Monthly Archives: October 2019

“Frankissstein” by Jeanette Winterson— A New Kind of Love Story

Winterson, Jeanette. “Frankissstein”, Grove Press, 2019.

A New Kind of Love Story

Amos Lassen

Where would I be without the wonderful literary stories of Jeanette Winterson? Her inventiveness and gorgeous prose has always been there for me and I so appreciate the contributions she has made to the canon. In “Frankissstein”, we are taken back to Lake Geneva in 1816 and meet nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley who is inspired to write a story about a scientist who creates a new life-form.  We then move forward to Brexit Britain where Ry,  a young transgender doctor is falling in love with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor  who leads the public debate around Artificial Intelligence and who has been carrying out experiments of his own in an  underground network of tunnels. At the same time, Ron Lord who is freshly divorced and living with his mom, is primed to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for men who are lonely. Across the Atlantic Ocean, a cryogenics facility is housing dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead … but waiting to return to life.

Have you ever wondered what will happen when humankind ceases being the smartest beings on the planet? Winterson shows us that we are much closer a future  of that kind than we realize. In this reimagining and reanimated “Frankenstein”, we have a “cautionary tale for a contemporary moment dominated by debates about Brexit, gender, artificial intelligence and medical experimentation” and it is filled with new ideas.

This is a book that attempts to shift our perspective on humanity and the purpose of being human in a very dark and entertaining way. By relooking at Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, Winterson takes us into a story about modern-day neuroses and issues. We see the fine line between horror and high camp. It takes a brave person to dare to change the classics and succeed and this is what Jeanette Winterson has done. She looks and laughs at the nature and the future of life, death and what it means to be human. She “examines immortality and science’s ethical obligations through the alternating narratives of two people living centuries apart:  author Mary Shelley and Ry, a transgender medical doctor interested in cryogenics.” Her characters wrestle with many profound questions of what it means to be alive, if the brain could survive outside of its mortal body, and if the soul can be reborn in a reanimated mind. The story is wildly funny and profoundly sad. Another question asked here is whether we are our bodies or our minds, neither or both? Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein rises into a post-Internet world and his idea of creating life from death is much closer than before.

“OCTAV”— 30 Years in the Making

“OCTAV”

30 Years in the Making

Amos Lassen

Director Serge Ioan Celebidachi actually began writing the screenplay for “Octav” some thirty years ago. The film actually looks like a movie of people who have gone through life and have now reached a point where they are trying to understand where they came from. It’s full of nostalgia and memories yet there are no regrets. We see a combination of past and present, real and imaginary.

There are many pieces of Octav’s life that we do not know and we do not get to know why he is now alone It seems that nothing happened between  childhood and the present moment but we lose that sense of insignificance as the movie moves forward.  

There are many metaphors and a lot of philosophy and while it may seem like a lot we realize that whatever happens on the screen is just convention

Marcel Iureș is Octav. He came to Romania to recovers his nationalized house that he decides to sell it. He struggled for so many years to recover his home but then unloaded it. He meets Spiridon (Victor Rebengiuc), an old friend who is almost completely absent from the entire second act of the film, only returning to the end.

This film has won an astonishing 104 prizes yet I am not sure how. Watching this was at times a delight and at other times, a struggle. There must be more to it than what I saw.

“APPRENTICE TO MURDER”— Magic, Murder, Madness?

“APPRENTICE TO MURDER”

Magic, Murder, Madness?

Amos Lassen

Director Ralph L. Thomas’s “Apprentice to Murder” is set In early twentieth-century Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Young Billy Kelly (Chad Lowe) meets a charismatic magic healer, Dr. John Reese (Donald Sutherland) who is shunned by the rest of the community for his non-conformist beliefs. Together, they investigate a mysterious sickness that is hurting the area and which Reese believes is the work of a local hermit. As the plague spreads, Billy falls deeper under Reese’s spell and wonders if they are doing God’s work or the Devil’s. This is a story of misplaced faith and the macabre that clouds the lines between conventional notions of good and evil.

