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Guest Alix

Favorite Silent Actresses

259 posts in this topic

Guest son, jery

Ed, I brought Colleen Moore's "Orchid and Ermines" from Grapevine Video. What made this woman one of the great silent stars is a mystery to me. She comes across as really plain, silly and with zero charisma. She had a strange looking face and in this movie, her mouth is always clamped tight, like she has a toothache. Compared to Clara Bow, Colleen is a zero, trying to be a hero.

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Guest Clara_Keaton

Funny you mention Colleen Moore as having no charisma. F. Scott Fitzgerald said that Colleen Moore was the embodiment of the Jazz Age, and that she was the spark that lit the flame of an era (or something like that...I get so poetic about FSF LOL). Maybe it was something she had that they could see and we can't. I mean, they were all wild about Al Jolson, and I can live without 'em LOL......

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Guest k, sandy

I've seen some stills of Colleen Moore where she looked very cute and pretty. I had also read that she was the quintessential flapper. Maybe there was a movie or two where she played a flapper role that would explain her appeal but isn't available to us. From the pictures that I've seen , she looks more like a tomboy who grew up and turned out to be pretty, not a glamour girl like Swanson. (Who I could never picture in a dirty dress!) I read a great book last year called Silent Stars by Jeannine Basinger. She profiles about a dozen stars who were big in their day but are now forgotten or misunderstood. There are chapters on Gloria Swanson, Constance and Norma Talmadge, Douglas Fairbanks, etc. An excellent read for silent fans. Sandy K

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Guest son, jery

I really enjoyed the book, "Silent Stars", too, and it's like reading about a small world that really is gone with the wind. Getting back to Colleen, the movie that put her on top "Flaming Youth" (1926)is one of those legendary lost ones. The Library of Congress has about ten minutes of it on film. Again, I've seen segments from "Lilac Time" and the others with Colleen and I simply couldn't see any charisma. Even in watching some of Florence Lawrence shorts from the l900s, this gal had a blazing glow and you just loved her right off the bat. It'd be great if TCM could HOPEFULLY have a mini-Colleen Moore festival. Maybe there's a movie in there that would shed some light of her legend.

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

Colleen Moore may have been of those terrific comediennes who wanted to "taken seriously." I've seen her in 2 talkies: a hideously cheap "Scarlet Letter" and "Power and the Glory" with Spencer Tracy, for which she got good reviews but no comeback. She was not terribly memorable in either of those, but during the late silent period, she did rival Clara Bow, but maybe for just a few pictures. "Lilac Time" was (in its day) a huge hit even tho it was a sudser.

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Guest Alix

Ed, I also saw the Colleen Moore version of SCARLET LETTER and thought it was fairly awful too. I think the top flappers of the 1920's were: Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Anita Page (a blonde, brunette and redhead). In the book "A Cast of Killers," it tells of an affair between King Vidor and Colleen Moore, that apparently lasted for decades. The symbol of their love was violets (I think) and they used the initials L.N.D. for "love never dies." Vidor and Moore both incorporated those symbols into their movie, so says this book. Apparently too, Moore was rather brainy and knew a lot about business and investing.

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Guest son, jery

"Scarlett letter" with Colleen Moore was an absolute disaster. Can't imagine why she would have starred in this hideous porverty effort. She looked terrible and her acting--! "Power and the Glory" was mainly a Spencer Tracy movie. Colleen did nothing but stand around. Colleen was one of these purely silent screen queens who just couldn't translate over into talkies. As I mentioned earlier, the times I've seen her on film, she postured and rolled her eyes and that tiny little mouth made her look freakish. In "Orchids and Ermine" (I love that title) she looked so drab. Alix, you're so right about the flapper babes. Especially Clara and Anita. Author Kenneth Anger is convinced from his research and contacts in old Hollywood that Paramount deliberately destroyed Clara Bow's career, to get rid of her. They even paid for that horrible Daisy Devoe's legal defense. What a bunch of sadists!

