Michael Curtiz borrows elements from Doris Day’s life story for a snappy look at the climb to stardom. Day started out as a nightclub singer, just like her character on screen. Jack Carson plays an agent who knows right away that she has what it takes, but talent alone isn’t enough for a hit radio show. She needs the right sound. Eve Arden’s gift for scene-stealing is unrivalled.
Born to Be Bad (1950)
Screens 11 May at 7.00
Joan Fontaine plays the butter-wouldn’t-melt blonde who knows exactly what men like and uses it to her own advantage. She’s supposed to be enrolled in business school, but is already an expert in sass mouth economics. Joan Leslie shares her flat without realising that she’s about to lose everything to the soft-spoken Fontaine. Director Nicholas Ray adds Zachary Scott, Robert Ryan, and Mel Ferrar as pawns in the game
Home Before Dark (1958)
Screens 18 May at 7.00
After spending a year in a psychiatric hospital, Jean Simmons returns home to her husband, a cold fish professor played by Dan O’Herlihy. Is Simmon’s character having another nervous breakdown? Or is she being gaslighted? Director Mervyn LeRoy explores the trauma for women who try to be what men want instead of who they really are inside. Rhonda Fleming (in a blonde wig!) stirs up the drama.
Portrait in Black (1960)
Screens 25 May at 7.00
Once again, Lana Turner is up to her neck in trouble and glamour. Trapped in a sexless marriage to a cruel shipping magnate (Lloyd Nolan), she decides she’d rather plan his funeral with help from her lover (Anthony Quinn). Soon they are driven witless by a blackmailer. Lana is also tormented by stepdaughter Sandra Dee, who insists on slumming with a tugboat captain (John Saxon). Virginia Grey and Anna May Wong join an outstanding cast.
Refunds are available up until noon on the day of the screening.
Myrna Loy plays a successful magazine editor who pretends to be married. She wears a gold wedding band for protection against wolves and sexual harassment on the job. But then suddenly, Melvyn Douglas shows up and claims to be her husband. What’s a busy editor to do? Art director Cedric Gibbons understood the appeal of seeing a woman seated behind a very big desk. And costume designer Dolly Tree combines a glorious wardrobe for Loy’s career woman, including sobersides tweed and a whimsical cherry basket hat.
Moon over Miami (1941)
Screens 9 March, 7.00
Shot in gorgeous, sweet-shop Technicolor, director Walter Lang styles a durable feel-good premise: How will three ambitious dames snare a man with deep pockets? Betty Grable, Carole Landis, and Charlotte Greenwood pool their resources to hunt for a millionaire in a fashionable Miami resort. Costumes by Travis Banton and choreography by Hermes Pan embellish a breezy romantic comedy musical. Betty Grable leading a conga line has the cure for what ails you.
The Gay Sisters (1943)
Screens 16 March, 7.00
Wicklow-born Geraldine Fitzgerald belongs to an elite quartet of co-stars who managed to upstage Barbara Stanwyck, alongside Joan Blondell, Gary Cooper, and Walter Huston. Stanwyck, an emotional firebrand in front of a camera, usually dominated every scene. In Irving Rapper’s film about orphaned heiresses, Fitzgerald plays the horny adventuress sister and steals more than one scene from the star. Three poor little rich gals (Nancy Coleman plays the nice one) are beset by a greedy developer (George Brent) who tries to win their familial property in court. As Fiona, the eldest, Stanwyck figures she knows all the angles to fix the legal ties that bind the Gaylord sisters.
Screens 23 March, 7.00
When a skirt-chasing composer is murdered, the prime suspects are all brunettes named Dolores. George Raft would no more have stepped on a star’s line of dialogue than he would a dance partner’s feet, which makes him ideal in the role of a police detective who leads the investigation. Raft questions a glamorous rogue’s gallery of hardworking women trying to catch a break in Hollywood, including platinum sex bomb Myrna Dell (playing a maid!) and Lynn Bari, a film studio extra. Producer Joan Harrison, who also contributed to the script, began her career as screenwriter for Hitchcock before she became an executive in RKO.
Forever Amber (1948)
Screens 30 March, 7.00
Linda Darnell shines in the screen adaptation of Kathleen Winsor’s bestselling bonkbuster. Darnell’s character is a ruthless mercenary, a Restoration-era Baby Face who sleeps her way to the top. Amber juggles demands from many men in return for a life of luxury, much like Darnell did in real life. René Hubert’s lavish designs set the stage for Twentieth Century Fox’s epic bodice-ripper costume drama that was fiercely condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency.
House of the Seven Garbos was a real boarding house in Hollywood that catered to aspiring starlets. Notable residents included Ruth Roman and Linda Christian. The new podcast show was inspired by the place and is set in the Garbo House during 1936.
Can a $100-a-week gal climb the ladder to stardom in MGM?
What can a group of women do to get even with a Hollywood wolf who plays dirty tricks?
House of the Seven Garbos is a Sass Mouth Dames production, written and directed by Megan McGurk.
Meet the cast:
CLARA HIGGINS PLAYS PAT MORRISON
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 GLORIA DOUGLAS
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, and Film Matters. She has a website and is @thescrewballgrl on Twitter.
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 NAN POTTER
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 FLORENCE CROZIER AND FERN
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Laura is now living in the North of England with beloved husband and rescue lurcher, Roman. 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 CYNTHIA LATTIMER
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.
SHANE MCCORMACK PLAYS JACK STEWARD (AND VARIOUS MEN)
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.
Megan carries a torch for studio era woman’s pictures. She is the host of Sass Mouth Dames podcast and film club. She has written and directed five original radio plays set in the 1930s (Salon Devine, Mannequins, Stenographers, A Star Was Born, House of the Seven Garbos). Megan is on Twitter @MeganMcGurk and @SassMouthDames and sometimes remembers to use Instagram @sassmouthdames
ART DESIGN BY MOT COLLINS.
SOUND EDITING AND SPECIAL EFFECTS BY THOMAS O’MAHONY
Thomas O’Mahony is a London based Irish Podcast Producer who specialises in storytelling and audio design. He hosts a tattoo history show called Beneath the Skin, and is passionate about how we can use audio to tell new and innovative stories. You can find Thomas on all social media @gotitatguineys or contact him for business related inquiries at thomasomahony.media
Office politics are turned upside down in this whip-smart comedy from Mitchell Leisen. Rosalind Russell plays an advertising executive who lands multi-million accounts, but she needs a man on her arm to appear non-threatening to the wives and sweethearts of men in business. Fred MacMurray becomes her personal secretary and soon feels de-sexed by the subordinate role. Roz cornered the market on career gal roles during the 1940s.
Lady of Burlesque (1943)
Screens 12 January at 7.00
Barbara Stanwyck could do anything, and that includes break-dancing and singing about her G-string. William Wellman directs the ultimate crossover in woman’s pictures: Barbara Stanwyck plays Gypsy Rose Lee, America’s most celebrated burlesque queen, with a name so red-hot, the censors wouldn’t even allow it to appear on the big screen.
No Time for Love (1943)
Screens 19 January at 7.00
Due to the war effort, the man shortage was at an all-time high by 1943. You know the song about how they’re either too young or too old? Director Mitch Leisen knew what women wanted was to see burly bare-chested men roll around in the mud. The women were horny, and Claudette Colbert showed them what to do about it when she snapped photos of Fred MacMurray looking like a caveman.
Lady on a Train (1945)
Screens 26 January at 7.0
Deanna Durbin’s pictures in the 1930s were such box office hits that she singlehandedly kept the lights on at Universal studio when she was only a child. It’s a cinch she could solve a murder mystery. She gives a glorious performance as a singing detective. I feel compelled to mention Deanna’s wardrobe by Howard Greer. She wears so many mad hats you simply don’t want to miss.
Walter Huston plays auto magnate Sam Dodsworth, who sells his business and sails for an adventure in Europe with his wife Fran, played by Ruth Chatterton. After twenty years together, their daughter married, will they be lovers or drift apart? Fran only wants to live it up while she’s still young enough to enjoy it, but Sam takes more interest in soul-searching than cocktail parties and dancing. Mary Astor, playing an American living abroad, points Sam in the right direction to find his true north.
Easy Living (1937)
Screens 10 November at 7.00.
At this time of year, it’s tempting to wonder if a new coat might change your life. In this sublime screwball farce, based on a story by Vera Caspary, adapted in a screenplay by Preston Sturges, and directed by Mitchell Leisen, a luxurious sable coat drops on Jean Arthur’s head and occasions seismic change. Formerly, Jean lacked the price of a good dinner, then suddenly, with help from a plush fur, she’s ensconced in fancy digs and handed all sorts of finery. Swoon merchant Ray Milland declares himself with a beef pie and a riot in the Automat.
Screens 17 November at 7.00.
Marlene Dietrich stars in a three-cornered romance with Herbert Marshall and Melvyn Douglas. Does she stick with the neglectful workaholic husband? Or does she run off with the dashing stranger who says all the right things and never takes his eyes off her? Thanks to the sophisticated ‘Lubitsch touch,’ the audience learns more about their love triangle from food not eaten and a bed not slept in than other pictures would tell us with twenty pages of dialogue.
Bachelor Mother (1939)
Screens 24 November at 7.00.
According to the logic of screenwriter Norman Krasna and director Garson Kanin in this screwball gem, a woman in possession of a baby must be the mother. Ginger Rogers finds her life turned upside down once she’s pressed into caring for a foundling orphan. Does she keep the baby? And what about the department store heir played by David Niven?
Refunds are available up until noon on the day of the screening.