When I was growing up I was obsessed with the E! shows Mysteries and Scandals and E! True Hollywood Story. These shows told the stories of my favorite actors and actresses and revealed how their personal lives were way more fascinating than the roles they played. Unfortunately these shows are long gone and there are really no other programs filling this void on television. This void is big. With the crop of reality television and cable news networks filling our channels, you can’t really find anything devoted to teaching the next generation of cinephiles about the men and women who were the foundation of classic Hollywood. So you can imagine my elation when I discovered You Must Remember This from a friend on Twitter.
You Must Remember This is a podcast on Panopoly narrated and produced by former film critic now historian Karina Longworth. I was so excited to listen to it when I found it on iTunes and it did not disappoint. Honestly I ended up listening to 4 episodes the first day I discovered it, I just devoured these stories. Yes, they’re that good. What makes You Must Remember This so good is Karina. This is much more than E! True Hollywood Story or Mysteries and Scandals, in fact to compare them kind of cheapens it. I can not stop praising Karina for her storytelling. Her podcast is This American Life meets classic Hollywood. The way she constructs each episode uses music to drive the story, as well as guest actors who voice different people in Hollywood history. Karina also voices some of the subjects as well. But those are just simple mechanics to her production, it’s her writing style that drives you in. Her research blended with her wit presents each person’s story within the context of its time, Karina doesn’t judge her subjects nor is she overly sympathetic, she just presents facts when telling their stories.
You Must Remember This became hugely popular this summer when Karina did a 12-part series called ‘Charles Manson’s Hollywood.’ The case of Charles Manson and the Tate/LaBianca murders has fascinated me for a long time and I’ve read many books on the subject. This series is a must listen not just for fans of Classic Hollywood but also anyone interested in the 1960’s and the ‘Summer of Love.’ I was a late bloomer to You Must Remember This and didn’t listen to ‘Charles Manson’s Hollywood’ until after I finished the most recent series ‘MGM Stories.’ I’m currently training for a marathon and I finished ‘Charles Manson’s Hollywood’ during my long runs in the span of 3 days. The two other series in You Must Remember This that I really enjoyed were ‘Star Wars’ which tells the stories of various actors and World War II and ‘MGM Stories.’
Some standout episodes that are my favorites are:
Marlon Brando in the 70’s
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones
Bette Davis and the Hollywood Canteen
Frank Sinatra in Outer Space
When it comes to podcasts so many of them are just a talk show. It is refreshing to hear what Karina Longworth is doing. I can only hope it continues to enhance the medium for more creative and in-depth storytelling. Thanks for many amazing journeys this year, Karina. I can not wait to see what 2016 brings.