Categories
Features Screengems

The Letters of Transit in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Anything Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart have to hide from the Nazis, and Sydney Greenstreet and Ingrid Bergman would give their eyes to own, is certain to be an important onscreen object – but Casablanca‘s letters of transit exceed any normal measure of cinematic significance. They are perhaps the most evocative items in film. And […]

Categories
Features Screengems

Screengems: The Gold Eiffel Towers (The Lavender Hill Mob, 1951)

As The Lavender Hill Mob – one of the most glorious gems in the Ealing crown – enjoys a 60th anniversary re-release, Scott Jordan Harris takes a look at the odd little object at the center of this hilarious heist spoof – the gold Eiffel Towers. When a calculating bank clerk and an opportunistic artist […]

Categories
Features Screengems

Screengem: Hannibal Lecter’s Half-Mask (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991)

Many of the movies’ most memorable murderers wear masks. Those murderers, though, are generally the one-dimensional stalkers of slasher movies and those masks are usually worn for their benefit, not ours. Hannibal Lecter’s mask is forced upon him – for our protection. Transferred from one maximum security cell to another, Lecter is trussed inside a […]

Categories
Features Screengems

Screen Gem: The Monkey King’s Magic Staff (The Forbidden Kingdom, 2008)

As the MacGuffin powering the plot of the film that at last brought Jackie Chan and Jet Li together onscreen, The Forbidden Kingdom’s magic staff was destined to be an evocative object for fans of martial arts movies – but it merits consideration as more than just the emblem of that unprecedented pairing. The main […]

Categories
Features Screengems

Screengem: The Golden Gun (The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974)

Of all the James Bond films, The Man With The Golden Gun may well be the one that most inspired those definitive spy spoofs, the Austin Powers films. Everything in it is incredibly camp: there’s a villain with a private island, an enormous laser and a midget manservant (who Bond battles in his – and, […]

Categories
Screengems

Screengem: Dirk Diggler’s Prosthetic Penis (Boogie Nights, 1997)

Throughout Boogie Nights we are aware we are watching a movie that is about pornographic movies but that is not itself pornographic. The film features sex scenes. It features the sex industry. It even features sex positive spokesperson and long-standing porn star Nina Hartley. It is a film about sex, but that does not show […]

Categories
Features Thousand Words Widescreen

Love Potion No. 1

Two shots of vodka… a little rum… some bitters… and a smidgen of vinegar…

Categories
Screengems

Screengem: The Winchester ’73 Rifle (Winchester ’73, 1950)

In Issue 10 of The Big Picture Scott Jordan Harris explains how events behind the scenes of 1950’s Winchester ’73 changed film forever. In this online companion piece, he examines the glorious gun that dominates the movie’s onscreen action. Among the evocative objects identified as Screengems, the most elite are those that are eponymous. Iconic […]

Categories
Features Screengems

Screengem: Dirty Harry’s Magnum .44 (The Dirty Harry Films, 1971-1983)

In Issue 10 of The Big Picture, we look at the significance of the cheroot smoked by Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name. In this online companion piece, Scott Jordan Harris examines another of Eastwood’s famous onscreen items: the .44 Magnum wielded by ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan. Many of cinema’s most evocative objects are guns – […]