Woody Van Dyke’s screwball comedy lampoons polite marital norms. College professor Don Ameche writes a dull book arguing that jealousy is nothing but a holdover from the cave man. Rosalind Russell, as his wife, believes it’s the spice of life. If her husband really loved her, he’d knock out any man who got fresh. Their theories are put to the test with the arrival of Kay Francis, a lusty publisher, and Van Heflin, a horny devil with a goatee and a satin make-out couch.
Phantom Lady (1944)
Screens 11 January at 7.00
Joan Harrison, former screenwriter for Hitchcock, steps into the role of executive producer in a stylish mystery directed by master of noir Robert Siodmak. Ella Raines tries to prove her boss is innocent of a murder charge. During her search for a woman in a standout hat, Ella bargains for answers by egging on a musician who uses a drum kit to perform a frantic masturbatory jazz solo. It’s all in a night’s work for a razor-sharp investigator.
Down to Earth (1947)
Screens 18 January at 7.00
Terpsichore, goddess of dance, played by Rita Hayworth, is outraged by a Broadway show using her likeness. The divine Rita descends on the ‘Big Street’ to mount a highbrow production replacing the formerly glitzy portrayal of the Muses. But Olympian art clashes with American taste and the show flops. Will the goddess ditch the boards for the heavens, or will she be a trouper?
The Fountainhead (1949)
Screens 25 January at 7.00
Forget about the cartoonish polemic of Ayn Rand’s novel. The real draw of this sly adaptation from Warner Brothers studio is the relationship between its stars. Director King Vidor trades ham-fisted politics for the volcanic heat between Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper. Vidor skirts the Production Code censors with scenes staged with a drill, a whip, and a fireplace poker to underscore the explosive chemistry of stars embroiled in a real-life affair. Patricia risked it all for Coop, just like her character on the big screen.
Megan McGurk introduces the holiday classic Christmas in Connecticut (1945).
Barbara Stanwyck plays a popular magazine columnist who shares recipes and extols the virtues of living the simple life on a farm with her family. In reality, she’s a single woman in the city who can’t so much as boil water. Stanwyck lives the dream (mink coat included) until her publisher invites a wounded veteran to spend Christmas at the fictitious farm. Will Stanwyck be able to carry off the housewife ruse? Or will she be exposed as a fake?
Get your sass booster with a programme full of gems!
Stage Door (1937) Screens 2 November at 7.00 RKO’s biggest stars, Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn, play rival roommates in a flawless picture directed by Gregory La Cava. Set in a theatrical boarding house among Broadway-hopefuls, the cast is full of ambitious scene stealers such as Eve Arden, Gail Patrick, Andrea Leeds, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Constance Collier, and Phyllis Kennedy. La Cava had his secretary record their delicious backstage sass by shorthand for use in the off-the-cuff script.
Back in Circulation (1937) Screens 9 November at 7.00 Joan Blondell is the best newspaperman in skirts. When other reporters wonder how they lost the scoop, Joan brushes them off with a wisecrack: ‘I’m cute that way.’ If only the newspaper’s editor, Pat O’Brien, would give her a break from chasing front-page stories—at least long enough for a little between-the-sheets action. Horny and run off her feet, Joan sparkles in every scene. Ray Enright’s romantic comedy has flown under the radar, but it’s woman’s picture canon.
Love Is News (1937) Screens 16 November at 7.00 Society heiress Loretta Young decides she’s had enough of nosey reporters, particularly the one played by Tyrone Power. She plans revenge by giving a juicy exclusive to a rival columnist, which not only makes Ty look like a chump, it puts him in Dutch with his editor, played by Don Ameche. Loretta noted that director Tay Garnett laughed all the time, creating a fun atmosphere on the set, and it shows.
Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) Screens 23 November at 7.00 In the original French folk tale, a deranged husband murders his wives, one after another. Paramount’s cosmopolitan update benefits from the ‘Lubitsch Touch’ which borrows from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Once Claudette Colbert walks down the aisle with Gary Cooper, she learns he has a habit of changing his mind and filing for divorce. Before the groom gives her the gate, and she joins the ranks of seven ex-wives, Claudette concocts an inspired plan of reform.
When Tomorrow Comes (1939) Screens 30 November at 7.00 Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer followed their box office hit Love Affair with this star-crossed romance between a waitress and a world-renowned musician. Boyer attends a union meeting just to hear Irene Dunne deliver a strike-calling speech to an assembly of harried and underpaid servers. Irene is swept away by the swoon merchant who listens so well. The only problem is, he’s already taken, as so often happens when an elegant stranger sits in your section for his lunch. Director John M. Stahl was a king of bittersweet melodrama.
Refunds are available up to noon on the day of the screening.
Clara is an Irish artist and writer perhaps better known as her pseudonym Mot Collins. Under this moniker, she creates illustrations, zines, and tattoos. Mot is interested in subversive expressions of femininity, sexuality, occultism, and comedy. She is highly influenced by pulp and punk culture. She can be found on Twitter as @heavydutywoman and @motcollinsart on Instagram.
Olympia Kiriakou plays Fay Bishop.
Dr. Olympia Kiriakou is a film historian based in south Florida. Her research focuses on stardom, gender, and genre in classical Hollywood cinema, as well as contemporary fan cultures. She is the author of Becoming Carole Lombard: Stardom, Comedy, and Legacy, an exploration of the star persona and career of the late star. Her work has also been published in Transformative Works and Cultures, Journal of Fandom Studies, In Media Res, Film Matters, and Sight and Sound magazine. She has a website and is @thescrewballgrl on Twitter.
