Did you know that there’s a 1946 Disney movie called Song of the South, which is so offensive that it’s never been released on home video in North America? In fact, the House of Mouse is so ashamed of the racist stereotypes in the film that it has never even shown it on television and has forever locked it in a vault. The film won two Oscars by the way – for best music and best score.
Hollywood has a dark past. And Karina Longworth, the host of the excellent Hollywood history podcast “You Must Remember This”, wants to talk about it. She is a film critic, author, and journalist based in Los Angeles who has written books on George Lucas, Meryl Streep and Al Pacino.
Karina presents an array of stories about early- to mid-twentieth century Hollywood, which witnessed some really dramatic events featuring well-known and not-so-well-known people. The podcast unpacks all the drama, debunking some widespread myths in the process. It is a heady mix of research and storytelling, and it is a series of accounts that will have you craving for more.
The whole vibe of the podcast is a sort of ritual – crackles of an old record, a plethora of murmurs and Dooley Wilson singing in a distorted voice – as Longworth’s distinctive voice reaches out, “Join us, won’t you?”
Longworth peels back the glitzy veneer of Hollywood and points out the dark underbelly. She navigates through the backstabbing, the duplicity and the drama and reveals how it all ties together and how it still resonates in both the old and the new Hollywood. Lovingly disentangling the threads, removing the overexposed, myth-making traditions, the narrative she presents explores the lives of the people who were impacted by the incidents. The image of Hollywood as a kingdom of dreams is ripped apart ruthlessly.
In season 8, she debunks the myths that were presented in Kenneth Anger’s salacious book Hollywood Babylon. In season 13, she discusses the infamous murderer, Charles Manson. Karina Longworth’s research is so extensive that even the most knowledgeable listener will be surprised by new facts and stories. Some are about the lives of the stars, while others mark the transformation of the film industry. There are tales of producers, directors, industry executives and other players.
The podcast is a labour of love, and it elevates forgotten talents as much as it calls out the wrongdoings. The production values are impressive and the music is appropriate, with the right mix of nostalgia and mystery. Listen