Blog Directory CineVerse: June 2010

CineVerse's sizzling summer schedule

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer's here, and so is the new CineVerse schedule for July and August. Over the next few weeks, we'll be honoring works by great American directors (our theme for July), spotlighting a number of black-and-white features, and examining a handful of dark, brooding films noir along the way, too.

Better start clearing your calendar now to join us for what should be one great Wednesday after another! To view our summer schedule, click here.


Join Captain Ahab's crew

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Captain Ahab is looking for a few good landlubbers to join him on June 30 in his endless search for the great white whale "Moby Dick."

For a boatload of info on "Moby Dick", click here.


Get your "Chocolat" fix

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Oak Lawn Library will be showing the upcoming following film in its lower level meeting room (for more details visit

Chocolat (2000) -- Wednesday, June 30 at 2 p.m. -- A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community. Starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Based on a novel by Joanne Harris. Rated: PG-13. 121 min.


The "popcorn" is getting stale...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Time is running out for you to vote in our June CineVerse poll, which asks the question, "What is the greatest summer popcorn movie of the last 30 years." Our poll can be found on the left sidebar of our home page. Deadline to cast your vote is June 30, so don't forget!


Under-the-radar sci-fi farce

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

by Erik J. Martin

Enjoy a blend of comedy with your science-fiction? Before you think them odd bedfellows, check out "Galaxy Quest" from 1999.

Trekkies appear to be the easy target of this farcical futuristic comedy, which boldly goes where no sci-fi spoof has gone before. “Home Improvement’s” Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver (heroine of the “Alien” movie series, donned in a head-turning blonde ‘do for this flick), and Alan Rickman star as actors on a cheesy sci-fi space exploration TV show patterned after “Star Trek.”

Things get cosmically wacky, however, when a group of real aliens “beam up” the show’s cast, believing that they are actually the space crew they portray on TV who remain their only hope in defeating a rival race of evil aliens. Ironically, the actors are cast adrift in space in a real intergalactic vessel that the good aliens modeled exactly after the prop spaceship shown on the TV program.

“Galaxy Quest” is funnier than “Spaceballs,” and filled with special effects that are pretty spiffy for the nineties. Well worth a rental.


Don't forget your Umbrellas

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The forecast calls for sunny skies and delightful cinema on June 23 with "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," a colorful romantic musical starring Catherine Deneuve.

Intrigued? Click here for more details on this movie.


Long live the "Queen"

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Oak Lawn Library will be showing the upcoming following film in its lower level meeting room (for more details visit

The African Queen (1951) -- Tuesday, June 22 at 10 a.m. -- In Africa during WWI, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Based on a novel by C.S. Forester. Rated: PG. 105 min.


Holy moly--it's the Holy Grail!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

If you've never had the absurd pleasure of relishing "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", of if it's been a while since you've had an injection of the Python brand of silliness, make a date to join us on June 16.

You can learn more about this cult classic by clicking here.


Of Mice and Libraries

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Oak Lawn Library will be showing the upcoming following film in its lower level meeting room (for more details visit

Of Mice and Men (1992) -- Wednesday, June 16 at 2 p.m. -- Two drifters, one a gentle but slow giant, try to make money working the fields during the Depression so they can fulfill their dreams. Starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. Based on a novel by John Steinbeck. Rated: PG-13. 115 min.


CineVerse cancelled for June 9

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Our CineVerse meeting will be cancelled for Wednesday, June 9 due to the Hawks playing game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. We will reschedule Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" for Wed., July 14. Meanwhile, keep your fingers crossed for the Blackhawks!


"Hoop Dreams" scores big

Monday, June 7, 2010

by Erik J. Martin

Hard to believe it's nearly been 16 years since the release of one of the most critically lauded documentaries of them all, "Hoop Dreams."

Culled from more than 250 hours of footage, the three-hour documentary spans five years in the separate lives of two inner-city teensagers, William Gates and Arthur Agee, who share the dream of playing in the NBA.

Structured more as a feature film than a documentary, “Hoop Dreams” presents raw footage and interviews, without narration or commentary, to chronicle the athletic and personal lives of Gates and Agee from their last days of grammar school to their first days in college.

In production since 1986, “Hoop Dreams” was made for approximately $350,000--something of a miracle for a movie that reaped so much praise.

I interviewed the film’s co-producer/director Steven James back in 1993 about the then-forthcoming feature. He told me that he and co-producer Fred Marx and cameraman Peter Gilbert “tried to document real life, to capture an intimate portrait of what went on in William and Arthur’s lives over the course of five years. It may not be very ‘Hollywood-ish,’ but it’s as least as dramatic.”

