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Flappers


Guest Alix

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Let's use this space to talk about Flappers--those modern jazz babies of the 1920's. This is the spot to discuss historical questions about flappers as well as movie questions. Let's discuss our favorite flappers: Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, Joan Crawford, Anita Page and Rosie, the flapper from BROADWAY MELODY. We can also talk about flapper movies. We could dish on flapper fashions! I think one of the best parts about movies from the 1920's are the flapper characters. These magnificant ladies are just memories today. Let's bring them back to life. Flappers Forever!

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Just to get the topic rolling, so to speak, I'd like to list my top three favorite flappers. Favorite blonde: Anita Page Favorite redhead: Clara Bow Favorite brunette: Joan Crawford Somebody really missed the boat by not teaming all three of these superstars together (yeah, I know, the concept of more than two big stars in a movie was still some years away). Wouldn't that have been awesome? Clara could have been the wild, free spirited flapper, who looks for love in all the wrong places. Anita might have been the flapper who's bootlegger boyfriend is wanted by the law. And Joanie, she could be the flapper-wannabe. The one with the right clothes and hair, but was still old fashioned at heart.

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Guest son, jery

Wow, Alix, terrific topic! I ain't got time now to go on and on about my all-time favorite movie topic--The Flappers--but let me throw down some fast words before I dash for the subway. From the first images I saw of movie flappers in some of my grandmother's old movie mags, I was completley enchanted. I loved everything about them: especially those short, spangled dresses, the bobbed hair, the make-up. Then when I began to slowly see some of these actual movies from the 20s I was knocked out. I loved Anita Page, Clara Bow, Virginia Lee Corbin (she's one of the lesser ones but death cut her career off before she was 20), those anonymous gals in their frizzed hairdos, drinking from their gin flasks, dancing away. Gotta run now. Will write more. Also, we shouldn't forget the male flapper counterpart: the Jellybeans! Like the gorgeous William Haines, Buddy Rogers, Johnny Mack Brown (yummy, yummy) etc. Great topic!

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Jery, thanks! I knew I could count on you to discuss flappers and the 1920's with me. And I'm glad you didn't neglect the flappers' best buddies! Oh, to have worn a beaded dress with long beads and rolled stocking and danced at a party with Billy Haines or Buddy Rogers!

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Guest son, jery

What always thrilled me about the movie flappers were their attitudes: sassy, smart, cute, wise-cracking but still vulnerable. Clara Bow was best at conveying this quality. She loved to tease her guys but she wasn't cheap or lewd. Louise Brooks was wonderful at doing this in those German movies she made. I wish and wish I could see some of those other fabled flappers I've always read about: The Talmadge Sisters, Madge Kennedy, Gertrude Astor, Sally O'Neill, Mae Murray, etc. All these gals are just drying up in the film vaults and I'll bet they're all dying to get out and be seen and show us what thrilled millions for years around the world. I still wish we could get a week-long theme on TCM about: The Sexiest Flappers and Jelly-Beans! What a show-stopper that would be!

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WHO is Gerturde Astor? One of "the" Astors perhaps? I've never heard of her, and what a shame it is too. I just found a wonderful silent movie website (I bet you guys already knew about it). It's web address is www.silentera.com If you haven't been there, it's worth checking out, especially it's "Top 100 Silent Films." I must say, I have to disagree with some of their choices, though.

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Guest son, jery

Gertrude Astor was the blonde flapper in "The Cat and the Canary." Her role was mostly looking scared but I've read that she was consistently voted the "Best Dressed Flapper" in movies--which was quite an accolade when you consider all those great looking clothes the other gals wore. I go to several of the silent websites and will be sure and make sure that the one you mentioned is on my list. Have you ever heard of some of these flapper gals: Claire Windsor, Corrine Griffith, Miss DuPont, Nita Naldi, etc. There were hundreds of stars back then--and now they're totally forgotten. Let's get'em back into the spotlight, Alix!

