Hattie McDaniel and Gone with the Wind

hattie-mcdaniel-1 (Famous People)
Credit: Famous People

1939 is regarded as one of the greatest years in Hollywood’s history. Some classic films released include The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights and Gone with the Wind. Based on the novel by Margret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind follows the relationship of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) during the American Civil War. The film would go on to break many box office records and win countless awards, including the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Hattie McDaniel. This is special because it was the first Oscar won by a black American.

Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1895. She was the thirteenth child born to Henry McDaniel and Susan Holbert. Her father fought in the Civil War and had major psychological issues later in life, while McDaniel’s mother was a domestic worker. McDaniel was born in Wichita, Kansas, before moving with her family to Denver, Colorado, when she was five. In school she was naturally drawn to music and performance. Even in a school of only two black students, McDaniel’s natural talent gained her classmates’ admiration. Close to the end of her studies, she dropped out of school in favour of pursuing a performance career.

McDaniel travelled with vaudeville acts on the road for a number of years. She gained a reputation for her singing and dancing and was nicknamed “Hi-Hat-Hattie.” She wrote and performed her own Blues songs. In 1930, McDaniel’s siblings, Sam and Etta, invited her to come to Hollywood. They had had minor success getting small parts in films. McDaniel packed her bags and followed suit. By the late 1920s, McDaniel also had a string of successful radio work, most notably The Optimistic Donuts.

Arriving in California, McDaniel took up residence in a middle-class black American area of Los Angeles affectionately known as “Sugar Hill”. She appeared in popular movies, such as Judge Priest (1934) and Show Boat (1936), but still had to keep a second job in order to support herself and her family. Auditioning alongside fellow black American actresses Louise Beavers, Etta McDaniel, Ruby Dandridge and Hattie Noel, McDaniel was cast in the biggest role of her career as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

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Vivien Leigh and McDaniel in Gone with the Wind Credit: Tribute.Ca

McDaniel was so determined to get the part that she dressed in full costume when meeting with producer David O. Selznick for the first time. McDaniel made an impression. Mammy was the O’Hara family’s maid and helped raise and look after Scarlett from a child. Mammy was originally bought as a slave by Scarlett’s grandmother, but the character was a cherished member of the family.

Clark Gable played a joke on the set. In the scene where they toast to the safe arrival of baby Bonnie, Gable put real brandy in McDaniel’s glass without her knowing. The two were good friends. Learning that the black American cast members were banned from the film’s Atlanta premier, Gable wanted to boycott the entire event. Atlanta was still a racially segregated state in 1939. McDaniel convinced Gable to attend. She was absent.

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McDaniel and Gable in Gone with the Wind Credit: A Tripe Down Memory Lane

Gone with the Wind was nominated for thirteen categories at the 12th Academy Awards. The film won eight, including Best Picture and Best Director for Victor Fleming. That same year Fleming also directed The Wizard of Oz. McDaniel’s award was presented to her by actress Fay Bainter and she gave a short acceptance speech. She was the first black American to attend the ceremony as a guest and not a servant. As of 2018, McDaniel is one of only six black American women to win an Oscar. In 1964, Sidney Poitier became the second black American to win an Academy Award.

Opinion of Gone with the Wind was divided among the black community. Some felt Mammy was yet another stereotyped, black maid, while others saw her as a ground breaking, witty and resourceful character. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) criticized McDaniel publicly for her continued portrayal of maid characters. In response, she said “I’d rather play a maid than be one.” McDaniel was proud of her work and felt she was a role model for future generations of black Americans. If any black actors were struggling in Hollywood, and needed a place to stay, she would happily open her doors to them every time.

After Gone with the Wind, McDaniel enjoyed a brief stint of successful work. She had parts in The Great Lie (1941) and Disney’s controversial Song of the South (1946). McDaniel also entertained soldiers during World War II and promoted war bonds. By the mid-1940s, her career was slowing down and she focused more on radio work. She sadly passed away from Breast Cancer on October 26, 1952. McDaniel continued to work until her final days.

