Staff Picks August 2021

STAFF Picks (1)

Emily’s Picks

DVD: The Adventures of Robin Hood
robin hoodThis definitive version of the classic tale stars Errol Flynn, perfectly cast as the titular thief, and Olivia de Havilland as his Maid Marian. Filled with swashbuckling action, romance, humor, and dazzling technicolor cinematography, this film has the true spirit of adventure that any good Robin Hood film ought to. It truly stands the test of time.

CD: Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissettejagged little pill
This landmark alternative rock album– with its grungy sound and honest, even aggressive lyrics– is sure to give you  big 90’s vibes. This album, with hits like “One Hand in My Pocket,” “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know,” and “Head Over Feet,” topped charts in its decade and still gets a lot of play today. It’s easy to see why; the fuzzy guitar, canned drums, and Morissette’s own distinct vocals combine to create a style that is iconic, and truly all her own.

Jessie’s Picks

DVD: The Blues Brothers
blues bros“Jake and Elwood Blues, two hoodlum brothers searching for redemption, set out to locate and reenlist the members of their defunct rhythm and blues band in order to raise some honest money.”

Audiobook: The Lady With the Gun Asks the Questions gun lady last tryby Kerry Greenwood
“In these four stories, the 1920s’ most elegant, witty, and irrepressible sleuth, Phryne Fisher, is up to her eyes in intriguing crime, along with the ever loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr. Butler, and all of Phryne’s friends.”

 

John’s Picks

DVD: Harriet
harrietThis biopic dramatizes the heroic life of Harriet Tubman (played by Cynthia Erivo), former enslaved person turned lead “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Born Araminta “Minty” Ross in Dorchester County Maryland, Tubman daringly escapes north to Pennsylvania relying on help from an underground network of abolitionists. Increasingly lonely in a strange northern city, and inspired by a “Moses-like,” prophetic calling, Tubman returns south on numerous missions to free her people.

Audiobook: The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Bottonjoys sorrows work
Fascinating study of the modern “workplace” with profound philosophical commentary on how we can find value and make the most out of seemingly mundane jobs. Flashier jobs like lawyers, doctors, and businesspersons may get romanticized and broader attention for having the greatest immediate impact on our world, but De Botton encourages us to reconsider those assumptions and suggests how even a simple biscuit manufacturer or electrician contributes to human progress.

Kim’s Picks

DVD: The Farthest: Voyager in Space
farthest voyagerIn 1977 NASA launched two Voyager probes.  Their mission:  go where no human-made device had gone before, the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus).  The mission succeeded spectacularly and the probes are now traversing interstellar space.  The chances that a sentient alien civilization will discover them is slim, but…

CD: Boston BostonBostonby Boston
In 1976, the year before Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours broke into the stratosphere, Boston had done the same and saved the group from dissolution via “More Than a Feeling,” “Foreplay/Long Time,” and “Peace of Mind.”  This is a seminal rock album.

Mary’s Picks

DVD: The White Queen
white queenA complicated and fascinating period of English history. Shows the story of the women involved during the War of the Roses. Rebecca Ferguson is superb as Elizabeth Woodville.

Audiobook: The Da Vinci Code by9781415934777 Dan Brown
This book is a pseudo-history book hidden in a mystery book. What makes it stand out is the history it presents throughout. Da Vinci’s painting of the last supper will never look the same after you read this book. One of the most fun books I’ve ever read, will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Stephanie’s Picks

DVD: The Skeleton Twins
skeleton twins“Maggie and Milo are estranged twins who are reunited after ten years of being apart. Follow their unforgettable journey to reconnect, as they realize that the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship.”

Audiobook: A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayesa colony in a nation
“Hayes examines the surge in crime that began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s, and the unprecedented decline that followed. Drawing on close-hand reporting at flashpoints of racial conflict, as well as deeply personal experiences with policing, Hayes explores cultural touchstones, from the influential “broken windows” theory to the “squeegee men” of late-1980s Manhattan, to show how fear causes us to make dangerous and unfortunate choices, both in our society and at the personal level. With great empathy, he seeks to understand the challenges of policing communities haunted by the omnipresent threat of guns. Most important, he shows that a more democratic and sympathetic justice system already exists– in a place we least suspect.”

All quoted summaries are from catalog.ccls.org.

Hollywood at Mid-Century: A Second Golden Age

“And I think that, therefore, a lot of the novels being written in our own time, how intelligent and amusing, do not have any lasting power.  They do not have that tension, that convincingness of what is absolutely new.  They are novels written by people who have too many models, and possibly the same thing is true of the cinema, which is a fair comparison.  The first 50 years of the cinema were absolutely great years.  Original minds were at work establishing the ways to tell a story.  And what is happening now is a copying, a pastiche-ing of what was done by great men.”

–S. Naipaul, PBS Online NewsHour, March 3, 2000

It is a common perception—and true—that the 1930s was a golden age for film in the U.S.  The kinks inherent in converting from silent to sound were overcome in quick time, and as a new art, or half-art (there are many silent masterpieces), sound era filmmakers experimented and often perfected various aspects of movie-making.  The influx of European filmmakers like directors Fritz Lang, Josef Von Sternberg and Ernst Lubitsch, escaping increasingly fascistic and censorious Europe, helped immeasurably to produce movies that were entertaining (especially during the Great Depression), a way for immigrants to learn English, and dealt with hot button social issues.

Even after the Production Code was instituted in 1934 to placate citizens or such organizations as the Legion of Decency complaining about violence, sex, and irreligiosity, Hollywood’s best found a way to subvert the Code and make innovative and artistic movies.  The final year of the wizard of oz 2decade was and remains the greatest year in cinema history.  Genre variety was on view in Destry Rides Again, Gone With The Wind, Gunga Din, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dark Victory, The Women, Love Affair, Son of Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, The Roaring Twenties, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

World War II quashed the boom.  Most Continental markets were closed to U.S. product.  Escapism and patriotism were dominant themes.

Little remarked upon was the second golden age in Hollywood that ran from approximately 1948 into the mid-1950s.  The late 40s had witnessed a plethora of what became known as film noir, the “dark cinema.”  It seems plain that the horrors of WW II caused many filmmakers, some of whom like George Stevens and John Huston, and actors like James Stewart and Clark Gable, who witnessed the war first-hand, to tackle the angst that no one really wanted to dissect or that everyday citizens were generally unaware of.  Below the surface of a heady postwar economy that was creating material benefits for a large proportion of the population lay a dark underbelly of criminality which in film noir was home to a plethora of sociopaths.

Naturally not all films or even crime films made up the majority of studio product.  But times had irrevocably changed, and especially under Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, issues that were addressed included racism (Pinky), antisemitism (Gentleman’s Agreement, Crossfire), alcoholism (Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman, The Lost Weekend), and mental illness (The Snake Pit).

Exclusive of lavish musicals and some westerns, this remained for the most part a black and white cinema, which not only worked for noir but for movies where story counted for more than special effects and on-location shooting.

Without knowing it, mid-century Hollywood had been primed for a new golden age.  Depending on your sensibilities and opinion of what foreign affairconstitutes excellence, this period can be dated from approximately The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to On the Waterfront.  These movies were models of craftsmanship and include:

A Foreign Affair (Paramount, 1948).  Director Billy Wilder’s acerbic comedy-drama filmed in the rubble of postwar Germany.

Hamlet (Rank/Universal, 1948).  An impeccable rendering of Shakespeare’s most famous play features Laurence Olivier, who else?  He gives an Academy Award-winning performance, needless to say.

 I Remember Mama (RKO, 1948).  The superb thirties screwball comedienne Irene Dunne was transitioning into more mature parts, and this George Stevens production gave her an exceptional role as Marta Hanson, gently guiding her Norwegian immigrant family through growing pains in early 20th Century San Francisco.

Red River (United Artists, 1948).  The definitive cattle drive epic with John Wayne has more compelling scenes than you can shake a stick at and made Montgomery Clift a star. 

The Search (MGM, 1948).  Montgomery Clift is a U.S. soldier in postwar Germany who takes in a young refugee whose mother is desperately trying to find him.  Gut-wrenching.  Like A Foreign Affair, it was filmed on location amidst the ruins.

 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Warner Bros., 1948).  John Huston, who’d filmed carnage on the Italian front in WW II, directed the mysterious B. Traven’s novel in which gold-seekers in Mexico confront bandidos and their own demons.  Alfonso Bedoya, known as “The Face That Kills,” introduces the much-parodied “Badges?  We ain’t got no badges.  We don’t need no badges.  I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”treasure of sierra

All the King’s Men (Columbia, 1949).  Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of political corruption gave bulky character actor Broderick Crawford the role of a lifetime and won him an Academy Award.  The movie also won Best Picture.  “It could have been whole world, Willie Stark.”

Champion (United Artists, 1949).  Kirk Douglas scores mightily as a boxer on the rise whose drive to compete comes to a terminal finale.

The Heiress (Paramount, 1949).  In another early outing, Montgomery Clift ingratiates himself with the plain but well-off Olivia de Havilland, much to the annoyance of her father played by Ralph Richardson.

A Letter to Three Wives (Fox, 1949).  Joseph L. Mankiewicz won Academy Awards for direction and writing this tale of three spouses (Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern) wondering which of their husbands had an affair with mutual friend Adie Ross.

Twelve O’Clock High (Fox, 1949).  Gregory Peck scored another triumph and an Academy Award nomination as General Savage, assigned a U.S. bomber group whose previous commander Keith Davenport (Gary Merrill) was perceived to have burned out.  Savage is a hard-ass but even he must come to terms with the need to send his B-17 crews over Germany with the certainty that many won’t return.  The film was nominated for Best Picture.  Others serving with distinction in the all-male cast include Paul Stewart, Millard Mitchell, and Philly’s own Hugh Marlowe.  Dean Jagger won a Supporting Actor Academy Award, and his character begins the story from the perspective of 1949, when in an intensely melancholic scene he surveys the now-desolate British airfield and lets his mind wander backward in time.  Alfred Newman’s score compliments perfectly a flawless movie.

White Heat (Warner Bros., 1949).  Thirties era numero uno film gangster returns in rare form as the psychopathic, mother-fixated Cody Jarett.  Bullet-ridden at the top of an oil tank, he’s “Made it, Ma!  Top of the world!”

Adam’s Rib (MGM, 1950).  Spencer Tracy is an assistant district attorney, Kate Hepburn his wife, defense attorney for the woman (Judy Holiday) accused of attempted murder.  Beware the licorice pistol.

All About Eve (Fox, 1950).  Again, Joseph Mankiewicz garners directing and writing Academy Awards, and Bette Davis is nominated for playing all about evestage icon Margo Channing, idolized by sneaky wannabe star Eve (Anne Baxter).  “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

The Asphalt Jungle (MGM, 1950).  John Huston directs the first full-fledged heist movie in which the planning and aftermath are as important as the robbery itself.

Born Yesterday (Columbia, 1950).  Judy Holiday won an Academy Award for her definitive dumb—but capable of learning—blonde Billee Dawn opposite William Holden and Broderick Crawford.

Father of the Bride (MGM, 1950).  Spencer Tracy is ignored when his daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) plans her wedding.  A scene that must rank with the most hilarious in movie history is Tracy’s nightmare in which he arrives late at church and can’t negotiate the aisle due to a rippling floor and his tuxedo being torn from his body.  At the altar, Taylor must avert her eyes from a dad making a travesty of her special day.

The Gunfighter (Fox, 1950).  Gregory Peck teams up again with director Henry King to star as Ringo, a gunman of renown trying to escape his past.  Every young punk (perfectly cast Richard Jaeckel and Skip Homeier) is in pursuit to take his mantle.  Millard Mitchell of Twelve O’Clock High is back, with Karl Malden as Mac the bartender.

