Summer Reads: Silver Screen Edition

I LOVE old movies! And these are a few of the people and things that made me love them. Check em’ out!

Cutest Child Ever Who Went On To Kick Ass

  • Child Star by Shirley Temple- Well written and engaging read. Lot’s of fun behind the scenes tidbits for Temple fans.

Girl Power

  • Leading Ladies: the 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era by Andrea Cornell Sarvady- Full of gorgeous photographs and fascinating tributes to the best of the best. Get ready to rediscover lost love’s.
  • Judy Garland: Word’s Greatest Entertainer by John Fricke- Very moving and emotional. Really pulls you in to Judy’s life and career, making you fall in love with her all over again.

Eye Candy

  • MGM Posters: The Golden Years by Frank Miller- Luscious poster art. I wish there were 10 of these books, multiple for MGM and then for all the other studios as well. Just can’t get enough.
  • Reel Art: Great Posters From the Golden Age of the Silver Screen by Stephen Rebello- Another great collection of poster art.

Backwards, High heals, and a Scientologist Who’s Awesome

  • Ginger: My Story by Ginger Rogers- Excellent biography. Loses a little steam near the end but an absolute must for any Ginger fan.

All-Time Classic That I Read Over the Course of Years of Waiting in the Thrift Store for My Mom

  • By Myself by Lauren Bacall- Truly one of the greatest autobiographies from a classic Hollywood star. Can’t say enough.

Your Astaire Fix

  • The Astaire’s: Fred & Adele by Kathleen Riley- Well researched account of Fred’s massive pre-Hollywood success on Broadway. But getting to that point was not easy going. Riley vividly describes Fred’s family dynamics and the colorful world of the vaudeville circuit.
  • Steps in Time by Fred Astaire- Somewhat forgotten Fred Astaire autobiography. Essential.

Very Very Guilty Pleasure

  • Full Service by Scotty Bowers- Be prepared. Very naughty. Also, there’s plenty of controversy over whether or not all of Scotty’s stories are true.

Best Ever Movie Reference Book (Good whatever the season)

  • Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide- Used this book since I was 11. I know some of his entries by heart. Leonard Maltin is a great reviewer… though he can’t get em’ all right. Cough, cough, Miss Grant Take Richmond ehem ; )
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Me with Leonard Maltin at the 2017 TCM Film Festival. Woohoo!

Thanks for reading!

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MASH and #METOO

“No, no, no, that one, the sultry bitch with the fire in her eyes! Take her clothes off and bring her to me!”

MASH, released in 1970, is a well-crafted, well-acted black comedy about a surgical unit at the front lines in the Korean War. It is also one of the most blatantly misogynistic film’s I have ever seen. The men in the film treat the nurses like objects for their own amusement and sexual gratification. The men constantly harass, demean, catcall, and proposition the women around them with zero respect for the nurses as human beings.

This film could be used as a visual textbook of sexual harassment and the devaluing of women. To illustrate my point I will give two egregious examples. The scene in which Maj. Margaret O’Houlihan is publicly humiliated by exposing her fully naked in the shower in front of the entire camp couldn’t be more demeaning. Regardless of how stuffy or hypocritical she may be, that is abuse and it is just plain wrong. Another example is when Lt. Maria ‘Dish’ Schneider is brought into to have sex with the army dentist who just tried to commit suicide because he thinks he’s gay. She is treated as a sexual object intended to solve this man’s “problem”.

The female characters in this film are one dimensional and portrayed as of less value than the men. They are essential props for the good old boy’s fun, shenanigans, laughter, and sexual desire. Depicting only the male gaze, MASH portrays most of the women, except perhaps Maj. Margaret O’Houlihan, as accepting the treatment without finding it strange or hurtful. I will not even touch on the homophobia in the film, which warrants a post of its own.

This utterly anti-woman film displays point by point why the #MeToo movement was necessary. While certainly this depiction does not speak for everyone’s experience in that era, older friends a coworkers of mine have related countless horror stories of workplace harassment, sexual coercion, and disrespect of the same type shown in this film. How could I possibly see that as funny? As a 30 year old woman, I am so grateful for the blood, sweat, and tears of our foremothers who fought bravely and tirelessly for both women’s rights and women’s safety. Now I join them!

MASH is an important cultural artifact for many reasons, including its depiction of the sexism and antiwar sentiment of the day. However, it is just that, an artifact, and an ugly one at that. It depicts normalized sexual harassment and for that reason I personally despise it.

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*This originates from a forum post I recently wrote for a college class titled “Vietnam War and Film.”