Mississippi Matinee an Exhibition of the State and the Silver Screen
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Introduction: Ben Ames Williams(2)
The dust jacket for the 1935 edition of Williams' Small Town Girl features Janet Gaynor on the cover in a promotional tie-in with the 1936 MGM movie.  Directed by William A. Wellman and including a relatively unknown Jimmy Stewart among its cast, the film follows the story of a local girl who weds a playboy while he is intoxicated and then attempts to reform him.  In 1953, MGM adapted the same story and title into a musical starring Jane Powell and Ann Miller.  "My Flaming Heart," one of the tunes from that film, received an Oscar nomination for "Best Original Song."
The two most remembered movies adapted from Williams' work both appeared in 1946 and are prime examples of the female psychopathology genre popular in that decade.  Leave Her to Heaven stars Gene Tierney as a woman so desperately in love with her husband and jealous of his company that she deliberately miscarries and fails to aid her drowning brother-in-law.  She later arranges her suicide so as to frame another woman for the "murder."  Nominated for four Oscars, the movie received the award for "Best Cinematography."  Meanwhile, The Strange Woman features Heddy Lamar as a woman who either dominates or destroys the men around her.  One contemporary reviewer claimed that Williams' book was a "much too long recital of cruelty, cunning, and copulation," and several public libraries refused it circulation.  The lobby card for the film clearly capitalizes on the notoriety of this publication.

Online exhibition © copyright 2006
Department of Archives and Special Collections
JD Williams Library, 3rd Floor
University of Mississippi
University, MS 38677
telephone: 662-915-7408
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