Desley Deacon

In the past we have tended either to ignore or to marginalise cultural ‘expatriates’. In today’s cosmopolitan culture, we are more used to varied career paths, but it is still possible for someone who has made most of their career abroad to be overlooked. Judith Anderson is a case in point. Born in Adelaide in 1897, Francee Anderson (her first stage name) made her professional stage début in 1915 in Sydney, but from 1918 she was, virtually for the rest of her life, based in the United States. Desley Deacon’s substantial, superbly illustrated biography rescues Anderson from obscurity and reveals the full extent of her remarkable career on stage, in film, and on television.

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Nowadays every second young person seems to want to be a stand-up comic, an occupation that perfectly represents the ‘gig’ economy in its precariousness and occasional nature. Anne Pender gives us mini-biographies of seven Australians who succeeded, often spectacularly, in the risky business of being a comic long ...

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We invited some writers, film critics, and film professionals to nominate their favourite film – not The Greatest Film Ever Sold, but one that matters to them personally.

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With the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement reminding us all too vividly of flesh and blood Hollywood, David Bordwell’s cerebral Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s filmmakers changed movie storytelling seems to come from another planet. But Bordwell, who is the Jacques Ledoux Professor of ...

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Reading Bruce Beresford is enough to make any aspiring filmmaker think twice about following in his footsteps. ‘The Best Film I Never Made’, the title article of this collection of Beresford’s occasional writing over the last fifteen years, says it all. This is the sad, but in its way hilarious, story of his attempt to put together a ...

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Desley Deacon reviews 'Double-Act' by Brian McFarlane

Desley Deacon
Thursday, 28 May 2015

Although many attempt it, writing the biography of an actor of a previous era is fraught. They consist mainly of lists of movies or plays long forgotten. The reception of their art is recorded by critics, once all-powerful, but now unknown. Their personal life and personality are hidden behind a screen of studio publicity. Writing the lives and careers of two stars ...

Desley Deacon reviews the new biography of Shirley Temple

Desley Deacon
Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Lucky Shirley Temple! Film star biographies are usually made up of a chronology laced with doubtful studio publicity and salacious gossip. But The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression is written by a reigning scholar of American culture, John F. Kasson. A professor of History and American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kass ...