Well, it’s been a long time, friends, but I’m still out here, chipping away at my student loan debts and my next novel (Anatomy of a Melancholy Baby – which will be coming your way in 2017, I hope).

Like many film lovers, I’ve been enjoying Letterboxd, and I wanted to invite you to connect with me there, if you’re so inclined. These public checklists are great for encouraging obsessive behaviour, as evidenced by my recent drive to gain a comprehensive overview of an entire year’s worth of films made at Warner Brothers (the year 1938, to be precise). I hope to write something mildly substantive about the experience once I make it through all 49 of the 51 titles which remain accessible to 21st century eyes (I’ve got 14 under my belt so far), but until then I’ll mostly just be jotting down Maltin style blurbs and star ratings. The only exception to that terse pattern so far has been Four Daughters (1938), a lifelong favourite of mine. I’ll reproduce it here, for those of you who’ve resisted the pull of cine-social media.


Chiefly known these days as the film that introduced John Garfield to the world (at least, the world beyond leftist New York theatre), and that’s a pretty righteous claim to fame, but FOUR DAUGHTERS has a lot of other things going for it. Michael Curtiz was nearly infallible during the 1930s and early 1940s, even when he found himself working with a lacklustre script (witness his extraordinary treatment of the throwaway Perry Mason vehicle CASE OF THE CURIOUS BRIDE for Exhibit “A”), and when the words are there too (courtesy of the underrated Lenore Coffee and future CASABLANCA/STRAWBERRY BLONDE collaborator Julius J. Epstein, working off a blueprint set forth by novelist Fannie Hurst), the results are impressive indeed.

As with just about any Warner film from this period, the cast is brimming with personality (Claude Rains, May Robson, Frank McHugh, in particular, are among the best and most likeable character actors of the era; while Jeffrey Lynn, Dick Foran, Gale Page, the non-Priscilla Lanes, and Vera Lewis are all perfect in their respective niches). But, of course, it’s the dynamite pairing of Garfield and Priscilla Lane that takes centre stage in this film (perhaps even more so than the screenwriters intended).

Structurally, the film stands pretty much alone within the context of 1930s Hollywood cinema in its unique approach to the love triangle trope – offering plot twists and misdirection that would have been startling at the time (and which still, I think, take the viewer by surprise – it certainly made an impact on me, when I first saw it as a teenager, about 30 years ago). Proponents of the Studio as Auteur (“Studiauteur”) Theory such as Ethan Mordden like to focus on Warner’s purely proletarian pedigree (and rightly so), but in some ways it’s even more interesting to note what happens to the cosy suburban middle-class MGM courtship drama once Hal Wallis et al. get a hold of it (THE SISTERS also shares in this project – although it’s a much less successful film). The film goes all out to create a tangibly likeable version of the mid-20th century’s ideal of an optimistic, bourgeois family in the Lemps before going to work on that vulnerable conception with Garfield’s pick axe line readings (“You needn’t be so noble. Tea is only is only a little hot water.”) I think it works best to read the film as a bildungsroman (or whatever the cinematic equivalent of that term is). In Priscilla Lane’s Ann, Warners gives us its take on the birth of the New (Deal) Woman out of the successive shocks of the Jazz Age and the Great Depression. As Garfield’s Mickey Borden helpfully points out (he’s a great one for metafictional by-play) when he wanders into the Lemps’ sitcom Elysium: “I see what I’m up against here – the ‘gay young thing’ type.” By the end of the film, she’s something else entirely – she’s a person who has seen and experienced what it’s like to live at the ragged end of hope (in a place where a burned pot of vegetable soup can evaporate into tragedy) and still has the will to hop on that rusty gate for another, more mindful, swing at happiness. That’s the Popular Front Dream in human form.

See you around, friends!

Perhaps at Another Kind of Distance (my time travel film podcast with Elise Moore),  Ben Days of Our Lives (my 1980s comics nostalgia podcast, also with Elise Moore), or possibly even back here, every once in a while.



Hypocritic Days

Hello everyone!

Unfortunately, I have no idea when I’ll ever be able to get back to blogging (even with the siren song of a completed King Vidor film series echoing in my head), but I have not been idle!

