Here I am a full 5 years into Mike’s Take On the Movies and hopefully still displaying a passion for classic movies from 1999 back to the silent era. I know a good majority of the films I spotlight are those starring actors I’ve always followed and genres that have been my favorites though I do try to throw everyone a curveball on occasion with a musical or a straight up drama. Not that I don’t like musicals and as a matter of fact pretty much every time I give one a go I scratch my head and think to myself that I should check more of them out. Then I look at the movie shelves here and see nothing but westerns starring me in the face.

So what grabbed me this year in the world of movies and collecting memorabilia?

Let’s kick this overview off with some titles of a more recent vintage and point out I have very little time in keeping up with new releases at movie theaters or the Netflix universe. Hardly a day goes by that someone at work isn’t telling me of a movie or series I need to check out that is currently streaming. Theaters visits this year were minimal but I did catch a couple I’d recommend. Widows and why not take in the new Clint Eastwood effort, The Mule. As a kid who grew up on Eastwood I welcomed the opportunity to see him one more time on the big screen.

Memorable features I finally took in that I would like to recommend include Hidden Figures, Spotlight, Florence Foster Jenkins, Bridge of Spies and Drive. Thrillers that gave me a chill include The Conjuring, Don’t Breathe, Dreamhouse and The Skeleton Key.

Titles not to watch? Sorry Tom but The Mummy and Jack Reacher : Never Go Back kind of top my list of mistakes made this year. Added to that list is Cell. Man would I love to have my 90 minutes back for that error in judgement or at least the upfront paycheck that Cusack and Jackson took home.

Other movies that come to mind worth taking a peek at include Saving Mr. Banks, Sicario, Desperate Horizon. Murder On the Orient Express (Branagh) and Man Down, an interesting Shia LaBeouf drama.

A special thankyou to all who take the time to put together the “Blogathons” that offer up a chance to contribute something on a favorite theme or actor. My contributions this year included Mother Lode for the Canadian Blogathon, a pair of George Kennedy titles for the small screen festivities, and blogathons dedicated to actors I signed on for included Michael Caine, Joseph Cotton and Rock Hudson. I really need to get on board more of these and will try to get at least 6 under my belt in 2019.

I did buy out a collector looking to sell off his extensive list of one sheets which netted me some firsts. My first original Gable title, a couple of Bogarts, numerous Glenn Ford titles, a Monty Clift one sheet. Yes plenty of awesome additions to the poster collection that continues to grow including a bunch of inserts and half sheets like this stunning 1965 re-release copy of The Bribe. A movie that many might remember due to the extensive footage used in the Carl Reiner/Steve Martin comedy, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.

2018 brought Brando the wiener dog along for a monthly look at movies featuring canine stars and in the year ahead I think we’ll branch out to other animals. Who knows maybe we’ll see what my little buddy has to say about The Cat From Outer Space. For a recap of titles we covered this year give it a look.

The VHS Action heroes began this year when 4 bloggers who live in the past teamed up to begin what should be a quarterly get together with a theme to spotlight around the 70’s and 80’s. My first round pick went to Charles Bronson as a theme which should come as no surprise to regulars here.

Looking for something a bit different? Try slumming with George Zucco or catching up with some forgotten horror titles of the VHS era.

My range of titles and genres run the gamut from Gary Busey to Roy Rogers action adventures over to Disney films to Jess Franco and his zoom lens specials and about face to the gentle Ernest Borgnine winning his Oscar for Marty. Yes I do love all sorts of classic and the not so classic titles of yesteryear. I even went on a vampire fest of my own featuring this 70’s cult classic that I love to recommend when chatting up films featuring blood suckers.

New discoveries of old films for me would include the Noir 99 River Street with John Payne of which an original one sheet also now rests here in the vault and the Douglas Fairbanks Jr. swashbuckler The Fighting O’Flynn, a film I instantly fell in love with. I was also reminded this year of just how much I MISS GENE HACKMAN on screen after revisiting The Crimson Tide and Get Shorty. I must say it really was a pleasure growing up during his run of making movies. Other pleasurable revisits included The Train, The Professionals and The Uninvited to name just a fraction of the many I love to go back and rewatch.

I could of course go on and on …… and I think I will throwing out some more titles at you that reminded me of why I love to turn the clock back to simpler times. These include two literary adaptions from the 1930’s. The Wallace Beery version of Treasure Island and the James Whale production of The Man In the Iron Mask. I settled in to watch six westerns back to back in July that starred lovely Virginia Mayo, seeing Neville Brand play out his own version of Borgnine’s Marty in Return From the Sea came as a surprise and then there was the must see The Sicilian Clan with Alain Delon, Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura.

I was off to the Monster Bash in Mars, PA twice this year and that offered up plenty of classic monsters in the Universal and Hammer world of movie making. It’s a fest that encompasses all the fun of growing up on classic horrors and of course Ray Harryhausen. This year I had the good fortune to meet Patrick Wayne and have him sign my original 1977 one sheet, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger which the fest also ran in the hall. If you’re up for it, perhaps I’ll see you all there in 2019 when the ladies of Hammer are making an appearance.

I’ll be the first to admit that a great deal of the pleasure I get from keeping this blog up and running is featuring posters and memorabilia from my collection and truthfully, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I have tucked away and just a couple months ago I finally embarked upon cataloging the posters I have buried here. I recently spotlighted this endeavor and the fact that I had an autographed Alec Guinness poster here and never knew it. Some of this years galleries included as a topic, David Carradine, Sophia Loren, Bruce Lee imposters which was plenty of fun, Jeff Chandler, Sean Connery and plenty of other ideas including the now playing sections of old newspapers. These are great fun to discover when I’m out hunting old curio shops and flea markets.

Here’s a little known fact I was reminded of in full force this Christmas. Show me It’s a Wonderful Life and I’ll need a box of Kleenex. What a great experience to sit back and watch this movie after a good five or so years. Then the next night I sat back and watched the Kirk Douglas epic Spartacus which for my money has always been a love story at heart and when Jean Simmons has her big scene at the end, I went looking for a second box of tissues. I’ve been in love with her ever since seeing that movie as a young teen.

2018 brought sad news as well when Burt Reynolds, another of my generations biggest stars passed and I’ll miss him. Little did I know while reading his engaging book this year, But Enough About Me, that he’d be joining many of those he was writing about, sharing his memories of folks like Spencer Tracy, Charles Durning and Hal Needham.

Guilty pleasures? How about Fire Maidens of Outer Space or High School Caesar. Surely you have one of your own. And what you might ask is the most popular thing I’ve featured here at Mike’s Take based on traffic? For the second straight year in a landslide victory it’s a Britt Ekland thriller that has me wondering just what people expect to find here.

Time to shut this down and see you all in 2019. May all of you have a safe and happy New Year moving forward and thankyou for your continuing visits here at Mike’s Take. Know they are greatly appreciated. Resolutions anyone? I’m not going to set the bar too high. Hoping to get to Mars for the Monster Bash in June, do a couple more themes this year over the course of a few days on occasion including watching some Oscar winning performances that have somehow passed me by, join in on blogathons, continue my hunt for movie posters and lastly hope all my nagging here at home pays off next Christmas when under the tree I’ll find “the stuff that dreams are made of.” Is that setting the bar too high?

Till next time……