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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts

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Ann Dvorak

Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel

Christina Rice

Possessing a unique beauty and refined acting skills, Ann Dvorak (1911--1979) found success in Hollywood at a time when many actors were still struggling to adapt to the era of talkies. Seemingly destined for A-list fame, critics touted her as "Hollywood's New Cinderella" after film mogul Howard Hughes cast her as Cesca in the gangster film Scarface (1932). Dvorak's journey to superstardom was derailed when she walked out on her contractual obligations to Warner Bros. for an extended honeymoon. Later, she initiated a legal dispute over her contract, an action that was unprecedented at a time when studios exercised complete control over actors' careers.

As the first full-length biography of an often-overlooked actress, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel explores the life and career of one of the first individuals who dared to challenge the studio system that ruled Tinseltown. The actress reached her pinnacle during the early 1930s, when the film industry was relatively uncensored and free to produce movies with more daring storylines. She played several female leads in films including The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932), and Three on a Match (1932), and Heat Lightning (1934), but after her walk-out, Warner Bros retaliated by casting her in less significant roles.

Following the casting conflicts and illness, Dvorak filed a lawsuit against the Warner Bros. studio, setting a precedent for other stars who eventually rebelled against the established Hollywood system. In this insightful memoir, Christina Rice explores the spirited rebellion of a talented actress whose promising career fell victim to the studio empire.

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Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway

Eve Golden

" Anna Held (1870?-1918), a petite woman with an hourglass figure, was America's most popular musical comedy star during the two decades preceding World War I. In the colorful world of New York theater during La Belle �poque, she epitomized everything that was glamorous, sophisticated, and suggestive about turn-of-the-century Broadway. Overcoming an impoverished life as an orphan to become a music-hall star in Paris, Held rocketed to fame in America. From 1896 to 1910, she starred in hit after hit and quickly replaced Lillian Russell as the darling of the theatrical world. The first wife of legendary producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., Held was the brains and inspiration behind his Follies and shared his knack for publicity. Together, they brought the Paris scene to New York, complete with lavish costumes and sets and a chorus of stunningly beautiful women, dubbed ""The Anna Held Girls."" While Held was known for a champagne giggle as well as for her million-dollar bank account, there was a darker side to her life. She concealed her Jewish background and her daughter from a previous marriage. She suffered through her two husbands' gambling problems and Ziegfeld's blatant affairs with showgirls. With the outbreak of fighting in Europe, Held returned to France to support the war effort. She entertained troops and delivered medical supplies, and she was once briefly captured by the German army. Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway reveals one of the most remarkable women in the history of theatrical entertainment. With access to previously unseen family records and photographs, Eve Golden has uncovered the details of an extraordinary woman in the vibrant world of 1900s New York.

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Anna May Wong

From Laundryman's Daughter to Hollywood Legend

Graham Russell Gao Hodges

Anna May Wong was perhaps the best known Chinese American actress during Hollywood’s golden age, a free spirit and embodiment of the flapper era much like Louise Brooks. She starred in over fifty movies between 1919 and 1960, sharing the screen with such luminaries as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Marlene Dietrich. Born in Los Angeles in 1905, Wong was the second daughter of six children born to a laundryman and his wife. Obsessed with film at a young age, she managed to secure a small part in a 1919 drama about the Boxer Rebellion. Her most famous film roles were in The Thief of Baghdad, Old San Francisco, and Shanghai Express opposite Dietrich. Despite these successes, instances of overt racism plagued Wong’s career. When it came time to make a film version of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, she was passed over for the Austrian-born actress, Luise Rainer. In a narrative that recalls both the gritty life in Los Angeles’s working-class Chinese neighborhoods and the glamour of Hollywood at its peak, Graham Hodges recounts the life of this elegant, beautiful, and underappreciated screen legend.

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Anne Bancroft

A Life

Douglass K. Daniel

"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" These famous lines from The Graduate (1967) would forever link Anne Bancroft (1931--2005) to the groundbreaking film and confirm her status as a movie icon. Along with her portrayal of Annie Sullivan in the stage and film drama The Miracle Worker, this role was a highlight of a career that spanned a half-century and brought Bancroft an Oscar, two Tonys, and two Emmy awards.

