Writers on Film

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From the Archive: Tom Shone on Christopher Nolan

Season 1, Ep. 90

A chance to listen to the FIRST EVER episode of Writers on Film.

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3/15/2023

Crooked but Never Common

Season 1, Ep. 98
In a burst of creativity unmatched in Hollywood history, Preston Sturges directed a string of all-time classic comedies from 1939 through 1948―The Great McGinty, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek among them―all from screenplays he alone had written. Cynical and sophisticated, romantic and sexually frank, crazily breakneck and endlessly witty, his movies continue to influence filmmakers and remain popular to this day. Yet despite this acclaim, Sturges’s achievements remain underappreciated: he is too often categorized as a dialogue writer and plot engineer more than a director, or belittled as an irresponsible spinner of laughs.In Crooked, but Never Common, Stuart Klawans combines a critic’s insight and a fan’s enthusiasm to offer deeper ways to think about and enjoy Sturges’s work. He provides an in-depth appreciation of all ten of the writer-director’s major movies, presenting Sturges as a filmmaker whose work balanced slapstick and social critique, American and European traditions, and cynicism and affection for his characters. Tugging at loose threads―discontinuities, puzzles, and allusions that have dangled in plain sight―and putting the films into a broader cultural context, Klawans reveals structures, motives, and meanings underlying the uproarious pleasures of Sturges’s movies. In this new light, Sturges emerges at last as one of the truly great filmmakers―and funnier than ever.
3/1/2023

Will Scheibel talks Gene Tierney and Hollywood Stardom

Season 1, Ep. 96
Will Scheibel is associate professor of English at Syracuse University, where he teaches film and screen studies. He is the coauthor of Twin Peaks, a volume in the TV Milestones Series (Wayne State University Press, 2020), with Julie Grossman. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including Camera Obscura, Film Criticism, Journal of Gender Studies, and Celebrity Studies.Here's the blurb from the book:Gene Tierney may be one of the most recognizable faces of studio-era Hollywood: she starred in numerous classics, including Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Laura, with the latter featuring her most iconic role. While Tierney was considered one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, she personified "ordinariness" both on- and off-screen. Tierney portrayed roles such as a pinup type, a wartime worker, a wife, a mother, and, finally, a psychiatric patient—the last of which may have hit close to home for her, as she would soon leave Hollywood to pursue treatment for mental illness and later attempted suicide in the 1950s. After her release from psychiatric clinics, Tierney sought a comeback as one of the first stars whose treatment for mental illness became public knowledge. In this book, Will Scheibel not only examines her promotion, publicity, and reception as a star but also offers an alternative history of the United States wartime efforts demonstrated through the arc of Tierney’s career as a star working on the home front. Scheibel’s analysis aims to showcase that Tierney was more than just "the most beautiful woman in movie history," as stated by the head of production at Twentieth Century Fox in the 1940s and 1950s. He does this through an examination of her making, unmaking, and remaking at Twentieth Century Fox, rediscovering what she means as a movie legend both in past and up to the present. Film studies scholars, film students, and those interested in Hollywood history and the legacy of Gene Tierney will be delighted by this read.