Billy Kelly lives with his mother Elma (Rutanya Alda) and alcoholic, abusive father Tom (Eddie Jones). One day, while walking home with Alice (Mia Sara), a beautiful young lady named who works at the same factory as himself, they see an angry, seemingly rabid dog in the middle of the road. They hide behind a bush and the other villagers flee in terror when an elderly man manages to tame the dog by using a simple religious ritual. Alice tells Tom that she lives as a lodger in the man’s house. She also reveals that his name is John Reese and that he is a Pow-wow doctor (a traditional practitioner who uses faith and magic in order to cure ills).

Later on, Billy pays John a visit in order to get help for his father’s alcoholism. To his surprise, John not only gives him a remedy for his father’s ailment but he also casts a blessing on a facial wound. When the injury heals practically overnight, Billy is convinced that this mysterious man’s powers are real and decides to become his apprentice.

While he is at work, Alice meets him during his lunch break. She does so to ask him to take her out on a date and also to express her own concerns about John. She tells him that she heard  that he spent four years in a mental asylum. Billy gradually becomes involved in a romantic relationship with her but refuses to believe her stories about John who is mentoring him. Things get darker after John’s attempt to cure a young girl results in her death. This is followed by a string of incidents that are inexplicable and thereby supernatural.  There might be a connection between these occurrences and a sinister local man named Lars Hoeglin (Knut Husebø). But, there is also the possibility that John might be playing with Billy’s impressionable mind.

The film mixes period drama with religious horror in a technologically backward and superstitious rural area. A richly-defined supernatural world is built up around its central characters. Donald Sutherland gives a fine performance as a  wizened, eccentric character performances here. He comes across as being as a vulnerable victim and as a cunning manipulator. Chad Lowe is fine as the hapless protagonist but he looks and sounds more like a 1980s than an authentic character from the period.

 Even with its flaws, the kind of film provokes thought and discussion after it is over.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original 35mm interpositive

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Original lossless mono soundtrack

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  New audio commentary by author and critic Bryan Reesman

  New video interview on religious horror cinema with Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine

  New video interview with cinematographer Kelvin Pike

  New video interview with makeup supervisor Robin Grantham

  Theatrical trailer

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Paul Corupe

“THE DEAD CENTER”— Arising from the Dead

“THE DEAD CENTER”

Arising from the Dead

Amos Lassen

When a dead suicide victim (Jeremy Childs) disappears from the morgue, a chain of events begins that has the power to destroy everything, and everyone, it touches. 

 

Troubled psychiatrist Daniel Forrester (Shane Carruth) helps a mysterious patient who is brought to the emergency psych ward in a catatonic state. Forrester tries to break through to his mysterious patient. When a string of mysterious deaths shake the ward patient ward than he had thought. As he comes to realize what he’s let loose, a race against the forces of evil threatens to destroy him. 

“The Dead Center” is a supernatural thriller that looks at the demons that live inside all of us.  With this film, writer/director Billy Senese, has been regarded as a powerful new voice in terror . 

Senese establishes a hero who fits squarely within another, older horror tradition: the dedicated man of science who struggles to hold onto his own sanity when dealing with the boundaries of his  own world view.

Dr Forrester has been through troubles of his own but remains devoted to his patients. He’s used to coping with odd situations so when a confused man  who is seemingly unable to remember anything, he takes his aside, calms him down and  begins a conversation that might help him arrive at a diagnosis. What he doesn’t know is that just a few hours ago this particular patient was pronounced dead in another part of the hospital after being admitted as a suicide victim, and that another doctor is frantically searching for him. What he can’t understand  is that this John Doe has actually been dead more than once and that something has come back with him from the other side.

 

At first, this seems to be seem like just another horror film about possession or a zombie but it has a lot more going on both narratively and thematically. The slow bill might be disconcerting to some audiences, I see this as an intelligent act of filmmaking that demonstrates an understanding of horrors that are present in the world. There are several surprises coming at you so be prepared that all is not as it seems.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  High Definition (1080p) Blu-rayTM presentation

  5.1 DTS-HD master audio and lossless stereo audio

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

  Commentary with writer-director Billy Senese, producer-actor Shane Carruth and co-star Jeremy Childs

  Commentary with writer-director Billy Senese, producers Denis Deck and Jonathan Rogers, and cinematographer Andy Duensing