Sunset Boulevard (Paramount, 1950).  Yet again director Billy Wilder creates a masterpiece. sunset boulevard Faded, reclusive movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) takes up with young man (William Holden), who becomes her live-in lover.  It features the paramount tribute to Hollywood as the insane Desmond descends the stairs between reporters, thinking she’s preparing to make another movie, and marches into the camera and our psyche.

Ace in the Hole (Paramount, 1951).  Journalist on the outs Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) sees a return to glory by ingratiating himself with a man trapped in a mine and presenting his story.  Trouble is, Tatum may be impeding the man’s rescue.  Another exemplary Billy Wilder outing.

Strangers on a Train (Warner Bros., 1951).  Tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) and rich scion Bruno Antony  (Robert Walker) discuss knocking off each other’s worst nightmares in a film that for some is director Alfred Hitchcock’s best.  Trouble is, Granger doesn’t take Bruno seriously and is in for a shock.

A Streetcar Named Desire (Warner Bros., 1951).  Uncouth New Orleans denizen Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) allows his wife to provide temporary residence for her sister Blanche streetcar named desireDubois (Vivien Leigh), who relies “on the kindness of strangers” but goes off the deep end when Brando forces his attentions on her.  Noteworthy in several ways:  Brando’s iconic method acting, Leigh’s 2nd Academy Award, Alex North’s jazz score.  “Stella!”

Come Back, Little Sheba (Paramount, 1952)  As the middle-aged recovering alcoholic “Doc,” robust Burt Lancaster reveled in the chance to play against type.  As his frumpy wife Lola, Shirley Booth repeated her stage role and won an Academy Award.

The Lusty Men (RKO, 1952).  Brokedown rodeo competitor Jeff McCloud (Robert Mitchum) takes wannabe star Wes Merritt (Arthur Kennedy) under his wing while Kennedy’s long-suffering wife Louise (Susan Hayward) resists temptation.

Viva Zapata! (Fox, 1952).  Director Elia Kazan’s second film outing with Marlon Brando is a biopic of the Mexican revolutionary during the early days of the 20th century.  Antony Quinn won the first of two Supporting Actor Academy Awards, the second being for 1956’s Lust for Life.

From Here to Eternity (Columbia, 1953).  James Jones’ scandalous novel of the peacetime army in Hawaii on the eve of World War II became the movie they said couldn’t be made but turned into a multi-Academy Award winner, including Best Picture.  Supporting Actor and Actress awards went to Frank Sinatra and Donna Read.  Burt Lancaster, also nominated, holds it all together as Master Sergeant Milt Warden, engaging in an affair with company commander’s wife Karen (Deborah Kerr) and trying to make sure thuggish Fatso Judson (Ernest Borgnine) doesn’t mess with his platoon.         on the waterfront

Executive Suite (MGM, 1954).  William Holden and Barbara Stanwyck head one of the finest power casts of all time.  In support:  Fredric March, June Allyson, Paul Douglas, Walter Pidgeon, Louis Calhern, Shelley Winters, Nina Foch.

On the Waterfront (Columbia, 1954).  With the assistance of director Elia Kazan, Marlon Brando wins his first Academy Award as Terry Malloy, dockworker by day, boxer on the upswing by night.  But mobster Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) and Terry’s duplicitous brother Charley (Rod Steiger) muddle his chances for a championship bout.  Won the Best Picture Academy Award, and newcomer Eva Marie Saint Best Supporting Actress.  Brando’s taxi cab conversation with Rod Steiger became a classic:  “You don’t understand.  I coulda had class.  I coulda been a contenda!  I coulda been somebody.  Instead of a bum, which is what I am.  Let’s face it.”

By Kim

New Releases

MoviesMortal Kombat 
M. C. Escher: Journey to Infinity
Last Days
Never Gonna Snow Again
Three Summers
Mortal Kombat
Separation
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run
Wrath of Man
The Night
No Man’s Land
Picture a Scientist
Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten
The Virus That Shook the World
Backstrom series 1
Sicilia!: Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?
Dream Horse
Spiral: from the book of Saw Spongebob movie
Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy
Fighting for Fertility
Reef Rescue
A Quiet Place Part II
The Birthday Cake
Hindenburg
Hetty Feather

TV Series
Defending Jacob
Playing For Keeps season 2
The Brokenwood Mysteries series 7
Gangs of London season 1
Shameless season 11
The Spanish Princess season 2
Star Trek Discovery season 3
The Walking Dead season 10the spanish princess
American Gods season 3
Finding Your Roots season 7
Keeping Faith series 3
Unforgotten season 4

Music
Better Mistakes by Bebe Rexha
Day By Day by White Flowers
Jam & Lewis Volume 1 by Jam & Lewis
Dark Nights: Death Metal Soundtrack
Hideaway by Wavves
Red Rocks 2020 by Nathaniel Rateliff
Southern Soul: From Memphis to Muscle Shoals & More by Lucinda Williams
Layla Revisited (Live at Lockn’) by Tedeschi Trucks Band & Trey Anastasio
For Once In My Life: A Celebration of Motown by Il Divo
Grapefruit Season by James Vincent McMorrow
SOB Rock by John Mayer Welcome to the madhouse
Welcome to the Madhouse by Tones and I
10 Babymetal Years by Babymetal
All Over the Place by KSI
Chloe Flower by Chloe Flower
Detour de Force by Barenaked Ladies
Hotel Surrender by Chet Faker
Iconic Woman of Country by various artists
Deadpan Love by Cautious Clay
Sling by Clairo
Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night by Bleachers
A Residency in the Los Angeles Area by Naia Izumi
Gold-Diggers SoundStand for Myself Yola by Leon Bridges
McCartney III Imagined by Paul McCartney
662 by Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram
Bills & Aches & Blues by various artists
Downhill From Everywhere by Jackson Browne
For Free by David Crosby
Triage by Rodney Crowell
Strange Beauty by Hemai
Aretha by Aretha Franklin
Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish
Into the Mystery by NEEDTOBREATHE
The Neon Remixed by Erasure
Welcome 2 America by Prince It's Better This Way
Electro Melodier by Son Volt
Stand For Myself by Yola
Texas to Tennessee by Clay Walker
Aquarius by Toby Lee

Audiobooks
The Cellist by Daniel Silva
The Therapist by B. A. Paris
Black Ice by Brad Thor
False Witness by Karin Slaughter
It’s Better This Way by Debbie Macomber

Free Checkouts Starting This Month!

