Dear Reader

Dear Reader #170

Dear Reader,

Our latest translation, the Portuguese version of Operation Watchmaker, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book eight.

Clara Bow’s ninth movie was Daughters of Pleasure, a 1924 silent romantic comedy. The film had a unique release date – February 29, 1924. Clara played Lila Millais, one of the support characters.

Clara was still finding her feet in Hollywood at this time and was dependent, probably over-dependent, on producer B.P. Schulberg for guidance. Schulberg undoubtedly helped Clara with her career but, it could be argued, was less supportive of her personal development. Indeed, Clara felt that Schulberg was betraying her trust.

Arthur Jacobson had an affair with Clara Bow. After that affair, they remained friends. Around the time of Daughters of Pleasure, he offered this insight into her character: “Clara was the sweetest kid in the world, but you didn’t cross her, and you didn’t do her wrong.”

📸 Clara in 1924.

Highest Grossing Movie of 1929 (joint) Sunny Side Up.

Sunny Side Up continued the late 1920s tradition of a musical producing the highest grossing movie of the year. Sunny Side Up starred Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell with songs by B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson. A romantic-comedy, the movie premiered on October 3, 1929 at the Gaiety Theatre in New York. For early movies, it had a long running time – 121 minutes.

Sunny Side Up produced three popular songs – ‘I’m a Dreamer, Aren’t We All?’, ‘Turn on the Heat’ and ‘(Keep Your) Sunny Side Up’. 

Critics offered faint praise. They reckoned that the singing voices of Gaynor and Farrell, were “tolerable, but not exactly worthy of praise.” They disliked the movie’s sugary sentimentality, but were impressed with the cinematography and special effects.

My latest article for the Seaside News appears on page 34 of the magazine.

Clara Bow Quotes: “My advice to a girl trying to make good in Hollywood…In the first place, don’t under any circumstances ever come to Hollywood for motion picture work unless you have a contract, or definite assurance that you will be used in the making of screen plays.

Secondly, don’t try pictures if you are unduly sensitive. The work is hard and in the thick of battle many things may be said on the spur of the moment which are not to be taken at face value. It is part of the game, but it will cause heartache unless one’s sensitiveness can be overcome.”

Intertitle #10

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #164

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s third movie was Enemies of Women, produced in December 1922 through to January 1923. The movie was premiered in New York on March 31, 1923 and went on general release from September 2, 1923.

Enemies of Women was produced by William Randolph Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Pictures. A silent romantic drama, the movie starred Lionel Barrymore and Alma Rubens. Clara featured as an uncredited dancing girl.

This movie was made during a significant period in Clara’s life. Her mother, Sarah, had just been released from an asylum, although she was far from physically and mentally well. At home, Sarah lapsed into a catatonic state. On New Year’s Eve, she was readmitted to the asylum. She died there on January 5, 1923.

Later, Clara recalled that period of her life. “In the picture, I danced on a table. All the time I hadda be laughin’, rompin’, displayin’ joy of life. I’d cry my eyes out when I left my mama in the mornin’, then go dance on a table.”

The guilt of pursuing her dream while her mother lay dying remained with Clara for the rest of her life. That guilt added to her complex personality, and influenced the choices she later made. 

Sarah Bow was not a supportive mother – her poor mental health and negative attitude to the movies ensured that she did not guide her daughter along stardom’s treacherous path. Clara needed that guidance, but all too often she had to find her own way in the world. 

Clara was right to feel sad when Sarah died, but I think her guilt was misplaced.

🖼 Lobby card for Enemies of Women.

In 1925 Clarence Birdseye, pictured, invented a process for frozen food. Later, he invented the double belt freezer. His initial product line featured 26 items, including 18 cuts of frozen meat, spinach, peas, a variety of fruits and berries, blue point oysters, and fish fillets.

Highest grossing movie of 1924: ThSea Hawk.

The Sea Hawk was a silent adventure movie about an English noble sold into slavery. Upon his escape, he becomes a pirate. Directed by Frank Lloyd, the movie premiered on June 2, 1924 in New York.

Frank Lloyd sensed that moviegoers would not accept miniature models so, at a cost of $200,000, he created full-sized ships. The ocean scenes were filmed off the coast of Catalina Island, California. Lloyd established a mini-village to shoot these scenes, which included 150 tents, 1,000 extras, 21 technicians, 14 actors, and 64 sailors.

The film was so well made that Warner Bros used some of its battle scenes in a 1940 Errol Flynn movie of the same name. Furthermore, the studio used the life-sized replica ships in later nautical films.

Through public records, I’m tracing the ancestry of Eva Marie Saint. I’ve taken the Saint branch back to Eva’s 3 x great grandfather, Hercules Saint. I’ve discovered a lot of records relating to Hercules, but for now here are the basic facts:

Born: May 7, 1747, Perquimans County, North Carolina, USA. Father, Daniel Saint. Mother, Margaret Barrow

Married: Sarah Barrow, June 7, 1775, Perquimans Co., NC.

Died: The records contradict each other, so more research required 

Occupation: Carpenter

Religion: Quaker

Hercules’ wife and mother had the same surname, Barrow. I have yet to determine if they were related.

🖼 The Quaker record confirming Hercules’ birth.

Charlie Harris at Large, Series 1, Episode 19 of The Rockford Files had a great premise – a person who couldn’t offer an alibi in a murder case because they would incriminate themselves in an affair. Diana Muldaur played that person. As the ‘special guest star’, I felt that she was underused in this episode. I would have liked to have seen her interact more with James Garner.

This was a multi-viewpoint episode, so James Garner didn’t appear in every scene. Indeed, the opening reminded me of an episode of Columbo, with detectives and medical staff examining the victim.

The running joke in this episode was someone on the phone or knocking on Rockford’s door getting him out of bed. Some nice scenic shots during the car chases and an excellent performance from Tony Musante as Charlie Harris made this an engaging episode.

Clara Bow Quotes: “I shall never forget my first day on the set. I was just one of the mob. No one paid the slightest bit of attention to me. Being told to make up, I watched others apply deft touches of grease-paint and tried to duplicate their procedure. It was a pitiful job, I realise now, but how wonderful I thought I looked at the time. Finally, the director, Christy Cabanne, gave me a “bit”. It was a crying scene. “Can you act, kid?” he said. I was so frightened I immediately burst into tears. This seemed to please him, and before I knew it I was in front of the cameras. Even to this day I can remember his faint praise of my effort when the scene was completed.”

Intertitle #4

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian.

Don’t forget to use the code goylake20 to claim your discount 


Above Suspicion

Currently, I’m reading Above Suspicion and Assignment in Brittany, the first two novels written by espionage novelist Helen MacInnes, pictured. These novels about the Second World War were written during the war, so they carried the stamp of authenticity. Furthermore, Helen MacInnes was married to Gilbert Highet who served in MI6 as a British intelligence agent. It is believed that Highet provided espionage details for many of MacInnes’ books and that their experiences formed the basis for Above Suspicion.

Directed by Richard Thorpe, Above Suspicion was released as a movie in 1943. Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray took the lead roles in a plot that followed two newlyweds as they spied on the Nazis during their honeymoon in Europe.

The production standards for the movie were good. The back projection and background paintings, standard practice in movie making for decades, were largely unobtrusive. On first viewing, I thought Joan Crawford was miscast. However, on second viewing, I agreed with the New York Times who said, “Joan Crawford is a very convincing heroine.”

The plot lent itself to a noir treatment. However, the producer and director went for a lighter touch, including humour and musical numbers whenever possible. This was justified because a musical score was central to the plot.

Given that the movie was released in 1943, it contained some racy banter between Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray whose innuendos and desire to have sex whenever possible realistically portrayed them as newlyweds.

Above Suspicion marked the end of Joan Crawford’s eighteen year career with MGM before she signed with Warner Bros. Sadly, the movie served as the final role for character actor Conrad Veidt, who died of a heart attack shortly after the final scenes were shot. 

