Occupation: Director, producer.
Born: September 10, 1914, Winchester, Indiana, USA.
Died: September 14, 2005, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Spouse: Millicent Franklin (29 January 1977 - 14 September 2005) (his death).
Spouse: Patricia Doyle (25 May 1942 - 22 September 1975) (her death) 1 child.
He has a son, Robert E. Wise (born 1943), and a step-daughter, Pamela Rosenberg. He has one granddaughter.
Robert Wise left us on Sept 14, 2005 (heart failure). Four days before, he had celebrated his 91st birthday...
All the fans of The Haunting are inconsolable.
Robert Earl Wise was born as the youngest of three brothers. Education: Franklin college, Indiana. Through an odd job at RKO at the age of 19, the avid moviegoer came into film business. A head sound effects editor at the studio recognized Wise's talent, and made Wise his protégé. After Wise was bored with music and sound editing, he got his first film editing job with Winterset (1936), followed by The hunchback of notre dame (1939).
Wise made cinematic history at RKO before ever having directed a film, as editor of Orson Welles's Citizen kane (1941) and The magnificent ambersons (1942). Two years later he made an auspicious behind-the-camera debut under the aegis of producer Val Lewton, with the stylish, atmospheric horror film, The curse of the cat people (1944). He then directed The body snatcher and Game of death (both 1945), Criminal court (1946), Mystery in Mexico and Blood on the moon (both 1948).
Wise's last film at RKO, the landmark boxing feature The set-up (1949), established him as a leading Hollywood talent. He went on to direct consistently through the mid-1960s for various studios, notably with the sci-fi favorite The day the earth stood still (1951), the classic submarine drama Run silent, run deep (1958), the Shakespearean musical update West side story (1961, also producer) and the eternally popular Julie Andrews vehicle, The sound of music (1965, also producer).
Other credits from this period include The desert rats and So big (both 1953), Executive suite (1954), Tribute to a bad man and Somebody up there likes me (both 1956), I want to live! (1958), Odds against tomorrow (1959, also producer), Two for the seesaw (1962), The Haunting (1963, also producer), The sand pebbles (1966, also producer) and Star! (1968).
Since the 1970s Wise has directed only a handful of films, mostly big-budget spectacles that haven't measured up to his earlier achievements. These include The andromeda strain (1971), Two people (1973), The hindenburg (1975, also producer), Audrey rose (1977), Star trek: the motion picture (1979) and Rooftops (1989).
Wise served as president of the Directors Guild of American from 1971 until 1975.
7 nominations, 4 Awards, 1 Honorary Award.
In 1988, Robert Wise was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the DGA, and in 1998, he received the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award.
During recent holidays by the sea (Sep 2016), I spend some time in Deauville, Normandy, France. You may have heard about the Deauville "American Film Festival", and the promenade des planches, where beach closets are dedicated to famous actors and moviemakers who have come to Deauville.
I wanted to show you the beach closet dedicated to Robert Wise. So, obviously, I took some pictures.
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
The main actors and director had already worked together before the filming of The Haunting. And some of them worked together again afterwards.
|Robert Wise||Julie Harris||Claire Bloom||Richard Johnson||Russ Tamblyn||Lois Maxwell|
|Lady in the Fog (1952)|
|West Side Story (1961)|
|The World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)|
|80,000 Suspects (1963)|
|The Haunting (1963)|
|The Camomile Lawn (1992)|
It is funny and strange to realize that before the filming of The Haunting, the main actors and director had already all met and worked together. All met and worked together... except for Julie Harris, singled out. It was probably a good thing for the role I suppose, although it must have been unpleasant for Julie Harris.
Eleanor, her character, is supposed to be lonely and singled out, and desperately trying to become of part of the team but eventually, she fails and is singled out for good.
It is then no wonder to read in the interviews that they were a team, and that Julie Harris was not a member of that team, always left aside.
Born: December 2, 1925, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA.
Died: August 24, 2013 in West Chatham, Massachusetts, USA.
Born as: Julia Ann Harris.
Julie Harris was born Julia Ann Harris in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the daughter of Elsie L. (née Smith), a nurse, and William Pickett Harris, an investment banker. She graduated from Grosse Pointe Country Day School, a school that later merged with two others to form University Liggett School. In New York City she attended The Hewitt School. She lives in Chatham, Cape Cod. She was a friend to the illustrator Edward Gorey and neighbor to the actress Shirley Booth, whom she visited frequently.
Another Julie Harris is a costume designer with numerous major films to her credit.
Husband: Walter Carroll (26 April 1977 - 1982) (divorced).
Husband: Manning Gurian (21 October 1954 - 1967) (divorced) 1 child.
Husband: Jay Julian (1946 - 1954) (divorced).
She had one son named Peter Gurian with her second husband.
Julie Harris has survived breast cancer, a bad fall requiring surgery, and a stroke.
Harris's screen debut was in 1952, repeating her Broadway success as the monumentally lonely teenage girl Frankie in Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. That film also preserves the original Broadway cast performances of Ethel Waters and Brandon DeWilde. That same year, she won her first Best Actress Tony for originating the role of insouciant Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera, the stage version of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin (later musicalized as Cabaret on Broadway in 1966 and, in the 1972 film, with Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles.) Harris repeated her stage role in the 1955 film version of I Am a Camera. She also appeared in such films as East of Eden (1955), with film icon James Dean (with whom she became close friends), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), with Paul Newman in the private-detective film Harper in 1966, and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967).
Horror film fans remember Harris as the ethereal Eleanor Lance in The Haunting, director Robert Wise's 1963 screen adaptation of a novel by Shirley Jackson, now considered a classic of the horror genre. Another cast member recalled Harris maintaining a social distance from the other actors while not on set, later explaining that she had done so as a method of emphasizing the alienation from the other characters experienced by her character in the film.
She reprised her Tony-winning role as Mary Todd Lincoln in 1973's play The Last of Mrs. Lincoln in the film version, which appeared in 1976. Another noteworthy film appearance was in the World War II drama The Hiding Place (1975).
Harris has received more Tony Award nominations (ten) and wins (five) than any other performer and in 1966 won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. Her Broadway credits include The Playboy of the Western World, Macbeth, The Member of the Wedding, A Shot in the Dark, Skyscraper, And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, Forty Carats, The Glass Menagerie, and The Gin Game.
