Forgive my diversion into TV for a moment, but like a lot of you, I’ve gotten hooked on the new season of TWIN PEAKS. I coveted the silk robe Agent Cooper‘s former secretary Diane Evans wore in Part 7. Its colors and floral pattern look like something I’d wear because of my vintage sensibilities. When I went hunting for a good image of it, I stumbled across the photo of Cooper in his bathrobe in an earlier season. Again another red robe, but his looks like a Pendleton with abstract snow-capped mountains. Two red robes reflecting their wearer’s tastes and gender, but seemingly calling out to each other between seasons, symbolically marking each for the other half of the pair they once were. The more concrete print of her robe is a stronger image for a woman who wears bold clothes, maybe once simply for fashion, but perhaps now they buck her up and distract her from the bitterness and pain of her broken heart.
By msbethg in 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, Alice Guy Blaché, Claire Parker, Classic Film, Contests, Directors, Documentaries, Dorothy Arzner, Drama, Era, Experimental, Foreign, French, Genres, Germaine Dulac, Leni Riefenstahl, Lois Weber, Lotte Reiniger, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Marie-Louise Iribe, Mary Ellen Bute, Maya Deren, Mrs. Wallace Reid, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, Series, Silent Film, Women Film Directors 4 Comments Tags: #52FilmsByWomen, Alice Guy Blaché, American, An International Anthology, animation, anthology, Blu-ray, cinema, Claire Parker, classic, commercial, contest, director, directors, doc, documentaries, documentary, Dorothy Arzner, Dorothy Davenport, dvd, Early Women Filmmakers, experimental, experimental film, feature, feature films, features, female, film, film history, filmmaker, filmmakers, filmmaking, films, Flicker Alley, Frederick Hodges, French, Germaine Dulac, German, international, Judith Rosenberg, Kate Saccone, Leni Riefenstahl, live-action, Lois Weber, Lotte Reiniger, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Marie-Louise Iribe, Mary Ellen Bute, Maya Deren, Milestone Film, Milestone Film and Video, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, movie, movies, Mrs. Wallace Reid, narrative, narratives, new releases, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, rare, restoration, restored, Rodney Sauer, Russian, Sergei Dreznin, set, Shelley Stamp, short, shorts, silent, Silent Film, silents, Tamar Muskal, TCM, Trailblazing Women, Turner Classic Movies, woman, women, Women Film Pioneers Project, World
Flicker Alley, a boutique distributor of classic and rare films, contacted me about another great contest they’re running. Of course, I said yes to spread the word of their brand new release I thoroughly believe in, and I’m going to give you a chance to win a copy. It’s called EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY.
Projects like #52FilmsByWomen and TCM‘s TRAILBLAZING WOMEN have drawn attention to the often forgotten, neglected, underpromoted, and underseen works of women directors. These are contemporary problems. Women were involved in every aspect of the nascent film industry. Early women filmmakers made product intended to be consumed by an audience comprised largely of female peers, and stars of their movies were usually women, who were paid higher salaries than their male acting counterparts.
Despite their achievements, many early women filmmakers have been written out of film history, and their contributions have been undervalued or misattributed. As in the case of Alice Guy-Blaché, their “firsts” may have been given away to now more famous males. Flicker Alley’s new release EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY will be a resource for those wanting to learn more about the talented women of world cinema. New audiences, no matter where they live, will have a way to see and experience these movies, which is much better than possessing only academic knowledge of them. Restoring films to the canon requires accessibility.
On May 9, Flicker Alley releases EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY on dual-Format edition Blu-ray/DVD. The set showcases fourteen of early cinema’s most innovative and influential women directors, rewriting and celebrating their rightful place in film history. The directors are Alice Guy-Blaché, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, Marie-Louise Iribe, Lotte Reiniger, Claire Parker, Mrs. Wallace Reid (Dorothy Davenport), Leni Riefenstahl, Mary Ellen Bute, Dorothy Arzner, and Maya Deren.
The directors are represented by ten hours of material restored to high definition. Their twenty-five films span four decades (1902-1943). Many are rare titles not widely available until now. Expect shorts to feature films, live-action to animation, and commercial narratives to experimental works. These women’s technical and stylistic innovations pushed boundaries of subject matter, narrative, aesthetics, and genre. For a complete list of films included on the set, please visit Flicker Alley here.
Bonus Materials include:
- New Scores by Sergei Dreznin, Frederick Hodges, Tamar Muskal, Judith Rosenberg, and Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
- Booklet Essay by film scholar and Women Film Pioneers Project Manager Kate Saccone.
