AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 17

This is the lovechild of my current obsessions! I’ve been shoulder-deep in research on early Hollywood, the life and works of Marlene Dietrich, Paris in the 20th century, WWII, Existentialism, and so much more.

An open love letter to Sapphic women of Classical Hollywood cinema, You Must Remember This is the biographical tale of Madeleine “Leda” Montaigne, a dazzling French actress on the rise, and her ongoing relationship with Constanze, an enigmatic woman that keeps popping up on the fringes of her life under numerous aliases and occupations. Navigating the competitive and stifling atmosphere of cinema, surviving through WWII, and having to piece together the subsequent ashes of their former lives, both women must find their place in the cultural shifts of the coming era and choose between their convictions, their safety, and their loved ones all while under the scrutinizing eye of the public.

The following excerpt is from an early chapter in which Madeleine and Constanze meet. It’s just been announced that Madeleine’s landed the lead in one of France’s first talking movies (or “talkies”) – she’s gone out with her husband, René Sinclair, his mistress, Tatinne, and Madeleine’s longtime friend/lover, Elsie Renard, to celebrate at their favorite gay/lesbian haunt, La Silhouette.

Montmartre, Paris. 1929.

The midnight revelry in La Silhouette is nearing its peak.

Seduced by the promise of saucy jazz, spirits, and spectacle, more and more people had poured into every seat and open space, lining the bar and swamping the booths, spilling over into a churning sea of bodies on the dance-floor. Couples of infinite character spin grooves into the wood; singles glide between each other, kissing and crying, driven to a neurotic glee by the contralto on stage before eventually dissolving into corner shadows or the unquiet night.

Madeleine had just downed the last of her drink when Elsie stumbles up against her amidst the chaos, curling a thin arm around the front of Madeleine’s tailcoat to press the length of their bodies together.

“Have you seen la belle femme over there?” Her lips are wet against Madeleine's ear, and she melts into her. “She’s been staring at you for hours.”