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Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Past chats with our guests.

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Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby moira finnie » November 16th, 2013, 11:21 am

Here's the spot where we can post questions for Christina Rice, our guest author on Sunday, Nov. 17th and Monday, Nov. 18th.

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Ann Dvorak's first major acting role seared through the screen in Scarface (1932), marking an overwhelmingly masculine genre with an unforgettable feminine power. An inexplicable discontent portrayed in Three on a Match (1932) gave her self-destructive character a deeper poignancy. When real life rebellion against the studio system was frustrated, the B films that came her way, such as Blind Alley (1939) and Girls of the Road (1940), came to life with her unexpectedly fresh portrayals of intelligent women in distress.


The actress, recalled most often recalled for her early talkies, had an unusual beauty and talent that still seems modern and compelling when viewed today. A captivated Christina Rice, who first began her research into the actress in the nineties, has written an account of this spirited woman's life that encompasses her silent era roots, the studio era, and the lasting impression that this woman continued to make on audiences only familiar with her from her later, smaller roles in such films as The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, A Life of Her Own and Our Very Own. The very well-written book is handsomely illustrated with rare images of the subject throughout her life on and off screen.

"Rice’s articulate and compelling writing sets the story straight about an almost Hollywood icon’s story that needs to be, yet hasn’t yet been, told to the world. There is an immense responsibility that a biographical author has to their subject. Cinephiles like Rice, in particular, inherently know and respect it." - Tony Pinizzotto, EdgeoftheNet.com

Please join us next Sunday, 11/17 and Monday, 11/18 at The Silver Screen Oasis. All are welcome and registered members can post their own questions about this fascinating actress.

Ann Dvorak Links:

Christina Rice's website - Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel

Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel @ The University Press of Kentucky

Online Resources for Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel

An Ann Dvorak Playlist on Youtube

Ann Dvorak movies on the TCM Schedule

Ann Dvorak clips in the TCM Media Room


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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby moira finnie » November 17th, 2013, 8:28 am

Thanks so much for joining us today, Christina.

Reading your book, it occurs to me that for a young woman, you are very well versed in classic film. What drew you to Ann Dvorak and made you want to write Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel?
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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » November 17th, 2013, 9:22 am

Christina, we are so honored you have joined us.

While visiting your website, I was fascinated with your discussion about the research process, your book signings, and your enthusiasm for your subject, Ann Dvorak.

What fact or comment you uncovered surprised you most about your research? How difficult was it to connect with Mark Wanamaker to access his collection?

And one more query: What surprised you the most about your book signings?

Thank you for your visit!
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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Christina Rice » November 17th, 2013, 9:44 am

moirafinnie wrote:Thanks so much for joining us today, Christina.

Reading your book, it occurs to me that for a young woman, you are very well versed in classic film. What drew you to Ann Dvorak and made you want to write Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel?


First off, thank you so much for inviting me to spend some time here talking about my favorite subject!

I have been a classic film junkie as far back as I can remember. When I was around 5 years old, my stepmom took me to the dearly departed Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park. While most kids would probably have been terrified of the place, I was riveted but also frustrated because I didn't know most of the figures were. Being able to identify all of them became my first life goal.

Later on when I was in college, I would spend my summers devouring every classic film and movie star bio I could get my hands on. Around 1995, I checked out THREE ON A MATCH from my local library just expecting to enjoy a quickie pre-Code flick and instead was blindsided by Ann Dvorak. I was not aware of her at the time, and was stunned by her performance. Subsequent viewings of SCARFACE and G MEN piqued my interest, but when I tried to find info about Ann, specifically why she didn't become a big star, I cam up empty handed. Eventually I realized two things; I could afford to collect vintage memorabilia from Ann's films because no one else was, and more than likely no one was going to tackle her story. She appealed to to the compulsive collector and obsessive researcher in me, and 15+ years later the book is finally out!

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby movieman1957 » November 17th, 2013, 9:59 am

Thank you Christina for spending time with us. I appreciate it.

I find it very interesting that part of your answer about Ann was your interest because nobody else was interested. Given that she wasn't that well known how difficult, and I guess ultimately, how rewarding was your search and discovery of anything Ann?
Chris

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Christina Rice » November 17th, 2013, 10:21 am

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:Christina, we are so honored you have joined us.

