Thursday, March 1, 2012

Classic Films and the American Conscience - introduction

More today on Classic Films and the American Conscience, my new book, a collection of essays from this blog.  Have a look here at Monday's post for the launch of this new project.

Offered here at as an ebook, the book will be FREE for four days next week, Monday, March 5th through Thursday, March 8th.

Here's a bit of the introduction from the book:

This book is dedicated to my fellow classic film bloggers.

These essays are the product of five years of blogging. When I began “Another Old Movie Blog” it was an outlet for my love of classic films and interest in popular history. They go together. It is very difficult to separate these films from the eras in which they were made. We shouldn’t always try to lift them like an object from a curio cabinet to examine them out of context. The society which produced them does not, in large measure, exist anymore. That is all the more reason to study and enjoy these ghosts from the past...

This book is divided into several sections. The first section is comprised of one of my favorite features in the blog, the series. Every now and again I match up two, or three, or four films and discuss what is alike about them, or what together they tell about the subject which unites them.
Other sections of the book deal with holiday-themed posts (There may not be many of us in the country that regard Amtrak’s “National Train Day” as a holiday).

Then there are special topics, and special people. I don’t really concentrate on the big stars that much because so many other blogs handle that really well, and because I’m more interested in the minutiae of old movies -- what they say about America, those days, our conscience as a society, i.e., what we were thinking.

The rest of this book is divided into genres: comedy, Noir, etc. Obviously many films overlap different dramas. Westerns are omitted as a genre but Western movies are included as comedies or dramas.

The final section, Drama, is organized as a kind of timeline of human history as seen through the movies -- not by film date, but in order of the time the movie is set. We begin with reign of King John in England with Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. We end with Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak in a hopeless attempt to escape 1960 Suburbia in “Strangers When We Meet”. I think the time-travel feel of this section is particularly poignant for showing us perhaps not really what was, but what the movies told us. It is a flawed view, sometimes still revealing because it is flawed. The American conscience.

The movies discussed should not be taken for my opinion of a definitive list of American film; they are just the ones I’ve blogged about so far.

These essays, the blog, this book, should not be viewed only as an exercise in nostalgia, for anyone who studies and writes about history knows the past is not the cozy place lovers of nostalgia think it is. I would rather be living today than at any other time. The past is there to teach and to entertain. Ignore it, and we deprive ourselves.

I hope you enjoy these essays. I enjoyed writing them.

Next week the book goes FREE.

But before I leave you, I have some other proud news to share.  My dear twin brother, John, has just published his first book of cartoons.  They are sweet, silly, wry, and family-friendly.  Kindly have a look at Arte Acher's Falling Circus, now available at


Patti said...

Hi, I've never visited your blog before. I saw this blog post on someone else's sidebar, and I was intrigued by the title, so I decided to stop by.

Congratulations on the book. It sounds great.

There aren't many people in my life who enjoy classic films. Basically, only the folks I've met through blogging share my passion for them. Many of the people who think my obsession is crazy say that "they are so dated." Precisely! As you said, the culture (and values) that brought those films to life is gone, so, of course, they are dated. But does that mean they aren't to be appreciated or learned from? I think not, but most of my friends think definitely think so.

Anyhow, I look forward to browsing around your blog.

Have a wonderful Saturday,
Patti (They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thank you, Patti. It's true the blogosphere has a little something for everyone, and fortunately, it's been a great place to meet other classic film fans.

I'll look forward to checking out your blog: "They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To".

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