Here's what Liz has to say about my little film:
"The final straw in the whole PC backlash was when a snooty blonde American academic pontificated on BBC2’s Newsnight Review that the romantic comedy is dead, and why on earth do we no longer (yawn) have strong female role models?
Listen, blondie, you obviously didn’t spend enough time as a child in front of the telly. Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday was about to throw in the typewriter and get married, and indeed ends up happily ever after with Cary Grant (a plot followed as closely by SATC the TV series as Bridget Jones mirrored Pride and Prejudice).
Sex And The City 2 deals with the issue of being married to a monosyllabic nightmare who only ever wants to watch TV, with the menopause, with the mundanity of motherhood
Blondie cited The Philadelphia Story, as if this were some homage to women’s lib.
Can I remind you that Kate Hepburn, an unemployed heiress, gets smacked in the mouth by Cary Grant, apologises to her father for being a shrew, promises to behave, and gratefully marries the aforementioned wife beater and recovering alcoholic in the closing credits.
Hi there, I'm the Blondie. *waves*
I'll leave the incoherence of Liz's piece behind, and simply point out a few of the most egregiously stupid of the things she says about me.
First, it is a two-minute VT, produced and edited by the BBC. Liz obviously hasn't made very many films, or she would know that I had very limited control over what was done in that film: only the words I speak are definitely mine.
For the record, I say nothing in the film about The Philadelphia Story. If there were images used from the film (I haven't watched it yet, as I hate watching myself on tv), that was not my idea. In fact, The Philadelphia Story is a Taming of the Shrew tale, as I have written elsewhere, so it is not a feminist exemplum. Actually Katharine (not "Kate," Liz, you never met her, but perhaps you don't know how to spell Katharine?) Hepburn is supposed to have told playwright Philip Barry to make the heroine "like me, but make her go all soft at the end."
I only mention "Katharine Hepburn" in the piece. Liz seems to be under the impression that The Philadelphia Story is the only film she made. There were others, Liz - more than 50, in fact.
Second, in calling me "Blondie," Liz seems to believe that knowledge is correlated with hair color. The idea that my hair-color symbolizes anything about me, or what I know, is just the kind of stupid thinking you'd expect from a brunette. Grow up, Liz, and get off the playground. The same goes for my being "snooty" and - gasp - an academic. Name-calling is a terrific substitute for an actual argument, and prejudice and presumption is much easier than thinking.
Actually, Liz, I know more about screwball comedy (that's what they're called) in one blonde hair follicle than you will ever know. My family would be convulsed with hysterics at the idea that I didn't spend enough teen years in front of the tv: I never left it, and I watched nothing but old black and white films for years. I have written about them, read about them, and watched them, all of them (and I mean all of them) for decades. I own, and love, screwball comedies that I can assure you, Liz, you've never heard of.
As for His Girl Friday, as I wrote in the comment to Liz's column, I made the connection between this film and Sex and the City three years ago, in the Spectator. Perhaps Liz got the idea for the comparison by reading my 2007 column? It's here. http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/51755/sex-and-the-city-has-nothing-on-screwball-comedy.thtml
The idea that His Girl Friday is the ur-plot of Sex and the City is, frankly, moronic. His Girl Friday is based on a play (The Front Page) that was about two men, an editor and his star reporter; in 1940 director Howard Hawks had the brilliant idea to make the reporter a woman, and a classic was born. But Walter Burns, the Cary Grant character, is a bastard - he's charming, and gorgeous and fabulous in every way except that he has no morals and treats Hildy (Rosalind Russell) like shit. Deciding that this Cary Grant character - a cheater, liar, thief, manipulator - is infinitely preferable to the Cary Grant character in The Philadelphia Story seems, let's say, rather an arbitrary choice.
I adore His Girl Friday in every way, but let's tell the truth about it. It has no connection to SATC except that Carrie is supposedly a "journalist"--but a tough investigative newspaper reporter she ain't. There are no other parallels whatsoever, beyond the so general as to be meaningless. Those are probably the ones Liz was thinking of.
But the most amazing part is that Liz assumes I haven't seen this specific film because it wasn't mentioned in a 2-minute tv film. By that logic, I also haven't seen, or heard of anything in this list either, which I just happen to have on file despite my startling ignorance of the genre (the asterisks indicate films I especially recommend):
- It Happened One Night (1934)**
- Twentieth Century (1934)
- The Thin Man (1934)*
- The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- The Richest Girl in the World (1934)
- Hands Across the Table (1935)
- Red Salute (1935)
- If You Could Only Cook (1935)
- Remember Last Night? (1935)
- She Married Her Boss (1935)*
- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)*
- My Man Godfrey (1936)*
- The Awful Truth (1937)**
- Nothing Sacred (1937)**
- The Bride Walks Out (1936),
- The Ex-Mrs Bradford (1936),
- The Princess Comes Across (1936),
- Love on the Run (1936),
- The Moon’s Our Home (1936),
- Theodora Goes Wild (1936)*
- Wedding Present (1936),
- Breakfast for Two (1937),
- Double Wedding (1937),
- Easy Living (1937)**
- History is Made At Night (1937) *
- I Met Him In Paris (1937),
- It’s Love I’m After (1937),
- Libeled Lady (1936)*
- Love Before Breakfast (1936)
- Love is News (1937),
- Second Honeymoon (1937),
- Topper (1937),
- True Confession (1937)*
- Bringing Up Baby (1938)**
- Bachelor Mother (1939)**
- Holiday (1938)**
- Midnight (1939)**
- Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938),
- The Mad Miss Manton (1938),
- Having Wonderful Time (1938),
- Joy of Living (1938),
- Merrily We Live (1938),
- Vivacious Lady (1938),
- 5th Ave Girl (1939)*
- Café Society (1939),
- Eternally Yours (1939),
- It’s A Wonderful World (1939),
- His Girl Friday (1940)**
- Ball of Fire (1941)**
- The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)*
- Sullivan’s Travels (1941)**
- The Lady Eve (1941)*
- The Palm Beach Story (1942)**
- The Philadelphia Story (1940)*
- My Favorite Wife (1940)*
- Too Many Husbands (1940),
- Turnabout (1940),
- Hired Wife (1940),
- I Love You Again (1940),
- No Time for Comedy (1940),
- Public Deb. No 1 (1940),
- He Stayed for Breakfast (1940)
- Love Crazy (1941),
- Mr.and Mrs Smith (1941)
- The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)
- To Be or Not to Be (1942)*
- Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)
I end the list there for various reasons I won't enumerate now, and which Liz wouldn't understand anyway. Anyone else reading this, do yourself a favor and if you haven't seen these films, get a hold of them and enjoy. I'll be laughing with you in spirit.
I've also written about screwball and the great women who starred in them here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/jun/12/fashion.women and here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/06/comedy.celebrity and here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/may/14/film.comment
So Liz, there you have it. You were talking out of your ass, as usual. And I'm quite sure that neither Katharine Hepburn, nor Rosalind Russell, would want me to take this crap lying down.