While visiting your website, I was fascinated with your discussion about the research process, your book signings, and your enthusiasm for your subject, Ann Dvorak.

What fact or comment you uncovered surprised you most about your research? How difficult was it to connect with Mark Wanamaker to access his collection?

And one more query: What surprised you the most about your book signings?

Thank you for your visit!


Thanks for spending some time on my Ann Dvorak website. I made the commitment to blog about Ann everyday this year, so it's reassuring to know the posts are being read!

I was really surprised to discover that Ann penned an 18 volume history of the world and made an audio book of it. She envisioned it being used at universities as a teaching aid, but unfortunately the project did not move forward and I have not found a copy of it (yet). I am not sure when the first non-fiction audiobook was produced, but I like to think Ann Dvorak was a pioneer of sorts in that field. On a broader level, it was interesting to discover that even though Ann did not have much of a formal education, she was still an educated and cultured woman with many interests beyond acting.

Marc Wanamaker is pretty easy to connect with though the Bison Archives website (http://www.bisonarchives.com/). He is an amazing resource for early Hollywood history, both for photos and information, so I tapped into his brain quite a bit when writing about the film career of Ann's parents. When I first told him I was looking for images of Ann in RAMONA (1915) I wasn't expecting anything. Instead his immediate response was, "I have a bunch of photos of a little girl in Ramona." Sure enough, he produced a handful of photos of Ann Dvorak as a kid in that film, which was incredible.

So far I have only had one signing which was the launch party last week at the L.A. Central Library where I word. I was surprised by how many people showed up! I knew my family and some colleagues would be there, but I honestly wasn't expecting so many people I did not know personally who came and bought a book, which is a testament to Ann Dvorak. I was also surprised by how many people came early. They were filtering into the room and I was still having my hair done. No one shows up on time in this town, so it was a very memorable night.

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Christina Rice » November 17th, 2013, 10:41 am

movieman1957 wrote:Thank you Christina for spending time with us. I appreciate it.

I find it very interesting that part of your answer about Ann was your interest because nobody else was interested. Given that she wasn't that well known how difficult, and I guess ultimately, how rewarding was your search and discovery of anything Ann?


To say that Ann was a difficult subject to research is an understatement. Part if the problem was that when I first started, I did not know much about research methods and this was before the Internet exploded into an incredible source of reference. Once I entered graduate school, I became more familiar with resources that were available which helped, but Ann did not leave much of herself behind so it was a long odyssey of collecting puzzle pieces to put together.

Once I sat down and started writing, I was actually surprised by how many I had dug up about Ann which was very rewarding. I was also pleased to be able to explore her post-retirement life, which wasn't necessarily the happiest time of her, but still an important part of her story.

On the flip side, collecting on Ann over the years has been relatively easy. So many pieces of advertising were produced for each film the studios made, that there was a lot floating around.

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby moira finnie » November 17th, 2013, 10:51 am

For anyone interested in exploring the site that Christina Rice has referred to above, please click on the image below:

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby charlestranberg » November 17th, 2013, 11:40 am

Congratulations on your book and the praise it is receiving.

1) Why did Ann Dvorak retire from the screen (did she retire from acting all together or did she continue to do plays, TV?)

2) How did she spend her post-retirement years?

3) Who is you next subject going to be :)

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby moira finnie » November 17th, 2013, 12:31 pm

Christina, do you think that Ann Dvorak was a purely instinctive actress or did her childhood experiences in silents and in her very early years in the chorus at MGM help her to learn to how to make such a vivid impression on screen? Where do you think that the intensely visceral, sensual, and rueful characterizations she brought to life in roles such as Three on a Match or A Life of Her Own came from? Do you think that she had a rich imagination or was she naturally observant of human nature?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this aspect of Dvorak's work.
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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Christina Rice » November 17th, 2013, 12:53 pm

charlestranberg wrote:Congratulations on your book and the praise it is receiving.

1) Why did Ann Dvorak retire from the screen (did she retire from acting all together or did she continue to do plays, TV?)

2) How did she spend her post-retirement years?

3) Who is you next subject going to be :)


Thanks Charles, and congrats on the recent release of the Frederic March book!

I wasn't able to determine concretely why Ann retired when she did. She fired her agency for not getting her sufficient film work, but I am also under the impression she was tired and kind of done with the industry. She did a small amount of TV work after making her last film, but not much which is unfortunate because I think she could have had a second career in that medium like so many of her contemporaries did.