Olympia hosts the podcast The Screwball Story @screwballstory, now in its second series.
M. Shawn plays Peaches Carmichael.
M. is a former television news producer, a writer, a researcher, an accidental homemaker, and a full-time Jean Harlow fan. After a year in quarantine, her blood type is banana bread, and if people were allowed to be fictional characters in a past life, she’d be Blondie Johnson.
Savannah Monroe plays Bijou Silk.
Savannah Monroe is a film writer and historian based in Colorado. Her focus is in the films and women of the classical Hollywood period. She has been researching and writing about Anne Bancroft, her life and legacy, since 2018. Her work can be found through her website Garbo Talks (http://garbo-talks.com).
Laura Mawson plays Maude Warren.
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Laura is now living in the North of England with her beloved husband. She has worked as a ceramics instructor, graphic designer, and in communications. Life-long Old Hollywood fan, going through a Charles Boyer and Veronica Lake phase. Currently learning to play the guitar, badly. On Twitter @Romanpbone1 and Mastodon Romanpbone@masto.ai
Renee Smith plays Dr Lockhart.
Whenever Renee spent a weekend at her grandmother’s house, Nanna, who was a the best seamstress in town, would call Renee to her side to watch “the black and white movies” and point out all the great style. Renee and her sisters loved to play in Nanna’s closet with its furs, hats, lucite pumps and bejewelled bags. So of course she was drawn to Sass Mouth Dames and became a huge fan. Her mildly sardonic spouse and cheeky kids have accepted her recent insistence on wearing classic hats, big wrap shawls and gloves when she walks their muzzled dog, as she struts through the un-classic streets of her neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada.
Patrick McGurk plays Jim Grady.
Pat is a resident of SWFLA, enjoying the proximity to the Ocean and the Gulf. He has been active in community theatre since high school as an actor, director and producer. Pat’s stage credits include such diverse roles as the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show, Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Richard III, and various other parts in Shakespeare. He has also directed over 15 shows from Shakespeare to most recently Private Lives by Noel Coward. When not working on a show, or working, you can find Pat on the water with dive gear or a fishing rod.
Peter Bryant plays Leo Hickey.
Peter’s interest in classic Hollywood started—later in life than he would have liked—with the discovery of Preston Sturges comedies. This soon led to the Astaire-Rogers and Busby Berkeley musicals and much more. His latest avocation is writing about the career of Ida Lupino at his blog Let Yourself Go … To Old Hollywood and is @pmbryant on Twitter and @pmbryant_oldhollywood on Instagram.
Shane McCormack plays Dutch Brennan.
Shane McCormack is a freelance illustrator specializing in movie and pop culture subjects.Recent licensed work includes Halloween and Ghostbusters. When not drawing he collects physical media especially 1930/40s movies and any Barbara Stanwyck film. He also enjoys photography and has a BA in Visual Art.
Sound editing and special effects by Tom O’Mahony.
Written and directed by Megan McGurk.
Megan carries a torch for studio era woman’s pictures. She has been the host of Sass Mouth film club since 2017 and the podcast from 2018. She has written and directed eight original radio plays set in the 1930s (Salon Devine, Mannequins, Stenographers, A Star Was Born, House of the Seven Garbos, Red Gardenia, Hollywood Medusa, Myrna Loy’s Nose). Megan wrote an essay for Criterion on Love Affair. She is on Twitter @MeganMcGurk and @SassMouthDames and sometimes remembers to use Instagram @sassmouthdames.
If Joan Crawford and Clark Gable had lacked discipline, the heat from their illicit affair might have burned Metro to the ground. Luckily, they kept their clothes on long enough to face the camera for the third of eight pictures they made together. Director Clarence Brown builds a kept woman story into a captivating romance during one of the bleakest years of the Depression. Joan plays an earnest factory gal on the hunt for a rich man as if she was a one-woman Lewis and Clark expedition.
Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1931)
Screens 14 September
The picture’s subtitle tells you everything you need to know about the trajectory of woman’s pictures during the 1930s. After Greta Garbo escapes an arranged marriage, she finds refuge with Clark Gable and his German Shepherd. Before long, she’s left high and dry and joins the circus. Then she moves into a Penthouse financed by a sugar daddy politician. Almost every writer in MGM had a crack at the baggy monster of a script which censors found objectionable, but the whole escapade is pure GARBO-going-places.
Screens 21 September
Currently, Norma Shearer enjoys a reputation for being the great lady of MGM. But during the pre-Code era, Norma was targeted by religious groups for making pictures that they felt glorified premarital sex, adultery, and divorce. In Riptide, Norma follows her heart (or her libido) while wearing what is arguably the best wardrobe (by Adrian) of her entire career. Norma would be stuck in hoop skirts and period costume for the next five years. Will Norma choose Herbert Marshall or Robert Montgomery—and does it even matter when she looks so good?
Stamboul Quest (1934)
Screens 28 September
Based on the life of Annemarie Lesser, a famously dissolute spy who was dying in a sanitorium during the film’s production, Stamboul Quest stars Myrna Loy as agent Fräulein Doktor. Myrna is the whole show, playing a character who knows that romance is the Achilles heel for a counter-espionage expert. Myrna has an important job, yet she still falls for soft-spoken George Brent. Gowned to the nines by Dolly Tree, Myrna disproves the old canard about spies darting about incognito in trench coats and anonymous fashion.