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The University of Southampton
FilmPart of Humanities

Looking for Lela Simone: Genres of Industry Discourse and Production Histories of Classical Hollywood Seminar

Lela Simone
16:00 - 17:45
23 October 2018
Lecture Theatre C Building 65 Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO171BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Corey Kai Nelson Schultz at .

Event details

Part of the Research in Film Studies: Guest Lecture Programme. All welcome.


Despite her important contribution to classical Hollywood’s most polished golden age musicals, Lela Simone is little known in film history.  Undertaking music supervision for Arthur Freed’s MGM Unit (1944-1957) the German-born Simone displayed an aptitude for exacting technical supervision, overseeing pre-scoring and synchronisation of iconic musical numbers for which the Freed unit have become famous, including Singin’ in the Rain. Simone is little known because she worked behind the scenes, but also because her work might be labelled as ‘generic’, unexceptional compared to the ‘talent’ of stars or the ‘agency’ of producers or directors. 

This paper will demonstrate the centrality of her work to the exemplary production of genre by the unit. Analysing archival and industrial sources, the paper will trace how genre operates within three interrelated areas of production history.  Firstly, genre informed the classification of work roles above and below the line; secondly, genre shaped production routines, and thirdly, the shared conventions of technical crafts, such as work with sound and music, formed ‘genres of expertise’.  These three aspects of genre are intertwined in Simone’s career, and the paper will examine the tensions between genre as unexceptional, and as representing the ‘best’ of classical Hollywood’s mode of production.

Speaker information

Professor Helen Hanson, University of Exeter. Associate Professor in Film History. Helen is a co-editor of the Music, Sound and the Moving Image Journal. Her research and publications are concerned with industrial, generic, stylistic and representational histories of Hollywood cinema. She is the author of Hollywood Soundscapes: Film Sound Style, Craft and Production in the Classical Era (BFI/Palgrave: 2017); Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film (I B Tauris: 2007), and the co-editor (with Catherine O’Rawe) of The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts (Palgrave: 2010) and (with Andrew Spicer) of A Companion to Film Noir (Wiley-Blackwell: 2013). She is currently working on the ‘creative histories’ of women working behind the scenes in Classical Hollywood cinema.

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