Xoe and Rita discuss film, literature, historical figures, interests, and obsessions.
Foibles Episode 30: All That Heaven Allows/ Far From Heaven/ Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Douglas Sirk (1897 - 1987) - All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Sirk was a Dane born in Germany and became very successful in Germany as a theater director. His 1st wife joined the Nazi Party. He left Germany primarily because of the danger the rise of the Nazi Party created for his 2nd wife who was a Jew.
The core and substance of Sirk’s oeuvre was created in Hollywood in the 1950’s in so-called women’s films. Sirk’s greatest works depicted social constraints from the woman’s point of view and offered full-bodied characters to his female stars. Sirk uses sweeping music, vivid technicolor, and lush scenery in opposition to emotional suppression and the heavy hand of systemic oppression. He hides his true anti-fascist message behind the tissue-thin glamor of Hollywood.
At the time of their release, Sirk’s movies were critically sneered at for their swollen emotions and woman-centric themes. It was, per usual, the French New Wave directors and Cahiers du Cinema who embraced, lauded, and raised to the pantheon Douglas Sirk’s 1950’s films. Perhaps, the French could appreciate the films in depth because they were not afraid of the romantic stylistic grandeur and the anti-bourgeoises subtext.
ATHA stars the almost forgotten Jane Wyman (Ronald Reagan’s 1st wife in real life) opposite the younger Rock Hudson. Wyman is an upper class widow in love with a younger, working class man. And all the forces of her class, family, and larger social circle put pressure on her to forego an alliance with an “unsuitable” man. Her family and society’s discomfort come from her crossing the class barrier and more, fundamentally, her implicitly asserting her sexual desire by making this choice. Sirk uses lighting, imagery, and mise en scene to evoke Wyman’s inner life, which she keeps buttoned up as required by her training and social position.
To my mind, Sirk’s greatest film is his last, Imitation of Life (1959). It is a remake of the equally good 1934 black-and-white version starring Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers as two women whose lives are bound together. They are bonded emotionally and economically, yet divided by race and class. Sirk’s remake starring Lana Turner and Juanita Moore is more stylish and emotionally febrile as he builds an edifice of intersectional inequality with gowns by Jean Louis. The major difference between the films is that in the 1934 version Louise Beaver’s black maid character plays a major role in raising the family’s fortunes by her own talents.
Sirk retired in 1959 after Imitation of Life. But continues to influence and inspire filmmakers, particularly male filmmakers.
Todd Haynes (b. 1961) - Far From Heaven (2002)
Todd Haynes has a strong sympathy and insight into the female point of view. He has directed films in many genres but he brings a complex compassion no matter the form he is using. Far From Heaven is a remake of All That Heaven Allows (1955) with a large dollop of Imitation of Life (1959) folded in.
In FFH, Julianne Moore is not a widow but a woman married to a closeted gay man, who falls in love with a straight, working-class, black man; thereby, challenging all the taboos. Haynes adopts all the hallmarks of Sirk’s style - oceanic musical score, colors so rich you can taste them, and pulsating, barely expressed emotions shifting the tectonic plates of the character’s lives.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945 - 1982) Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
This is one of the best out of Fassbinder’s enormous catalog of 44 films directed during his 18-year career. Fassbinder lived an openly queer lifestyle, indulged in, and eventually died from drugs. Basically, Fassbinder did not give shit what conventional and middle-class morality dictated. All of his films were political in that they spit in the face of the establishment.
In Ali, Fassbinder has the courage to cast a man and woman whose demographics real
Foibles Episode 29: ”That Demmed Elusive Pimpernel” The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, published 1905.
11 sequels plus numerous short stories
Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), starring Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon- The BEST adaptation
Pimpernel Smith (1941), Leslie Howard- Meh.
The Elusive Pimpernel (1950), David Niven and Margaret Leighton- Rita hated, Xoe loved the surreal sets.
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982), Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour- Solid adaptation.
Scarlet Pimpernel (1999)- Not very good.
Foibles Episode 28: The Prior Brothers, Genre Film‘s Born Killers
Experiences the child-like joy of gleaming muscles, flashing teeth, ill-timed explosions, and mayhem by the best of the worst.
Link to Ted's IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0697961/
Xoe and Rita's Top 7 Ted Prior Movies:
Born Killer (1989)
Future Zone (1990)
Raw Nerve (1991)
Possessed by the Night (1994)**
Day of the Warrior (1996)*
Hardcase and Fist (1989)
Raw Justice (1994)
The Last House (2015)
*Xoe's unique pick
Thanks as always to Powerbleeder for our theme song "Future Mind". Listen Here
Foibles Episode 27: Archy and Mehitable- Toujours Gai
archy and mehitabel by don marquis is a collection of newspaper columns in verse without kapitalization or punctuation except occasionally published between 1916 and 1936
filled with social and politikal commentary along with a very wry perspective on human foibles and the vagaries of life for all life forms
wonderful stylized illustrations by george herriman who wuz also the author of the krazy kat comics
first half of the full collection is highly recommended interest peters out in the second half
marquis's hit play old soak wuz definitely of it time its humor does not hold up at all
always speshial thanks to david plell and powerbleeder for our muzak
Foibles Episode 26: The Murderbot Diaries
The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
All Systems Red - 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella; 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella; & 2018 American Library Association’s Alex Award; nominated for 2017 Philip K Dick Award
Artificial Condition - 2019 Hugo Award
Fugitive Telemetry - Published in 2021. We have not read it yet
Read these in order!
The 1st three following novellas had enough votes for the 2019 Hugo Award final ballot but Wells declined all nominations except for Artificial Condition, which won.
Thanks to David Plell with Powerbleeder for our theme Future Mind.
Foibles Episode 24: The Silver Prose of Mary Mapes Dodge
Thanks for listening to the long saga of visionary film producer Val Lewton! This episode is a one-off, and the author only wrote two novels.
Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905) Writer, editor, widow, single mother
She was instrumental in encouraging Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book. She also published books of sketches and poems.
Donald and Dorothy (1883)
Hans Brinker; or the Silver Skates (1865)
Special thanks to David Plell and Powerbleeder for the theme song "Future Mind"!
Excellent, well-researched and thoughtful
What a great surprise! I’ll admit the show’s name and tagline made me nervous this might be like the many chat podcasts that foreground interpersonal dynamics over research and preparation. But it’s well-researched and thoughtful. I’ve learned a lot, and it’s given me new perspectives on creatives I thought I knew well (like Val Lewton and Marilyn Monroe). I also appreciate the hosts’ respect for each other and for their subjects. To me, the “foibles” here are in Hollywood’s treatment of its geniuses—not any mistakes made by the hosts. (Dream topics: The Birds, Rosemary’s Baby, Barbara Stanwyck.)
learned a lot about myself during the Errol Flynn ep
pleasant listen, good pacing
I hope my daughter and I will have a relationship like this when she gets older! I enjoy the thoroughly researched information, and fun and intellectual conversations about interesting topics.