Susan Doll (aka suzidoll)
Susan Doll

When I was six years old, my cousins took me to see my first film in a theater-a matinee of Visit to a Small Planet, starring Jerry Lewis, at the old Bula Theater in Ashtabula, Ohio. And, I have been hooked ever since.

As a kid, I was always breaking up weekend playtime activities with my neighborhood friends because I had to go home to watch the Saturday afternoon movie shown on a local television station. Despite the missing scenes, bad splices, and millions of commercial breaks, watching On the Town, The Road to Utopia, Bringing Up Baby, and even the Bowery Boys\' adventures was always worth it. As a matter of fact, my week was organized around the movie schedules of Cleveland\'s TV stations: Weekday afternoons were reserved for the horror and suspense films hosted by the legendary Ghoulardi; on week nights, I watched major Hollywood movies with parents on Monday, Wednesday, or Saturday Night at the Movies. Much to my teacher\'s chagrin, I was the only kid in my third-grade class who habitually watched The Late Show, and then during the summers, The Late, Late Show. What she didn\'t realize was that I was getting a cultural education.

In college, I discovered film classes and couldn\'t believe someone was actually going to give me a college degree in "movies." I couldn\'t think of anything better than sitting in a classroom watching westerns, screwball comedies, Cuban films, Russian films, Italian films, thrillers, documentaries . . . and then talking about them! I rode that train as far as it would go, finally getting a Ph.D. in film studies from Northwestern. If there had been another level of degree I would have stuck around for that.

Since then, I have been able to parlay my obsession into a career by teaching, researching, and writing about the movies for over 20 years. How lucky is that? And, thank you Jerry Lewis.

Posts by Susan Doll

I’ve been reading Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star, Stephen Michael Shearer’s 1913 aptly titled biography of the woman who defined what a real movie star should be. Though I had read parts of Gloria’s autobiography Swanson on Swanson, Shearer’s book exposes that the star’s recollections were colored by selective memory, forgotten details, and overlooked events. […]

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Tonight TCM celebrates the career of filmmaker Albert Maysles by showing four of the documentaries he made with his brother David: Grey Gardens, Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Meet Marlon Brando. Albert died on March 5, leaving only D.A. Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman as the last of the cinema verite giants.

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Last fall, businessman Russell Edwards announced that he had finally uncovered the truth behind history’s most famous serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Edwards claimed that DNA left behind on a victim’s shawl was used to identify the Ripper as Aaron Kosminski, long considered a primary suspect. As soon as the news was announced, DNA experts […]

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I am enjoying the films associated with TCM’s Star of the Month for March, Ann Sothern. Every Wednesday night, TCM will air a number of Sothern movies, totaling 35 in all. Though primarily b-movies or series, these titles are delightful precisely because they are b-movies. Often, the b’s are completely dependent on the charms of […]

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When Leonard Nimoy died at the end of last week, many from my generation mourned the loss by posting photos and quotes related to Mr. Spock, Nimoy’s iconic television character, to social media outlets. The outpouring of sorrow and the testimonials of childhood devotion reveal the profound impact that a beloved television program can have […]

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Ever since reading Good Night, Sweet Prince, a biography of John Barrymore by his comrade in revelry, Gene Fowler, I have been fascinated with the Barrymore family. Handsome, tragic John has become my favorite Barrymore, because he was so flawed and yet so talented. Equally talented but not flawed was his older sister Ethel Barrymore. […]

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Movie lovers anxiously await the 87th Academy Awards next Sunday, February 22, though many of us have grown profoundly disappointed in the changes in the show over the last few years. In 2009, the Academy decided to drop the on-air tributes to those who were awarded honorary Oscars; around the same time, the show’s producers […]

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In my imagination, I can see the Hollywood of long ago when film industry insiders referred to their mansion-lined streets as the Colony. I see glamorous movie stars dancing at the Cocoanut Grove, old-school studio execs drinking cocktails in the Hollywood Roosevelt’s Tropicana Bar, and hungry starlets sharing bungalow apartments in Spanish-style, u-shaped buildings. Whenever […]

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Can you guess where the first film version of The Wizard of Oz was produced? Hollywood, 1939? What about the first newsreel? New York, maybe? Or, the initial screen adaptation of A Christmas Carol? Would London be a reasonable guess? What about the first movie to chronicle the story of Jesse James? The original film […]

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Tomorrow, January 27, TCM will celebrate Donna Reed’s 94th birthday by showing a selection of nine early films, including her first feature The Get-Away. My favorite film on the list is the crime thriller Eyes in the Night, which I have singled out as a Forgotten Film to Remember. MGM signed Donna Belle Mullenger to […]

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