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The first episode of a multi-part series on the Hollywood romances of Howard Hughes traces Hughes’ arranged marriage at age 18 to Southern society belle Ella Rice; his affairs with silent star Billie Dove and Jean Harlow, who Hughes helped to establish as a sex symbol whose body was used to evoke both money and military might; and his attempt to invent himself as the most powerful independent producer in town, with his directorial debut, Hell’s Angels.
Key research texts this week included Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske; and Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters, by Richard Hack. There were few discrepancies in terms of the way these two books depicted this time period in Hughes’ life, and I take them somewhat more seriously than another book which I mention in the episode, Darwin Porter’s Hell’s Angel: America’s Notorious Bisexual Billionaire (typing this, I’m realizing I got the subtitle slightly wrong in the podcast; sorry!)
This week, I watched Hell’s Angels for the first time, and was really pleasantly surprised by it. The UCLA restoration currently available on DVD is *gorgeous,” and the dialogue scenes, directed by James Whale, have a kind of vulgar, inelegant honesty to them.
I wouldn’t consider them direct research materials, but more than nonfiction sources, I picked up the feeling of 1920s Hollywood from a number of novels, including (of course) The Day of the Locust, but also a few lesser-discussed books I’ve read over the past year: The Big Money by John Dos Passos, Hollywood by Gore Vidal, and The Western Coast by Paula Fox. I highly recommend them all.
As previously noted, this is intended to be the first episode in a multi-part series about Hughes’ Hollywood relationships. Right now the plan is to alternate episodes on Hughes with installments of another series, which I plan to launch next week (however, I’m traveling tomorrow-Monday, so it’s possible my production schedule will get messed up.)
As always, if you like it, put a ring on it by subscribing to and/or rating and reviewing the podcast at iTunes, and tell your friends to follow us on Twitter @rememberthispod.
“Ill Build a Stairway to Paradise” performed by Whiteman and his orchestra
“Safe in Heal,” performed by Sonic Youth
“Paris,” performed by Dirty Beaches
“S’Wonderful,” performed by Eddie Condon and his orchestra
“Summertime,” performed by the Sidney Bechtet Quintet
“Shadow of a Doubt,” performed by Sonic Youth
“Frelon Brun,” performed by Miles Davis
“Life Round Here,” by James Blake
“Keechie,” by No Age
“The Man I Love,” performed by Le Quintette Du Hot Club De France
"Skeletons," by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
"Dramamine," by Sebadoh
"Fogbow," by Joan of Arc
"A Foggy Day," performed by Cyril Grantham with Geraldo and his orchestra
"Cemetary Party," by Air
"Drippy Eye," performed by Black Moth Super Rainbow
"Zoetrope," by Boards of Canada
"Alice," by Sunn O)))
"Big Louise," by Scott Walker
"With Plenty of Money and You," performed by Tony Bennett
"I Got Plenty of Nuthin’," performed by Avon Long
"Baby Vampire Made Me," by Helium
"Girl/Boy Song," by Aphex Twin
"This Hollywood Life," by The London Suede