Posts Tagged ‘Lillian Hellman’


Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels.

Lillian Hellman, Scoundrel Time


I am forcing myself to write about something removed from the news, lest my anger . There are things happening, both here and in our foreign policy decisions, that are deeply disturbing with ramifications that will echo for years to come around the globe. I will just let the words above from Lillian Hellman‘s autobiographical memoir, Scoundrel Time, sum up my view of the whole thing.

We are definitely in a time of scoundrels.

So, instead, I am making an unusual request.

The painting at the top, Exiles: Blue Guitar, is one that I painted back in 1995 as part of my Exiles series. This is one of the paintings I most regret letting go. It was the largest painting and the true centerpiece of the Exiles series besides having a lot of personal meaning for me.

Regrettably, this painting went to the Kada Gallery in Erie in 1997 or 98 where it was sold to an unnamed collector.

I am not trying to get it back, though I would gladly repurchase it. My desire is to get an image of it as it is now. You see, in 1997 I believe it was, I darkened the background in the painting. Any documentation of that change is lost and I have no idea or image of its final appearance. I would love to get an image and perhaps reframe the painting for its current owner. It was framed at a time before that in which I started using my signature frame. It is in an unusual frame, one that I think is probably inappropriate for it, along with a plexiglass covering that only used once or twice early on in my career. It deserves to be seen in a better setting.

My request is to any of my readers in the Erie area. Or any of my readers anywhere, for that matter. If you know of this painting or know anyone who might have my work but you’re not sure, ask them to get in touch with me here. I would like to hear from them.

I know it’s a long shot but I thought it was worth putting out there. This has been on my mind for many years now and I would like to take care of this.




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Watch on the Rhine 1943Tonight is night when the Oscars are handed out for the best movies, directors, actors and so on.  I’ve always been a big film fan and I always look forward to seeing who wins even on the years when I have hardly seen a movie.  It also makes me think of many of my favorite movies, films that stick in my mind and, like any other  form of art, define who I am.

A few weeks ago, I saw one of these favorites of mine, Watch on the Rhine.  It was made in 1943, adapted for the screen by Dashiell Hammett from  the prize-winning play written by his wife, the great Lillian Hellman.  It concerns a family in the Northern Virginia area across the Potomac from DC whose daughter ( Bette Davis in a supporting role here) returns home from a war torn Europe for the first time in many years with her husband and children.  It is set, and was written,  in the years before our entry into World War II.

Her husband is a German freedom fighter, Kurt Muller,  who is a wanted leader in the underground movement against the Nazis. He is  played by Paul Lukas in a magnificent performance, one that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor that year over Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bells Toll.  Yes, it was that good.

His Muller is the common man who finds himself in the role of the selfless hero willing to give up everything– his career, his family, his life– in order to stand against evil.  It’s not a task Muller sought but is one he must shoulder.  His words are simple, direct and powerful.  Lukas, who also originated the part on the Broadway stage, is brilliant and, whenever I see this movie, I am haunted for weeks afterwards by Lukas’ performance.  The power of it thrills me but I find myself questioning my own strength and beliefs as a human.  Thankfully, I have never been put into a situation like that faced by Kurt Muller and hopefully never will.  But would I be able to stand with even a fraction of the grace and courage of Lukas’ character?

I doubt it but I don’t know.

But I know that this movie’s ability to fix that question in my mind for weeks make it a great movie with great acting and world-class writing.  Hopefully, this year’s movies will have a film like Watch on the Rhine that will haunt future generations when they watch it years from now.


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Casablanca-posterSome of my favorite films to have on in the studio are those that have something to do with World War II.  Not necessarily combat films, although there are a number of those that I find really engrossing, but rather films that have to do with the periphery of the war and how the world coped with a raging war or its aftermath.

Of course, many will immediately think of films like Casablanca and I can’t deny that it is one of my favorites as well.  It’s just a treasure trove of great dialogue and powerful moments ( the dueling anthem scene with Nazis being drowned out by the patrons exuberant  and emotional La Marseillaise is a classic) and remains as powerful a story today as ever.

idiots delightI think I am most taken by the film that deal with the ideology of the times.  For example, Idiot’s Delight, starring Clark Gable, was made before our entry into WW II and was an appeal to the nation to rise up against the Nazi tide that was sweeping through Europe.

It’s filled with great ideological dialogue, words that really do more than just propel the story forward.  They’re meant to stir and anger, to drive people to action.movie-watch-on-the-rhine

Another along the same lines is Lillian Hellman‘s Watch on the Rhine with Bette Davis and an incredible performance from Paul Lukas as the simply worded Resistance fighter.  Again, it takes place before our entry into the war and portrays us as innocent and naive but as the events of the film take place we, as represented by the characters, begin to understand and show our resolve to fight for freedom.

There are so many powerful films from this time that it would be impossible to list them all in a simple blog.  The Best Years of Our Lives, Mrs. Miniver, 49th ParallelHangmen Also Die!  and on and on.  They were meaningful films in a trying time and I think the overriding emotion of them still shines through.  I recommend that anyone with a feeling for the drama of history take a look…

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