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McDaniel accepting her Oscar from Fay Bainter Credit: Hollywood Reporter

McDaniel loaned her Oscar to Howard University but it went missing during the Race Riots of the 1960s. It hasn’t been seen in the years since. She has two stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Black Film Makers Hall of Fame in 1975. As part of the Black Heritage series, McDaniel’s likeness was featured on a stamp in 2006. Producers Aaron Magnani and Alysia Allen purchased the rights to Jill Watt’s book, Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood. They plan to make a McDaniel biopic film in the near future.

hattie-mcdaniel-1 (Black Doctor)
Credit: Black Doctor

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on February 14th, 2018. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

Get Ready For A Biopic About Hattie McDaniel, The First Black Oscar Winner (http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/hattie-mcdaniel-biopic_us_5a57a204e4b068abc338babd)

Gone With the Wind – iMDB (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/?ref_=nv_sr_1)

Hattie McDaniel – Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/hattie-mcdaniel-38433)

Hattie McDaniel – iMDB (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0567408/?ref_=tt_cl_t8)

Hattie McDaniel winning Best Supporting Actress (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7t4pTNZshA)

Rides: Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time

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Credit: iMDB

Terminator 2: 3D – Battle Across Time was a theme park attraction at Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood. As of 2018, the ride now only operates at Universal Studios Japan. James Cameron – director of the first two Terminator films – played a big part in its creation. The principle cast returned: Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, Edward Furlong as John Connor and Robert Patrick as the T-1000. The ride featured a mixture of live actors and 3-D film interaction.

The Production

In the early 1990s, designers from The Goddard Group and producers from Universal Studios met to come up with concepts for a Terminator attraction. The Goddard Group had previous success for Universal with rides such as The Adventures of Conan and Jurassic Park: The Ride, as well as other theme park attractions around the world. CEO Gary Goddard loved Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) so much when it came out that he took his entire staff to see it in the cinema. They took up an entire row of seats. He was very excited to work on the T2: 3-D project. Extensive brainstorming and storyboarding were completed before anything was proposed to Cameron.

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Cameron, Goddard and Schwarzenegger
Credit: James Cameron Online

The director was unsure of the idea and was convinced he would be telling both companies “no” on his way to the meeting. He was very impressed with what Goddard and the rest had come up with and, not only had a few things to add, wanted to direct.

The budget for T2: 3D has been estimated at over $60 million USD ($24 million USD for the film alone). This makes it one of the most expensive theme park attractions of all time. The “near future” battle ground scenes were shot at night in the Arizona Desert and took three weeks to complete. New 3-D camera technology was invented to meet the requirements of the production. In one extreme close up shot, Schwarzenegger unintentionally damaged part of a $40,000 USD camera beam splitter with his shotgun prop. The film crew had to cut retakes short because of the incident.

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T2: 3-D Theatre Credit: The Studio Tour

While filming continued, a custom-built theatre was made at Universal Studios Florida. It featured three 15 meter wide screens, 66 speaker locations, as well as secret panels, sliding walls and hydraulic lifts that would work in sync with the film throughout the show. In post-production, editors continually tweaked the film to seamlessly match the movement of actors and stunt people. A full-size replica of the theatre was constructed in an abandoned airplane hangar where the live action choreography was rehearsed.

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Stan Winston Credit: Wookipedia

Special effects, animatronics and puppetry fell to Stan Winston. Cameron and Winston had previously worked together on both Terminator films, as well as Aliens (1986). Winston’s other credits include Predator (1987), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), Jurassic Park (1993), Iron Man (2008) and many other movies. He won academy awards for Aliens and Jurassic Park. Sadly, he passed away in 2008 from cancer.

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T-70 Credit: Hollywood Hardware

 Showtime…

After the audience are ushered to their seats, the show begins with a Cyberdyne Systems representative taking the stage and welcoming everyone. A brief video is played that highlights the company’s upcoming technological marvels, including a group of T-70s (a crude and simplistic precursor Terminator to Schwarzenegger’s T-800 model). The machines show off their capabilities before Sarah and John Connor highjack the video feed. They tell people to evacuate the building as they are about to blow it up. The T-1000 enters via a time portal and is followed shortly after by The Terminator on a motorcycle. The T-1000 chases The Terminator and John back through the time vortex to the 2029 battle grounds of the human and machine war. The Terminator and John evade the T-1000, Hunter Killers and Mini Hunters before infiltrating the Skynet complex. They fight the T-1000000 – a completely computer-generated chrome spider-like creature – before blowing everything up and winning the war. John is returned to the present day.

T-1000000 (Terminator Wiki)
T-1000000 Credit: Terminator Wiki

Legacy

T2 3-D opened at Universal Studios Florida on the 27th of April 1996. It received 5.1 million visitors during its first year of operation. A second attraction was opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1999, and a third in Japan in 2001. The attractions have been a great success, but the Hollywood ride was closed in 2012 and the Florida one in 2017. The ride at Universal Studios Japan is still going. With the release of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003, T2: 3-D is no longer considered Terminator canon.

