Tag Archives: New

Discovering the “Reel” Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for president on this day in 1860, the first step toward a legacy that continues to shadow those who have worked in the Oval Office since. 156 years later, Abraham Lincoln: the man, is remembered more often as Abraham Lincoln: the myth. With few photographs and even fewer audio recordings, it is difficult for the modern American to grasp our 16th president beyond the iconic speeches and cultural conceptions that loom large in our collective memory.

Even more influential are the countless speeches, poems, statues, songs, books, portraits, plays, and movies that have attempted to represent him. Filmmakers in particular have failed to agree on how to best represent Lincoln on the screen. In the modern era, movies have played the largest role in shaping public memory of America’s 16th president.

Lincoln before Lincoln Brian J. SneeIn the new book, Lincoln before Lincoln: Early Cinematic Adaptations of the Life of America’s Greatest President, author Brian Snee examines six influential screen representations—The Birth of a Nation (1915), Abraham Lincoln (1930), Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940), Sandburg’s Lincoln (1974-1976), and Gore Vidal’s Lincoln (1988)—to reveal how our national perception and memory of Lincoln is adapted and commemorated. The way we depict Lincoln can teach us a lot about the man, and about ourselves. Lincoln’s life, politics, and his untimely death are not simply a part of history, but are also a part of America’s story and how Americans define themselves.

Covering more than a century of film from the silent era up to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012)—a film which, he argues, marks a seismic shift in the way Hollywood presents the Great Emancipator on screen—Snee shows how Hollywood has adapted the image of our greatest president on the screen, thus shaping and changing his image in the minds of all Americans.

In the following excerpt from Lincoln before Lincoln, Snee considers two of our most recent cultural monuments to the Great Emancipator:

Great Emancipator: Lincoln before Lincoln

In 2009, an unknown writer named Seth Grahame-Smith published what would become a best-selling cult novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The generic mash-up gave Grahame-Smith, who had earned a degree in film from Emerson College, his first real literary success. The book, which lists Jane Austen as coauthor, was quickly optioned by a major film studio, although today the project remains mired in preproduction.

Grahame-Smith next penned another future cult classic, one that Hollywood would waste no time in bringing to the big screen: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The adaptation was produced by Tim Burton and took the form of an action-horror hybrid that cast Lincoln as a secret assassin who battles vampires, destroying the creatures who feed on the blood of slaves, and with them the need for slavery itself. Although the film performed well in theaters, it was universally panned by critics, who objected not to its historical absurdity but rather to what they saw as a dearth of artistic merit. Whatever the critics thought, audiences loved it. After a half century without a major theatrically released film, Lincoln was back. And he was pissed.

Just four months after Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter appeared in theaters, audiences were offered a far more reverent Lincoln film. Rumors of a Spielberg-directed Lincoln picture had circulated in Hollywood for nearly a decade, ever since Spielberg had optioned the rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 biography, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. The film was scripted by Tony Kushner and starred Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln. The narrative focused on the final months of Lincoln’s life, including and especially the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the end of the Civil War, and the buildup to Lincoln’s assassination. To say that it was an enormous success, both financially and critically, would be an understatement. The film was nominated for dozens of awards, and it grossed nearly $300 million.

file_569066_lincoln-movie-poster-08222012-110324For the purposes of [Lincoln before Lincoln], what matters more than the many stark and obvious differences between Spielberg’s Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the one thing they share in common: a focus on Lincoln as the Great Emancipator. Beginning with D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation—an overtly racist film that laments the demise of the Confederacy and celebrates the formation of the Ku Klux Klan—Hollywood routinely minimized or simply ignored Lincoln’s role as the emancipator. Lincoln has enjoyed many incarnations: Savior of the Union, Great Commoner, and the First American, among others. Before 2012, Hollywood had celebrated them all but neglected one: Lincoln as the Great Emancipator.

Like the famous Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Hollywood subtly reinforced the notion that freeing the slaves was not among Lincoln’s most significant achievements. By accident or design, American movies and miniseries routinely left the emancipator on the cutting room floor while giving a starring role to one of Lincoln’s other manifestations. It was a century-long act of historical revision and powerful memory work likely to have shaped how several generations of American’s understood both Lincoln and his relation to race. And although it came to a very visible end in 2012, it leaves us to ask: How did popular movies and miniseries invite Americans to understand themselves and to remember Lincoln before Lincoln?

The Radical Courage of Silent Movie Stuntwomen

We’ve been doing backflips this week for “Put The Girl in Danger!,” an excerpt from Mollie Gregory’s new book, Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story, that was published in the New Republic.

Read the preview below, then click over for the full excerpt.

Put The Girl in Danger!

