At this blog, we coined the term “Home Projectionist” as a way to identify film fans (like us!) with a broad range of tastes and sensibilities who are always on the lookout for the next interesting movie to watch.
Our goal is to create a community of like-minded Home Projectionists because we like recommendations and feedback from real live people. It’s more fun than algorithms alone. Over the last few months, we’ve found that the liveliest conversations are taking place on with our Home Projectionist “What Are You Watching?” group on Facebook.
So, in the name of making HP-to-HP (Home Projectionist-to-Home Projectionist) connections, I’m introducing a new HP blog feature: Home Projectionist of the Month.
Meet HAROLD J. GAUGLER of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania (which, by the way, is northwest of Philadelphia).
I recently posed a few questions to Harold about his love for the movies, his top recommendations, favorite directors, and assorted other topics in Harold’s Movie Brain.
Was there a defining moment, a movie or a memory (or both) that made you a true film fan?
GAUGLER: As a child of the 1960s, I was part of the generation of kids who ran home from school every day to watch DARK SHADOWS (1966-1971), the popular afternoon soap opera about vampires, witches, ghosts, and werewolves. The star was Joan Bennett, who’d had a 30-year film career before moving into television.
Watching DARK SHADOWS with my mom all those years ago, I remember my mom saying, “That’s Joan Bennett. She used to be a movie star.” Immediately, I wanted to see her old movies.
Back in those days, there was a total of maybe eight TV stations, and on weekends the UHF channels would fill their schedules by showing old B&W movies from the 1930s through the 1950s. I spent many Sunday afternoons watching old movies with my mom. Her favorite star was Joan Crawford. I learned to love her too, and loved seeing old Joan Bennett movies, and seeing Barbara Stanwyck from THE BIG VALLEY (1965-1969) and Joan Blondell from HERE COME THE BRIDES (1968-1970) in their old films. I’ve been a fan of the movies and stars of Hollywood’s Classic Era, and in general all movies, ever since.
Are there any films (current or older) that you recently discovered and would recommend?
GAUGLER: I’m always discovering new movies, both current and older. One classic I recently watched for the first time was GUN CRAZY (1950), a highly regarded, low-budget film noir drama. John Dall plays a decent, honest man who has had a gun fixation since childhood (though not for killing), who falls in love with psychopathic carnival performer Peggy Cummins, who leads him into a life of crime. A fascinating look at violence in America and the link between sex and violence, with beautiful B&W cinematography, camera angles, plot twists, and superb performances by two underrated stars.
What are the top movies are you happy to watch again and again and again — and why?
GAUGLER: I have many stars who I count among my favorites, including Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Humphrey Bogart. But going back to my childhood, I’ve ALWAYS loved actresses! Starting with Joan Bennett, I’ve always loved watching movies with a strong female lead. Bette Davis in almost anything. Joan Crawford in her 1940’s Warner Brothers period. The heroines of screwball comedies. The femme fatales of film noir.
One I happily watch again and again in John Cromwell’s CAGED (1950), with Eleanor Parker, as an innocent accomplice to her husband’s crime, who is corrupted by the heartless penal system and the career criminals she is incarcerated with. A superb star performance by Eleanor Parker and a great cast of supporting actresses highlight this grim but entertaining film.
Another, much more recent is THE HOURS (2002). Every moment of this film fascinates me. And in her sequences, Julianne Moore gives one of the all-time great performances of any actress.
THE BIG CHILL (1983) may be my favorite movie of the last 30 years. I’m slightly younger than the amazing ensemble cast, but I identify with their struggles between the free spiritedness of the hippie era and the conformity of moving into middle age. It’s a landmark film in my life, one I never tire of watching again and again.
Who are your favorite directors and actors?
GAUGLER: Jean Arthur, Joan Bennett, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer, James Cagney, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, John Garfield, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, Charles Laughton, Ida Lupino, Joel McCrea, Dorothy McGuire, Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe, Eleanor Parker, William Powell, Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stannwyck, James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan.
Do you have a favorite era or genre?
GAUGLER: I love film noir, like DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), SCARLET STREET (1945), MILDERD PIERCE (1945), OUT OF THE PAST (1947) and screwball comedies like MY MAN GODFREY (1936), THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937), THE LADY EVE (1941), and THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943) — among many others.
What kind of equipment or setup do you have — a home theater? big screen tv? pc? other? What do you prefer?
GAUGLER: I have a DVD player and a small 28” flat screen TV. I’m not interested in interactive menu’s, alternate endings, and whatever else Blu-ray has to offer. I enjoy the commentaries on some films, especially the classics. But when I watch a movie, I want to watch a movie. I don’t need the extras. I do plan to get a much bigger flat screen TV when it’s in my budget. But having grown up on watching TV on a small screen, it’s really not that big a deal for me….
What are your go-to movie sites or blogs, including any blogs you contribute to?
Any final thoughts on movies or being a “Home Projectionist”?
GAUGLER: Most of my answers have been about films from Hollywood’s classic era. But I also watch films of today. I think Sean Penn is an amazing actor. There’s not a better actor among his generation today. I love Diane Keaton with all my heart! Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner, Viggo Mortenson, and so many others….
If you want to find out more about what Harold is watching next — or tell us about what you’re watching as well — visit the Home Projectionist “What Are You Watching?” Facebook page.
‘Til next time…