In the first biography to cover the entire scope of Bancroft's life and career, Douglass K. Daniel brings together interviews with dozens of her friends and colleagues, never-before-published family photos, and material from film and theater archives to present a portrait of an artist who raised the standards of acting for all those who followed. Daniel reveals how, from a young age, Bancroft was committed to challenging herself and strengthening her craft. Her talent (and good timing) led to a breakthrough role in Two for the Seesaw, which made her a Broadway star overnight. The role of Helen Keller's devoted teacher in the stage version of The Miracle Worker would follow, and Bancroft also starred in the movie adaption of the play, which earned her an Academy Award. She went on to appear in dozens of film, theater, and television productions, including several movies directed or produced by her husband, Mel Brooks. Anne Bancroft: A Life offers new insights into the life and career of a determined actress who left an indelible mark on the film industry while remaining true to her art.

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Another Part of a Long Story

Literary Traces of Eugene O'Neill and Agnes Boulton

William Davies King

An engrossing biography about the marital breakdown of a major literary figure, of particular interest for what it reveals about O'Neill's creative process, activities, and bohemian lifestyle at the time of his early successes and some of his most interesting experimental work. In addition, King's discussion of Boulton's efforts as a writer of pulp fiction in the early part of the 20th century reveals an interesting side of popular fiction writing at that time, and gives insight into the lifestyle of the liberated woman. ---Stephen Wilmer, Trinity College, Dublin Biographers of American playwright Eugene O'Neill have been quick to label his marriage to actress Carlotta Monterey as the defining relationship of his illustrious career. But in doing so, they overlook the woman whom Monterey replaced---Agnes Boulton, O'Neill's wife of over a decade and mother to two of his children. O'Neill and Boulton were wed in 1918---a time when she was a successful pulp novelist and he was still a little-known writer of one-act plays. During the decade of their marriage, he gained fame as a Broadway dramatist who rejected commercial compromise, while she mapped that contentious territory known as the literary marriage. His writing reflected her, and hers reflected him, as they tried to realize progressive ideas about what a marriage should be. But after O'Neill left the marriage, he and new love Carlotta Monterey worked diligently to put Boulton out of sight and mind---and most O'Neill biographers have been quick to follow suit. William Davies King has brought Agnes Boulton to light again, providing new perspectives on America's foremost dramatist, the dynamics of a literary marriage, and the story of a woman struggling to define herself in the early twentieth century. King shows how the configuration of O'Neill and Boulton's marriage helps unlock many of O'Neill's plays. Drawing on more than sixty of Boulton's published and unpublished writings, including her 1958 memoir, Part of a Long Story, and an extensive correspondence, King rescues Boulton from literary oblivion while offering the most radical revisionary reading of the work of Eugene O'Neill in a generation. William Davies King is Professor of Theater at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of several books, most recently Collections of Nothing, chosen by Amazon.com as one of the Best Books of 2008. Illustration: Eugene O'Neill, Shane O'Neill, and Agnes Boulton ca. 1923. Eugene O'Neill Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

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Another Self

Middle-Class American Women and Their Friends in the Twentieth Century

Linda Rosenzweig

From nineteenth-century romantic friendships to childhood best friends and idealistic versions of feminist sisterhood, female friendship has been seen as an essential, sustaining influence on women's lives. Women are thought to have a special aptitude for making and keeping friends.

But notions of friendship are not constant-and neither are women's experiences of this fundamental form of connection. In Another Self, Linda W. Rosenzweig sheds light on the changing nature of white middle-class American women's relationships during the coming of age of modern America.

As the middle-class domesticity of the nineteenth century waned, a new emotional culture arose in the twentieth century and the intensely affectionate bonds between women of earlier decades were supplanted by new priorities: autonomy, careers, participation in an expanding consumer culture, and the expectation of fulfillment and companionship in marriage. An increased emphasis on heterosexual interactions and a growing stigmatization of close same-sex relationships fostered new friendship styles and patterns.

Drawing on a wide range of primary sources including diaries, journals, correspondence, and popular periodicals, Rosenzweig uncovers the complex and intricate links between social and cultural developments and women's personal experiences of friendship.