10310641_10152652334666536_8793256011020349697_n Helen Gibson’s strong, handsome face and dark hair gave her the look of someone who would try anything. In 1915, while in her early twenties, she was doubling for the star of the hit serial The Hazards of Helen. In one stunt she was supposed to leap from the roof of the station to the top of a moving train. Years later, she called it her most dangerous stunt. “The distance between the station and the train was accurately measured,” she said, and she had practiced the jump several times while the train was standing still. But for the shot, the train would be picking up speed for about a quarter of a mile. “I was not nervous as it approached and I leaped without hesitation,” she recalled. She landed safely, but the rocking motion of the train rolled her straight toward the end of the car. Just before being pitched off, “I caught hold of an air vent and hung on.” Then, with a sense of the dramatic, Gibson let her body “dangle over the edge to increase the effect on the screen.” She brought the same strength and flair to scores of other action scenes.

Wah Wah Jones (1926 – 2014)

Wah Wah JonesWallace “Wah Wah” Jones, the last surviving member of the University of Kentucky “Fabulous Five” basketball team, died this past weekend at the age of 88.

The UK legend, and only athlete in the school’s history to have had his jersey retired in both basketball and football, played under both coaches Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant while in school. Besides winning an NCAA basketball championship in 1948 and 1949, Jones also won a gold medal in basketball for the U.S. at the 1948 London Olympics.

In tribute to this unforgettable player, we’re sharing an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Wildcat Memories by Doug Brunk; Wah Wah’s chapter may be the last interview he ever gave. Already cemented in the storied history of UK athletics, the Harlan native shared his remembrances and passion for his teams.

from Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories of Kentucky Basketball Greats by Doug Brunk:

I had dreamed about playing basketball at the University of Kentucky for many, many years. When I was growing up in Harlan in the 1940s, our family didn’t have a television set. We had a radio, but the reception on that was not reliable. Sometimes we’d get reception in the attic of our house, but often we’d pile in the car and drive into the nearby mountains to listen to UK basketball games on the car radio.

I was lucky to have been part of a winning basketball program at Harlan High School. Our team went to the state tournament four years in a row (1942 to 1945), and in 1944 our team won the state championship title. At the end of my high school career I had scored 2,398 points, which at the time was the highest total by a single high school player in the United States.

Continue reading

Bourbon Desserts: The Best of Both Worlds!

Many people think of bourbon as a dessert because of its deliciously sweet taste. But what happens when you actually add bourbon to a dessert? Pure magic. You can take our word for it on this one.

Kentucky Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream

You might already be familiar with the traditional bourbon desserts that are popular in and around the Bluegrass state. Bourbon Balls, a sinfully delicious candy made with bourbon, chocolate, and pecans, have been a staple of the bourbon-dessert industry for decades.

bourbon balls

For fans of colder treats, Bourbon Ball Ice Cream has become an increasingly popular dessert to many. Keeneland has been adding bourbon to their famous bread pudding for years—and you don’t hear anyone complaining!

Now that we’ve gotten your attention, we’re sure you want to try all of these desserts yourself. Just to ensure that we weren’t making anything up and to do some of your own field research, of course.

right gif

The best place to start your bourbon dessert journey is in UPK’s book Bourbon Desserts by celebrated food writer and home chef, Lynn Marie Hulsman. The title says it all people.

HulsmanCompF.indd

This book features more than seventy-five decadent desserts using America’s native spirit. Hulsman brings together a collection of confections highlighting the complex flavor notes of Kentucky bourbon, which are sure to delight the senses. Giving readers the confidence to prepare these easy-to-execute desserts, this cookbook also features fun facts about bourbon and its origins as well as tips and tricks for working in the kitchen.

Interested? We know. Keep reading for a never-before-seen recipe from the book!

Sinner’s Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Growing up, I heard lots of talk from my Grandma and the ladies in her front-room, one-chair beauty salon about “reducing.” Apart from cantaloupe and cottage cheese, or half a grapefruit with a maraschino cherry on top, the only virtuous dessert was angel food cake. I never cared for the sticky, Styrofoam redolent packaged concoctions from the supermarket, though. Here’s my twist: A homemade version that actually tastes like wholesome food. Perhaps it’s a little lighter, with fewer calories than some desserts. I don’t really care. I’m after thrills like bourbon and chocolate, and they’re in there. Sinful? You decide.

Makes 1 10-inch x 4-inch angel food cake

1 tablespoon butter, for greasing
3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted twice, plus more for flouring
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I like Scharffenberger’s)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup egg whites (from 6 to 7 large or 8 to 9 small eggs), at room temperature
1 tablespoon bourbon

Grease a 10-inch x 4-inch tube pan with butter, dust it with flour, and set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour twice into a large mixing bowl, then measure it into another large mixing bowl.

Add the cocoa to the flour, then sift together three times. Add the cream of tartar, and sift the dry mixture together one more time, then set it aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and salt, and sift them together four times, then set the mixture aside.