- Audio Commentary For Lois Weber’s THE BLOT (1921) by author, professor, and expert on women and early film culture Shelley Stamp, courtesy of Milestone Film and Video.
One lucky winner will receive a copy of EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY from Flicker Alley! The giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada, and the contest ends on May 22, 2017. To enter, comment on this post and then fill-out the form below. Tell me which early woman filmmaker you admire or want to learn more about!
By msbethg in Actresses, Directors, Feud, Happy Birthday, Jessica Lange, Joan Crawford, John Waters, Series, TV Shows, William Castle Tags: actress, actresses, B, B movies, B-movie, book, cameo, camp, campy, Castle, Crawford, director, directors, Divine, Divine Trash, Dreamlander, Feud, film, filmmaking, films, FX, gimmick, gimmicks, Hagsploitation, Hollywood gothic, horror, I'm Going to Scare the Pants Off America, independent, indie, Joan, Joan Crawford, John Waters, low budget, Massachusetts, master, memoir, miniseries, movie, movie-making, movies, Odorama, Polyester, premiere, Provincetown, Ryan Murphy, shock, shockmeister, show, Step Right Up!, store, Strait-Jacket, stunt, stunts, television, thrift, TV, TV show, vintage, Waters, William Castle
I grew up in a John Waters household, so when I caught up with FEUD (2017), I was delighted to watch his cameo as shockmeister William Castle. My parents went to Waters’ movies, and my mom owns an ODODRAMA card gotten at a first run screening of POLYESTER (1981). Living in Massachusetts close enough to The Cape that Provincetown could be a day jaunt, she thinks she shopped in Dreamlander Divine‘s thrift shop, which he ran in his poor, pre-fame days. It was only a matter of time until we shared some of Waters’ movies together. I’ve now seen most of his films and read most of his books.
Which is how I know it was an honor for him to play Castle. Physically, the two men were very different. Waters has remained trim while Castle was heavier in comparison and thicker haired. FEUD show creator Ryan Murphy didn’t want Waters costumed to resemble Castle. No, fat suit as Waters said. Murphy was aware those in this know would delight in how meta it would be for Castle disciple Waters to appear as himself when portraying the other director.
If you haven’t read Castle’s memoir STEP RIGHT UP! I’M GOING TO SCARE THE PANTS OFF AMERICA, you need to. Waters wrote a loving and nostalgic introduction on how seeing Castle’s gimmicky movies as a kid inspired a love of cinema and the outrageous. There’s a joy in both directors’ works at defying convention to pursue their own visions. Keep on reading after the introduction, and you’ll learn a lot about B-movie making on shoestring budgets, including what it was like to work with Joan Crawford on STRAIT-JACKET (1964).
Happy birthday to John Waters, who doesn’t think he’s ever topped William Castle, but got to be him for a day! That must have been his best early birthday present.
By msbethg in 1920s, Actresses, Cecil B. DeMille, Chicago (1927), Directors, Era, Film Festivals, Frank Urson, Genres, Movies, Phyllis Haver, Silent Film, Toronto Silent Film Festival Tags: 1920s, 1927, 20s, Beulah Annan, Bobby Franks, Canada, Cecil B. DeMille, Chicago, Chicago Tribune, drunk, drunks, Eugene O'Neill, film fest, film festival film festivals, film fests, flapper, flappers, Flicker Alley, Fox Theatre, Frank Urson, George Pierce Baker, Jordan Klapman, Leopold and Loeb, lover, Maurine Dallas Watkins, Maurine Watkins, murder, Murderess Row, Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr., Nathan Leopold, newspaper, Phyllis Haver, Prohibition, reporter, reporters, Richard Albert Loeb, Richard Loeb, Roxie Hart, shooting, shot, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, Toronto, Toronto Silent Film Festival
A newspaper photographer poses a pretty flapper with platinum curls wearing not much more than a peignoir over a man’s lifeless body. Don’t worry. He’s not really dead. He’s playing her real victim, who’s lying cold elsewhere. Welcome to CHICAGO where a girl gunner gets priority in print over her victim! She was the one who was going to sell papers, and she did. In the movie, her name is Roxie Hart, but in real life her name was Beulah Annan, and she would take her place on “Murderess Row” where she awaited trial and attempted to maximize her beauty and newfound fame into an acquittal. Reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins covered Annan’s case. If Annan was an angel of death, then Watkins wanted to be an avenging angel with her words as her weapon.
