August 11, 2020

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Many thanks to Paul Batters at the Silver Screen Classics blog for recognizing Films From Beyond with a Sunshine Blogger nomination. The award is a great, communal way to raise awareness of and appreciation for the labors of love out there that keep classic (and in my case, not-so-classic) movies alive and appreciated in what often seems like a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Banner - Sunshine Blogger Award

I first interacted with Paul via a blogathon he co-hosted in April 2020, Classic Literature on Film; go check it out, there’s a cornucopia of fascinating posts there. It was the first blogathon I’d participated in in several years, and I was happy to get out of my solitary bubble and participate in some team blogging for a change.

Since reviving Films From Beyond in October 2018 (after a two year hiatus), I’ve been steadily increasing my involvement with fellow film bloggers, but I suspect my interactions are still paltry in comparison with very involved people like Paul.

The Award guidelines encourage recipients to pass along the sunshine by recognizing up to 11 of their worthy nominees and in turn asking them 11 questions. Since several people I’d like to recognize have already received the award recently, I won’t ask them to repeat -- but I’d still like to give them a shout out (see below).

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate up to eleven bloggers.
  4. Create eleven new questions for your nominees to answer.

Now, to dive into Paul’s questions:

What British or International film would you recommend to a friend who has never seen one?

Many years ago I saw a screening of Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman’s The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962; now part of a new Criterion set), and was blown away by it. Zeman had an uncanny ability to make live action film look like fantastic, colorful illustrations brought to life. It’s hard to imagine even the coldest stone heart not melting, at least a little bit, at seeing this unique fantasy.
Still from The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962)
A film "painting" from The Fabulous Baron Munchausen.

 Which classic film director do you prefer and what is your favorite of their films?

Anthony Mann did it all, from B noirs like T-Men and Side Street to sumptuous epics (El Cid, Fall of the Roman Empire). Along the way he directed some of the greatest westerns of all time starring Jimmy Stewart -- Winchester ‘73, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur. My favorite, however, stars Gary Cooper in one of his last roles. Man of the West (1958) is a western re-telling of Orpheus’ descent into Hades (sort of).

Gary Cooper in Man of the West (1958)
Gary Cooper delivered one his great performances
in the twilight of his career.

Which character actor or actress do you think would have made a great lead?

Wallace Ford seemed to be in half or more of the B movies made in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Like my other favorite character actor Dick Miller, Ford was always good for a smile or a chuckle with his characters' bravado and wisecracks masking their urge to turn and run. I would have loved to see Ford do a lead turn as a classic film-noir P.I. like Philip Marlowe. One thing I like about noir is that the protagonists have feet of clay and mess up quite a lot. Ford’s shaky bravado combined with the hard-boiled wisecracks and questionable judgment would have made for an interesting and enjoyable hero.

Publicity still, Wallace Ford
Wallace Ford cleaned up quite nicely from time to time.

What child actor do you believe should have had success as an adult but didn’t?

I recently saw Our Vines Have Tender Grapes with Edward G. Robinson and Margaret O’Brien, about the lives of Norwegian immigrants in 1940s Wisconsin. Jackie “Butch” Jenkins was so natural and believable as O’Brien’s neighbor friend, I looked him up. He made a few more films and then he was done at the age of 10 or 11.

Jackie Jenkins and Margaret O'Brien in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945)
"Butch" Jenkins was an uncommonly good child supporting actor.

What film do you love, but dislike the ending?

Jacques Tourneur’s Curse of the Demon (1957) is one of the great horror films, but like many fans, I think the producer’s insistence on inserting close-ups of the demon puppet at the climax was unwise and spoiled the carefully-crafted atmosphere.

Close-up of the demon, Curse of the Demon (1957)
"Okay Mr. Tourneur, the demon is ready for his close-up."

Whose onscreen wardrobe do you covet and would like to claim for your own?

Robert Quarry rocks that blood-red smoking jacket in Count Yorga.

Robert Quarry in Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

Which original film do you think could be improved as a remake and who would you cast?

In Blue Sunshine (1977), Zalman King portrays a young man who is mistakenly accused of multiple homicide when a woman friend suddenly goes insane and kills a couple of people at a party. As he tries to clear his name, he discovers that a bad batch of LSD is turning people into homicidal monsters years after they took it. While the film is still very effective, I’d be tempted to update it with a more contemporary twist ripped from the headlines: a millennial who’s been kicked off of social media is blamed for a series of murders that his friends have committed. He soon discovers that the murders are triggered by an experiment in subliminal social media messages conducted by a demented CEO who wants to prove the mind-controlling power of her platform to the government. I’d cast Tom Holland in the Zalman King role and Charlize Theron as a Sheryl Sandberg-inspired villain.

