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Archive for ‘1930s’

Listen To Busby Berkeley?!

By , 16 July, 2009, No Comment

If this isn’t the strangest, most ironic record album…

Hooray For Hollywood, The Golden-Age of the Hollywood Musical Companion Volume, “Musical Numbers Created And Directed By Busby Berkeley.”

Hooray For Hollywood Album Cover

Hooray For Hollywood Album Cover

A Busby Berkeley billed musical recording? Of course I snapped up the retro vinyl — but Berekely’s lavish, lush and sometimes lewd choreography sure isn’t seen on an LP!

A United Artists record (UA-LA361-H-0798 Mono, copyright 1975), it comes with a 16 page booklet (the full size of the sleeve!) with lots of photos and brief information on the musical numbers, songs and film. Certainly delightful — and the music is fine (though my personal copy has a few “skips,” so I am going to have to clean it better and see if I can improve things), but just the idea of audio sufficing for the splendor of a Busby Berekely production is still too funny.

Even if you have an excellent memory and want to close your eyes as you listen to the music & remember the glamour and spectacle of Berkeley’s sequences, they will pale in comparison; nothing, not even your vivid imagination, compares to seeing the incredible art of Busby Berkeley. He’s just too magical.

The record contains the original soundtrack recordings — and if you love these old movies, you’ll love hearing them.

Songs Side A:

1. Introduction — The Busby Berkeley Girls Medley: Blue Moon, I’m Like A Fish Out Of Water, Hooray For Hollywood/Johnnie “Scat” Davis, Frances Langford

2. I’m Going Shopping With You, The Words Are In My Heart/Dick Powell

3. You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me/Bebe Daniels

4. The Lady In Red/Winifred Shaw

5. All’s Fair In Love & War/Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Lee Dixon, Rosalind Marquis

Songs Side B:

1. Young & Healthy, Shuffle Off To Buffalo/Ruby Keeler, Clarence Nordstrum, Una Merkel, Ginger Rogers

2. Don’t Say Goodnight/Dick Powell

3. Young & Healthy/Dick Powell

4. Spin A Little Web Of Dreams/Veree Teasdale

5. Dames

6. Dames/Dick Powell

However, the record itself has, on side B, what can only be called a Berkeley-inspired idea: a circle of ladies who will spin on your turntable!

Busby Berkeley For Your Turntable!

Busby Berkeley For Your Turntable!

Goldwyn’s Folly Is My Gain

By , 14 July, 2009, No Comment

An awesome quote from Anna Sten in Nana (1934), “It’s men who make women whatever they are.”

Anna Sten

Anna Sten

The line, in case you don’t feel it, is in response to the judgment of women in general and her mother specifically. As soon as Sten (as Nana) utters the retort, I was smitten with this tale of a poor girl who scratches her way out of poverty to become a streetwalker (if you find yourself judging, recall that line!) and then finds work in the theater — where she uses her wiles to flirt her way into lead roles, public adoration & high society. But when she falls in love…

Well, she’s thwarted by the man’s jealous brother, who plots & schemes to have Nana for himself! (See how true that line is?!)

Nana (aka Lady of the Boulevards in the UK) was a vehicle for Anna Sten, a Russian actress Sam Goldwyn was determined to make the next Garbo or Dietrich (listening to Sten sing, you can really hear the comparison to Dietrich). But Sten never endeared herself to film fans in America… Some blame the fact that she never did learn English very well. Whatever the reason, Anna Sten was dubbed Goldwyn’s Folly.

Perhaps this is why I’ve never heard of the film before… Watching it, I really enjoyed it — save for predictable Code ending. *Boo Hiss*

Totally worth watching, no matter what film critics say.

Sam Goldwyn did not pay for this post *wink*


Anna Sten As Nana

A Guide To Vintage Lucite Purses

By , 9 July, 2009, 25 Comments

I’ve long admired vintage Lucite purses — I say “admired” because these rare babies keep me at arm’s length with their hefty price tags and my fear of damaging them while using them. Don’t get me wrong; their rarity completely warrants the digits on tags. In fact, I don’t see them at antique stores or vintage fashion shops very often, and even online, they can be difficult to find. (All of this only reinforces my fear of using them.)

Anyway, because I don’t see them very often anymore, I was surprised to find not one but two sellers at my local antique mall selling multiple old Lucite purses; so I snapped some pics.

Vintage Lucite Purses

Vintage Lucite Purses

Shopping for vintage Lucite purses becomes even more thrilling when you consider the vast array of styles, shapes and colors these vintage purses came in. And that’s part of the challenge too — as with most fabulous vintage finds, when you fall in love with one, rest assured, finding another just like it is no picnic.

Of course, you can always fall in love again with another, right? (But trust me, your heart will still ache for that long lost love…)


Because I do far more longing for & playing peek-a-boo with vintage plastic handbags, I know more about them than a non-owner or non-collector should…

Here are Thirteen Things About Vintage Lucite Purses

1. While we collectively call these vintage purses “Lucite purses,” there’s a bit of irony to the name. Technically the purses are made of Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) poly(methyl 2-methylpropenoate), a thermoplastic and transparent plastic first patented by German chemist Otto Röhm in the early 1930’s and sold under the name Plexiglass. Lucite is the registered name of DuPont‘s acrylic:

Both DuPont and Rohm & Haas licensed the process and began commercial production in 1936. Lucite®, however, never generated substantial earnings for DuPont. Since it was that company’s primary product, Rohm & Haas was able to commit more resources to Plexiglas® and it consistently undercut DuPont in price.

While DuPont claims poor earnings for Lucite, it’s the name we give to these beautiful vintage plastic purses.

2. Some people mistake Lucite for Bakelite. This is easy for novices to do, but once you’ve held both old plastics, you can more easily discern between the two. Deanna Dahlsad says:

[Lucite] has a slicker feel and is lighter than Bakelite. Like Bakelite, it would be rare to find a piece with mold marks or seams. Generally speaking, Lucite comes in bright colors and patterns that are not seen in Bakelite. Sometimes in darker colors it is confused with Bakelite. However, if you’ve done the Bakelite tests (and feel the piece does not have a damaged or altered finish), the piece is likely Lucite. “No smelli, Plexi” is what I say.

(Her article on identifying and caring for vintage plastics contains the referred to Bakelite tests.)

3. The most expensive Lucite purses were made by Wilardy of New York and once they were showcased in major department stores throughout the country, as a cheaper alternative to leather handbags. Some of the best Lucite purse designers were Rialto, Llewllyn, Charles S. Kahn, Gilli Originals, Patricia of Miami, Evans, and Myles & Maxim. Over time, of course, many cheaper versions, including knock-offs, were made. Most companies marked their handbag creations on the inside, with a stamp on the metal frames or by affixing a clear or paper label — but over the years many of the clear labels have fallen off, making identification & attribution difficult — both for Lucite purses by famous makers and even for identifying other makers of vintage Lucite purses.

