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Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Dollmaker

Many of you asked about the hand carved dolls in my Hoosier. Here is the address of the dear woman responsible for these treasures...

Polly Page's Mountain Crafts

Pleasant Hill, TN

The history of Pleasant Hill and its craft program

represented in hand-carved dolls, plus a variety of woodcarvings.

**34 Page Cir.

Pleasant Hill, TN 38578 Phone: 931-277-3402

Hours Open to the Public Mon. - Sat. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Dates Closed Jan. 1 - March 21

I also mentioned that Polly had helped teach Jane Fonda the art of whittling for her role in "The Dollmaker". It is an amazing movie if you can find a copy or catch a showing on television. It is out of print at present but many are petitioning for it to be released on DVD.

~The Dollmaker~

1984-USA-Americana/Period Film/Family Drama
Jane Fonda stars in this made-for-TV movie, which uses the backdrop of World War II and urbanization to tell the story of one woman's fight to keep her family together. Gertie Nevels (Fonda), the wife of a Kentucky sharecropper, wants nothing more than to one day own her own farm. Thriftily hiding her savings from husband Clovis (Levon Helm), she prepares to make her dream come true -- until Clovis summons her to come join him in Detroit, where he's gone to work in a factory to help with the war effort. Arriving with her children in tow, Gertie finds Clovis all settled into a tenement-like block house and living the life of a union man. Soon, though, the downside of urban life -- from monstrous neighbors and repressive schools to the pitfalls of the industrial landscape itself -- threaten Gertie's family both individually and as a whole. Despite Clovis' freewheeling way with money and his propensity to blame her for the family's problems, Gertie continues to save money. A lifelong whittler, she begins selling hand-crafted wooden dolls, and when the union goes on strike, Gertie finds herself supporting the family. Adapted from Harriet Arnow's novel by Hume Cronyn and Susan Cooper, who would go on to collaborate on the similarly themed Foxfire in 1987, The Dollmaker was directed by feature and TV veteran Daniel Petrie. It debuted on ABC on May 13, 1984, and earned Fonda an Emmy for her work.

This movie, and it's accompanying soundtrack, are just achingly beautiful. Each character in this movie is lovingly depicted, even the children (there are such exquisite performances by the children too). You would hardly recognize Jane Fonda not necessarily because of her looks but because her demeanor and accent is so spot on. She really shows just how great of an actress she can be in this role because she couldn't get any further from her real life background than this role and yet there isn't even one second of her portrayal that will have you doubting. She completely inhabited Gertie down to the fabric of her very soul. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone

who gets the chance to see it.

~Well Worth a Read~

**The movie was based on the book....

Harriet Arnow’s unforgettable yet tragic novel, The Dollmaker, was published in 1954 to immediate success and critical acclaim. A bestseller and runner up for the 1955 National Book Award (to William Faulkner’s The Fable) The Dollmaker has been largely forgotten in contemporary American literary discourse. However, as Joyce Carol Oates claims in her afterword “There are certainly greater novels than The Dollmaker, but I can think of none that have moved me more, personally, terrifyingly, involving me in the solid fact of life’s criminal exploitation of those who live it—not hard, not sentimental, not at all intellectually ambitious, The Dollmaker is one of those excellent American works that have yet to be properly assessed”

In unadorned yet powerful prose, Harriet Arnow tells the heartbreaking story of the Nevels family and their quest to maintain their values and their family amidst the turmoil of war. As the novel opens, we are introduced to Gertie Nevels, a strong, self-reliant woman who performs a tracheotomy on her dying son in order to save him while she tries to get him to a doctor. Unfortunately, this brave act seems to be the last time that she follows her own instincts. Forced by social mores to follow her husband, Clovis, from the Kentucky backwoods she loves to the foreign and oppressive city life of Detroit, Gertie struggles between her desire to keep her family together and her yearning for the lifestyle and the land she loves.

Arnow’s masterful novel is realistic in style, full of regional dialect and finely crafted characters. In The Dollmaker, Arnow explores many compelling themes relevant to American life during World War II. She examines the roles of women in society, the struggle to uphold family values, the role of the war itself on rural and urban life, the way that religious beliefs inform one’s choices in life, among many others. The Dollmaker is a novel that makes one think as well as feel, and it has a surprising amount of relevance to our own time.

A sprawling book, full of vividly drawn characters and masterful scenes, The Dollmaker is both a passionate denunciation of industrialization and war, and a tribute to a woman's love for her children and the land.

Harriet Arnow was born in 1908 into a family whose roots reached back for five generations of Kentucky’s history. From this rich background, she inherited a bountiful storytelling tradition that provided inspiration for her acclaimed novels: Mountain Path, Hunter’s Horn, and The Dollmaker, the last considered her masterpiece and a landmark of American fiction. She died in 1986.


Sue "Sioux" Seibert said...

The book sounds fantastic...the dolls look wonderful...can't say the same about Jane, however. Hope all is well. We are still flooding here in TX.

"Early Bird" said...

I just called and spoke to Miz Polly...she is a sweet soundin' lady but she doesn't have a catalog but told me the shop's open all tha time...I just loved her accent...made me homesick...
Just consider yourself very blessed to have this handsome pair in your Hoover Cabinet!

PEA said...

I've heard of this movie but have never seen it or read the book! Now you make me want to go out and find both!!! Those dolls are just fabulous and I will certainly check out Polly's site!! xox

Valerie said...

wow...sounds good! i kinda remember watching the Dollmaker on TV, not that it wasn't so long ago *cough*.

Pamela said...

The first chapter - about saving her son - was done as a story in itself in Readers Digest Condensed Books. I read it when I was a kid -
However, I never bought the book to read it.

LisaOceandreamer said...

I loved the movie, I absolutely loved it. I haven't seen it in quite some time but just thinking of it and all they went through, well I may have to see if it's available on CD to rent. I didn't realize it was from a novel(will have to check that out). The doll making was thrilling to watch and it's interesting to know who taught her.
Did you write that review of the book and story? If so, my dear SusieQ you should be writing for Amazon or even the NYTimes!

jafabrit said...

Oh goodness, yes I remember seeing this movie years ago and loved it. I would love to see it again. I have the book somewhere, but never read it. Me thinks I should dig it out.

oh I LOVE the dolls.

Carrie J said...

I loved this movie and just recently picked up a copy of the book at a yard sale. The statue of Christ that she was carving in the movie was done by a woodcarver from around here somewhere. It used to sit in a store over in Gatlinburg with a picture of Jane Fonda and the woodcarver together. I haven't seen it in years so I'm not sure it is still there. I hope they put the DVD out because I would love to see it again.

Sheila said...

This is fascinating. I will look for the film and the book.
When I first saw the original post I thought they were apple dolls. Have you ever made those..!