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Posts tagged ‘film history’

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

Modern Photographer’s Silent Film Homage

By , 26 March, 2010, 2 Comments

I just adore these photos by Eugenio Recuenco; they capture the essence of silent film as well as inspire more modern wearable fashion interpretations!

Eugenio Recuenco Photo

Eugenio Recuenco Photo

Silent Film Glamour

Silent Film Glamour

Silent Film Fashion Homage By Eugenio Recuenco

Silent Film Fashion Homage By Eugenio Recuenco

Silver Screen Beauty

Silver Screen Beauty

Classic Silent Film Drama Scene

Classic Silent Film Drama Scene

Vintage-Style Photo By Eugenio Recuenco

Vintage-Style Photo By Eugenio Recuenco

Fin - The End

Fin - The End

Photographer found via.

Mocking Modern Movies

By , 17 March, 2010, 2 Comments

Via Richard Jeffrey Newman I found this great video that mocks just about every convention that has been used in dramatic modern movies:

Specific outline of your major character flaws!

Over reaction!

Having not seen many of the most recent film releases, I can at least attest to the fact this sounds like most of the film trailers I’ve seen recently. *wink*

I wonder why my friends at LAMB have to say to this?

Racism In Vintage Films: It’s Not A Simple Black & White Matter

By , 5 March, 2010, 9 Comments

Cliff talks about Handling the Subject of Racism as a Classic Film Blogger — and there’s lots of interesting discussion in the comments too, including mention of a post about the film I reviewed, The Toy Wife.

I agree that too many vintage films are underappreciated — if they’re seen at all. Which is partly why I didn’t mention my queasiness about several scenes with slaves in The Toy Wife. But that wasn’t the only reason…

Along with struggling with how to balance presenting the issues of racism in films of the past, of not wanting to let the known facts of past ruin a film for potential viewers, I struggle with being a white woman discussing it. It’s one thing for me to point out gender issues (I am one, and can honestly react as one), but when it comes to racism I flounder.

It’s not simply a matter of white guilt, or of defensiveness, or even of committing a sin of omission that a person of color can call me out on; it’s about how to honestly portray my horror without co-opting the issue, of committing some sin of insensitivity… If that makes sense. (I bet that does make sense to at least a few other white folks though.)

Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt

But, like all the discussion points at Cliff’s post, we shouldn’t just ignore mentioning the subject any more than others should let being told about racist depictions in films sway themselves from watching old films; it’s avoiding the past.

Because of that, I don’t think we should sanitize the racism from vintage films (and animated works), editing out the scenes with mammy’s like cigarettes from Bogart’s hand. Racism is shameful, but like our past obsession with smoking, we can’t deny it simply by giving it the old whitewash — for whatever reason. We have to remember our past honestly, even if it’s painful.

But these are my views… My questions for you, dear readers, are:

* How does racism in film affect your viewing? Do you stop watching &/or avoid films because it’s so uncomfortable? Do you just write it off as “unfortunately, that the way things were…”?

* Do you find the racism so uncomfortable in vintage movies that you wish it was edited out of the film — or that there were edited versions available?

* If you review or blog about movies, do you mention the racism? Why or why not? And if you do, how do you do it?

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.

Delight In The Toy Wife

By , 22 January, 2010, No Comment

The second Luise Rainer film I watched was such a fabulous film that I’m now devoted to collecting everything I can from or about it.

Luise Rainer in The Toy Wife, 1938

Luise Rainer in The Toy Wife, 1938

Since this film is a period piece, I posted my review of The Toy Wife (1938) elsewhere — but I did discover something fashion related to discuss…

On the back of the old MGM promotional film still photo by Clarence Bull, the following is typed:

Grey Faille with blue velvet ribbon detail and corded bow fastenings is charming in this costume designed by Adrian for Luise Rainer, in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production, “The Toy Wife.” Bonnet of grey straw with blue and grey feather frou-frou and blue velvet tie.

This reminds me that once upon a time, movie stars, especially the actresses, were noted for the fashions they wore in films — not just the red carpets. Seeing such information that was distributed by the studios proves that fashions and designers themselves were part of the film promotion.

Today, if such photos and captions are provided and/or used, the caption probably has more to do with who the actress slept with, some arrest information or other bit of notoriety to gossip about. I much prefer to gossip about the glamour of film and the fashion in film, don’t you?

Back Of Photo Still

Back Of Photo Still

High Five Friday (Mostly Silent Film Goodies!)

By , 8 January, 2010, No Comment

I’m giving High-Fives this Friday to:

1. Incredible silent film news at Inherited Values: finding lost Annette Kellerman film footage! (Other silent film finds too!)

2. And, if you don’t know who Annette Kellerman is… Check out this piece on Kellerman at Gadabout.

Signed Annette Kellerman Photo

Signed Annette Kellerman Photo

3. Also at Inherited Values: meet Mary Fuller — and let her introduce you to Frankenstein?!

4. While you making new acquaintances with old film stars, meet Phyllis Haver over at Things & Other Stuff.

5. Glamourdaze has a fab fashion post on the glamour of 1930’s shoes (via Shoe Fits).

My Small World Of Gigantic Film Epics

By , 28 December, 2009, No Comment

With all the bustle of holidays, my film friends and I have had a terrible time getting together for our usual movie watching. I myself have even had little time for solo sofa loafing and watching films; hence the lack of film posts recently. But hubby and I did manage to watch TCM’s A Night at the Movies: The Gigantic World of Epics.

The special discussed Hollywood’s “biggest screen spectaculars,” from the genre’s beginnings to how the genre fell out of favor in the ’70s and ’80s — and how epics were recently reborn with films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Gladiator, Braveheart, etc. What I really learned was how few of the classic film epics I really have seen.

Of all the films covered, I’ve only seen Gone with the Wind, The Ten Commandments, and Samson & Delilah. Hubby fared far worse, having only seen exactly zero of the films mentioned, despite a college course on classic film history. (Maybe that’s because in ’93, epics were still out of vogue?) In any case, I decided my movie watching gal pals and I would have to select a few epics and schedule them for our Classic Schmassic film nights.

On my list are The Birth of a Nation, Doctor Zhivago, Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and On the Waterfront (which has been on my list because of Brando in Street Car). But my first choice may just be Cleopatra.

Cleopatra: The Downfall Of Epic Films

Cleopatra: The Downfall Of Epic Films

Not just because it’s an epic, but because, like Let’s Make Love, I’ve preconceived notions — and wish to protect Marilyn. Simply put, I’ve avoided this last of the epic films because of the epic film history behind it: Cleopatra was sucking the studio dry, so studio execs (fearful that Elizabeth Taylor would walk off set, sending the film and studio further into the sinkhole) used Marilyn Monroe as the whipping girl for film and film star extravagance. Maybe now it’s time to finally watch Cleopatra and judge it as a film.

But I’ll have to see how the other girls in my group feel.

TCM’s own page for the documentary is sans input and your’s truly feels too sheepish to write a synopsis (let alone a review) of documentary of classic films — especially as she’s seen so few of the films under discussion. But Mike Hale at The New York Times has posted what I think is a good review of The Gigantic World of Epics.

I could be biased though, because Hale starts his article off naming Turner Classic Movies as his favorite television channel and ends his article with what I call the proper sentiments regarding acknowledging TCM’s value:

They probably would have also been amused at the notion that within half a century, work like theirs would need preserving — that a television channel would be devoted to it, like an around-the-clock museum. We should all take a moment to look up from our cellphone screens and give thanks.

I do thank TCM. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to try before I buy movies, nor would I know about a majority of films to put on my ‘to watch’ lists. Including epics.

High Five Friday: Vintage Fashion & Beauty Edition

By , 20 November, 2009, No Comment

High-Five Fridays are easy ways to acknowledge cool articles you’ve read during the week, or a way to give a high-five to a blog or blogger you just like in general by giving them a link — and some readers, we hope! Here are mine for this week:

1 One of Klaudia’s Shoe Fits is finding boots like Brigitte Bardot wore in 1968’s Shalako.

2 At GadaboutMedia, Deanna looks at the shades of history in cosmetic powder colors.

3 At Collectors’ Quest, Val Ubell wishes she had saved her clothing because it’s vintage now — and I agree! (Not only do I wish I had saved more of my own clothing for the return of the 80s, but if Val had saved her own there would be more to buy!)

4 & 5 At Kitsch Slapped, Deanna (how does she write it all?!) shows us vintage cosmetic products used to hide bare legs during wartime rationing — and, while researching vintage mesh purses, she discovered an unusual bit of film history.

When Film & Fashion Really Meshes!

By , 16 November, 2009, 1 Comment

These vintage Whiting & Davis mesh bags with the faces of screen legends enameled on them are really the ultimate in film meeting fashion!

These and other stunning pieces up for auction at Collect.com (starting November 23, 2009 through December 12, 2009), rare vintage mesh bags from the LaMothe Collection; found via Deanna’s Collectors’ Quest post on vintage Mandalian mesh bags.

Whiting & Davis Charlie Chaplin Portrait Mesh Purse

Whiting & Davis Charlie Chaplin Portrait Mesh Purse

Whiting & Davis Enameled Mesh Clark Gable Purse

Whiting & Davis Enameled Mesh Clark Gable Purse