Thursday, June 14, 2007

Film to recount '40s prison-bound girl band who were 'Dixie Chicks of their day'

Reports the Los Angeles Times, actress Jennifer Aniston:
"is on board to produce and likely star in the 1940s song-laden comedy about one of the nation's first all-female country acts, a group whose members were also guests of the Texas penal system.

Aniston will be joined by seven other singin' and pickin' actresses cast as part of the Goree All Girl String Band, which is remembered as the Dixie Chicks of its day for the radio performances it put on from a Texas music hall.

Aniston and her producing partner, Kristin Hahn, hired Margaret Nagle (HBO's "Warm Springs") to adapt the screenplay from a Texas Monthly article [subscription required]. DreamWorks, Aniston and Hahn have sent the script out in search of a director with no scheduled production start to date.

The group of eight female Texas prisoners performed live every Wednesday evening in the early 1940s to an estimated 7 million Americans tuned into radio station WBAP-AM in Fort Worth.

The women — some of whom were in prison for cattle rustling, robbery and murder — joined together with the hope of "singing their way out" of Goree State Farm, a few miles south of Huntsville, according to Skip Hollandsworth, who wrote the 8,000-word profile "O, Sister Where Art Thou?" for Texas Monthly in May 2003.

The women were allowed to change out of their prison uniforms (starched white linen dresses) and into light tan shirts, brown western-style skirts, white cowboy boots and, tied around their necks, brown bandannas each week for their public appearances, thanks to the Texas prison system's bid for a little favorable publicity following reports of escapes, beatings and gunfights in their facilities.

Hollandsworth's article is loaded with nostalgic movie hallmarks: The period prison life depicted in "The Green Mile," the comedic female camaraderie of women in uniform in "A League of Their Own" and mentions of familiar country-and-western standards such as "Way Out West in Texas" and "Sleepy Rio Grande."

The profile also alludes to the darker realities of prison life for women in the 1940s, such as forced sterilization, hard labor, segregated prisons, solitary confinement and vicious beatings, doled out especially to inmates caught engaging in lesbian sex.

Hollandsworth spent years researching the story and tracking down members of the original Goree All Girl String Band. The women never made a recording and lived in anonymity after prison."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't get the connection. The Dixie Chicks are middle class socially conscious people who have a higher sense of integrity. These girls were lower class [that's who were in prison then and today - despite all the harms done by corporate policies that dwarf street crime] people with scant education and - due to desperate economic conditions - committed acts of criminal transgression on other people. They didn't stand on principles or advocate any causes other than an improvement on their status as prisoners. They were exploited by corrupt people to divert attention from institutional corruption.
Doesn't sound a whole lot like the Dixie Chicks. While the Dixie Chicks poed a lot of rednecks, these girls in prison were adored by the same types of rednecks. I just don't see the parallels - other than they were all female musical groups - just like Jerry Falwell and Martin Luther King are both Baptist ministers.