Of particular note is her Tony-winning performance in The Belle of Amherst, a one-woman play (written by William Luce and directed by Charles Nelson Reilly) based on the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson. She first performed the play in 1976 and subsequently appeared in other solo shows, including Luce's Bronte.
On television, she is known for her role as Lilimae Clements, the mother of Valene Ewing (played by Joan Van Ark) on the CBS nighttime soap opera Knots Landing. The role was as a recurring character from 1980 to 1981 and as a series regular from 1981-1987. For her television work, Harris has won three Emmy Awards and has been nominated eleven times. One of her most famous television roles was as Queen Victoria, in the 1961 Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Laurence Housman's Victoria Regina, for which she won an Emmy. Earlier, also for the Hallmark Hall of Fame, she starred as Nora Helmer opposite Christopher Plummer in a 90-minute 1959 television adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. She made more appearances in leading roles on the Hallmark program than any other actress, also appearing in two different adaptations of the play Little Moon of Alban.
On December 5, 2005, she was named a Kennedy Center Honoree. At a White House ceremony, President George W. Bush remarked:
Julie Harris continues to work - recently narrating five historical documentaries by Christopher Seufert and Mooncusser Films, as well as being active as a director on the board of the independent Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. She has also done extensive voice work for documentary maker Ken Burns, in doing the voices of Emily Warren Roebling in Brooklyn Bridge, Ann Lee in The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God, Susan B. Anthony in Not For Ourselves Alone: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and most notably as Southern diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut for Burns' 1990 series The Civil War.
In the summer of 2008, Ms. Harris appeared on-stage again in her hometown of Chatham as Nanny in Monomoy Theater's production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.
Julie Harris is the most honored performer in Tony history with ten nominations and five victories.
Her five additional nominations were
Julie Harris also won a 2002 Special Tony Award (New York City) lifetime achievement award.
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
Born: February 15, 1931, London, England.
Born as: Patricia Claire Blume.
Education: Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London; Central School of Speech and Drama, London.
Elegant, classically trained leading lady whose cool good looks and exceptional talent have kept her in demand for nearly four decades. Bloom received international notice in her second film, Charlie Chaplin's Limelight (1952), and, though her output was limited, distinguished herself in such excellent adaptations as Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1955), Tony Richardson's Look back in anger (1958) and Dick Clement's A severed head (1971). More recently she turned in fine supporting roles in Clash of the Titans (1981) and Woody Allen's Crimes and misdemeanors (1989) and Mighty Aphrodite (1995).
Husband: Philip Roth (29 April 1990 - 1995) (divorced).
Husband: Hillard Elkins (14 August 1969 - 1972) (divorced).
Husband: Rod Steiger (20 September 1959 - 1969) (divorced) 1 child.
Daughter, opera singer Anna Steiger, by her ex-husband, actor Rod Steiger.
For some reasons that remain to be explained, Claire Bloom is very reluctant to share her experience of the filming of The Haunting. For instance, the movie literally gets two (2) lines in her first autobiography and zero (0) in the other one. Needless to say, as a fan of The Haunting, I find it monstrously unfair to the movie and shockingly disrespectful of Robert Wise. I would be really interested to know the reasons why. Does Claire Bloom believe that the movie is insignificant compared to her Shakespearian roles? Was her role too minor (4 co-stars is a crowd)? Or her lesbian character not worth mentioning? Did something go wrong? Was it a bad moment in her personal life? Was the salary insufficient? Was the initial movie reception too disappointing? There must be a solid reason; but from the fan's point of view, it is just ungrateful.
My advice: if you are a fan of The Haunting, don't buy her books.
After training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Central School of Speech and Drama, Bloom made her debut on BBC radio programmes. She made her stage debut in 1946, when she was 15, with the Oxford Repertory Theatre. Her London stage debut was in 1947 in the hit Christopher Fry play The Lady's Not For Burning, which also featured the young Richard Burton, starred John Gielgud and Pamela Brown and which, subsequently, was produced, with the aforementioned four, on Broadway in New York. The following year, she received great acclaim for her portrayal of Ophelia in Hamlet, the first of many works by William Shakespeare in which Bloom would appear.
Bloom has appeared in a number of plays and theatrical works in both London and New York. Those works include Look Back in Anger, Rashomon, and Bloom's favorite role, that of Blanche in the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire. Bloom has also performed in a one woman show that included monologues from several of her stage performances.
Bloom's first film role was in 1948, for the film The Blind Goddess. She was chosen by Charlie Chaplin in 1952 to appear in his film Limelight, which catapulted Bloom to stardom, and remains one of her most memorable roles. She was subsequently featured in a number of "costume" roles in films such as Alexander the Great, The Brothers Karamazov, The Buccaneer, and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. Bloom also appeared in Laurence Olivier's film version of Richard III, Ibsen's A Doll's House, The Outrage with Paul Newman and Laurence Harvey, as well as the films The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Look Back in Anger, both with Richard Burton.
In the 1960s she began to play more contemporary roles, including an unhinged housewife in The Chapman Report, a psychologist in the Oscar winning film Charly, and Theodora in The Haunting. She also appeared in the Woody Allen films Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and Mighty Aphrodite (1995). Her most recent appearance in a Hollywood film was in the 1996 Sylvester Stallone film Daylight.
Bloom has appeared on television, perhaps the most memorable of which was her portrayal of Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited (1981). Other roles included two prominent BBC Television productions for director Rudolph Cartier; co-starring with Sean Connery in Anna Karenina (1961), and playing Cathy in Wuthering Heights with Keith Michell as Heathcliff (1962). She also appeared as First Lady Edith Wilson in Backstairs at the White House (1979); as Joy Gresham, the wife of C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands (1985), and as the older Sophy in the 1992 miniseries The Camomile Lawn on Britain's Channel 4. Her most recent appearance in a miniseries was in the 2006 version of The Ten Commandments.
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
Born: July 30, 1927, Upminster, England.
Died: June 5, 2015, Chelsea, London, England.
Education: RADA. Darkly handsome leading man and second lead of the British stage and screen. He joined John Gielgud's repertory company in 1944 and after serving with the Royal Navy (1945-48) appeared in many films and stage productions on both sides of the Atlantic in increasingly more important roles. He frequently appears with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Spouse: Lynne Gurney (2004 - present).