Watkins didn’t start out wanting to be a reporter. She intended to live a quiet academic life of language and religious studies, but she changed her mind after her short stories earned her a place in George Pierce Baker‘s prestigious playwriting workshop. Baker, a mentor of Eugene O’Neill, encouraged Watkins to go out and experience life for her work. Suddenly her purpose crystallized for her; she felt called to engage evil, and she’d do it through her writing. Like O’Neill, she became a reporter, and she chose to work in Chicago since she saw it as a hotbed of sin, and she applied to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE because it was “a real hanging paper—out for conviction always.”
Watkins was sure Annan was guilty. She had shot her lover in the back after drinking two quarts of wine with him, so her defense of preventing dishonor didn’t seem believable. Watkins wrote biting and acerbic pieces mocking Annan and the attitudes that might free her. Annan would be audacious enough to claim to be pregnant, but cynical Watkins feared Annan’s being a woman was enough to avoid conviction. Juries were only composed of men, who held Victorian views of women. As a youthful and beautiful woman, Annan might walk away from her crime. The prosecutor entreated the jury not “to let another pretty woman go out and say ‘I got away with it!’” Since Annan and Hart received the same verdict, you’ll have to watch them film to find out what it was!
Watkins covered crime for six months. Her last case was the Bobby Franks murder. She interviewed Leopold and Loeb and provided pre-trial coverage of the pair. She suddenly switched to movie reviews. She may have burnt out on covering murders, but she definitely was biding time until she could reunite with Baker to work on a play she had started, one ultimately called CHICAGO. Watkins distanced herself from her newspaper work, and no mention of it was made to promote her play. Her play was a hit, and when the offer came in to adapt it for the screen, her services were declined. She wrote other plays and eventually screenplays, including LIBELED LADY (1936).
By msbethg in 1930s, Actors, Alfred Hitchcock, Directors, Era, Jamaica Inn (1939), Movies, Norman Lloyd 2 Comments Tags: Alfred Hitchcock, BAFTA LA, Cohen Film Classics, Cohen Media Group, Flicker Alley, granddaughter, granddaughters, Hitch, Hitchcock, Hollywood, interview, interviews, Jamaica Inn, Katie Fiala, KCET, KCETLink, Link TV, Los Angeles, Norman Lloyd, party, premiere, red carpet, Tere Carrubba
I’m back in after the JAMAICA INN (1939) premiere party, winding down and thinking abut what a great night it was. My first red carpet went well. Norman Lloyd, Tere Carrubba, and Katie Fiala were generous interviewees. They were eager to talk about and connect over Alfred Hitchcock. I recorded our conversations, so I may release the audio at some point, but look for a write-up of the event and a review of the film soon. First I’ll be co-hosting a Flicker Alley Blu-ray/DVD contest. Details will go live at 9 AM PDT!
By msbethg in 1930s, Actresses, Alfred Hitchcock, Directors, Era, Maureen O'Hara, Screening Alert, Series 3 Comments Tags: A Mighty Wind, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, BAFTA LA, Best in Show, Charles Laughton, Charles S. Cohen, Cohen, Cohen Film Classics, Cohen Media Group, family, Fred Willard, granddaughter, granddaughters, Hitch, Hitchcock, Hollywood, Katie Fiala, KCET, KCETLink, Link TV, Los Angeles, Margaret Herrick Library, Mary Stone, Mary Yellen, Maureen O'Hara, Norman Lloyd, redhead, redheads on film, Saboteur, spellbound, Tere Carrubba
Sharing a black and white picture of Maureen O’Hara after and not on St. Patrick’s day might seem like a mistake. The Irish-born actress’s trademark was her flame red hair crowning her head in glory in technicolor pictures, so sharing a color photo of her to celebrate the holiday would’ve been festive, but that’s not what I’m celebrating today.
Tonight I’m in Los Angeles to watch JAMAICA INN (1939) for the first time. I’ve been invited as press to cover a special screening organized by KCETLink, the Cohen Media Group, and BAFTA LA. It celebrates KCET and Link TV’s broadcast premiere of the movie, the last one Alfred Hitchcock shot in the United Kingdom.
As part of the festivities, there’ll be a red carpet, which I’ve been credentialed for, so that marks a first for this film writer and her blog. Celebrity guests include Norman Lloyd (SABOTUER, SPELLBOUND, and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS) and Fred Willard (BEST IN SHOW and A Mighty Wind). There’ll be an exhibition of behind-the-scenes photographs of Hitchcock organized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library. All three of the director’s granddaughters will be in attendance, and they’ll participate in a panel discussion moderated by host of the COHEN FILM CLASSICS series Charles S. Cohen.