For one thing, Insomniac Press has published my time travel novel, Hypocritic Days – and I would be very excited to learn what my long time internet interlocutors think of the book, which tackles so many of the themes that I have been preoccupied with in postings lo these many years – i.e. genre fiction and existentialism, old Hollywood (with a particular focus on Carl Laemmle Jr’s tenure at Universal and on actress Helen Chandler), and the relationship between pop culture and democratic politics.

You can find the book in lots of places, including:






See you around, friends!


(Also, here’s an effervescent image created by my friend, John Faithful Hamer)



Greetings friends!

Just in case you’re still out there, I wanted to alert you to the existence of a new pop crit venture I’ve undertaken, in partnership with the glorious Elise Moore. Our plan? To discuss every time travel movie ever made. (We’ll also be delving into TV, comics, short stories, and novels, whenever we can conjure up the time to do so.)

Our first cast concerns a pair of meditations on the uncannily paradoxical relationship between romantic love and absence – William Dieterle’s Portrait of Jennie (1948) and Jeannot Szwarc’s Somewhere in Time (1980).

No iTunes feed yet, but I can discern the lineaments of its eventual appearance.

Hope you’ll give it a try!

Yours in Time,


Greetings friends —

Just wanted to remind you that I’m working ’round the clock to provide the best Hot Docs coverage I can muster. I’ve got six reviews up at Sound on Sight – and you can expect a lot more in the week ahead!

Hope to see you there!


Hot Docs 2013

Dear Anagramsci Readers–

Hope you’ll consider following my coverage of Hot Docs 2013 for Sound on Sight magazine. You can find a complete round-up of my pieces right here (and I’ll be doing a fair bit of tweeting as well, as @milescoverdale). I’m planning to see (and review) more than 20 of the docs on the festival docket – and I’ve been fortunate to receive several advance screeners of the documentaries, so things are already well under way!

Good afternoon friends!




vlcsnap-2012-07-22-18h54m42s71Dear Anagramsci (and Motime) Readers:

Please note that my new culture-blogging home is right here (at Sound on Sight Magazine). I’ll be writing about comics, movies and maybe even television, at some point. At the moment, I’m winding up my press coverage of the Toronto Silent Film Festival (which it has been a real privilege to attend). Hope you’ll bookmark that first link – or at least check in on what I’m up to over there, from time to time.

And don’t hesitate to comment, quarrel (I’ll be making it a priority to respond promptly!) and share these pieces with others!

Thanks friends!


Hello friends!

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Craigslist lately (looking for new places to live) and discovering all over again what a cultural studies goldmine that place is. The experience has put me in the mood to revive an old idea of mine — i.e. translating some of the choicest “Missed Connection” pleas/vague threats into reasonably objective discourse.

Expect to read these on a fairly regular basis from now on (they’re a lot quicker to write than my King Vidor posts!).

We’ll kick things off with a little gem from my current town of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:

Walnut Grove Pool…youre the tall swim teacher – m4w – 23 (Walnut Grove)

Our eyes met ar walnut grove pool this afternoon/evening….you are the tall gorgeous swim teacher…i was awkwardly flying down the slide with my two little neices and saw you there…we locked a few other times and shared a smile or two.. I hope to see those stunning eyes and long black hair one more time..

I hope the kid in your class gave you my note…if not ..maybe just maybe we will connect again.

If this person had any self-knowledge, the post might have gone a little something like this:

Walnut Grove Pool… You should probably find another job, because I’m never going to leave you alone – mstalkw – 23 

I couldn’t help ogling you while you were trying to teach kids how to swim today. I’m a creepy, physically spastic uncle who often drags my adorable nieces to public places where it is acceptable to go semi-nude in an attempt to convince the women I see there that I’m good, solid boyfriend material. You shot me a few worried glances and nervous smiles, and this only served to stoke the fire of my one-way desire for your bikini clad bod. I also like your eyes and long black hair – I hope you don’t get that restraining order right away, ’cause I’d like to see ’em again. Next time I’ll snap pictures so I can make you my screensave sweetheart.

Did you like the way I forced a little kid to mess with your pedagogic dynamic by getting him to treat you like a piece of meat instead of a figure to be respected and heeded? I’ve got a lot of other tricks like that up my sleeve, so don’t go getting comfortable, you hear?

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