Ed Garea, David Skolnick and Steve Herte all grew up in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area so don't be surprised by some NYC TV and theater references on our website. We didn't know each other as children (there's an 18-year age range between us). Steve still lives in the NYC metro area while Ed is in Texas and David in Ohio.
Ed is the reason we've all come to share our passion for movies as the Celluloid Club. Ed worked for years with Steve at the IRS. David got to know Ed through his amazing contributions to Wrestling Perspective, a wrestling newsletter/website that David served as co-editor and co-publisher for 17 years.
Discussing movies and sharing the latest films we've seen - whether it's one in the theaters now or one from the early 1930s that we watch for the first time - was something we did for a few years through email among ourselves and fellow film fans. From that, we decided in 2012 to create this website to share our passion for film with others.
We welcome comments and contributions, and sincerely hope you enjoy being a member of the Celluloid Club.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Movies have been a significant part of my life as far back as I can remember. As a toddler, my first impressions were of cartoons, in particular those from Warner Brothers. Then it was sci-fi and horror movies. Shock Theater was a must on Saturday nights. I can still remember watching Zacherley “operating” on his mother-in-law’s brain, or dumping a sack of pillow feathers into a fan, or cutting into the film itself to make a smart remark. Also de rigueur at that age was my monthly trek to the store to purchase my copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland and Mad Magazine. Reading Mad, I loved the movie parodies most of all, which made me want to see the film parodied.
Expanding my reach on television, I discovered that Channel 9 in New York had a most interesting show called Million Dollar Movie. The premise was simple: it functioned like a movie theater, showing the same picture twice each night on weekdays and continuously from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. on weekends. My friends and I watched Godzilla, Rodan, The Thing, and Forbidden Planet over and over until we could recite the lines with the actors. We soon moved beyond horror and sci-fi when they began to air Abbott and Costello movies. I was hooked. My mother would get so annoyed that she eventually turned the channel to keep her sanity. Growing up male, war films are also a large part of my repertoire, and films such as The Tanks Are Coming, The Fighting 69th, Sahara, and The Hitler Gang were must sees whenever they were on. In the theatre, my cousin and I saw The Great Escape and Goldfinger, which left quite an impression on your pre -teen minds. Also at this time Channel 11 in New York introduced me to the wonderful world of Grade Z horror and sci-fi through the show Chiller Theater. My favorites were Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space. To a 10-year old kid, Ed Wood was a genius because he was on our wave level. On Saturday afternoons, Channel 5 would show classic mysteries such as Sherlock Holmes, Boston Blackie, The Lone Wolf, and The Crime Doctor on its Mystery Theater, and was always followed by Eastside Comedy, featuring the Bowery Boys. It was paradise for a kid irretrievably hooked on the movies.
As I grew older, my movie tastes broadened to include conventional films from the big studios. Warner Brothers was my favorite and I would watch anything with Cagney, Bogart, Garfield, Davis or Robinson in it. I also began reading books on the history of Hollywood, its studios, and various films, checking them out of the library en masse. In the 8th grade I discovered W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers, as well as foreign films shown on our PBS station, Channel 13. My very first foreign film was 8 ½, which was shown on Channel 4, which presented quality films on Sunday night right after The Saint (with Roger Moore). I can’t say that I understood Fellini at the time, but just two years later, at age 14, I saw it again and got it. The first foreign film I remember really liking was Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, which I was advised to see in a book because Harpo Marx was said to have influenced its director/star, Jacques Tati. That was good enough for me, and Mr. Hulot’s Holiday remains to this day one of my all-time favorites. In high school I would often take off a day if a film I particularly wanted see was on afternoon television, and when I got to college I scheduled myself in such a way that I had two days off during the week, and there were so many films yet to be seen!
Of course, in college, one is presented with electives, and I took two classes in film appreciation. It was great, watching movies and getting credit at the same time. The first half of the course covered from the beginning of film up through 1941 and Citizen Kane (a wonderful film I always watch when it’s on). The second half covered Postwar through 1970. It was here I first saw Rififi, a film that has remained in my memory ever since. We also saw Breathless and The 400 Blows. Though I’d caught The 400 Blows on Channel 13 while in high school, I wasn’t about to miss seeing it on a bigger screen. Papers were required in both sections. In the first I wrote a paper on The Marx Brothers’ films, Horsefeathers and Duck Soup, comparing the style of both directors, Norman McLeod and Leo McCarey. In the second course I wrote two papers, one on Godard and existentialism, and the other on Ed Wood’s Plan 9, which I researched exhaustively. (Remember, this was 1974, six years before the Medved Brothers “discovered” the charms of Ed and Wood-mania bloomed with bad film fans. I remember the grade for the Wood paper: A+ with the comment that the professor couldn’t believe I would actually write a paper on a bad sci-fi film, but that “to each his own.” I also took an English course called “The Screenplay as Literature,” with my paper being on the black comedy of The Bride of Frankenstein. My last film course in college was when I was invited to sit in on a graduate course in American Studies entitled “Movie Made America.” I came into the course at mid-term and asked if I could take the mid-term exam cold. I did and still scored an A+. Dr. Leab, who taught the course, refused to believe that someone could come in cold and score an A+, but my friend Sam, who was the graduate assistant, told him my knowledge of film was so vast that he (Sam) often deferred to me if he had a question. I found out later that he and Dr. Leab had a bet of a dinner depending on how I did. (Sam later told me the dinner was most delicious, for he predicted I would get an “A.”)
