Fun Fact Friday presents: Susan Peters, At The Intersection of Disability And Film

This week’s Fun Fact:

While Susan Peters may not be a well-known film actor in today’s world, she seems to occupy an interesting space when considering the history of disability and film. Peters was one of the rising film stars of the 1940s, making a name for herself at MGM and receiving the Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work in Random Harvest (1942) (Miller). On January 1, 1945, while on a hunting trip with her husband, she reached for her rifle and “it accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through her stomach to lodge in her spine,” paralyzing her from the waist down and causing her to use a wheelchair for the remainder of her life (“Actress”). At first glance, a person may think that this incident would have ended her film career entirely. However, producer Irving Cummings and his son “joined forces with the Orsatti Agency to produce a comeback film for her” (Miller). This film was John Sturges’ The Sign of the Ram, (1948) an adaptation of Margaret Ferguson’s 1945 novel of the same name. The film “offered the perfect vehicle with its tale of a wheelchair-bound poet living in a remote mansion on the British coast,” with  Peters playing a bitter character who “[manipulates] those around her to keep herself the center of attention” (Miller). When this film was presented as a part of Turner Classic Movies’ “The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film” series in 2012, curator Lawrence Carter-Long seemed to comment on the efforts by those in power and their desire to promote Peters, saying, “’It shows you what Hollywood can do if it wants to’” (“TCM’s”). The film was not a success and proved to be her last film role, but has gained a following in the years since its release (Miller). Interestingly, it has never been released on video or DVD (Miller).

– Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org

 

Works Cited

“Actress Susan Peters Dies, Losing Brave 7-Year Fight.” Toledo Blade, 24 October 1952, p. 1.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19521024&id=cOsyAAAAIBAJ&s

jid=bQAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3847,3889046. Accessed 28 June 2017.

Miller, Frank. “The Sign of the Ram.” tcm, http://www.tcm.com/this-

month/article.html?isPreview=&id=499692|176224&name=Sign-of-the-Ram. Accessed

28 June 2017.

“TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz and Lawrence Carter-Long Introduce ‘Sign of the Ram.’” YouTube,

uploaded by Lawrence Carter-Long, 9 October 2012,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sei2KCUSJGg&t=24s

Fun Fact Friday presents: Daniel Day-Lewis, “My Left Foot”, And A Trailblazing Marketing Campaign

This week’s Fun Fact:

While Daniel Day-Lewis may be more recently known for his Academy Award-winning roles in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, (2007) his first Academy Award was earned with his performance in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989). Day-Lewis portrayed Brown (a writer and artist with cerebral palsy) as an adult. One intriguing aspect of this film is how it was marketed for people with disabilities. For instance, EIN SOF Communications, Inc. employed a “direct mail campaign” that focused on releasing material that encouraged people to see the film. This included “reviews by Disability Studies scholars” and “a ton of feature stories that brought the film vastly more media attention than it would have otherwise received” (Riley II 78). EIN SOF was also able to persuade Miramax to “[pull] the film from exhibitors if their theatre was not wheelchair accessible,” after hearing from disability rights groups following their examination of local venues (“Miramax”). Today, EIN SOF is described as a “leading disability strategic marketing, accessible events and employment strategies woman-owned small business” (“Team”).

Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org

Works Cited

“Miramax – My Left Foot.” einsofcommunications, www.einsofcommunications.com/success-stories/miramax-left-foot/. Accessed 21 June 2017.

Riley II, Charles A. Disability and Business: Best Practices and Strategies For Inclusion.

Hanover: University Press of New England, 2006.

“Team.” einsofcommunications, www. http://einsofcommunications.com/about/team/.

Accessed 21 June 2017.