Blog Post

Beginning in the month of August, the Chester County Library will no longer be charging rental fees for certain items in our Multimedia collection.

All of the DVDs in our collection can be checked out for free starting this month, which means you can watch as many of your favorite movies and shows as you want without spending a cent! As before, movies are available for one-week loans, TV series for two-week loans. And even our most popular new releases, a three-day loan, are totally free! But it’s not just movies– this change applies to many other items in the collection as well.

Our Binge Boxes are mini movie collections, usually of about 4 to 6 DVDs, set around a theme (see our list of Binge Boxes here!). These are great for vacations, parties, or cozy nights in, and are available for free one-week loans.

Audiobooks are also free to check out! These include all of our books on CD as well as our collection of Playaways— small, portable MP3 players that you can listen to with headphones or an AUX cord in your car. These are great for long car trips or workouts and, like all of our audiobooks, are available for three-week loans.

Our collection of Great Courses— full-length, in-depth courses taught by award-winning professors –is now free as well! They come in both audio and video formats, and can be taken out for a three-week loan. Browse our Great Courses here!

This huge selection of exciting materials is now available at no cost to you– so if there is any part of the collection you’d like to explore, now is the time to start! For any questions concerning this change, please call the Multimedia department at 610-344-5667.

Staff Picks July 2021

Emily’s Picks

DVD: Ever After
ever afterMaybe my favorite adaptation of Cinderella, this movie has everything you could want from a fairy tale retelling: a great cast (especially Drew Barrymore as a spunky and active heroine), splendid costumes, lots of humor and heart, and of course a sweeping love story!

CD: Greatest Hits: Sound and Vision by Blondie sound and vision
This “greatest hits” album lives up to its name by including all ten of the iconic rock band’s US chart-toppers, and several of their UK hits as well. All the best songs from their Parallel Lines album are here, along with classics such as “The Tide is High,” “Call Me,” and “Maria.”

Jessie’s Picks

DVD: Independence Day
welcome to earth“Massive spaceships appear in Earth’s skies and wonder turns to terror as the ships blast destructive beams of fire down on cities all over the planet. The world’s only hope lies with a determined band of survivors.”

Audiobook: Shoot to Thrill shoot to thrillby P.J. Tracy
“When Minneapolis homicide cops are called to a derelict stretch of the Mississippi River, they see a bride, facedown, dead in the water. But it’s not long before the Monkeewrench Crew discovers a frightening link between the unlucky bride and the latest, most horrific use of the Internet yet.”

John’s Picks

DVD: Non-Stop
non stopLiam Neeson at his best in this intense action thriller! A US Air Marshall must identify the individual threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes for ransom. So many twists & turns you’ll be left guessing (probably incorrectly) along with Bill Marks (Neeson).

CD: This Land by Gary Clark Jr.this land gary
The winner of the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Clark is a master on the guitar, and he’s evolving into a leading figure in the industry with a unique blend of blues and rock.

Kim’s Picks

DVD: War and Peace
war and peaceSergei Bondarchuk directs and stars as Pierre in this epic of epics based on Leo Tolstoy’s historical novel that follows several segments of Russian society during Napoleonic times.  Stupendous battle scenes depict Austerlitz and Borodino, and the grand balls may only be topped by those in The Leopard21 lessons (1965).  Tender and life-altering moments for the young and vibrant Natasha contain equal pleasures.

Audiobook: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
Harari has written three best-selling books in the past few years, all of which expand the reader’s mind:  this, Homo Deus, and Sapiens.  In 21 Lessons Harari makes what should be self-evident:  put on the back burner the age-old question about the meaning of life.  Priority number one must be, “how do we stop suffering?”

Mary’s Picks

DVD: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
prince of persiaFun, action packed adventure based on the video game. With great costumes and sets, this fantasy will keep you entertained all the way through.

CD: La Vie en Rose Original Soundtrack la vie
This soundtrack to the 2007 Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie en Rose features not only iconic Piaf songs  but is also filled out by pieces from the original score that convey the feelings and themes of the film.

Stephanie’s Picks

Libby Audiobook: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrixsouthern vampire
“A supernatural thriller set in South Carolina in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious stranger who turns out to be a real monster”

CD: Jaime by Brittany Howard
Jaime is the name of Brittany Howard’s sister, a sibling who died from a rare cancer when she Jaime Brittany Howardwas 13 years old. Howard began reckoning with the enduring ramifications of her loss when she started writing a memoir, an exercise that eventually led to her 2019 solo debut Jaime. Running a tight 35 minutes but containing a lifetime’s worth of drama and insight, Jaime is bracing in its adventure and generosity. Trace elements of Americana can be heard… but Jaime could never be mistaken for an Alabama Shakes album. It’s too funky and too fluid in how it embraces noise, art, and soul… Jaime plays the way memories do: specific facts get lost to a truth that gets larger as years pass, where the familiarity can be reassuring yet melancholy. Howard’s embrace of all the mess of life gives Jaime its sustenance. Her audacity is apparent upon the first listen, but subsequent spins are profound and nourishing.”

All quoted material from catalog.ccls.org.