Spouse: Marie Louise Norlund (1982 - 1989) (divorced) 1 Child.
Spouse: Kim Novak (15 March 1965 - 23 April 1966) (divorced).
Spouse: Sheila Sweet (1957 - 1962) (divorced) 2 children.
Father of Sorel Johnson and Jevis Johnson (b. 1969) with Sheila Sweet, Jennifer Johnson with Mary Louise Norlund, and Nicholas Johnson (b. 1976) with Françoise Pascal (Actress Françoise Pascal spent 11 tempestuous years with Richard Johnson; the couple broke up in 1980).
Father-in-law of Will Parnell.
Johnson went to Felsted School, then trained at RADA and made his first professional appearances on stage with John Gielgud's company. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Navy, and made his film debut in 1951. He appeared in a major co-star role in the MGM film, Never So Few, starring Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida. Subsequently he was contracted by MGM to appear in 1 film per year over 6 years. His biggest successes as a film actor came with The Haunting (1963), as Bulldog Drummond in 1966's Deadlier Than the Male, opposite Charlton Heston and Laurence Olivier in Khartoum (1966) and 1969's Danger Route. Johnson was director Terence Young's choice for the role of James Bond, but he turned the producers down as he didn't favour a lengthy contract. He also appeared in several Italian films, including Lucio Fulci's cult classic, Zombi 2 and Sergio Martino's L'isola degli uomini pesce (aka Island of the Fishmen). At the same time, he was a stage actor, appearing in the title role in Tony Richardson's production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre in 1958. In the 1960s, he starred in an episode of the TV anthology The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, playing a con artist who fleeces Fay Bainter and is given his just deserts courtesy of Geraldine Fitzgerald.
Johnson's stage career has been extensive and distinguished. His early work in the London theatre attracted the attention of the director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. He appeared in many important productions at that theatre in the late 50s and early 60s, making notable successes as Romeo, Orlando, Pericles and Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. In 1958 he appeared in Sir Peter Hall's first production at the theatre, Cymbeline, and the following year in Twelfth Night (as Sir Andrew Aguecheek). Hall took over the direction of the company in 1959 and it was renamed The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), and he invited Johnson to be part of the first group of actors to be named an Associate Artists of the RSC, a position he retains to this day. He has continued to act with the RSC from time to time. His most notable role has been Antony in Antony and Cleopatra which he has played on two occasions, 1971-72 and 1991-92. He played the role in ITV's celebrated production in 1973. He also appeared as the King in Cymbeline for BBC TV.
Other TV appearances have included Rembrandt in the BBC's Tony-award winning play of the same name and the leading role in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, for which he was awarded the Best Actor prize (1993) by the TV critics' Guild of Television Writers.
He has continued to appear on film and television in the first decade of the 21st Century. Films have included Lara Croft, Tomb Raider and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; he has also played in several TV films: in 2005 he appeared as Stanley Baldwin in Wallis and Edward, in 2007 as Earl Mountbatten in Whatever Love Means, and in 2009 in Lewis; he also contributed to British episodic TV, including Spooks, Waking the Dead, twice in Midsomer Murders, and twice in Doc Martin (as Colonel Gilbert Spencer). Since 2007 he has led the cast of the BBC's award-winninig hit radio comedy series Bleak Expectations which, in 2010, attained its 4th series.
Johnson wrote the original story for the 1975 thriller, Hennessy, starring Rod Steiger, himself and Lee Remick. He is (in 2010) preparing a series of scripts for a television series to be entitled Karma.
Throughout his career Johnson has continued to teach Shakespearean skills to young actors and students. He has toured American Universities and taught summer schools at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. He was appointed to the Council of RADA in 2000, and has also served as a Council Member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in the 70s.
Johnson founded the British production company, United British Artists (UBA) in 1981, and served as the company's CEO until 1990, when he resigned in order to resume his acting career. During his tenure at UBA he produced the movies Turtle Diary (starring Glenda Jackson and Ben Kingsley, with a screenplay commissioned from Harold Pinter) and The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (starring Maggie Smith, directed by Jack Clayton); in the London Theatre he produced Harold Pinter's Old Times, a revival of Serjeant Musgrave's Dance at the Old Vic, and for theatre and TV, the docudrama, Biko, about the death of the South African hero of apartheid-resistance.
Richard writes travel articles regularly for the London mass-circulation newspaper, The Mail on Sunday. His blog and teaching website is The Shakespeare Masterclass.
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
Also known as: Rusty Tamblyn and Russell Tamblyn.
Occupation: Actor, dancer.
Born as: Russell Tamblyn.
Born: December 30, 1934, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Russ Tamblyn might as well face it...he will be a Jet "till his last dying day." Indelibly linked to the "womb to tomb" role of Riff, the knife-wielding, rocket-tempered, Baryshnikov-styled gang leader of the streetwise Jets in the musical film masterpiece West Side Story (1961), it's not a bad way to be remembered! Russ was actually 27 when he portrayed the teenage troublemaker who became the '50s equivalent of the Mercutio character in the Romeo and Juliet-inspired adaptation.
Spouse: Bonnie Murray (? - present) 1 child.
Spouse: Sheila Elizabeth Kempton (7 May 1960 - ?) (divorced) 2 children.
Spouse: Venetia Stevenson (14 February 1956 - 1 April 1957) (divorced).
Brother of Larry Tamblyn of the rock band The Standells.
Father of Amber Tamblyn (actress). The godfather of Amber Tamblyn is Dean Stockwell.
Father of China Tamblyn (member of the Kirby Grips musical group).
Married three times; all his wives were involved in show business. Venetia Stevenson was a film actress, British Elizabeth Kempton (born 1935) was a Vegas showgirl and present wife, Bonnie Tamblyn (born Bonnie Murray), is a folk singer.
Tamblyn was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of actors Sally Triplett and Eddie Tamblyn. He is the older brother of Larry Tamblyn, organist for the 1960s band The Standells.