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Credit: iMDB

Sources:

Stan Winston – IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0935644/?ref_=nv_sr_1)

T2 3-D: Battle Across Time – IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117880/)

T2 3-D: Battle Across Time – Terminator Wiki (http://terminator.wikia.com/wiki/T2_3-D:_Battle_Across_Time)

T2 3D: Battle Across Time – The Story Behind the Theme Park Extravaganza at Universal Studios (https://www.flickeringmyth.com/2012/12/t2-3d-battle-across-time-story-behind/)

The Making of T2: 3-D: Breaking the Screen Barrier (Documentary, 2000)

Lillian Gish: The First Lady of American Cinema

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Credit: Los Angeles Times

Lillian Gish was one of the most influential and famous actors in Hollywood’s history. Her first film was in 1912 and a career spanning seventy-five years followed. Gish’s partnership with pioneering director D. W. Griffith is regarded as one of the greatest collaborative relationships of all time. Some of their films include Way Down East (1920), Intolerance (1916), Broken Blossoms (1919) and the controversial, and highest grossing film of the silent era, The Birth of a Nation (1915). Not only having a successful acting career, Gish was also a writer, director and producer. She received an honorary Academy Award in 1971. As the years passed, the media dubbed Gish “The First Lady of American Cinema.”

Lillian Diana Gish was born on the 14th of October, 1893, in Springfield, Ohio. Her father left when she was young. Running low on money and with nowhere else to turn, Gish’s mother, Mary, and her daughters joined a group of traveling actors. Gish and her sister, Dorothy, made their stage debuts in 1902. They proved to be extremely popular in melodramas, making $10 a week for their efforts. (No figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation.) The three women travelled all over America, taking any roles they could and saving every cent possible. It was during this period Gish met future silent screen legend Mary Pickford and the two became lifelong friends.

In 1912, Gish and Dorothy appeared before a camera for the first time in An Unseen Enemy. Pickford had previously introduced Griffith to the sisters and he decided to give them a go. On set, Griffith thought the two women were twins and found it hard to distinguish them apart at a distance. He gave them different coloured hair ribbons; blue for Gish and red for Dorothy. Griffith very much enjoyed working with the two, especially Gish. He cast them often in his one- and two-reel shorts. Gish appeared in near forty silent shorts between 1912 and 1914. She received universal acclaim for her performance as The Young Wife in The Mothering Heart (1913).

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Dorothy and Gish in An Unseen Enemy (1912) Credit: Movies Silently

As silent films became more sophisticated and had longer run times, Gish starred in many of Griffith’s signature feature films. In 1915, she was cast as Elise Stoneman in The Birth of a Nation. The film was a critical success, but drew a lot of controversy for its negative depictions of African-Americans. It had white people dressed up in blackface. Gish stayed clear from commenting on the issues, but always defended that it was never Griffith’s intention to be racist.

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Dorothy, Griffith and Gish Credit: Library of Congress

In the climax of Way Down East, Gish, Griffith and the film crew shot on a real frozen river during a blizzard. Gish had to dangle her hand and hair in freezing cold water for hours at a time. She never once complained and crew members noticed how dedicated to the role she was. Though the scene is now regarded as one of the greatest in Hollywood’s history, Gish would experience health concerns for the rest of her life. She lost partial feeling in her hand. Gish’s last film with Griffith was Orphans of the Storm in 1922.

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Gish on the ice in Way Down East (1920) Credit: Pinterest

Gish directed her first and only movie in 1920. The film, Remodelling Her Husband, starred her sister Dorothy. With no known footage existing today, it is now considered a lost film. Around this period, Gish supervised the construction of a new film studio for Griffith too.

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Photoplay Magazine (December, 1921) Credit: Famous Fix

In 1924, Gish signed a $800,000 picture deal with MGM. This made her one of the highest paid and sought after actors in Hollywood at the time. Under MGM, Gish appeared in classics such as The Scarlet Letter (1926) and The Wind (1928). She made her “talkie” film debut in One Romantic Night in 1930.

