Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget

On Saturday, August 6th I had the pleasure of giving an Introductory lecture on Adaptation before a screening of the movie Gidget. Written by Gabriele Upton the film was based on the novel by screenwriter Frederick Kohner which was itself based on the diaries of his daughter, Kathy Kohner, about the summer she learned to surf.

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

I focused on the fact that the book is a love story between a young woman and a sport – surfing – whereas the movie became a more generic love story about a girl and a college boy. While it has been enjoyed over the years its saccharine take has kept readers from discovering the real excitement and joy of independence Kathy (nicknamed Gidget) found that summer in Malibu. She made a series of important decisions about her life and proved herself among a group of seasoned male athletes simply by working hard at being good enough to surf alongside them. I ended by illustrating how the TV series (written by Ruth Brooks Flippen and starring Sally Field in her first big role) managed to capture the truth of the novel better than the 3 films made from it – which oddly starred 3 different women in the lead role but the same male lead – as if the films belong to Moondoggie but the TV show belonged once again to Kathy.

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

I had the great treat of bringing my 2 MFA cohorts to the Autry Museum for the event so they could check out the museum before the show. Then we all had the great treat of being joined by the real Kathy Kohner Zuckerman herself along with a group of young female surfers who wanted to watch the movie and meet an idol. Thanks to Ben Fitzsimmons for inviting us all to create this event together. And remember whenever you see a film based on a book that reading the book will make for an even richer experience of the story.

Losing the Real Girl in Adapting Gidget with Dr. Rosanne Welch

17 We Stand On The Shoulders…from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

17 We Stand On The Shoulders…from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

I think that we stand on the shoulders of the people who came before us and it’s our job to make sure they are not forgotten. So, we have to be the people who do our own research and don’t trust all of those narrators that we study when we go through our research and – I do love and archive so I don’t want people to think I don’t – but there you go. That’s me. That’s my book. That’s what I want to talk about and I hope that you remember those names and if you haven’t heard of them before and you feel like looking them up and learning more about them, because women did run Hollywood for a long time.

 

 


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Powers Cameragraph projector, c. 1904-06, Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram [Photography]

Powers Cameragraph projector, c. 1904-06, Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram [Photography]

From Curator, Richard Adkins…

“This is a Powers Cameragraph projector, c. 1904-06. It is without its original housing, which would have been a metal box not unlike the Powers projector that is on display to the right of this mechanism. It comes from the estate of Richard Nederhauser, a projectionist who later was in charge of all technical updates for the Metropolitan Theatre chain.”

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16 Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

16 Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

Again, as I said, Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne who wrote all these wonderful things together. John Gregory Dunne actually would have Joan go to meetings first because the men you work with in Hollywood, if you went to a meeting together would look at John while they talked. So, if they sent Joan alone and pretended John was sick one day the men got used to looking at her and then when they came together they looked at both of them. so, they were pretty brilliant about making sure she didn’t get forgotten in the writing process like that.

 

 


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Reading Leads to 6 Degree Games with Famous Names

Reading Leads to 6 Degree Games with Famous Names by Dr. Rosanne Welch

A funny thing happens when you read a lot of biographies – sometimes names you never heard of turn up in the lives of people who never met and you’re reminded that the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game could be played in generations in the past (with different names of course).

Rachel Carson, 1940 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee photo
Rachel Carson By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – This image originates from the National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at this page This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing. See Category:Images from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. http://training.fws.gov/history/carson/carson.html, Public Domain, Link

That’s what happened when I picked up William Souder’s biography of Rachel Carson On a Farther Shore. I had taught her book Silent Spring which reinvigorated the environmental movement in the 1960s so I wanted to know how she became a writer. As I was reading one of her influences was Hendrik Willem van Loon, a Dutch-American children’s book author, historian, and journalist (like Carson). He wrote The Story of Mankind in 1921 as a history of the world for children and won the first Newbery Medal in 1922. I’ve been reading Newberry Award winners all my life so it was fun to learn he won the first, but that’s not why I remembered his name.

