A Look at the Very Few Remaining Silent Film Actors

Classic Film Haven

Carla Laemmle has passed away, at the age of 104. Others have written glowingly and wonderfully about the woman and her unique life. Not only was she the niece of Universal Pictures found Carl Laemmle, she most notably appeared in the 1931 Dracula. Her connection to the horror genre through film led to her making a few film appearances in the final decade of her life, after not appearing in a role for around 70 years. There is another notable item about her as well– she was one of the remaining silent movie actors still alive. Her roles weren’t major by any stretch of the imagination (she was uncredited in her first appearance, The Phantom of the Opera), but she was one of the dwindling few left alive who appeared in silent films. Mickey Rooney, another member of that small group, passed away earlier this year as well…

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A wife’s letter to her childless husband on Father’s Day


I lay in bed the other night, hands crossed over my heart and legs pin-straight, and thought of those words:

This is not about me at all, is it? This is all about you.

That’s what you said to me when I told you I wanted to have the procedure done. A procedure that would be risky, as any procedure is, but that might point us to what’s wrong. The answer to why our children are in the clouds and not here with us.

I was angry at you for saying such a cruel thing. So I went to bed in silence and didn’t tell you to sleep with God and dream with me like I always do. I didn’t kiss you or reach for your hand in reconciliation. I simply lay there, emotionally entombed, trying not to breathe too hard or feel too much as I waited for sleep…

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Women, Art and Authority: The Language of Exclusion

Jeanne de Montbaston

Fede Galizia, 'Judith with the Head of Holofernes' (possible self-portrait). 1596. Fede Galizia, ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes’ (possible self-portrait). 1596.

I recently watched Amanda Vickery’s series, ‘The Story of Women and Art,’ which you can catch on Iplayer (and catch it soon, before it goes).

I am a pretty obvious target for this series. The name I blog under, Jeanne de Montbaston, is the name of one of the few medieval women artists about whom we know a fair amount. I’m not an Art Historian, but I’m very interested in women artists, because in medieval England (and France, and Italy …), you often find that the people illuminating books –  or making tapestries and other works of art we’ve now lost – were women. I suspect that the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were actually a reasonably good time to be a woman artist. Yet, ironically, I suspect that’s true for women like Jeanne de Montbaston simply because…

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The World Cup makes children of men

Dave Hannigan

At half-time in last Friday’s game between Spain and the Netherlands, my 14 year old son Abe rose from his chair, picked a soccer ball up in the hallway and headed outside to play. Through the window, I watched him curl a shot into the giant goal that stands just to the left of our mailbox and then I decided to join him. Fifteen minutes later, I returned to my armchair, a heavy breathing, sweaty, middle-aged mess. I am 43 years old. I should know better but this is the magic of the World Cup. It brings out the child in all of us.

For that fifteen minutes, I was transported back in time from a street in a Long Island town to a patch of green grass in the Cork suburb of Togher, a hallowed venue we lovingly called “the bog”. That was where, at half-time in just about…

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This Neo Brutalism

the urban prehistorian

This Neo Brutalism

The recent revival of media interest in ‘Brutalism’, a 20th century architectural style mostly associated with grey, chunky concrete office blocks, high rises and municipal buildings, is an interesting example of the ways that urban fashion can change dramatically, with buildings once seen as futuristic in terms of design and materiality becoming reviled and in many cases demolished, before in time being re-evaluated and treated nostalgically.

Of course, this trajectory reflects to some extent Glasgow’s Sighthill stone circle, as the recent article (which I co-wrote) in British Archaeology magazine suggests, but in this post I would like to explore a range of other connections, which will include Stonehenge and its concrete doppelgangers, 1970s artworks in the Scottish new town of Livingston and an architectural doctrine adopted by the Nazis.

But let’s start with the brutal and unforgiving form of Stonehenge.

Stonehenge has been characterised in many ways – awesome…

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The Causes of the Great War: An Autobiographic Take

The Disorder Of Things

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia on June 28, 1914 set of a chain of events that a few weeks later led to an all-out war involving virtually all key European powers and their enormous overseas empires at the time.   How did this happen?


As a born and raised Sarajevan, I was socialized from an early age to think about the causes of the Great War – a question that happens to be one of the most studied in all of human history.  I vividly recall my first primary school trip to “Princip’s footsteps” – markings embedded into the sidewalk signifying the spot from where the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, fired.  We boys took turns to stand in the footprints and re-enacted the killing; the girls giggled.  There was no doubt that this behaviour was desirable:  with our teachers we read out the message on a nearby plaque…

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Biological clocks: in which I am bemused and curious.

...a can opener in a worm factory...

I don’t seem to have a biological clock. I just don’t. No particular pull towards children or producing them; no visceral urge to reproduce; no sense of impending loss. I’m finding this paragraph difficult to write, already, because while many women I’ve discussed this with and several friends I love and respect have spoken to me seriously about their experience of broodiness and their desire for children – and I take these conversations very seriously – I actually can’t imagine what having such a thing must be like.