By the early 1930s, Gish and MGM’s relationship had broken down and they parted ways. She returned to the theatre and focused her attention there. Gish also had her radio debut in the early 1930s. She scarcely acted in films during this period. In 1948, Gish appeared on television for the first time. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Duel in the Sun (1946). Gish also received critical praise for The Night of the Hunter (1955).

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Gish accepting her Oscar in 1971
Credit: University of California

Gish was active in films throughout the 1960s to 1980s. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960. As part of the pre-production for the western The Unforgiven (1960), director John Huston and star Bert Lancaster intended to teach Gish how to shoot. They were shocked to discover she already knew and was quicker and more accurate than them both.

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Gish and Davis in The Whales of August (1987)
Credit: IMDb

In 1987, Gish starred along side Bette Davis in The Whales of August. At 93-years-old, this made Gish the oldest actress ever to star in a leading role. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on February 27, 1993. Every year on Gish’s birthday, the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, show at least one of her films as a tribute.

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Credit: IMDb

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on December 6th, 2017. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

50 Facts About Lillian Gish – The First Lady of American Cinema (http://www.boomsbeat.com/articles/105983/20160119/50-facts-lillian-gish-first-lady-american-cinema.htm)

Charles Affron – Lillian Gish: Her Legend, Her Life (Book)

Lillian Gish, 99, a Movie Star Since Movies Began, is Dead (http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/01/movies/lillian-gish-99-a-movie-star-since-movies-began-is-dead.html?pagewanted=all)

Lillian Gish – Encyclopaedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lillian-Gish)

Lillian Gish – IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001273/)

Lillian Gish: The Actor’s Life for Me (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/lillian-gish-about-lillian-gish/614/)

Lillian Gish – Women Film Pioneers Project (https://wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-lillian-gish/)

The Official Website of Lillian Gish (https://www.lilliangish.com/)

Stella Adler on Method Acting

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Credit: The Famous People

A big influence on the modern Hollywood acting style comes from Stella Adler. She had done away with the earlier big gestures used in silent film acting, such as an actor placing both hands on their heart to indicate sorrow. She bridged the gap between early twentieth-century Russian theatre and what was becoming popular in film at the time. Adler drew from the imagination rather than personal experience. She had a name in American theatre, appeared in a handful of films and has taught some of the greatest actors of all time. She was known for her harsh, but fair analysis of student’s skills. Some included Marlon Brando and James Dean. Even after her passing, the likes of Mark Ruffalo and Angelina Jolie have studied at her acting schools.

Stella Adler was born on the 10th of February, 1901. Her father, Jacob P. Adler, was a famous actor on the Yiddish Theatre circuit. She was only four-years-old when he had her star in one of his productions, Broken Hearts. Adler had no formal acting training, but instead learnt from her father and by watching others. By her late-teens, she had been in over one hundred plays either in the Yiddish Theatre or as part of a vaudeville act. Adler’s performances took her all over the United States, Europe and South America.

In 1931, she was invited to join the Group Theatre in New York City. Adler accepted the offer but never felt fully welcome. Many agree this is where she achieved her best work as Sarah Grassman in Success Story, Adah Menken in Gold Eagle Guy, Bessie Berger in Awake and Sing and Clara in Paradise Lost. The Group Theatre was formed by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg; themselves experimental actors focusing on cutting edge techniques and deeply influenced by Russian theorist Konstantin Stanislavski. Adler and Strasberg frequently clashed over the interpretation of Stanislavski’s work.

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Credit: Stella Adler: A Life in Art

Having a break, Adler headed to Europe in 1934. On a chance encounter in Paris, she met Stanislavski and was not only able to speak with him, but was instructed and taught by him for the next five weeks. Stanislavski was born in Moscow in 1863, was an actor himself and brought new psychological and emotional aspects to the craft. His theories were big in the United States in the 1930s. Adler was the first and only American to study directly under him. Returning home with new insight, Adler and Strasberg still couldn’t find a common ground so she decided to leave the Group Theatre.

In 1937, Adler gave Hollywood a shot. She appeared in three films: Love on Toast (1937), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) and My Girl Tisa (1948). Adler spent six years as an associate producer at MGM. She taught acting at the New School for Social Research around this time. Adler also directed commercial theatre in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Stella Adler School of Acting first opened its doors in New York in 1949. She could finally teach acting her own way. Where Lee Strasberg highlighted an actor’s need to draw upon personal experience to envision a character, Adler focused and honed the imagination. She was against the idea of using past traumas as a way to achieve an emotion, especially a negative one. In her own words: “drawing on emotions I experienced – for example, when my mother died – to create a role is sick and schizophrenic, I don’t want to do that.” Adler instead focused on spiritual realism, emotional memory, dramatic and self-analysis, and disciplined practise. Adler received critical acclaim for her work with Marlon Brando and his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). He was nominated for Best Actor at the 1952 Academy Awards.

