You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This

United States

You Must Remember This is a storytelling podcast exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. It’s the brainchild and passion project of Karina Longworth (founder of Cinematical.com, former film critic for LA Weekly), who writes, narrates, records and edits each episode. It is a heavily-researched work of creative nonfiction: navigating through conflicting reports, mythology, and institutionalized spin, Karina tries to sort out what really happened behind the films, stars and scandals of the 20th century.

Episodes

92: Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: Mommie Dearest  

The year after Joan Crawford died, her estranged, adopted daughter Christina published a tell-all, accusing her late mother of having been an abusive monster when the cameras weren’t around. Three years later, Mommie Dearest became a movie, starring the only actress of the “new Hollywood” who Joan herself had commended, Faye Dunaway. The disastrous production of that film revealed how much had changed in Hollywood since Joan’s heyday, and the finished film did much to mutate Joan’s persona in the minds of future generations. 

91: Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: Bette Davis, "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?," and Crawford’s last years  

Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?  has done more to define later generation’s ideas about who Crawford was than perhaps any other movie that she was actually in. Unfortunately, most of those ideas center around Crawford’s supposed feud with co-star Bette Davis, which began as a marketing ploy and turned into something quasi-real - or, at least as real as certain celebrity “feuds” of today. 

90: Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: The Middle Years (Mildred Pierce to Johnny Guitar)  

Joan Crawford struggled through what she called her “middle years,” the period during her 40s before she remade herself from aging, slumping MGM deadweight into a fleet, journeywoman powerhouse who starred in some of the most interesting films about adult womanhood of the 1940s and 1950s. That revival began with Mildred Pierce (for which Crawford won her only Oscar), and included a number of films, such as Daisy Kenyon and Johnny Guitar, directed by men who would later be upheld as auteurs, subversively making personal art within the commercial industry of Hollywood. 

89: Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: Clark Gable, Franchot Tone and Barbara Payton  

By the mid-1930s, Joan Crawford was very, very famous, and negotiating both an affair with Clark Gable (her most frequent co-star and the only male star of her stature), and a new marriage to Franchot Tone, who, like Joan’s first husband, was an actor who was not quite on her level of stardom. Crawford’s marriage to Tone would span the back half of the decade, as Crawford’s stardom peaked, and then began its first decline. Today we’ll talk about that, and then we’ll tell a story about what happened to Franchot Tone after Joan Crawford - particularly, the strange love triangle he entered into in the 1950s, with the gorgeous but self-destructive starlet Barbara Payton at its center.

88: Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. / Our Dancing Daughters to Grand Hotel  

Joan Crawford’s early years in Hollywood were like - well, a pre-code Joan Crawford movie: a highly ambitious beauty of low birth does what she has to do (whatever she has to do) to transform herself into a well-respected glamour gal at the top of the food chain. Her romance with Douglas Fairbanks Jr - the scion of the actor/producer who had been considered the King of Hollywood since the early days of the feature film - began almost simultaneous to Crawford’s breakout hit, Our Dancing Daughters. But the gum-snapping dame with the bad reputation would soon rise far above her well-born husband, cranking out a string of indelible performances in pre-code talkies before hitting an early career peak in the Best Picture-winning Grand Hotel. 

87: Six Degrees of Joan Crawford: Douglas Fairbanks / Lucille LeSueur Goes to Hollywood  

In order to understand Joan Crawford’s rise to fame, we have to talk about what Joan - born Lucille LeSueur, and called “Billie Cassin” for much of her childhood - was like before she got to Hollywood, and what Hollywood was like before she got there. To accomplish the latter, we’ll focus on Douglas Fairbanks: top action star of the silent era, the definition of Hollywood royalty, and the father of Crawford’s first husband.