Discovered at the age of ten by actor Lloyd Bridges after acting in a play, Tamblyn's first film appearance was a small non-speaking role in 1948's The Boy With Green Hair. He also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show as a child. He portrayed the young Saul in Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 version of Samson and Delilah. He played the younger version of John Dall's character in the 1950 film noir Gun Crazy. Later the same year, he had a minor role as Spencer Tracy's son and Elizabeth Taylor's younger brother in Father of the Bride, as well as in the following year's sequel, Father's Little Dividend, both directed by Vincente Minnelli. He was also a young soldier in boot camp in 1953's Take the High Ground. His training as a gymnast in high school and abilities as an acrobat prepared him for his breakout role as Gideon, the youngest brother, in 1954's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
He appeared with Glenn Ford and Broderick Crawford in The Fastest Gun Alive (1956), where he performed an extraordinary "shovel" dance at a hoe-down early in the film. Though uncredited, he served as a choreographer for Elvis Presley in 1957's Jailhouse Rock. He portrayed the role of Norman Page in the 1957 film adaptation of Peyton Place, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He then played Tony Baker, a cocky, slang-slinging, switch-blading, drag-racing, dope-dealing tough teen in 1958's "High School Confidential". Performances in film musicals included the title role in 1958's Tom thumb and Danny, one of the sailors in the 1955 film version of Hit the Deck. His most famous musical role was Riff, the leader of the Jets in the 1961 film West Side Story, an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name.
In 1960, he portrayed The Cherokee Kid alongside Glenn Ford in Cimarron. He appeared in two 1962 MGM-Cinerama movies, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm with a cast that included Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Boehm, Barbara Eden, Jim Backus, and Buddy Hackett, and How the West Was Won with a cast that included Henry Fonda, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart and John Wayne. He was seen the next year as Orm in The Long Ships, as Luke Sannerson in The Haunting, and as Lt. "Smitty" Smith in Follow the Boys. Tamblyn starred in the 1966 Japanese kaiju film War of the Gargantuas. Tamblyn played the supporting role in Neil Young's 1982 Human Highway while also credited for screenplay and choreography. He appeared in the horror film Necromancer in 1988.
A bearded and nearly unrecognizable Tamblyn made a minor comeback with a recurring role on "Twin Peaks" (ABC 1990-91) as oddball psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Jacoby, professional confidant (and secret paramour) of the slain Laura Palmer. The cult series from David Lynch also reunited Tamblyn with Richard Beymer, West side story's Tony. He had a small but memorable role in Cabin boy as Chocki, a half-man/half-shark creature who takes a liking to Chris Elliott.
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
Also known as: Robin Wells, Lois Maxwell-Marriott
Born: February 14, 1927, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
Born as: Lois Ruth Hooker.
Died: September 29, 2007, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia.
Everyone knows (or should know) Lois Maxwell as the one and only "Miss Moneypenny", but there's much more to her acting career than that. She started out against her parents' will, and without their knowledge, in a Canadian children's radio program, credited as "Robin Wells". Before the age of 15 she left for England with the Canadian army's Entertainment Corps and managed (after her age had been discovered) to get herself enrolled in The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she met and became friends with Roger Moore. Her movie career started with a Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger production, A Matter of Life and Death (1946). After having won The Most Promising Newcomer Golden Globe Award in 1947, she went to Hollywood and made six films before she decided to try her luck in Italy. She had to leave Italy to go to England when her husband became ill, and since then she has had roles in a number of movies besides the first 14 Bond movies. In 1989 she retired.
Spouse: Peter Churchill Marriott (1957 - 1973) (his death) 2 children.
Mother of Melinda Maxwell (uncredited actress in Moonraker).
Lois Maxwell left us on Sept 29, 2007 (bowel cancer).
All the fans of The Haunting and of James Bond are inconsolable.
Born Lois Ruth Hooker in Kitchener, Ontario to parents who were a nurse and a teacher. She grew up in Toronto and attended Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute. Dissatisfied with the yields of baby sitting jobs, Lois set her sights on something more lucrative and landed her first job working as a waitress at Canada's largest and most luxurious summer resort, Bigwin Inn, on Bigwin Island in Lake of Bays, Ontario, Canada. She ran away from home at the age of fifteen in order to join the Canadian Women's Army Corps during World War II, a unit formed to release men for combat duties. CWAC personnel were secretaries, vehicle drivers, mechanics, and performed all conceivable non-combat duties. Maxwell quickly became part of the Army Show in Canada, and later as part of the Canadian Auxiliary Services Entertainment Unit she was posted to the United Kingdom, performing music and dance numbers to entertain the troops; often appearing with Canadian comedians Wayne and Shuster. The truth about her age was discovered when the group reached London, and in order to avoid repatriation back to Canada, she was discharged, then enrolled at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she became friends with fellow student Roger Moore.
Travelling to Hollywood at the age of twenty, she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress for her role in the Shirley Temple comedy That Hagen Girl, as well as participating in a 1949 Life Magazine photo layout in which she posed with another up-and-coming actress named Marilyn Monroe. It was at this time that she changed her surname to Maxwell, a name she borrowed from a ballet dancer friend. The rest of her family also adopted the name Maxwell.
Most of her work was minor roles in B movies. Having tired of Hollywood, she moved back to Europe, living in Rome for five years from 1950 to 1955. There she made a series of films, and at one point became an amateur racing driver. One of her Italian films was a 1953 adaptation of the opera Aida in which Maxwell played a leading role, lip-synching to another woman's opera vocals and appearing in several scenes with a pre-stardom Sophia Loren, who also performed to another person's singing. While on a trip to Paris, she met her future husband, television executive Peter Marriott; they were married in 1957 and moved to live in London. Their daughter Melinda (born 1958) and their son Christian (born 1959) were both born in London. Marriott, a former commander of the Viceroy of India's household troops, had himself been screen-tested by Cubby Broccoli as a potential James Bond.
During the 1960s, she appeared in many other television series and movies both in Britain and Canada, and was the star of Adventures in Rainbow Country later that decade. She guest starred in episodes of The Saint and The Persuaders! which both starred Roger Moore. Maxwell also had a secondary role in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita. She provided the voice of Atlanta for the science fiction children's series Stingray in 1963. In 1965, Maxwell made a guest appearance in the "Something for a Rainy Day" episode of the ITC series The Baron, playing an insurance investigator. She also portrayed Moneypenny in a 1967 made-for-television special (produced by EON Productions) titled Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond.
Maxwell lobbied for the role in James Bond, as her husband had a heart attack and they needed the money. Director Terence Young, who once had turned her down on the grounds that she looked like she "smelled of soap", offered her either Moneypenny or the recurring Bond girlfriend, Sylvia Trench, but she was uncomfortable with a revealing scene the latter had in the screenplay. The role as M's secretary guaranteed just two days' work at £100 per day; Maxwell supplied her own clothes. The Trench character, however, was eliminated after From Russia With Love.