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Credit: Los Angeles Times

Today, Adler’s school is known as the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. It is a not-for-profit organisation; an LA branch opened in 1984. Both run weekly acting classes. Some actors to come through Adler’s schools include Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Dustin Hoffman, Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johansson.

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Credit: John Kehoe Bookseller

Adler officially retired from acting in 1961. In the later part of the decade, Adler juggled her time between her acting school and teaching at Yale University’s School of Drama. She was head of drama at New York University in the 1980s. Adler released a book in 1988, The Technique of Acting. The book is still widely taught and referenced. She continued to teach until her death from a heart attack on December 21, 1992.

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Credit: Pinterest

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on November 21st, 2017. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

8 Acting Techniques (and the Stars Who Swear by Them) (https://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/resources/8-acting-techniques-and-stars-who-swear-them/)

Encyclopaedia Britannica – Stella Adler (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Stella-Adler)

PBS – American Masters (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/stella-adler-about-stella-adler/526/)

Stella Adler Biography (https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/stella-adler-5150.php)

Stella Adler – IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0012245/bio)

Stella Adler Los Angeles (http://www.stellaadler.la/)

Stella Adler Studio of Acting (http://www.stellaadler.com/)

Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland: Two Women Who Defied Hollywood

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Credit: Olivia de Havilland Online

Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland are two of the most famous actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Besides talent, they stand out from their contemporaries because they filed lawsuits against Warner Bros. Pictures. Both were contracted to the studio in the 1930s and were unhappy. Among many other actors of the time, Davis and de Havilland were exploited by the studio but chose to take a stand in hopes of voiding their contracts. In a Hollywood contract, actors were expected to follow a strict set of rules – on a film set and in life – and had to make any movie they were given whether they wanted to or not. A studio essentially owned an actor.

Bette Davis was born on April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Her father left when she was young and she, and her sister Barbara, were raised by their mother. Davis showed an interest in acting from an early age and starred in High School plays. She had a successful Broadway career before making the transition to Hollywood. In 1931, Davis signed a contract with Universal Pictures before switching to Warner Bros. the following year. She performed bit parts in a handful of movies before being loaned to RKO for Of Human Bondage (1934). This was Davis’ first Academy Award nomination. People in and out of the American film industry began to take notice. Over the next few years, Davis received Best Actress Academy Awards for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938).

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Credit: Pinterest

By the mid-1930s, Davis was beginning to get fed up with Warner Bros. She was unhappy with the roles she was getting and became disillusioned with the studio. She felt that the average parts were damaging to her career. As a way of rebelling, in 1937, Davis headed to England. Warner Bros. placed an injunction on Davis as they saw this move as a breach of contract. Davis sued hoping to get out of her contract and evidently lost. Though it was a failure, the incident did lead to better roles and a higher salary for Davis. She led the way for her friend Olivia de Havilland.

de Havilland started her life – July 1, 1916 – in Tokyo, Japan, before moving to the United States with her family when she was young. She signed a seven year contract with Warner Bros. in 1935. She made an impact early on in her career starring in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) and was frequently featured with actor Errol Flynn as an onscreen couple. de Havilland is best known for playing Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939), and – as of 2017 – is the only surviving cast member. She won an Academy Award for To Each His Own (1946) and was nominated for Best Actress for her work on Gone with the Wind. She lost to Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American woman to win the award. She has also been critically praised for her performance in The Snake Pit (1948). She played a woman with a mental illness.

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Credit: Biography.com

Like Davis, de Havilland was unhappy with Warner Bros. and frequently clashed with them. She kept being cast as a one-dimensional, objectified love interest for the male protagonist. As time went on, de Havilland refused to act in assigned films and was suspended without pay for a period of time. This happened on and off throughout the years. de Havilland’s contract came to an end in 1943. She was shocked to discover she owed Warner Bros. work for the time she was suspended. A total of six months had accumulated. She filed a lawsuit and the case went to court in 1945. This was unheard of at the time as stars never challenged the big studios. de Havilland won and was released from her Warner Bros. commitments. The landmark ruling became known as The De Havilland Law. It states that an actor is contracted to a studio for exactly a seven year calendar period. The case is still regularly referenced in American entertainment lawsuits.

de Havilland’s career soared in the 1940s but slowed down by the 1950s. She appeared alongside Bette Davis in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). de Havilland was also nominated for Academy Awards for The Heiress (1949) and My Cousin Rachel (1952), winning the former. She received a Nation Medal of Arts award from President Bush for her life’s work in 2008.

