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Entries in Hattie McDaniel (10)

Wednesday
Mar082017

Someone pitch a "Beulah" Miniseries. Hear me out. 

Imitation of Life (1934) starred Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers who went into the pancake business

On this day in 1902 Louise Beavers born in Cincinatti. Though she was never as famous as the similarly cast Hattie McDaniel she also had her own big film moments in the studio system including the original Imitation of Life in which Claudette Colbert got wildly rich off of her recipe while she Beavers struggled with her light-skinned daughter. FREE PITCH IDEA FOR WRITERS OF COLOR: Don't you think a prestige miniseries on Black Hollywood throughout the years would be fascinating?

More on Louise Beavers and other "on this day" items after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb232017

Black History Month: Spotlight on Octavia Spencer

by Steven Fenton

On February 26, 2012, Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her endearing performance as the feisty Minny Jackson in Tate Taylor’s The Help. With her win, Spencer joined an elite group, becoming just the sixth black actress to win an acting Oscar (and only the seventh overall, if you count Irene Cara’s Original Song win for Flashdance, since she also starred in the film). Prior to 2011, Spencer had worked steadily since the mid-90s, gaining a reputation as a warm and generous co-star and a beloved character actress. So her win in February 2012 felt like an authentic opportunity for the academy to recognize an industry favorite.

Spencer was an indomitable force in the 2011 awards season, snatching wins at the Critics Choice, SAG awards, Globe Globes, and BAFTA, and beating out a talented crop of women in sensational breakout performances, including: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), and Spencer’s co-star, Jessica Chastain (who had taken both the LA and NY Film Critics awards for her outstanding trio of performances in The Help, Take Shelter, and Tree of Life). Spencer’s Oscar win was a foregone conclusion early in the race. The real competition that was year between Viola Davis and Meryl Streep in Leading Actress. Viola could have made history that night as the second black woman to win in lead, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, Spencer walked away with The Help’s only win that evening. Little did we know then, Octavia’s Oscar story wasn’t over, and she definitely wasn’t done making history...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun102016

Alexander the Great and Judy the Greatest

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

323 BC Alexander the Great dies of an unknown illness. Colin Farrell plays him in a movie centuries and centuries later and it's suggested that it's a combo of Typhus, Bad Wigs, and Loving Jared Leto that does him in. Who could survive that combo? (Remember when Baz Luhrmann was going to make an Alexander movie, too, but Oliver Stone beat him to it? We wish it had been the other way around.)
38 AD Julia Drusilla dies in Rome. In the infamous Bob Guccione movie Caligula (1979) her brother Caligula (Malcom McDowell) is shown licking her corpse. Somehow that's not remotely the most perverted thing in the movie!
1692 Bridget Bishop is executed for "Detestable Arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries." She's the first victim of the notorious Salem Witch Trials that will claim many lives and inspire many works of art including The Crucible and The VVitch and so on. 

1889 Sessue Hayakawa is born in Japan, becomes an international silent screen superstar. Later Oscar nominated for The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
1895 Hattie McDaniel is born. Becomes a major studio player in Hollywood, the first black actor to win an Oscar, and appears in many classic films albeit as The Help. We only wish Monique were ambitious about her film career and would work on that biopic that was suggested. It'd be so rich.
1901 Frederick Loewe is born. Meets Alan Jay Lerner 41 years later and the rest is movie and stage musical history: My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, Gigi, Camelot, etcetera... 
1922  Frances Ethel Gumm is born. Becomes Judy Garland, "The World's Greatest Entertainer" and one of the greatest movie stars of all time. (Easy top ten for me. How about you?) We hope you're enjoying Anne-Marie's current series "Judy by the Numbers". 
1936 Soyuzmultfilm, influential animation studio of the former Soviet Union, is founded
1963 Sex god Tony Ward is born. Becomes super model, Madonna plaything ("Justify My Love" / "Sex"), and Bruce La Bruce's Hustler White (1996)
1974 Dustin Lance Black is born. Later wins the Oscar for writing Milk (2008) but, weirdly, no one threatens to take the statue back when he writes J Edgar (2011)

