The Mad Women of Josephine Decker’s Shirley June 8, 2020

Like Joan Harrison — the subject of my book, Phantom Lady — Shirley Jackson is enjoying a moment. This is thanks to Josephine Decker’s new movie Shirley, released via streaming platforms after a momentous world premiere at Sundance this past January. The crucial year in the life of the writer is brilliantly dramatized by Elisabeth…

The Women Who Knew: What We Know May 21, 2020

Joan Harrison’s story is incomplete without considering the importance of Alfred Hitchcock’s wife — and chief collaborator — Alma Reville. Joan joined Hitch and Alma in fall 1933 just as the director was making a crucial move to Gaumont-British Picture Corporation to develop The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). There, Joan received a crash…

Oscar Season: Joan’s Picks February 4, 2020

If Joan Harrison were alive today, which films would be her favorites to take home Oscar? Harrison was a voting member of the Academy, after making history in 1940 by walking away with not one but two screenwriting Oscar nominations: for Best Adapted script (Rebecca) and Best Original (Foreign Correspondent). She was furthermore very active…

Classic #MeToo: Joan Harrison’s Take on Hollywood January 7, 2020

Recent revelations of discrimination and harassment have raised awareness about the tremendous challenges women face as they try to maintain, let alone advance, their footing in the entertainment industry. The #MeToo movement has been critical for mobilizing large-scale change. But it’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment and forget Hollywood’s powerful,…

Ella Raines Arrives in Hollywood, Part Two December 31, 2019

Continued from part one. Hawks began grooming Raines for her debut in Corvette K-225 (1943), which he asked friend Richard Rossen to direct. He coached her on how to pose, move, and deliver lines for the camera and helped direct her early scenes with co-star Randolph Scott. Though Rossen was a friend, it didn’t stop…

Ella Raines Arrives in Hollywood, Part One December 24, 2019

When Joan Harrison’s first producing venture, Phantom Lady, was released through Universal, the film’s success elevated her to stardom. She was now the “Mistress of Suspense.” If asked at the time, she likely would have described this rise as part of her master plan. Joan always liked to remain in control. A signature piece of…