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Another Steven Soderbergh Experience

Authorship and Contemporary Hollywood

By Mark Gallagher

Through in-depth investigation of Soderbergh’s work in film, television, and video, as well as an extensive interview with the filmmaker, this book offers a new model of film authorship in the twenty-first century that emphasizes its fundamentally collaborative nature.

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Anthony Minghella

Interviews

Mario Falsetto

Anthony Minghella: Interviews is an illuminating anthology of in-depth conversations with this important contemporary film director and producer. The collection explores Minghella's ideas on every aspect of the cinematic creative process including screenwriting, acting, editing, the use of music in film, and other topics concerning the role of the film director.

Minghella (1954-2008) was a highly regarded British playwright (Made in Bangkok), and television writer (Inspector Morse) before turning to film directing with his quirky, highly regarded first film, Truly, Madly, Deeply, in 1990. He went on to direct an extraordinary trilogy of large-scale films, all adapted from significant works of contemporary literature. Minghella's 1996 adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's poetic novel The English Patient was the director's most critically and commercially successful film and went on to win dozens of awards around the world, including nine academy awards. Minghella followed this film with his entertaining, elegant adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley, a film that enjoyed great critical and commercial success and featured some of the best acting of the 1990s by its talented cast of young, rising stars, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Minghella's ambitious adaptation of Charles Frazier's American Civil War romance, Cold Mountain, was released in 2003, and firmly marked Minghella as a director of intimate, yet large-scale epic cinema worthy of David Lean.

Although Minghella was a successful film director and producer, he was also an important part of the cultural life of the U.K. He was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2001 for his contributions to culture, and he was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the British Film institute from 2004 to 2007.

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Antonia Mercé, “LaArgentina”

Flamenco and the Spanish Avant Garde

Ninotchka Bennahum

Antonia Mercé, stage-named La Argentina, was the most celebrated Spanish dancer of the early 20th century. Her intensive musical and theatrical collaborations with members of the Spanish vanguard -- Manuel de Falla, Frederico García Lorca, Enrique Granados, Néstor de la Torre, Joaquín Nín, and with renowned Andalusian Gypsy dancers -- reflect her importance as an artistic symbol for contemporary Spain and its cultural history. When she died in 1936, newspapers around the world mourned the passing of the "Flamenco Pavlova."

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Antonine Maillet : Les trésors cachés - Our Hidden Treasures

Les trésors cachés - Our Hidden Treasures

Antonine Maillet

Antonine Maillet, prodigieuse « Acadienne, femme et écrivaine », tisse habilement les fils du mythe, de la patrie et de lendemains nouveaux dans cette inspirante allocution prononcée à l’occasion de la cérémonie de remise de la Médaille Symons.

En véritable artiste, Maillet se fait « créateur de sons, de couleurs, de formes ou de mots ». Surgit alors un immense territoire de montagnes et d’océans, d’histoire et d’histoires – tantôt mythiques, tantôt modernes, tour à tour sous le signe de l’épopée flamboyante et de l’intimité illuminée par un feu de foyer. Un pays à la fois jeune et vieux, qui a deux langues, un riche subconscient, des aspirations. En guise de conclusion, elle raconte une histoire que Rabelais avait écrite l’année même de la découverte de l’Amérique. 

Sous le couvert du conte, cette grande dame lance un puissant appel à la solidarité, à la protection des cultures et à la sauvegarde des langues. Son pays « aux multiples visages » et fait de paradoxes, demande-t-elle, « saura-t-il accorder leur juste place aux peuples d’origines diverses? »

Connue notamment pour sa pièce de théâtre La Sagouine (1971), Mme Maillet n’en a pas moins remporté le prestigieux Prix Goncourt pour son roman Pélagie-la-Charette, devenant du coup la première lauréate non européenne du plus grand prix littéraire de France. Depuis, elle a publié plus de 20 romans, une multitude de pièces de théâtre et des traductions d’auteurs célèbres tels que Shakespeare. Elle est récipiendaire de nombreux prix, dont le Prix littéraire du Gouverneur général, la Médaille Lorne Pierce de la Société royale du Canada, et le Prix Goncourt.

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