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Credit: TCM

Bette Davis had a long and critically acclaimed acting career before her passing in 1989. The story of her fallout with Joan Crawford was turned into a television series, Feud (2017). It stars Susan Sarandon (Davis) and Jessica Lange (Crawford). The two’s bitter relationship started on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). They did not get along at all. Davis was nominated for Best Actress at the 1962 Academy Awards. Crawford was not and felt the nomination should’ve been hers. Crawford took their rivalry to the next level. Davis eventually lost to Anne Bancroft. Instead of Bancroft, Crawford headed to the stage and accepted the award in her place. Prior to the event, she had contacted all the other nominees and offered to accept on their behalf. Davis was at a loss for words.

de Havilland is suing the producers of Feud for using her likeness without permission. She retired from acting in 1988 and currently resides in France.

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Credit: Classic Movie Favorites

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on October 17th, 2017. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

Bette Davis Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/bette-davis-9267626)

Bette Davis vs Joan Crawford – Hollywood’s most notorious feud (http://www.queensofvintage.com/bette-davis-vs-joan-crawford/)

De Haviland v. Warner Bros. Pictures (http://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/67/225.html)

How Bette Davis Became a Hollywood Icon By Refusing to Conform at Every Turn (https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/04/bette-davis-birthday)

Olivia de Havilland Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/olivia-de-havilland-9269867)

Olivia de Havilland: The actress who took on the studio system and won (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stipanowich-de-havilland–20160701-snap-story.html)

The Clippings File: Bette Davis and the System (https://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-clippings-file-bette-davis-and-the-system)

The Star System (http://www.classichollywoodcentral.com/the-star-system/)

Why Olivia de Havilland Is Suing FX Over Feud: Bette and Joan (https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/06/olivia-de-havilland-feud-fx-lawsuit)

Frances Marion: One of the First Hollywood Screenwriters

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Credit: Columbia University

Over half the scripts written during Hollywood’s silent era were written by women. The women came from a variety of backgrounds when they entered the industry. Some were actors, some came from Broadway and others started off as journalists, to name a few professions. Largely unknown to a modern film audience, Frances Marion was one of the first well established and sought-after screenwriters in American cinema. During the 1910s to late 1930s, she penned many scripts for films that are now considered classics. She wrote across many genres and even received academy awards for The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931).

Born on the 18th of November 1888, in San Francisco, her parents named her Marion Benson Owens. She would later be inspired and take her screen credit from famous American Civil War soldier Frances Marion. She started out as a journalist, model, career artist and World War I correspondent before eventually moving to Los Angeles.

Marion’s Hollywood career began in the early 1910s when she was hired as a writing and general assistant at Lois Weber Productions. The company was started by Florence Lois Weber, herself a pioneering film director. It was here that Marion learnt about the film industry and honed her script writing skills.

Written with Anita Loos, her first screenplay was The New York Hat (1912). It was directed by the legendary D. W. Griffith and starred the day’s most well-known actress Mary Pickford. The experience was great exposure for Marion and started a powerhouse partnership (and friendship) with Pickford.

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Credit: Time Magazine

Marion and Pickford had similar mindsets and worked extremely well together. Director and acquaintance Clarence Brown noted their strong chemistry and compared their ability to create new material together as being “spontaneously combustible”. It wasn’t long before they became close friends and regularly spent time together outside of work. Pickford soon hired Marion as her exclusive writer. Some of their greatest collaborations include The Little Princess (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), Stella Maris (1918) and Pollyanna (1920).

On the production of The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Marion and Pickford were creating comedy material that clashed with director Maurice Tourneur’s vision. He felt the subject material was too dark in nature to make funny. But because Pickford was the star and had creative authority, Tourneur’s objections were overruled. Based on a play by Eleanor Gates, the story follows a young girl – Gwen (played by Pickford) – in a middle-class family who is lonely and unwanted. Her parents make no time for her and the housing staff, who are responsible for Gwen’s wellbeing, push her around and abuse her. Producers were also not happy with the film’s final cut and thought it was in their best interests not to release it. Marion was distraught that she had possibly destroyed Pickford’s career. The two campaigned, the producers gave in and the film was distributed. It was a success and was responsible for Pickford’s trend of playing young children in comedy roles. She was twenty-four when she played 11-year-old Gwen.