In 1967, Maxwell angered Sean Connery for a time by appearing in the Italian spy spoof Operation Kid Brother with the star's brother Neil Connery and Bernard Lee. In 1971, Maxwell was nearly replaced for Diamonds Are Forever after demanding a pay raise; her policewoman's cap disguises hair she had already dyed for another role. In 1975, she plays Moneypenny weeping for the death of James Bond in a short scene with Bernard Lee as M in the French comedy Bons baisers de Hong Kong. For the filming of A View to a Kill (1985), her final appearance, Bond producer Cubby Broccoli told her that the two of them were the only ones from Dr. No still working on the series. Maxwell asked that her character be killed off, but Broccoli recast the role instead. She was succeeded by Caroline Bliss and later Samantha Bond.
As Moneypenny, according to author Tom Lisanti, she was seen as an "anchor", with her flirtatious repartee with Bond lending the films realism and humanism. For Moneypenny, Bond was "unobtainable", freeing the characters to make outrageous sexual double entendres. At the same time, her character did little to imbue the series with changing feminist notions.
Although she is world famous for this role, her total screen time as Moneypenny in 14 films was less than twenty minutes, and she spoke fewer than 200 words.
In 1973, Maxwell's husband, who had long been ill following a serious heart attack in the early 1960s, died. Maxwell then returned to Canada, settling in Toronto, where she wrote a column for the Toronto Sun under the Miss Moneypenny pseudonym and became a businesswoman working in the textile industry. In 1994, she returned to England once more in order to be near her daughter, and retired to a cottage in Frome, Somerset.
Following surgery for bowel cancer in 2001, Maxwell moved to Perth, Australia to live with her son's family. She remained there, working on her autobiography, until her death at Fremantle Hospital, on 29 September 2007.
"It's rather a shock", longtime friend Roger Moore told BBC Radio 5 Live. "She was always fun and she was wonderful to be with and was absolutely perfect casting", he said of her role as Miss Moneypenny, going on to reference a comment attributed to Maxwell that she would have liked to have seen Moneypenny become the new M after Moore's retirement from the role. "It was a great pity that, after I moved out of Bond, they didn't take her on to continue in the Timothy Dalton films. I think it was a great disappointment to her that she had not been promoted to play M. She would have been a wonderful M."
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
Born: September 15, 1919, New York City, New York, USA.
Born as: Nelson Roosevelt Gidding
Died: May 1st, 2004, Santa Monica, California, USA.
Nelson Roosevelt Gidding was an American screenwriter specializing in adaptations. A longtime collaboration with director Robert Wise began with Gidding's screenplay for I Want To Live! (1958), which earned him an Oscar nomination. His long-running course on screenwriting adaptions at the University of Southern California inspired screenwriters of the present generation, including David S. Goyer.
Gidding was born in New York and attended school at Phillips Exeter Academy; as a young man he was friends with Norman Mailer. After graduating from Harvard University, he entered the Army Air Forces in World War II as the navigator on a B-26. His plane was shot down over Italy, but he survived; he spent 18 months as a POW but effected an escape. Returning from the war, in 1946 he published his only novel, End over End, begun while captive in a German prison camp.
In Hollywood, Gidding entered work in television, writing for such series as Suspense and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and eventually moved into feature films like The Helen Morgan Story (1957), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), The Haunting (1963), The Andromeda Strain (1971), and The Hindenburg (1975).
After the death of his first wife on June 13, 1995, in 1998 Gidding married Chun-Ling Wang, a Chinese immigrant.
Gidding taught at University of Southern California until his death from congestive heart failure at a Santa Monica hospital in 2004.
Spouse: Chun-Ling Wang (1998 - 1 May 2004) (his death).
Spouse: Hildegarde Colligan Gidding (1949 - 13 June 1995) (her death) 1 child.
Mr. Gidding was the father of Joshua Gidding, a writer and college professor in New York. Joshua Gidding web site
Mr. Gidding was a longtime friend of director Robert Wise and also the author of the novel End over End.
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
Occupation: Music composer.
Born: August 26, 1915, Oxford, UK.
Died: May 12, 1982, London, UK.
Humphrey Searle was a British composer. He was born in Oxford where he was a classics scholar before studying - somewhat hesitantly - with John Ireland at the Royal College of Music in London.
Searle was a largely autodidact composer who studied briefly with Anton von Webern (Vienna, 1937) while spending much of his life cataloging the music of Liszt was bound to have an intriguing take on contemporary music. The formalism of twelve-tone and serialist musical construction was Searle's dominant musical aesthetic; but an obsession with the purity of the tone-row was never his musical style... like Liszt, Searle was a great compromiser, always willing - and able - to fuse techniques to achieve the desired musical effect.
Searle was one of the foremost pioneers of serial music in the United Kingdom, and used his role as a producer at the BBC from 1946 to 1948 to promote it. He was General Secretary of the International Society for Contemporary Music from 1947 to 1949.
Works of note include a Poem for 22 Strings (1950), premiered at Darmstadt, a Gogol opera, The Diary of a Madman (1958, awarded the first prize at UNESCO's International Rostrum of Composers in 1960), and five symphonies (the first of which was commercially recorded by Sir Adrian Boult).
Searle wrote the monographs Twentieth Century Counterpoint and The Music of Franz Liszt. He also developed the most authoritative catalogue of Liszt's works, which are frequently identified using Searle's numbering system.
Searle also composed scores for film and television, including incidental music for the 1963 feature The Haunting and a 1965 Doctor Who serial. He died in London. Among his notable pupils were composers Hugh Davidson, Brian Elias, Michael Finnissy, Geoffrey King, and Graham Newcater.
I invite you to read all the details on the IMDb site
Born: December 14, 1916, San Francisco, California, USA.
Died: August 8, 1965, Bennington, Vermont, USA.
Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Nigel Kneale and Richard Matheson.
She is best known for the short story The Lottery (1948), which suggests a secret, sinister underside to bucolic small-town America. In her critical biography of Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman notes that when The Lottery was published in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, it received a response that "no New Yorker story had ever received." Hundreds of letters poured in that were characterized by, as Jackson put it, "bewilderment, speculation and old-fashioned abuse."
