Pam Cook’s essay ‘Text, Paratext, Subtext’ in SEQUENCE

Frances has also mentioned the exciting news of the recent publication of Pam Cook’s essay ‘Text, Paratext and Subtext’ in the online journal SEQUENCE. We were very happy to welcome Pam to speak on this subject of Mildred Pierce in its many forms at our Maternal Melodrama Symposium last May.

MP TV seriesThe following invitation to read Pam’s essay was written by REFRAME editor Dr Catherine Grant of the University of Sussex:

‘Writer-director Todd Haynes has previously recounted how film scholar Pam Cook’s 1978 foundational article “Duplicity in MILDRED PIERCE” informed his 2011 HBO miniseries adaptation of James M. Cain’s novel (an effective remaking of Michael Curtiz’ 1945 film). Now, in her new essay for the open access serial SEQUENCE (a REFRAME publication), Cook turns her attention to Haynes’ miniseries and its intertextual chain of makings and remakings, and explores, in particular, how we come to read it (or any other audiovisual artefact) as “maternal melodrama.” Her essay is online here:’

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BFI Event on Female Stardom on 7th of March

Frances has very kindly drawn the Melodrama Research Group’s attention to an event taking place at the BFI on the 7th of March.

BFI Female Stardom event

The BFI invitation: ‘Join us for this special one-day course looking at the political and cultural questions raised by the dynamic careers of various female screen stars. Featuring illustrated presentations, film clips and extended discussions, we’ll assess stars of the 20s and 30s such as Marlene Dietrich, through to contemporary icons such as Jennifer Lawrence. As we study their performances and public personas, the ideas of leading thinkers in film studies and gender theory such as Laura Mulvey and Jacqueline Rose will also be considered. At the heart of our discussions will be Katharine Hepburn’s own fascinating career and how it helped shape notions of stardom and gender today.’

For more information, including a schedule of the BFI’s season of Katharine Hepburn films  and a link to buy tickets, please visit the BFI website:

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Melodrama Screening and Discussion, 23rd of February, 5-7pm, in Jarman 7

All are very welcome to join us for our next screening and discussion session, which will take place on the 23rd of February, 5-7pm, in Jarman 7.

Late springWe will be showing Michael’s choice, Late Spring (1949, Yasujiro Ozu, 108 mins).

Michael has very kindly provided the following introduction:

Once obscure, now fêted, Yasujirō Ozu directed comedies and melodramas that portrayed everyday life in post-war Japan. In Late Spring, Shukichi Somiya, a widower, lives with his daughter Noriko who takes care of their household. This domestic harmony is disrupted by the anxiety of Shukichi’s sister that Noriko ought to marry. Noriko is dismissive. She has become the double of her mother – even to the extent of a jealous disregard of her father finding a new companion. Shukichi is torn between his affection for Noriko and his realisation that since his loss he too has become dependent on his daughter. The stillness of Ozu’s style belies emotional undercurrents that lead to one of the most enigmatic shot sequences in the history of world cinema.

Do join us if you can, and please note that due to the film’s length we will be starting promptly.

Kathleen Loock’s Seminar on Sound remakes of Silent Film, 1st of April, 2-4pm, KSR 4

We are very pleased to welcome Kathleen Loock to Kent. Kathleen has very kindly provided the following contextual information about her work which she will speak to us about in more detail on the 1st of April, 2-4 pm, in Keynes Seminar Room 4:

Sound Memories: “Talker Remakes,” Paratexts, and Cinematic (Self-)Historicization

 MPN_19301907_Greta Garbo Cartoon (2)

(The above is from Motion Picture News, 19th of July, 1930, p. 41).

During the transition to sound and throughout the 1930s, Hollywood remade a great number of former silent hits as talkies. Remaking was an established practice by that time, but since the coming of sound, cinema attendance had decisively increased with between 80 and 90 million Americans going to see double features every week in theaters that remained open all year long. Until the early 1940s, studios produced from 400 to 800 films each year, and recycling old properties was both a way to meet the public demand for talkies when it was difficult to find fresh stories, and to encourage return visits to the cinemas with tried and proven material. Hollywood movies had a “short shelf-life” at the time. They were essentially ephemeral commodities—quickly outdated and forgotten unless they were remade. In this sense, “talker remakes” replaced predecessors from the days of silent cinema with updated sound versions, yet in doing so they also preserved popular narratives for future media generations. In fact, they constructed these media generations and prompted them to recognize themselves as such in the ways their versions differed from earlier renditions of the same story. “Talker remakes” and the various paratexts that surrounded them evoked the memory of silent films as something of the past and framed the transition to sound as a narrative of technological progress. Thus, they made the historic development of cinema as a technological medium visible, and ultimately helped to construct and communicate a cinematic past and archive.

For more information on Kathleen’s work visit her staff page at Freie Universitat Berlin:

Melodrama Screening and Discussion, 9th of February, 5-7pm, in Jarman 7

All are very welcome to join us for our next screening and discussion session, which will take place on the 9th of February, 5-7pm, in Jarman 7.

Lady of the Night

Lies’ choice of film, Lady of the Night (1925, Monta Bell, 70 mins), continues this term’s focus on the notion of The Double.

Lies has very kindly provided the following introduction:

Originally and perhaps more aptly entitled Two Worlds, Lady of the Night tells the story of Florence and Molly, two young women born on opposite sides of the social spectrum. Though they meet only once, near the ending of the film, their lives are intertwined from birth, until finally, as young adults, they fall in love with the same man. Directed by Monta Bell for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film boasted a supporting cast of well-known actors, such as George K. Arthur, Malcolm McGregor and Gwen Lee. The star of the film, however, was 22-year old Norma Shearer, who performed the double role of Florence and Molly and was praised particularly for her performance as Molly, a type of character Shearer had never played before.

Do join us if you can.