SOLEDAD #5: Lana, Alexandra and More

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The ethereal blonde on the cover of SOLEDAD #5 is Alexandra Hay, best known for her supporting roles in late 1960s movies like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Otto Preminger’s Skidoo, and as the leading lady of Jacque Demy’s Model Shop. The final starlet under contract as the old studio system broke down, she also played Jean Harlow in The Beard, a controversial play which led to her being arrested 14 times for ‘lewd conduct’ (with Billy the Kid), before winning an historic acquittal under First Amendment rules. Dylan Staley, who is working on a biography of this neglected actress, shares an extended profile in this issue.

Other highlights include Aaron W. Graham’s article about The Long Distance Piano Player, a 1970 TV drama written and directed by Alan Sharp, the Scottish novelist who became a Hollywood screenwriter. Part of the BBC’s ground-breaking Play for Today series, the teleplay also starred one of English music’s finest, Ray Davies of Kinks fame. Elsewhere, Sandra McCollum presents five evocative prose pieces about growing up in the segregated South.

Regular contributor Marcelline Block shares two book excerpts (Filmed Letters From Algeria, and The Films of Michel Gondry) and a selection of poetry, while Robert Monell concludes his science fiction series with Government By Magick. There’s also a photo-essay by Amy Pangburn, new poems from Emily Clare Bryant and lyrics by musician David Neuland, and Soledad editor Jeremy Richey’s interview with Christian Valor, author of a new biography of French exploitation filmmaker Claude Mulot.

And finally, my long-overdue, 17-page, illustrated review of Lana Del Rey’s 2019 opus, Norman Fucking Rockwell! Yes, I know she’s made two more albums since then – with another on the way – but I hope you’ll agree that whatever I may lack in punctuality, I compensate for amply in breadth.

Issue 5 of SOLEDAD Arts Journal is available now via Amazon, for just £3.80 in the UK or $4.58 across the pond.

At 95, Marilyn is Still in Bloom

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Today, June 1st, marks what would be Marilyn’s 95th birthday. As the sun shines over Brighton for what seems like the first time since lockdown, this latest artwork from The Postman (based on a 1958 photo by Carl Perutz) has appeared in Queensbury Mews.

Nine years after its first publication, Marilyn & Me – a photographic homage from Lawrence Schiller, who got the scoop on her ‘skinny-dip’ in the unfinished Something’s Got to Give – will be reissued in hardback for an affordable £50 by on June 20th. You can read my review of Taschen’s deluxe edition here.

And finally, rare footage of the Some Like It Hot cast and crew at the Hotel Del Coronado has emerged – a cinematic delight!

Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Performances

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“My God, I think there have been more books on Marilyn Monroe than on World War II, and there’s a great similarity.”

So said Billy Wilder, who made two classic films with Monroe – and although the great director was prone to exaggerate, he had the battle scars to prove his point. Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Performances is the latest in an ongoing series from the prolific Chris Wade – a musician and filmmaker in his own right, with an admirable DIY ethic – whose past subjects include Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren and Madonna. Continue reading

From Jeanne, to Bette: A Tale of Two Letters

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Before its restoration in 2013, Jeanne Eagels’ penultimate movie, The Letter (1929), was falling into obscurity. But while the 1940 remake is more accomplished overall, Jeanne’s performance as a frustrated colonial wife more than holds up against Bette Davis in the same role. An in-depth comparison between the two is posted at the Notoriously Nora movie blog today. Continue reading