Theatre/film connection to city to be recognized

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2003

From Staff Reports

A series of events in the upcoming months will present the connection to Demopolis of an Academy Award-winning film director and an acclaimed playwright.

Two historical markers sponsored by the Marengo County Historical Society will be dedicated on October 9, beginning at 5:30 p.m. One marker will designate the city’s theater district; the other marker will commemorate the family connection between playwright Lillian Florence Hellman, author of "The Little Foxes," and her Marengo County relatives.

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New Orleans native Hellman (1905-1984) is known for the plays, "The Little Foxes," "The Children’s Hour," and "Candide," and for her screenwriting skills. Alabama native actress Tallulah Bankhead was famous for her work in "The Little Foxes" on Broadway.

Hellman had a long time relationship with Dashiell Hammett, author of "The Thin Man" mysteries.

She later became as well known for her radical political views as her art.The 1977 film "Julia," starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, was based upon her 1973 memoir, "Pentimento."

Catherine Wyler, the daughter of the late William Wyler (1902-1981) who directed the 1941 film version of "The Little Foxes," will be on hand for the dedication of the historical markers in Demopolis.

William Wyler also directed such classic films as "Wuthering Heights," "The Best Years of Our Lives," "Ben-Hur," and "Funny Girl."

Ms. Wyler will introduce a 1986 documentary she produced about her father, "Directed by William Wyler," at 9 a.m. on October 10 in the Demopolis Public Library. Her father was married to the late Margaret Tallichet Wyler, who was the daughter of Kate Compton and Albert Tallichet of Demopolis.

Interviews with Mrs. Wyler as well as stars from his many films, Barbara Streisand, Laurence Olivier and Bette Davis, are included in the documentary.

The showing of the documentary is free and open to the public.

William Wyler’s 1953 film, “Roman Holiday,” will be shown at 2 p.m. on November 9 in the Marengo Theatre. Admission is free. The film, recently restored as part of a 50th anniversary celebration, stars Gregory Peck and introduced Audrey Hepburn in an Oscar winning role. The showing of “Roman Holiday” is sponsored by the Historical Society, the Demopolis Publi Library and the Two Rivers Arts Council.