Kenneth Anger

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 15) by Karina Longworth

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The bisexuality of Marlene Dietrich was not exactly a secret in 1930s Hollywood -- in fact, her ambiguous sexuality was part of her on-screen brand. But there is some debate as to who Dietrich counted among her lovers, and which of her fellow stars participated in what has been called the “sewing circle” of female intimacy. Anger alleges that Dietrich had a “passionate affair” with Claudette Colbert, an Oscar-winning actress with an extremely heteronormative persona. We’ll explore what was going on in Dietrich’s life and career around the time when this affair could have taken place, and then delve into Colbert’s image as a very different kind of on-screen sex symbol, and her complicated off-screen personal life.

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich in Berlin 1928

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich in Berlin 1928

Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus, 1932

Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus, 1932

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable,  It Happened One Night,  1934

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, It Happened One Night, 1934

Music:

The music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “Secret Garden” by Madonna.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Yellow Leaves 5 - Peter Sandberg
Club Noir 2  - John Allen
City Fashion 3 - Björn Skogsberg
Tomorrow I'll Be Gone - Franz Gordon
The Piano And Me 3 - Peter Sandberg
Some Autumn Waltz 1 - Jonatan Järpehag
In The Lounge 05 - Lars Olvmyr
In The Lounge 02 - Lars Olvmyr
A Playful Mood 2 - Peter Sandberg
Goofy Moments 3 - Magnus Ringblom
Eventually Maybe - Oakwood Station
Secret Garden - Madonna

Director Cecil B. DeMille with Claudette Colbert on the set of  The Sign of the Cross , 1932

Director Cecil B. DeMille with Claudette Colbert on the set of The Sign of the Cross, 1932

Credits:

This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editor: Cameron Drews.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, c. 1935

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, c. 1935

Mary Astor's Diary (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 13) by Karina Longworth

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Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

In 1936, actress Mary Astor (who had not yet made her most famous film, The Maltese Falcon) and her husband went to court to fight for custody of their four year-old daughter. The trial made international news thanks to both sides’ use of Astor’s diary, in which she had recorded details of her affair with playwright George S. Kaufman. How much did Astor truly reveal in her diary, and what role did the scandal play in her life and career?

Mary Astor testifies in court, 1935 | Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Mary Astor testifies in court, 1935 | Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

Mary Astor and Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, 1941

Mary Astor and Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, 1941

Music:

The music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “Secret” by Madonna.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Club Noir 2  - John Allen
One Two Three 2 - Peter Sandberg
One Two Three 5 - Peter Sandberg
A Playful Mood 2 - Peter Sandberg
Yellow Leaves 5 - Peter Sandberg
In The Lounge 05 - Lars Olvmyr
In The Lounge 02 - Lars Olvmyr
Downtown Alley 2 - Magnus Ringblom
Say It Is So - Magnus Ringblom Quartet
Tomorrow I'll Be Gone - Franz Gordon
City Fashion 3 - Björn Skogsberg
Eventually Maybe - Oakwood Station

Mary Astor in a still from the trailer for The Great Lie (1941)

Mary Astor in a still from the trailer for The Great Lie (1941)

Credits:

This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editor: Cameron Drews.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Mary Astor, c. 1920’s

Mary Astor, c. 1920’s

D.W. Griffith, the Gish Sisters and the origin of "Hollywood Babylon" (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 1) by Karina Longworth

Hollywood Babylon Cover.jpg

Listen and download this episode, or find on Apple Podcasts.

This season will interrogate a book that is considered by many to be the urtext of salacious movieland gossip: Hollywood Babylon. Written by Kenneth Anger, a child actor turned director of experimental queer art films, Hollywood Babylon has been derided by some readers as a work of dangerous libel for its embellishments and, in some cases, outright fictions about real people and events. (Originally published in France in 1959, the book was not widely available in the US until 1975). Others have celebrated Anger’s bitchy tome as the ultimate, camp trolling of the movie industry and all of its sordid hypocrisy and corruption. Over the course of a two-part season (with part one exploring the silent era and part two, to come later in 2018, stretching from the 1930s into the late 1960s), we will examine some of the stories Anger tells and the way he tells them, and we’ll try to figure out the real story. Throughout, we’ll talk about how the seemingly contemporary concept of “fake news” has played a key role in Hollywood’s star-making (and star-destroying) apparatus from the industry’s earliest days, and how such practices mutated through the work of counter-narrators like Anger and beyond.

