Film Writing


  2018   Marie Antoinette from Norma Shearer to Kirsten Dunst

A talk delivered as part of A Bridge to the Continent
at The Wallace Collection, London, 20 April 2018


There can be little doubt that Marie Antoinette has endured as a cultural icon. Her life story has inspired numerous books, films and artworks, each one adapting the facts we know to suit the time it was made. In this text I focus on two opulent Hollywood biopics made 70 years apart in 2006 and 1938.




  2018   Not Suffering in Silence:
Talking and television in the later career of Patricia Neal

A paper delivered as part of the panal The Final Act: Curating and Exhibiting the end of the Star Life at SCMS, Toronto, Canada, 14 March 2018


The Homecoming (Fielder Cook, 1971)

Patricia Neal's obituary in The Times calls her a successor to Bette Davis; 'the sort of star one went to see however feeble the vehicle' (2010). She was Molly Haskell noted in 1973 a serious artist-actress rather than a movie star (2016: 236). Despite these acting plaudits she appeared in relatively few well-received films in a career that tailed off after a 1968 Oscar nomination at age 42 for The Subject Was Roses (her comeback role after overcoming three debilitating strokes). In this paper I will focus on Neal’s later roles as suffering woman to examine how her candid telling of her life story both maintained and hindered her career, and shaped her star persona.




  2017   The Onscreen Makeover: Conflicting messages of inner and outer beauty in
A Star is Born and Beyond the Lights

A conference paper delivered at All About Cinderella: retellings in the cultural imagination, University of Bedfordshire, 9-10 June 2017


The on-screen makeover is a rites of passage, the moment when the ugly duckling child becomes a swan-like woman. But the message can be troublesome and too much makeup can transform the subject into someone whose surface does not reflect who they feel they really are.

In this paper I look at the star makeover in A Star is Born (George Cukor, 1954) and Beyond the Lights (Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2014). Films where makeup can be either an indicator of sexual availability, or a medium to turn you into the person you think you could be.


‘Suppose we try the Crawford mouth.’ A Star is Born (George Cukor, 1954)



  2012   The Stylistic Features of Italian Neorealism

Paintings from Film Diary #23 and #24 after Rome Open City, La Terra Trema and Osessione



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