Two of Perry Taylor’s earliest experiences of B movies were attending Saturday matinees at the Osborne Theatre and watching the Second World War Sherlock Holmes movies on CBC television. Years later, as a young teenager, Perry would bus downtown to catch the weekly double feature at Winnipeg’s Lyceum Theatre. He came to feel that watching double features lay the heart of what Pauline Kael called “movie love.”
At university, Perry discovered a circle of young movie enthusiasts who broadened his approach to film. He became enthralled with the movies of Fritz Lang, Orson Welles and John Ford. This led him to play with the idea of making movies himself (bad idea) and more realistically inspired a lifelong fascination with filmmakers who, working in the impersonal Hollywood system—both at the A-feature and the B-movie levels—managed to make distinctly personal films.
In 2003, Perry viewed the UCLA Film Lab restorations of the wartime Sherlock Holmes B movies. After years of watching these films on fuzzy, unrestored TV prints, he was shocked at the striking cinematography revealed in the restored version. How could such cheap, quickly made movies look so good? Perry resolved to find out how and why the Sherlock Holmes series was made, and this in turn led to ongoing research into the making of B movies.
Perry has come to the view that the impersonal, commercially manufactured B movies of the '30s and '40s developed into a distinctive cinema form, one that allowed at times (only at times, unfortunately) for freshness and sudden bursts of unexpected creativity.
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At the University of Winnipeg, Perry pursued a jumble of interests: Victorian novels, film study, poetry and political philosophy. These mixed pursuits equipped him for a happy 35 years teaching in the School of Humanities at Vancouver Community College. Since retiring, he has been teaching (also happily) at Simon Fraser’s Continuing Studies department.
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