  A Walk Through The Dead Center, an in-depth making-of documentary featuring new interviews with writer-director Billy Senese, producer-actor Shane Carruth, cinematographer Andy Duensing, and many others revisiting the locations and discussing the production

  Nine deleted scenes, including an alternate ending

  On-set interviews with actors Shane Carruth and Poorna Jagannathan

  Head-Casting with Jeremy Childs, a brief look at the creation of the make-up effects seen in the climax of the film

  Intruder, a short film from 2011 directed by Billy Senese and starring Jeremy Childs

  The Suicide Tapes, the original short film from 2010 directed by Senese and starring Childs that later inspired The Dead Center

  Midnight Radio Theater, six chilling radio plays ( Insomnia , The Long Weekend , Disposable Life , The Suicide Tapes , The Woman In The Basement , Blood Oath , Flu ) written, produced and directed by Billy Senese

  Theatrical trailer and teasers

  Image gallery

  Reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork

  FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jamie Graham

“MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES”— Cagney as Chaney

“MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES”

Cagney as Chaney

Amos Lassen

James Cagney, a legend in his own right pays homage to legend Lon Chaney in “Man of a Thousand Faces”. Cagney gives a multifaceted portrayal of silent cinema legend Lon Chaney. Chaney captivated audiences with early horror classics such as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “The Phantom of The Opera”. He gave vivid personifications of grotesque and afflicted characters. His extraordinary make-up skills, and miraculous ability to completely transform earned him international acclaim and the famous nickname of the title of this film.

Chaney led a life plagued by hardship and heartache. This insightful bio-pic traces the arc of the actor’s career from impoverished vaudeville clown to Hollywood stardom. It also captures  the drama of his private life. For the first time, the film is presented in High Definition, with revealing extras.

The film is an almost completely fictionalized telling of the story of Lon Chaney. It captures some of the flavor of silent Hollywood while at the same time misrepresents Chaney’s career and is really a showcase vehicle for the estimable talents of James Cagney, who takes the movie and runs with it proving that historical accuracy isn’t essential for great entertainment.

Vaudeville clown Lon Chaney (James Cagney) has career problems when his wife and stage partner Cleva Creighton Chaney (Dorothy Malone) is said to be a liability to his act. Cleva loses all interest in her marriage and her new baby when she discovers that Lon’s parents can neither hear nor speak. She strikes out on her own and becomes unfaithful. When Lon retaliates by getting her fired from an important singing engagement, Cleva takes poison, ruins her voice and disappears. With the help of agent and sympathetic showgirl Hazel Bennett (Jane Greer), Lon restarts his career as an extra at Universal and works overtime to win custody of his young son Creighton from the courts. That doesn’t happen until his career takes off playing characters with bizarre infirmities and frightening faces, all having come out of his seemingly magical makeup kit.

We see Lon Chaney as a dedicated, warm-hearted and supremely talented trouper  who deals with prejudice, hardship and heartbreak. Chaney’s problems are the kind that would make a lesser man bitter and hurt.

Cagney’s winning personality colors everything here. Prejudices against hereditary handicaps were so strong in earlier eras that Cleva’s fears are entirely understandable. Chaney selfishly hides the information from her and immediately resents her lack of compassion. We are not surprised that she turns against their relationship. His later grudge against Cleva is the only hint in the movie of the real Chaney’s reported unforgiving nature.

It is Cagney’s magnetic presence makes this great entertainment. Dorothy Malone has one of her best roles as the misunderstood Cleva, while the dreamy Jane Greer is extremely patient as the woman waiting to catch Chaney when he’s free. Jim Backus is charming as the agent, dispensing details about the silent film period’s relationship to vaudeville.

Director Joseph Pevney’s 1957 look at Hollywood history is a very good biopic of silent star Lon Chaney even if it is not true.

 

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  Brand new restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  New audio commentary by film scholar Tim Lucas

  The Man Behind a Thousand Faces, a newly filmed look at Lon Chaney and his legacy by the critic Kim Newman 

  Image gallery

  Original trailer

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

  FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully Illustrated booklet with a newly commissioned essay by Vic Pratt of the BFI

“AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON”— Laughter and Terror

“AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON”

Laughter and Terror

Amos Lassen

David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are American tourists who are attacked by an unidentified vicious animal whilst hiking on the Yorkshire Moors. David wakes up in a London hospital where he learns that Jack is friend dead and his life is in quite a mess. When he leaves the hospital he goes a beautiful nurse’s (Jenny Agutter) home to recuperate but he soon experiences changes to his mind and body and undergoes a full-moon transformation that will unleash terror on the streets of the capital.

