Today's episode features Christina Lane, an Associate Professor of film studies and chair of the cinema department at the University of Miami and author of Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break and Magnolia. We discuss her new book, Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, The Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock, which narrates the oft-forgotten tale of one of the studio era's most notable female pioneers. As Lane explores, Harrison played a multi-faceted role in the 1930s and early 1940s for director Alfred Hitchcock that cannot be understated, and then went on to become one of the "girl producers" of the 1940s with fascinating noirish thrillers like Phantom Lady, Dark Waters, and Ride the Pink Horse. Through it all, Lane relishes in the details of the nimble yet prodigious navigator of the studio system, and in particular, her unique transition to television and central role as a proto-showrunner on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. As Lane suggests, Harrison was much more than a "gal Friday," and instead someone who balanced personal toil, political scrutiny, and of course, the misogyny of Hollywood—rarely receiving the credit due to her talents, and offering inspiration for us all today.
Notes and Links to the Conversation
—Learn more about Christina Lane and her research.
—A good history of Alma Reville as a pioneer in movies is covered on the Women Film Pioneers Project.
—A brief recap of Norman Lloyd on his 106th Birthday.
—Questions surrounding Alfred Hitchcock's relationships to women in the industry resurfaced in 2016 by The Birds actress Tippi Hendren.
—As Shelley Stamp has explored, studios catered to women as much as men when making noirs in the postwar period.
—For a better understanding of actors directing in the postwar period, See Brooks E. Hefner's article on Ray Milland.
—For more on Robert Montgomery and HUAC, See Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist.
—Sherri Beisen discusses Harrison in relation to Van Upp
—For more on women in silent film and Hollywood, See earlier podcasts with Shelley Stamp, Jane Gaines, Emily Carman, and Maya Montañez Smukler.