Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson (2013)

Local references related to legendary actress Barbara Stanwyck are numerous on this blog, from movies like Remember the Night and Lady of Burlesque to books like the excellent A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson.  The first in a two-volume set (Volume Two is due in 2015), this 1000+ page is a thorough exploration of the life and career of the legendary actress.  Alas, a local reference was bound to appear. 

In the early 1930s, between filming movies, Stanwyck would often tour the country with her then-husband, vaudevillian Frank Fay. The following description of one such tour appears on page 358 of the book: 

"Through the late winter and spring (1932-1933), Barbara and Fay traveled with Tattle Tales, a 'gay gorgeous musical revue,' on its 'transcontinental' tour, to Portland, the Metropolitan in Seattle, Spokane, playing each city two or three nights and then moving east to Billings, Cheyenne, Colorado Springs, Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, the Shubert in Cincinnati, the Hanna in Cleveland, Wilkes-Barre, the Lyceum in Rochester, Philadelphia, the Capital in Albany, making their way to the Broadhurst Theatre in New York." 

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel True 1907-1940 is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System; click here to place a hold. 

The uncensored version of Barbara Stanwyck's 1933 film Baby Face will kick off the upcoming "Ladies of Pre-Code" Film Series at Scranton Public Library on Wednesday, July 30 at 6 PM.  Click here for more information. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Out of the Furnace (2013)

My dear friend and colleague Anna Kilcullen recently told me about a passing reference to Scranton in the critically-acclaimed 2013 movie Out of the Furnace, directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart). 

Filmed mostly in Braddock, PA (located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh), Out of the Furnace follows hard-working Russell Blaze (Christian Bale) as he takes matters into his own hands to seek justice after his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn't follow through fast enough.

About 10 minutes into the movie, Russell and his girlfriend Lena Taylor (Zoƫ Saldana) are lying in bed and discussing future plans:

Wanna run away somewhere?

Don't change the subject.

I want to run away somewhere.  Let's do it.


I don't know.  I've never been east of Scranton, but... 

Out of the Furnace is available to borrow on both Blu-Ray and DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System

Much thanks to the fantastic Anna Kilcullen for this reference.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Purge (2013)

One of the things I really love about doing this blog is the fact that eagle-eyed movie fans like Eric Drago pick up on local references that are easy to miss.  I've seen last summer's sleeper hit The Purge starring Ethan Hawke, but I never noticed the Wilkes-Barre reference hidden on a TV monitor in the background -- Eric did :-)

Directed by James DeMonaco, The Purge refers to a futuristic crime prevention concept of a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.  During this period, a wealthy family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate.

Eric emailed me the following:

"In the film The Purge, there are a number of scenes where we are shown camera footage from different locations throughout the country. One such scene shows camera footage belonging to Wilkes-Barre, PA." 

The Purge is available to borrow on DVD from the library; click here to place a hold.   

Much thanks again to the ultra-groovy Eric Drago for this reference. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lady of Burlesque (1943) Available To Borrow on DVD From Library

The 1943 classic film Lady of Burlesque, starring Barbara Stanwyck, is now available to borrow on DVD from Scranton Public Library.  Based on the novel The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee, the film features a passing but memorable reference to Wilkes-Barre, spoken by Stanwyck herself (who plays dancer Dixie).

Eleven minutes into the film, an unnamed burlesque dancer enters the shared dressing room of the strippers and complains of the bathroom facilities at The Old Opera House:

That settles it! We GOTTA have a new one!

New what?

(gestures towards the off-stage ladies' room)

Oh, the museum piece. I haven't seen one like that
since the Wilkes-Barre Regal.
Click here to place a hold on Lady of Burlesque.

If you are a fan of Barbara Stanwyck, Scranton Public Library will be screening the long-lost uncut version of 1933's Baby Face on Wednesday, July 30th at 6 PM in the Community Room (basement of Lackawanna County Children's Library).  Baby Face kicks off a weekly month-long film series devoted to the "Ladies of Pre-Code Hollywood".   Click here for more information on the film series.