CineSavant Column

Saturday November 5, 2022



The irreplaceable David J. Schow does it again. What a great link — so much of this entertaining YouTube item was news:

Height Comparison | Classic Hollywood Actresses. The presentation — putting our fave actresses in an unending suspect lineup — is brilliant.

The shocks are all at the extremes … cameras make some absolutely TINY women look like Amazons on the screen. Gloria Swanson and Veronica Lake under 5 feet tall?  Debra Paget under 5’3″?  Say it ain’t so.

The selection is almost exclusively classic-era actresses … does the average height run much taller today?  It isn’t difficult to guess who will be tallest — and she’s only 5’11.”



Advisor and collaborator “B” keeps coming up with interesting collectors’ items with special relevance. The theme for the last week or so has been movie tie-in comics, as seen in last Tuesday’s tease of an old comic for The Man for Planet X.

This week ‘Bee’ showed me how a comic book adaptation for the 1952 MGM film Ivanhoe points up the ruinous effect of the postwar blacklist, that did terrible damage to careers across the country, not just in Hollywood. Screenwriter Marguerite Roberts was on a roll writing scripts when the informer Martin Berkeley included her on a long list of names he identified as communists. Ms. Roberts refused to cooperate with HUAC. Her MGM contract was settled and her credit were stripped from her last three films.

Apparently Ivanhoe did bear Marguerite Roberts’ screenplay credit in the U.K., but in the U.S. only writer Noel Langley’s name appears. She said that being ousted from MGM ‘was like having your father throw you out onto the street.’ When Roberts’ career eventually got back into gear she again became an in-demand talent, writing or contributing to Diamond Head, Love Has Many Faces, 5 Card Stud and the John Wayne classic True Grit. But it left a ten-year gap in her work.

What do comic books have to do with this?   When the Hollywood thought police scrubbed Marguerite Roberts’ name from the film history books, the Fawcett Comic tie-in for Ivanhoe was apparently overlooked. Most of us never knew who the true authors were for some prominent Hollywood features. “B” learned about Roberts’ involvement in Ivanhoe long before the WGA amended official credits in the 1990s. To prove it he sent along three scans — the cover of the Fawcett comic book, the title page, and an MGM lobby card with the ‘revised’ screenplay credit. The scans are much larger when zoomed, for reading.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson