Tag Archives: Joy Ochs

Now I Have A Bunch of Movies to Watch


Dr. Joy Ochs and Dr. Jim Grove speak about movies on World War I.

Dr. Joy Ochs and Dr. Jim Grove speak about movies on World War I.

I counted about 55 people in Flaherty Community Room before the program started, and a few more streamed in. My wife estimated the crowd at 70, and I don’t think she was too far off.

It was a pretty decent turnout for 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. And the presentation was very interesting. Dr. Jim Grove and Dr. Joy Ochs spoke today about films depicting World War I. Their presentation preceded Thursday afternoon’s showing of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and it make me anxious to see that movie.

Dr. Grove started the presentation with a broad survey of numerous World War I-inspired films. One genre of films was the “airplane” movies, such as “Wings” or “Hell’s Angels.”

As World War II drew closer, World War I movies foreshadowed that great conflict and grew sometimes grimmer (although, to be fair, some earlier movies seem pretty grim, too). One in particular that I would like to see is “Dawn Patrol,” which centers on the difficult position of commanders who order young pilots to their almost certain death.

When World War II actually got underway, there was more of a shift to patriotic World War I movies, such as “Sergeant York,” released in 1941. I’m not going to put that one first on my list, although I probably would watch it if I were slightly tipsy.

Dr. Grove briefly covered several films that I have seen and enjoyed, such as the 1981 film “Gallipoli.” It is an Australian film that partly illustrates how lives were wasted during World War I.

On a lighter note, he also mentioned “African Queen,” possibly the leading chick flick or rom-com about World War I (trust me, yes, I know, it’s an old Humphrey Bogart movie, but I think it really is a rom-com). “My legs, the leeches.”

Dr. Joy Ochs gives insights into the movie "All Quiet on the Western Front." I don't want to spoil it, but it doesn't end well for everyone.

Dr. Joy Ochs gives insights into the movie “All Quiet on the Western Front.” I don’t want to spoil it, but it doesn’t end well for everyone.

Anyway, the two films I most want to see, and have not yet, are “Paths of Glory,” which Dr. Grove showed an extensive clip from, and “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Dr. Ochs spoke about that movie, and illustrated her points with intriguing slides. I was interested to see how windows were used as symbols in the film, and how that echoed a World War I recruiting poster.

I am glad that I will get to see “All Quiet on the Western Front” Thursday afternoon. It may be some time—the fall semester will keep me very busy—but during Christmas break, I’ll have to find a copy of “Paths of Glory.”

Dr. Jim Grove discusses "African Queen."  A very campy, very entertaining move. As an audience member pointed out, Katheryn Hepburn didn't look exactly like that in the movie. "It's actually Lauren Bacall," Dr. Grove quipped. He was joking.

Dr. Jim Grove discusses “African Queen.”
A very campy, very entertaining move. As an audience member pointed out, Katheryn Hepburn didn’t look exactly like that in the movie. “It’s actually Lauren Bacall,” Dr. Grove quipped. He was joking.

The fascinating film talk could only scratch the surface—there have been a lot of movies made about World War I. The war happened just as the cinema industry was taking off, and I’m sure it had a profound impact on the look and feel of movies.

Beyond the very informative lecture, I also enjoyed the afternoon because it was a chance to see some familiar faces. Jay Shuldiner, a retired history professor; and John Rogers, retired social work professor, both attended. It was good to see and say hello to them.

One of the nice aspects of the series is that it has, so far, had good attendance, and that it has brought many people to the Hill.

Anyway, the presentation today was informative and interesting. I can’t wait to see more. If you missed it, check out the movie Thursday, or come to the next lecture a week from Thursday. I am one of the two presenters then on World War I propaganda.

It is not my clearest photo, but for some reason I like it the best. Anyway, I'll have to ask about the movie Dr. Grove was talking about here--it's about the psychological damage done by war. It sounds very grim, but very interesting.

It is not my clearest photo, but for some reason I like it the best. Anyway, I’ll have to ask about the movie Dr. Grove was talking about here–it’s about the psychological damage done by war. It sounds very grim, but very interesting. Sadly, I don’t recall the title, maybe “Regeneration?”

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Some Prose and Poetry and Cowboys


Seminal Murder and author

Yeah, it's here. Mary is so excited. So am I.

Audrey and I attended an eclectic and fun program Thursday night at Mount Mercy University.

The student English Club hosted an “authors’ night” that featured five MMU English Professors.

Well, I enjoyed it all. The free food, the readings, the insight into James Joyce (whose novels I have not yet read, but I’ll check the Kindle site and see if Ulysses is a free classic), etc.

Christopher DeVault

Christopher DeVault speaks about his new book on James Joyce.

Christopher DeVault’s opening reflections on Joyce were the most cerebral part of the evening, but all five English profs had interesting points to make.

Jim Grove shared insights into one of the first movies I saw and enjoyed in the theater as a kid: The original “True Grit” starring John Wayne came out when I was 11 years old. Maybe it helped that I was 11 when I saw it, but I’ve always liked that movie. I’m not big into John Wayne, and the follow-up movie with Katharine Hepburn didn’t do much for me, but True Grit was colorful and captivating. Not all movies I liked as a kid have aged well, and I cannot honestly say True Grit is among my all-time favorites now, but I still find it a pleasant flick.

I think that one reason I enjoyed the movie when it came out was that it featured a strong female character. I was a lone boy in a family with seven children, and, surrounded by six sisters, I had plenty of real-life object lessons in proto-feminism. As Grove noted, the girl in the movie True Grit was not near as strong as the character had been in the source book, and the opening song cast her in a decidedly dependent role.  Still, even in the movie, the girl had spine.

His commentary was on the 1969 movie. I have not seen, but am now more anxious to see, the more recent version. Sounds like a DVD rental for the day after graduation.

Joy Ochs spoke compellingly about her work with a program at Zion National Park that takes honors students and gives them more insight into the natural wonder of that area. I have not been there, but now I want to be.

Yet, I have to say (well, I guess I don’t have to say—there is a First Amendment that provides both freedom of speech and freedom from speech—but I’m willing to say) that the night’s two other speakers were the highlights for me.

Carol Tyx has a new book of poetry and read a few. And Mary Vermillion shared the opening of her new mystery novel, due out in May.

Carol Tyx

Carol Tyx reads and talks about poetry.

Well. Tyx read poetry on topics that felt like an emotional roller coaster ride, to me. We got everything from the wonder of a grandchild to the gravity of death—thoughts about her father’s final moments and a poem about a racial murder in Texas. There even was an analogy of love in a cereal bowl. Trust me, it worked.

Cover

Cover of Mary's new book (and Paha)

And Mary’s opening scene felt like hearing from old friends. I think there was a visible stir of pleasure in the room when Mara’s flamboyant male gay housemate sashayed into the scene. I’m already ready to grab “Seminal Murder” as soon as it comes out, just to see what my favorite carrot-topped, radio host, lesbian amateur sleuth is up to.

Carol, I think you almost did the impossible. You’ve probably sold me a book of poetry. Mary, you’ve done the quite likely. I would have bought your mystery novel anyway, but am even more excited to do so, now.

Chris, I don’t promise I’ll rush to get a book of analysis of Joyce, but this half Irish boy is now more curious about him.  Joy, I think you and I share a love of nature, and it was a pleasure to finally see your fine photos at the end.

Mary Vermillion

Mary Vermillion brings back Mara, her crime-solving sleuth, in "Seminal Murder."

And Jim, Jim, Jim. Yeah, you rusty old cowboy. I’m going to rent the new “True Grit” soon. And watch the old one right after it. And probably enjoy them both, even the bad Glen Campbell song.

Thanks, English Club, it was fun. English profs, you have another year to write your next books. Let’s do this again.

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