The phrase “Hollywood Babylon” entered the vernacular thanks to D.W. Griffith, one of Hollywood’s first great directors, who followed up the racist smash The Birth of a Nation with a less-successful historical epic called Intolerance. Anger’s use of that film’s Babylon set, which was left to stand and decay for years after the film came and went, as the structuring image of his gossip bible, helps to set the ironic tone of the book. But what of Anger’s accusations that Griffith was a known pedophile, and that his stars, sisters Dorothy and Lillian Gish, were incestuous?

D.W. Griffith on set, c. 1918

D.W. Griffith on set, c. 1918

Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish, c. 1920

Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish, c. 1920

SHOW NOTES:  

Sources:

This episode is a response to, and includes a brief excerpt from, Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger.

The Parade’s Gone By by Kevin Brownlow

From Reverence to Rape by Molly Haskell

The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America's Civil War by Dick Lehr

Lillian Gish: Her Legend, Her Life by Charles Affron

D.W. Griffith: An American Life by Richard Schickel  

Sunshine And Shadow by Mary Pickford

Wally: The True Wallace Reid Story by David W. Menefee

Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

“From Movie to Masterpiece” by Denison Clift, Oakland Tribune, April 28 1918, Page 18


Music:

Original music was composed for this episode by Evan Viola. Most of the rest of music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is "Sister Like You" by The Auteurs.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Black and White Memories 3 - Martin Hall

Say It Is So - Magnus Ringblom

The Old House - Håkan Eriksson

Chamber String Rock - Håkan Eriksson

Sophisticated Gentlemen - Magnus Ringblom

The Smoke Room - Gunnar Johnsén  

Jazz and Blue Piano 1 - Jonaton Jarpehag 

Finkelstein’s Walk in the Rain - Per-Anders Nilsson 

Credits:

Our special guest this week is TS Faull, who read from Hollywood Babylon. TS last appeared on You Must Remember This episode 49 in our "Charles Manson's Hollywood" season, in which he played Kenneth Anger. 

This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editors: Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks

Kenneth Anger on the set of  Lucifer Rising , 1970

Kenneth Anger on the set of Lucifer Rising, 1970

Charles Manson's Hollywood, Part 6: Kenneth Anger and Bobby Beausoleil by Karina Longworth

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Find this episode on iTunes

The first person to go to jail for a Charles Manson-associated murder was Bobby Beausoleil, a charismatic would-be rock star who had put in time as a muse to Kenneth Anger -- child actor-turned-occultist experimental filmmaker, and author of the first bible of embellished celebrity scandal, Hollywood Babylon.

Show Notes:

Special thanks to this week's special guests!

Sam Zimmerman of ShockTillYouDrop.com played Bobby Beausoleil; TS Faull, screenwriter of Grimm Love, played Kenneth Anger; and Nate DiMeo, creator of The Memory Palace podcast, IS Charles Manson.

The base list of sources for this series can be found here

Other sources for this episode included Anger by Bill Landis; A.L. Bardach's 1981 interview with BobbyBeausoleil, originally published in Oui Magazine; "Kenneth Anger: Where the Bodies are Buried" by Mick Brown, Esquire January 2014.

This episode includes a clip from this NSFW trailer for the X-rated Western Ramrodder.

This is Bobby Beausoleil's website. This is Kenneth Anger's website.

Also mentioned in this episode: Mondo Hollywood, the surreal cult documentary capturing assorted eccentric late-1960s Los Angeles residents, directed by Robert Carl Cohen. Mondo Hollywood is available on iTunes and, last I checked, Hulu. You should read this conversation between Cohen and Paul Thomas Anderson, who arranged a screening of Mondo Hollywood at AFI Fest last year because it was a major influence on Inherent Vice