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Archive for ‘1910s’

The Lovely Nazimova

By , 15 February, 2013, 1 Comment

Some photos of Nazimova from an article in Films in Review, December 1972. The article was written by De Witt Bodeen, who says “her film career was a pale reflection of her genius as an actress”. Clearly, the author was smitten, for the article begins thus:

There has never been any doubt about the greatness of Alla Nazimova as an actress. I would not hesitate to name her the foremost actress of the 20th century American theatre. Certainly, for what she brought to this country as a discipline of the realistic school of acting, she is a towering figure. She reformed and revitalized acting in America just as Elenora Duse did throughout Europe.

If Nazimova is new to you, check out a list of her works and biographies. You can find photos of her on eBay.

Nazimova Puts On Stockings

With Alan Hale in A Doll's House

With Valentino in Camille

In Revelation

In The Brat

In War Brides

Touring with D. W. Griffiths

Make A Mata Hari Headdress

By , 14 March, 2012, No Comment

Catherine, founder of Kiss Me Deadly lingerie, shows how to make a Mata Hari Headdress.

Mata Hari Headdress & Lingerie From Kiss Me Deadly

Mata Hari

This glamorous craft idea can be easily modified to make other styles, including one like Lana Turner wore in MGM’s Diane, a period piece made in 1956.

Pearl Headdress Lana Turner Wore In Diane

I found this lovely DIY project idea via this post at A Tad Too Much Tan For Taupe; and the photo of Mata Hari is from Mata-Hari.com.

Here’s Looking Like You, Kid Is Moving!

By , 5 May, 2010, No Comment

Please, please, please come visit me at the new site: heres-looking-like-you-kid.com!

When You Say, “Drama,” I Say…

By , 13 April, 2010, 2 Comments

When you say, “Drama,” I say, “Evelyn Brent.” Exhibit A, these photos taken by Otto Dyar.

The Stunningly Dramatic Evelyn Brent

The Stunningly Dramatic Evelyn Brent

(I believe these were a series of promotional photos for the actress herself and are not tied to any individual films — but then, with so many lost silent films, it’s difficult to say… Perhaps “Salome” is the title of a film and not just the character she created in the photograph?)

It’s not just the stunning photographs, the bold black and white fashions, or even Brent’s singular beauty…

Evelyn Brent As "Salome" (Photo By Otto Dyar)

Evelyn Brent As "Salome" (Photo By Otto Dyar)

It’s the accessories.

Evelyn Brent: Hair & Accessories

Evelyn Brent: Hair & Accessories

The barrettes or combs in the hair — and the pearls, oh, the pearls!

Intrigued? Check out Evelyn Brent: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Lady Crook— it’s on my wishlist!

Comedic Advice From Silent Film

By , 5 February, 2010, No Comment

At the Silent Film Archive, I found this scan of an article in the June 1926 issue of The Home Movie Journal, by Raymond Griffith, titled What People Laugh at and What They Don’t.

Page From June 1926 issue of The Home Movie Journal

Page From June 1926 issue of The Home Movie Journal

In this article you’ll find not only the golden keys to comedy, but proof that silent film comedies weren’t made merely of cheap simple sight gags like slipping on banana peels — in fact, the reason why I’ve never found slipping on bananas is actually mentioned in this article:

we even laugh when a man slips on a banana peel although that is not a healthy laugh for the next moment we realize he may have suffered real injury.

In my humble opinion, when you read this old article, you’ll see where many of today’s comedies, comedians, sitcoms, and cartoons have gone wrong; rather than focusing on discomfort and shared embarrassments, much of today’s comedic productions are just simply mean.

Comedies must be clean and wholesome. That is very important. We may laugh at the joke of a comedy situation that is off-color, but we don’t mean it. The laugh is no more sincere when the cause is the man slipping and falling on a banana peel.

You can see and read the rest of the article here — I hope you do, and that you’ll let me know your thoughts.

Getting To The Point Of Pencil Skirts & Their Popularity

By , 22 October, 2009, No Comment

Christian Dior created the pencil skirt in the early 1950’s, as part of his H-Line collection.

Christian Dior H-line Fashions, 1955

Christian Dior H-line Fashions, 1955

The narrow and long (past the knee, originally) design of pencil skirts was reminiscent of the long skirts worn in the 1900s — right down to the similar hobbling effects of the 1910’s hobble skirts.

The Hobble Skirt Postcard, Circa 1910s

The Hobble Skirt Postcard, Circa 1910s

Note where the hobble skirt narrows around the knees, much like the narrowness of pencil skirts. This is why, even when pencil skirts have a slit or pleat in the back, pencil skirts still require some practice to walk in, some experience in elegant wearing.

Early Christian Dior Pencil Skirt Suit

Early Christian Dior Pencil Skirt Suit

The earliest pencil skirts were parts of suits, worn with jackets and tunics which covered the waist; this somewhat tended to minimize the hips while lengthening the legs.

Black Velevet Tunic Suit With Slim Pencil Skirt, 1952

Black Velevet Tunic Suit With Slim Pencil Skirt, 1952

But eventually, pencils skirts were worn with more fitted fashions, further accentuating the rounding of hips and behinds beneath nipped-in waists. (And would eventually evolve into the more flower-like full skirted fashions, and, on the other side, the wiggle dress, which we think of when we think of New Look fashions.)

Vintage Suit Ad: Pencil Skirt on Left, A-Line Skirt on Right

Vintage Suit Ad: Pencil Skirt on Left, A-Line Skirt on Right

In any case, wearing pencil skirts was far less practical in terms of ease of movement. This impracticality had, in fact, much to do with the success of the new skirts.

The lack of ease in movement may not have been part of Dior’s “Big Design” but his designs, and the many others who followed suit, certainly were able to capitalize by simultaneously a-dressing several post WWII cultural movements.

Pencil skirts were not only a new fashion silhouette — which women, tired of the more functional (and repaired, recycled) wartime clothing would of course be nearly giddy to have — but these skirts were also a more traditional and feminine style. Eager to be beautiful again, women loved them.

And men loved these skirts which highlighted and celebrated the female form too.

Vintage Lilli Ann Suit With Pencil Skirt Ad

Vintage Lilli Ann Suit With Pencil Skirt Ad

No one can blame either men or women for celebrating their reunions, the return of couples and families, but the physical restrictions of pencil skirts encouraged the hobbling of women.

Such fashions, with their physical restrictions, helped move women away from their wartime work (making room for the returning men) and placed women upon their pedestals as domestic goddesses, objects of desire and housewives. Female.

Feeding this return to gender roles via fashion were the recently available mass production advances made during the second World War and the post-war prosperity; ready-to-wear was affordable and most everyone had the the ability to afford the luxuries of lots of new clothing. The vintage popularity of pencil skirts remains with us today, making the pencil skirt more than a fashion classic, but a fashion basic.

Vintage Merrimack Ad For Velveteen Pencil Skirt Suits

Vintage Merrimack Ad For Velveteen Pencil Skirt Suits

Monkey Fur Capelet

By , 29 September, 2009, No Comment

Stunning vintage 1920’s monkey and sheared beaver fur capelet:

Vintage Monkey Fur Capelet

Vintage Monkey Fur Capelet

The capelet is especially stunning against the royal blue. Below, Gloria Swanson wears a whole lot more monkey fur…

Gloria Swanson Wearing Monkey Fur

Gloria Swanson Wearing Monkey Fur

However you feel about fur, please remember, this is vintage; the crime was committed long ago.

Need a flashy and fabulous fashion accessory? Don’t want to spend to much money? Have no fear, go online and find affordable chic jewelery.
Everything from bracelets to loose diamonds.

Back To Fashion School

By , 7 September, 2009, 4 Comments

The trouble with girls & young women today is they just don’t know enough about fashion history.

Overheard at the mall (and no, dear daughter, I wasn’t listening to you & your friends; I heard this while waiting in the food court for you), a group of teens discussing the 80’s fashion comeback. They apparently, if my teen-to-adult translator was working right, were disappointed to find that stores weren’t selling “classic 80’s Madonna, like from her Desperately Seeking Susan days.”

Desperately Seeking 80s Madonna

Desperately Seeking 80s Madonna

“Where,” they snarkily commented, rather than asked, “are the short skirts, the wild boots?” — “That stuff was rad original and iconic!”

Clearly these girls didn’t know that Madonna had ripped-off — or borrowed — from Joan Crawford, so how could I tell them that pretty much everything from Madonna’s “rad original & iconic look” (save for the neon colors – ugh) was the vamp revamping past fashions?

Sure, they might have guessed that the “granny booties” were a version of antique boots or Victorian shoes — daringly paired with short skirts. But clearly they didn’t have a clue that this had been done before too. And with cuffed (decorated, even!), slouch, calf-height boots yet.

Movie Makers: Short Skirts & Boots (1919)

Movie Makers: Short Skirts & Boots (1919)

Even the disheveled hosiery can be traced back to someone else… Now that’s old school!

Marie Prevost with Stockings (One Over The Knee, The Other Rolled Below The Knee) And Cuffed Slouch Boots

Marie Prevost with Stockings (One Over The Knee, The Other Rolled Below The Knee) And Cuffed Slouch Boots (1918)

If those teenagers would have listened to the creepy old lady who rambled to them at the mall — or if they visited here and read this post — and got back to fashion schooled, can you imagine the “No way!”s? *wink*

If you’re in the mood for some boots inspired by 1980s Madonna, 1910s Marie Prevost, et all, check out Jimmy Choo’s ‘Jinx’ Cuff Boot & Jeffrey Campbell’s ‘Us’ Ankle Bootie.

Jimmy Choo's Black Cuffed (With Grommets) Boot

Jimmy Choo's Black Cuffed (With Grommets) Boot

Jeffery Campbell Black Studded Ankle Bootie

Jeffery Campbell Black Studded Ankle Bootie

Theda Bara

By , 24 May, 2009, 7 Comments

One of the most iconic film images — not iconic silent film images, but just plain most iconic film images — are those of Theda Bara as the titular Egyptian queen in Cleopatra (1917).

Iconic Theda Bara As Cleopatra

Iconic Theda Bara As Cleopatra

Only about 40 seconds of this film has apparently survived; like the bulk of Bara’s film career, this film is believed to be lost. (Though there are those dedicated people who continue to search for films presumed lost; like Mary Ann Cade, who actually owns the belt, slave bracelet and chain of office Theda wore in Cleopatra!)

Of Theda Bara, Daniel Blum (in A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen) writes:

1915 Fox was forging ahead as one of the leading film companies, and this year their prestige soared when in January they released “A Foll There Was” with Theda Bara in the leading role. She became famous overnight. “A Fool There Was” had been a stage play which had been evolved from Kipling’s poem “The Vampire.” The word “vamp” became a household word and Theda Bara became the most famous vampire in the screen and a great box office attraction. She made 40 pictures for Fox in three years, or more than one a month. A legend, built in a press agent’s mind, had Miss Bara born in the shadow of the Sphinx, the daughter of a French artist and his Arab mistress. She was born Theodosia Goodman in Cincinnati of a nice middle-class family. As Theodosia De Coppet she had some stage experience and played a small part in Pathe’s film “The Stain” before shooting to stardom. She appeared also this year in a version of “Carmen” in direct competition with Geraldine Farrar, and “The Two Orphans” with Jean Sothern and Herbert Brenon who subsequently became a famous director.

I don’t know why I’ve not yet watched any of the few surviving Bara films… I take that back; I do know…

As a feminist, I’ve sort of intellectualized what I know of Theda Bara the actress’ vamp status — yet another female stereotype based on “dangerous women” (in this case, those who literally sucked the life force from men) — and that of the real life Theodosia into some sort of doomed duel with The Man.

By all accounts (outside of the old Hollywood image machine), Theodosia was not only a “good girl,” but a very kind and virtuous person. Like Marilyn Monroe, she hated being typecast and forced into roles she did not find challenging. But more than just feeling stifled in her career, Theodosia personally disliked the image of vamp itself; finding it so contrary to her own identity. One could just call it “acting,” but to Theodosia, it was the publicity machine which choked the life out of her & her career.

For those reasons, I’ve found the idea of watching Theda Bara films more than a little saddening…

Perhaps one day I’ll suck-it-up and watch what magic she left for us on the screen.

Some Images Of Theda Bara From Blum's Book

Some Images Of Theda Bara From Blum's Book

Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties

By , 7 May, 2009, No Comment

Inside the pages of A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen, by Daniel Blum (mine is the 1972 printing), pretty photos of a young Gloria Swanson & Phyllis Haver as pin-up bathing beauties — wouldn’t these outfits make great summer outfits?!

Gloria Swanson In Swimsuit

Gloria Swanson In Swimsuit

Phyllis Haver In Swimsuit

Phyllis Haver In Swimsuit

Mack Sennet's Bathing Beauties, Swanson & Haver

Mack Sennet's Bathing Beauties, Swanson & Haver

From the book:

1917 Mack Sennett bathing beauties were pin-up girls for the doughboys of the First World War. Gloria Swanson, Marie Prevost, Phyllis Haver and Mary Thurman were Sennett bathing girls at this time. Roscoe Arbuckle, now more familiarly known as “Fatty” Arbuckle, left Sennett to make his own comedies at Paramount. With Arbuckle in this setup were two clever acrobatic comedians, Buster Keaton and Al St. John. Before the year was out, Sennett was making his Keystone comedies for Paramount. Charlie Murray, Ben Turpin, Louise Fazenda, Chester Conklin, and Teddy and Pepper, a dog and cat, were now the cheif Keystone comics.

Mack Sennett-Keystone Comedies Poster

Mack Sennett-Keystone Comedies Poster

Chester Conklin With Mack Sennet Bathing Beauties

Chester Conklin With Mack Sennet Bathing Beauties

Film Stars, 1917

Film Stars, 1917

Marie Prevost In Swimsuit

Marie Prevost In Swimsuit

PS Don’t forget to enter my The Get Fab-U-Lush Eyelashes Contest!