Welcome to the website for Tara Hanks, author of The Mmm Girl and Wicked Baby.

About Me



There’s No Business Like Show Business


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On June 1st – exactly ninety-two years after Norma Jeane Mortenson was born in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital – her 1954 movie, There’s No Business Like Show Business, was screened at the Duke of York’s Cinema in Brighton, and will be shown at selected Picturehouse venues throughout June. The first musical made in CinemaScope (a pioneering widescreen technology developed by Twentieth Century Fox to combat the threat of television), it was also one of the last Technicolour musicals made under the studio system model of Hollywood’s golden age.  Continue reading

Marilyn: An Unlikely Feminist


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In the wake of last fall’s revelations about sexual harassment in Hollywood, some were quick to point out that this was not a new phenomenon. Actress Joan Collins claimed that Marilyn Monroe had warned her about the ‘wolves’ who preyed on young starlets. Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, who played dual roles in a TV movie about the legendary star, revealed that they were later blackballed for resisting unwanted advances. And a producer on the 2011 biopic, My Week With Marilyn, recalled how disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein loitered on the set while Michelle Williams filmed a nude swimming scene.

Just as Monroe’s glamorous image has come to symbolise Hollywood’s golden age, she has also been linked to its darker side in a way that risks over-simplification. For not only was she one of the first to speak out about sexual abuse, she also battled for equal rights and fair pay, which women are still fighting today in Tinseltown and beyond. Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, paints a fuller picture in her new book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist. Continue reading

Reggie Lucas 1953-2018


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Reginald Grant Lucas was born in Queens, New York in 1953, the son of a doctor and a teacher. “Although no one in the family was a musician or singer,” he recalled, “music was an important and natural part of our lives.” He began taking piano lessons aged six, and was given an electric guitar for his eleventh birthday. Enthralled by the “music explosion” coming from Motown and England in the Early 1960s, it was “the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Continue reading

Urban Myths: ‘It’s Me, Sugar’


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“She was the biggest star in the world; she had a lot of attention on her, a lot of pressure… there is a scene, when she comes to the door, she says, ‘It’s me, Sugar.’ It took forty-seven shots to make this scene. The film is about that moment, the crisis she had. It’s funny because it’s stupid not to be able to say ‘It’s me, Sugar’… It’s tragic too.” Continue reading

When Avicii Met Madonna


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In March 2012, Madonna made a surprise appearance at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami alongside the twenty-three year-old Swedish DJ/producer Avicii. She had enlisted him to remix her latest single, ‘Girl Gone Wild’. “I’ve been here in spirit for many years, but it’s good to finally be standing on the stage, looking at all you people who have come here from all around the world,” Madonna told the crowd. “In my world the words ‘music’ and ‘dance’ are not separated. Electronic music has been a part of my life since the beginning of my career. I can honestly say that a DJ saved my life.” Continue reading

‘Casablanca’ at the Picturehouse


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One of the finest movies ever made, Casablanca, celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. As I joined a nearly full house at the Duke of York’s in Brighton last Sunday, I wondered whom in the audience were watching it for the first time, and how many had seen it numerous times on television. Most chuckled in recognition of its oft-quoted dialogue, whether familiar from past viewings or references in popular culture. Continue reading

Art Decades 13: Marilyn in Manhattan, The Punished and More


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The latest edition of Art Decades quarterly is now available from Amazon stores worldwide (and for £11.14 in the UK.) At the heart of this issue is a tribute to cult cinema, with a profile of ‘sexploitation’ king Joe Sarno; an unpublished interview with Jess Franco, the Spanish filmmaker famed for his erotic horror flicks; and a roundtable discussion with the authors of a new book, It Came From the Video Aisle, including a special focus on director Charles Band, best-known for his horror comedies.

Elsewhere, there’s a short story from Les Bohem, set in the post-hippie California of the 1970s; a spotlight on Denver’s ‘totally rad’ nostalgia shop, Fifty-Two 80s; and extracts from Singin’ In French, a new anthology co-edited by Marcelline Block. For me, the highlight was ‘Suzie’s Zoo’, a very moving piece from Kelley Richey in which she explores childhood memories through film. She also contributes three photo-stories which celebrate nature, beauty and the coming of spring.

And finally from me, a review of Elizabeth Winder’s Marilyn in Manhattan, one of my favourite books of 2017; and an interview with Cy Forrest, author of The Punished, a ‘dystopian noir’ which alternates between the inhabitants of a ghost village during World War II and the corporate sexism of the 1980s.


To Save and Project: Jeanne Eagels at MoMA


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The World and the Woman, the 1916 silent film starring Jeanne Eagels, will be screened today – preceded by a fragment from an early Louise Brooks comedy – at 4:30 pm in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) as part of their ‘To Save and Project‘ series, curated by Dave Kehr and now in its fifteenth season, as Daniel Eagan reports for Film Journal. (And thanks to the Thanhouser Studio restoration project, you can also watch it here.) Continue reading

How to Marry a Millionaire


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On a crisp Friday morning in the first week of January, I joined a handful of people at the Duke of York’s in Brighton – England’s oldest independent cinema – for a screening of How to Marry a Millionaire. It’s part of a regular series of classic movies aimed at an older audience, with tea and biscuits served beforehand, and a fifteen-minute interval – although I think it’s fair to say they could use some promotion. (Classic movie fans, please note: Millionaire is showing at Picturehouse cinemas across the UK throughout January, and looking further ahead, There’s No Business Like Show Business is scheduled for June.) Continue reading