Dr. Douglas Brode believes, as far as modern movies go, “Inception” is the best movie, while “Interstellar” is the worst movie out today.
As the semester comes to a close, Brode looks forward to releasing five, possibly six, new books in 2015 that will begin with an anthology of zombie stories to which he contributed. However, Brode eagerly stated, “I always look forward to teaching the following semester, particularly when I have students that I like and respect as much as my students at UTSA.”
Even at the age of five, Brode was infatuated with films. One film that particularly resonated with Brode was the 1948 Howard Hawks film, “Red River.” Brode described the movie as one of the top five Westerns of all time, but one thing he could never get out of his mind was the scene when Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) shoots Cherry Valance (John Ireland).
As the credits for “Red River” rolled, Brode could not figure out whether Valance was alive or dead. Brode was so intrigued by the scene that he watched the film on television several times but still could not be certain.
Brode attended Syracuse University, where he received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and doctorate in Shakespearean studies and creative writing. His mother’s work as a teacher also inspired Brode to attend a teachers’ college.
Five years later, still uncertain of Valance’s fate, Brode went backstage at a performance of “Abraham Lincoln” to ask Ireland himself about Valance’s fate. Ireland’s response was “Kid, they never even told me.”
From his childhood, Brode’s mother instilled in him a love of reading and writing. “I dictated stories to my mother,” he reminisced. “She wrote them down for me. And heaven help her if she got even one word wrong.”
Brode now holds many titles: teacher, film critic, screenwriter, playwright, novelist, graphic novelist, film historian and journalist. He always had a teaching job but found time to write books and review films, which required him to fly to Los Angeles. There, he would also attempt to sell his movie scripts.
“Everything was always interrelated,” Brode explained of his many titles. “I wanted to do many other things: act, direct, write, etc. And I did.”
Brode offered advice for aspiring film critics: “There was only one way to become a film critic: talk some newspaper, radio station or TV channel into hiring you. If you got lucky, one of those three would hire you. I got all three.”
He expounded, “Today, it’s different. While there are fewer newspapers now, meaning even fewer jobs, anyone who wants to can create a blog and set himself or herself up as a film critic.”
Brode has read, watched and critiqued many films, but he highlights Westerns, especially John Ford’s, and Shakespeare as his favorite genres.
Even after running into Ireland in the 1990s, Dr. Brode never learned the truth regarding Cherry Valance’s death.