The Quotable Colleen Gray

Although film aficionados are familiar with Coleen Gray (1922 – 2015), she is not a household name. Nevertheless, her career on the big screen and TV was long and contained a number of highlights. Not many had such a promising start in multiple first-class films. Who knows why that didn’t continue? Poor agent? Unwilling to go the casting couch route with a studio exec? Marriage and family? (Somehow Jeanne Crain managed to be a 20th Century Fox mainstay from 1944 into the 50s despite birthing 7 children, although she did give up the plum role of Eve to Anne Baxter in the Nightmareb1950 classic All About Eve.)

After small and/or uncredited appearances in several films, Gray got the “and Introducing” honor as Victor Mature’s neighbor and future wife Nettie in the seminal noir Kiss of Death (1947). (Until relatively recently, Richard Widmark’s overpowering debut as the giggling psychopath Tommy Udo sucked all the oxygen from the other players. Of late, Mature has come in for well-deserved kudos.)

In her next film, the same year, Gray not only had another superstar to play against but initiated her unheralded spate of memorable lines.  Nightmare Alley has become an increasingly hailed noir that Tyrone Power was keen to use as a way to demonstrate that he was more than just a pretty boy—maybe Hollywood’s handsomest star.  He’d taken a step in that direction the previous year in The Razor’s Edge and wanted to keep that ball Redriverarolling. In Nightmare, he played con man Stan Carlisle and Gray his wife who eventually had enough and stood up to him: “Wait a minute, mister. You’re not talking to one of your chumps. You’re talking to your wife. You’re talking to somebody who knows you red, white and blue, and you can’t fool me anymore. There’s only one way I can stop you from doing this thing, and that’s to leave you.”

In 1948 Gray was John Wayne’s girl in the epic cattle drive saga Red River. Her role as Fen was small but significant. She pleaded with Tom Dunson (Wayne) to stay with the wagon train rather than leave the customary trail with crusty old Groot (Walter Brennan): “Listen to me, Tom, listen with your head and your heart, too. The sun only shines half the time, Tom, the other half is night.” He didn’t listen and regretted it the rest of his days.

SleepingaAlthough it wasn’t on the same scale or have the same prestige as her earlier movies, The Sleeping City (1950) with Richard Conte was a good crime drama set in a hospital. Once more Gray had the best lines, a monologue: “Blemishes are hid by night and every fault forgiven. The world should live by night. Dark draws people together. They can feel the need for each other. But the world gives the night to the sick, keeps for itself daylight and lets men look into faces filled with fear and hatred. Are you filled with fear and hatred?”

Like Marie Windsor, Mari Blanchard, Peggie Castle, Beverly Garland, Marla English and several Vampireaothers, Gray can in retrospect be labeled a B-movie queen of the 50s. See: Apache Drums, Copper Sky, Las Vegas Shakedown (“Nothing happens to school teachers.”), Star in the Dust, Destination 60,000, The Vampire, Hell’s Five Hours, The Leech Woman.

Occasionally Gray was in what would later be recognized as an important, even classic movie. See Stanley Kubrick’s multi-layered heist film The Killing (1956).

In the western The Black Whip (1958) Gray provided audiences with another memorable rant. As dance-hall Blackwhipafloozie Jeannie, she confronted Hugh Marlowe: “What do you know about women like me? Do you think I chose this kind of life?”

In Johnny Rocco (1958) her character’s wit and wisdom was topped by Stephen McNally, her co-star from the same year’s Hell’s Five Hours.  McNally apologized for his misstep: “Sorry, I call all dames Jack.”

The 1960s found Gray a fixture in TV series. She appeared on Perry Mason in 4 episodes between 1960 and 1966. In 1966 she was a regular on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. She guest starred on innumerable other shows and many years later was a friendly, appreciative guest at film conventions.

LGBTQIA+ Documentaries

Chester County Library is celebrating Pride all throughout the month of June, and you can celebrate with us by checking out some of the LGBTQIA+ movies in our collection! This is a list of true-life stories about members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, their lives, and the struggles and triumphs they face.

An Act of Love (2015, Not Rated)
After officiating his son’s same-sex wedding, Rev. Frank Schaefer was put on trial in the United Methodist Church, the second-largest protestant denomination in the country.

An Honest Liar (2014, Not Rated)
James Randi has made a life for himself exposing sham faith healers, psychics, and con-artists, creating many disguises and deceptions to do so. But a revelation about his personal life shows his actions in a new light.beond gay

Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride (2009, Not Rated)
In a time when Pride has become a celebration more than a protest, the Vancouver Pride Society journeys to places where Pride is an event of political action against still-rampant homophobia.

Born to Be (2020, Not Rated)
Follows the work of Dr. Jess Ting, a pioneering surgeon at the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, where trans and gender non-conforming people have access to transition-related care.

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2003, Not Rated)
Bayard Rustin was a major player in the Civil Rights movement, one of the first “freedom riders” and an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. But his role was severely diminished after being outed as homosexual.

Call Her Ganda (2018, Not Rated)call her ganda
When a Filipina transwoman is brutally murdered by a US Marine, three women demand justice for the murder and call for an end to American imperialism.

Deep in Vogue (2018, Not Rated)
Follows and celebrates the unique and colorful lives of the members of Northern Vogue, a vogue ballroom in Manchester, England.

Do I Sound Gay? (2015, Not Rated)
After a breakup, journalist David Thorpe confronts his anxiety about sounding gay, enlisting the help of actors, vocal coaches, and experts to explore the “gay voice” and what it represents in our culture.

Freddie Mercury: The Greatest Showman (2019, Not Rated)
A celebration of the life and work of the rock legend, featuring interviews with his friends, colleagues, and collaborators, as well as rare archive footage.

The Freedom to Marry (2016, Not Rated)growing up coy
Follows the trajectory of the movement for marriage equality, and the many activists who fought to win the equal right to marry.

Gender Revolution (2017, Rated TV-PG)
Katie Couric talks with scientists, experts, and everyday people, to answer questions about gender identity and explore how science and society help to construct ideas of gender.