4. There are many opaque or translucent colors of Lucite purses. While many agree the carved clear plastic is the most beautiful, it is far from practical in terms of use. Because it’s clear, you can see everything inside & most ladies prefer the contents of their handbags & clutches to be secret.

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse From Iwannas

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse From Iwannas

(You can see Marie Windsor displaying a clear carved Lucite purse — and the contents if it! — here.)

5. The most popular (and therefore pricey) color of vintage Lucite purses seems to be the tortoiseshell — followed closely by amber. My guess is that, along with being so pretty, the darker brown colors are more practical both in terms of keeping the purse’s contents hidden and, like brown leather, very easily mixed into one’s wardrobe.

Vintage Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse

Vintage Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse

Vintage Amber Lucite Purse

Vintage Amber Lucite Purse

Of course, the near rainbow of available colors, means fashionistas and collectors are always looking for the unusual shades, such as pearlized pastels and always-in-fashion black.

6. Vintage Lucite purses come in many shapes too. There are square & rectangular “box” styles, ovals, trapezoid, cylinders, “kidney” shapes, “beehives,” scalloped shaped “kidney” clutches… Some vintage Lucite purses will have “lids” that open, others open like “clams.” Most have Lucite handles, but some will have straps of chain or other material.

7. Along with the myriad of color choices & shapes, Lucite purses are often embellished with carvings, metal work (not just clasps, hinges & feet, but fancy filigree and woven metal work), and/or rhinestones, confetti, shells, flowers, lace, etc. embedded into or set upon it.

Vintage Cylindrical Lucite Purse With Carved Ends On Metal Feet

Vintage Cylindrical Lucite Purse With Carved Ends On Metal Feet

Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse With Open Metal Work ($96)

Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse With Open Metal Work ($96)

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse With Large Rhinestones

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse With Large Rhinestones

When it comes to some of the designs & themes, like this fantastic vintage Lucite purse with a poodle on it — or this wooden purse with a genie on the Lucite lid, you’ll be competing with collectors of poodles & genies.

Vintage Grey Lucite Purse With Retro Poodle

Vintage Grey Lucite Purse With Retro Poodle

Vintage Purse With Lucite Lid With Genie Design

Vintage Purse With Lucite Lid With Genie Design

8. One area of cross-collecting, and therefore pieces with higher prices, are the Lucite purses with built-in compacts. (These are my ultimate fantasy pieces.)

9. As I said, I’m very worried about damaging vintage Lucite purses. Along with cracks, of which no elegant & effective repairs are known (the glue discolors &/or muddles the old plastic), Lucite scratches rather easily. These scratches are especially noticeable on clear and lighter shades of Lucite. Use soft cloths and avoid products with abrasives when cleaning them; extra caution should be taken with tortoiseshell purses because the pattern can be muddled or removed. Novus Polish Kit: Plastic Polish & Scratch Remover is highly recommended for cleaning & minimizing scratches in Lucite. (A metal polish, such as Simichrome Polish, is recommended to clean & keep the metal hardware in good condition — just keep it confined to the metal.)

10. If you find a lovely vintage Lucite purse with a missing rhinestone or two, they can be replaced with care; Sparklz has very detailed information on how to replace missing rhinestones. You’ll have to consider if the vintage purse is worth saving in terms of price, other conditions issues — and your dexterity to make the repairs. (Do not replace/repair and then sell without disclosing that you did so!)

11. Clutches especially have metal frames which should be inspected for damages; if they are too bent to clasp properly, I’d avoid them. Likewise missing or damaged clasps, handles etc. Sure, if you search diligently enough, you can find replacement Lucite handles and metal fittings. (Some are old store stock; others are salvaged from purses too badly damaged to rescue.) Purse-onally, I’m not sure I’d try to tackle all the varying metal fittings — risking cracking the purse. But there are those who claim to be able to make such repairs. (Exercise extreme caution & investigation in these persons/companies before entrusting your vintage purse in their care; see my other vintage guides for more on evaluating professional repair services.)

12. The myth that antique shops and vintage fashion boutiques (real stores or virtual ones) price their items higher than eBay is false. The purses I found & photographed at my local antique mall were priced from $60 to just under $300 (for the torti), which when compared to eBay prices is fair if not actually lower than current auction prices (and recent past sales). Of course, prices will depend upon the conditions & attributes mentioned above. And if you’re looking for something specific or quickly for a special event, online searching will produce more options & more quickly than hunting in physical locations.

Vintage Lucite Box Purse At Antique Mall ($64.50)

Vintage Lucite Box Purse At Antique Mall ($64.50)

13. If you love the look of vintage Lucite purses, there are folks making reproductions & “vintage style” Lucite purses. These vintage styled Lucite purses (found via The DebLog) are beautiful, and if you fear using an authentic vintage purse, it’s an option…

Vintage Style (Reproduction) Pink Lucite Purse

Vintage Style (Reproduction) Pink Lucite Purse

Carved Lucite Top and Handle on Reproduction Lucite Purse

Carved Lucite Top and Handle on Reproduction Lucite Purse

The prices on the modern made Lucite purses are in the same range as their vintage inspirations; but, again, you won’t have the worry of having destroyed a potential one of a kind vintage piece. However, please note that even the new Lucite will be prone to scratches (and cracks).

For more on these fabulous vintage pieces, pre-order Carry Me: 1950’s Lucite Purses: An American Fashion by Janice Berkson.

More Thursday Thirteen participants can be found here, and here.

Did Someone Say Vintage Glamour?

By , 1 May, 2009, No Comment

My To Die For Item Of The Week: an orange silk crepe rhinestone belted bias cut gown from the 1930s. If bright orange silk crepe flowing to the floor doesn’t get you, how about the dramatic V neckline flanked by stunning tell-tale-30s folded lapels & the full dolman sleeves which taper to fitted wrists that rest as V’s over your hands… All that heaven, plus a prong set rhinestone belt?! Incredible!

The Incredible Drama Of 1930s Fashion

The Incredible Drama Of 1930s Fashion

Safe In Hell

By , 15 April, 2009, 5 Comments

When I applied to join the Large Association of Movie Blogs (The LAMB) (I am thrilled to now be a member!), I was asked to name no more than three of my favorite films. That’s a tough order for any Gemini, let alone a moody female, but rules are rules. So one of the films I listed, which certainly makes nearly any of my Top 20 Movie lists (no matter the category), was Safe In Hell (1931).

