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Theda Bara - Underrated


bhryun
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I would like to know WHY Theda Bara is SO underrated. Sure, a lot of her films are lost, (I'm highly ticked that Cleopatra was lost, as well as her only attempt to be a good girl - Kathleen Mavourneen)but so many actresses owe A LOT to this woman. She set the standards for Bad girls IN FILMS. Preachers were denouncing this woman from the pulpit because they weren't able to discern the legend from the woman. Nita Naldi even said that she took tips from Ms. Bara herself.

 

And to me, she's so inspirational - she went to a university(even though she dropped out) during a period in which most women didn't even GO near a university, managed to make it to #3 (behind Charles Chaplin and Mary Pickford) and while most of the silent stars led a life of ruin and ended up broke or committed suicide, SHE married one man, stayed with him, lived a good life and died when she was old.

 

Sure, Lillian Gish (IMHO - the most BEAUTIFUL silent actress)and Mary Pickford may have had sweetness on their side, but Theda Bara set the standard for Goth Girls, film Vamps and even (to an extent) Video Game Bad Girls.

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i agree that it is hard to rate a star who only has 2 available films. she also kind of disappeared from the film industry. while many other actors if not went on to talking movie careers, atleast stayed active in the spotlight. she just kind of retired and enjoyed time to herself. i love her tons anyways.

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I've not seen any of her surviving work, only stills. I wonder if that long, stringy hair and eyes circled with kohl really excited men "back in the day."

 

Of course, I acknowledge that not being of that time period I can't really understand all about her OR the magnetism she must have had. The fact that she was a top ranking star, pretty much says it all, though.

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Hi Alix,

 

Keep in mind that when Theda Bara was "vamping around" America had not yet intered WWI. We were still very provincial and isolated and the more liberal European influence was not yet being reflected in our films or culture. Think about the women in Griffith or Ince films, their dress and demeanor, and then think about Bara. She was the antithesis of the wholesome American woman, very sexualized and aggressive. And not a virgin.... It would have been scandalous the way she dressed and sexually behaved. Even the brazen way she would look a man in the eyes would have been considered a lack of propriety. And the advertising of the era played up her sexual side long before Masters and Johnson, hahaha....

 

Also, there was a posting that mentioned that 2 of Bara's films survived. Actually three have been available on video through Grapevine Video. The third was the surviving 10 minute fragment of a 21 minute comedy short directed by Stan Laurel and featuring Oliver Hardy and James Finlayson called Madame Mystery (1926).

 

I'm not sure off the top of my head if anything else survives in archives.

 

Roy

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