Growing Up Coy (2016, Not Rated)
When Coy, a six-year-old transgender girl, is banned from the girls’ bathroom at her school, her parents file a discrimination suit which becomes one of the most high-profile cases in recent history.

Growing Up Trans (2015, Rated TV-14)
Explores the lives of transgender kids and teens, and the struggles and choices they and their families face along the path to transition.

The Guys Next Door (2016, Not Rated)how to survive
Follows the life of a modern gay family. Erik and Sandro live together with their daughters, who they had by a surrogate—their friend Rachel, who has three teens of her own. 

Homosaywhat? Who’s Pushing Hate? (2019, Not Rated)
Explores how cultural institutions and public figures have advanced systemic anti-LGBTQIA+ prejudice in society, from history to the current day, as well as how this prejudice can still be deeply harmful.

How to Survive a Plague (2012, Not Rated)
Tells the story of LGBTQIA+ activists who fought to end the AIDS epidemic, making their voices heard in the pharmaceutical industry to help hasten a treatment for the devastating disease.

Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story (2014, Not Rated)
A former U.S. Navy Seal shares her journey as she transitions, and contemplates the ideals of the country she served—what do they mean to her now as a transgender woman?

Making the Boys (2010, Not Rated)
The Boys in the Band memories of a penitent heartwas the first ever gay play (and subsequently Hollywood film) to reach a mainstream audience. This film explores how the play and film came to be made.

McQueen (2018, Rated R)
An intimate portrait of the life and work of legendary fashion designer Alexander McQueen, including interviews with his friends and family and archival documents.

Memories of a Penitent Heart (2016, Not Rated)
A filmmaker digs into her family’s past to uncover the truth about her uncle’s death, and to find his partner Robert. An exploration of the AIDS crisis and how faith can be used as a tool of hate.

The Most Dangerous Year (2019, Not Rated)
2016 was a dangerous year for transgender people, thanks to a slew of transphobic bathroom bills. This movie follows the battles fought by transgender people and their families for justice and fair treatment.

Out in the Open (2013, Not Rated)paris is burning
A celebration of the things that make us beautifully different, this movie interviews people from all walks of life in an attempt to foster understanding, especially for LGBTQIA+ teens. 

Out in the Silence (2009, Not Rated)
When a gay filmmaker’s wedding announcement causes controversy in his hometown, he returns to the town to help a teen who is being mercilessly bullied in school.

Paris is Burning (1990, Rated R)
Made over the course of seven years, this groundbreaking documentary explores the Black and Latine Harlem drag-ball scene, and the evolution of vogue culture in 1980s New York City.

The Queen of Ireland (2015, Not Rated)
Explores the life, art, and advocacy of Rory O’Neill, AKA Panti Bliss, an Irish drag queen and LGBTQIA+ activist.

Rebels on Pointe (2017, Not Rated)
Les Ballets Trockadero Monte Carlo is the world’s first-ever all-male drag ballet company, started on the heels of the Stonewall riots. This film shows the past and present of this notorious group. hellooooooo

Seahorse: the Dad Who Gave Birth (2019, Not Rated)
After years of soul-searching, a transgender man longing to start a family makes the choice to carry his own baby. This movie follows his pregnancy and birth and explores the tender universality of family.

To Be Takei (2014, Not Rated)
A look at the extraordinary life of trailblazing Star Trek actor George Takei, from his childhood in Japanese internment camps to his present-day life with husband Brad.

Transformer (2018, Not Rated)
A body-builder, record-holding power lifter, former Marine and father of three undergoes a gender transition and starts living her truth with a new name: Janae.

49 Pulses (2016, Not Rated)
Examines the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida—one of the worst shootings in U.S. history.

International LGBTQIA+ Films

Chester County Library is celebrating Pride all throughout the month of June, and you can celebrate with us by checking out some of the LGBTQIA+ movies in our collection! This list features LGBTQIA+ inclusive movies from all around the world!

Bad Education (Spanish, 2004, Rated R)
Follows two lifelong friends from the school where they each suffer sexual abuse, and throughout their lives, exploring how this violence colors their experiences.

Being 17 (French, 2016, Not Rated)
Two teen boys, initially rivals, are forced by unseen circumstances to live together, and must navigate their budding attraction to one another.bad edu

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (German, 1972, Not Rated)
Two women form a complicated love triangle with the eccentric fashion designer Petra von Kant when they move into her apartment.

The Cakemaker (Hebrew, 2017, Not Rated)
After his lover dies in a car crash, a young German baker moves to Jerusalem and helps his lover’s widow revitalize her café with his baking. But how long can he lie about who he is?

End of the Century (Spanish, 2019, Not Rated)
Two men encounter one another over and over in what appear to be a series of coincidences. But as they begin a love affair, they find they might be drawn together by destiny.

A Fantastic Woman (Spanish, 2017, Rated R)
Marina, a transgender waitress and nightclub singer, copes with the loss of her boyfriend and with the scrutiny his death brings upon her.

Fire (Indian, 1996, Not Rated)fire
Banned in India upon release, this was the first Indian film to explore a lesbian relationship. Trapped in loveless marriages, Sita and Radha find comfort and love in their increasingly close relationship.

Greta (Portuguese, 2019, Not Rated)
To secure a hospital bed for his dying friend, an elderly gay nurse sneaks a convict out of the hospital and begins to care for him in his apartment.

The Handmaiden (Korean, 2016, Not Rated)
A Korean woman (secretly working for a con man) is employed as a handmaiden to a wealthy Japanese lady, but falls in love with her even as she’s trying to rob her.

Hazlo Como Hombre (Spanish, 2017, Rated R)
Three lifelong friends have their world rocked when one of them comes out as gay. Initially hesitant, the other two help their friend embrace his new life.

Heartstone (Icelandic, 2016, Not Rated)no way jose
Two boys come of age one summer in a remote fishing town. One, Thor, falls in love with a girl while the other, Christian, falls in love with Thor.