“An American Werewolf in London”
David Naughton
1981 Universal Pictures
© 1981 Bob Willoughby

Jim Landis, the director, has insisted that this is not a comedy even though it had audiences howling with laughter. Audiences also  recoiled in terror. The film has become one of the most important horror films of its decade and praised its masterful set-pieces, unsettling atmosphere and Rick Bakers ground-breaking, Oscar-winning special makeup effects. Now restored in 4K and on Blu ray, and presented with an abundance of extra features, we can see his film as never before…

However, “An American Werewolf in London” seems curiously unfinished. There are sequences that are spellbinding as well as long stretches when no one seems sure what’s going on. Then there are times when the special effects almost wipe the characters off the screen. This is, quite simply, a weird film.

David wakes up naked in the zoo in an exhibit of wolves,  with no memory as to how he got there. He has visions of his buddy Jack who tells him that they weren’t attacked by an ordinary wolf – it was a werewolf that killed him and now David has become one himself. He is also being haunted by the ghosts of his victims who are urging him to kill himself. David is, of course, reluctant to do so. After all, he and Alex have fallen deeply in love and he has a lot to live for but his new condition could endanger the life of the woman he loves.

The film is terrifying throughout and even though Landis keeps a light touch, there is always an air of terror,  fear and impending tragedy hanging over the entire film.

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

  New 2018 4K restoration from the original camera negative supervised by John Landis

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Original uncompressed 1.0 mono and optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

  Optional subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  New audio commentary by Beware the Moon filmmaker Paul Davis

  Audio commentary by actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne

  Mark of The Beast: The Legacy of the Universal Werewolf, newly produced, feature-length documentary by filmmaker Daniel Griffith, featuring interviews with John Landis, David Naughton, Joe Dante and more

  An American Filmmaker in London, a newly filmed interview with John Landis in which he reflects on British cinema and his time working in Britain

  I Think He’s a Jew: The Werewolf’s Secret, new video essay by filmmaker Jon Spira (Elstree 1976) about how Landis film explores Jewish identity

  The Werewolf s Call, Corin Hardy, director of The Nun, chats with writer Simon Ward about their formative experiences with Landis film

  Wares of the Wolf, new featurette in which SFX artist Dan Martin and Tim Lawes of The Prop Store look at some of the original costumes and special effects artefacts from the film

  Beware the Moon, Paul Davis acclaimed, feature-length exploration of Landis film which boasts extensive cast and crew interviews

  Making An American Werewolf in London, a short archival featurette on the film s production

  An Interview with John Landis, a lengthy archival interview with the director about the film

  Makeup Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London, the legendary make-up artist discusses his work on the film

  I Walked with a Werewolf, an archival interview with the make-up artist about Universal horror and its legacy of Wolfman films

  Casting of the Hand, archival footage from Rick Baker’s workshop as they cast David Naughton’s hand

  Outtakes

  Original trailers, teasers and radio spots

  Extensive image gallery featuring over 200 stills, posters and other ephemera

  Reversible sleeve featuring original poster art and artwork by Graham Humphreys

  Double-sided fold-out poster

  Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions

  Limited 60-page booklet featuring new writing by Travis Crawford and more

“FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC”— Visiting Grandma

Flowers In The Attic

Visiting Grandma

Amos Lassen

When her husband dies in a tragic accident, Corrine Dollanganger (Victoria Tennant) takes her four children to the family home that she had run away from so you could marry the man she loved of whom her parents did not approve of. Now, her puritanical grandmother (Louise Fletcher) has locked the children in the attic and becomes the job of older brother and sister Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams) and Cathy (Kristy Swanson) to care for their two younger siblings. Their mother becomes more and more distant and erratic. This is a dark and chilling Gothic suspense thriller in the tradition of the classics.