Hendrik Willem van Loon
Hendrik Willem van Loon By Underwood & Underwood – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a02154. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, Link

That knowledge came from another biography I had delved into several years ago when I started teaching the History of Screenwriting. There I ‘met’ Frances Goodrich Hackett, co-screenwriter with her husband Albert of several classics including The Thin Man, Father of the Bride, It’s a Wonderful Life before winning both the Tony and Pulitzer Prize for the stage version of The Diary of Anne Frank. Then they adapted it into a film. Turns out Von Loon had been Goodrich’s second husband (Albert was her third and final since their marriage and writing partnership lasted over 50 years).

Hackett and Goodrich.jpg
Frances Goodrich Hackett, By not known Fair use, Link

I love accidental finds like that. Carson was influenced by Von Loon to become a writer and Frances became one after she left him. Interesting that both of these women and their writings are now more well-known than he or his works when, at the time, he was the more famous.

Rosanne In Mr. DeMille’s Office , Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram [Photography]

Rosanne In Mr. DeMille’s Office , Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn)

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Vintage Film Makeup Kit, Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram [Photography]

Vintage Film Makeup Kit, Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram [Photography]

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15 Nice Guys and Allies from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of being invited to join a panel at the then upcoming SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies) conference set for Seattle.  As you know that was canceled due to Covid with the hopes of reconvening in Colorado in 2021.  That became a virtual conference but our group decided to reapply our panel and we four were able to ‘meet’ on Zoom on Sunday and present:  Writing Between the Lines: Feminist Strategies for Historical Absences, Cliché, and the Unreliable Narrator. 

Here you can watch a clip from my part of the presentation,

“When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues in Oral Histories”

15 Nice Guys and Allies  from When Men Forget Women: The Many Ways Male Screenwriters Fail to Mention their Female Colleagues [Video]

Transcript:

I very briefly want to be fair to all the lovely nice men in the world because they are –they do exist and they do credit the women in their lives. These husbands all – from Garson Kanin to Albert Hackett to John Gregory Dunn all credited their wives with equal or more work on all the projects they did together and you’ll recognize of course Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon having done these films which won them all Academy Award nominations and Garson always talks about how much of a writer Ruth was even though we as a culture remember her as an actress but he does complain about the fact that they call it George Cukor’s “Adam’s Rib” when in fact much of the direction was written into the script by Garson and Ruth. Having been theater people they understood exactly where they wanted the camera to go, So they get erased by Cukor. Albert and Francis, of course, are brilliant. They wrote for almost 50 years in Hollywood but when you look at the posters of their work it’s the director Frank Capra who essentially erases them from the picture. Their names are down here very tiny and here’s the crazy thing about that. They also in their career are going to write “The Diary of Anne Frank” for which they’re going to get the Pulitzer Prize. Capra don’t have no Pulitzer Prize but it’s called Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” right? No thank you. They also wrote Nick and Nora Charles the real “The Thin Man” which is Nick and Nora Charles. I’m talking fast because I want to use up all my time. I’m sorry and that’s normally put off on Dashiell Hammett who wrote the novel but if you look at the movie the couple in the movie is actually Francis and Albert.

 

 


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Why Emma Thompson’s Writing Stands Out by Dr. Rosanne Welch

Why Emma Thompson’s Writing Stands Out by Dr. Rosanne Welch

In doing some research on YouTube I stumbled onto the speech Hugh Laurie gave in celebration of Emma Thompson receiving her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What struck me is that at 2:52, after joking a bit about having known each other since they were in their late teens in college together, Hugh gets to the meat of why Emma Thompson deserves the star. It’s for her WRITING.

Yes, her first Oscar came for Best Actress in Howard’s End, which is where Americans first heard of her. BUT her second Oscar came from adapting a Jane Austen novel into one of my favorite films – Sense and Sensibility (and she cast Hugh in a small part!). She then went on to write several other films (including Wit, the 2 Nanny McPhee movies, and Bridget Jones’s Baby) though many still don’t realize she is a writer.

In this clip, he explains what makes her writing so powerful…a good lesson to us all.

 

 

Vintage Film Camera, Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram [Photography]

Vintage Film Camera, Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram [Photography]

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DeMille Office, Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) via Instagram

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