Female Directors have had it rough to be able to direct anything with a few early exceptions from the very early great Lois Weber to Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino. Now, we are seeing more female directors than ever before but it is still a tough business. I am looking forward to what everyone else will choose this week as the director of choice for each film. If you wish, check out Wandering Through The Shelves who has come up with these weekly themes. Here are my 3...
1. DANCE, GIRLS, DANCE(DOROTHY ARZNER)-1940
I have not seen this film in decades but I remember it so well because it stars Lucille Ball (who met Desi when she was making this film) as Bubbles and a young, beautiful Maureen O'Hara as the wholesome Judy, an aspiring ballerina(that would never happen as her ampful ta-ta's would be in the way). They meet in a struggling dance troupe headed by the little gnome, Maria Ouspenskaya who sees potential in Judy as a ballerina. When Bubbles and Judy are in some New York Dance thingy, they meet a wealthy numbnut and both fall for him. Can we see a cat fight coming on? You bet your booties because Bubbles wants her man. There is more to the deceptively naive plot and one I have to see again.
2. A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (PENNY MARSHALL)-1992
Penny Marshall went from playing Laverne on Laverne & Shirley (actually they started on Happy Days) to becoming quite a good director in her own right. This film is based on a true story when the men were fighting in the Second World War, the sports people decided to start up a woman's baseball league which became more popular than anyone would have thought. We see these women be picked for the ability to play ball(something I sorely lack in) with Geena Davis as the star player much to her sister's chagrin. Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna shine as fellow ball players and Tom Hanks is excellent as a boozy, tobacco chewing, probably smelly, manager of this team. We get to see all the issues women have to face playing on the team and come to care for all of them even smelly Hanks who realizes he has a true team in his hands. I know my brother will know all the facts about this time in baseball.
3. THE PIANO (JANE CAMPION)-1993
Holly Hunter shines in this film as a bride to a wealthy plantation owner in New Zealand set in the mid 1800s. She comes with her young daughter(Anna Paquin, who won the Oscar for her role) and her piano. Oh yes, she does not speak but we quickly get the feeling she feels she can not let her guard down when it comes to men especially her jerk of a husband. Enter, in this hot climate, the sweaty worker for her husband played by Harvey Keitel..yup, good ole Harve has the hots for this dame who doesn't speak a word but loves to play the piano. It is sweaty, steamy and has oodles of sensualness throughout this film with Harvey dropping his clothes to show his..um...vulnerability. It can steam up your glasses and with that....I need a cold shower.
Which films would you choose?
I just heard that one of the blogger friends I know, and many of you know as well, has passed away on December 16th. Jo(Jo on Food, Life and a Scent of Chocolate) went quietly and she did not suffer which is good. It was always fun to read her blog about her day's events, recipes and her love for asparagus. She was a sweetheart.
All good choices. First one that popped into my head was 'Selma', directed by Ava Duvernay. I especially enjoyed 'A League of their Own', more so after learning that someone I knew had actually played in the women's league - learned that at her memorial celebration. Speaking of memorials, thanks for mentioning Jo.ReplyDelete
That is pretty cool that you knew one of these women who played baseball. I had to give out a special shoutout to Jo. I miss her.Delete
It's funny. As I watch Lucille Ball dancing in that scene from a 1940 film, I can't think of her as anyone but Lucy. She appears to have wormed her way into an audition "DON at the CLUP... and she's got some 'splainin' to do." Far be it from me to hold Maureen O'Hara ampful ta-ta's against her. I want her to hold them against ME.
"There's no crying in baseball!" Mrs. Shady is a big baseball fan, and she and I both like the Penny Marshall film A League Of Their Own. Geena Davis was a big name on the big screen when that film was released and Rosie and Madonna were also familiar faces in films.
Speaking of big at the box office, Holly Hunter was another actress in demand around the same time. Mrs. S. and I saw The Piano and we both enjoyed it.
Of the films I have seen that were directed by women, I pick Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation, An Education, a 2009 film set in the 60s that I recently watched starring the wonderful Carey Mulligan and directed by Lone Scherfig, and The Hurt Locker directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
I didn't know your blogger friend Jo, but I am very sorry and sad to learn that she passed away only days before Christmas.
Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend BB!
Yes, Lucille Ball is always remembered for her brilliant comedy which overshadows her film work especially since I think she did some hula # on I Love Lucy. I love the scene with Tom Hanks and that kid of hers was just evil..hahahaa. Glad you like The Piano. I love what you chose as well as they are all really good films.Delete
Penny Marshall directed some good movies.ReplyDelete
I''l pick Wonder Woman (and the upcoming sequel) both directed by Patty Jenkins.
Great choice Alex and here I thought you would have chosen The MatrixDelete
I haven't seen your first pick but I have seen the other two. I love The Piano, The movie's main theme, The Heart Asks Pleasure First is probably my favorite piano piece ever. It sounds so beautiful.ReplyDelete
Glad you saw the last 2 and I love The Piano.Delete
I've only ever seen The Piano and was bored out of my mind, slept through much of it. I don't like sporting films and baseball isn't a sport we have here so wouldn't understand any of it. Lucille Ball, I used to love on her own show, but never hear of this film. keep safe Kate xReplyDelete
You made me laugh that you fell asleep. I know it's not for everyone. You don't have to know baseball at all to watch this movie because it is truly more about the women who are trying to make money while their spouses are at war. It is about camaraderie, envy, fun and sadness. Honestly, I think you might like it.Delete
I hadn't seen the first, but I have seen the other two. Of course women did more directing in the early days. It was a wide open field before movies started to make money and became big business. As soon as that happened, women were pushed aside. (Okay, getting off my feminist soap box now. . .)ReplyDelete
I liked but didn't love Dance, Girl, Dance. Always fascinating to see Lucy in her early movies with none of the daffy shenanigans she became known for on I Love Lucy. After the series she lost some of that spark and became sort of ossified.ReplyDelete
A League of Their Own is a fine film, one of those that you find new things in with repeat viewings.
I hated The Piano.
TCM ran a series on women directors the latter part of this year which provided me with lots of picks, though I had to include one by Ida Lupino!
The Hitch-Hiker (1953)-Two buddies Ray (Edmond O'Brien) and Gilbert (Frank Lovejoy) head off for what is supposed to be a relaxing fishing trip but make the mistake of picking up an innocuous hitchhiker Emmett Myers (William Talman) who turns out to be a sociopath on the run from the law. Knowing that he’s a killer and sure that as soon as he’s done with them they are dead they plot an escape. But their plan is hampered by the fact that even when he sleeps Myers keeps one eye open. Director Ida Lupino, the only woman in the 50’s listed as a member of the DGA, keeps the action economical and the atmosphere tense.
The Ascent (1977)-In the deep winter of the German countryside during WWII a pair of starving Soviet soldiers leave their unit in search of food but are captured by a Nazi patrol. Tortured for information they don’t possess one of them stands by his principles while the other seeks a way out but both pay a heavy cost. A big success upon release this proved to be the final film of director Larisa Shepitko who was killed along with her crew in a car accident shortly afterwards scouting locations for her next film.
Daughters of the Dust (1991)-Julie Dash directed this look at the Gullah community off the coast of South Carolina at the turn of the last century where the descendants of former slaves kept a mix of African and colonial ways alive. As the changing times intermingle with the old ways conflicts ensue.
Zero Motivation (2014)-Stationed in a remote desert location a disparate group of female Israeli soldiers wait until their period of service is up while they bicker, bond and fight against the ennui that comes with living in such an isolated spot. Tayla Lavie directs this with a fine mix of humor and gravitas.
I haven’t seen any of your picks,but I’ve seen two of Shady’s! I enjoyed Lost in Translation and An Education.ReplyDelete
It's interesting seeing Lucille Ball in the clip for "Dance, Girls, Dance". She was quite the looker, wasn't she? Maurene O'Hara doesn't look bad, either.
I wouldn't know any of these without looking them up online. Good picks this week!ReplyDelete
Sad to hear about Jo.ReplyDelete
Never heard of the first film, but I've seen your latter two picks and they are both good ones.
I'm a bit pressed to think of a film offhand. Like Erika I guess I would have to look online and think about this for a while. One that came to mind because I saw it recently on TCM is Born in Flames by director Lizzie Borden (not the axe murderer). Can't say I would rank it among favorite films, but it's an interesting artifact of the eighties and has a kind of relevant message for our times.
Tossing It Out
Penny Marshall sure made some good ones. A league of their own is a good baseball movie indeed.ReplyDelete
As soon as I saw the theme, I thought "I'd choose The Piano." I love that movie, and also love A League of Their Own. I haven't seen your first pick. I would also choose Big--another one directed by Penny Marshall. My third would be Desperately Seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman.ReplyDelete
Are you sitting down? I've actually seen one of these films: A league of their own. It was wonderful and your synopsis of it was spot on. I'm always amazed at the range of talents of Tom Hanks. And Geena Davis was superb.ReplyDelete
I loved League of Their Own. What a classic. "There's no crying in baseball." :)ReplyDelete
Thanks Birgit for suggesting Female Film Directors … we had a dinner here based around them – but just at this second I can’t find the details … such is life! Jane Campion definitely – though I’ve never seen The Piano, she did Bright Star on Keats too, Sofia Coppola is highly acclaimed, but I see has turned her hand to filmmaking.ReplyDelete
Lots of recommendations by your excellent commenter-friends.
Thank you for the note re Jo … and I’ll be glad to have these here to refer back to … take care and all the best as we go into this challenging time … Hilary
I was sorry to hear about Jo. Glad her passing was easy. I trust she is smiling and enjoying her next cycle of life.ReplyDelete
Merry Christmas Birgit! I always end up adding a movie to my list of "to see" when I visit your blog. In this case, "The Piano" is one I've missed.ReplyDelete
Enjoy your holidays and all the best in the new year.
Saw The Piano several years back, don't remember it much now other than it was dark visually and in tone.ReplyDelete