Using an electric mixer, set to medium-high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry, until you have medium-high peaks, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle on enough of the flour-cocoa mixture to dust the top of the foam without collapsing it, then gently fold it in with a spatula. Alternate with small amounts of the sugar-salt mixture, and continue until all of the dry ingredients are folded into the egg whites.

Add the bourbon to the mixture, and fold in gently using the spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 degrees F, and bake for 45 more minutes or until a wooden cake tester or metal skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Invert the entire pan onto a wire rack on the countertop, and allow it to cool for two to three hours. Once it’s cool, loosen the cake from the pan using a butter knife, and set it upright on a cake plate.

Store in an airtight plastic cake safe or tin for up to 1 week.


 

If you’re interested in buying the book, you can pre-order it on our website. It’s expected to be released in August of this year! Be sure to check out Hulsman’s website if you can’t get enough of this talented author!

Hawks on Hawks and the Oscars


A directors’ body of work and success is often measured by how many awards they have received. But this can be an unfair and biased way of judging creativity.

With this year’s Academy Awards recently ended, it is difficult to comprehend the multitude of extremely talented directors who were never fortunate enough to win an Oscar for one of their films. A prime example of this injustice is the great Howard Hawks.

Hawks is often credited as being the most versatile of all of the great American directors, having worked with equal ease in screwball comedies, westerns, gangster movies, musicals, and adventure films.

Hawks on Hawks draws on interviews that author Joseph McBride conducted with the director over the course of seven years, giving rare insight into Hawks’s artistic philosophy, his relationships with the stars, and his position in an industry that was rapidly changing. In its new edition, this classic book is both an account of the film legend’s life and work and a guidebook on how to make movies.

Hawks was eventually awarded an Honorary Award Oscar for his filmmaking abilities. 

From “Hollywood’s New Cinderella” to “Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel”

If this screen siren doesn’t immediately look familiar to you, it’s because she is often overlooked despite her powerhouse performances and unique beauty. (We know, Ann, its not fair!)

Ann Dvorak was once crowned “Hollywood’s New Cinderella” after performances in movies like Scarface (1932) and Three on a Match (1932). But after she walked out on her contract with Warner Bros. and engaged them in a controversial lawsuit, her acting clout steadily declined.

Christina Rice, a librarian and photo archivist at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles and self-titled crazed Ann Dvorak fan, has written the first full-length biography of the under-appreciated actress’s life entitled Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel. Rice discusses not only Ann’s body of work but also her rebellion and the ways in which it paved the way for other Hollywood actors and actresses to break their contracts with the established Hollywood system.

Rice F

Rice recently joined WICN Public Radio for a podcast discussing the book during their Inquiry Program. Check out the podcast here to hear more about the book and Rice’s research.

Rice also wrote an article for the Huffington Post that discusses the Selig Zoo Statues. These statues, previously owned by a man named Colonel Selig, framed the entrance to a zoo on his property that housed his beloved jungle animals. After the zoo went through various owners, these majestic statues went missing. They were found by a docent and were once again restored to their former glory in 2009 at the entrance of the Los Angeles Zoo.

Also, be sure to check out Christina Rice’s website and blog.

In honor of Ann Dvorak, this is how we like to imagine Ann walking out on Warner Bros. and her contract:

ann throwing

Join UPK and Governor Martha Layne Collins at the Clark Medallion Presentation

The latest winner of the Thomas D. Clark Medallion, Kentucky Government, Politics, and Public Policy, edited by James C. Clinger and Michael W. Hail, will be celebrated at a presentation on Thursday, February 27th at 4:00 p.m. in the Brown Forman room at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort. Governor Martha Layne Collins will speak on her experiences in state government and the importance of books like this in helping citizens understand the political process. Jack Brammer, Frankfort reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, will moderate the event, which is free and open to the public.

 .

Medallion

The Thomas D. Clark foundation was established in 1994 in honor of Thomas Clark, Kentucky’s historian laureate and founder of the University Press of Kentucky. Since 2012, the foundation has chosen one book which highlights Kentucky history and culture to be honored with a Thomas D. Clark Medallion.

Kentucky Government, Politics, and Public Policy joins previous winner, The Hills Remember: The Complete Short Stories of James Still, as the second book to receive the medallion.

Kentucky Government, Politics, and Public Policy is the first comprehensive volume on Kentucky government and politics in three decades and features contributions from Kentucky’s most well-known and respected political scientists. It covers state and local institutions, policy issues facing the state, and future political developments in the Commonwealth. It also includes numerous supplemental documents of interest, including the entire text of the Kentucky Constitution; listings of Governors, Lieutenant Governors, cities, and counties; and the text of several important speeches.

The wealth of information available led Senator Mitch McConnell to declare Kentucky Government, Politics, and Public Policy “the most in-depth and comprehensive study of political science in Kentucky I have come across.” He also hopes that “the next great statesman from Kentucky” may be reading the book right now.