And that’s an understatement.


Lunch and dinner at "Tiffany's"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Oak Lawn Library will be showing the upcoming following film in its lower level meeting room (for more details visit

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) -- Monday, June 7 at 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. -- Audrey Hepburn portrays the unforgettable New York socialite, Holly Golightly, who befriends a young man who has moved into her apartment building, on her own terms. Also starring George Peppard, Patricia Neal and Buddy Ebsen. Based on a novel by Truman Capote. Rated: PG. 115 min.


Master of puppets

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: This is part 2 of a 2-part story that first published last week)

Frequent guests on the Bergen & McCarthy program included W.C. Fields, opera singer Nelson Eddy and actress Dorothy Lamour (all three of whom were regulars on the show in its early run), George Raft, John Barrymore, Barbara Stanwyck, Orson Welles, Jane Powell, and even Vallee, the man who gave Bergen his first broadcast break.

McCarthy’s long running on-air feuds with Fields (who Charlie always needled about his drinking while Fields threatened to turn him into kindling wood) and Fred Allen generated legendary comedy bits, and Bergen & McCarthy’s appearances on other radio programs like The Jack Benny Program only added to the duo’s immense popularity.

Like Benny’s “Wait a minute!” and “Hmmmm,” Bergen’s program contributed several catch-phrases to radio’s repertoire of signature lines: Charlie’s “I’ll clip ya! So help me, I’ll mow ya down!,” Mortimer Snerd’s “Ya don’t say,” and Bergen’s retort, “Mortimer, how can you be so stupid?”

Charlie’s personality as a sarcastic ham, flirtatious wolf with the female guest stars, and mischievous schoolboy kept constantly under the parental eye of Bergen, tickled the funny bones of American audiences. Bergen played the perfect straight-man while Charlie got almost all the laughs. Some of the show’s most hilarious responses came when Charlie would “catch” Bergen flubbing a line, moving his lips or letting his Swedish accent show--any combination of which would trigger Charlie to cut down his master with one ad-libbed, knee-slapping line after another.

Over the years, Bergen added new dummies to the show, including the brainless country yokel Mortimer Snerd (a big hit among audiences), the man-hungry, unsightly old maid Effie Clinker (an occasional character that wasn’t as popular), and, for a short time, Podine Puffington. One mainstay character was non-dummy Ersel Twing, who had an annoyingly high pitched “twang” in his voice, and who was known to say “Friends..and you are my friends. Friends...”

In the late ‘40s, Bergen & McCarthy changed sponsorship to Royal Pudding and, later, to Coca-Cola. The program finally ended its long run in 1957, but the dummy and the straight man went back to the stage to perform for live audiences. Bergen went on to do serious acting in a number of films and made-for-TV movies, including the pilot for the series “The Waltons.”

But by 1978, the exhausted Bergen officially retired from show business, and passed away later that same year. He is survived by his famous daughter Candice, star of CBS’ “Murphy Brown,” and by Charlie, Mortimer and Effie, who are each on permanent display at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago’s Cultural Center.

Here are several highlights in the history of Bergen & McCarthy on (and off) radio:
  • 1936: Bergen & McCarthy appear as regular guests on Rudy Vallee’s program.
  • 1937: The duo are given their own weekly hour-long show by Chase & Sanborn coffee, which quickly rockets to the top of the ratings. 
  • 1937: Don Ameche and Mae West perform the infamous “Adam and Eve” comedy sketch that, due to West’s sultry voice, got her blacklisted from radio appearances and nearly forced the program’s cancellation. 
  • Bergen & McCarthy begin appearing in movie shorts and feature films; Bergen is bestowed a special Academy Award for “comedy creation.” 
  • 1938: Bergen’s NBC show plays opposite Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast on CBS--a deliberate scheduling by Welles to take advantage of the nation’s largest weekly audience switching stations during Chase & Sanborn Hour commercials.

  • 1939: Charlie is “kidnapped” from Bergen by a reporter crony looking to play a practical joke on the ventriloquist; the dummy is promptly returned, however, when the FBI is called in to investigate. 
  • 1939: Mortimer Snerd is added to the cast of characters. 
  • 1940: Chase & Sanborn shortens the show to 30 minutes, and highly paid supporting stars Don Ameche, Nelson Eddy and Dorothy Lamour are cut in favor of weekly guest stars. Abbot & Costello join the show for one season. 
  • 1942-45: Bergen and McCarthy entertain U.S. service personnel stationed across the globe during World War II. 
  • 1944: Effie Klinker is introduced; Podine Puffington would debut as a side character several years later. 
  • 1948: For the first time since its debut, Bergen’s show falls out of the list of the top 5 rated programs, remains in the top 7. 
  • 1949: Like Jack Benny and Amos & Andy, Bergen leaves NBC for CBS. 
  • 1957: Bergen & McCarthy’s last radio program after 20-plus years on the air.