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Credit: IMDb

By the 1920s, Marion was one of the most popular Hollywood screenwriters with a string of hits to her name. She was the highest paid screenwriter earning $3000 a week (no figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation), an astronomical amount never heard of before in the industry at the time. Marion gained critical acclaim for Stella Dallas (1925) and The Son of the Sheik (1926). She even had a hand in directing with Just Around the Corner (1921), The Love Light (1921) and The Song of Love (1923).

Marion retired from screenwriting in the late 1930s. She was disillusioned by the state of Hollywood screenwriting and described it as “like writing on sand with the wind blowing”. She found it very restrictive in its rigid, structured approach. At this stage in her career, she had written over 100 scripts and won countless awards. She wrote Pickford’s last starring film, Secrets (1933), before Pickford retired from acting to focus on producing. Their partnership had lasted nearly twenty years. In 1937, Marion wrote one of the first guides on American screenwriting, How to Write and Sell Film Stories. The book was taught as part of the film curriculum at the University of South California.

Marion spent her later years writing stage plays and novels. She passed away in 1972. Her academy award winning script, The Champ, was remade in 1979 and starred Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway. Marion will be played by Julia Stiles in an upcoming Mary Pickford biopic, The First (2017).

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Credit: Wikipedia

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on August 29th, 2017. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

Frances Marion – Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/frances-marion-214110)

Frances Marion – IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0547966/)

Profile – Frances Marion (https://wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-frances-marion/)

Julia Stiles To Play Scribe Frances Marion In Mary Pickford Pic ‘The First’ (http://deadline.com/2013/01/julia-stiles-frances-marion-mary-pickford-the-first-418595/)

The Poor Little Rich Girl: Mary Pickford and her wordsmith. (https://trueclassics.net/2012/06/03/the-poor-little-rich-girl-mary-pickford-and-her-wordsmith/)

This Forgotten Female Screenwriter Helped Give Hollywood Its Voice (http://time.com/4186886/frances-marion/)

A Look at Best Director Films by Women

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Credit: Pinterest

Being nominated for Best Director is one of the most prestigious honours the Academy Awards has to offer. It’s the ultimate form of respect for a director’s hard work and achievements. Among the chosen are some of the greatest directors of all time, but only four women have been nominated since the Academy’s introduction in 1929. They are Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow. Out of this list, only Bigelow has won the award for The Hurt Locker in 2009.

Lina Wertmüller

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Credit: The Muse

An Italian director born on August 14 1928, Wertmüller was nominated for Seven Beauties in 1976.

The film follows the story of Pasqualino Frauso (Giancarlo Giannini) as he goes AWOL from the Italian army, during World War II, only to be captured by Germans and thrown into a prison camp.

The movie was the tenth written and directed by Wertmüller, but is her most well-known. Her films are noted for their arthouse-style and focus on political and social issues. Some of her other celebrated works include The Seduction of Mini (1972) and Swept Away (1974). Wertmüller had a number of positions in the Italian film industry – puppeteer, actress and stage manager – before she made her directing debut, The Lizards, in 1962. She learnt of her Oscar nomination while on the set of her first English-speaking film, A Night in the Rain. Unfortunately, Wertmüller’s career petered out after her Seven Beauties fame.

It was also the first foreign film nominated for consecutive Academy Awards. It lost Best Director to Rocky.

It would be another seventeen years before a woman was nominated for Best Director.

Jane Campion

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Credit: Festival Cannes

New Zealand-born director, Jane Campion, began to make an impact early on in her career. She was a household name in her native country when The Piano started to gain international recognition.

The Piano is a drama, set in the mid-nineteenth century, about a mute piano player, Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), and her daughter Flora, played by Anna Paquin.

Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on the 30th of April, 1954, to artistic parents. She showed a creative side from a young age, but went to university to study anthropology. Campion quickly changed to a film-based degree.

She has directed The Portrait of a Lady (1996) and Bright Star (2009), among others. Campion’s films are famous for their strong female ensemble casts and feminist undertones.