When I heard that last fact, I had to rearrange my schedule to attend. I’m not sure how often his granddaughters (Tere Carrubba, Katie Fiala and Mary Stone) are in one place, and I can’t wait to hear what they share about their grandfather. I’ll be sure to share what live experiences I can on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, and you’ll definitely find more in-depth coverage here at a later date.
For now enjoy this picture of O’Hara as JAMAICA INN’s Mary Yellen. Even after a sub-par screen test, its male lead and producer Charles Laughton insisted she be cast as his co-star. He was bewitched by her eyes, and it’s easy to see why.
By msbethg in 1950s, 1960s, Actresses, Directors, Era, John Cassavetes, Judy Holliday, Nightmare in Wax (1969), Roger Corman, Series, The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956), Vista Theater 18 Comments Tags: 1950s, 1956, 1960s, 1967, 1969, 50s, 60’s, Art Deco, Cassavetes, Devil's Angels, end, fifties, film, film leader, film leaders, film stock, film title, film titles, films, found, found film, frame, frames, Gladys Glover, head, It Should Happen to You, John Cassavetes, Judy Holliday, movie, movie theater, movie theaters, movie theatre, movie theatres, movies, Nightmare in Wax, nitrate, nitrate film, prize, prize night, Rio Vista, Rio Vista Museum, Roger Corman, safety, safety film, safety stock, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, sixties, The Solid Gold Cadillac, theater, theaters, theatre, theatres, Vista Theater, Wednesday, Wednesday prize night
Living in a former movie theatre, it was the architecture of the place that connected my home to its former function–until this week. This week I went up into my attic, the former projection booth, to see how its roof has been holding up under the recent barrage of rain. My landlord was too good at clearing away the materials associated with movie exhibition. Most of the items in my attic were from recent tenants who used it as a dumping ground. I happened to notice a plastic shopping bag that hadn’t caught my eye before, and I picked it up to see what was inside. I found film!
As you can see above, the film isn’t in great shape. I stuck my nose in the bag to sniff. I was looking for a vinegar odor. That’s what decaying nitrate film stinks like. No such luck or peril! Touching the film, it felt like plastic. It must be safety stock. You can see the pieces vary in length, but all are short, and some have masking tape notations, which state the names of the movies they were once attached to. I had found mostly film leaders, the heads and ends of film used to thread movies into projectors.
I sorted through all the pieces to see if any contained images of interest. Most did not. I found some pieces with their titles imprinted on their frames, and I found three fragments of one theatre-specific film. I’ve included pictures of the ones that caught my attention the most in this post.
Two things I love about the above film leader–my home started as a silent movie theatre, so it’s fun to find a piece labelled sound, and the stencil font used is striking and vintage.
NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1969) was a low budget horror movie that revisited the mad man populating his wax museum with stolen bodies plot.
Long-term readers of this blog know I am a Judy Holliday fan. I was smiling almost as big as Gladys Glover when she sees her first billboard when I found part of THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC (1956) in my hands!
The above is my favorite! I’m guessing it is the oldest I found since it touts a Wednesday prize night, and it sports an Art Deco motif under the text. I’m going to take a closer look at it for dating. A visit to my town’s museum might help me find out what years the theatre ran their promotion. I’ve been meaning to go anyway!
By msbethg in 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1990s, Actresses, Carmen Miranda, Cry-Baby, Directors, Era, Film Fanatic Gear, John Waters, Movies, Series, Traci Lords Tags: 1930s, 1940s, 1990, 1990s, bobbypinsco, Brazillian, California, Californian, Carmen Miranda, collectibles, collecting, Cry-Baby, Fashion, fifties, film fan, film fanatic, forties, gear, John Waters, line, Luso, Luso-Brazilian, memorabilia, Miss Ladybug, Miss Ladybug California, nineties, nostalgia, pin-up, pinup, Pinup Girl, Pinup Girl Clothing, Portuguese, PUG, repro, repro vintage, reproduction, reproduction vintage, t-shirt, t-shirts, tee, tees, thirties, Traci Lords, vintage, vintage style, Wanda Woodward
Today I’m giving you a peek at two recent acquisitions. As we know, it’s very hard for film fanatics to resist collecting all sorts of memorabilia, and I’m no exception. I tend to amass movie books to build my own reference library, but my latest pieces are both items I can wear. I bought them from Californian repro vintage company Pinup Girl Clothing.
Do you recognize the woman portrayed by the pin? She’s Wanda Woodward, the desperate to be bad suburban girl from a loving and supportive home in John Waters‘ Cry-Baby (1990). Waters has written of how he admired the tough girls at school, and Wanda is a fifties embodiment of them–big hair, bright red lips, winged eyeliner, tight clothes, and fierce attitude. Twenty-six years from the movie’s release, she’s having a pop culture resurgence. There are t-shirt lines featuring at least her famous line, “Beat it, Creep!” One of the tops is even by her portrayer Traci Lords, so of course her visage is on those tees. I like this pin from bobbypinsco. It’s pretty and subtle. You’re either in the know about who the woman is or simply assume the wearer has vintage tastes.
