by Melanie Pruit

My Mad Men icon

Hi, my name is Melanie Pruit, and I look nothing like Marlene Dietrich, whose image graces the banner of this blog. I don’t like the word blog (short for web-log, I guess), but I digress.  Here’s the thing: I love writing about movies. I’ve been fascinated by them for as long as I can remember. I used to watch a lot of old movies on the late show back in the day. Does anybody remember “the late show,” btw? When I was in my late teens and early-to-mid twenties, I haunted the old Granada repertory cinema on lower Greenville. Oh, the movies I took delight in there.  When I was in college, I not only had to occasionally write about movies, I took a couple of courses in which I learned a lot about how to “read” a movie just like any other text. Not only that, I’ve even dabbled in screenwriting, including taking a continuing ed worskop offered by a local college and making a nice showing in a couple of high profile competitions: my screenplay Honey L. placed in the top 10% of all scripts entered in the 1994 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting contest sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; in 2007, my Learning Meredith was among the quarter-finalists in the annual Fade-In screenwriting challenge. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I’ve been particularly intrigued by the Oscars since I was in about second grade. I actually bought my first book about the Oscars when I was in high school. I have acquired a great many books about the Oscars and movies in general in the time since then. I have been writing about the Oscars, first for fun, then for friends and associates, for approximately thirty years. I’m often asked why I’m so drawn to them. Well, the answer is three-fold:

  1. I think the Oscar statuette is one great looking piece of art. The lines, the proportions, are sublime. The surface looks so enticingly touchable. What’s not to love?
  2. I do believe there has to be some way to gauge success other than box office performance. Grosses tell us which movies are/were popular, but Oscar recognition reveals something about excellence, at least as defined by the people who actually make movies, and that seems crucial for a deeper appreciation of the cinematic arts.
  3. Finally, the thing that most interests me about the Oscars is how political they are, which I understand is the very thing that often frustrates a lot of other folks.  Often I hear remarks like, “Why can’t they just give it to the best person? Why does it always come down to who hasn’t already won or something like that?” (Worse, is “Why don’t they just give it to the movie that made the most money?) Well, the answer to that is because art is subjective. We all have our likes and dislikes for reasons that are all our own; some reasons are deeply personal and complex–others not so much. Members of the Academy are no different, nor should they be expected to be.  I like trying to make sense out of all of it.

Besides writing about movies and the Oscar for right at three decades, I also worked in the movie exhibition business for 22 years, and I learned a lot during that time.  What I want to do now is use this blog to write about movies–and the people who make them. My primary focus will be on the movies and performances that somehow missed out on the glory of the Oscars. After all, the winners have secured their places in the hall of fame, so what about the rest? Those that were nominated yet lost, and those that weren’t nominated at all? There are scads and scads of movies that are worthy of revisiting.

PS: I recently heard one of the prosecutors in the Casey Anthony trial use the tag-line about the rodeo in one of his post-verdict TV appearances, but, of course, I remember it fondly from Mommie Dearest and Faye Dunway’s spectacular–and unOscar nominated–performance.

2 Responses to “by Melanie Pruit”

  1. Paul Clemens 17 June 2016 at 8:20 am #

    Hi Melanie! I really enjoyed and appreciated your insightful piece on the under-appreciated actress Eleanor Parker who also, as it happens, was my MOM! Anyway, I’d love to be in touch with you so we might chat a bit. Thanks, Paul

    • listen2uraunt 17 June 2016 at 5:15 pm #

      WOW! Thanks, Paul! What a great compliment! Since I wrote that piece, I have added to my list of favorite performances her work in Escape from Fort Bravo, opposite William Holden. Smashing work, and, again, what a great beauty. She had the seemingly magical quality of looking completely different in every role. Plus, I want to reaffirm that seeing her onstage in Applause back in the day was most certainly a highlight! What a magnificent talent. Please stay in touch!

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