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I have heard of all the ladies you mentioned, except for Miss Dupont. Nita Naldi--now there's a flapper! Wasn't she in one of the desert sheik movies with Rudy Valentino? I don't think she ever made the transition to talkies, did she? I think she'd retired by the time sound came in. And let's don't forget the first real flapper (circa 1920) Miss Olive Thomas. Now there's a pretty scandal for you! What actually happened in that Paris hotel room? The silents Majority had a nice, well written biography on Olive Thomas. Olive had a sort of fresh-faced look and it's no wonder she had real appeal. I wonder if she'd have had a long career if she'd survived? Why in the world would someone drink a bottle of bichloride of mercury on accident, as some claim. Don't you think it must have been suicide? How sad...she seemed poised right on the brink of major stardom. While on the topic of flappers, Jery, I saw Anita Page's 1934 or 1935 movie JUNGLE BRIDE up again on Ebay the other day! If you haven't located this movie, you've got to see it! Charles Starrett is hunky and lusty, and Anita is the BOMB! It's definitely a B-movie, but very enjoyable thanks to Charles and Anita. Twenty-three skidoo and boop-boop-e-doop till next time....

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Guest son, jery

I've got JUNGLE BRIDE on my wish list. Hopefully I'll have it by Christmas. I get so mad when I think of all those great silent, "flapper" movies that haven't been seen by anyone in nearly a century! I've never seen the fabulous Talmadge Sisters, only a few of the Flapper Queen, Coleen Moore, only one of Mae Murray (Merry Widow), only a very few of Ultimate Flapper--Clara Bow--but there are others I've only seen stills of--like Esther Ralston, Aileen Pringle, Leatrice Joy, etc. Gotta jump in my Stuz Bearcat and go shriek because I'm gonna see THE SHIEK! Or, as Billy Haines says in WEST POINT: "MAMMY!"

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Aileen Pringle...there's a name I recognize, but I can't say I've ever seen a picture of hers...at least I don't think so! Did she made the transition or did she fade from view before that? Another gorgeous looking late 20's actress was Alma Reubens. I think she died rather young, from some addiction possibly. Her stills and portraits show a lovely darked headed beauty. I wonder if any of her work survives. Does anyone know much about her, other than what one can read in "Hollywood Babylon?"

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Alix, I believe Aileen Pringle did make the transition to sound with films made by Columbia Pictures. Along with some other silent stars, Aileen was later in films as uncredited characters in the late '30's and '40's--(such as a saleslady in "the Women" [1939], and a random woman in "Laura" [1944], etc.) Have you seen "Show People" (1928)??? She makes a cameo appearance along with Dorothy Sebastian, Norma Talmadge, Renee Adoree, etc., etc. Oh, by the way, have you or anyone else seen Madge Bellamy in any of her films??? She was such a cute flapper in the late twenties! I have seen "Love Never Dies", directed by King Vidor, and "Lorna Doone".

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Guest son, jery

Hi Lyndsey! I can't believe someone here is interested in the long-lost, forgotten Madge Bellamy! The only movies I've seen her in were in "White Zombie" (horrible), a Western and parts of "Love Never Dies." I'm dying to see her in a flapper role in a movie called, "Sandy." This movie supposedly put her on the map and as major competition to Colleen Moore. In a book of silent movie star interviews I've got, she's pretty candid about destroying her movie career by turning down strong roles and because of her temperament. She enjoyed playing the Diva--and she admits walking out of Louis B. Mayer's studio because "she was bored"--after he had offered her the role of a lifetime: as 'Hank' in BROADWAY MELODY. Bessie Love got the role and it energized her dying career.

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Hi jery son! I know, isn't it simply awful how such lovely actresses of the silent screen are forgotten today? I've seen parts of "White Zombie", and I definitely agree with you: horrible! You should see "Lorna Doone" (1922), it's pretty good, although she hadn't really established her flapper persona/character yet. I also want to see "Sandy", along with "Mother Knows Best" (which was Fox's first talkie), and "The Iron Horse". Is the book about silent film actresses you're talking about called "Speaking of Silents"??? If so, then I've read some of it when i borrowed it from a friend. Didn't she reject the lead role in "The Trial of Mary Dugan", which was later given to Norma Shearer???

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I also saw Madge Bellamy in WHITE ZOMBIE...come on now! That's a classic horror movie! It has the creepiest, spookiest graveyard scene I have ever sat through! That crypt where poor young Madge is buried is soooooo macabre! If nothing else, the movie deserves kudos for that!! It's great Lyndsey to meet another "flapper" fan. Come and let's chat often!

