|Victorian Mansion (via Flickr) and Natchez, Mississippi (Via Shorpy)|
There is something really alluring about all things relating to the Southern Gothic sub genre, whether its in the novels or in the films they always bring out a captivating sense of place. The run down but still stately old houses and the big mossy trees orchestrate a great dark atmosphere. The genre can sustain the feeling of a gothic horror story, only instead of the vampires and monsters the characters are people who are outcasts, crooks and alcoholics. The villainous character's are often a representation of what's negatives about the South, a social issue can be raised, like racism in To Kill a Mocking Bird.
I've never been to the Southern States of America or anywhere in America for that matter but when I do go, the places I would like to visit include New Orleans, Savannah, Nashville and Charleston. Which explains why I've really only just begun to get into it. I just brought a couple of secondhand William Faulkner books (Sanctuary and The Sound and The Fury) and it would be nice to have a porch and some cold lemonade while I'm at it (its a nice fantasy seeing as though weather here has been terrible, there was a tornado that ripped apart an Auckland suburb yesterday ( it killed 2 people) which was pretty scary, it ended it in a neighboring suburb to us. Never seen anything like it here, Auckland's usually got subdued weather conditions).
|William Faulkner and Eudora Welty in New York in the 60s, this is a pretty great photo!. and his novel Sanctuary (1931)|
According to wikipedia (haha doesn't sound to reliable, but its the only source I can go by) "The Story of Temple Drake" based on William Faulkner's Sanctuary (1931) was the first notable film that relates to the Southern Gothic Genre. I had the pleasure of watching The Story of Temple Drake (1933) on Youtube not so long ago, the only place available for public viewing, it will also be screening at the tcm festival, newly restored and all! god I wish i could go. This film is almost the perfect pre-code. It has often been said that this single film caused the Breen office to take over censorship. Which is believable, its quite insane. Though the novel is still considered much more scandalous; the film still holds a strong shock value even though it implies the touchy subjects the novel goes into. Miriam Hopkin's stars in the title role, which fitted her like a glove. Temple is a frivolous and wealthy southern belle, who after a night of dancing and drinking decides to go for a joyride into the dark and stormy night with her really drunk friend "Toddy". They skid off the road and have an accident, which is where the hoods come in. The gang then lead the victims into their run down lair. The intoxicated Toddy is really eager to join them while Temple is quite terrified, but because of the weather she enters into the shelter. The gang of bootleggers is led by the gun toting "Trigger" (Jack LaRue) and he makes the whole situation as unsettling as possible. Temple decides to stay with Trigger and becomes a prostitute. Ruby (the woman below, right) is the other woman staying with the hoods, and even though society might look down on her for staying with a group of bootleggers in squaller, she is staying true and dedicated to her beau, which is in huge contrast to Temple (a judges granddaughter) a notorious tease about town. But because of Miriam's rapid change in life Ruby could be the woman Temple will become or according to the rules of society should become.
It's a film worth viewing for sure. Miriam Hopkins is the only actress I can think of who would have suited that role, Barbara Stanwyck could have pulled it off also, but Miriam Hopkins has a more snooty way about her I think, which suits Temple, since she is spoiled. The film was so scandalous that it was pulled after only running for two weeks in 1933, never to played on t.v or anything.
Can anyone recommend to me some other novels or films of the genre?
|Great shots courtesy of Old Hollywood|