Safe In Hell, 1931

Safe In Hell, 1931

Safe In Hell is one of my favorite Wellman films and a great example of work prior to full force of The Motion Picture Production Code — so it’s no coincidence that it provides a feast of discourse for females.

A film history tidbit about Safe In Hell, from TCM, explains a lot about the quality of the film too:

An interesting footnote to Safe in Hell is that Wellman cast two popular black actors of the day, Nina Mae McKinney and Clarence Muse, as what are practically the movie’s only positive and reputable characters. And this was a period in which blacks were routinely stereotyped or exploited. Frank T. Thompson, in a biography of Wellman, points out that, while the film’s written script was filled with “a white writer’s idea of ‘Negro dialect,’ no such talk reaches the screen. Either McKinney and Muse had enough clout to demand that they speak in normal language or Wellman just wanted to avoid a convenient cliche.”

Surely the cliched speech would have made the movie more corny & less memorable — or memorable for less-than-good reasons.

The story centers around Gilda (Dorothy Mackaill), a woman who, before we are introduced to her, had been seduced away from pining for a sailor at sea & tricked into dating a married man, Piet Van Saal (Ralf Harolde). Gilda was a good girl caught in a bad situation, only made worse by the married man’s wife who did what she could to ensure that Gilda’s name was “Mud” — or worse. Left both with a ruined reputation and a need to survive, Gilda does what you imagine a woman — especially a “Wild Bill” Wellman woman — would do; she becomes a prostitute.

While all of this has happened before the film begins and told to us through film dialog, it’s an important part of the movie’s story. It not only sets Gilda up as a “good girl at heart,” a victim of circumstance, but provides the cultural context of a woman’s powerlessness. Not only are women secondary to men, but there’s a social order used by women to keep or push other women down the ranks. To some extent this is still done today, with women blaming “the other woman” for their man’s cheating ways; and societal disapproval of “loose women” turning into a very real disowning, as these women are abandon and left to whatever “mercies” they can find & scrounge for in the crumbs of men.

Dorothy Mackaill (Not So) Safe In Hell

Dorothy Mackaill (Not So) Safe In Hell

When Gilda responds to a phone call from her Madam to meet a “John” at a hotel, she’s surprised to discover that her client is none other than the married man who deceived her and put her in this position. She refuses to stay — and when he says she’s in no position to deny him, she declares, “Any man but him.” A struggle ensues, a fire starts, the man is declared dead, and Gilda is suspected of the damages and death.

Warned by the Madam, Gilda prepares to get out of town & live a life on the lam — just as the good sailor, Carl Erickson (Donald Cook), returns from sea.

Carl doesn’t know the whole story, but he’s desperate to help his girl. Being a sailor, he both knows of a place where there’s no extradition laws, (Tortuga, a Caribbean Island) and has the means to smuggle her there.

When they arrive at the only hotel on the island, Gilda quickly discovers she’s not just the only white woman in the hotel but the only white woman on the whole island. The other hotel residents, also criminals hiding out from the law, begin to drool and dream at the site of Gilda. (Their leering lust is so comical that you might be reminded of old cartoon wolf “aaooga”s — which, as a woman, I feel isn’t so far off from male reactions of today lol)

Before Carl’s ship leaves, he & Gilda run off to church where they hold their own marriage ceremony, promising their love & dedication to one another. She is to wait, alone in her room, and be a good girl until he returns.

Gilda does her best. Endless days alone in her room playing solitaire, lounging, and staring out the window to look at the sea for Carl’s ship to return, punctuated by quick trips to the front desk (or dockside) in search of mail from Carl.

She’s lonely.

It’s hot.

She’s bored out of her mind.

Meanwhile, conversation among the lust male criminals, as you might imagine, revolves around two things: competition for Gilda’s attentions and life on the island.

As she bats away invitations & advances in lady like fashion, we learn that this is no island paradise. The law on the island, Mr. Bruno (Morgan Wallace), is happy to not extradite because he prefers to play God, leveraging hanging and prison work camps into prosperity for himself. The prison work camps are so bad that hotel guests debate which is worse, death or the camp — leading them to conclude that they are, as the movie’s title states, safe in hell.

Of course the shady lawman, Bruno “The Hangman,” has eyes for Gilda. But more than eyes, he has the means to maneuver her into his arms.

When his advances are refused, he makes sure that Gilda receives no mail and suggests that Carl’s intentions were if not pure to begin with, that he’s changed his mind… Leaving Gilda to feel abandoned and alone.

Eventually, Gilda gives into the loneliness, fear and boredom of her isolation and accepts one of the endless invites to have dinner with the other hotel residents.

Gilda As Guest Of Honor In Safe In Hell

Gilda As Guest Of Honor In Safe In Hell

After just one night of partying with the men, Gilda, who still desperately hopes for Carl’s return, returns to keeping to her room. She hasn’t done anything unforgivable (i.e. no sex), but decides that she must remain faithful to Carl and her promise.

One afternoon, during yet another hopeful-turned-soul-crushing trip to the docks for mail which isn’t there (because, remember, Bruno is intercepting it), Gilda spots Piet, the married man she (and the law) believe she’s killed is alive!

Piet is alive and hiding out on the island because he used the fire to fake his own death and is now on the run from authorities for the insurance fraud. Both are happy to see each other; she because she’d like to clear her name, but he because he’d like to continue the “romance.” When he refuses to help clear her name & she refuses, again, his advances, Piet begins a smear campaign. He informs the hotel residents and the island law that Gilda is anything but a faithful bride, a dutiful & faithful girlfriend, or a lady — she’s a prostitute. The thin veneer of respect removed, all the men’s lusty leering turns into dirty scheming.

Stripped of whatever dignity & hope she’d had, Gilda finds herself without any defenses — save for the locked door of her small hotel room.

While Gilda’s vulnerability is something most women can identify with (to some extent, anyway), Bruno’s not only furious to discover that it’s a prostitute not a lady who’s been refusing his advances, but, because he has Carl’s letters, he knows that his time is short — Carl’s on his way to bring her back to America with him. Furious and with the circumstances forcing his hand, he has to make his move.

Spoiler Alert! What follows may ruin the film for you; so don’t read if you’d rather watch the film & have it unfold for you as film should.

Using Piet’s arrival as a threat to her own safety, Bruno gives Gilda a gun for her own protection; guns are illegal for anyone but the law on the island, but “she’s his friend, so it will be OK.” Then he arranges it so that Piet, who is still under the all-too male assumption that he has rights to Gilda, can gain access to her room.