As the kinds are locked up and only receive visits from their mother and their grandmother, no one is bothered that their health is failing them. Their “loving” mother seems to have done an about face and is only concerned about herself and the inheritance she plans to win back from her dying father.

Louise Fletcher is ideal as the bitch grandmother and I feel sorry for her in that she will be remembered for her two starring roles as mean and hateful. I do not want to ruin the plot by talking about it but I can say that I was mesmerized as I watched. For those who read the book, you might be surprised at how the film is so cleaned up.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Original lossless 2.0 stereo audio

  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine

  Home Sweet Home: Filming Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with cinematographer Frank Byers

  Fear & Wonder: Designing Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with production designer John Muto

  The Devil s Spawn: Playing Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with actor Jeb Stuart Adams

  Shattered Innocence: Composing Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with composer Christopher Young

  Production gallery of behind-the-scenes images, illustrations and storyboards

  The original, studio-vetoed ending

  The revised ending with commentary by replacement director Tony Kayden

  Original theatrical trailer

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love

“GRETA”— Solitude as Action


“Greta”

Solitude as Action

Amos Lassen

Pedro (Marco Nanini) is a 70-year-old gay nurse, and quite the fan of Greta Garbo. He needs to find an empty bed in the hospital where he works to save his best friend, Daniela (Denise Weinberg) who is transgender. He he decides to help Jean (Demick Lopes), a criminal in police custody, escape from the premises. His hope is that Jean will help him with Daniela in return. But because he is worried  about Jean’s health, Pedro sets him up in his apartment to treat his wounds. The two have an affair and we realize something about Pedro’s own solitude and what will be once dying Daniela leaves Pedro’s world for good.

This is director Armando Praça’s  first feature film and it has all the relevance of post gay marriage worries, even though its politics are here but a finely attuned love story subsumes everything else. Daniela suffers from kidney failure, and she is panicked to move to the men’s ward. Pedro takes wounded murder suspect Jean out of  the hospital and into his home in order to make hospital space for his ailing “Greta.” We flashback and see Daniela singing about love in a nightclub and she seems to be both hostile and tender. These are reflections of what is going on now in Brazil— the tenderness of same-sex love relationships are being threatened by a hostile political regime. The main relationship is between Pedro and Jean. Pedro is a to the death admirer of Greta Garbo’s well-worn solitude motto (“I want to be alone”), and he is brave enough to use this in his own life. His only friend, we see, is  Daniela and his contact away from solitude is through casual sexual, club encounters. Like Garbo, Pedro wants “to be alone” too – or so he says early on but things change when he hides a younger man from the law. 

The film opens with Pedro wiping mascara from his face as he follows Daniela into an ambulance following serious kidney failure. The police fail to acknowledge Daniela as the trans woman she is and refer to her as “he”. The hospital won’t allow her to stay in the female ward.

When we learn that she doesn’t have long left to live, Daniela tells Pedro that she’s “used to pain”, something which the two of them share in common. We see that pain (as well as lust) when Pedro goes by himself to gay saunas and gay bars, asking strangers to call him “Greta” while they hook up. It’s not until Jean enters his life that Pedro can finally admit that he doesn’t really want to be alone anymore. 

Praça uses explicit nudity and sex as he looks at Pedro’s carnal desires with dignity. Pedro and Jean open themselves up to each other and to the audience. Daniela’s cabaret performance is  tragic and empowering all at the same time.  Praça’s casting choices are fascinating and a story unto themselves. He has a cis-gender actress in the role of Daniela while casting a trans star called Gretta Starr as cis-gender. By doing this, he effectively plays around with notions of intersectionality that are relevant now more than ever. 

“Shuk: The Heart of Israeli Cooking” by Einat Admony and Janna Gur— Making the Mouth Water

Admony, Einat and Janna Gur. “Shuk: The Heart of Israeli Cooking”, Artisan Books. 2019,

Making the Mouth Water

Amos Lassen

Many of you know that I spent many years living in Israel but I have never really publicly said what I thought about the food there. If there was one thing that I really missed, it was American food. I was not at all excited by the food options I had but then again, I get there during the first 15 years of the state and we were not concerned about food; we were building a country. Over the years, the food got better but I was from New Orleans and I missed restaurants like Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Commander’s Palace, Galatoire’s and Tujague’s. Then something happened in this country. Israeli food became the “IT” cuisine and Israeli restaurants opened all over the country and the best restaurant award in New Orleans went to “Shaya”, an Israeli restaurant. Restaurants in Israel also upped their game Suddenly I realized how much I missed Israeli food.

