Friday, April 17, 2009

Ingrid Bergman, Margaret O'Brien, and Delusional Downtown Divas

I've spent the last couple of days reading Notorious, Donald Spoto's biography of Ingrid Bergman. I'm just less than halfway into it. Not bad.

I spent some of yesterday afternoon watching Lena Dunham's web series for Index Magazine, Delusional Downtown Divas. Despite being a Computer Art major and having studied 20th Century Art History extensively, I had no idea that Lena Dunham's parents were prominent artists in the '80s art scene until I googled her after seeing Creative Nonfiction. No doubt that growing up in this environment served as the inspiration for Delusional Downtown Divas. Since Index's website doesn't allow you to embed the video elsewhere, I'm going to link to the best episodes:

Ry Russo-Young and Amy Seimetz guest star in this episode, which features them as members of Mountain Don't, the Feminist Art Collective that the title characters are trying to get into

This episode features a not-immediately-recognizable Mary Bronstein as an assistant to a legendary "Penis Painter" that AgNess is trying to get a job with.

Finally, Isaac Mizrahi guest stars in an episode. The girls seek Mizrahi out for advice on how to make art their career.

Also yesterday afternoon, I saw a movie I DVR'd on TCM called Her First Romance, starring Margaret O'Brien and released by Columbia in 1951, not long after O'Brien was released from her contract. I've been intrigued by this movie since I read about it in Cinemania (Microsoft's CD-ROM forerunner to the IMDb) when I was 13.

It was entertaining enough. The plot isn't really that much different from your average DCOM. O'Brien's character has a crush on a boy, chases him to summer camp, and goes so far as to hitchhike back to her father's ice factory to steal money (and, accidentally an important note), which nearly puts her father out of business so that she can compete in "Mardi Gras Games" with him. Elinor Donahue, a few years before Father Knows Best, appears in the film as O'Brien's rival.

However, seeing O'Brien in this after seeing her in Meet Me In St. Louis is a little disappointing. The intensity she had in that movie is not present here; if anything, it seems marginalized. Still, O'Brien managed to make something of a transition into being an adult actress, but like her fellow child star Hayley Mills, her greatest adult successes have been in the theater.

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