Welcome to FilmFrog!
The purpose of this website is to help foster appreciation for and knowledge of the rich tapestry of our film heritage. Films reflect the societies which produce them and, consequently, provide windows into cultures which often seem far removed from life as we know it today. Yet, just as history builds upon itself, our current culture is based upon those societies which have gone before. Knowledge of how people represented themselves in their entertainments, how they viewed themselves at the time, can reveal much about their relationship to their world and their ideas about art and its place in an economic society. It may also, in some cases, help to reveal the roots of our own idiosyncrasies and foibles. In other words, the past is able to tell us a great deal about ourselves and why we are the way we are.
The video revolution (not too extreme a term) has literally changed our way of film-viewing. While Hollywood movies from the classical period (roughly 1933 through the late 1950s) had been a staple of television programming, particularly in late-night venues during the earlier days of TV, once these and other films became available on video our perception of them changed: the films seemed less late-night filler, more worthy of consideration. (Of course, the growing respect for movies as an art form as evidenced by the ubiquity of film studies courses in high schools and universities provided a base to work hand-in-glove with this availability of films on video.) This proliferation of films from the past has been further augmented by a number of cable channels (e.g., Turner Classic Movies) which, like videos, provide access to a commercial-free, unedited viewing experience which is reminiscent of the way these films were originally seen. Of course, differences in media (the projection of individual frames of film onto a screen versus the accumulation of pixels to form an image), viewing conditions (surrounded by strangers in the dark versus being in your own home), and cultural perception (living in a period of history versus the perspective that time gives to that period) cannot approximate the experience of someone watching, say, GONE WITH THE WIND in a theater in 1939. Yet, the films themselves remain remarkably untouched by the intervening generations. Their consistency depends upon their being frozen "pieces of time" (as Peter Bogdanovich has pointed out) which do not change: no matter when you see GWTW, Rhett and Scarlet will always say the same words and perform the same actions, as though their images have been condemned by the camera-god to a Sisyphean task which will be endlessly repeated. This is both the blessing and the curse of movies and what sets them apart from live performances. Their very permanence, therefore, may become either a prison which locks them into their own era or a yardstick by which our own growth --- or lack of it --- may be measured. A film may not only seem different when viewed through the perspective of time, it may also provoke dissimilar reactions when viewed by the same person at different periods of her/his life.
But the joy of watching movies goes far beyond the sociological/artistic considerations mentioned above. So many things about a film can hold us in thrall: the story, actors, music, or locations. Because a film is a composite of many different talents, it can be extremely rich in texture. For the same reason, it can also be a disaster; sometimes it seems amazing, with the various egos, temperaments, and negotiations at work, that good movies are made at all. The studio system, which was the main source of filmed entertainment in America during the first half of this century, was comprised of a number of factories (MGM, Warner Bros., etc.) that manufactured product for consumption just as pineapple and sardines are tinned. Their goal was to make money. But, somehow, this goal did not prevent talented artists from sometimes producing work that was truly remarkable; in fact, the very constrictions which prevailed in the studios (their insistence, for example on strict adherence to preproven forms and audience expectations of these forms) could work to elicit superior films.
It is in celebration of this spirit and these films that FilmFrog has been created. Here, we will primarily consider and discuss movies from the past that, because of the craft, talent, and thoughtfulness with which they were made, provide insight into our humanness and our condition as inhabitants of a culture which, technologically speaking, is imploding and exploding simultaneously. FilmFrog's main focus, then, will be on quality films that are made easily accessible by means of television broadcasts. Because the best way to see these films is without interruption or editing, cable channels which show the movies in this form will be given priority over those channels which do not. The idea is to spotlight those films which were created by the "Hollywood machine" and which remain strong examples of the system at its best.
FilmFrog believes that pertinent information regarding the quality of work that goes into a film (performances, direction, script, camera work, music, etc.) coupled with a description of what the film is about will enable a viewer to select wisely his or her film viewing choices.
ENJOY THE SHOW!