Still

Fun Fact Friday presents: Early French Filmmaking And The “Shock” Effect

This week’s Fun Fact:
During the early days of film, French film companies such as Pathé and Gaumont used disabled performers for “the ‘shock’ effect of their appearance,” employing them for trick effects in comedies and other types of films (Norden 23). In the one-reel comedy The Automobile Accident, (1904) a drunk man coming home from work decides to lay down in the middle of the road and go to sleep. While he is sleeping, a taxi cab speedily comes down the road and runs over him, severing his legs from the rest of his body. The sleeping man awakens, surprised by the loss of his legs. The chauffeur of the taxi cab is terrified, but the country doctor in the back of the taxi cab is not affected as much, leaving the vehicle, picking up the severed limbs, reattaching them to the man, and helping him to his feet before they shake hands. Now with his legs back in place, the man “[resumes] his journey as if nothing had happened” (Talbot 211-212). In order to achieve such a visual effect, footage of a disabled actor was edited into the film to produce a fluid sequence (Norden 23; Talbot 212-214). Such an example illustrates the limited opportunities that were available to performers with disabilities and how disability was used in film at that time.

Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org

 

Works Cited

 

Norden, Martin F. The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies.

New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

Talbot, Frederick A. Moving Pictures: How They Are Made and Worked. Philadelphia:

  1. B. Lippincott Company, 1914.
Blue Tang

Fun Fact Friday presents: A Film Review of “Finding Dory” by Abbie Volkmann

Disability in Disney Part 2

I believe it’s important for individuals with disabilities to be represented in the media, especially in films, and a few months ago, I wrote about how Disney portrays individuals with disabilities in a positive light through films like Finding Nemo (2003). Last month, I saw the sequel to this highly acclaimed film, Finding Dory (2016). Here are some thoughts I have after seeing the film as well as my opinion on its depiction of individuals with disabilities.

The storyline is similar to the first film, but this time, as the title suggests, Dory is the protagonist. Throughout the film we follow our favorite forgetful blue tang as she, along with her friend Marlin and his son Nemo, goes on a journey to find her parents, from whom she had become separated at a young age. As with the first film, the trio encounter many adventures and surprises along the way.
There were many aspects of the film I liked, but one in particular that stood out to me was the inclusion of characters with disabilities. Much like the first film, many characters in Finding Dory have some kind of disability. What sets this film apart from its predecessor, however, is the representations themselves. Unlike the first film, where the characters’ disabilities seemed to be a minor issue that was oftentimes 4072983483_72d701769a_zeither shrugged off and pretty much ignored (with the exception of Dory and Nemo) or were used for comedic purposes, in the sequel, disability plays a bigger and more serious role. The characters aid each other in overcoming their disabilities, and even use each other’s strengths to help those that struggle in the same area. For instance, one of the characters, Destiny, is a whale shark who is visually impaired. This impacts her ability to navigate through her surroundings. During a scene that is very significant to the plot of the film, she is assisted by her neighbor, a beluga named Bailey. During this scene, both animals are trying to locate Dory so they can help her. Because Destiny has trouble
with her orientation, Bailey helps her navigate using his echolocation skills, which he himself was previously struggling with until he learned how to improve the skills. This is just one of the many examples of how characters in the film with disabilities assist each other.

As with most sequels, there were a few flaws and inconsistencies that bothered me. O8391696279_cfce3f1b28_one huge issue I had with this film is the character of Marlin, Nemo’s father. Throughout  Finding Nemo, he learns to be more accepting of and patient with others who are different as well as to be more relaxed and less high-strung in general. In Finding Dory, however, he seems to have returned to his former self, and needs constant reminders from his son that he should trust Dory more and be more accepting of her.
Overall, I enjoyed Finding Dory very much, but it wasn’t as good as Finding Nemo. The portrayal of disability within this film was fantastic, even better than the first one. I would definitely recommend seeing this film, whether you’ve been a Finding Nemo fan since it first came out, or you’re just curious about its portrayal of disability.

– Abbie is a recent graduate of Loras College with a degree in Media Studies and has recently become a Digital Marketing Intern at JJsList.com

RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org