In the July 22, 1948, issue of the San Francisco Chronicle Jackson offered the following in response to persistent queries from her readers about her intentions:
Jackson's husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, wrote in his preface to a posthumous anthology of her work that:
Hyman insisted the darker aspects of Jackson's works were not, as some critics claimed, the product of personal, even neurotic, fantasies, but that Jackson intended, as a sensitive and faithful anatomy of our times, fitting symbols for our distressing world of the concentration camp and the Bomb, to mirror humanity's Cold War-era fears.
Jackson may even have taken pleasure in the subversive impact of her work, as evidenced by Hyman's statement that:
Born Shirley Hardie Jackson in San Francisco to Leslie and Geraldine Jackson, Shirley and her family lived in the community of Burlingame, California, an affluent middle-class suburb that would feature in Shirley's first novel The Road Through the Wall. The Jackson family then relocated to Rochester, New York, where Shirley attended Brighton High School and graduated in 1934. For college, she first attended the University of Rochester (from which she was asked to leave) before graduating with a BA from Syracuse University in 1940.
While a student at Syracuse, Shirley became involved with the campus literary magazine, through which she met future husband Stanley Edgar Hyman, who would become a noted literary critic. For Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Harcraft's Twentieth Century Authors (1954), she wrote:
Although Jackson claimed to have been born in 1919 in order to appear younger than her husband, biographer Judy Oppenheimer determined that she was actually born in 1916.
The Hymans eventually settled in North Bennington, Vermont, where Stanley Hyman became a professor at Bennington College while Shirley continued to publish novels and short stories while caring for their children Laurence (Laurie), Joanne (Jannie), Sarah (Sally), and Barry. Eventually the Hyman children would come to their own brand of literary fame as fictionalised versions of themselves in their mother's short stories. The Hymans were well-known for being colorful, generous hosts who surrounded themselves with literary talents, including Ralph Ellison. Both were enthusiastic readers whose personal library was estimated at over 100,000 books.
In addition to her adult literary novels, Jackson also wrote a children's novel, Nine Magic Wishes, available in an edition illustrated by her grandson, Miles Hyman, as well as a children's play based on Hansel and Gretel and entitled The Bad Children. In a series of short stories, later collected in the books Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, she presented a fictionalized version of her marriage and the experience of bringing up four children. These stories pioneered the true-to-life funny-housewife stories of the type later popularized by such writers as Jean Kerr and Erma Bombeck during the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1965, Shirley Jackson died of heart failure in her sleep at the age of 48. Shirley suffered throughout her life from various neuroses and psychosomatic illnesses. These ailments, along with the various prescription drugs used to treat them, may have contributed to her declining health and early death. However, at the time of her death, Jackson was overweight and a heavy smoker. After her death, her husband released a posthumous volume of her work, Come Along With Me, containing several chapters of her unfinished last novel as well as several rare short stories (among them Louisa, Please Come Home) and three speeches given by Jackson in her writing seminars.
With information for Jackson's debut novel, The Road Through the Wall (1948), he described Jackson as someone who practiced witchcraft. Hyman believed this image of Jackson would help promote sales of novels and film rights. She later wrote about witchcraft accusations in her book for young readers, The Witchcraft of Salem Village (1956).
Her other novels include Hangsaman (1951), The Bird's Nest (1954), The Sundial (1958) and The Haunting of Hill House (1959), regarded by many, including Stephen King, as one of the important horror novels of the 20th Century. This contemporary updating of the classic ghost story has a vivid and powerful opening paragraph:
Sometimes the heart of darkness can be found inside a minivan.
We're all expected to be multiple personalities these days. Nurturing mom, supportive wife, hard driving on the job and carpool driving off. Or maybe we can create a great souffle while whipping up a new novel. If we've opted for a family we have to somehow be several people at once.
My mother-in-law once told me that after she graduated from an Ivy League college and immediately married it never occurred to her, despite her education, to pursue a career. She and her sorority sisters in the fifties were all having babies and the occasional bridge party. "That", she said, "was what we were supposed to do!" Of course nobody told them what to do once the kids went to college. Some of that generation recreated themselves in new careers or fulfilling pursuits. Some re-invented feminism. Others drank a lot.
Shirley Jackson was an anomaly in her generation. In the fifties, the same fifties inhabited by my mother-in-law, Jackson was a professional writer and drove carpools. Now, 30 years after Jackson's death, two of the kids she drove to lessons have grown up, reached middle age, and reminded us of their mother's writing talents by producing a new book of her uncollected stories, Just an Ordinary Day.
The collection includes the variety of stories Jackson wrote - light domestic pieces and lighter romances along with her dark fiction. But Jackson has always been noted for her truly terrifying tales. These masterful stories are often populated with women and children or set in supposedly safe small towns and politely ordered society. As an author, she instilled fear by taking the rational and inserting the irrational, by having the unfamiliar intrude into the familiar. The duality of her life provided not only the basis of her fiction, but a grounding of stability that allowed her to wander deeply into the realms of darkness, evil, and terror - sure to be pulled back to safety by the constant needs of her small children. Her life was as much baking cupcakes as making up stories. Each balanced and enhanced the other.
Writers often feed their creativity through several coexisting personalities. Horror writers, when you meet them, are a pretty nice bunch. They can breathe the stench of evil, reach out and touch wickedness, because there is good and innocence in their lives to counter it. In fact, I suspect there is more freedom to explore the depths of depravity if you know the siren call of the soccer field will demand you drive the goalkeeper to it and then wash his uniform later. Without a lifeline forged of balance, responsibility, and the need to find shin pads to bring you back from the abyss, you might never venture close enough to the edge to know its monstrous depths.
Shirley Jackson had the lifeline and knew the abyss. Her best known work, The Lottery, still disturbs us deeply even though it has been required reading in American schools for at least two generations. In the story the people of a small New England town gather for an annual ritual, a lottery. This festive event is smoothly run according to tradition by the town fathers. As with any traditional event, there is some grousing that "It is not the way it used to be", but it seems that it pretty much is. A winning family is announced and then its members go through yet another lottery. The family's mother is democratically selected and, as she feebly protests, is methodically murdered as the community and her own family stone her to death.