Facebook is today's Blue Sunshine.
Blue Sunshine meets that social media platform
everybody loves to hate.

Which classic film actor or actress do you think would be successful in today’s film industry?

Barbara Stanwyck - tough, independent, attractive; she’d fit right in. During the westerns phase of her career, she did her own stunts, sometimes taking on things even the stunt people were leery of doing. She would give Charlize Theron a run for her money as an action heroine.

Barbara Stanwyck in The Furies (1950)
Anything you can do, Barbara can do better!

What film trope do you never tire of seeing?

I love the protagonist who is unwittingly drawn into a sinister conspiracy and then suddenly realizes his/her life is in danger from knowing too much.

If you could adapt a piece of classic literature that has not yet been made into a film, what book would you choose and who would you cast in the main roles?

Although it’s supposedly in development, I wonder if the project to do a feature-length version of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness will ever get off the ground. In my version, I would lure Daniel Day-Lewis out of retirement to play Dyer, the geologist and head of the fateful Antarctic expedition. The mysterious Rooney Mara would be great as Dyer’s assistant. Lovecraft is notoriously hard to translate to film, but with my cast and $100 million or so (don’t want to get too greedy), I’d give it a shot.

Daniel Day-Lewis and H.P. Lovecraft
"Dan, this is Howard."

Which of today’s modern actors or actresses do you think would have been successful in classic films and why?

With his distinctive looks, lankiness and versatility, I think Ty Burrell (of Modern Family fame) would have made a great supporting character actor in noirs and light comedy, and would even have been a nice fit for ‘50s sci-fi.
Ty Burrell, photo by Eva Rinaldi / CC BY-SA (
Ty is ready to get in his time machine.

Here are the blogs I’d like to give a shout out to, some that have been sources of entertainment and inspiration since I took my first faltering steps at Films From Beyond, and others that I discovered more recently. (Some of these bloggers are also recent Sunshine Blogger awardees.) You should check them out:

Cinematic Catharsis

Classic Film & TV Cafe

The Dwrayger Dungeon

Grand Old Movies

Krell Laboratories

The Last Drive-in

Mike’s Take on the Movies

Synthetic Cinema

And my questions for any willing nominees:

Many classic A-list actors appeared in sci-fi or horror films, especially in the twilight of their careers. To whom would you give the award for “Best former A-lister performance in a B horror or sci-fi film?”

You can tap any film figure (actor, actress, director, producer, etc.), living or dead, for a lengthy, no-holds-barred interview. Who would you pick?

What actor living or dead, who never played the role, do you think would have made a great Dracula?

You get the go-ahead to remake The Bride of Frankenstein. Who do you cast as the Bride?

You are a screenwriter, and due to a glitch in the space-time continuum, you can claim any screenplay from any movie made during your adult life as your own, and the world will forever remember it as your work. Which one do you choose?

What is your least favorite performance by a child actor?

You can wave a wand and magically prevent any film from ever being remade. What do you choose?

You’re given $20 million to make any adaptation you want from Shakespeare, Stephen King, or H.P. Lovecraft. What’s it gonna be?

What is your worst example of a miscast lead?

What one forgotten or underappreciated movie do you think the world (or at least the blogosphere) needs to know about?

What “bad” movie do you nonetheless enjoy and have taken the trouble to see several times?


  1. My favorite bad movie? That I can tell you in one word: BOTCHINO!

    Whenever I see a certain bright planet in the night sky, I say to myself, "This is Venus!"

    Congratulations on your nomination. A fine writer like you should also win it with no trouble.

  2. I'm not a blogger so I shouldn't answer your questions, but my favorite underappreciated movie is The Night of the Hunter. It's probably appreciated more now than in 1955, but I always wanted to see more movies directed by Charles Laughton. I guess we should be grateful that we have the one.

    1. Bill, please feel free to answer any questions you want! Totally agree about The Night of the Hunter, which was woefully underappreciated and unfairly dismissed in its day. It's one of those rare instances when diverse talents got together and did their absolutely best work on one project. The negative reviews weren't the only reason Laughton never directed another movie -- apparently he preferred directing theater, where you can adjust things that don't quite work between performances, vs. a film that, once it's in the can, that's it. :)

  3. One more thing about that "bad" movie. My friend Mike and I have a running gag going: if it ever came down to a choice between Saving Private Ryan and Queen of Outer Space, I would choose Queen of Outer Space. Or Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Or The Brain from Planet Arous. You understand, but he didn't.