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Ep 24: Pola Negri in Mazurka (1935)

Unfairly branded as one of the stars who couldn't make the transition to sound, Pola Negri was in desperate need of a hit when she went to Germany in 1935 to make the film. Pola delivered her greatest triumph in talking pictures, with a gut-wrenching performance of a singer on trial for killing a composer. Unfortunately, Jack Warner bought the rights and suppressed her film, so no one in Hollywood saw it. The episode concludes with a passage from Pola Negri's 'Memoirs of a Star'.


Ep 23: Anne Baxter in One Desire (1955)

One of the most durable storylines in a woman's picture explores the search for a fresh start. Can women leave their past behind and start over? What happens when Baxter tries to move from being a madame in a brothel to a lady? Add in swoon merchant Rock Hudson, Julie Adams as a bitchy rich girl, and baby Natalie Wood and you have exquisite melodrama. I close the episode with an excerpt from Anne Baxter's smart and hilarious memoir 'Intermission', about the time when she left Hollywood to...


Ep 22: Joan Blondell & Glenda Farrell in We're in the Money (1935)

Lifelong friends, the rapport between Joan and Glenda translated to their onscreen work together in eight films. In five masterclass scenes, they become the ultimate tricksters, serving court summons to witless men who only see two hot blondes. I close the episode with an article Joan Blondell wrote in 1936, 'My Pal Glenda'.


Ep 21: Gloria Swanson in Sadie Thompson (1928)

Gloria Swanson was no stranger to ruthless men. She was cunning and figured out how to get permission for a banned production and then fought the studio moguls who tried to stop her. Let it be said the bastards couldn't keep a good woman down. I close the episode with an excerpt from her memoir Swanson on Swanson, which tells the story of real conversion in Gloria's life, when she became an advocate of natural food for wellness.


Ep 20: Joan Crawford in Flamingo Road (1949)

For episode 20, I'm pleased to welcome my first guest, Matt Harris, an archivist and hardcore Joan Crawford fan (@Glamorous_Matt on Twitter). We disregard the lukewarm critical reception and celebrate one of Joan's best films from her tenure in Warner Bros. Anyone who insists on calling Joan too old for the part should remember her character's salvo 'You just wouldn't believe how much trouble it is to dispose of a dead elephant'.


Ep 19: Mayo Methot in Vanity Street (1932)

Although she takes third billing, Mayo Methot shines as the true star of Vanity Street (1932). With the face of a Pre-Code angel, she runs the gamut from hard as nails to raw vulnerability. Gertrude Purcell’s riveting script illustrates how quickly fortunes turn when your name lights up Broadway. This picture—a true gem—doesn’t receive half as much attention as it should. The episode concludes with a passage from Bogart, by Ann Sperber and Eric Lax.


Ep 18: Claudette Colbert in Midnight (1939)

Instead of glass slippers and a poofy ball gown, Claudette Colbert receives a trunk full of glamorous clothes from her fairy godfather, played by John Barrymore. Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder offer a modern update to the classic Cinderella fairy tale. They replace the old standby wicked stepmother and evil spawn with a formidable high society adversary played by Mary Astor. Directed by Mitchell Leisen, it’s an outstanding pictures from one of the most celebrated years in Hollywood...


Ep 17: Ava Gardner in The Angel Wore Red (1960)

Ava Gardner saves this picture. There's no question that without her, it would have gone down in the annals of cringeworthy productions. Forget about the Spanish Civil War and a bounty on priests. Instead, read this picture as an allegory for how Hollywood wasted her in simple sexy dame parts. At the end, I read a brief passage from Mearene Jordan's book Living with Miss G. Mearene lived with Ava for decades as her friend and personal assistant.


Ep 15: Olivia de Havilland in To Each His Own (1946)

Olivia de Havilland won her first Oscar for Best Actress in Mitchell Leisen's drama about unrequited mother love. Through attention to detail of the period and emotional finesse in underplay, the picture explores the way women carried on despite personal sacrifice. Olivia's performance has so much depth and nuance that she never renders the character as simply a noble cardboard cutout. The episode ends with a portion from an interview with de Havilland, Leisen and John Lund.