86: The Blacklist Part 16: Kirk Douglas, Dalton Trumbo, and Otto Preminger (Breaking the Blacklist, Part 2)  

How did the Blacklist come to an end? If you ask Kirk Douglas, the end began with his hiring of Dalton Trumbo to write Spartacus -- or, rather Douglas flaunting of that hiring. Otto Preminger, who hired Trumbo to write Exodus, might see it differently. In truth, the end of the blacklist was a process that took over a decade, and couldn’t have happened without actions taken by Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, director Joseph Losey, and president John F. Kennedy. We'll talk about the connection between the end of the blacklist and the weakening of the production code, and what both had to do with the slow dissolution of the studio system amidst the rise of independent producers and a younger generation of audiences. Finally, we’ll discuss how those who had been blacklisted struggled to move on. 

85: The Blacklist Part 15: Frank Sinatra and Albert Maltz (Breaking The Blacklist, Part 1)  

In the first of two episodes about major stars attempting to end the Blacklist, we’ll look at Frank Sinatra’s efforts to hire Hollywood Ten member Albert Maltz. Timing got in the way of Sinatra’s good intentions: this was the exact moment when Sinatra had become the coolest middle-aged man in America as “chairman of the board” of the newly-formed Vegas act now known as the Rat Pack. It was also the moment when Sinatra thought he was on the verge of acquiring real political power through his proximity to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.

Blacklist Flashback: Frank Sinatra through 1945  

Before our episode on Frank Sinatra’s attempt to end the blacklist, we’re going to flashback to an episode from April 2015, on Sinatra’s rise to fame and his experiences during World War II.  In the early 1940s, shortly after skyrocketing to fame as a heartthrob crooner, Sinatra was perceived, and from some corners pilloried, as a draft dodger. Today we’ll talk about how Sinatra acquired that reputation, how it impacted his early career, and the early success which, as we’ll see next week, faded, and became something that Sinatra struggled to recapture, and couldn’t bear to let go of once he did so. 

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84: The Blacklist Part 14: After the Fall: Arthur Miller  

Arthur Miller considered Elia Kazan a close friend and collaborator, but when Kazan named names to HUAC, Miller broke with him and wrote The Crucible, a parable about anti-communist hysteria set amidst the Salem Witch Trials. But despite the committee’s sensitivity to criticism, HUAC didn’t subpoena Miller until he became engaged to Marilyn Monroe, then the biggest star and sex symbol of her day. Miller and Kazan would remain estranged for a decade, until the latter directed a play written by the former which, while drawing headlines for its depiction of Monroe, also seemed to parallel their falling out over HUAC.

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83: The Blacklist Part 13: On the Waterfront: Elia Kazan  

Elia Kazan introduced audiences to Warren Beatty, James Dean and Marlon Brando. His films of the 1950s -- including A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, and East of Eden -- comprise perhaps the most impressive body of work of an American director of the decade. But Kazan, who was briefly a Communist in the 1930s, likely would not have been able to make many of those films had he not named names to HUAC in 1952. 

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82: The Blacklist Part 12: Stormy Weather: Lena Horne + Paul Robeson  

Horne's last years at MGM overlapped with the first HUAC hearings. Horne, an outspoken proponent of equal rights, who from the beginning of her career had associated with leftists and “agitators,” got caught up in the anti-communist insanity. One of those agitators was Paul Robeson, a singer, actor and political firebrand who was a mentor and friend to Horne. But once the red panic began to heat up, that friendship became problematic for Lena, and like so many others, she was forced to choose between her career and her friendships.  

Blacklist Flashback: Lena Horne During WWII  

Stunning singer/actress Lena Horne was the first black performer to be given the full glamour girl star-making treatment. But as the years went on and her studio failed to make much use of her, Horne started feeling like a token — and she wasn’t wrong. Today we’ll detail Horne’s experiences rising through the ranks of the black nightclub world to MGM, where she remained under contract through the 1940s, and found herself competing with Ava Gardner for parts. Next week, we’ll talk about Horne’s post-MGM career and her struggle to stay off the blacklist. This episode originally ran in February 2015.

