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Site of the Week: The Ravin’ Maven

themave.jpgIf you were to describe Julie Stowe by the strict definition of her website’s title, she would be a stark raving mad freak for classic movies. And while she might prefer that description, you could also say she’s a knowledgeable proponent of classic films. The latter is probably more accurate: “I’ve always loved old movies,” she says. “It’s important for me to contribute to their preservation, and this is the best way I know how.”

More than a tribute or fan site, however, The Ravin’ Maven is an interactive time portal into a bygone era of Hollywood cinema. The site’s graphic design is, in Stowe’s own words, “a bit more…elaborate than most you see out there.” Flash pages feature biographies of her favorite stars. A section titled “Bijou Follies” offers up PDF copies of entertainment magazines and publications from the era. “The fan magazines of the day had a big impact,” she says. “No TV, no Internet, these magazines gave fans a chance to see and read and learn about their favorite movie stars.” Yet another section of Stowe’s site is devoted to her own original artwork — intricate airbrush portraits of classic stars like Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo. “I guess I’m one of those artistic types,” she says modestly, “and I like to paint movie stars that I’m crazy about.”

Much like a visit to her site, Stowe believes that watching movies should be an escapist experience. “If I want to watch something with a lot of noise, violence and bickering,” she says, “I can watch CNN. I like watching a movie that takes me out of reality, whether it be comedy, romance, mystery, sci-fi. And if I want to escape in a movie, nothing beats the old ones.”

Her audience agrees. “My Guest Book has posts from die-hard fans thanking me for keeping the memory of a star alive, to middle-school students doing research on a class project, to people in their 20s and 30s just discovering old movies for the first time,” she marvels. “It’s really quite gratifying to have a personal obsession have such an affect on people all over the world.”

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