I’ve written about Luso-Brazilian entertainer Carmen Miranda before, and now I get to sport a shirt showing my fondness for her and my love of retro design. This tee is by Miss Ladybug California. I suspect they use found graphics. Doesn’t Carmen look like she was drawn in the late thirties to early forties? The fabric is a slightly yellowish off-white, and like a lot of pinup lines the top runs small. It has a straight up and down slim cut. Anyone interested in getting her own, I’d advise the shirt has some stretch, but not a lot, and the fabric is thin. Buy by your chest size, and size up if you’re in between sizes. I’m going to be hand-washing and line drying my shirt to make it last!
Disclosure: I bought these items, and I am not receiving affiliate program compensation for my post.
By msbethg in #52FilmsByWomen, #52FilmsByWomen, Actresses, Bettie Page, Biopics, Directors, Drama, Fandoms, Genres, Gretchen Mol, Mary Harron, Quick Reviews, Series, Viewing Campaigns Tags: #52FilmsByWomen, Bettie Page, biographies, biography, biopic, biopics, bondage, director, directors, fetish, film, filmmaker, filmmakers, glamour, Gretchen Mol, icon, icons, Mary Harron, model, models, movie, pin-up, pin-ups, pinup, pinups, Playboy Playmate, Playboy Playmates, The Notorious Bettie Page, tigers, woman, women
Last night I watched The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) because it was her birthday. Gretchen Mol does a great job in embodying Bettie, which took guts. Mol had to know what scrutiny she’d be under to look like the famous model, replicate her ease and joy in posing, and radiate a personality that made much of her more extreme work seem like softer, campy fun, but still sexy. Mary Harron makes sure there’s a humor to the film, and she showcases many of her actresses’ work over the supporting male actors’. The soundtrack and visuals are of the era. The living magazine covers are a nice touch. For feminists the movie will have an empowering, sex positive appeal. Bettie is shown having agency to pose or to retire into her Christian faith without regretting her life or actions and without her beliefs being knocked. Her journey is respected. The movie ends early in her life with no hint of her later mental health struggles. A positive portrayal of a woman, whose later years I wish were as happy as many scenes in this film.
More about #52FilmsByWomen here.
By msbethg in 1950s, Actresses, Appreciations, Bird of Paradise (1951), Debra Paget, Delmer Daves, Directors, Guy Maddin, Moments, Movies Tags: 1932, 1951, 2015, BAMPFA, Clara Furey, Debra Paget, Debra Paget For Example, Delmer Daves, Dolores del Río, dream, dream-like, Guy Maddin, indigenous, island, King Vidor, natives, offering, oversaturated, Pacific Film Archive, PFA, Polynesian, sacrifice, sacrificial, South Sea, surreal, Technicolor, The Forbidden Room, valcano, volcano
When watching Debra Paget, For Example (2015) and seeing clips of the actress‘s work, I was struck by the beautiful colors and dramatic shots that could be found in many of her films, which I had presumed to be mostly B movies. Maybe they weren’t all quality or fully successful pictures, but I caught myself finding aspects of them to admire.
Bird of Paradise (1951) stood out in this regard. I’ve only seen King Vidor‘s 1932 version starring Dolores del Río in its entirety, not the Delmer Daves‘ remake starring Paget. Dolores looked beautiful in her film and played her part well, but Paget had an acting advantage to make her character’s tragic ending even more impactful–Technicolor and framings like below. The intensity of color suggests the intensity of the heat and flames she’s walking through and the intensity of the lava she will be leaping into..
The colors and subject matter connected me back to another film I’d seen in February at the BAMPFA, Guy Maddin‘s The Forbidden Room (2015). His dream-like mix of genre stories within genre stories connecting to other genre stories that fade in and out of each other as one takes momentary prominence also featured island sequences with their not-so-indigenous-looking natives, volcano shots and flames, and another sacrifice. A Grantland interview cites Vidor’s movie as an influence, it was part of an earlier wave of Polynesian pictures, but it’s easier to see Daves’ movie as having greater influence. It’s in the oversaturated colors; it’s in the shots of another dark-haired woman’s flame-framed face. A great moment will make a film live on–in memories, in the subconscious, in dreams, and maybe once again on the screen. Reinterpretation is a compliment.