1985 Claus von Bulow is acquitted on attempted murder charges of his heiress wife. Jeremy Irons wins an Oscar playing him in Reversal of Fortune just five years later while the heiress wife (Glenn Close) narrates the morbid proceedings. Quibblers, including me, suggest that the Oscar was in part for that awful Dead Ringers (1988) snub two years prior.
1988 Big Business opens starring two Lily Tomlins and two Bette Midlers. Double the pleasure
2003 Wicked opens on Broadway. It goes on to gross billions. Still no movie in sight and it'll already be old hat by the time we get one. (sigh)
2007 The final episode of The Sopranos cuts to black. Do you ever think about that show now? 

Saturday
Feb282015

For Hattie...

Hattie receiving her Oscar from the awesome Fay Bainter, the previous Supporting Actress winnerWe hope you enjoyed The Film Experience's Black History Month miniseries. I asked team members to pick one Oscar nomination or win to talk about hence the very random skip through history. It was our intention to dedicate it in retrospect to Hattie McDaniel, the first black person to win an Oscar, on the exact 75th anniversary of her win. And then... discovery: The 1939 Oscars, a big night for Gone With the Wind, were held on February 29th, 1940, a leap year. So technically we can't. There is no February 29th in 2015.

And yet somehow that's fitting that her history-making win should occur on a date that's elusive. So here's to Hattie and to all who came after.

the episodes
Song of The South (1947) -Timothy
Sounder (1972) - Andrew
Endless Love (1981) - Nathaniel
Street Smart (1987) - Nathaniel
Do The Right Thing (1989) - Matthew
Ghost (1990) - Abstew
Schwarferer (1993) - Special Guest Paul Outlaw
Pulp Fiction (1994) - Jason
Four Little Girls (1997) - Margaret
Monsters Ball (2001) - Special Guest Philip Harville
Benjamin Button (2008) -Matthew

Should we do it again next year? We'd cover Women's History Month for March except we basically do that all the time already.

 

Wednesday
Aug272014

Gone With The Wind's Glorious Ensemble

Entr'acte After last week's screening of the first half of the gargantuan Gone With the Wind. I realized that three fourths of my memories of the movie come from its first half. What would this screening of Act 2 reveal? We return now to wind-swept Georgia and the tale of the most famous of southern belles, Scarlett O'Hara.

Scarlett summed up: Surrounded in Rhett's wealth and love (the future) but still focused on her self and past girlish ideals (Ashley Wilkes in her hand). Perpetually vain and unhappy.

Part 2 The first act of GWTW is, largely, a Civil War film albeit one that's told brilliantly off the battlefield. The second act shifts gears to Reconstruction. While the South is being rebuilt, Scarlett is doing her own life remodelling. It's now a romantic melodrama, but pleasantly also a rich ensemble film as each character comes into sharper focus (Hattie McDaniel's Mammy and Olivia de Havilland's Melanie in particular - both superb)

Ashley Wilkes, simpleton that he is, still doesn't get Scarlett, assessing her strength like so: 

You never have trouble facing reality."

Oh, Ashley! Our semi-delusional Southern Belle is still continually fantasizing about you, a man she can't have and wouldn't want if she had him, while denying her love for the one she has and does actually want... in her own way. All the way she's hoping to recapture or clinging to her obsession of former glories of the Old South: Tara with its lush lands and easy wealth, the cheap labor force (ahem), and even her girlish waistline which alarming grows to a (GASP!) 20" and she cannot figure why. 'Childbirth? Fiddle-dee-dee!'

If Ashley Wilkes, who idolizes Scarlett, were choosing Part 2's Best Shot, I know just what he'd choose.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug262014

Best Shot Collection: Gone With the Wind (Pt. 2)

Previously on Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Gone With the Wind Pt 1

We return now to wind-swept Georgia and the tale of the most famous southern belle of all time, Scarlett O'Hara Wilkes Kennedy Butler. We've lost a few Best Shot participants this time around (people don't love Part 2 as much I guess - a group which includes me) or they're just running late (which includes me). I'm still debating between a few images and too tired to think any more. I'll decide tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day!