In the years after college, I married Kat and got her heavily involved in movies. At one point we used to go to the movies every week. Also, there were three events that shaped my movie-viewing life for the better. The first was the publication of Michael Weldon’s The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, the first book to take the Grade Z and Poverty Row films I had loved so much seriously. Both Mr. Weldon’s books sit within easy reach on my desk today. The second event was the coming of TCM. At first we had AMC, which was pretty damn good in those days, but I yearned for TCM. They were showing the Bowery Boys films, Tarzan movies and movies actually made in the Third Reich! But you know how it was in those days. The channel you want is always the last to be added by the cable company. Finally it came on line and I haven’t been without it since. AMC, by the way, got out of the classics business, changing its format to recent films with lots and lots of commercial interruptions and editing. Third, and finally, Comedy Channel came to our cable system, and with it, Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of the best move shows in history. For those few out there not familiar with the show, a janitor is shot into space as an experiment. He is constantly shown bad movies in an effort to break his spirit, but with the help of the robots he built in space, he weathers the storm quite nicely. Joel (the janitor) and the ‘bots simply did what we did when watching a bad movie in a group: they made fun of it with great one-liners. I have most of the shows on DVD and continue to collect as they are released.
Not everyone is as film-mad as I. And don’t let me intimidate you. Your opinion is important – for that’s what makes us film lovers.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are going to the movies with my father in Brooklyn, N.Y. He loved films and would often take me. He loved many genres, which exposed me to movies like Swept Away, Dog Day Afternoon, Shaft and a ton of Kung Fu films.
As a teen in the mid-1980s, I often marveled at my father's VCR movie collection. There were hundreds of films. Also, during my senior year at Port Richmond High School (1984-85), my friends and I would see two to three movies a week at various theaters in our hometown of Staten Island. On occasion, such as when there was a riot outside a Staten Island theater because Rocky III was sold out, we would go to the multiplex theaters in nearby New Jersey.
While in high school, my favorite movies were Network, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 2001: A Space Odyssey, This is Spinal Tap, Planet of the Apes, Omega Man and the Muppet Movie. I still love all of them.
When I got a DVR (like a TiVo) from my cable company in Austintown, Ohio, where I've lived since 1995 (I am the politics writer and city hall reporter for The Vindicator - cool name, right? - the daily newspaper in Youngstown), I was immediately drawn to AMC and TCM. I would tape a few movies a week and talk to Ed about them. That's when I learned what a film expert and movie encyclopedia he is. I'd describe a movie, but forget the title, and he would not only figure out the name, but would give me a great story connected to the film.
After a while, I stopped watching movies on AMC. They take a two-hour movie (and the quality of the films on the station went down fast), edit it and show it over a three-hour time-period with tons of commercials.
TCM has it right - uncut, commercial-free and in some cases, the restored versions. I found myself taping more and more movies. I'd watch 30 to 50 a month. There are so many films out there that I could never get enough or catch up on what I wanted to see.
My tastes remain varied. I love foreign movies, particularly French, Italian and Japanese as well as the American classics and those from the late 60s and early 70s, and of course, psychotronic films and Elvis movies (even the worst of his worst).
I swear by a number of books - 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (I've seen more than 740 of them so far), The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made (I've seen about 750), The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, The Psychotronic Video Guide, and Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. But more than any of those books, I swear by the opinions of Ed Garea, who rarely steers me wrong.
My family (my wife, Elise, largely responsible for getting this website operating, and my two daughters) doesn't share my passion for classic films. I largely watch them when I'm alone or when everyone is in bed. A great way to clear the room is to turn on a black-and-white film!
After realizing we're paying about $60 a month for cable (I only want it for TCM) and there's typically little on, we got rid of it. We signed up for Hulu and Netflix (both about $8 a month) and I watch movies on my living room TV through the Roku LT my in-laws bought for me. We now have three Rokus in the house. Between Hulu, Netflix and movies on the Internet, particularly YouTube, the only thing I really miss about watching films on TCM is Robert Osborne's stories. There are thousands of great and not-so-great movies from which to choose.
I guess you could say I grew up loving movies. When I was old enough to understand them (somewhere back in the 50s) my parents took me to several. I remember The King and I, The Ten Commandments, The Alamo, The Pajama Game and Forbidden Planet all from that time. I’ve loved science fiction and animation ever since I could ask the question, “How’d they do that?” What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? Every week I’d bring home more books from the library about them and of course the movies Godzilla (that movie terrified me), Rodan, Mothra, The Lost World, and Journey to the Center of the Earth followed in due course.
Then I discovered the horror genre and Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Edgar Allen Poe, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, and eventually Stephen King became my best followed friends. My Catholic grammar school took me to see The Song of Bernadette, The Miracle at Fatima and The Miracle of Marcelino, so the religious films were covered and eventually I saw The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, King of Kings and then The Passion of the Christ.
My formula for a good movie is: a title that catches your interest, a subject or plot that intrigues you, performers and writers who are clever and entertaining, and lastly it must be a movie that will look better on the big screen than on a television to be worth the price of admission. Anything else I can just as easily see at home.
I like to combine a good movie with a satisfying adventure in a restaurant (in New York City and write "Dinner and a Movie" reviews). I have succeeded on both counts quite a number of times.
I follow the advances in computer generated characters and animated films, which I’ve discovered say a lot more than “relevant” movies claiming to tell it “like it is."
Jon Gallagher has done a little bit of everything in his life. He's been a salesman, a factory worker, a pizza delivery guy, a professional magician, a high school English teacher, and a funeral director for bugs (sounds better than "exterminator.). Oh, and did we mention he loves to write?
For more than 20 years, Jon contributed a weekly award-winning humor column to a local weekly newspaper, a bi-monthly publication on professional wrestling, a book of local history, and three unpublished novels for which he is seeking a literary agent and/or publisher.
Jon lives in West-Central Illinois._____________________________________________________
Website created and designed by Elise McKeown Skolnick