Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Barbara Stanwyck: a woman who cheated failure

Barbara Stanwyck as Lily Powers in "Babyface" (1933) is “the sweetheart of the nightshift”; “the baby faced siren as fickle as the famed Helen of Troy.” Lily’s teacher, an elderly German cobbler, advises her: “A woman, young, beautiful like you, can get anything she wants in the world. Because you have power over men... You must be a master, not a slave. Look here — Nietzsche says, ‘All life, no matter how we idealize it, is nothing more nor less than exploitation.’ Exploit yourself. Go to some big city... Use men! Be strong! Defiant!”

Barbara Stanwyck believed she was “nothing” until Frank Fay had come into her life. Everything she knew “of etiquette and the niceties of life, the correct way to talk and walk and meet people and entertain: everything [she knew] of books and art and people and the world around [her]” she learned from Fay. After staying in the hospital for five days, she, along with her German maid, took the train back to New York and to Fay, who met her at the station and was “wild” with worry about how his wife might look. Barbara said that when she got off the train, Fay thought she “looked more like a corpse than a bride” and took her back to his hotel on Fifty-Seventh Street. A doctor and a nurse were in attendance for the next few weeks as Barbara regained her strength and the weight she had lost. Burlesque was due to close, and Barbara’s understudy finished the run of the play. Frank wanted Barbara to stay at home; he would support her. Barbara was in love, and Fay’s thinking sounded reasonable. Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures saw Barbara dancing at a Celebrity Night at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and offered her a part in a movie.

Frank told Barbara not to take it; she turned down the role. Fay wanted Barbara to be happy, and he knew she would be happiest doing something. He agreed that she should take the role. Cohn gave Barbara a contract for The Gamblers with an option for Columbia Pictures to use her again. Barbara felt a deep gratitude for Fay’s love and guidance and for the way in which she believed he’d educated her. “Everything I know of etiquette, of books and art and people and the world around me,” she said. “I was nothing until Fay came along and I would have been nothing a great deal longer if he had never come along.”

Barbara felt how much Frank Capra liked actors. She’d worked with two directors who didn’t. “You can almost smell it,” she said. She sensed that Capra liked women as well, “not in a lecherous way... and he didn’t demean them. If you were a hooker [in the picture], you were a hooker, but you better be a good one. That’s how you made your living.”

When she wasn’t in front of the camera, she was almost mousy... But when the camera rolled, she turned into a huge person. —Frank Capra

Capra wanted to make it easy for Barbara. What Willard Mack did for her on the stage, Frank Capra was doing for her in pictures. “He wanted me to be great and made me know it.” She felt “babied and pampered” by him. And in his understanding of her, she knew, “he wanted me to be free,” and made it possible for her to reach deep into herself. Capra was falling in love with her. Barbara admired Capra, she “revered him as a director. But I’m not sure that she welcomed his love,” said Bernds. “He seemed more smitten with her than she was with him.” Despite Fay’s possessiveness, his worsening alcoholism, and his explosive rages, he’d known from the beginning that Barbara couldn’t have children of her own. He accepted that —in fact, he didn’t want children— and adored Barbara anyway. Barbara has been left sterile by the brutal abortion she'd had at fifteen.

When production started on The Miracle Woman, stories began to appear in the newspapers that Barbara and Fay’s marriage was over. During one of Barbara’s heated arguments with Cohn, he let it be known that without Fay’s belief in her and his persistence she wouldn’t even be on the screen. “What do you mean?” Barbara asked. Cohn told her what Fay had kept from her for years, that after Mexicali Rose, Fay had offered to pay Barbara’s salary if Cohn would give her another chance. When the news of the Fay-Stanwyck separation finally leaked out, Barbara said to the press, “I feel that we are better apart.”

The romantic aspect of Barbara’s relationship with Capra had ended a year before he made 'It Happened One Night.' Claudette Colbert was offered the picture after Capra was turned down by Myrna Loy, Miriam Hopkins, Margaret Sullavan, Constance Bennett, Bette Davis, and Carole Lombard. Colbert agreed to make the picture “mostly to work with Clark” (Gable’s part was originally written for Robert Montgomery, who had turned it down).