Jitters (Icelandic, 2010, Not Rated)
A first kiss with a boy one summer abroad causes Gabriel to realize he is gay. Returning home, he faces scrutiny from his family, and things get more complicated when his summer crush reappears.

José (Spanish, 2018, Not Rated)
Growing up in a conservative, religious city and with an overprotective mother, José doesn’t think he’ll ever come out. But when he meets the gentle Luis, a world of new possibilities opens up.

Kanarie (Afrikaans, 2019, Not Rated)
At the height of South African Apartheid, a young man must serve his compulsory military training in the South African Defense Force Choir and Concert Group.

Knife + Heart (French, 2018, Not Rated)la cage
When porn producer Anne is dumped by her girlfriend, she vows to win her back by making an extravagant new film with a flamboyant gay man. But her plan has scary consequences…

La Cage Aux Folles (French, 1978, Rated R)
A gay couple must fool their son’s ultra-conservative new father-in-law by using their drag skills to disguise one of them as a woman. But how long can they keep up the disguise?

Mom + Mom (Italian, 2018, Not Rated)
A young lesbian couple desperately want a child, and go through many trials and tribulations trying to have one. Based on the director’s true-life experiences.

No Dress Code Required (Spanish, 2017, Not Rated)
Victor and Fernando want to get married in their small hometown of Mexicali, Mexico, but must overcome countless legal and social hurdles to do so.

North Sea Texas (Dutch, 2011, Not Rated)portrait of a lady
A teenage boy, Pim, falls in love with the boy who lives next door to him.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (French, 2019, Rated R)
A young woman is hired to secretly paint the bridal portrait of a wealthy lady recently released from a convent. As they spend time together, their friendship grows into collaboration and love.

Santa & Andres (Spanish, 2016, Not Rated)
In Eastern Cuba, a young girl is assigned to stand guard at the house of a blacklisted author for three days. But as they spend time together, they realize they have a lot in common.

Spa Night (Korean, 2016, Not Rated)
A young man starts working at a spa and, seeing gay customers there, begins to consider his own sexuality. He struggles to balance being true to himself with pleasing his traditional, conservative family.

Stranger by the Lake (French, 2013, Not Rated)
While on vacation, Franck falls madly in love with the mysterious Michel. But when a murder occurs, the men’s affair makes them the prime suspects.

Summertime (French, 2015, Not Rated)tom of finland
During the early feminist movement of the 1970s, Carol and Delphine fall in love. But when Carol is called home to the countryside, she must choose between love and duty to her family.

Thelma (Norwegian, 2017, Not Rated)
A shy young woman leaves home for college, but while there begins to suffer terrible seizures. She must cope with her burgeoning feelings for another girl as well as budding supernatural abilities.

Tom of Finland (Finnish, 2018, Not Rated)
The true-life story of the titular artist, from his time serving in WWII, to his struggles with repressive 1950s Finnish society, to the triumph of his art during the sexual revolution of the 70s.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Chinese, 2013, Not Rated)
A married doctor bumps into an old friend at a party, which awakens repressed feelings. Yearning to be more true to himself, he begins to look for true love.

The Witnesses (French, 2008, Not Rated)will you still
At the dawn of the AIDS crisis in France, the lives of a writer, her boyfriend, a renowned doctor, and a handsome young gay man all unexpectedly intersect.

Xenia (Greek, 2014, Not Rated)
After the untimely death of their mother, two brothers, Dany and Ody, travel across the countryside of Greece to find their estranged father.

XXY (Spanish, 2008, Not Rated)
Alex, an intersex teenager, begins to develop feelings for the son of a family friend. But to protect her from the prejudice of others, her family decides to move from Buenos Aires to a small, remote town.

LGBTQIA+ Comedies

Chester County Library is celebrating Pride all throughout the month of June, and you can celebrate with us by checking out some of the LGBTQIA+ movies in our collection! This list of films features movies that celebrate LGBTQIA+ friendship, love, laughter, and joy.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994, Rated R)
An aging drag queen named Bernadette relives her glory days on a road trip through the Australian desert with her friends.

Anchor and Hope (2017, Not Rated)
The idyllic life of a young lesbian couple is interrupted when one’s mother demands a grandchild. The couple and a male friend contemplate p17043_p_v10_acmaking a baby.

Battle of the Sexes (2017, Rated PG-13)
Based on the real-life match between tennis stars Billie-Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and the events in their lives that led up to the match.

The Birdcage (1996, Rated R)
A middle-aged gay couple has their lives turned upside-down when their son decides to marry the daughter of a conservative senator.

Booksmart (2019, Rated R)
Two high school best friends realize that their devotion to academics has made them miss out on some milestones. Together they try to cram four years of partying into one night before graduation.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005, Rated R)
Kitten Braden, a foundling raised in an Irish rectory, leaves Ireland for London to start a new life as nightclub singer.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, Rated R)
Tells the story of Hedwig, a genderqueer person who flees East Germany just as the Berlin Wall is about to fall, and tries to live a loud and glamorous rock and roll life.

I Love You, Phillip Morris (2009, Rated R)
After being arrested for a string of crimes, con man Steven falls in love with a prison inmate named Phillip. In order to build the perfect life for hedwigthem, Steven goes on another crime spree.

Ideal Home (2018, Not Rated)
A bickering gay couple, Paul and Erasmus, is thrown for a loop when a boy shows up on their doorstep claiming to be Erasmus’s grandson.

In and Out (1997, Rated PG-13)
After being outed by one of his students, a high school teacher struggles to conform to typical masculinity.

The Kids Are All Right (2010, Rated R)
Nic and Jules have two children and marriage that has lasted twenty years. As their oldest daughter prepares to go to college, the couple get in contact with the sperm donor who fathered their kids.

Kinky Boots (2005, Rated PG-13)
A straight-laced shoemaker enlists performer Lola to save his family business by making flamboyant stilettos for drag performers.

