Robert J. Avrech

Latest News

How Judeo-Christian Values Elevated Sturges' 'The Great McGinty'

How Judeo-Christian Values Elevated Sturges' 'The Great McGinty'

“The Great McGinty” (1940) charts the rise and fall of a Depression-era hobo to mayor of a city, then Governor, and finally exile in a banana republic. Though a satire, Preston Sturges, certainly the greatest writer-director in Hollywood history, was

Three Unflinching Films on Terrorism

Three Unflinching Films on Terrorism

Faye Dunaway once told me that to play a role she had to commit to the character with all her heart and soul. She needed, she explained, to love the character. In terms of performance this means the actor has

In Memoriam: Silent Film Star Barbara Kent, 103

Barbara Kent, December 16, 1907 – October 13, 2011 Barbara Kent: “I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but being an actress was not it.” —The Sound of Silence, by Michael Ankerich. Barbara Kent, b.

Brigitte Bardot's Terrible, Horrible, Humiliating First Date

On May 2, 1949, Elle, France’s most popular women’s magazine, featured a cover photo of a fifteen year old model identified only as “BB.” Among the thousands of people who saw the photo of Brigitte Bardot was aspiring film director

'Ben Hur': 'L.A. Times' Denial of Jewish and Movie History

The Los Angeles Times is, like the NY Times, a reliably anti-Israel newspaper whose liberal/progressive/leftist slant often veers into support for the Jew-hatred that is the foundation of Palestinian terror. Even their entertainment articles frequently marinate in a radical ideology

Joan Fontaine's Not So Hollywood Wedding Night

In 1939, Joan Fontaine, twenty-one years old, was slowly making her way up the Hollywood ladder. MGM signed Fontaine to play a small part in the high profile production The Women, directed by George Cukor, starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford,

Classic Hollywood on Wheels: I Drive Therefore I am… Free

Automobiles represent freedom. Try and remember when you were a teenager yearning for your driver’s license so you could hop into daddy’s car and go, go, go. It didn’t matter where, you just wanted to burn rubber and escape into

Not So Hollywood Wedding Night: Ava Gardner and Mickey Rooney

Hollywood, during its Golden Age, was a dream machine spinning images of adventure, glamour, and most of all, romance. MGM’s roster of female stars constituted the greatest collection of beautiful and talented women the world has ever known. One of

America, the Melting Pot: Jewish-Catholic Short Film to Cleanse the Palate

Here’s “The Tailor,” an adorable short from the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, written, directed and edited by Gordon Grinberg. “The Tailor” 2011Jewish Film Festival Entry Vidéo funnytoo sélectionnée dans Cinéma Don’t want to say too much except to note

Michele Bachmann: The Hated Jew

When Sarah Palin burst upon the national scene and the liberal media attempted to destroy her, it occurred to me that this honest and decent woman was being transformed into a hated Jew. No matter what she said, no matter

'Girl with Green Eyes': 47 Years Later

Turner Classic Movies allows yours truly to catch up on movies never seen and movies viewed so long ago that memory has left muddled, imprecise impressions. In 1964, age 14, I shlepped from Brooklyn into Manhattan to see the British

Easter Parade

When I was a child growing up during the 50’s and 60’s, there really was an Easter parade up and down the streets of my beloved Brooklyn neighborhood. Off to church went our Christian neighbors, the working class men tugging

Working With Sidney Lumet: Not a False Note

It was my great honor to have Sidney Lumet as the director of my screenplay, A Stranger Among Us, 1992, starring Melanie Griffith, Eric Thal, and Mia Sara. Working with Sidney was a master class in making movies. I learned

Tribute: Bernard Schwartz AKA Tony Curtis, 1925-2010

No matter how famous he became, no matter how much money he earned, Tony Curtis was always Bernard Schwartz, an insecure and damaged Jewish kid from the Bronx. As the son of Hungarian-Jewish immigrants, Curtis didn’t speak English until he

'South Park': Hollywood Does Dhimmitude

Dhimmitude: an attitude of concession, surrender and appeasement towards Islamic demands. South Park, equal opportunity satirists, have finally met their match. No, not the Islamist barbarians who have issued an indirect fatwa against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt

Deanna Durbin and the Holocaust

There was a time when Hollywood and Hollywood stars represented hope and freedom. Universal’s top star in the 1940s was Deanna Durbin (b.1921 – ) who starred in a series of hugely popular and successful light musical comedies. Durbin, a

Big Hollywood Visits Hillsdale College: The Films of 1939, Part IV

Just a few steps outside my room at Hillsdale’s Dow Hotel & Leadership Center hangs this wonderful portrait of George Washington. Hillsdale Feels a Lot Like Yeshiva Growing up in Brooklyn, I attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush, an Orthodox elementary

Big Hollywood Visits Hillsdale College: The Films of 1939, Part II

The imposing but elegant Central Hall houses the administrative offices of Hillsdale College. I know it looks like classic MGM, but it’s actually Second Empire architectural style. UPDATE: The location of the Winston Churchill statue has been corrected. No tattoos.

Big Hollywood Visits Hillsdale College: The Films of 1939

I’m in Michigan, on assignment for Big Hollywood, to cover a four-day film festival presented by The Center for Constructive Alternatives at Hillsdale College. For the next few days I will screen some landmark films from, arguably, Hollywood’s greatest year,

Hollywood's Great Latin Lover vs. Hollywood's Great Jewish Mother

The great pioneering director D.W. Griffith hired Rabbi Isadore Myers as the Jewish technical consultant on his great epic, Intolerance, 1916. Griffith was so happy with Rabbi Myer’s expert advice and attention to detail that he said to the good

TCM's Shadows of Russia: We Are All Comrades

“Comrade Karen?” My wife gazes at me, and she’s like, “Huh?” “Since I’m watching all these Russian themed movies I feel the need to get in character.” “Robert…” “Comrade Robert, if you please.” My poor wife heaves a weary sigh.

Turner Classic Movies Presents: Shadows of Russia

This month TCM is running a fascinating series, Shadows of Russia, a history of Russia and the Soviet Union as seen through Hollywood’s lens. If you care about movies and politics, you should check out these movies. The idea for

The Ten Best Movies (I Screened) in 2009, Part II

Continuing from last week, here’s my list of the Ten Best Classic Hollywood Movies I screened during the past year. I realize that this list seems a bit, er, obscure and maybe even esoteric, but in truth, every film is

The Ten Best Movies (I Screened) in 2009: Part I

Here’s my annual list of the Ten Best Movies I Screened in 2009. I did not see more than a handful of contemporary releases that came close to the smart pacing, narrative sophistication and honest passion of these older films.

Brittany Murphy: To Remember

In 1999, a few weeks before The Devil’s Arithmetic went into production, I met with stars Kirsten Dunst, Brittany Murphy, and Mimi Rogers in Dustin Hoffman’s Brentwood office. Dustin and Mimi had rescued my script from development hell–a seven year

Authentically Gish, Garbo, Tiger, Obama, and Uh-Huh, Palin

Lilian Gish, Broken Blossoms, 1919, a genuine Hollywood star. Americans admire excellence and authenticity. The rise of the Hollywood movie star was built on powerful performances that projected the idea of authentic emotions. Film audiences experienced a magical connection–often, deeply

Lupe Velez: When Shame, Abortion and Suicide Collide

Lupe Velez, The Mexican Spitfire. The lives of Hollywood stars are frequently tragic and messy tales of absent fathers, cruelly ambitious mothers, and madly dysfunctional families. Mexican-American actress, Lupe Velez (July 18, 1908 – December 13, 1944) “The Mexican Spitfire”