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Olivia de Havilland and the American University of Paris

Backlots Posted by Lara on May 3, 2021

If you are a longtime reader of Backlots, you have read of my connection to Olivia de Havilland. From the evening I spent with her at the American Library in Paris, to Backlots’ coverage of her court case against FX, Olivia de Havilland has been close to my heart for many years. Her career an read more

A Resurfacing

Backlots Posted by Lara on Feb 14, 2021

Contrary to what activity on Backlots might tell you, I am, indeed, alive. Since September, I have been deep in the zone of Marion Davies work, and have a website for the project, which can be found here. I remain extremely busy, but wanted to update you on the progress of my work, and what to expe read more

CAPTAIN OF HER SOUL: The Life of Marion Davies. UC Press, 2022

Backlots Posted by Lara on Sep 29, 2020

In November of 2013, I took a trip to the Margaret Herrick Library for the first time, in search of material on Marion Davies for a prospective book. The form the book would take, if any at all, was unknown. But I was determined to start the process, and despite the fact none of the names encounter read more

Olivia de Havilland: A Celebration

Backlots Posted by Lara on Jul 27, 2020

Olivia de Havilland and her pug, Oscar. Olivia de Havilland died peacefully in Paris on Saturday. She went the way we all strive to go–in her sleep, having recently celebrated her 104th birthday. Her daughter Gisèle had just been over for a visit. She was loved and adored not only by a wide c read more

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) Temporarily Pulled From HBO Max To Allow For Proper Context–A History

Backlots Posted by Lara on Jun 11, 2020

When HBO Max announced that it would temporarily remove Gone With the Wind from its platform, in order to place a statement in front of it putting the film’s content into the proper context, it set off a firestorm of controversy online and in the media. Some decry the decision as censorship. read more

A Statement on Current Events

Backlots Posted by Lara on Jun 4, 2020

“That’s the trouble with you readers,” Joe Gillis says to Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard, “you know all the plots.” For hundreds of years, we have seen the same plots play out in our criminal justice system, as the intrinsic systems of oppression in this country do read more

Marilyn Monroe and Acts of Political Bravery

Backlots Posted by Lara on Jun 1, 2020

On June 1, 2020, Marilyn Monroe would have turned 94 years old. Though she died at the tragically young age of 36, Monroe was refreshingly candid and unbothered by the concept of aging. “I want to grow old without facelifts,” she told an interviewer, saying she couldn’t wait to r read more

The Friendship of Ingrid Bergman and Ruth Roberts

Backlots Posted by Lara on May 25, 2020

Ingrid Bergman with Ruth Roberts, to her left, and other crew on the set of Gaslight (1944) During this COVID-19 crisis, I’m finding daily routine to be a key factor in maintaining some semblance of normalcy. For me, this means daily classic movies at set times of the day. Movies keep me calm read more

Classic Film for Trying Times

Backlots Posted by Lara on Mar 28, 2020

Along with the rest of the country, I have been struggling to adjust to our current world situation. I am fortunate in many ways–with the ability to work my day job as a teacher from home, I have no lost income, and I am young and healthy. My heart goes out to anyone suffering illness or car read more

Hollywood and the Office of War Information, 1942-1945

Backlots Posted by Lara on Feb 19, 2020

The other day as I was eating breakfast, I began to think (as normal people do) about wartime food rationing. Today, few people blink an eye when eating an omelette or a cookie, which consist almost entirely of foods rationed during wartime, but when the United States entered World War II and bega read more

The Case for Subtitles

Backlots Posted by Lara on Feb 10, 2020

When Bong Joon-Ho won his Golden Globe for Parasite last month, he gave a piece of advice to the audience: “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles,” he said, “you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” With Parasite‘s Best Picture win at the Oscars last read more

Happy Holidays From Hollywood

Backlots Posted by Lara on Dec 25, 2019

As Christmas Day comes to a close and Hanukkah enters its 4th day, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very joyful holiday season. Hollywood has always gone all out this time of year, and I have assembled some of my favorite Hollywood moments commemorating the season. For read more

Legality and Morality Surrounding CGI James Dean

Backlots Posted by Lara on Nov 30, 2019

Since my coverage of the Olivia de Havilland case against FX, I’ve become quite interested in Hollywood intellectual property law and its modern and historical applications. So I found it fascinating when, a few weeks ago, the Hollywood trade papers announced that a newly-formed movie studio read more

MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) on Women in Political Life

Backlots Posted by Lara on Nov 11, 2019

Last night, I was pleased to see that KQED, my local PBS affiliate, was showing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for their weekly Saturday night movie program. I have always loved this film, and deeply respect the emotional integrity and intelligence it brings to the screen. It’s hard to imagine read more

STRONG AND TENDER: The Story of Carole Lombard and Bess Peters

Backlots Posted by Lara on Oct 29, 2019

When Carole Lombard received an Oscar nomination for My Man Godfrey, she was asked where her talent for screwball comedy came from. On the surface, Carole’s own early life had been much like the one her character Irene Bullock lived. She was likely expected to answer that the role came natur read more

JUDY and Lara in the News

Backlots Posted by Lara on Oct 21, 2019

Apologies for the delayed post, readers. It’s been a rather busy few weeks and this is the first opportunity I’ve had for a blog post since my last one in late September. The Marion Davies book is in its final stages, so I’ve been spending a great deal of time putting together th read more

Podcast Announcement for JUDY (2019)

Backlots Posted by Lara on Sep 27, 2019

On Wednesday night, I went to San Francisco for an advance screening of Judy, the Judy Garland biopic starring Renée Zellweger, out in theaters today. This has been a highly anticipated event for many months in the classic film community, and I have many thoughts to share about the movie, Zellwege read more

LABOR DAY 2019: Norma Rae (1979)

Backlots Posted by Lara on Sep 1, 2019

In 1973, labor organizer Crystal Lee Sutton was fired from the J.P. Stevens textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, NC. Her crime was “insubordination,” after her boss took issue with Sutton copying an anti-union letter on the bulletin board. Sutton had been organizing the workers in the plan read more

The Activism of Myrna Loy

Backlots Posted by Lara on Aug 2, 2019

In 1947, Myrna Loy sued the Hollywood Reporter for $1 million. The charge was an accusation printed in the then right-wing paper that Loy was a Communist, an accusation fueled in part by the actress having been vocal and active in left-wing politics since the 1930s. In addition, Loy’s role i read more

Olivia de Havilland Lecture at Oxford and Other Classic Film Adventures in Europe

Backlots Posted by Lara on Jun 28, 2019

Readers, I returned to the United States on Tuesday after 2 weeks in Europe, and as my jet lag seems to finally have been conquered, I wanted to write to you about the lecture and the other classic film-related things I did while abroad. It was an absolutely magnificent trip, filled with many wonde read more