Lez Bomb (2018, Rated TV-14)
A young woman goes home for Thanksgiving, planning to come out to her family, but her family also has some surprises up their sleeves.love simon

Love, Simon (2018, Rated PG-13)
Simon is a closeted high-schooler, worried about coming out to his family and friends, and wondering which of his classmates is his anonymous online crush.

Never Goin’ Back (2018, Rated R)
Two high school dropouts run away from home and become waitresses to save for a beach trip. But saving turns out to be tough when life—especially nightlife—gets in the way.

Papi Chulo (2018, Rated R)
Sean, a lonely gay weatherman, hires Mexican migrant worker Ernesto to be his friend. Their friendship crosses borders of race, language, and sexuality.

Pride (2014, Rated R)
In the summer of 1984, gay activists in the U.K. help miners during their extended strike on the National Union of Mineworkers. Based on a true story.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, Rated R)
An “ordinary” couple, stranded in a storm, seek refuge in a castle where they meet Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist building Rocky, the perfect man.

Saving Face (2004, Rated R)saving face
A closeted lesbian must balance a relationship with her boss’s daughter and with housing her pregnant mother, who has been disowned by her parents.

Tangerine (2015, Rated R)
After being released from prison on Christmas Eve, sex worker Sin-Dee hears that her boyfriend has been unfaithful. She and her friend travel through L.A. to get to the bottom of things.

That’s Not Us (2015, Not Rated)
Three couples travel to a beach house for an end-of-summer getaway, only to find tension simmering among the group.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995, Rated PG-13)
Three drag queens on a cross-country road trip get stranded in a sleepy Midwestern town, and shake up the locals with their colorful personalities.

Victor, Victoria (1982, Rated PG)
Victoria, a cabaret singer, rises to fame with an act where she pretends to be a man pretending to be a woman. But things get complicated when she meets the man of her dreams.

Staff Picks June 2021

Emily’s Picks

DVD: Maurice
maurice againA sweeping and deeply romantic gay love story, based on the final novel by E.M. Forster. Maurice, a young upper-class man in Edwardian England, must come to terms with his homosexuality and his feelings for a schoolmate in a time when such a love is not only unheard of, but illegal. All the cutting social commentary and lush, breathtaking romance of a Jane Austen story, with an LGBT twist for Pride month!

CD: No Shape by Perfume Geniusno shape
Mike Hadreas (better known by his stage name, Perfume Genius) devotes his fourth album to his longtime boyfriend and the love that they have shared, as well as themes of radical self-love. It is a dreamy, fantastical, almost transcendent album, and the music will transport you somewhere beautiful. Standout tracks include “Slip Away” and “Just Like Love.”

 

Jessie’s Picks

DVD: Fast Five

faster fiveFun and over-the-top, this installment in the series is part car movie and part heist movie.  The characters are what set this series apart from other car movies.

Audiobook: Less by Andrew Sean Greer less cd
This book is one of the few humorous titles to win a Pulitzer!  To avoid truly accepting that his ex is marrying someone else, Arthur travels the world and has humorous mishaps.

 

John’s Picks

DVD: King of Queens
A classic late-90s/early-2000’s family sitcom often overshadowed by the likes of Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves king of queensRaymond, and The Office. This lineup of comedic all-stars included Kevin James, Leah Remini, Patton Oswalt, and of course, the late Jerry Stiller who’s eccentric character, Arthur Spooner, added so much to the storyline. Stiller once commented that this role tested him more than any other.  No longer competing in the primetime, this series is certainly deserving of a fresh look.

CD: False Alarm by Two Door Cinema Club false alarm
The fourth album by the Irish indie rock band delivers a new electric (almost disco-esque) feel—a style much different from the band’s earlier punk vibes. Just a colorful, feel-good album by a fun band. Their earlier albums are certainly worth a listen to as well, especially Tourist History.

 

Kim’s Picks

DVD: Scream and Scream Again
In 1970 this British horror/sci-fi film was considered too disjointed to warrant praise, and Roger Ebert gave it a negative scream and screamreview.  It did make money, however, and nowadays is reckoned something of a mini-masterpiece, an opaque or at least translucent piece of moviemaking applauded by master director Fritz Lang (Metropolis, The Big Heat).  Film historian Tim Lucas provides sharp commentary that illuminates the shenanigans involving composites (read cyborgs) who Vincent Price contends will become a super race, “but not an evil super race.”  Side-note: Price was born on May 27, while two other stars of the film, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, were born on May 27 and May 26, respectively.  How deliciously weird is that?

CD: Cinema Rhapsodies: The Musical Genius of Victor Young
Unless it is MGM house composer Herbert Stothart (Mutiny on the Bounty, Northwest Passage, Mrs. Miniver) the most cinema rhapsodiesunsung movie soundtrack composer of Hollywood’s Golden Age is Victor Young even though in his time he was reckoned the greatest and most prolific of melody makers.  Among his 22 Academy Award-nominated scores include those for My Foolish Heart, Around the World in 80 Days, Samson and Delilah, Shane, East of Eden, The High and the Mighty, and Written on the Wind.  The Uninvited (1944) featured Young’s popular and award-nominated tune, “Stella by Starlight.”  As this roster demonstrates, he was adept at composing for films in various genres.  These movies and more are represented on this CD.

 

Mary’s Picks

DVD: How to Be a Latin Lover
how to be a latin loverEugenio Derbez creates a surprisingly likable and almost heartwarming comedic character, his delivery is priceless. This movie is pretty silly, but really made me laugh.

Audiobook: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams why we sleepby Matthew Walker  
A must read for everyone. Fascinating and enlighteningly insights on many aspects related to sleeping. Very well researched. In short, make sure you get a full night’s sleep!

 

Stephanie’s Picks

DVD: Young Adult
young adultRaw and honest, funny yet uncomfortable to watch at times, Young Adult is the story of a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart.

Audiobook: I See You see youby Clare Mackintosh 
In this psychological thriller, danger lurks around every corner. You won’t want to stop listening.