It remains the most controversial piece of fiction The New Yorker ever published. The magazine received hundreds of letters when the story was published in 1948; letters of, as Shirley Jackson later phrased it in a lecture, "bewilderment, speculation and plain old-fashioned abuse".
Readers reacted as if a bomb had exploded in their living rooms. Over the years, The Lottery has been interpreted as a modern myth, an attack on institutionalized prejudice, an indictment of the Holocaust, a Marxist-feminist analogy. But more than anything it is just a story written by a gifted and contradictory woman who understood how caring people could also throw stones. A mum who cooked, washed, kept the hectic schedule of Little League and music lessons. A mom who wrote in age when moms didn't work "regular jobs", let alone do something as odd as write. A woman who lived in a small town in Vermont, but was always an outsider. Rumored to be a witch as well as a writer, she was married to a Jew, friend and hostess to New York types and even "Negroes". A woman who fit no more easily into the liberal, academic, supposedly less prejudiced college world (where she was expected to assume the role of faculty wife) than she did with the working class God-fearing townspeople.
Shirley Jackson's stories and books arose out of the complex, sad, and joyous magic of her life. The odd, plain daughter of an upwardly mobile suburban mother to whom appearance and social acceptance was all important, Jackson struggled to both fulfill and deny her restrictive upbringing. According to biographer Judy Oppenheimer in her 1988 book, Private Demons, Jackson saw below the social surface to a grimmer reality even as a child.
Her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, an almost stereotypical fifties Jewish intellectual, encouraged her rebellion against propriety and supported her writing. He also encouraged her to become an eccentric iconoclast who smoked too much, ate too much, and quaffed prescription drugs - uppers and downers - on a daily basis.
Stanley had nothing to do with the day-to-day maintenance of their four children, remaining even more distant than the average fifties father, who wasn't supposed to change diapers. He provided, however, a detached, logical rationality that balanced Jackson's deeply involved but emotionally erratic parenting. Bountifully affectionate, understanding, imaginative, a "good" but quirky mother, she did not fit the fifties mommy motif. The children may have been strictly disciplined, dinner on the table on time, but Jackson's house was not exactly clean or orderly, and she regularly sent her daughters off to school with unwashed hair matted in tangles.
As much as she disliked the narrow-mindedness and prejudices of small town life, she appreciated New England's timelessness, basic character, and respect for privacy. But Jackson never tried to fit in. A large, messy woman given to wearing red and purple, she used no makeup and pulled her stringy hair back with rubber bands. She stood out among the townspeople just as she did in gatherings of slender, well-groomed faculty wives.
As with all gifted writers, Jackson's duality is reflected in her fiction. She wrote primarily for the popular magazines of the fifties like Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, McCall's, Harpers, The New Yorker and Charm, often offering droll stories based on her own family or slick little formulaic romances. These stories are competent, professional, and suited for the periodicals they appeared in; they are also utterly forgettable. It is when she wrote with the dark pessimism of the quiet evil that pervades ordinary life that Shirley Jackson's writing became memorably magical. In the fictional world that she weaves best, true darkness stems from the split psychology and culture of the most seemingly ordinary folk.
Although not as well known as her memorable The Haunting of Hill House, another novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, is, perhaps, her most brilliant work. In Castle she writes of two women: Merricat (bold, mischievous, perhaps demonic) and Constance (sensitive and afraid, who never wants to leave home). They are, in many respects, two halves of a single person, and, in aggregate, the summation of Jackson herself.
Indeed, Jackson wrote We Have Always Lived in the Castle during a period of psychosis. Like the sisters in the book, the author felt persecuted by the citizens of the small town of North Bennington in which she lived. The fears that plagued her, however, were a source of her creativity. In an unsent letter to poet Howard Nemerov, she wrote:
But by the time the book was finished, Jackson had lost her delight in her fears and succumbed to them, retreating from the world. Beset by physical as well as emotional problems, she refused to leave her house for nearly three months. Even though helped by psychotherapy, she continued taking both tranquilizers and dexedrine. The drugs may have exacerbated her condition.
But Jackson found the strength to fight her fears, struggling and surviving to begin the novel, Come Along With Me. It reflected the newer, lighter world that Jackson, with the help of psychotherapy, had created. The main character, Angela Motorman, was her age (44) and her size (heavy). Mrs. Motorman "dabbled in the supernatural" with her psychic ability, an ability Jackson always claimed and others often acknowledged. It moves along with energy, wit and a triumphal air. But Come Along With Me was left unfinished. As her mental health improved, her physical health deteriorated. She died of cardiac arrest during her afternoon nap at age 48.
Four months after her death, The Saturday Evening Post published her "last" story, The Possibility of Evil. Although it won an Edgar award (her second) from the Mystery Writers of America, it was not prime Jackson. Still, it is a final revelation of sorts.
In the story a Miss Strangeworth - Jackson had never used such an unsubtle character name before - lives on Pleasant Street in one of the author's typical small towns. Ladylike, elderly, and respected, Miss Strangeworth secretly writes anonymous letters and wreaks havoc in her neighbor's lives.
Shirley Jackson did not bring dismay or ruin lives with poison-pen letters, but her stories do send a "message of evil" to the world. Like her character, Jackson saw herself as someone securely ensconced above the small-town world, sending her stories as "letters" to the world; disturbing us by making us face "the possibility of evil".
Now, after Jackson's voice, to a large extent, had been reduced in the last 30 years to the single voice of The Lottery, we are presented with the story The Possibility of Evil as the end piece in a posthumous volume, Just An Ordinary Day. It was assembled by two of her children, Laurence Jackson Hyman and Sarah Hyman Stewart, from a "carton of cobwebbed files discovered in a Vermont barn", copies of old magazines, and 26 cartons of Jackson's papers in the Library of Congress. The collection includes some worthwhile eerie tales and a variety of her more mundane work. The inclusion of the latter provides a glimpse of the "other" Jackson, the one acclimated to the needs of her time and culture. Here I found the working mom who wrote with competence to suit a market and make money to pay the credit card bills.
But I did not find genius.
In many ways I wish the kids had left the dust on that attic box undisturbed. If only Laurence and Sarah and their siblings, Joanne and Barry, all now over age 45, had taken the time to tell me more about this double creature, this woman of brilliance and fierce maternity, their mother. What was it like to have her in their lives, and what became of them once she was gone? As for giving me this volume of unremarkable, common and, for the most part, trivial fiction - I can find that anywhere. From Shirley Jackson I require the magical, the horrific. I need her as a touchstone to push me past the PTA, to unleash my seat-belted psyche and offset the banal, workaday world. Thank goodness I had already found exactly what I needed in Shirley Jackson's previously published and glorious "terrible messages to the world".
