Home of Elvis and the Ancient Greeks

University of Memphis writing professor Sonja Livingston sent me this clip the other day, asking for my thoughts. She was actually interested in the singer, Valaida Snow, while I was curious about the movie, Pieges, also known as Personal Column, which has something of a noir pedigree.

valaidaWe read one of Livingston’s works in our True Crime class. “Mad Love: The Ballad of Fred & Allie” was the story of a love affair in Memphis in the 1890s that ended with one woman murdered and the other committed to an asylum. That tale will be part of an anthology of the forgotten famous, which will also include Valaida’s story. A world-famous stage performer in her day, she was jailed by the Nazis in Denmark due to her Oxy addiction – a woman ahead of her time. She had been previously convicted of bigamy in the US.

In researching the clip, I found that the film was directed by Robert Siodmak, who also directed the noir classic The Killers, loosely based on the Hemingway story we read a few weeks back. We also listened to the Screen Director’s Playhouse production. I recalled the discussion at the end of the broadcast, which involved Siodmak and the two lead actors. Siodmak made a joke about being from Memphis:

Some say that story is actually true, that he was born while his parents were vacationing in the US. Others say he fabricated the story of his nationality in order to get a visa out of Germany. Either way, I’m fascinated by the way these things all come together. It’s all part of the cosmic unconsciousness.

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