Ep 14: Barbara Stanwyck in The Gay Sisters (1942)

Barbara Stanwyck once told a reporter 'I hate whiners. You have to fight life and make it work for you'. When she yells blue murder at a man onscreen, it serves as an instant mood elevator and restores order to the universe. In The Gay Sisters, Stanwyck protects her sisters from a pack of men who wish to rob them of their land. Irving Rapper's picture blends comedy and drama for another standout picture in Stanwyck's long career. I close the episode with an excerpt from Victoria Wilson's...


Ep 13: Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark (1944)

Mitchell Leisen’s Lady in the Dark (1944) may rate as one of the most troubled productions in Hollywood history, but none of the backstage drama translates to the finished picture. Ginger Rogers exhibits so much range in her role as a fashion magazine editor who has a psychological breakdown when she suddenly can’t make a decision. In the middle of her crisis, Ray Milland, as the head of advertising, lobs insults and competes for her job as the boss. Dream sequences include snappy dance...


Ep 10: Eartha Kitt in Anna Lucasta (1958)

After her father tossed her on the street, Anna Lucasta, played by Eartha Kitt, does her level best to survive a waterfront hellscape. When her family attempts a reunion to marry her off to a greenhorn with a fortune, Anna struggles with society's expectations and her own dream for love. I close the episode with an excerpt from Kitt's memoir 'Confessions of a Sex Kitten,' where she recalls first meeting co-star Sammy Davis Jr.


Ep 9: Ida Lupino in Ladies in Retirement (1941)

In this Gothic tale, Ida Lupino plays a housekeeper who manipulates the lady of the house, a former chorine played by Isobel Elsom, into letting her two 'eccentric' sisters stay for a prolonged visit. A large bread oven sits in the parlour like Chekhov's gun. This episode is spoiler-free. At the end, I read Ida Lupino's essay 'Me, Mother Directress' from the book Hollywood Directors 1941-1976, edited by Richard Koszarski, published in 1977.


Ep 7: Susan Hayward in My Foolish Heart (1949)

Susan Hayward learns that fortunes turn on a dress. She makes her debut in New York City in a dress that screams 'Boise'. If not for stiff competition from Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress, Hayward would have won the Oscar for Best Actress in her stirring portrayal. I close the episode with a brief passage from Beverly Linet's bio Susan Hayward: Portrait of a Survivor.


Ep 6: Ann Dvorak in The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932)

Ann Dvorak plays a character who inherited her mother's bad reputation. On the run from the law, and down on her luck, she falls for a fast-talking reporter played by Lee Tracy. Molly Louvain side-steps a romantic triangle to present a woman who draws strength from forgiveness to do the right thing. I close the episode with a brief excerpt from Christina Rice's biography Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel.


Ep 5: Margaret Sullavan in The Good Fairy (1935)

William Wyler's modern fairy tale charms viewers at every turn. Margaret Sullavan looks like a Dickensian waif but carries a deep woodsy voice that makes her a standout. I close the episode with an excerpt about their romance during production that led to nuptials, from Jan Herman's bio 'A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Director, William Wyler.'


Ep 4: Joan Crawford in Torch Song (1953)

Joan Crawford demonstrates how women can remain relevant in middle age through high standards and a champion work ethic. I discuss Torch Song (1953) and then read an excerpt from A Portrait of Joan: The Autobiography of Joan Crawford.


Ep 3: Jean Harlow in Hold Your Man (1933)

In a standout script from Anita Loos, Jean Harlow and Clark Gable play scam artists who fall in love and then separate when a plan goes sour. Loos shakes up the usual sexual competition between two women in film to create allies instead of rivals. Stay tuned at the end when I share choice excerpts from Today is Tonight, the novel Harlow wrote in 1933. It's smoking hot.


Ep 1: Miriam Hopkins in Woman Chases Man (1937)

Miriam Hopkins stars in this elegant screwball classic. She plays an architect who falls for Joel McCrea. After a discussion of the film, I share an excerpt from Vincent Sherman's memoir where he talks about directing Miriam Hopkins and Bette Davis in Old Acquaintance (1943).