How I Married Karen
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The baseball field is a study in fearful symmetry.
Absent players, the field can be read as an abstract work of art. There are the green and brown fields of color bisected by sharp white lines and three small white squares. The gently sloping mound faces home plate creating a uniquely American geography.
In her disarmingly modest, and revealing autobiography, On the Other Hand, film actress Fay Wray (September 15, 1907–August 8, 2004), best known for her role as Ann Darrow in the classic film King Kong, unveils her life in a lovely, impressionist style that is at the same time sharply focused.
As Seraphic Secret wrote in Part I, Wray, a fatherless beauty from Canada, made her way to Hollywood with her stage-door mother, her sister Willow, and Willow’s husband, William Mortensen. Her brother-in-law sexually abused fourteen-year-old Fay. Part II, was devoted to Wray’s tragic brother Vivien, who attempted incest with Fay, and then, in despair, almost certainly committed suicide by flinging himself from a moving train.
Yet another beast in human form was to play a major role in Wray’s life.
“Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino play losers very well. But my audience like to be in there vicariously with a winner. That isn’t always popular with critics. My characters have sensitivity and vulnerabilities, but they’re still winners. I don’t pretend to understand losers. When I read a script about a loser I think of people in life who are losers and they seem to want it that way. It’s a compulsive philosophy with them. Winners tell themselves, I’m as bright as the next person. I can do it. Nothing can stop me.”
—Clint Eastwood, 1971
In her modest, jewel of an autobiography, On the Other Hand, film actress Fay Wray (September 15, 1907–August 8, 2004), best known for her role as Ann Darrow in the classic film King Kong, unveils the confusing threads of her life in Hollywood in a lovely, impressionist style that is, at the same time, sharply focused.
As Seraphic Secret wrote in Part I, Wray, a fatherless young beauty from Canada, made her way to Hollywood with her sister Willow and Willow’s husband, William Mortensen, who sexually abused fourteen-year-old Fay. At one point, he took “artistic photos” of her on the beach—and when Fay’s mother later discovered these photos, she destroyed them, furiously smashing plate after plate.
But even before the emotionally confusing incidents with William, there was another beast in Fay’s life: her eldest brother Vivien, whom she adored.
Actress Fay Wray achieved screen immortality as Ann Darrow, the girl in King Kong’s paw, the beauty who tamed the raging beast.
For most of us growing up after Hollywood’s Golden Age, Fay Wray (b. Vina Fay Wray; September 15, 1907 – August 8, 2004) was nothing more than a fetching, half-naked prop, screaming endlessly, eyes wide with terror.
But Fay Wray, the lovely, Canadian-born actress, had a long, distinguished Hollywood career that stretched from 1923 to 1980 — over eighty movies, and then numerous guest appearances on television. On the surface, it seems a life drenched in glamour. But in reality Fay Wray played beauty to several human beasts.
You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths.
On the first day, you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows, and you will rejoice before the L-RD your G-d for seven days.
All over the world Jews are preparing—decorating the Sukkah, cooking, and more cooking—for the holiday of Sukkot.
Here are some eye-catching photos pictures of Jews celebrating this joyous holiday in Israel, Samarkand, and America, a reminder that Torah Judaism is universal and eternal.
In observance of the holiday and because of a hectic schedule Seraphic Secret will be offline until Friday.
Yom Kippur was a deeply moving experience. The Jewish liturgy emphasizes personal responsibility. Traditional Jewish prayer—not the watered down liberal versions practiced by the Conservative and Reform movements—is a stark and bracing contrast to this postmodern age where lies are a new truth, slavery is redefined as freedom, and the only sin recognized by the Progressive elite is not supporting the unchecked growth of the regulatory state.
A few hours later, as I got up for my 4AM three mile walk, I fired up my Twitter feed and saw that Bob Dylan b. Robert Zimmerman, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Assuming this was a gag, I checked various news feeds and learned that it is true.
Finally, some good news.