GONE WITH THE WIND PT 2
Click on any of the Best Shot choices to read the corresponding articles 

The marriage of Scarlett and Rhett is its own version of Sherman's march... a path of destruction in their wake.
-The Entertainment Junkie 

There is something you love better than me, though you may not know it.
-Ashley Wilkes for The Film Experience

a glimpse of reality; her funhouse mirror is cracking
-Cinemunch 

My favorite section of the film [is] the hardcore suffering part, where everyone is starving and filthy and Scarlett has to wear the same dress for 18 months... 
-Video Valhalla 


 Certainly a movie you love wouldn’t take you two weeks to watch... 
-Pop Culture Crazy


No use trying to sweet talk me. I knows you since I put the first diapers on you.
-Mammy for The Film Experience


 You're a heartless creature. But that's part of your charm.
-Captain Rhett Butler for The Film Experience


One of the great characters and performances in the annals of cinema... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy

Scarlett stands confidently and defiantly. Its the only way she knows how.
-The Film's The Thing 

Nothing modest or matronly will do for this occasion...
-Film Actually 

Here's Our Darling Scarlett."
-Melanie Wilkes for The Film Experience


Melanie as the calm moral centre of the film...
-Lam Chop Chop 


I love the fact that Scarlett’s bedroom has a portrait of Marie Antoinette in it...
- Allison Tooey


Gone with the Wind is my mom’s favorite movie...
-Coco Hits NY

-The Futurist

And that is... the end! Except for my choice. Unless a few stragglers show up. Hope you enjoyed.

Next Tuesday night, September 2nd, our Season Five Finale: THE MATRIX (1999) for Keanu Reeve's 50th Birthday. Why not pick a shot and join us?

Saturday
Aug232014

"House Servant" = Slave

Looking back over some of the entries for last week's Best Shot episode (Gone With the Wind's first half) and chasing links here and there I found myself at The Anzrin Exchange a personal blog of Alison somebody. It's not a "best shot" piece but an essay written earlier this year about how Gone With the Wind is viewed now (especially in the wake of 12 Years a Slave) and how it has aged in terms of its racial politics and themes - which are entirely separate things though naturally they're in conversation, especially retroactively.

Back then, the world was a different place. There were Civil War veterans still living, the Holocaust was unknown, interracial marriage was illegal, and the Walt Disney Company was close to bankruptcy. A radically different time.

This is the argument that’s made to defend every racist Grandma at Thanksgiving, and it is the argument that "Gone With the Wind" apologists use to silence its detractors. There’s no denying that this is a film made by racists, for racists, about racists. But, while "12 Years a Slave" is explicitly about slavery, the "meaning" of "Gone With the Wind" has always been a little more fluid. Ultimately it's a movie about people who can’t let go, who ruin their lives by clinging to a past that does not want them anymore. This is true, whether we view that past as a hateful hell or rosy paradise.

In 2014, few people mourn the loss of the Old South, but we’re just as receptive to the idea that dwelling on the past can kill you. And that’s the theme of "Gone With the Wind," when you cut right down to its heart: The people who thrive are the ones who can let go of the past and take charge of their future, who can change.

The bold is mine for emphasis; that's a bluntly stated truth, but one that's easy to miss if we conflate all presentation with endorsement and shut out other ways of looking at the movie.  It's a really thoughtful engaging piece, particularly interesting when it comes to the performances of Hattie McDaniel's "Mammy" and Butterfly McQueen's "Prissy," so you should read it. (Hattie & Butterfly's billing as "House Servants," really struck me in the credits this time; that sure is a fancy guilt-easing euphemism for "Slaves," right?) 

And if you missed out on this week's Best Shot, there's still time to join us. Any late comers doing GWTW Part 2 (everything after the Intermission) can also do Part 1 and I'll add you in retroactively. We're reconvening on Tuesday night August 26th for the finale.