The Valley Line: 'The Help' gets a local showing

Whoever heard of June Gloom in August? Most of the television weather people were chattering last week about the cloudy mornings, calling the weather some kind of phenomenon.

Of course by the time you read this column, the clouds will be gone and it will be considerably hotter. I will be taking my fancy hand-held fan that I got in Japan many years ago everywhere I go. I’ll also be savoring those lovely cool mornings we recently had.


A few weeks ago the La Cañada Thursday Club, along with other community philanthropic organizations and sundry book club members, were invited by the Disney Company to visit the La Cañada Regal Theatre to pre-screen the film, “The Help,” based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett.

The movie theater was completely full, with a predominantly female audience. It appeared the film was thoroughly enjoyed and there was a lot of buzz about the reincarnation of this greatly-loved book. I would have written about this pre-screening event before now, but the Disney people placed an embargo against the review of the film until the week the film was to be released — so I complied.

“The Help,” set in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s, is now showing in all theaters with mostly good reviews. Of course I couldn’t stay away from seeing the film again because not only did I love the book, but I so enjoyed the pre-screening of the film.

Part of the reason that I went to see it again was that I was very interested in evaluating the energy that the film was creating within the theater and the response of the audience. Considering my second viewing was on a Wednesday afternoon, the theater was quite full. It wasn’t an all-female audience; quite a few guys were there to see the film too.

It has been a long time since I’ve heard so much emotional audience reaction as the viewers got incredibly caught up the film as they alternately gasped, booed, cheered, laughed and cried.

I think you will be hearing a lot about “The Help” come award season – Golden Globes, SAG, and The Academy Awards.

There were outstanding performances by actresses Emma Stone as Skeeter, Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly, Viola Davis as Aibilene, Octavia Spence as Minny, Jessica Chastain as Celia, Sissy Spacek as Hilly’s mom, and Cicely Tyson as Constantine. I truly believe that we will be hearing more than one of these names nominated for some of these coveted awards.


The Oakmont League returned to days gone by and 1950s-style fun as the theme for its recent summer party.

The lovely gardens at the La Cañada home of Connie and Asadullah Alamdari were the setting of the party, attended by more than 70 people.

Oakmont members working on the party committee, co-chaired by Pat Hetherington and Gail Gilhooley, included Amparo Henspetter, Barbara McCullough, Mercy Velazquez, Mary Broerman, Linda Malmquist, Jeri Benton, Nina Ratliff, Lana Handley, Donna Sauer, Ann Chadney and Pam Spiszman.

The table décor was cleverly done with holders of 45 RPM vinyl records with spoofs of the names of ‘50s hits.

The dinner of steak and chicken with a host of side dishes was catered by Red Catering and the desserts were prepared by Oakmont members.

After dinner, the dancing fun began to the music provided by the Andy Roth band.

It was a great party enjoyed by all. In addition to the committee members named above, some of the guests enjoying the “Oldie but Goodie” memories and tunes were Joyce Baer, Ron and Carolyn Beaton, Bob Clark, Bob and Wanda Bistagne, Doris Boyer and Leonard DeGrassi, Dawn Bramhall, John Yeghaian and Mary Broerman, Julie Budimir, Jim and Karla Cohen, Patsy Dewey, Orchid Donnelly, Nancy Fraines, Herminia Gallegos, Joseph Gallegos, Maria Garcia, Rosa Ortiz, Don and Julie George, Tom and Gail Gilhooley, Marian Graydon Greene and Paul Greene, Gracicla Gregor, Michael and Chris Halajian, Patsy Dewey, Robert and Sofia MacIsaac, Ralph Malmquist, Les McCullough, Loma McCune, Juanita Nunez, Mario Nunez, Joe and Judy Mendicina, Ed and Ginger O’Hara, Larry Ratliff, Lee and Chloe Ross, Frank Sauer, Jose and Monica Sierra, Sheila Murray, Ian Spiszman, Mike Velazquez, Ron and Ann Wacker, Glen and Katherine Yamada, and Ron and Rosalie Youra.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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