It’s not that I dislike children. My boyfriend has a lovely daughter, and I am happy (and indeed looking forward) to being some kind of truth-telling unconventional crazy aunty-friend type person as far as she’s concerned (although I would imagine is she lived with him full time, this might be more of an issue than it in fact is.) The same goes…

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12 Rounds With Bobby Holland Hanton

One Room With A View


12 Rounds is the latest feature from One Room With A View as we celebrate the talent behind the blockbuster action we see on screen. From military advisors to stunt performers, we’re going  12 rounds with all these unsung heroes to find out their love, life and stories from their profession. Our first entry is a multi-award winning stunt man who has worked with the biggest names in the biggest movies. He’s hammered the Hulk, battled Bane and tackled traitors. He’s Bond, Batman and a blonde demi-God. Bobby Holland Hanton is Hollywood’s go-to stunt double and it’s clear to see why.

1. What was your background before becoming a stunt performer, and how did you get into the industry?

3 Bobby

“My background is [in] gymnastics. I started gymnastics when I was 4.  I gave up competing in Men’s Artistic Gymnastics when I was 17, then I started playing semi-pro football. Gymnastics was certainly…

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Five celebrities


“You’ll absolutely die when you hear what happened today at the café,” my then-girlfriend said, poking her head around the kitchen door to watch me struggle to cut the ribs off the entire bunch of dinosaur kale with a dull knife.
“Mmmhh?,” I responded.
“Well, we were listening to that Judy Garland album you put on the store iPod,” she said, stepping into view in the door frame. Her jeans were dusted dark brown where she wiped her hands after each shot of espresso, and she smelled like work in that way I loved: salt and coffee and warm milk. “Philip Seymour Hoffman came in, ordered a couple iced lattes for him and Mimi, and was standing by the bar waiting for me to finish making them.” She came up beside me and gently took the knife from my hands, easily dispensing with the ribs and cutting the kale leaves into delicate ribbons. I leaned back against the cabinet and crossed my arms, watching her work.

Phil Hoffman was a daily, sometimes twice-daily regular at the espresso bar my girlfriend and I both worked at; despite the entire staff’s giddy adoration of him, we had made some kind of silent pact with one another that we’d never betray our cool. No one ever let a whiff of fandom show—as though we weren’t busy filling the caffeine needs of the single greatest living American actor. Nope, no way, no big deal. This dude’s just a regular anybody in a grease-splattered T-shirt who clearly has an aversion to shaving.
“He sort of freaked out a little,” she continued, now crushing cloves of garlic under the flat side of the blade and slicing them into meticulous little pieces. “‘Oh my G-d, is this Judy Garland?,’ and went on about how she’s his favorite singer. I knew you’d go nuts.” She slid the garlic off the cutting board and into a skillet with the back of the knife, letting it sizzle in a shallow pool of olive oil.
It had only been three days since I’d heard the cast announcements for the Capote biopic, Philip Seymour Hoffman being slated to play the eponymous lead—who also happens to be my idol (in work, if not in life or style). It had become almost physically painful not to mention it to him, to tell him how much I trusted him to portray the artist who means more to me than anything else in this otherwise empty, meaningless world. So this was it, then—our mutual love of Frances Ethel Gumm was my way in. My ticket to transcending the thickly awkward $5 transaction that was heretofore the only impetus for our interactions.
I nodded and watched the kale turn bright green, wilting down to half-size.
For the next three shifts, I refused to let anyone play anything over the speakers but Judy Garland: “Live at Carnegie Hall,” “Her Greatest Film Songs,” “Judy In Love.” My coworkers wanted to kill me, but what if he came in again? What if I lost the moment to ABBA or Squeeze? I wasn’t prepared to take the chance.
Finally, it happened: Two iced lattes for the famous brilliant tortured actor and his very patient girlfriend, at the end of a line of drinks long enough for me to screw up the courage to squeak. My hands shook; I spilled at least a little bit of every liquid with which I came in contact.
He walked toward the espresso machine and leaned against the counter on his elbow, like a movie cowboy striding up to order a whiskey in a saloon. He looked everywhere except at me. I coughed a little.
“So,” I said without even a single shred of nonchalance, “I hear you like Judy Garland?”
Momentarily confused, he looked up at me as if to confirm that (a) I had spoken, and (b) my words were pointed in his general direction. His eyebrows dropped a little.
“Judy Garland,” he said with a vast intake of breath, “was a genius. A true genius. Listening to her sing—” He raised one arm in the air like a Roman statue, making a proclamation, and exhaled a deep sigh. “Just incredible.”
“I… I know—” I started, hoping to tell him how devoted I was to her. Dying to show him my tattoos: Judy on my left arm, Truman on my right. My spirit animals. Desperate to show him that we were made to know each other, he and I. “She’s my favorite sing—”
“No!” He brought his fist down on the counter; a spoon in its saucer rattled from the impact. “You don’t understand. Judy Garland was a fucking artist. Listening to her sing is a life event.”
A silent fog of embarrassment folded over the room. Philip Hoffman stood stock still, fist still pressed against the counter so hard it was turning white; he looked off at nothing, his eyes trained nowhere. I poured cold milk over espresso and ice in two plastic cups and put them on the counter: “Your… um, these are yours.”
He wrapped his thick hands around the cups and braced himself. Then he brought his eyes up to meet mine; they were red and wet. “Judy Garland,” he said once more. Then, breaking eye contact and shaking his head, he walked toward the door. “G-ddamn Judy.”