The Runaway Daughter (Red Salute, 1935) tried for all of the elements of It Happened One Night. Robert Young was the soldier, under contract to Metro and on loan-out (Mayer’s advice to Young to improve his career: “Put on a little weight and get more sex”). What Runaway Daughter didn’t have was the spirit and buoyancy, the wit and sexy kick, of Capra’s It Happened One Night. The journey of general’s daughter and buck private isn’t one toward freedom; her notions don’t transform him or set him free from his regimented small thinking. Instead, his beliefs—conventional to the core—ideas she’s been raised on and attempted (almost successfully) to flee, reel her back.

Annie Oakley was the first role to come Barbara’s way since Red Salute. Barbara “wanted so much to play Annie Oakley,” she said, “because she had courage.” Barbara would be using Annie Oakley’s own saddle, with its silver mountings and hand-carved leather, lent to her for the picture by the daughter of one of Oakley’s closest friends. “I’m scared stiff of snakes, spiders, flies, of anything that crawls, I’m only brave when I’m being paid for it,” she said.

"I know I have reached the stage where I wouldn’t place my whole trust in any man. Not unreservedly,” said Barbara. “I do trust women. I really believe that women are capable of disinterested friendship, of undivided loyalty, of keeping faith.”

During the dinner party at the Trocadero, Robert Taylor thought Barbara was “cute with her reddish hair; her tan, her figure”; that she was “quiet and hard to get.” Taylor knew Barbara hadn’t been out for some time, that it was the first time in seven years she’d been to a party and been paired off with a man. Robert Taylor was self-possessed but self-effacing. His modesty impressed Barbara; he seemed so regular in the midst of the irregularity of Hollywood and the fuss being made about him.

Barbara was impressed with Bob “mainly because he was not impressed with himself,” she said. She liked his unself-conscious modesty. Bob had been voted the most popular movie star ahead of Nelson Eddy, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, and Loretta Young. Clark Gable was eighth on the list; Greta Garbo, tenth; Fred MacMurray, eleventh.

Taylor was in love with Irene Hervey, a Metro contract player. During the drive, Bob told Barbara all about Irene. She was twenty-six, a California girl who, like Bob, had been picked by Ben Piazza, Metro’s scout and casting director, and placed in Oliver Hinsdell’s studio dramatic school. Bob and Irene had been seeing each other for quite a while, and Irene wanted to get married. Louis B. Mayer had made it clear that it was better for Bob’s career to remain unmarried. It was more important for his fans to think of him as an “eligible bachelor” than it was for him to be married—and unavailable to women. Irene was impatient with the situation and had started to see Allan Jones. It was Irene and Jones that Bob had been watching for at the Trocadero the night of the Marxes’ party.

Allan Jones greets wife Irene Hervey on her arrival at North Western station in Chicago, March, 1941

Barbara and Bob played tennis together, went horseback riding, and danced at the Cocoanut Grove. They had dinner and a movie with Joan Crawford and Franchot, still newlyweds after six months of marriage. Sometimes Bob played the piano, and Joan and Franchot sang; Barbara was the audience.

Barbara and Bob were from opposite ends of the universe, though their grandparents were Scotch-English (his) and Scotch-Irish (hers); Bob and Barbara came from different worlds, but in basic ways they found likenesses: when they were children, circumstances led them to be alone, Barbara because she didn’t have a mother, Bob because he didn’t like to play with other children. Like Barbara, Bob was remote. Barbara was shy and assumed she was not really welcome. Bob was private, not outgoing or talkative; he too assumed he wasn’t liked. She’d allowed herself to be taken in hand by wiser, more experienced professionals like Willard Mack, Arthur Hopkins, Fay, and Capra who taught her and showed her the way. Bob’s kindness and attentiveness were transforming Barbara. She felt “warm and glowing and happy and wanting to be loved.”

Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor shortly before he left for active duty, 1943

Bob Taylor hated to quarrel; he hadn’t grown up around it. His mother and father had loved each other without reservation, selfishness, bickering, or jealousy. “My father,” Bob said, “used to say to my mother almost every day of his life, ‘You are the most beautiful woman in the world to me. Every day we live together, I love you more.’ When Barbara did get angry with Bob, he didn’t argue back. Barbara suffered from moods; she called them her “black Shanty-Irish gloom.” Bob was shy but he liked people and liked to be around them. Barbara seemed to cut them off. Bob was in love with her; he was four years younger than she and prettier, the most sought-after male actor of the moment, bigger than Gable.

“She wasn’t me, that woman,” said Barbara of Stella Dallas. “But she was a woman I understood completely. She was good; cheap but good, and I could play her.” Barbara saw Stella as “a woman who cheated failure. One who eagerly paid the full measure for what she wanted from life.” “Stanwyck’s test was undeniable,” said King Vidor. “She put everyone else to shame.” Barbara’s versatility was undisputed.
-"A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940" (2013) by Victoria Wilson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Noir World, Raymond Chandler's Moral conscience

Film noir is often referred to in spatial terms, as a world or a universe. The classical canon is itself replete with enigmatic aphorisms about it, whether “a blue, sick world” (Dead Reckoning, John Cromwell, 1947), or “a bright, guilty world” (The Lady from Shanghai, Orson Welles, 1948). In The Big Sleep (1939), the novel in which private investigator Philip Marlowe makes his first appearance, Raymond Chandler gives us this condensed, haiku-version: “The tyres sang on the moist concrete of the boulevard. The world was a wet emptiness.” As the novel reaches its climax, the wet has gained momentum: “The tumbling rain was solid white spray in the headlights. The windshield wiper could hardly keep the glass clear enough to see through.”

The nocturnal drive described by Chandler is exemplary in this regard, for this passage also describes the most identifiable of credit sequences in the films noir to come: the view through the windscreen shot from the interior of a car tunneling down a dark road, sometimes with a pair of eyes framed in the rearview mirror. The flickering cones of the searchlights do not so much reveal what lies ahead as they make the surrounding darkness visible, charging the unseen with foreboding presence. Through rain-washed glass and slashing wipers we sense, rather than distinguish, the phantom shapes passing by. It is a subjective shot, yet we haven’t been introduced to the source of that subjectivity. Rather than identifying with a character, we’re pulled by this motion, transported into a space that is familiar precisely in its lack of clarity. Described in this manner, this also marks a departure from the palpable space of Classical Hollywood Cinema.

At some point, Marlowe reaches an outer limit where social space ends, yet something is evoked beyond or beneath it. The hallmark of Chandler’s prose, Fredric Jameson argues (in his essay 'The Synoptic Chandler'), coordinates this social environment with and against “the presence of some vaster, absent natural unity beyond this ephemeral set of episodes in punctual human time.” Jameson demonstrates how the novels move toward such fringe areas at the end of the road, or, in the Heideggarian sense, at the end of the world. The “cognitive map of Los Angeles,” charted through his investigations, “has no grounding or resonance unless it circulates slowly against the rotation of that other, deeper anti-system which is that of the Earth itself.” -'The Phenomenology of Film Noir' essay by Henrik Gustafsson, included in "A Companion to Film Noir" (2013) by Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson

The difficulty Marlowe faces in The Big Sleep lies in restoring the balance between public and private worlds. Despite his sense of guilt at having concealed her murder of Rusty Regan, Marlowe considers himself to have acted honorably in enabling Carmen Sternwood to receive psychiatric treatment, thereby protecting her and her father from the public ordeal of a trial. The schizoid behavior of Carmen Sternwood, who is unable to communicate her feelings of rejection except through killing, that is, through acting only on materiality, represents the beginnings of Chandler’s attempt to explore the identity and status of the individual in the twentieth century.

In The Long Good-Bye, Marlowe is increasingly aware of the meaninglessness of his task, not, as Jameson suggests, because some long forgotten crime makes his restoration of the distinction between public and private, of an old order, worthless, but because the opposition itself is no longer feasible. Rather than implying, therefore, a concealed presence, the surface life of objects has become all that there is. Marlowe’s description of life in jail demonstrates this point. There, stripped of material belongings, he finds himself unable to communicate; the objects by which even he defines himself turn out to conceal only absence. Marlowe’s faith throughout the novel that Lennox might be possessed of a personality with which he can engage is misjudged and the contrast between them becomes clear. Whereas Marlowe continues to struggle to balance private with public, Lennox, as the novel progresses, makes several attempts to obscure or erase his identity and his past. Unlike Carmen Sternwood whose past, in the form of Rusty Regan, the man she has murdered, trails behind her until it is discovered-and uncovered-by Marlowe, Lennox succeeds in losing contact with his, existing, in the end, in his materiality alone. Source:

Claire Trevor plays femme fatale Helen Grayle in "Murder, My Sweet" (1944) directed by Edward Dmytryk, based on "Farewell, My Lovely" (1940) written by Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler did not feel satisfied. He considered "Farewell, My Lovely" his best book, not bettered by any that followed, and his films had never achieved the level of artistry he aspired to. He had, at times, increased his drinking to dangerous levels, and he had put his marriage at risk.

The Little Sister had benefited from Chandler’s intimate knowledge of Hollywood, a world he knew far better than the Los Angeles underworld. Chandler was not Hitchcock’s first choice, or his second, or even his third. Hitchcock was determined to have a big-name writer attached to the film ("Strangers on a Train") and a treatment circulated around Hollywood for months: John Steinbeck was mentioned, but turned it down. So did Dashiell Hammett. The contract was generous, paying $2,500 per week, plus $50 for secretarial expenses. It also allowed Chandler to work from home, still something of a rarity in Hollywood. Hitchcock was even willing to accommodate his refusal to drive to the studio in Burbank: script meetings were to be held in La Jolla.

Farley Granger and Ruth Roman in "Strangers on a Train" (1951) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, script by Raymond Chandler, Czenzi Ormonde and Whitfield Cook based on Patricia Highsmith's novel.

The trouble was, though, that Hitchcock’s manner of dealing was to be obtuse, pointing out problems or adding small suggestions, rather than tackling the big issues directly. This left Chandler puzzled by quite what he wanted, and he described the experience as being akin to that ‘of a fighter who can’t get set because he is continually being kept off balance by short jabs.’ Chandler called Hitchcock a ‘fat bastard’. Chandler, used to the director’s confusing and contradictory behaviour, continued to write the script, unaware that Hitchcock wanted nothing more to do with him.

Hitchcock was interested in building cinematic tension and in creating a thrilling experience for his audience. Chandler, in contrast, was much more interested in character and motivation (probably closer to the spirit of Patricia Highsmith’s original novel).

Marlowe has changed: he has the total realisation that not only is he alone in the world, but that the connection he had thought he had found was a fallacy. What hope he had for companionship, or rather, true friendship, is extinguished in the last pages of The Long Goodbye. In Marlowe’s eyes, Terry Lennox seemed to share his vision of the world. Part of Marlowe does want Lennox to turn back because he is so lonely but, in the end, his moral conscience wins out. He knows that he is on his own and he recognises that his own choices have brought him here, and he is content that he has done the right thing. Chandler wanted him to feel driven to an inevitable conclusion against his own instinct; he wanted him to be betrayed and to understand why.

Marlowe was a knight with a code of honour that was unshakable, even in the most testing times. Chandler recognised that he had put him in a situation that might be hard to understand for many of his readers, if treated in the usual way, and so took on the challenge to reveal Marlowe’s own motivations and ways of thinking. The honourable martyr was, of course, also the sort of man Raymond Chandler imagined himself to be. -"A Mysterious Something in the Light: The Life of Raymond Chandler" (2013) by Tom Williams

Happy Anniversary, Robert Ryan!

Happy Anniversary, Robert Ryan!

Robert Ryan, portrait by RKO studio photographer Ernest Bachrach, 1942

In The Set-Up (Robert Wise, 1949), veteran boxer Stoker Thompson (Robert Ryan) hides out in the deserted “Paradise City” venue, which a few moments earlier had been oozing with carnal and visceral presence. Meanwhile, his troubled wife (Audrey Totter) leaves the bustle of the “Dreamland” penny arcade by a flight of stairs to the complete isolation of a downtown walkway.