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Guest k, sandy

Just a reminder for all you Anita Page fans out there--TCM is showing Anita in THE SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK (1931) on Mon. 1/14 at 3am EST (it's listed as Sunday night on the schedule-but technically, it would be Monday VERY early morn!)It looks like a salute to Buster Keaton as they're showing THE GENERAL(1927) at midnight for the Silent Sunday Night feature, followed by Keaton and Jimmy Durante in WHAT! NO BEER? (1933) (love that title!) at 1:30 am, then SIDEWALKS, then THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER (1932) also Keaton and Durante.

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Guest son, jery

Sandy, your note about Anita Page made my day. I brought a 1929 "Picture Play" book last week from a sidewalk vendor here in NYC. It had a BIG spread about Anita Page. She looked fabulous. The article stated that Anita was definitely going to be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood because she stole "Broadway Melody." It said Joan Crawford was terrified that Anita would get her roles. How sad it all turned out to be. Louis B. Mayer blackballed Anita (as he did with several brilliant talents)because she wouldn't play footsie with him. She quit MGM after they asked her to play a maid with two lines in--get this--a Joan Crawford epic in l932!

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Guest K, Sandy

Hey, jeryson, glad I could brighten your day! Your posts always brighten mine! One of the reasons I sometimes regret not moving to NYC is that you could actually buy a 1929 Picture Play off a street vendor! Also the fact that there are revival houses where you can see classic films on the big screen. Although, here in Cleveland they do show a festival of classic films at the beautiful old Palace Theatre for about a month in the summer when the theatre is dark. The Palace Theatre is one of those grand old movie, well, palaces! which has been restored to its former grandeur and now is used for things like national tours of Broadway shows. But back to Anita Page-I happened to be up late and I tried to stay awake for SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK, but I dozed off partway through. Anita was very spunky in this one! I have to admit, I felt that in BROADWAY MELODY she was overshadowed by Bessie Love. But seeing her in SIDEWALKS made me want to see more of this beautiful star. I can see why Crawford was nervous! Very sad that Mayer blackballed her. But sex and politics are (and always will be) a part of life-as much as people don't want to admit it! Sandy K

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Guest son, jery

Sandy, the big article on Anita Page in the l929 "Picture Play" makes you want to cry because she was so much like a great star--and then she was totally wasted by that horrible Louis Mayer.I thought her voice was beautiful, which startled me when I saw "Broadway Melody." I had heard that so many performers had voices that recorded terribly because of the primitive microphone back then. Anita's voice suited her perfectly. Warm, sweet, low. Now and then you can see Anita as she is today on "Scandals and Mysteries." It's a terrible shock.

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Guest Alix

Why does Anita appear on "Scandals and Mysteries?" What scandal(or mystery) is she connected with?

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

Reminder: Gloria Swanson and Wallace Reid star in "Affairs of Anatol" (1921) in Feb. and Mary Pickford stars in "Tess of the Storm Country," which I missed last time, also next month.

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Guest Alix

Hey thanks, Ed. In the bio I just finished on Gloria Swanson, it talked a bit about THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOL. What a relief to see something different for a change. I assume this will be on a Sunday night...but will check it out to be sure.

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Guest Leslie

Alix, she is in the one on Clara Bow, speaking as one of Clara's contemporaries. It's good to see her, but oh, that makeup job! Leslie

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Guest son, jery

It is indeed shocking to see our adorable, blonde bombshell, Anita Page,on "Hollywood Mysteries and Scandals" wearing so much make-up, mascara, false lashes,a pound of lipstick,her wig. You can't recognize her. I wonder why this TV series doesn't do one on Anita herself and about the tragic end of her short, glittering career at MGM because of Mr. Beezlebub himself: Louis B. Mayer.

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Guest son, jery

I'm doing research on another jazz age flapper babe, Madge Kennedy. Has anyone got any info on this adorable silent babe? Her movies were exactly like Clara Bow's except Madge was seen as more the college type. There's one she made called "Sandy", l926, that was the number one box office hit that year. You might remember her as the heroine in "White Zombie." If so, it's unfortunate. She's filmed in hideous light and the sound is so crude she sounds like an infant. And that horrible early thirties make-up: black, bee-stung lips, yard-long false lashes, mascara all around her eyes. Poor Madge! She deserved better.