Though Campion didn’t win Best Director, she did receive the award for Best Original Screenplay. Steven Spielberg won with Schindler’s List. However, The Piano did win the Golden Palm at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, the highest prize awarded at the French festival. Campion is the only female filmmaker in history, so far, to do this.

Sofia Coppola

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Credit: Film Society Lincoln Center

Born on May 14th, 1971, Sofia Coppola is the daughter of legendary Hollywood director Frances Ford Coppola, who is best known for The Godfather trilogy.

Being her father’s daughter, film has always been in Coppola’s life. She played Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III (1990) and Saché in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). Critics labelled her Godfather performance as wooden, but Coppola knew her future lay on the other side of the camera. She has directed movies such as The Virgin Suicides (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006), Somewhere (2010) and The Bling Ring (2013).

In 2003, Coppola’s work on Lost in Translation was nominated for Best Director. Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, it follows the adventures of Bob Harris and Charlotte – a washed up movie star and a photographer’s neglected wife – as the two form an unlikely friendship in Tokyo, Japan.

Coppola lost to Peter Jackson, with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, but left the Academy Awards with Best Original Screenplay.

Coppola received the Best Director award, for her current film, The Beguiled, at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

Kathryn Bigelow

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Credit: Pinterest

Kathryn Bigelow is synonymous with action films. Her credits include Blue Steel (1989), Point Break (1991), Strange Days (1995) and K-19: The Widow Maker (2002).

Bigelow was born on November 27, 1951, in San Carlos, California. She was inspired by her father’s cartoon drawings as a child and went to university with the intention of studying painting. She graduated from Columbia University in 1979 with a Master’s Degree in film theory and criticism.

The Hurt Locker stars Jeremy Renner, as a bomb squad Sargent in the American military, and won six Academy Awards in 2009. The film won Best Picture and Bigelow became the only woman to win the Best Director award. She dedicated it to American soldiers fighting overseas.

Upon winning the award, her ex-husband, James Cameron (director of two Terminator films, Aliens and Titanic), was one of the first to congratulate her. He too was in the running for Best Director with Avatar.

Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow’s follow up film, was nominated for five awards at the 2013 Academy Awards. It only won Best Sound Editing.

No other women have been nominated for Best Director since Bigelow’s win. Hollywood statistics have shown that opportunities for women to direct films has increased since 1980, but it is still a male dominated industry. Out of a study of the 250 highest-grossing films of 2016, only 7% were directed by women. That’s 2% down from the previous year. Big budget films can be directed by women, and perform beyond expectations, as Patty Jenkins proved with Wonder Woman. Other notable American female directors include: Penny Marshall (Big), Penelope Spheeris (Wayne’s World), Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) and Vicky Jenson (Shrek).

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Credit: The New York Times

This article was originally posted on The Sydney Feminists Blogspot on June 16th, 2017. (http://thesydneyfeminists.blogspot.com.au)

Sources:

A Conversation with Lina Wertmüller On Her Legacy & Being the First Woman Nominated for a Best Director Oscar (http://themuse.jezebel.com/a-conversation-with-lina-wertmuller-on-her-legacy-bei-1794383646)

Biography: Jane Campion – Film Director (http://www.theheroinecollective.com/jane-campion/)

Encyclopaedia Britannica – Lina Wertmüller (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lina-Wertmuller)

Has a Woman Ever Won an Oscar for Best Director? (https://www.thoughtco.com/best-director-oscar-for-a-woman-4109468)

Jane Campion Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/jane-campion-9236601)

Jane Campion Director (https://www.nzonscreen.com/person/jane-campion/biography)

Kathryn Bigelow Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/kathryn-bigelow-546542)

Kathryn Bigelow makes history as first woman to win best director Oscar (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/mar/08/kathryn-bigelow-oscars-best-director)

Oscars: No Women Nominated for Best Director — Again (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/oscars-no-women-nominated-best-director-again-967284)

Ranked: The Best Women Film Directors (and Their Films) (http://www.metacritic.com/feature/best-women-film-directors-and-movies)

Sofia Coppola Biography.com (https://www.biography.com/people/sofia-coppola-10434307)

Sofia Coppola emerges from her father’s shadow with Cannes triumph for The Beguiled (http://theconversation.com/sofia-coppola-emerges-from-her-fathers-shadow-with-cannes-triumph-for-the-beguiled-78696)

Sofia Coppola is the second woman to win best director at Cannes in 71 years (https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/29/15708830/sofia-coppola-best-director-cannes-film-festival-the-beguiled)