If you are a fan of vintage movies, then Above Suspicion is certainly worth ninety minutes of your time.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader #14

Dear Reader,

I took a break from my Spanish Civil War research this week to research classic movies of the Golden Age. I intend to write a mini-series about the Golden Age, but I will use a pen name because it will be different in style to my mystery series.

My main writing activity over the past week was centred on translations. During the week, I received fifteen offers to translate my books. Unfortunately, I couldn’t accept all the offers because some were duplicates. Also, I have a team of translators already in place and some of the titles have been promised to them. The standard of the applications was high and it was a shame to disappoint some people, but I hope we will find a way to work together in the future.

Also this week, I’m back in audiobook mode. Suzan Lynn Lorraine, who has narrated twelve of my books to date, started work on Escape and Victory. I am looking forward to hearing Suzan’s interpretation of these stories and to making them available to listeners sometime in the autumn.

When an author writes a book, he or she has no idea what the reader will make of the story or the characters. Sometimes, in Saving Grace for example, my characters are based on real people. However, most of the time they are totally fictitious. So it was interesting this week when I received a message from someone along with a request to meet Sam. To this reader, Sam is real, and I can think of no higher compliment.

For entertainment, and research purposes, I’m working my way through the entire series of M*A*S*H on DVD. Is this the best television series ever made? It’s hard to think of a better one.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader

Dear Reader #11

It’s been a summer of ideas. Initially, my goals for the year were to publish Victory and write Snow in August. However, in May I had an idea to write about the Spanish Civil War, a subject I had never considered writing about before that moment. I hesitated, because it is a big subject, but the ideas kept coming. I believe there is truth in the saying, ‘Subjects choose their authors, authors don’t choose their subjects.’

Since May I have had ideas for five books in my Spanish Civil War series plus three ideas for Sam Smith mysteries. Today, I developed ideas for a Sam Smith mystery and got stuck around chapter twenty-three. That’s because one of the characters proved elusive to me. Then I realised he didn’t really fit into the book because his involvement dragged the story away from the central character and complicated the theme. So I returned to the theme and the central character and the full story unfolded naturally. 

This story, so far untitled, will see Sam get very angry on behalf of her client. I love writing Sam when she’s angry and, believe me, she’ll be tearing up some trees in this one. The source of her anger is a woman who does something that is beyond the pale. Furthermore, the story is based on reality.

I’m delighted and honoured to be featured by the Fussy Librarian this week. You can read my interview with Sadye of the Fussy Librarian here

This week, my Spanish Civil War research led me to Dorothy Parker.

During 1936-9 the Conservative government in Britain, plus the governments in America and France, adopted a stance of ‘non-intervention’ in the Spanish Civil War. In fact, this amounted to support for the fascists because of the various outcomes these governments desired a fascist victory over a victory for the Spanish people. Of course, Britain, America and France paid heavily for this stance because it encouraged Hitler and Mussolini, and this led to the Second World War.

With no support from overseas governments, the Spanish people relied on individuals and organisations for support. Dorothy Parker held her hand up and stepped forward as one of those individuals.

A celebrated poet, writer and wit, Dorothy Parker was one of the founders of the Anti-Nazi League in Hollywood. She helped to raise $1.5 million ($65 million at today’s value) for Spanish refugees. For her trouble, she was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, ‘the time of the toad’, as she called it. However, history smiles on Dorothy Parker while McCarthy’s name is associated with all that is dark about humanity. 

While in Spain, in October 1937, Dorothy Parker said, “It makes you sick to think of it. That these people who pulled themselves up from centuries of oppression and exploitation cannot go on to a decent living, to peace and progress and civilisation, without the murder of their children and the blocking of their way because men want more power. It is incredible, it is fantastic, it is absolutely beyond all belief…except that it is true.”

I have added lots more to my website pages this week – the pictures offer a clue – so please take a look around. I hope you will find something of interest.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx