“Where do you go from here? Obviously no place but down. Ekberg has been taking rent-paying jobs ever since Boccaccio ’70, but Tashlin in a sense used her up and Fellini brought her to unimagined heights, on a billboard on Mount Olympus from which there was no turning back. Or coming down, although she literally does step down from her billboard pedestal. Tashlin created a “star,” Fellini a myth.” Mark Rappaport, in an essay written to expand on his latest short film, tracks the rise and apotheosis of a sex goddess as Anita Ekberg becomes a comically exaggerated joke on celebrity under Tashlin and an erotically exaggerated icon for Fellini.
“This was the hidden fault line in all classic slapstick. Get a great comedian working at the height of his powers and relatively unfettered creative freedom and you could get a masterpiece. But the added value of great collaborators was always going to be limited. There was a wellspring of talent in Hollywood—they were pouring into the city by the bus load, and some of them were geniuses. The working method and style of the great slapstick auteurs had little use for these talents, whose skills were being wasted. Or, put another way, Slapstick 2.0 didn’t have much room for women.” David Kalat traces the cracks that would end slapstick and lead to screwball—and in his telling it’s not about sound—focusing on a scene in Tramp, Tramp, Tramp that required nothing more from Joan Crawford than the back of her head.
“This was the America in which Welles was functioning. If we interpret his life strictly in terms of his frustrated relations with the film industry, we lose touch with what he actually cared about, and what he meant to his contemporaries.” An excerpt from F. X. Feeney’s Orson Welles biography examines the political activism that had more to do with his ostracism and self-imposed exile than any wastrel behavior with studio funds, placing particular emphasis on the appalling case of Isaac Woodward, Jr.