– Ms. Magazine
In May of 2015, Life Magazine called legendary journalist Nellie Bly one of “100 women who changed the world”.
With reviews like, “Stunning!” – New York Times, “Must See” – Ms. Magazines, “Awesome, Incredible” – Popcorn Talk Network, “Demands To Be Watched!” – Bust Magazine, and, “Exciting and Inspiring” – Best Feminist, a passionate labor of love, 10 Days in a Madhouse, has been beating the odds in continuing to gain ground in US theaters, perhaps drawing on one of Nellie Bly’s most famous quotes, “Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.”
She was a one of a kind, Nellie Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Cochrane. In her lifetime she championed the causes of those who faced a corrupt and intrinsically unbalanced playing field in life. She was the first woman reporter on the Front lines in World War One where, upon her arrival, walked into 60 days of direct under siege artillery shelling.
She found herself suddenly in the midst of the worst of what war can bring, with men being blown to bits all around her. Facing disease, carnage and suffering to the greatest degree the human race could inflict upon itself. Before Bly’s life was over she had invented and patented the 55 gallon metal drum to replace fragile barrels that had been used practically since the dawn of humanity.
(Above: Later in life, Nellie Bly invented and patented the 55 gallon metal drum that replaced wooden barrels that had been used for centuries, as an “unbreakable” alternative. Below: Nellie Bly on the front line in World War One.)
Nellie Bly was born into wealth. The death of her father ultimately forced her family into poverty and her mother at the mercy of porewful men who controlled what little money flow she had left from the remains of her estate. So young Elizabeth got to see how the rich and the poor were treated from first hand experience. Nellie had to go to work at an early age. And it was an article she read in the newspaper that changed the course of her life.
The National Women’s History Museum in Washington DC put it this way:
“While in Pittsburgh, Bly wrote an indignant letter to the newspaperPittsburgh Dispatch over a columnists’ assertion that women only belonged in the home doing domestic tasks and condemning working women. The newspaper editor was impressed by the letter and offered her a job, also giving her the pen name Nellie Bly.”
“Bly’s first story was about the hardships facing poor working-class girls. Her second story called for reform of the state’s divorce law, something she knew about firsthand from her mother’s divorce from her abusive second husband. Bly then did a series on factory girls working in Pittsburgh. Usually though, Bly was assigned to stories about flower shows and fashion, and after being denied the chance to take on different stories, Bly left the newspaper for New York.”
So, stepping back in time to Nellie Bly’s beginnings in New York, the new biopic directed by Timothy Hines, known for 2012 Oscar competitor, War of the Worlds The True Story, a highly critically praised documentary style telling of H.G. Wells’ classic novel, stars the fresh and charming Caroline Barry as Bly, who has been gaining 2017 Oscar buzz for her portrayal of the legendary brave journalist. Christopher Lambert, known for Highlander, Mortal Kombat, Tarzan: Legend of Greystoke, and the currently in theaters Hail, Caesar!, plays the troubled superintendent of the asylum, Dr. E.C. Dent. Also in the cast is Julia Chantrey who had one of the funniest parts in Tina Fey’s Mean Girls and starred opposite Jessica Chastain in Guillermo del Toro’s Mama which grossed over 170 million dollars. Kelly Le Brock, former supermodel and movie star in films such as, Woman in Red, Weird Science signed on to the picture after turning down roles for a decade.
Based on Bly’s book about her first big assignment working for Joseph Pulitzer and essentially creating undercover reporting, 10 Days in a Madhouse, opened last November 11th at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square in New York City and with the spirit and tenacity of Bly herself riding over the film’s shoulder, the picture has held on in theaters for 14 weeks to date. The emotionally powerful picture has quietly continued to run in select US theaters with rave reviews and is continuing to expand, opening next week on March 4th in North Hollywood at the Laemmle NoHo 7 and amongst other theaters, at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco on March 18th. March being Women’s History Month, there will also be various event screenings such a benefit for The National Women’s History Museum.
(Above: 2017 Academy Award buzz for Caroline Barry starring as Nellie Bly in 10 Days in a Madhouse.)
Set in 1887, 10 Days in a Madhouse closely follows the fledgling 23 year old Bly in her real life experiences as she, working for Joseph Pulitzer, goes undercover in Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for Women to expose monumental corruption, abuse and murder. She herself faced grave danger and herself nearly going mad in the process.
(Above: Actual articles by and about Nellie Bly’s experiences in the Madhouse published at the time. Below: A typical asylum “Quiet room” from the period.)
“Nellie Bly’s heroism and courage truly come to life on the screen.” – Ms. Magazine review of 10 Days in a Madhouse.
The motion picture has been well received from the beginning with its first ever public screening on Nellie Bly’s birthday, May 5th, at Geena Davis’ inaugural Bentonville Film Festival celebrating women and diversity co-sponsored by WalMart in the founder of Walmart in his hometown, Bentonville, Arkansas.
All the Major Studios and giant corporations like Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods backed the festival in the tiny town where the first 5 and 10 cent store that launched the Walmart chain still stands in a still operating, yet pristinely preserved museum state. A slew of movie stars descended on the town to support the cause of seeing better and greater roles for women and minorities in film including Robert De Niro, Rosie O’Donnell, Judge Reinhold, Bruce Dern and more.
On the same day 10 Days in a Madhouse played in Bentonville, coinciding with Bly’s birthday, Google devoted a doodle to Bly with their first ever commissioned song by Karen O about Bly. 3.5 billion internet searchers were introduced to Nellie Bly that day.
At the 68th Cannes Film Festival, 10 Days in a Madhouse played to a long ovation and emotionally moved international audience. Danish director Janne Kindberg said, 10 Days in a Madhouse was the best film at Cannes, including the jury prize winner,” and, “It is the greatest feminist movie in the world.”
(Above: 10 Days in a Madhouse.)
The New York Times favorably commented on the emotional impact of the movie, saying, “The stunning, true story of journalist Nellie Bly’s now-legendary undercover stint in a mental hospital in 1887.”
(Above: 10 Days in a Madhouse.)
Ms. Magazine’s Christina Maria Paschyn lauded the movie, “Written and directed by Timothy Hines, I can honestly say this movie is a must-see. Nellie Bly’s heroism and courage truly come to life on the screen, thanks to the work of talented up-and-coming actor Caroline Barry. Barry is instantly magnetic as Bly, and it’s hard not to root for and fall in love with her character as the story progresses.”
The Ms. Review went on to say, “Hines also does a great job showing just how grotesque and abusive the conditions really were at Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum. In the film, Bly encounters creepy and uncaring doctors, sadistic nurses and several incarcerated women who are clearly not insane and should never have been sent to the asylum in the first place. Several are locked up for reasons that would make feminists rage, such as catching their husband having an affair, just being poor, or not being able to speak English well enough to plead their case.”
The review summed up with, “all of the asylum patients are well played, most particularly by actors Julia Chantrey, Natalia Davidenko and Jessa Campbell. Christopher Lambert is strong as the superintendent,” and “Films like 10 Days in a Madhouse that feature incredible and aspirational female role models deserve to be made, but are largely ignored by sexist movie execs.”
Bust Magazine critic Hanna Lustig says of 10 Days in a Madhouse, “Director Timothy Hines’ modern biopic of the same name stars Caroline Barry as Bly, and captures the journalist’s time on the island in a visceral new way.”
She went on to say, “Not for the faint of heart,” and “10 Days in a Madhouse demands to be watched.”
Best Feminist’s, Erika Jones wrote, “Bly’s fearless nature, seeming to ignore all of the patriarchal bonds shackled on her as she walks confidently into a room (and a career) full of men was exciting and inspiring. I was on board.” Jones added, “The madhouse is dirty, and uncomfortable to watch.”
“The abusive crew of negligent nurses in the asylum, spearheaded by a delightfully dark and unstable Ms. Grupe (Played by Alexandra Callas) deliver equal part disdainful indifference and malice to the patients of Blackwell’s. There are cringe worthy scenes of violence, and an array of colorful patients, but what had me leaving the theater so satisfied was the theme of hope.”
The critic conclude her review by saying, “The film is intense, difficult to watch at times, and yes there is thrashing and crying. But what’s important is what they’re using the violence to show- not just to victimize these women, but to uplift and show the unyielding resilience of not only women, but people… Going on this journey with Nellie, watching her fight and persevere, her famous unfailing optimism grows, changes, evolves – but it never quite leaves her, or us. 10 Days in a Madhouse will stick with you. The struggles, the injustices, the hope. But mostly I think it’ll be that great wide smile of Nellie Bly’s.”
The next opening of 10 Days in a madhouse begins, Friday, March 4th in North Hollywood at the Laemmle NoHo 7.
Check out the movie’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/10DaysInAMadhouse, for more theater openings as the movie’s intensity and passionate truth continues to draw hoards of supporters who agree that the movie is a “Must See.”
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