gloria grahame

Gloria Grahame – Sister Under the Mink – Episode 21

This month we’re righting some wrongs here at Any Ladle’s Sweet. Gloria Grahame shone in support roles in many noir films, under many great directors but she references her mother as her only influence on her acting style. Negative stories surrounding her personal life overtook her talent and hard work and fact and fiction mixed into a tawdry Hollywood Babylon style mess. Gloria was a unique talent and we are here to celebrate her hard work and mesmerising onscreen presence. We discuss 3 of her finest, In a Lonely Place (1950), The Big Heat (1953), and Human Desire (1954).

Callahan, D. (2008) ‘Fatal Instincts: The Dangerous Pout of Gloria Grahame’

Bright Lights 30 April [Available at:…/#.WX9Yq4jyvIV].

Chase, D (1997) ‘Gloria Grahame: In Praise of the Dirty Mind’ Film Comment September/October [Available at:].

Curcio, V. (1989) Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame. New York: William Morrow and Company.

Eisenschitz, B. (1996) Nicholas Ray: An American Journey translated by Tom Milne. New York: Faber & Faber.

Gunning, T. (2000) The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity. London, BFI with Palgrave Macmillan.

Hagen, R and Wagner, L. (2004) Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Noir Dames. Jefferson: McFarland.

Human Desire (1954) Dir. Fritz Lang [YouTube] Columbia Pictures.

In a Lonely Place (1950) Dir. Nicholas Ray. [DVR] Columbia Pictures.

Ray, N. (1993) I Was Interrupted: Nicholas Ray on Making Movies Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rickey, C. (2017) ‘In a Lonely Place: Film noir as an opera of male fury’

Library of America 28 June [Available at:…-opera-of-male-fury].

The Big Heat (1953) Dir. Fritz Lang [DVD] Columbia Pictures.

Turner, P. (1986) Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. London: Pan Books.

joan bennett

Joan Bennett: Hollywood’s Shimmering Vagabond – Episode 16

In episode 16 we focus on the ‘quiet Bennett’ compared to her volatile film star sister Constance. Joan was fiery in a more subtle way, she didn’t think much of her film career and felt more at home on the stage like her father, the legendary Richard Bennett. She quoted him often in her autobiography ‘The Bennett Playbill’, one of her favourite lines being “We are vagabonds to the heart and we are not ashamed of it”. She said “Well, I’m still a “vagabond” and I’m shamelessly proud of it.”

Her film career was not a long one and she made a little over 70 films but she made a lasting impression, especially in her noir work with Frtiz Lang. We’ve chosen for this episode Private Worlds (1935), Scarlet Street (1945) and The Reckless Moment (1949).

Bennett, J. (1970) The Bennett Playbill: Five Generations of the Famous Theater Family (with Lois Kibbee). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Kellow, B. (2004) The Bennetts: An Acting Family Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.

Private Worlds (1935) Dir. Gregory La Cava [DVD] Paramount Pictures.

Scarlett Street (1945) Dir. Fritz Lang [YouTube] Universal Pictures.

The Reckless Moment (1949) Dir. Max Ophüls [DVR} Columbia Pictures.…9s-scarlet-street

barbara stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck: Ball of Fire – Episode 15

Bright, hard boiled yet deeply human, earthy, independent, consummate professional, passionate, conservative, world weary, astute, confident, funny, strong, loyal…you really can’t pin Barbara Stanwyck down to any one thing. In episode 15 we discuss (in our humble opinion) three films that showcase her best work – Ladies of Leisure (1930), Stella Dallas (1937), and Clash by Night (1952).

Stay tuned for episode 16 in which we discuss the wonderful Joan Bennett followed in episode 17 with the queen of slapstick herself, Carole Lombard!

Ankerich, M.G. (2015) Dangerous Curves atop Hollywood Heels: The Lives, Careers, and Misfortunes of 14 Hard-Luck Girls of the Silent Screen. Albany: BearManor Media.

Bogdanovich, P. (1997) Who The Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors. New York: Ballantine Books.

Callahan, D. (2011) Barbara Stanwyck The Miracle Woman. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

Capra, F. (1997) The Name above the Title: An Autobiography. Boston: DaCapo Press.

Clash by Night (1952). Dir. Fritz Lang [DVD] RKO Pictures.

Ladies of Leisure (1930) Dir. Frank Capra [DVD} Columbia Pictures.

Stella Dallas (1937) Dir. King Vidor [DVD} United Artists.

Wilson, V. (2013) A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel True 1907-1940. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Carman, Emily (2016) Independent Stardom: Freelance Women in the Hollywood Studio System. University of Texas Press

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Many Faces of Barbara Stanwyck –…8648a2#.w82nq07ge


Scene Dwellers – #1 Liliom

#1 The carousel scene in Liliom [EPISODE 8]

Multi-layered and a sensory delight, the Hippo-Palace carousel scene in Fritz Lang’s Liliom (’34) invites the viewer to linger over and dwell in what’s onscreen. Lang stages an unexpected sexually charged arena in an otherwise wholesome nursery-crowd bailiwick. Glazed enamel horses and deer present a smooth mount for ladies to ride in giddy circles as they hope to catch the eye of Charles Boyer’s titular carnival barker, Liliom. He swings and darts around the carousel in a nimble striped Breton t-shirt with a carnation tucked in his high-waist trousers. Liliom sports a nautical ensemble, which tells us despite the absence of a maritime setting, he’s still the captain of the carousel. A drunken sailor’s tomfoolery adds to the sea-faring theme and Liliom’s dominion as he proves a dab hand at managing the swabbie.


One moment he bestows a kiss on a woman leaning backward on her horse; the next, Liliom tugs an excited woman’s dress down and pats the back of her thigh in a familiar manner, as if to remind her not to get too carried away. Throughout the scene, Lang compares Liliom to Alexandre Rignault’s Hollinger, the resident strong man, who advertises his concession as requiring no skill, just strength, to launch a toy torpedo along a track to sink a target ship. Hollinger’s description of the game explains why the strong man lacks appeal. He’s an inert, dull brute next to dynamic Liliom, a distinct opposite, who cajoles, teases and captivates both men and women.

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Julie (Madeleine Ozeray) and her friend Marie (Mimi Funés), ride the carousel four times in a row, settled with purses hitched to the ear and antlers of their lacquered steeds. Marie powders her nose before Liliom collects her ticket while Julie flirts and attempts to snatch Liliom’s carnation, a prize more valuable than any brass ring, because it symbolises Liliom’s regard. Under clear while bulbs, Liliom serenades the crowd standing in front of a tableaux of Adam and Eve with serpent and apple.


When Hollinger goads Liliom into a fight and pulls a knife, the carnival patrons gasp rapt attention until it’s clear that quick wits best the ham-fisted strong man. The battle of strength fades into the background as a female troika engage in sexual contest for the Breton shirt spoils. Carousel owner Madame Moscat (Florelle) accuses Julie and Marie of solicitation, of allowing themselves to be fondled and bars them from the merry-go- round. They trade insults. Julie calls the boss a ‘fish face.’ Flashing tempers parallel their desire to possess the compact brawn in sailor’s garb. Liliom mediates their triangulated claim with a refusal for each, drawing his boss (in a striped scarf that mirrors Liliom’s shirt) to emphasise a dominant position as his employer, so he will do her bidding and forswear the girls. Madame Moscat hasn’t a prayer in this game of chicken. Liliom rankles at her threat of dismissal and announces his departure. He’ll keep his own erotic counsel.

Liliom (1934 France)Directed by Fritz LangShown: Charles Boyer (as Liliom Zadowski)

Liliom’s opening scene presents a wanton spectacle of pleasure’s crisscross which can’t be matched even by the subsequent ascent to heaven.


Scene Dwellers

Film Scenes you want to linger over, occupy and repeat…





#5 constance bennett in what price hollywood?





#10 Women in work – Private worlds (’35)

All pieces are written by Megan McGurk (@meganmcgurk)