Between 1919 and 1921, Gloria Swanson starred in a series of wildly popular films for director Cecile B. De Mille in which the iconography of Hollywood glamour was formally codified. The titles of these films carry the whiff of scandal and decadence: Don’t Change Your Husband (1919), For Better, For Worse (1919), Male and Female (1919), Why Change Your Wife? (1920). In truth, each of the DeMille-Swanson films were neat little morality tales where virtue and tradition triumphed.
The visual language of glamour was characterized by stunning women sheathed in one gorgeous outfit after another, placed within elegant sets that defy practicality in favor of a dream-like universe. In De Mille’s Swanson movies, the decadent bathrooms were prominently featured. The massive sunken tubs, marble walls and floors, made audiences gasp with disbelief and pleasure. The symbol of the roaring twenties, according to Hollywood, was a bathroom fit for a queen.
Swanson’s elaborate costumes often weighed close to her petite 90lb. frame. But Swanson soldiered on bearing her burden with nary a complaint. For the sake of authenticity, De Mille accessorized his leading lady in wildly expensive jewels that only added to the fearsome weight Swanson carried with such regal posture.
Part I can be found here.
We continue our analysis of The Battle of Algiers, one of the most influential propaganda films of the 20th century. We rely on Alistair Horne’s, Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 , the most thorough and accurate history of that war yet written, bearing in mind that the movie, The Battle of Algiers, conveniently eliminates vital facts regarding the sickening terror codified by the Algerian IslamoNazis. Historical truth would severely undermine the film’s foundational purpose: to spread Marxist/Leninist/Jihadist propaganda under the guise of the always dim and fashionable anti-colonialism which pervades postmodern culture.
Who were the leaders of the Battle of Algiers? Who were the men so willing, so anxious to spill oceans of innocent blood? This is not an academic question, for as we shall see, the cast of characters bears little relationship to the romantic images presented by Gillo Pontecorvo in The Battle of Algiers.
Movies are the most powerful tools of social and political propaganda the world has ever known. Consider: America wins wars only when Hollywood supports the conflict and puts itself squarely behind America’s war effort. During World War II, every studio in Hollywood backed the Allied effort against the Axis. Hollywood stars enlisted for active duty, raised money for war bonds, toured and entertained our troops, and the studios produced films that went all out for freedom and liberty against the tyranny of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Hollywood played a huge role in America’s victory.
Contrast Vietnam. Hollywood, overwhelmingly anti-war, produced a series of movies that undermined the American effort against the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Hollywood knew that with a few clever, glossy films (most notably “Coming Home” (’78), starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight) and their carefully-manufactured anti-war narratives, it could undermine American foreign policy and turn heroic GIs into psychotic baby-killers. America lost Vietnam.
In our times, Hollywood produced several high profile movies that argued against America’s military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not one of the films was profitable, but the damage was done. America withdrew from both fronts. IslamoNazis filled the vacuum — and Hollywood will never take notice or assume any responsibility for the chaos and mass murder it helped to create.
In 1939, Joan Fontaine, twenty-one years old, was slowly making her way up the Hollywood ladder. MGM signed Fontaine to play a small part in the high profile production The Women, directed by George Cukor, starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Paulette Goddard. For the young actress, it was a plum assignment.
At the same time, Fontaine was subject to numerous screen tests for the role of the second Mrs. De Winter for David O. Selznick’s highly anticipated Rebecca, first under the direction of John Cromwell and then Alfred Hitchcock. The screen tests were grueling, and the emotional toll devastating. Fontaine’s nerves were seriously frayed.
Fontaine and her sister Olivia de Havilland were living in the same house in North Hollywood with their overbearing mother Lilian, a failed actress. As always, Joan and Olivia were engaged in a low-intensity conflict. Like so many Hollywood actresses, Fontaine’s father was long gone.
I get a fair amount of email from readers asking me about writing.
More specifically, how do I go about writing a movie?
Writing is ninety percent perspiration, ten percent inspiration. In other words do not wait to get struck with inspiration. That’s a load of romantic nonsense. In fact, that’s a sure way not to write. The biggest secret in Hollywood—at least for writers who actually work and make money—is how hard they work. Discipline is the name of the game. Organization is vital. An obsession with the minutae of a story is a requirement. G-d is in the details.