Monday, February 14, 2011

Feeling Like an Expert

I have a new feeling of expertise. It comes with an "Ah-ha!" moment. Not "ah-ha" as in Eureka! I discovered something! but "Ah-ha! I know better!"

Today I got the book I've been waiting a month for! Hooray!

Strangers in Hollywood is Hans Wollstein's 1994 study of Scandinavians in the movies from the silent era to the Second World War. It came all the way from a bookstore in Sussex, and it took a long route to get here. It's been traveling since January 10th.

I've been anxiously awaiting, in part to see what Hans actually said about Greta Granstedt. I knew, in outline. I knew in part what he'd written because it was featured on several web sites.
So I immediately turned to page 128 and began reading.

"Ah-ha!" I exclaimed. "He's wrong. She wasn't born in Malmö. She didn't make a film debut in Buck Privates. And she never played in Swedish language films, because she didn't speak Swedish."

Of course, I knew that Hans had retailed the story about Greta being born in Sweden. I'd even had a chance to correspond with Hans about the issue, and he reassured me that the information, while likely faulty, was from the studio publicist, which was why it was faulty.

This isn't the only published error I've found in the last two days. In a study of Hollywood Romantic comedy I found erroneous details about The Front Page. In a book about Howard Hawks (I think) I found errors in the description of the plot of Scarface. These weren't web sites by amateurs, these were books, written by professional researchers and writers. Errors!


There's the expert snobbiness coming out. Stay tuned for my post on Wikipedia.

Here's a clue, the next post will have to do with our academic prejudice against Wikipedia.

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