29. Absence and Presence in Hollywood: On Polly Platt, with Aaron Hunter

Polly Platt is not a household name, and that is the problem  we tackle in this episode.

Photo by © Steve Banks / mptvimages.com

She was a lynchpin in the making of an astonishing list of some of the best American films for more than two decades. So how come so few people know about her?

When her name is remembered, it is as a production designer. But, as Aaron Hunter explains in this interview, that does not nearly encompass what she did in films such as The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, The Witches of Eastwick, Broadcast News and Paper Moon.

But Hollywood was, and still is, a sexist place. Women almost never get to direct, and Platt never did. So when the industry moulds itself around the cult of the director, almost everyone else involved in this most collaborative of art forms, gets shoved out of the frame.

Aaron Hunter’s detailed and impassioned contribution here identifies what made Platt so special, so distinctive, and so worth remembering.

You will hear lots of references in this episode to the recent 10-part series on Polly Platt by Karina Longworth on the You Must Remember This podcast. It is highly recommended.

Aaron Hunter writes and posts video essays at doctorfilm.org. He lectures in film in the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University and has written on the New Hollywood of the 1970s, film authorship and women in film and television.

Follow him on Twitter at @aaron_m_hunter