Noir of the Soul: On Dangerous Ground (1952), Nicholas Ray’s tale of a city cop gone rotten, departing into the country to work on a rape and murder case, highlights all of this powerful filmmaker’s stylistic strengths, from his knowing and caring work with performers to his keen eye for setting and his meshing of the arc of dramatic flow to both human feeling and situational design. Ray, who had studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, was long fascinated with horizontal design, and so this film is a blunt contradiction of the principle of vertical obliquity so firmly stated by Schrader. Here, whether he is racing through the alleyways of the city in order to find low-life criminals to pummel and insult or, slowly softening and losing his anger, meandering in the snow-covered fields or the pine forest of the country to chase the rapist–killer, Robert Ryan’s Jim Wilson centers a cinematography that spreads action out laterally, giving us the incessant feeling that the conditions of the drama are not bounded by the arbitrary limits of the frame.

A simple narrative device accentuates the visual strength of the frame and enlivens our optical engagement with the action once Jim is out of the city: his meeting and slowly developing familiarity with the woman with whom he ultimately falls in love, Mary Malden (Ida Lupino, in one of the signal performances of her great career), a blind young woman who is the sister of the adolescent boy who committed the crime. The city in this film, more than the setting of the establishing scenes early on, is the locus of despicable behavior, greed, anxiety, and mistrust that Jim carries in the depths of his heart even while he is running through the snowy fields under a brilliant, open sky. -"A Companion to Film Noir" (2013) by Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Pale Blue Eyes: Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon

Frank Sinatra - Mr. Ol' Blue Eyes

THE BAD NEWS FOR BLUE-EYED BLONDES: Blue eyes tend to be more sensitive to light, says Marchetti. ‘There’s less pigment in the eye so more light is let in,’ she explains, adding that this is why blue-eyed people are statistically more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, a condition in which the light sensitive cells at the back of the eye begin to die out, leading to sight loss. Meanwhile, fair-skinned people are more prone to rosacea, and over half of sufferers will experience the symptoms in their eyes, known as ocular rosacea. ‘This is what is often behind recurrent blepharitis,’ says Ali Mearza, consultant ophthalmologist at Imperial NHS Trust. ‘This inflammatory skin condition can spread to the eyelid, causing the oil glands to become blocked.’ Learning and avoiding the triggers of the rosacea can help, or it may be treated with steroid drops and antibiotics. Source:

The meanings of blue are often associated with serenity, calm and spirituality. But color symbolism can be strangely contradictory and Blue is no different. Blue also brings to mind sadness and loneliness for many. Surveys show it is most people's favorite color especially men. For many the darker shades such as navy blue, are thought of as ultra-masculine, associated with success, authority and corporate color meanings. We also think of cool crisp blues in relation to water sports such as sailing. Source:

The significance of eye color may have evolutionary roots. Blue eyes only originated 10,000 years ago and were a rarity which made everyone who had them a hot commodity. So if men were pursuing blue-eyed babes more frequently than ladies with brown eyes, they may have cared less about other facial features which indicated trustworthiness. In the process, these less-trustworthy facial genes may have been passed on in blue-eyed men and women. Source:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Details magazine, January 2013

Matt Damon in GQ Japan magazine, November 2013

More than a week after Lou Reed's death, a tribute has arrived that's too poetic and touching to be overlooked. Patti Smith has been vocal about honoring her fellow New York rock trailblazer, telling Rolling Stone the former Velvet Underground frontman was "a very special poet" and highlighting "Pale Blue Eyes" as a personal favorite Reed song in a chat with The Hollywood Reporter. [She said that the fragile, weary ballad reminded her of her late, blue-eyed husband, guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith. "I never fail to think of him and his gaze when I'm singing that or hear that song," she said. "Lou had a gift of taking very simple lines, 'Linger on, your pale blue eyes,' and make it so they magnify on their own. That song has always haunted me."] She also reflects vividly on her encounters with Reed, over the years and just recently before his death ("his dark eyes seemed to contain an infinite and benevolent sadness"). Source:

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Barbara Stanwyck (new biography by Victoria Wilson): Steel-True 1907-1940

"My only problem is finding a way to play my fortieth fallen female in a different way from my thirty-ninth." -Barbara Stanwyck

Frank Capra claimed he would marry Barbara Stanwyck if she divorced Fay. “I fell in love with Stanwyck, and had I not been more in love with Lucille Reyburn I would have asked Barbara to marry me after she called it quits with Frank Fay,” Capra would write in 1971, when he and Lucille were about to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. When Barbara, Lucille, and the two Franks were all dead, biographer Joseph McBride would claim Capra and Stanwyck were lovers for nearly two years, that it was Barbara who in the end rejected the director. Without saying outright he was Barbara’s lover, Capra would admit he was very close to her, that their relationship was both important and rewarding: “I wish I could tell you more about it, but I can’t, I shouldn’t, and I won’t, but she was delightful.”

Barbara never admitted to any affair. Sentiments aside, a liaison stretching into the fall of 1931 seems unlikely. Frank Capra and Lucille were a sane presence, symbols of moderation and rationality for whom all-night drinking and gambling were unthinkable. Fay, Capra, Barbara, and Lu saw a good deal of each other and of Jack Gilbert. Barbara learned that if acting onstage is a matter of mannerism, screen acting is done with the eyes. “Mr. Capra taught me that. I mean, sure, it’s nice to say very nice dialogue, if you can get it. But great movie acting… Watch the eyes.” “She can give out that burst of emotion,” Capra would recall decades later. “She played parts that were a little tougher, yet at the same time you could sense that this girl could suffer from her toughness.” -"Stanwyck" (2001) by Axel Madsen

Rumors circulated for years and persist today about her marriage to Robert Taylor, and that it may have been manufactured as something as a “lavender marriage” by the studio system to quell talk about the sexualities of both Stanwyck and Taylor. Clearly, it would be very difficult to say for certain whether or not this was the case, especially as so many years have passed. In addition, Stanwyck seemed to be very much in love with Taylor, never remarried, and took his 1969 death extremely hard. In your research, was there anything you found that would lead you to believe that these persistent rumors about their marriage had any truth to them?

Stanwyck and Taylor came together at opposite points in their careers, which most people don’t know. She may have been successful and by that time been around Hollywood for six or so years, but her career was in trouble when she met Taylor. He was the big big star, just exploding into real fame and overwhelmed by it all. If anything, she needed him, for lots of reasons, which I write about in the book. And he needed her – just not as his beard.

The last thing Metro wanted was for Robert Taylor to be married, until they did, and it was not as a cover up for his sexuality. When people read the book they will see in detail how Stanwyck and Taylor came together, and what it did for both people; how it helped both and changed both. Volume Two portrays the shape of the marriage and how and why it ultimately fell apart, which, as in real life, happened over time and grew out of a set of subtle and complicated circumstances – and out of two people changing and changing out of different needs at different stages of their life, and their work.

On November 12, Simon & Schuster will publish A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True (1907-1940), volume 1 of the long-awaited first complete biography of Barbara Stanwyck. 15 years in the making and running a whopping 1,056 pages in length, author Victoria Wilson has created a colossal piece of literature covering the first 33 years of Barbara Stanwyck’s life. Source:

Monday, November 04, 2013

Joel McCrea's Anniversary, Post-War Alienation

Happy Anniversary, Joel McCrea! Born: Joel Albert McCrea (November 5, 1905) in South Pasadena, California - Died: October 20, 1990 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California (USA)

Nancy Kelly and Joel McCrea in "He Married His Wife" (1940) directed by Roy Del Ruth

Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea in "Sullivan’s Travels" (1941) directed by Preston Sturges

In a sea of photographers and flashing lightbulbs, Sullivan is greeted in a Kansas City hotel. Over the loud din of the crowd (many of whom are carrying his next project's source, the book: O Brother Where Art Thou? by Sinclair Beckstein - a play on two author's names - John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis), the Girl tells him how happy she is and grateful that he is no longer married or obligated to his alimony-demanding ex-wife. On the commercial airliner returning to Los Angeles, Sullivan assures the Girl that his ex-wife will have to give him a divorce - and he will be set free. -Sullivan: ...Otherwise, it's bigamy, unfaithfulness, alienation of affections, corpus delecti. -The Girl: And then you'll be free. -Sullivan: And then I'll be free. But not for long, I hope.