Pass the popcorn and join the poll

For June, CineVerse asks the question: What is the greatest summertime popcorn movie (meaning film released during the summer season) of the last 30 years? Vote now by participating in our new poll, found on the left sidebar of our home page.

Meantime, here are the results of May's poll, which queried: What is the greatest movie quote of all time?
  • "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" (Gone With the Wind): 33%
  • "Here's looking at you kid" (Casablanca): 20%
  • "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." (The Godfather): 20%
  • I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." (On the Waterfront): 6%
  • "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." (Sunset Boulevard): 6%
  • "What we've got here is (a) failure to communicate." (Cool Hand Luke): 6%
  • "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!" (Apocalypse Now): 6%


Reflections on 5 years of CineVerse

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Greetings, CineVerse faithful. Today marks quite a milestone for our film group--five years to the day that we started our fledgling little club for movie lovers. And what a wonderful and rewarding journey it's been.

I first came up with the idea of a weekly film society for the south suburbs in January, 2004. I initially pitched my conception to the Oak Lawn Library, who turned me down, citing lack of space and resources as their main reasons. Discouraged but still determined, I continued to shape and refine the goals of and direction for CineVerse over the next year-plus.

From the start, I knew I didn't want to settle for anything less than a weekly set schedule. I didn't have grandiose or overly lofty aspirations: My dream was to grow a sort of grassroots, underground organization of fellow film afficienados who enjoyed viewing then talking about movies--local folks who, like me, couldn't wait to share their thoughts about and reflect upon a picture immediately after watching it.

I knew that it would be a hard sell for most, this notion of film talk as therapy, of congregating and collectively dissecting a film socially. Add to that the challenge of keeping attendees interested in movies from across the spectrum of motion picture history, including silents, subtitled foreign flicks, black-and-white classics now old in the tooth, arthouse and independent features, and formulaic genre films.

Despite these hurdles, I always had faith that we could attract and retain a core following of dedicated members. And that we certainly have over these past 60 months. What started out as a meager experiment involving as few as three members a week watching a 22-inch television on a cart has blossomed into a vibrant community--currently numbering about 25 members--who regularly attend and contribute. And for that I owe you each a big note of gratitude and appreciation.

CineVerse truly is a labor of love for me that I find perpetually gratifying and enriching. More than the opportunity to unearth buried treasures of truth about a movie and bask in the celluloid brilliance of great filmmakers, the thing I've loved most about our group is the friendships I've made and the ability to hear and share different opinions. I've always believed that there is no movie experience that can match the communal power of viewing a film in a group. There's something infectious that happens when a crowd responds with laughter, gasps or claps. Comedies seem funnier. Thrillers feel more frightening. Action pictures appear more exciting. And big screen stinkers are even--deliciously--stinkier.

Some of my favorite memories from the past five years include:

  • The bigger-than-expected turnout for our very first meeting (seven people, for "Citizen Kane")
  • Our largest attendance ever when we repeated "Citizen Kane" on our one-year anniversary a year later (more than 20 people in a small classroom, some who had to stand in the back)
  • No room at the inn: the night we had to watch and discuss Hitchcock's "The Birds" in a preschool classroom surrounded by toys and small chairs/desks; quite a surreal experience.
  • Debuting our new projector system a la "2001: A Space Odyssey" in early 2006
  • Introducing Kids Night with "King Kong" a few weeks later
  • The time our projector system broke during a showing of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and how perfectly content the members were watching this Technicolor classic on a 22-inch TV
  • Celebrating Christmas in July (2007) with a festive showing of "It's a Wonderful Life"
  • The April Fool's prank I pulled on our group in 2009, when I promoted selected clips of classic films but forced members to watch two of the worst movies of all time (yes, I can be a real sadist)
  • An evening last September--a week after worrying about a major dropoff in attendance experienced over several months--when at least nine new members (who are still with us) showed up for "Lone Star"
Thanks for all the great memories and for making our group so worthwhile. And here's to our next five years (always keep the faith!).

Yours sincerely,

Erik Martin


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