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The Classic Ghosts: “The Haunting of Rosalind”

The Classic Ghosts: “The Haunting of Rosalind”
October 7, 2021 - 4:00 pm

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Archive events are in Pacific Time (U.S.).

This is a one-time live screening.

The Classic Ghosts: “The Haunting of Rosalind”

U.S., 4/10/1973

In a landmark broadcast career spanning over four decades, producer and director Lela Swift helmed hundreds of hours of television, including close to 600 episodes (nearly half of the entire run) of ABC's cult-favorite horror soap opera, Dark Shadows. Starting as a gopher before becoming a research assistant at CBS in the 1940s, Swift advanced to become a successful assistant director for the network before hitting a glass ceiling and being continuously denied promotion to director. Encouraged to enter the field of casting, where women were "welcome" in the industry, Swift held firm to eventually break through as one of the first women to direct primetime network television programming.

Swift’s pioneering work for CBS included directing episodes of the early anthologies Studio One, Suspense, and The Web, where she directed James Dean in one of his first roles. During the late 1950s and early ‘60s, Swift's career progressed as she directed installments of The DuPont Show of the Week, the social-issue serial The House on High Street, and several acclaimed episodes of NBC's Purex Specials for Women. By the mid-1970s and through the late 1980s, Swift's prolific work in daytime TV would come to define her esteemed legacy in television, as she went on to direct over 800 episodes of ABC's popular soap, Ryan's Hope, for which she would earn three Daytime Emmy Awards.

Beyond Dark Shadows, Swift’s extensive resume boasts numerous horror entries including the 1973 telefilm The Classic Ghosts: “The Haunting of Rosalind,” one of several such works she directed as part of ABC's “Wide World of Mystery” late-night programming experiment. The gothic, Dark Shadows-esque “Rosalind” concerns two sisters (Pamela Payton-Wright and future Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon) whose affections for the same suitor (Frank Converse) leads to a tragic disruption between the worlds of the living and the dead. Produced on videotape by Swift’s fellow trailblazer, Jacqueline Babbin, “The Haunting of Rosalind” stands today as a moody, atmospheric time capsule of ‘70s television horror (with associated frights and chills) and a lasting testament to the extreme talents of the women who made it.

Program notes written by Mark Quigley, John H. Mitchell Television Curator.

Post-screening conversation with Archive Research and Study Center Officer Maya Montañez Smukler, author of Liberating Hollywood: Women Directors and the Feminist Reform of 1970s American Cinema, and Amanda Reyes, editor of Are You in the House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999 and host of the podcast Made for TV Mayhem.

Color, approx. 70 min. ABC. A Specter Production. Executive Producer: Robert Berger. Producer: Jacqueline Babbin. Director: Lela Swift. Writer: Art Wallace. Based on a story by Henry James. With: Pamela Payton-Wright, Susan Sarandon, Beatrice Straight, Frank Converse.

Preserved from the original 2 in. videotape. Video transfer at DC Video. Engineering services by David Crosthwait.

Total program runtime, including discussion: approx. 110 min.