […]

Theater as Seance

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“In 1911, the famed American medium Anna Eva Fay held a public seance at the London Coliseum, inviting audience members to ask questions that she would answer by channelling the dead. Seated in the auditorium was Violet Coward, whose beloved 11-year-old son, Noël, had just begun his stage career after Violet spotted an advert in the […]

“Will Eisner, A Professional Cartoonist”

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Settle in for a a master class on Will Eisner with comic creators, including Art Spiegelman” “[Eisner was] kinda cannibalizing all other visual metaphors and forms  to make his own comic book story. This certainly was a very strong theme for me.” (Find out more about the documentary and the companion book here. (Site in […]

The 39 Steps

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“Alfred Hitchcock’s original 1935 version of The 39 Steps is one of those films that’s so seminal that when watched today it can seem like little more than a parade of hoary old clichés; that is, until you consider that The 39 Steps is where many of those clichés originated.” Friend of the Gutter Todd […]

RIP, Hiroo Onoda

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Hiroo Onoda has died. Onoda was the last soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army to surrender, after hiding in the Philippines forest until 1974. Asia News and The New York Times have obituaries.

A Treasury of African-American Films Made For African-American Audiences

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The Riverbends Genealogical and Historical Society has a collection of “race movies”: “The ‘race movie’ or ‘race film’ was a film genre which existed in the United States between about 1915 and 1950. It consisted of films produced for an all-black audience, featuring black casts. In all, approximately five hundred race films were produced. Of […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Thirteen Covers celebrates Walt Simonson’s birthday with… 13 covers, including Beta Ray Bill, Fin Fang Foom and Frog Thor!

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    Rob and Mike watch Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934) at The Projection Booth. “The first big American studio film — and last big American studio film – directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, The Black Cat is, uh, ‘inspired’ by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in a taut game of life and death.”

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    Gentleman’s Gazette has a piece on the sartorial splendor of Hercule Poirot and of Captain Hastings in the BBC television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries.

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    At Pitchfork, Barry Walters writes about Grace Jones. “One night in 1993, I finally got my chance to see Jones perform at a local gay nightclub and took my friend Brian, whose partner Mark was too sick to join us….She didn’t back away from the elephant in the room: She dedicated one song to artist and AIDS casualty Keith Haring, who had used her body for a canvas on the occasion of her legendary 1985 Paradise Garage performance. That night’s show was remarkable for the simple fact that Jones just kept on going, granting one encore request after another, waiting patiently while the sound man scoured backing tapes to find the fans’ offbeat choices. When Jones got to such minor numbers as ‘Crush,’ it became clear that she didn’t want to leave. She was giving as much of herself as she could to the beleaguered troops, knowing full well that many wouldn’t live long enough to see her again.”

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    At Pornokitsch, The Gutter’s own dame with a shady past Carol writes about five films noir.  “Do you want to watch some film noir? I hope so, because I have five films to suggest. Films about dames gone wrong, poor doomed saps, murders, sex and modern knights errant.”

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    At The Alcohol Professor, The Gutter’s own Keith writes about Billie Holiday in a fantastic two-part piece. Part one traces “the history of Billie Holiday and NYC nightlife through the Harlem Renaissance to Café Society.” Part two covers “Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and the jazz scene in New York City clubs of a bygone era.”

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