When Piet tries to rape Gilda, she defends herself, using Bruno’s gun — killing Piet for real this time.

One of the hotel-hide-out-residents is a lawyer. He defends her and it looks like he will escape The Hangman’s noose — but while she hopefully awaits the jury’s decision, Bruno The Hangman himself comes to visit her and he explains that even should she be found innocent of the murder, there’s still the matter of her illegal possession of a gun…

That’s when it hits her: Bruno has set her up to get her in his prison where she’ll be his.

Gilda runs from the room and throws herself at the judge — for the kind of mercy you can only find in film noir. She confesses that she killed Piet in cold blood; he’d never attacked her, that she shot him in the back. Then she turns to smarmy hangman and says, “The only way you’ll touch me is when you put that rope around my neck!”

She is sentenced to hang, of course, but given a brief escorted visit back to the hotel to pack up her things. Carl, who has impeccable timing regarding Gilda’s packing activities, arrives now. Gilda convinces her guard to give her a few minutes alone with the happy — and oblivious — Carl. (And she convinces her lawyer to go along with the skit to follow.) She then convinces Carl that she’ll follow him back to the states on the next ship; there they will live virtuous lives of happiness and love. As he leaves happy & hopeful, Gilda instructs her lawyer not to inform Carl of the truth ’til after the deed is done and she is gone.

Affairs in order, Gilda now turns to accept the fate of her own construction.

As Pagan Moon plays, we are mesmerized by a moment… The beautiful exposed neck of Gilda, presented with the film lighting version of an aura of goodness… The smarmy tear-covered face of Bruno, who now realizes what he’s done…. And then glorious Gilda, resplendent in the power of good & finally in control, strides off to her execution, leaving the impotent & evil law man trailing behind her.

And that’s why Safe In Hell is a movie that I categorize as film noir — other critics be damned.

Sadly, Safe In Hell is not available in DVD (or even VHS); we must ait for another airing on TCM — and while we do, pressure Warner Brothers to release it:

Warner Bros.
Warner Home Video
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001

Phone: 818-954-6000
Fax: 818-954-7305

Joan Crawford Makes Me Want To Sew

By , 3 April, 2009, No Comment

Every year I tell myself, “This is the year I learn how to sew — really sew.” You know, the kind of sewing where you, eventually, can look at a photo and reconstruct what you see. So far, I’ve just not mustered enough time & dedication to master sewing like that. And when I see an outfit like this one, I nearly weep with regret that I never paid enough attention in home ec when we made that dumb fabric purse (with the handle that was ridiculously too long) and the peasant skirt (three tiers of unevenly gathered sections). *sigh*

Joan Crawford Publicity Photo For Dancing Lady

Joan Crawford Publicity Photo For Dancing Lady

According to the information on the back of this vintage Joan Crawford photograph, used to promote Dancing Lady (1933), this stunning polka dot ensemble was part of Joan’s personal wardrobe:

The use of linen for formal wear is introduced by Joan Crawford, glamorous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star appearing in the picture, “Dancing Lady.” She selects a bright red model with white embroidered dots. This frock is trimmed with an edging of white scalloped pique. Linen gloves, pique trimmed, made of the same material sets off the costume.

Joan Crawford's Personal Wardrobe Publicity Note

Joan Crawford's Personal Wardrobe Publicity Note

Oh, how I want to recreate every detail — including those matching polka dot gloves!  It would be worth it to hand embroider every dot onto red linen myself (and that’s about all I would know how to do!)

Seeing Past Black & White Film To The True Colors Of Vintage Lingerie

By , 31 March, 2009, 3 Comments

Deanna, of Kitsch-Slapped (and about a million other blogs), just posted about how she and her sister could see color even though they only had a black & white TV, which reminded me of a few things…

One being how I perplexed my dad by comparing women on television to past glamour icons. I too had compared some woman or other to Rita Hayworth and he asked me how the heck I knew who she was (and when I knew who Fatty Arbuckle was, he just about fell over). Mom countered with a, “Just about the only things your daughter reads or watches were made before 1960,” in that don’t-you-even-know-who-your-daughter-is? tone that made him both flush & squirm.

That weekend he came home with an armload of classic films he’d rented — just for the two of us to watch — and when we watched them, he chased mom out of the room or shushed her so “we film buffs” could be left alone to enjoy our movies in peace. *wink*

The second thing Deanna’s post reminded me of was how I sometimes see or imagine the color in black & white films — especially the fashions. But mostly I just wish I could see them in all their glory. *sigh*

Unless it’s lingerie and the film is from the 1920’s or 1930’s.

Still from Our Blushing Brides featuring lingerie

Still from Our Blushing Brides featuring lingerie

Whenever I see lingerie in films from that period, like Joan Crawford & gals in Our Blushing Brides, then I happily “know” that what they are wearing is either peach, pink or ivory — with ecru laces.

I know that there may occasionally be other colors (black, for instance, was popular — and easy to ‘see’ on screen, and other pastel shades in blue and green), but when shopping for vintage lingerie or loungewear, the evidence in old catalogs and on vintage clothing store racks supports my visions of ivory, peach, blush & pastel pink lingerie.

1924 Lingerie Catalog Page

1924 Lingerie Catalog Page

There are several likely reason for this.

It has been noted that soft & dreamy pastels were favored by high society at this time (along with an influx of Oriental colors & design influences; mainly seen in dresses, not so much with lingerie); pastel fashions require light colored lingerie. The popularity of pastels at this time is seemingly a combination of a response to the somber dreary wardrobes of WWI and the fact that wearing such light colors was surely impractical to the lower classes who had to work — hard toil would soil soft shades easily, leaving distinct marks of classes.

Pastel Blush COlored 1920s Lingerie

Pastel Blush Colored 1920s Lingerie

I also suspect that home sewing had its affects on color too. Because construction of flapper’s dresses & the lingerie worn beneath them (and the fashions which followed) were based on a straight shift, they were less complicated to make than earlier fashions. This meant it was much easier for women to produce the latest fashions at home using a simple — but fashionable — dress pattern. (Modifying a single pattern slightly, or embellishing it, to create more individual looking dresses.) Those sewing at home would likely copy the fabrics & colors of the days fashions as well, with the middle classes especially emulating high society’s love of pastels. However, fabric would still be costly — especially silks — and likely one made the most of the bolt of fabric they had. A household’s fashions would literally be cut from the same cloth, leaving all the women to have their lingerie in the same shade.

