Recommendations

Book Review | If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara Leaming (1989)

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Vernitra Jones, Writer and classic-movie fan

Book Review | If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara Leaming (1989)

by Vernitra Jones

While Rita capitalized on her picture-perfect image of soft, alluring feminine grace, she led an often tumultuous life plagued by toxic relationships with men and self-destructive tendencies. One of the most legendary screen goddesses in motion-picture history, Rita Hayworth epitomized 1940s glamour. With her angelic face, warm eyes, toothy smile, and luscious mane of fluffy, coppery curls, Rita Hayworth became one of the most adored faces on the silver screen. A trained professional dancer, Rita could glide across the floor and move to a tune like nobody’s business.

In her biography about Rita Hayworth, Barbara Leaming paints an honest picture of the star’s life, one that begins with the childhood sexual abuse which conditioned Rita for a lifetime of damaging relationships with men, in both her personal and professional lives.

From Rita’s early days as a disciplined child dancer, to her reign as a pin-up girl and box-office queen, to her various roles as real-life wife to Eddie Judson, Orson Welles, Prince Aly Khan, Dick Haymes, and James Hill, Leaming spares no tough detail. Leaming provides just enough Hollywood glamour but anchors her story on the harsh realities of Rita’s life.

Ending with Rita’s untimely descent into Alzheimer’s disease, this book provides a candid portrait of the woman behind the glamorous visage.

I enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning about Rita Hayworth, Old Hollywood, Hollywood gender dynamics, and the effects of childhood abuse.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Movie Picks | Swimming with Sharks (1994) | Every employee has a boiling point, and he just reached his

Swimming with Sharks

I am so grateful my experience working in Hollywood (as a production assistant at Don Mischer Productions) was nothing like the one depicted in this movie! Guy (Frank Whaley) is a gullible, earnest, wide-eyed Hollywood newbie who just landed a position as studio executive Buddy Ackerman’s (Kevin Spacey) assistant. From day one, Buddy berates Guy and makes it clear that Guy’s only purpose is to serve his boss’s needs, no matter how trifling. Eventually, Guy reaches his boiling point, and things get very, very ugly.

Written by George Huang

Directed by George Huang

Produced by Steve Alexander

Released by Trimark Pictures

Movie Picks | Blanche Fury (1948) | With her husband and boyfriend living under the same roof, things were bound to get ugly

Blanche Fury

When Blanche (Valerie Hobson) goes to live as a governess at her wealthy uncle’s massive estate, it isn’t long before she marries her cousin and becomes the mistress of the house. Things get complicated when she begins a love affair with Philip (Stewart Granger), an angst-ridden employee of the estate who also happens to be the illegitimate son of the estate’s former owner. Things take a dark turn when Philip announces his intentions to kill Blanche’s uncle and husband/cousin to gain control of the estate.

Written by Audrey Erskine-Lindop, Cecil McGivern, Hugh Mills (based on the novel by Joseph Shearing, which was actually a pseudonym for Marjorie Bowen)

Directed by Marc Allegret

Produced by Anthony Havelock-Allan

Released by Eagle Lion Films