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Thanks, Alix, I appreciate it!...Oh, alright you got me--I'll give the film credit for that one graveyard scene, after all, it was pretty eerie (in a weird way). But it was not Bela's best; at least not from what I've seen so far.

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Guest son, jery

Oh, no, Alix! I wasn't putting down WHITE ZOMBIE the movie! It's one of my all-time favorite chiller dillers. It was poor little Madge I thought was so awful. It wasn't really her fault. She had almost no dialogue and that ghastly make-up job! Cupid bow mouth, long, curled false lashes, etc. But Madge did make a whole slew of flapper flicks. "Sandy" is the one with the still photos that I saw and it looked adorable.

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That movie is such a curio! I do absolutely adore that spooky, moss hanging graveyard, and it's funny because I'm not at all a horror film fan. They don't come any creepier than that one, though. And I agree, it was not Bela's best role--in fact I find him a little on the hammy side in this one.

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I think I should list WHITE ZOMEBIE as one of my guilty favorites! Madge didn't really have to do much, did she, except look stoned most of the time. Do you think Hollywood thought that overblown make-up was actually attractive? Did no one look at the daily film on this movie? I think with more subdued make-up, and possibly wardrobe, she probably WAS the bees knees! Her portraits show a beautiful young actress!

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So, have either of you seen any of Clara Bow's films other than "IT"? Because that's the only one I have seen, and I was wondering about the others (I've read the plots of them and seen stills, though). Oooh, as a response to an earlier post, I love Virginia Lee Corbin, too. She was so gorgeous in "Bare Knees"! And really cute as a child star, too. jery son mentioned awhile ago that she died before she was twenty, is that true? Wow, I didn't know that. I know Olive Thomas died when she was a little over 20.

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Guest son, jery

Lyndsey, you've simply gotta see Clara in "Dancing Mothers." She plays the adorable, flapper daughter of Alice Joyce who decides to start "dancing" with Clara's boyfriend! Bow is stunning. She wears great looking clothes, the movie loves her and she steals the movie from everybody. My favorite scene: she visits her boyfriend's bachelor apartment. He's actually expecting Clara's mother. But Clara tears off her coat, flops down on the sofa, lights a cigarette and drinks a cocktail. She rolls her eyes, laughs and looks just like I've always thought a real life flapper would look. Fantastic!

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How fabulous is that?! You're right, I do need to see it. Oh, yes I remember, I've seen WINGS (1927), too. Shows how good my memory is...But anyway, I've seen the stills for DANCING MOTHERS and she looks adorable, so I'll definitely put that on my "to buy" list. I think I saw it at Grapevine Video. By the way, in what other films did Joan Crawford play a flapper? I've seen OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS ('28), and the sequel-type films that followed that--OUR MODERN MAIDENS, OUR BLUSHING BRIDES...(in which she wasn't really a flapper flapper, since Joan went into her shopgirl period in movies, which I like, too).

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Well, although no one's seen it in decades, I believe SALLY, MARY AND IRENE was a flapperesque movie with Crawford. And you're right, OUR BLUSHING BRIDES was more of a shopgirl role. I think she really hit her stride in OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS and the public sort of identified her with the dance-on-the-table-in-the-beaded-dress type of girl.

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Yes, I think I've heard of that one (SALLY, MARY AND IRENE), doesn't it star Constance Bennett--(who TCM is showing in WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD next week: hooraah!)? oh, and William Haines, too... Uh-oh, Alix, you'll probably be angry at me for placing William Haines second; I know how big of a fan you are!!!

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You are sooooo right...I'm a huge fan, and I lament the fact that we don't ever get to see any of his really "big" movies. He was like the male version of the flapper--peppy, snappy talking and dressing, and fun at heart. He looks good in those knicker pants and those sweater vests! Plus, he was oh so very handsome in his silents. It's no wonder he was #1 at the box office! If you've not seen WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD you will like it. Lowell Sherman is very good in it. I've seen a little bit of his work, mostly pre-Codes, and I like him a lot. He died in the early 30's I think, maybe 1932 or 1933. He not only directed things, but starred in them. Incidentially, he was also at the notorious Roscoe Arbuckle party--the one where Virginia Rappe was taken ill and later died. He is rather good in WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD. It's the original movie that was later made into A STAR IS BORN. Anyway, Sherman is one of those forgotten stars of the late 20's and early 30's.

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