Joel McCrea stars as an American journalist in London in 1938 who covers the war and discovers an espionage ring and assassination plot. Hitchcock outdid himself with the action-packed set pieces, using all manner of camera trickery and special effects, from a fatal fall from high atop Westminster Cathedral to mysterious goings-on at a windmill in the Netherlands to an inventively staged plane crash. McCrea's impassioned, Edward R. Murrow-esque radio monologue during the London blitz finale even impressed the opposition — Nazi Germany's Joseph Goebbels thought the film "a masterpiece of propaganda." Six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Source:

The Cold War was a primary influence over all aspects of American life from the end of WWII through the collapse of the Soviet Union. The cold war abroad may have been run by the military and the government but cold war ideology at home was most effectively disseminated by psychiatrists and advertisers, groups that depended for their livelihood on their ability to predict and control the actions and desires of their biggest market: housewives. Mary Beth Haralovich has insightfully traced the way advertisers trained and exploited middle-class women consumers, but less attention has been paid to the extraordinary growth and influence of the psychiatric industry during this period. In 1954 and 1955, the number one identified health problem in the United States was ‘emotional disease.’ In 1954, 150,000 adults entered mental hospitals and 700,000 mental patients received hospital care (in comparison, physical disorders accounted for only 600,000 patients). That same year, over a billion dollars was spent for the care of people diagnosed as mentally ill. In 1955, the year minor tranquillizers first became available outside of hospitals, 75 per cent of patients were being treated in hospital settings, over half a million people, compared to 150,000 in 1980. And although the wide availability of tranquillizers meant that hospital stays decreased by the late 1950s, there were still over a quarter of a million people employed in the industry, and hospitals continued into the late 1950s to report staff shortages. Over half of the patients in these hospitals were women, the majority married.

Like the advertising industry, the mental health industry depended on its ability to convince people that their happiness and well-being required the consumption of the industry’s products. Warren’s work supports Chesler’s contention throughout "Women and Madness" that women were often diagnosed as mentally ill because of their perceived ‘sex role alienation.’ Several of these expatients were rehospitalized by their husbands primarily because they had refused to function properly ‘domestically’. Indeed, the husbands who readmitted their wives ‘expressed significantly lower expectations for the total human functioning of their wives. They were willing to tolerate extremely childlike dependent behaviour in them as long as the dishes were washed.’ These studies suggest specific ways in which post-war women’s anxieties were socially constructed as ‘mental illnesses’ in a manner that served both corporate America and the cold war nuclear family ideal. -"Small Screen, Big Ideas" (2002) by Janet Thumim

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Jake Gyllenhaal in talks to play boxer in "Southpaw"

Jake Gyllenhaal in Talks to Star in Former Eminem Boxing Movie ‘Southpaw’ (Exclusive)

Fresh off an acclaimed performance in the thriller “Prisoners,” Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks to star in the boxing drama “Southpaw,” which Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) is directing for the Weinstein Company, multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.

Eminem was once attached to star in the movie, which serves as proof that Hollywood can’t keep a good project down.

A fighter of a film, “Southpaw” was originally sold as a pitch to DreamWorks. The studio hired “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter to write the script. When DreamWorks tapped out, MGM swooped in planning to distribute through Sony, though the film was eventually put into turnaround, which is where the Weinstein Company rescued it.

If the deal gets signed, Gyllenhaal will play a left-handed prizefighter who wins a title but suffers a tragedy soon after and must put his life back together to earn the respect of his young daughter. While the film is set against the backdrop of the boxing ring, Fuqua previously told the Los Angeles Times that “the heart of the movie is about a man learning to be a father.” “Southpaw” is expected to start production next year. Source: