Quick Review: THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON by Mallory O’Meara (Hanover Square Press)

OMearaM-LadyFromTheBlackLagoonUSUncovering the overlooked, oft-dismissed contribution of Milicent Patrick to the development of horror cinema

The Lady from the Black Lagoon uncovers the life and work of Milicent Patrick — one of Disney’s first female animators and the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood’s classic movie monsters

As a teenager, Mallory O’Meara was thrilled to discover that one of her favorite movies, Creature from the Black Lagoon, featured a monster designed by a woman, Milicent Patrick. But for someone who should have been hailed as a pioneer in the genre, there was little information available. For, as O’Meara soon discovered, Patrick’s contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, her career had been cut short and she soon after had disappeared from film history. No one even knew if she was still alive.

As a young woman working in the horror film industry, O’Meara set out to right the wrong, and in the process discovered the full, fascinating story of an ambitious, artistic woman ahead of her time. Patrick’s contribution to special effects proved to be just the latest chapter in a remarkable, unconventional life, from her youth growing up in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to her career as one of Disney’s first female animators. And at last, O’Meara discovered what really had happened to Patrick after The Creature’s success, and where she went.

A true-life detective story and a celebration of a forgotten feminist trailblazer, Mallory O’Meara’s The Lady from the Black Lagoon establishes Patrick in her rightful place in film history while calling out a Hollywood culture where little has changed since.

In The Lady From the Black Lagoon, debut author Mallory O’Meara gives us an interesting and illuminating look not only at the life of a pioneering female artist, but also a glimpse into the early years of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. A must read for cinephiles, horror fans and also pretty much anyone who likes narrative non-fiction. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

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Audio Review: AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes & Joe Layden (Audible/Touchstone)

ElwesC-AsYouWishAn inconceivably good memoir

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

The Princess Bride is one of my favourite movies. Therefore it was with great anticipation that I awaited the publication of Elwes’s memoir of the making of the movie. Elwes, who played Westley, delivers here a superb book. It is witty, humble, and excellently performed. Elwes is joined on occasion by other members of the cast and crew, who contribute their own stories and favourite memories of the production. What struck me most was how clearly they all enjoyed the whole process — even when things became tough, painful (literally — there were a few injuries during filming). Elwes talks of the disappointment that the movie was original met with scratching of heads by many, and the amazement and gratitude that it went on to become a massive hit on video, not to mention a passed-down-the-generations classic. Elwes’s delivery is perfect, as one can expect, and the narration is welcoming and crystal clear. There are also many moving memories of Andre the Giant, who played Fezzik and sadly passed away in 1993.

Every fan of the movie should read or listen to this. Or probably both. This was thoroughly enjoyable, engaging and very difficult to stop listening to. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch the movie for the hundredth time. And order a copy of the book for everyone I know (including one for my own library)…

***

As You Wish is published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. It is available in audio via Audible, who provided the review copy. Here’s a video clip of The Princess Bride cast being interviewed on Good Morning America (2011):