Tag Archives: Movies

Dear Reader #18

Dear Reader,

I rediscovered Twitter this week. Like all of social media, Twitter is mainly a talking platform, not a listening platform. That said, I have found it useful for accessing information from experts who have greater knowledge about certain subjects than I have. Twitter, like all of social media, is not a good book promoting platform so I’m not sure if I will use it to any great extent. However, if you would like to connect there my Twitter link is on the sidebar.

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This week, we started work on the audiobook version of Victory. This will complete the Ann’s War series. The series is also available in a number of languages, with more to follow. I wrote the books as an experiment, which has turned into a great success. This has encouraged me to follow a similar pattern with my forthcoming Spanish Civil War series, The Olive Tree.

VICTORY AUDIOBOOK

The audiobook version of Escape is nearly ready for publication. It’s been a while since I wrote the story so I’ve managed to listen to it with fresh ears. I love the story. This has nothing to do with the quality of my writing, but is based on the remarkable series of true events that make up the story.

ESCAPE AUDIOBOOK

Many thanks to Graciela for her excellent translation of Boston, which will be available soon 🙂

BOSTON SPANISH

From my research… In 1939, there were more movie theatres in America – 15,115 – than banks – 14,952. More than 50 million Americans went to the movies every week and there were 400 new movies a year to watch. Annually, the movies were the nation’s eleventh-biggest business in terms of assets netting $529,950,444. Although synonymous with Hollywood, the financial aspect of the movies was controlled by New York.

Movie executives were amongst the richest rewarded, ranked second in terms of percentage sales and profits while leading actors and directors, on short-term contracts, could earn $40,000 a week. In comparison leading writers earned $350 – $1,000 a week.

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Bogart and Bacall

My appreciation of the classic movie North by Northwest https://hannah-howe.com/2019/10/09/north-by-northwest/

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Eva Marie Saint with Cary Grant in North by Northwest, 1959

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

North by Northwest

North by Northwest is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films. Released in 1959, the movie tells the story of advertising executive Roger Thornhill, a man mistaken for a non-existent spy.

The story, written by Ernest Lehman, is breezy entertainment, a series of stylish set-pieces. The central plot revolves around a roll of microfilm. However, that microfilm – a McGuffin in the words of Ernest Lehman – is largely irrelevant to the enjoyment of the movie.

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Ernest Lehman made the story up as he went along and he freely admitted that occasionally he painted himself into a corner. However, he always managed to extricate himself, and his characters. The finest example of this is the scene where Eve Kendall, Eva Marie Saint, pulls a gun on Roger Thornhill, Cary Grant. If you look closely, in the background you will see a young boy, one of the extras, as he places his fingers into his ears before the gun goes off. Clearly, this was not the first take and the boy was anticipating the noise. Nevertheless, Hitchcock selected this take for the final cut of his movie.

North by Northwest developed from a series of conversations between Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman. Hitchcock wanted to make a movie that included a chase scene across the famous faces at Mount Rushmore, an idea Lehman liked. Another scene that developed from Hitchcock’s fertile imagination was the aeroplane chase scene across a barren landscape. For the best part of eight minutes nothing happens in this scene, but it is gripping nonetheless.

The casting is excellent with James Mason and Martin Landau suitability menacing as the villains. However, it’s interesting to note that Jessie Royce Landis, who played Roger Thornhill’s mother, was only one year older than Cary Grant at the time (!)

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Eva Marie Saint with Cary Grant in North by Northwest, 1959

The star of the movie, in my eyes, is Eva Marie Saint. She doesn’t appear until a third of the way into the movie, but from then on her combination of beauty, elegance and vulnerability is enchanting. One of her first lines is, “I never make love on an empty stomach.” However, the censors changed this to, “I never discuss love on an empty stomach.” Watch her lips in this scene and you will notice the subtle difference.

While directing Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock offered the following advice, “Lower your voice, don’t wave your hands around, and when you speak always look into Cary Grant’s eyes.” Advice that, in the movie, works to stunning effect.

North by Northwest was the working title for the movie. At one stage the title of The Man in Lincoln’s Nose was suggested, but thankfully that was rejected.

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Alfred Hitchcock

The movie includes many of Hitchcock’s trademarks, including a cameo appearance by the director at the very start of the film and his generous use of subtle lighting and overhead shots.

The film isn’t perfect, and the Studio worried that it went on for too long. The drunk driver scene at the start was inserted for humour, but it isn’t funny and it does go on for too long. The dramatic cliffhanger at the end, classic Hitchcock, is spoiled in my opinion by an abrupt ending and a cut that placed the characters on a train. That train then disappears into a tunnel in a metaphor for sex that was a cliché even in the 1950s.

Overall though North by Northwest is fine entertainment, and if you haven’t seen it you are in for a treat.

Dear Reader #17

Dear Reader,

This week, I completed the first draft of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. Snow in August is set in a small coastal village in wild West Wales, a new location for Sam.

Readers of the series might be in for a surprise when they start this story. I won‘t give the details away now, but the book will be available for pre-order later this month.

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Over the past year I have had the honour of being editor-in-chief of Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine. With twelve magazines published I would like to thank our talented group of contributors and the skill and dedication of our editorial staff. I’m very proud of our achievements with Mom’s Favorite Reads and look forward to scaling even great heights in our second year.

Here’s the blurb for the latest issue.

The September issue of our popular eMagazine!

In this Back to School issue:

Young Writers, Humour, Poetry, Travel, Short Stories, Puzzles and Articles including:

What is Adoption?

Power Animals

What is Happiness and How Can We Find It?

Read or download your copy FREE!

https://issuu.com/momsfavoritereads/docs/vol-2_iss-9_momsfavoritereads

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Delighted that Sandra, who translated the five books in my Ann’s War series, has offered to translate Saving Grace into German 🙂

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A lovely quote from screenwriter Ernest Lehman when discussing writing the script for North By Northwest. I am sure most authors will identify with this.

”Typical of a writer, I was stalling, losing myself in yet more research.”

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Sam’s Song is moving towards the top of the Amazon charts again this weekend , but I have mixed feelings about that in light of continued reports of workers being mistreated by the company. There is a brutally about Amazon that makes me feel increasingly uneasy about contributing to its profits.

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Photo by Tobias Dziuba on Pexels.com

“Clear as the dew it kindles on the spray

Across the shadows of each shelving lawn,

The rising sun, with low and level ray

Scatters the cold, grey phantoms of the dawn.

Like ghosts, they flee, like dreams expire

Within the elemental fire

Of our first calm October day.”

John Jay Chapman

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #16

Dear Reader,

This week, I made good progress with the first draft of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. I write the first draft of every story at a fast pace before slowing down with the second draft. The second draft is basically the story you read, after minor adjustments during two rounds of editing. Once the second draft is complete I never make radical changes. When I write, the book is about word selection, not story building. The story building takes place during the planning and storyboarding stages. Watching a documentary this week I noticed that Alfred Hitchcock used to meticulously storyboard his movies. Personally, I think it’s a great way of storytelling, whether through the medium of movies or books.

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Alfred Hitchcock

Delighted that Sam has found new readers, in Sweden 🙂

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Pictured, a view of the Stora Sjöfallet National Park

Suzan is recording audiobook versions of Escape and Victory, to complete the series. I just listened to chapter one of Escape and Suzan’s narration is excellent. Normally, I don’t like rereading or listening to my words, but Suzan‘s narration drew me into the story.

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Here’s an example of Suzan’s narration https://hannah-howe.com/audio-books/

My latest translation, the Spanish version of Victory. Irene translated all five books in this series and it was a great pleasure working with her.

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Earlier this week, I watched North By Northwest for the first time. I will write a review of the movie on another occasion, but for now would like to mention Eva Marie Saint who, in her nineties, I am pleased to say is still with us. Eva Marie Saint offered an elegant performance in North By Northwest and is the main reason for watching this movie. She also excelled in 36 Hours, a James Garner World War Two noir movie. That movie relied on a simple, but highly effective, plot device to knit the drama together. Without giving the plot away, it relied on fingers and thumbs. I love old movies and, in all truth, the old stars were a mixed bunch. Some of the stories about them would make your toes curl. But I’ve read no such stories about Eva Marie Saint. On and off screen, she exuded class.

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Eva Marie Saint with Cary Grant in North by Northwest, 1959

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #12

Dear Reader,

Books sixteen, seventeen and eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series will be Snow in August, a story about childhood trauma; Looking For Rosanna Mee, a story about how the Powers That Be abuse vulnerable people; Stormy Weather, a story about climate change. The storyboarding of Snow in August is progressing well and I intend to finish it next week.

Another busy week with my translators with three books published, all in Spanish. We also started two new translations taking the total to forty-three books in ten languages.

This week, my Spanish Civil War research focused on Lily Margaret Powell, a remarkable woman, a true heroine who volunteered to nurse in Spain during the war and was the last International Brigades nurse to leave the conflict. You can read Margaret’s remarkable story here

Margaret Powell, second left, and her medical team in Spain

My film of the week is Fallen Angel, a noir movie made in 1945. The movie reunites director Otto Preminger with Dana Andrews, who had worked together on Laura the previous year. The movie also features Alice Faye, Linda Darnell and a host of fine character actors.

While the movie doesn’t quite touch the heights of Laura – few movies do – it’s still an excellent story. Like Laura, it’s a film of two halves. In Laura, the title character didn’t appear until the second half of the film while in Fallen Angel Linda Darnell dominates the first half with a sultry performance as the femme fatale and Alice Faye blossoms in the second half; Dana Andrews links the whole piece together.

Playing a bookish, reserved woman, Alice Faye had the toughest role – noir movies are basically designed around the femme fatale and Linda Darnell shone in this part. Initially, Fallen Angel was intended to showcase Alice Faye’s talents. However, many of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Some suggest that film producer Darryl F. Zanuck decided to use the film to promote Linda Darnell, his new protégé, instead of Alice Faye. Certainly, Alice Faye’s characterisation suffers from the cuts and she wasn’t pleased about it. Indeed, she retired from movies until 1962 when she made State Fair.

Alice Faye

In 1987, Alice Faye told an interviewer, “When I stopped making pictures, it didn’t bother me because there were so many things I hadn’t done. I had never learned to run a house. I didn’t know how to cook. I didn’t know how to shop. So all these things filled all those gaps.”

Linda Darnell

As a mystery author, usually I unravel a movie plot early on. And while I identified the murderer during the early scenes of Fallen Angel the movie is well crafted and until the closing scenes all the principal characters remain in the frame.

Dana Andrews

Fallen Angel is also worth watching for Alice Faye reciting the following poetic lines:

We are born to tread the Earth as angels 

to seek out Heaven this side of the sky.

But they who race alone shall stumble,

in the dark and fall from grace.

Then love alone can make the fallen angel rise,

for only two together can enter paradise.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

The Fifth Man

I’m researching a mystery novel set in 1948, working title The Fifth Man. That year was memorable for many notable events, including:

The nationalisation of the railways in Britain
The first Kinsey Report into sexual behaviour
Gentleman’s Agreement won the Oscar for Best Picture
The film premiere of Hamlet
Australia’s cricket team, ‘The Invincibles’, toured Britain led by Don Bradman

Columbia Records introduced the LP
The Manchester Baby became the first stored-program computer to successfully complete a program
The film premiere of Oliver Twist
The Summer Olympics in London
The founding of the National Health Service in Britain, inspired by Welsh politician Nye Bevan. This will be central to my story

Discover more in my Amazon store https://www.amazon.co.uk/stores/page/460F9ED0-6D82-43A0-AF0A-4A626C707C85

Casablanca

My Ann’s War mini series is a mystery series set against the backdrop of the Second World War and the Home Front. The first story, Betrayal, is set in March 1944. During that month, Casablanca, one of the most popular films of the war, and of all time, won Best Picture at the Sixteenth Academy Awards.

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One of the lines most closely associated with the film, “Play it again, Sam”, was not actually said. The line is, “Play it once, Sam, for old time’s sake.” And, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’.”

Another famous line from the film is, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” That line was not written into the draft screenplays, but has since been attributed to a comment Humphrey Bogart made to Ingrid Bergman as he taught her poker between takes.