Jewett was responding to what she saw as a technical problem in the narration, but feminist critics see the use of a male narrator here and elsewhere in Cather's fiction as a masquerade, because no magazine would have published a story in 1908 of a love between two women. The gender of the narrator, however, is almost undetectible, and if the subtitle, "The Ambassador's Story" were dropped and one clause ("I threw my cigar away") cut, no one could identify the sex of the anonymous first-person narrator. In fact, one sentence reads: "I returned to the deck and joined a group of my countrywomen." But Cather certainly intended the narrator to be male and never paid any attention to critics who thought she should write more like a woman. She had been writing from a male point of view from the beginning and had begun her adolescence in the role of William Cather, M. D. If anyone had charged her with a deliberate masquerade, she would have denied it indignantly and defended her male point of view on aesthetic grounds.
"Pretty Heart" found the Texan mourning a woman that he foolishly let slip away. If you like a narrative, you can call this Part 2 in his quest for true love and subtitle it "Karma." There's nothing to indicate the two mid-tempo rockers are connected ever, even if vocally McCollum delivers each in a similar range. His voice is unique and easy to identify, if not overly dynamic within this small sample size.
Woody Allen's romantic comedy of the Me Decade follows the up and down relationship of two mismatched New York neurotics. "Annie Hall" blended the slapstick and fantasy from such earlier Allen films as "Sleeper" and "Bananas" with the more autobiographical musings of his stand-up and written comedy, using an array of such movie techniques as talking heads, splitscreens, and subtitles. Within these gleeful formal experiments and sight gags, Allen and co-writer Marshall Brickman skewered 1970s solipsism, reversing the happy marriage of opposites found in classic screwball comedies. Hailed as Allen's most mature and personal film, "Annie Hall" beat out "Star Wars" for Best Picture and also won Oscars for Allen as director and writer and for Keaton as Best Actress; audiences enthusiastically responded to Allen's take on contemporary love and turned Keaton's rumpled menswear into a fashion trend.Expanded essay by Jay Carr (PDF, 302KB)
Joan Micklin Silver's first feature-length film, "Hester Street," was an adaption of preeminent Yiddish author Abraham Cahan's 1896 well-received first novel "Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto." In the 1975 film, the writer-director brought to the screen a portrait of Eastern European Jewish life in America that historians have praised for its accuracy of detail and sensitivity to the challenges immigrants faced during their acculturation process. Shot in black-and-white and partly in Yiddish with English subtitles, the independent production, financed with money raised by the filmmaker's husband, was shunned by Hollywood until it established a reputation at the Cannes Film Festival and in European markets. "Hester Street" focuses on stresses that occur when a "greenhorn" wife, played by Carol Kane (nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal), and her young son arrive in New York to join her Americanized husband. Silver, one of the first women directors of American features to emerge during the women's liberation movement, shifted the story's emphasis from the husband, as in the novel, to the wife. Historian Joyce Antler has written admiringly, "In indicating the hardships experienced by women and their resiliency, as well as the deep strains assimilation posed to masculinity, 'Hester Street' touches on a fundamental cultural challenge confronting immigrants."Expanded essay by Eric A. Goldman (PDF, 375KB
In the 1930s, a number of Protestant groups, concerned about the perceived meretricious effects of Hollywood films, began producing non-theatrical motion pictures to spread the gospel of Jesus. "Parable" followed a filmmaking tradition that has not very often been recognized in general accounts of American film history. One of the most acclaimed and controversial films in this tradition, "Parable" debuted at the New York World's Fair in May 1964 as the main attraction of the Protestant and Orthodox Center. Without aid of dialogue or subtitles, the film relies on music and an allegorical story that represents the "Circus as the World," in the words of Rolf Forsberg, who wrote and co-directed the film with Tom Rook for the Protestant Council of New York. "Parable" depicts Jesus as an enigmatic, chalk-white, skull-capped circus clown who takes on the sufferings of oppressed workers, including women and minorities. The film generated controversy even before its initial screening. The fair's president Robert Moses sought to have it withdrawn. Other fair organizers resigned with one exclaiming, "No one is going to make a clown out of my Jesus." A disgruntled minister threatened to riddle the screen with shotgun holes if the film was shown. Undaunted, viewers voted overwhelmingly to keep the film running, and it became one of the fair's most popular attractions. Newsweek proclaimed it "very probably the best film at the fair" and Time described it as "an art film that got religion." The Fellini- and Bergman-inspired film received the 1966 Religious Film Award of the National Catholic Theatre Conference, along with honors at the 1966 Cannes, Venice and Edinburgh film festivals. It subsequently became a popular choice for screenings in both liberal and conservative churches.Expanded essay by Mark Quigley (PDF, 293KB)
Presented without subtitles, "Preservation" is a short, one-reel film featuring George Veditz, onetime president of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) of the United States, demonstrating in sign language the importance of defending the right of deaf people to sign as opposed to verbalizing their communication. Deafened by scarlet fever at the age of eight, Veditz was one of the first to make motion-picture recordings of American Sign Language. Taking care to sign precisely and in large gestures for the cameras, Veditz chose fiery biblical passages to give his speech emotional impact. In some of his films, Veditz used finger spelling so his gestures could be translated directly into English in venues where interpreters were present. On behalf of the NAD, Veditz made this film specifically to record sign language for posterity at a time when oralists (those who promoted lip reading and speech in lieu of sign language) were gaining momentum in the education of the hearing-impaired. The film conveys one of the ways that deaf Americans debated the issues of their language and public understanding during the era of World War I.Expanded essay by Christopher Shea (PDF, 227KB) Watch it here
In the early years of sound motion pictures, studios often filmed foreign language versions of American productions. Some utilized subtitles, others were dubbed. In some cases, American stars spoke foreign dialog from a script written phonetically on a blackboard just off camera. More commonly, however, the films featured an entirely different cast. Spanish-language productions were the most common of these alternate versions, thanks to sizeable Latino audiences in Los Angeles and other metropolitan markets, as well as those in Latin American countries. Directed by Charles Lamont and starring Spanish-born actress Luana Alcañiz and Mexican star Fernando Soler, this melodrama surrounds a boxer, released after eight months in jail, who comes home to a recently pregnant wife. Produced at low-budget Columbia studio, "Verbena tragica" was unusual for the multi-version formula in that an English-language version was never made, most likely due to the film's themes of adultery and revenge.Expanded essay by Carl J. Mora (PDF, 424KB) 041b061a72