Her initial post retirement was spent trying to launch an new career as a documentary producer and filmmaker but that did not pan out. After she relocated to Hawaii with her 3rd husband Nick Wade, they engaged in various business ventures and she also dove into the "Historical Digest" project which I mentioned above. Unfortunately, Wade was very abusive and mismanaged the money, and Ann tended to drink heavily so it was not a happy time for her.

Ann Dvorak sure took a lot out of me, so my next project will be one without end notes! Charles, I am amazed at your ability to tackle one subject after another.

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Christina Rice » November 17th, 2013, 1:09 pm

moirafinnie wrote:Christina, do you think that Ann Dvorak was a purely instinctive actress or did her childhood experiences in silents and in her very early years in the chorus at MGM help her to learn to how to make such a vivid impression on screen? Where do you think that the intensely visceral, sensual, and rueful characterizations she brought to life in roles such as Three on a Match or A Life of Her Own came from? Do you think that she had a rich imagination or was she naturally observant of human nature?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this aspect of Dvorak's work.


I do think Ann was a purely instinctive actress, which is evident in SCARFACE, THE STRANGE LOVE OF MOLLY LOUVAIN, and THREE ON A MATCH which were all made during the first year of her career as a credited actress. Having a film actress for a mother and her experiences making movies as a child definitely influenced her decision to pursue the movies as a career. Spending a couple of years in the MGM chorus eliminated any insecurities she may have had about being in front of a camera and also fueled an intense desire to break out of the chorus and become a credited player.

The few people I spoke with who interacted with Ann did describe her as being a serious and intense person which I think translated into many of her roles. Ann always had a natural curiosity about the world around her and wanted to see as much of it as possible. According to her mother, she also had a vivid imagination. These traits are what drew her to her first husband, Leslie Fenton, at a young age which in turned caused her to walk out on her Warner Bros. contract to go on an 8 month honeymoon abroad which adversely affected her career.

Ann felt that these world experiences benefitted her acting tremendously and that any work she had done prior to that was sub-par. Personally don't agree with her assessment as those early appearances are some of her most memorable.

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Countessdelave » November 17th, 2013, 1:22 pm

Christina,

I'm so glad that you have written a book about this wonderful actress. I first took notice of her in The Strange Love of Molly Louvain. She had a kind of modern natural quality in many of her films. In your book, you spoke of her growing relationship with Leslie Fenton during this film but what intrigued me was her chemistry with Lee Tracy, one of Hollywood's bad boys. Did you ever find any information about their working relationship and the completely unsatisfying end to this pre-code film? It just ends in such an odd way, as if someone decided that they couldn't push the subject matter any further. Oh, I'm with you on the blonde wig. Ann steps out of a restroom after a quick dye job and she's got perfectly marcelled hair.

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Christina Rice » November 17th, 2013, 2:42 pm

Countessdelave wrote:Christina,

I'm so glad that you have written a book about this wonderful actress. I first took notice of her in The Strange Love of Molly Louvain. She had a kind of modern natural quality in many of her films. In your book, you spoke of her growing relationship with Leslie Fenton during this film but what intrigued me was her chemistry with Lee Tracy, one of Hollywood's bad boys. Did you ever find any information about their working relationship and the completely unsatisfying end to this pre-code film? It just ends in such an odd way, as if someone decided that they couldn't push the subject matter any further. Oh, I'm with you on the blonde wig. Ann steps out of a restroom after a quick dye job and she's got perfectly marcelled hair.


Unfortunately, I did not come across anything detailing Ann's working relationship with Lee Tracy is either MOLLY LOUVAIN or LOVE IS A RACKET. One of the many difficulties in researching Ann's career is that a lot of the films she made in the 1930s were quickie programmers that came and went with little to no comment.

If I am not mistaken, the source material for MOLLY LOUVAIN was unpublished so I don't know what the original ending may be been though I do agree as filmed, it's abrupt and unsatisfying. I frequently recommend it as a good example of an Ann Dvorak film, though I think it's only a moderate pre-Code.

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Re: Welcome to Christina Rice, Our Guest Author on 11/17 & 11/18

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » November 17th, 2013, 3:02 pm

Thank you so much for these wonderful responses, Christina! We are so happy you are visiting. :D
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