What is it that makes Israeli food so special?  Could it be that “Israel is a culinary crossroads, a mishmash of foods best represented in its shuks, or markets, where foods from Yemen, Morocco, Bulgaria, Libya, Turkey, Russia, the Levant, and dozens more sit side by side to create a food culture unlike anywhere else in the world.” Israel is still one of the countries where supermarkets have not caught on and grocery shopping often consists of going to the neighborhood market, the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer or going to the shuk where all of these places can be found.

In “Shuk”, two leading female Israeli food mavens give us 140 home-cook-friendly recipes  that are inspired by Israel’s singular cuisine. We can almost “inhale the fragrances and taste the flavors of the vivacious culinary mash-up that is today’s Israel.” We go deeply into the nature of Israeli food and learn about “long-simmered stews, herb-dominant rice pilafs, toasted-nut-studded grain salads, and of course loads of vegetable dishes” that are either served raw or roasted in every way possible.

That is not all that is here. We also get all kinds of information about the cuisine including necessary spices, where to shop in Israel and the authors’ favorite places. There are beautiful photo essays of “nine celebrated shuks” allowing us to actually feel that we are there.

As for the recipes, the Jewish dishes have their roots in Persia, Yemen, Libya, the Balkans, the Levant, and all the regions that contribute to the evolving food scene in Israel. While the ingredients are familiar, the ways they are combined and used are fascinating. The book is beautifully written and photographed and filled with stories.  You will be struck by the gorgeous photography and warm colors and you will probably find that your mouth is watering as you read.

“A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir” by Edie Windsor and Joshua Lyon— An Icon Speaks (or Writes)

Windsor, Edie and Joshua Lyon. “A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir”, St. Martin’s Press, 2019.

An Icon Speaks

Amos Lassen

Edie Windsor was and, in fact will always be, an icon of the gay rights movement. In her memoir “A Wild and Precious Life” written with Joshua Lyon, she describes gay life in 1950s and 60s New York City and her longtime activism which opened the door for marriage equality. Windsor “believed in her right to take up space and be seen.”

Edie Windsor became internationally famous by suing the US government to gain federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ruled in her favor and this was a landmark victory that set the stage for full marriage equality in the US. Suddenly Edie was an icon and she embraced this new role; she had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades. 

She began writing this memoir before passing away in 2017 and it has now been completed by Lyon, her co-writer.  Edie shares her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her active social life in Greenwich Village and the underground gay scene of the 1950s. She was one of a select group of trailblazing women in computing and worked her way up the ladder at IBM, achieving their highest technical ranking while developing software. In the early 1960s Edie met Thea, a member of a Dutch Jewish family that fled the Nazis, and a widely respected clinical psychologist. Their partnership lasted forty-four years, until Thea died in 2009. Edie then found love again and married Judith Kasen-Windsor in 2016. 

When Edie moved to Greenwich Village in New York City she found the bohemian, artistic and unofficial gay and lesbian capital of the city. While working at IBM she kept her personal life private from inquiring minds. She was worried about being outed and losing her job.

During the fifties and sixties, Thea Spyer entered her life. They had a turbulent beginning which led to a forty year romantic relationship. Thea was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Edie became her caretaker for thirty years. They were a celebrated lesbian couple both in Greenwich Village and in the Hampton’s gay community where they kept a house.

When Thea died in 2008, Edie fought to keep her inheritance from taxes. They had married legally in Canada and were registered as domestic partners but the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited Edie from keeping about $300,000 in taxes. If Thea had been Theo, Edie would have kept it. Edie fought it all the way to the United States Supreme Court and won.

We read here that Edie never had the intention of celebrity or becoming a lesbian icon. She simply stood her ground and fought for equality and justice. If it wasn’t for Windsor’s battle to avoid paying inheritance taxes after her partner of 40 years died, same-sex marriage would probably still be illegal in the United States. We must all be grateful for her personal sacrifices every day of our lives.