Lace and Silk Creme Cami

Lace and Silk Creme Cami

Another reason for the popularity of lingerie in pastel shades during the 1920s and 30s is a practical one. Many lingerie pieces, panties, shifts, slips, camis, & chemises, did dual duty as nightwear and foundation garments, worn under clothing and off-white & peachy-pink shades would match or blend with most flesh tones — if you were “white”, anyway. (And fashion was — and still is — primarily made for white women.) Such neutral fleshy shades would be very practical, diminishing color lines beneath the sheer and lightweight dresses of the time.

1920s Peach Silk Chemise with Ecru Lace

1920s Peach Silk Chemise with Ecru Lace

Such fleshy shades were also in and of themselves sexy — in an age of “dare to bare” flapper fashions, clothing was not only cut to expose arms and legs, but the colors suggested nudity. This would be especially enticing on the more natural-than-forced curves than the past fashion silhouettes where the even looser fitting garments would evoke a peek-a-boo feeling, if not actual body parts.

Lace Bodice on Pink Vintage Full Slip

Lace Bodice on Pink Vintage Full Slip

These are my theories, based on what I know of the times. But what clearly remains of lingerie from this time period are these pastel pieces in peach, pink, blush and ivory shades; and most with lace, crochet and/or tatting accents in ivory and ecru.

If and when you spot authentic vintage lingerie from the 1920s & 1930s in other shades, you should expect to pay more. I suggest you do it — happily. You don’t know if or when you’ll find anything else like it to hug to your chest (or to drape over it later!) *wink*

Vintage Ivory Silk Tap Panties With Ecru Lace

Vintage Ivory Silk Tap Panties With Ecru Lace

Forbidden Wellman

By , 26 March, 2009, No Comment
Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Three

Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume Three

Those of us utterly engaged by Pre-Code movies are excited this week by Turner Classic Movies and Warner Home Video’s latest release: the third volume in Forbidden Hollywood Collection series.

The four-disc set contains six films, all by William Wellman — who is vastly becoming one of my favorite directors. The films are: Other Men’s Women (1931), The Purchase Price (1932), Frisco Jenny (1932), Heroes for Sale (1933), Midnight Mary (1933) and Wild Boys of the Road (1933). (Of the films, I’ve only seen The Purchase Price, Frisco Jenny, Heroes for Sale and part of Midnight Mary when it was on TCM the other night. I’ll discuss them more in depth later; for now, I’m just excited to have them all available on DVD.)

Also included in the DVD box set are two documentaries on Wellman (Todd Robinson’s Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick and Richard Schickel’s The Men Who Made the Movies: William Wellman) which are much appreciated because Wellman has been vastly under-appreciated as far as Hollywood goes, because the director was not known for playing Hollywood politics properly. But that’s largely why Wellman’s work is so fantastic.

Unafraid of telling stories that were relevant to the times, he focused social issues such as prostitution, adultery and drug addiction, and the real moral questions (as opposed to “morality plays”) surrounding poverty, service and good will — issues that largely are still with us today. So it’s easy to see why Wellman made his great films before the Hay’s code (The Motion Picture Production Code), when movie making was nearly restricted to concise, predictable, rather unimaginative and predictable stories. (This is not to say that all films made after the code was instituted in 1934 are bad; but too often it is easy to see where stories were bent to the will of The Code.)

William Wellman Jr., instrumental in the release of his father’s films for this collection, was interviewed at The London Free Press where he had this to say about his father’s reaction to :

“He didn’t like the fact the the Code came in because he thought that the pictures — at least the ones he was making, even though they were risque in some sense — were still quality pictures,” Wellman Jr. says. “He felt that they were real. He didn’t like the Code coming in and then they started having to make all these changes. Of course, the filmmakers were always trying to work around it and get something through that maybe they weren’t supposed to.

“But he loved that era (the Pre-Code days). That was his favourite era.”

That era is my favorite too; and that’s largely due to Wellman’s films.

The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930

By , 24 March, 2009, 6 Comments

Because I’m going to be talking about “pre-code” films quite a bit, I thought it would be nice & handy (and important) to have a copy of The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 here to refer to.

The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930

First Section


I. Theatrical motion pictures, that is, pictures intended for the theatre as distinct from pictures intended for churches, schools, lecture halls, educational movements, social reform movements, etc., are primarily to be regarded as Entertainment.

Mankind has always recognized the importance of entertainment and its value in rebuilding the bodies and souls of human beings.

But it has always recognized that entertainment can be of a character harmful to the human race, and, in consequence, has clearly distinguished between:

Entertainment which tends to improve the race, or, at least, to recreate and rebuild human beings exhausted with the realities of life; and

Entertainment which tends to degrade human beings, or to lower their standards of life and living.

Hence the moral importance of entertainment is something which has been universally recognized. It enters intimately into the lives of men and women and affects them closely; it occupies their minds and affections during leisure hours, and ultimately touches the whole of their lives. A man may be judged by his standard of entertainment as easily as by the standard of his work.

So correct entertainment raises the whole standard of a nation.

Wrong entertainment lowers the whole living condition and moral ideals of a race.

Note, for example, the healthy reactions to healthful moral sports like baseball, golf; the unhealthy reactions to sports like cockfighting, bullfighting, bear-baiting, etc. Note, too, the effect on a nation of gladiatorial combats, the obscene plays of Roman times, etc.

II. Motion pictures are very important as Art.

Though a new art, possibly a combination art, it has the same object as the other arts, the presentation of human thoughts, emotions and experiences, in terms of an appeal to the soul thru the senses.

Here, as in entertainment:

Art enters intimately into the lives of human beings.

Art can be morally good, lifting men to higher levels. This has been done thru good music, great painting, authentic fiction, poetry, drama.

Art can be morally evil in its effects. This is the case clearly enough with unclean art, indecent books, suggestive drama. The effect on the lives of men and women is obvious.

Note: It has often been argued that art in itself is unmoral, neither good nor bad. This is perhaps true of the thing which is music, painting, poetry, etc. But the thing is the product of some person’s mind, and that mind was either good or bad morally when it produced the thing. And the thing has its effect upon those who come into contact with it. In both these ways, as a product and the cause of definite effects, it has a deep moral significance and an unmistakable moral quality.

Hence: The motion pictures which are the most popular of modern arts for the masses, have their moral quality from the minds which produce them and from their effects on the moral lives and reactions of their audiences. This gives them a most important morality.

1) They reproduce the morality of the men who use the pictures as a medium for the expression of their ideas and ideals;

2) They affect the moral standards of those who thru the screen take in these ideas and ideals.

In the case of the motion pictures, this effect may be particularly emphasized because no art has so quick and so widespread an appeal to the masses. It has become in an incredibly short period, the art of the multitudes.

III. The motion picture has special Moral obligations:

A) Most arts appeal to the mature. This art appeals at once to every class—mature, immature, developed, undeveloped, law-abiding, criminal. Music has its grades for different classes; so has literature and drama. This art of the motion picture, combining as it does the two fundamental appeals of looking at a picture and listening to a story, at once reaches every class of society.

B) Because of the mobility of a film and the ease of picture distribution, and because of the possibility of duplicating positives in large quantities, this art reaches places unpenetrated by other forms of art.

C) Because of these two facts, it is difficult to produce films intended for only certain classes of people. The exhibitor’s theatres are for the masses, for the cultivated and the rude, mature and immature, self-restrained and inflammatory, young and old, law-respecting and criminal. Films, unlike books and music, can with difficulty be confined to certain selected groups.

D) The latitude given to film material cannot, in consequence, be as wide as the latitude given to book material. In addition:

(a) A book describes; a film vividly presents.

(b) A book reaches the mind thru words merely; a film reaches the eyes and ears thru the reproduction of actual events.

(c) The reaction of a reader to a book depends largely on the keenness of the reader; the reaction to a film depends on the vividness of the presentation.

E) This is also true when comparing the film with the newspapers. Newspapers present by description, films by actual presentation. Newspapers are after the fact and present things that have taken place; the film gives the events in the process of enactment and with apparent reality of life.

F) Everything possible in a play is not possible in a film.

(a) Because of the larger audience of the film, and its consequently mixed character. Psychologically, the larger the audience, the lower the moral mass resistance to suggestion.

(b) Because thru light, enlargement of character presentation, scenic emphasis, etc., the screen story is brought closer to the audience than the play.

(c) The enthusiasm for and interest in the film actors and actresses, developed beyond anything of the sort in history, makes the audience largely sympathetic toward the characters they portray and the stories in which they figure. Hence they are more ready to confuse the actor and character, and they are most receptive of the emotions and ideals portrayed and presented by their favorite stars.

G) Small communities, remote from sophistication and from the hardening process which often takes place in the ethical and moral standards of larger cities, are easily and readily reached by any sort of film.

H) The grandeur of mass meetings, large action, spectacular features, etc., affects and arouses more intensely the emotional side of the audience.

In general: The mobility, popularity, accessibility, emotional appeal, vividness, straight-forward presentation of fact in the films makes for intimate contact on a larger audience and greater emotional appeal. Hence the larger moral responsibilities of the motion pictures.

Second Section


I. No picture should lower the moral standards of those who see it. This is done:

(a) When evil is made to appear attractive, and good is made to appear unattractive.

(b) When the sympathy of the audience is thrown on the side of crime, wrong-doing, evil, sin. The same thing is true of a film that would throw sympathy against goodness, honor, innocence, purity, honesty.

Note: Sympathy with a person who sins, is not the same as sympathy with the sin or crime of which he is guilty. We may feel sorry for the plight of the murderer or even understand the circumstances which led him to his crime; we may not feel sympathy with the wrong which he has done.

The presentation of evil is often essential for art, or fiction, or drama.

This in itself is not wrong, provided:

(a) That evil is not presented alluringly. Even if later on the evil is condemned or punished, it must not be allowed to appear so attractive that the emotions are drawn to desire or approve so strongly that later they forget the condemnation and remember only the apparent joy of the sin.

(b) That throughout the presentation, evil and good are never confused and that evil is always recognized clearly as evil.

(c) That in the end the audience feels that evil is wrong and good is right.

II. Law, natural or divine, must not be belittled, ridiculed, nor must a sentiment be created against it.

A) The presentation of crimes against the law, human or divine, is often necessary for the carrying out of the plot. But the presentation must not throw sympathy with the criminal as against the law, nor with the crime as against those who punish it.

B) The courts of the land should not be presented as unjust.

III. As far as possible, life should not be misrepresented, at least not in such a way as to place in the minds of youth false values on life.

Note: This subject is touched just in passing. The attention of the producers is called, however, to the magnificent possibilities of the screen for character development, the building of right ideals, the inculcation in stry-form of right principles. If motion pictures consistently held up high types of character, presented stories that would affect lives for the better, they could become the greatest natural force for the improvement of mankind.


In accordance with the general principles laid down:

1) No plot or theme should definitely side with evil and against good.

2) Comedies and farces should not make fun of good, innocence, morality or justice.

3) No plot should be constructed as to leave the question of right or wrong in doubt or fogged.

4) No plot should by its treatment throw the sympathy of the audience with sin, crime, wrong-doing or evil.

5) No plot should present evil alluringly.

Serious Film Drama

I. As stated in the general principles, sin and evil enter into the story of human beings, and hence in themselves are dramatic material.

II. In the use of this material, it must be distinguished between sin which by its very nature repels, and sin which by its very nature attracts.

(a) In the first class comes murder, most theft, most legal crimes, lying, hypocrisy, cruelty, etc.

(b) In the second class come sex sins, sins and crimes of apparent heroism, such as banditry, daring thefts, leadership in evil, organized crime, revenge, etc.

A) The first class needs little care in handling, as sins and crimes of this class naturally are unattractive. The audience instinctively condemns and is repelled. Hence the one objective must be to avoid the hardening of the audiences, especially of those who are young and impressionable, to the thought and the fact of crime. People can be accustomed even to murder, cruelty, brutality and repellent crimes.

B) The second class needs real care in handling, as the response of human natures to their appeal is obvious. This is treated more fully below.

III. A careful distinction can be made between films intended for general distribution, and films intended for use in theatres restricted to a limited audience. Themes and plots quite appropriate for the latter would be altogether out of place and dangerous in the former.

Note: In general, the practice of using a general theatre and limiting the patronage during the showing of certain films to “adults only” is not completely satisfactory and is only partially effective.

However, maturer minds may easily understand and accept without harm subject matter in plots which does younger people positive harm.

Hence: If there should be created a special type of theatre, catering exclusively to an adult audience, for plays of this character (plays with problem themes, difficult discussions and maturer treatment) it would seem to afford an outlet, which does not now exist, for pictures unsuitable for general distribution but permissible for exhibitions to a restricted audience.

Plot Material

1) The triangle, that is, the love of a third party by one already married, needs careful handling, if marriage, the sanctity of the home, and sex morality are not to be imperiled.

2) Adultery as a subject should be avoided:

(a) It is never a fit subject for comedy. Thru comedy of this sort, ridicule is thrown on the essential relationships of home and family and marriage, and illicit relationships are made to seem permissible, and either delightful or daring.

(b) Sometimes adultery must be counted on as material occurring in serious drama.

In this case:

(1) It should not appear to be justified;

(2) It should not be used to weaken respect for marriage

(3) It should not be presented as attractive or alluring.

3) Seduction and rape are difficult subjects and bad material from the viewpoint of the general audience in the theatre.

(a) They should never be introduced as subject matter unless absolutely essential to the plot.

(b) They should never be treated as comedy.

(c) Where essential to the plot, they must not be more than suggested.

(d) Even the struggles preceding rape should not be shown.

(e) The methods by which seduction, essential tot eh plot, is attained should not be explicit or represented in detail where there is likelihood of arousing wrongful emotions on the part of the audience.

4) Scenes of passion are sometimes necessary for the plot. However:

(a) They should appear only where necessary and not as an added stimulus to the emotions of the audience.

(b) When not essential to the plot, they should not occur.

(c) They must not be explicit in action nor vivid in method, e.g. by handling of the body, by lustful and prolonged kissing, by evidently lustful embraces, by positions which strongly arouse passions.

(d) In general, where essential to the plot, scenes of passion should not be presented in such a way as to arouse or excite the passions of the ordinary spectator.

5) Sexual immorality is sometimes necessary for the plot. It is subject to the following:

General principles—regarding plots dealing with sex, passion, and incidents related to them:

All legislators have recognized clearly that there are in normal human beings emotions which react naturally and spontaneously to the presentation of certain definite manifestations of sex and passion.

(a) The presentation of scenes, episodes, plots, etc., which are deliberately meant to excite these manifestations on the part of the audience is always wrong, is subversive to the interest of society, and a peril to the human race.

(b) Sex and passion exist and consequently must sometimes enter into the stories which deal with human beings.

(1) Pure love, the love of a man for a woman permitted by the law of God and man, is the rightful subject of plots. The passion arising fromt his love is not the subject for plots.

(2) Impure love, the love of man and woman forbidden by human and divine law, must be presented in such a way that:

a) It is clearly known by the audience to be wrong:

b) Its presentation does not excite sexual reactions, mental or physical, in an ordinary audience;

c) It is not treated as a matter for comedy.

Hence: Even within the limits of pure love, certain facts have been universally regarded by lawmakers as outside the limits of safe presentation. These are the manifestations of passion and the sacred intimacies of private life:

(1) Either before marriage in the courtship of decent people;

(2) Or after marriage, as is perfectly clear.

In the case of pure love, the difficulty is not so much about what details are permitted for presentation. This is perfectly clear in most cases. The difficulty concerns itself with the tact, delicacy, and general regard for propriety manifested in their presentation.

But in the case of impure love, the love which society has always regarded as wrong and which ahs been banned by divine law, the following are important:

(1) It must not be the subject of comedy or farce or treated as the material for laughter;

(2) It must not be presented as attractive and beautiful;

(3) It must not be presented in such a way as to arouse passion or morbid curiosity on the part of the audience;

(4) It must not be made to seem right and permissible;

(5) In general, it must not be detailed in method or manner.

6) The presentation of murder is often necessary for the carrying out of the plot.


(a) Frequent presentation of murder tends to lessen regard for the sacredness of life.

(b) Brutal killings should not be presented in detail.

(c) Killings for revenge should not be justified, i.e., the hero should not take justice into his own hands in such a way as to make his killing seem justified. This does not refer to killings in self-defense.

(d) Dueling should not be presented as right or just.

7) Crimes against the law naturally occur in the course of film stories.


(a) Criminals should not be made heroes, even if they are historical criminals.

(b) Law and justice must not by the treatment they receive from criminals be made to seem wrong or ridiculous.

(c) Methods of committing crime, e.g., burglary, should not be so explicit as to teach the audience how crime can be committed; that is, the film should not serve as a possible school in crime methods for those who seeing the methods might use them.

(d) Crime need not always be punished, as long as the audience is made to know that it is wrong.



Vulgarity may be carefully distinguished from obscenity. Vulgarity is the treatment of low, disgusting, unpleasant subjects which decent society considers outlawed from normal conversation.

Vulgarity in the motion pictures is limited in precisely the same way as in decent groups of men and women by the dictates of good taste and civilized usage, and by the effect of shock, scandal, and harm on those coming in contact with this vulgarity.

(1) Oaths should never be used as a comedy element. Where required by the plot, the less offensive oaths may be permitted.

(2) Vulgar expressions come under the same treatment as vulgarity in general. Where women and children are to see the film, vulgar expressions (and oaths) should be cut to the absolute essentials required by the situation.

(3) The name of Jesus Christ should never be used except in reverence.


Obscenity is concerned with immorality, but has the additional connotation of being common, vulgar and coarse.

(1) Obscenity in fact, that is, in spoken word, gesture, episode, plot, is against divine and human law, and hence altogether outside the range of subject matter or treatment.

(2) Obscenity should not be suggested by gesture, manner, etc.

(3) An obscene reference, even if it is expected to be understandable to only the more sophisticated part of the audience, should not be introduced.

(4) Obscene language is treated as all obscenity.


General principles:

(1) The effect of nudity or semi-nudity upon the normal man or woman, and much more upon the young person, has been honestly recognized by all lawmakers and moralists.

(2) Hence the fact that the nude or semi-nude body may be beautiful does not make its use in films moral. For in addition to its beauty, the effects of the nude or semi-nude body on the normal individual must be taken into consideration.

(3) Nudity or semi-nudity used simply to put a “punch” into a picture comes under the head of immoral actions as treated above. It is immoral in its effect upon the average audience.

(4) Nudity or semi-nudity is sometimes apparently necessary for the plot. Nudity is never permitted. Semi-nudity may be permitted under conditions.

Particular principles:

(1) The more intimate parts of the human body are male and female organs and the breasts of a woman.

(a) They should never be uncovered.

(b) They should not be covered with transparent or translucent material.

(c) They should not be clearly and unmistakably outlined by the garment.

(2) The less intimate parts of the body, the legs, arms, shoulders and back, are less certain of causing reactions on the part of the audience.


(a) Exposure necessary for the plot or action is permitted.

(b) Exposure for the sake of exposure or the “punch” is wrong.

(c) Scenes of undressing should be avoided. When necessary for the plot, they should be kept within the limits of decency. When not necessary for the plot, they are to be avoided, as their effect on the ordinary spectator is harmful.

(d) The manner or treatment of exposure should not be suggestive or indecent.

(e) The following is important in connection with dancing costumes:

1. Dancing costumes cut to permit grace or freedom of movement, provided they remain within the limits of decency indicated are permissible.

2. Dancing costumes cut to permit indecent actions or movements or to make possible during the dance indecent exposure, are wrong, especially when permitting:

a) Movements of the breasts;

b) Movements or sexual suggestions of the intimate parts of the body;

c) Suggestion of nudity.


(1) Dancing in general is recognized as an art and a beautiful form of expressing human emotion.

(2) Obscene dances are those:

(a) Which suggest or represent sexual actions, whether performed solo or with two or more;

(b) Which are designed to excite an audience, to arouse passions, or to cause physical excitement.

Hence: Dances of the type known as “Kooch,” or “Can-Can,” since they violate decency in these two ways, are wrong.

Dances with movements of the breasts, excessive body movement while the feet remain stationary, the so-called “belly dances”—these dances are immoral, obscene, and hence altogether wrong.


Certain places are so closely and thoroughly associated with sexual life or with sexual sin that their use must be carefully limited.

(1) Brothels and houses of ill-fame, no matter of what country, are not proper locations for drama. They suggest to the average person at once sex sin, or they excite an unwholesome and morbid curiosity in the minds of youth.

In general: They are dangerous and bad dramatic locations.

(2) Bedrooms. In themselves they are perfectly innocent. Their suggestion may be kept innocent. However, under certain situations they are bad dramatic locations.

(a) Their use in a comedy or farce (on the principle fo the so-called bedroom farce) is wrong, because they suggest sex laxity and obscenity.

(b) In serious drama, their use should, where sex is suggested, be confined to absolute essentials, in accordance with the principles laid down above.


(1) No film or episode in a film should be allowed to throw ridicule on any religious faith honestly maintained.

(2) Ministers of religion in their characters of ministers should not be used in comedy, as villains, or as unpleasant persons.

Note: The reason for this is not that there are not such ministers of religion, but because the attitude toward them tends to be an attitude toward religion in general.

Religion is lowered in the minds of the audience because it lowers their respect for the ministers.

(3) Ceremonies of any definite religion should be supervised by someone thoroughly conversant with that religion.


I. Crimes against the law:

These shall never be presented in such a way as to throw sympathy with the crime as against law and justice or to inspire others with a desire for imitation:

The treatment of crimes against the law must not:

a. Teach methods of crime.

b. Inspire potential criminals with a desire for imitation

c. Make criminals seem heroic and justified.

1. Murder

a. The technique of murder must be presented in a way that will not inspire imitation.

b. Brutal killings are not to be presented in detail.

c. Revenge in modern times shall not be justified. In lands and ages of less developed civilization and moral principles, revenge may sometimes be presented. This would be the case especially in places where no law exists to cover the crime because of which revenge is committed.

2. Methods of crime shall not be explicitly presented.

a. Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting of trains, mines, buildings, etc., should not be detailed in method.

b. Arson must be subject to the same safeguards.

c. The use of firearms should be restricted to essentials.

d. Methods of smuggling should not be presented.

3. Illegal drug traffic must never be presented

Because of its evil consequences, the drug traffic should never be presented in any form. The existence of the trade should not be brought to the attention of audiences.

4. The use of liquor in American life, when not required by the plot or for proper characterization, should not be shown.

The use of liquor should never be excessively presented even in picturing countries where its use is legal. In scenes from American life, the necessities of plot and proper characterization alone justify its use. And in this case, it should be shown with moderation.

II. Sex

The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationships are the accepted or common thing.

1. Adultery, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively. Out of regard for the sanctity of marriage and the home, the triangle, that is, the love of a third party for one already married, needs careful handling. The treatment should not throw sympathy against marriage as an institution.

2. Scenes of passion must be treated with an honest acknowledgement of human nature and its normal reactions. Many scenes cannot be presented without arousing dangerous emotions on the part of the immature, the young or the criminal classes.

a. They should not be introduced when not essential to the plot.

b. Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.

c. In general, passion should be so treated that these scenes do not stimulate the lower and baser element.

3. Seduction or rape

a. They should never be more than suggested, and only when essential for the plot, and even then never shown by explicit method.

b. They are never the proper subject for comedy.

4. Sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden.

5. White slavery shall not be treated.

6. Miscegenation (sex relationship between the white and black races) is forbidden.

7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases are not subjects for motion pictures.

8. Scenes of actual childbirth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented.

9. Children’s sex organs are never to be exposed.

Joan Crawford: One Sherry, Standing Up

By , 20 March, 2009, 5 Comments

I have this problem where I forget just how crazy-flapper Joan Crawford was — especially when she was still Lucille Fay LeSueur.

Crawford In Our Modern Maidens

Crawford In Our Modern Maidens

(I guess that’s the problem when you’ve seen Mildred Pierce & The Women and not Mommy Dearest; you’ve grow accustomed to her brilliance and classic style.)

But the following interesting excerpt about Joan Crawford from Starlight Starbright, by Margaret Case Harriman, as it originally appeared in Vanity Fair, February, 1936, reminds me of Crawford’s wild & rowdy beginnings. (Links added by moi.)

In Hollywood, Joan set out to bring herself to public attention less by her work in pictures than by a continuous nightlife that would have put most girls under the sod. In less than two years she had won 84 cups in nightclub contests for dancing the Charleston, or by imitating Bee Jackson, the shimmy expert. She was, then, undistinguished in appearance from any other good-looking girl, except by her curiously arresting eyes. She hid the fine structure of her face by pulling her brown hair onto her cheeks and over her forehead, and by a careless mask of makeup. Latter, she dyed her hair a flaming red and rolled her stockings not quite far enough above her knee-length skirts.

Oh, I’m not saying that such a press puff piece doesn’t have it’s marketing agendas; and if you read the whole article, you’ll see the clear effort to move Joan from Flapper to a more mature (matronly) actress status (though it honestly reads more like a sales pitch to convince people in a post-WWII world). But when you see this photo of Joan Crawford looking like Madonna from her Desperately Seeking Susan days, I guess it’s pretty clear why the public would need a push.

Lucille Fay LeSuer (AKA Joan Crawford)

Lucille Fay LeSuer (AKA Joan Crawford)

Whatever your thoughts on Joan (and she’s certainly one who inspires the “lover her or hate her” response), I double-dog-dare you not to be amused by this last bit from the vintage Vanity Fair issue:

She drinks wine now and then, but no hard liquor. At dinner parties given by Joan and Franchot Tone, the guests gather in the music room before dinner, on stools along the bar, while Franchot goes behind to mix cocktails. Joan wanders around happily enough with a glass of sherry. Once she saw a row of women sitting on stools along a bar, and the contours where each lady met the stool frightened her. Since, she has taken her sherry standing up.

Probably good advice for any ladies drinking this weekend *wink*