"Blonde Venus" & "Imitation of LIfe" Matinee Double Feature [STAUNCH! 2nd Grey Gardens Festival]
**1930's Ambitious Women Pre-Code Matinee Double Feature**
A double feature of films from the '30's, the era of Little Edie's youth, explores the tension between women's familial allegiances, societal expectations, and their own ambitions- At 3pm - "Blonde Venus" starring Little Edie's beloved (and Big Edie's despised) Marlene Dietrich, and at 5pm - "Imitation of Life", starring Claudette Colbert.
"Well the only way that anyone could ever enjoy America is just to 'get with it'... If you're on the artistic end- you starve or you're despised I can't explain it. Of course now everything's different...You know, there's been a large overhauling of the entire human race, and everything..." - Little Edith Bouvier Beale, 1973
>>>3:00 pm <<<
Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 1932, 93 min
One of many collaborative efforts between director Josef von Sternberg and star Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus is depression-era film exemplifying the melodramatic conceit of the "fallen woman" who must suffer for her indignity. Dietrich plays German cabaret singer, Helen Faraday, who, driven to raise money to save her husband from an illness, works her mojo at nightclubs and has an affair with tycoon Nick Townsend (Cary Grant). But Helen's means of support only tears apart her marriage, and threatens her custody of her beloved son. Particularly notable is a scene of Dietrich singing "Hot Voodoo" in a gorilla suit, imbued with problematic racial overtones, but also boundary crossing for the time in which the film was made. As writer Patrice Petro states, is "blackness an 'accessory' for white women - a mask or costume to be worn and removed at will," or is Dietrich's "position in this film much more ambivalent, as suggested, for instance, by the dizzying fusion of incompatible images in the 'Hot Voodoo' number, or even by [Helen/Dietrich's] friendship and identification with...Cora / Hattie McDaniel, who helps her protect her child and elude the long arm of the law?"- Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History, p 155
"They see me as a woman. I don't see that. But when I get out of here, I do. When I go to New York City, I see myself as a woman. But in here I'm just, you know, Mother's little daughter." - Little Edith Bouvier Beale, "Grey Gardens", 1975
>>> 5:00 pm <<<
Imitation of Life
Dir. John M. Stahl, 1934, 111 min
Based on Fannie Hurst's 1933 novel of the same name, John Stahl's film version casts Claudette Colbert as the widowed Bea Pullman, who becomes businesswoman extraordinaire with the assistance of her black friend Delilah (Louise Beavers), and then goes on to follow Bea and Delilah's relationships with their daughters Jessie and Peola, as they each try to navigate their place in the world. Though the film's take on race, class and gender is certainly dated, Time Magazine listed it as one of the 25 Most Important Films on Race because of the complex relationship between Delilah and her light-skinned a daughter Peola, played by Fredi Washington, who renounces her mother in order to gain success by "passing" as a white woman. The New York Times at the time of its release called it "the most shameless tearjerker of the Fall," and wrote, "The stentorian sobbing of the ladies in the Roxy mezzanine yesterday seemed to suggest that it held a vast appeal for the matinee trade as well as for Miss Hurst's large and commercially attractive public. On the whole the audience seemed to find it a gripping and powerful if slightly diffuse drama which discussed the mother love question, the race question, the business woman question, the mother and daughter question and the love renunciation question."
STAUNCH! The Second Annual Grey Gardens Festival, June 18th - 20th, loosely draws upon the world of the two Edith Bouvier-Beales - their past, their influences, and the life of one of the people they had a profound effect upon, Jerry "The Marble Faun" Torre. Film screenings, panels, an art exhibit and a special brunch on Sunday round out this weekend celebrating everything Grey Gardens.
343 Lenox Ave.
New York, NY 10027
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|