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Guest Alix

She was sooooooo beautiful during the 20's and 30's that it would be both shocking and depressing to see her so heavily made-up. I saw Ginger Rogers once, later in life, all made up and possibly wigged (I don't know for sure) but I thought, "Oh my...leave me to my memories!" Anita certainly would be a good topic. She was also the only woman ever to receive a proposal from sexy William Haines. For that matter, William Haines would be an excellent topic as well. I loved the book "Wisecracker." He sure got the raw end of the deal where his film career was concerned. I'm so glad he became an ultra successful decorator, so he could (more or less) thumb his nose at Mayer and his posse.

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Guest Alix

Okay, I saw WHITE ZOMBIE, and she was beautiful. But you're right...the lighting is very dark and spooky. Crude about sums it up. What kind of a career did she have? I don't know how many WHITE ZOMBIE movies one could make before one did a nose dive.

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Guest z., cheri

Where is Louise Brooks?? How could you not put her name up there? Granted TCM only shows a minor film of hers once in a very blue moon despite airing the docu about her on a regular basis.... There are too many silent film actresses who were Great with a capital G, most of them far more accomplished than any contemporary actresses, to say Louise was The Greatest, but....damn, she was extraordinary.

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Guest Dan, Coffee

In her autobiography SILENT STAR, Colleen Moore said that she made THE SCARLET LETTER strictly for the money, so she could complete her famous doll house that she often exhibited for charity. It was incredibly detailed -- I remember reading an article about it in the Saturday Evening Post around 1973. And I wouldn't trust Kenneth Anger any farther than I could throw a cheesecake under water. David Stenn spent a whole chapter of RUNNING WILD, his biography of Clara Bow, refuting a vicious rumor that Anger spread about Bow in his book HOLLYWOOD BABYLON -- which I won't dignify by repeating here. I'm amazed that this man gets so indignant about how Bow was exploited at Paramount, then he turns around and exploits her himself. Now, that's chutzpah! Stenn also interviewed Daisy DeVoe for his book, and she said she never took a penny from the Paramount brass for managing Bow's finances, because she knew she would be beholden to them. B. P. Schulberg even wanted her to "spy" on Bow for him, but she refused. To her credit, she did help Bow save a lot more money than she ever had before, but she let personal pride (and Rex Bell) get between them when nobody should have worried. Misunderstanding piled on misunderstanding, and look at the mess that resulted! The more I have researched the transitional period from silence to sound (and I started as a precocious high school lad), the more I have come to believe that there was no great conspiracy among the studio brass at any of the major film companies to scuttle the careers of their major stars. Common sense should tell you this. I had this point brought home to me when I got to talk to the grandmother of a fellow film student, who had once worked in the executive offices at MGM. I asked her how the moguls had ruined the careers of some of the greats in those uncertain times, and she practically laughed in my face. "Nobody had any time for that!" she told me. "Everybody was too busy trying to save their assets! The stars were their assets, don't you see? Why would they want to sabotage themselves by ruining their best people?"

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Guest K, Sandy

CoffeeDan, you always have such interesting posts. On the subject of Daisy DeVoe, it seemed to me from reading David Stenn's book that Clara Bow's father was much to blame for ruining Clara financially. As far as "Hollywood Babylon" is concerned, I've also questioned the accuracy of some of Kenneth Anger's facts. Jeryson, you met Anger-can you shed any light on this? Sandy K

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Guest Nine, Seven of

Actually they did have film festivial on Louise Brooks called Search for Lulu starting Courntey Love hosting it THey have some of her movies recently keep eye on TCM maybe they show it again one of their best of documenatry

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

Alla Nazimova was fabulous in the 1921 Camille. At 42 (or so), she looked great altho her acting was not as natural as that of Pickfordm Gish or Swanson (the Big 3). Rudolph Valentino (a smashing year for him--1921) looked good, and Patsy Ruth Miller and goold old Zeffie Tilbury were fine. Nazimova's real co-star however were the fabulous art-deco sets! Gave the whole film a bizarre feel, but was very interesting. My first Nazimova silent.

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

Mary Pickford's Tess of the Storm Country is on tonight!!!

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