In her life, she witnessed the Jazz Age, two World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement to which she devoted so much of her formidable energy. Lena Horne was fierce in her self-respect when it was not socially recognized that people of colour should receive any at all. Ahead of her time, she lived her life on her terms even when it could prove dangerous to do so. Born into a performing family, Lena was raised mostly by her grandparents until she dropped out of high school to be a dancer at the Cotton Club, the famous jazz night club in Harlem, New York. From there she just kept working on her career, eventually touring with various big bands around the country. This was not as glamorous as it sounds since African Americans were denied access to most restaurants and hotels in the 1930’s. Lena would see first-hand the hardships endured on the road by her fellow musicians due to prejudice and segregation.
It was 1941 and American soldiers were away from home only weeks after Pearl Harbor. On Christmas Day they heard a song written by a Russian Jewish immigrant that spoke of all their longing for home and the comforts of the holiday sung by Bing Crosby on the radio. Seventy-eight years later, “White Christmas’ by Irving Berlin has lost none of its poignancy and the film that shares its title is just as cherished. “White Christmas” is a remarkable film, especially for the two fantastic leading ladies it is lucky to claim.
The year 1944 saw an intriguing film take a serious look at the supernatural. This was “The Uninvited”, a scary yet surprisingly sophisticated ghost story that even serenaded its heroine with her own song. Rarely since has a film been as subtle yet effective in delivering chills and foreboding atmosphere while staying faithful to its source material. Originally a book written in 1941 by Dorothy McCardle, “The Uninvited” has become popular among famous directors and lovers of the genre.
By Bianca Garner There’s a high chance that you haven’t heard of Nell Shipman. Like many pioneering female filmmakers of the silent cinema era, her name has become lost in time. So many of us who study film are aware of the ‘great’ film directors of this era: Cecil B. DeMille, Josef von Sternberg, Charlie... Continue Reading →
There are many great female directors who have broken barriers in the industry and paved the way for future generations. One of those women (who is often forgotten outside of academia) was Dorothy Arzner. She is the most prolific female director to date, was the first woman to direct a film with sound, and was the first female member of the Directors Guild of America.
Now if I asked most people, which actor was the trailblazer for Asian people on the worldwide stage (and I guess I mean Hollywood), I would wager most would come up with Bruce Lee. A few might even offer up Nancy Kwan. What if I told you that the breakthrough was not made in the... Continue Reading →