~ Written by Paula Guran, editor of DarkEchoan
In addition to radio, TV and theater adaptations, The Lottery has been filmed three times, most notably in 1969 as an acclaimed short film which director Larry Yust made for an Encyclopædia Britannica educational film series. The Academic Film Archive cited Yust's short "as one of the two bestselling educational films ever".
I was 11 when I first saw La maison du diable, the French dubbed version of The Haunting, back in 1982. I was usually not allowed to watch the evening movie because I had to finish my homework and go to bed early for school. I was a serious and responsible young schoolboy; already able to manage my workload without any adult supervision. Claiming that my homework was finished or almost finished really meant that: no need to verify. Movies on the television used to start at 8:30pm in the early 80's in France, and were without any commercial interruption. Since they started early, they also finished early. Consequently, going to bed exceptionally at 10:30pm was not a drama. I had seen the terrific trailer a couple of days before and it really intrigued me. Usually though, I would have been in bed at 8:30pm, reading or studying some lessons, but this time... this time I asked for the permission to watch it and got it. There was a special personal reason for this indulgence. I remember it all. Something unpleasant that had happened to me a couple of weeks before, and that had encouraged my mother to make an exception to the general bedtime rule. I watched the movie with my twin brother and mum, comfortably installed in the living room, in the blue meridian sofa. It was wintertime, and already really dark outside when it started. The story was so captivating... I clearly remember I was chilled to the bone, all panting and tensed during the entire movie. The small boy that I was was scared and yet fascinated by the story, by the gothic house, by the silence and the noises, by poor Eleanor. It doesn't take long to realise that something terrible is going to happen; that something has got to give. A growing tension... It was so good... so new... such an experience! That is how it all began...
And then there was this special event... July 27, 1999. I was a 28-year-old young man then. There was a film festival, in Lille (France), with various dark movies, including The Haunting. My very first chance to see the movie in a real cinema, on a really wide screen. I still have the program booklet of the festival and my ticket for the show. No, I didn't drive to go there... It was strangely scheduled at 11:30am, on a Tuesday, so we could really count the people in the audience. I remember I took a day off at work. Nothing could have stopped me from going there. It was so good! I was ecstatic, blissful, on cloud number nine, walking on air. Since I am more than familiar with the movie, I could enjoy every single scene on this wide screen. The image was so rich in details! I noticed so many new things thanks to the high definition of the image. And I was amazed to discover all the parts on the extreme left and right sides of the image; the parts that always get cropped on the television. Even the best "wide screen" VHS or Laserdiscs (at that time) didn't render the original image in its full width. And the sound! The soundtrack was outstandingly dynamic and powerful... The image was so crisp with so many tiny details and textures!
Today I can watch the film in excellent conditions at home, in a room dedicated to home cinema, with a 4K laser projector (upscaling of Full HD bluray), with a picture as big as a garage door, a clear and powerful sound, but this first time at the cinema will remain unforgettable.
Did I mention the fact that I am a French male, born in 1971? For some complex and really personal reasons I now begin to understand, this movie remains very special to me.
As a kid, when I saw The Haunting for the very first time, I saw a "haunted house" movie, with a gorgeous gothic house, which really impressed me. But I also clearly remember that I felt deeply, sincerely, profoundly sorry for Eleanor. I was really touched by her desperate fate, which was so unfair. I have obviously seen many movies ever since, but this one always remained peculiar to me. Singled out in my childhood memories.
Years and years later, the French female singer Françoise Hardy said in an interview that it is funny to realise that some movies, songs, books or stories we liked during our childhood sometimes reveal our most intimate feelings, intimate problems and dilemma, questions, doubts and fears that will torment us for the rest of our lives. All the issues and the difficulties that we have to face as adult: lack of confidence, low self esteem, need for more attention or recognition, poor self appreciation, fright of loneliness, ... all our demons were already existing, almost hiding, roughly taking shape, subtly emerging in our — not so innocent — childhood preferences of stories, books, etc... In other words, our adult personality with its dark sides was already there.
And I suddenly realised it was also all true for me. If I consider the movies I liked, the songs I played, the books I read, there is always this strange recurring feeling of unhappiness, sadness, loneliness, unfairness.
Take the only "fairy tale" I clearly remember from my childhood. It is The Little Match Girl from Hans Christian Andersen. I had an illustrated book with 7inch record of this abominable desperate story that can be sum up this way:
Talk about a bedtime story for children!
Musically, my preferences always went to sad, melancholic songs. As young as 14, I was hypnotized by The Cure's In-between days, the perfect melodic melancholic pop song, about getting old and losing the person you love. Intrigued by this jewel, I bought their previous albums and discovered a universe of gloom, despair, sadness, all expressed in superb dark and romantic songs. I have been a fan of their early music ever since (and I started to collect their records too). Try the fans' favourite albums: Seventeen seconds (1980) / Faith (1981) / Pornography (1982) (plus the 1981 single Charlotte Sometimes), and much later, the highly praised Disintegration (1989).
Over the years my musical tastes got wider too, with other English or American artists such as R.E.M., Siouxsie, Shakespear's Sister, Eurythmics, but the common factor is always this unhappiness, this sorrow.
It's a pity to realise that, In the garden, Eurythmics' debut album (and my very favourite one) is still almost unknown to the public, except to the hardcore fans. Sadness, loneliness, painful breakups,... A little jewel totally eclipsed by the well deserved success of its successors.
The best sum-up comes from a song of Françoise Hardy (which is also among my very favourite artists); it goes
Very roughly translated as:
This is exactly me, this is how I feel.
Although the stories are very different, I feel a lot of compassion and sympathy for Eleanor. Whatever good she does, however hard she tries, she is not getting what she deserves. It is just like she was not allowed to be happy. A kind of tragic, desperate, fatal fate. Heroine and victim at the same time. A personal quest for a moment of happiness that never comes.
I think Theodora sums up perfectly the personality of Eleanor at the end of the movie. Theo proves that she had understood perfectly who Eleanor was and what she was really looking for.
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