A lovely book about growing up as the daughter of famous writers (Kenneth Tynan and Elaine Dundy). Lots of celebrity friends crop up amongst the relative neglect. Each chapter is structured around an item of clothing (a Pucci dress, a Muji T-shirt) that acts as a Proustian madeleine to go back to the past, to provide a fulcrum to that particular story, and also ties the threads of the book together. Tracy Tynan would go on to marry director James McBride so the ‘incidents on the fringes of celebrity culture’ – feel to the book continues to the end. It’s well-written, sophisticated in its acceptance of various foibles and entertaining, at least until the end where the yoga retreats and the Starbucks coffee orders got a bit much for me. Tynan would go on to costume several famous films (Breathless, Choose Me) and it is these aspects that I found most interesting and useful. She recounts what a costume designer does beyond designing for the stars and, in enumerating the various challenges she faced, she offers a clear breakdown of the various tasks involved. I recommend.
The second of a series of conversations about books on cinema with their authors. The intention is to expand and disseminate our understanding of cinema and its diverse histories and various cultures by bringing attention to recently published books in the field in order to enhance understanding of and access to the knowledge the books provide.
This one is with Pamela Hutchinson, founder of the great Silent London website and a regular correspondent for Sight and Sound,The Guardian and many other outlets on various aspect of Silent Cinema. The occasion for the chat is the publication of her wonderful new book on G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box, a BFI Film Classic, so recent that it’s literally hot off the press, and as witty as it is informative.
What you hear in the background is the bubbles in a glass of champagne and one can only hope that our chat is as fizzy. The conversation ranges from the film’s aesthetic achievements to its continued influence, the appeal of Louise Brooks, what Marlene Dietrich might have done with the part and what the film has to tell us on sexual desire, the options open to women and the prevalence of rape culture then and now. Pandora’s Box seems more pertinent than ever and just as powerful and hypnotic as it always was. Pamela Hutchinson’s book is not just a beautifully written introduction to the film but one which provides new information and enhances our understanding in various ways and does so with great charm and wit.
I hope that the quality of the chat compensates for that of the editing and recording. It can be accessed above.