81: The Blacklist Part 11: Born Yesterday: Judy Holliday  

Judy Holliday won an Oscar for her first starring film role, and of her eight major film roles between 1950 and 1960, four were in films now considered classics. She was one star who was subpoenaed to testify about her ties to Communism who was fully supported by her studio and subsequently wasn’t blacklisted from movies. Holliday’s career was short-lived nonetheless, in part because she represented a highly idiosyncratic, working-class, urban, Jewish authenticity in a time when conformity was being peddled as an equivalent to safety.

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80: The Blacklist Part 10: Salt of the Earth: Howard Hughes + Paul Jarrico  

Today we explore one of the more troubling aspects of Howard Hughes’ legacy: the firm hand he played in enforcing the blacklisting of Hollywood workers, both as the head and owner of RKO Pictures, and as a powerful rich guy whose influence went as high as the U.S. Congress. This episode also tells the story of Paul Jarrico, the first screenwriter to be taken to court by a studio (RKO) over the question of his firing during the blacklist period. In partnership with the also-blacklisted writer Michael Wilson and director Herbert Biberman, Jarrico then made Salt of the Earth, a pro-Union, proto-feminist, Neorealist-influenced independent film which the blacklisting-supporting unions effectively silenced, with the help of the media, politicians, and Hughes.

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Blacklist Flashback: Howard Hughes + Jane Russell  

In advance of next week’s episode dealing with Howard Hughes’ role in the blacklist, we revisit our October 2014 episode on Hughes’ relationship with Jane Russell, his wartime efforts to balance his aviation and moviemaking businesses, and his shaky run as head of RKO Pictures. Also: Ava Gardner gets violent, Hughes’ 15 year-old muse, and how Russell’s boobs did what the Spruce Goose couldn’t.

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79: The Blacklist Part 9: She: Richard Nixon + Helen Gahagan Douglas  

The wife of actor Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka, Being There), Helen Gahagan Douglas transformed herself from a Broadway and opera star into an exciting new politician in the days of FDR. A persistent, nagging voice of conscience in Congress during the time of HUAC and nuclear panic, Douglas’ political career came to an end amidst irresponsible allegations that she was a Communist supporter -- many of which were leveled at her by her opponent in the 1950 Senate race, Richard Nixon. 

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78: The Blacklist Part 8: Storm Warning: Ronald Reagan, the FBI and HUAC  

The post-war Communist witch hunt had a big impact on Ronald Reagan’s evolution from movie actor to politician, and from Democrat to Republican. And Ronald Reagan had a major personal impact on the witch hunt’s manifestation in Hollywood, the Blacklist. This episode will trace the years in which Reagan was primarily known as a movie and TV star, and explore his two marriages to actresses, his testimony to HUAC, his behind-the-scenes work as an informer to the FBI, his late-career incarnation as bridge between Hollywood and corporate America, and more. 

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This episode is also brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. For a limited time, The Great Courses plus is offering my listeners a chance to stream hundreds of their courses for FREE at thegreatcoursesplus.com/REMEMBER

77: The Blacklist Part 7: Monsieur Verdoux: Charlie Chaplin's Road to Hollywood Exile  

Picking up where last week’s episode left off, we’ll catch up with Chaplin’s post-The Great Dictator activism, talk about Chaplin’s savage satirical follow-up, Monsieur Verdoux, and explain the witch hunt that ended with him forced to leave his adopted home, and Hollywood career, behind.

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Blacklist Flashback: Charlie Chaplin During World War II  

In 1922, Charlie Chaplin was one of the most beloved men in the world. In 1952, after over a decade of being publicly shamed, he was essentially manipulated into self-deportation. What happened in between? We’ll explain over two episodes, beginning with this flashback to an episode that originally ran in March 2015, detailing Chaplin’s politics, his fascination with Adolf Hitler, the making and release of The Great Dictator, and the sex scandal that gave J. Edgar Hoover an opening to persecute Chaplin.

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