America first encountered “Movie Mike” Clark as a 10-year-old film expert on the hugely popular TV quiz show The $64,000 Question. I met him when he was attending the NYU Graduate School of Cinema and we’ve been friends ever since. He and I bonded over our love for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and our unexplainable interest in the little-remembered Keefe Brasselle. I’ve always enjoyed Mike’s writing, through the many years he served as film and then video critic for USA Today. If you’re not reading his DVD and Blu-ray critiques in Home Media magazine online you’re missing out on some of the most entertaining and well-informed reviews on the Internet. He often makes me laugh out loud.
Mike’s knowledge is vast and I daresay incalculable. He’s followed the home video world since its inception and can compare variant releases of films on vhs, laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray. As a critic his strongest suit is the era of his moviegoing youth, the 1950s and 60s. That’s why his just-published review of the new DVD release Go, Johnny, Go! (1959) is so valuable.
How many other people who approach this rock ‘n’ roll artifact actually remember disc jockey Alan Freed or Jimmy Clanton, along with Chuck Berry and Ritchie Valens? Who else would know that this movie played in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio on a double-bill with Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space?
Anyone can review a film but few people can place films of this era into the context of popular culture quite like Mike. He is surely the only person who managed to mention New York Yankees star Roger Maris in his writeup of Marlon Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks (1961).
Mike is quite capable of discussing Ingmar Bergman and Jean-Luc Godard but he shines in essays like this one about the MGM musical It’s Always Fair Weather (1955).
There isn’t enough time to read all the material that turns up online day after day, but I make time for Mike’s Home Media reviews. I urge you to do so, too.