Saturday, February 28, 2009

Asides - Film Fun

This time out we take a look at Film Fun, a magazine sought by collectors for the cover art more so than for the content. Film Fun first appeared in July, 1915 and saw its last issue in September, 1942, when it became a victim of Postmaster General Frank C. Walker's campaign against 'salacious' material. He must be spinning in his grave today.

At the outset Film Fun covered comedic films and actually had comedians on the covers. But by the early twenties, the publishers and editors realized putting a provocative image of a scantily clad, dare I say alluring lass, would sell more magazines. The contents also saw a shift from featured comedians to the inclusion of actresses and starlets posed especially for the magazine, or stills from the "racier" moments of a particular film.

Their smartest move took place in 1923 when the artist and illustrator Enoch Bolles (1883-1976) was made the exclusive cover artist, a position he held until the magazine ceased publication. The Bolles' covers make Film Fun a collectible today. A prolific artist and illustrator, in addition to his 200 covers for Film Fun, Bolles painted at least 300 more covers for the so-called "spicy" pulps, including Breezy Stories, Pep, and New York Nights. None of this work was signed and most of it remains unattributed. Take a trip over to the very informative Enoch Bolles blog to view his work and learn more about his career.

Film Fun, due to its popularity, is one of the more expensive film magazine collectibles, so we don't have too many, but here are 4 issues featuring Bolles covers and typical inside spreads. Have fun and remember to click on the images for a larger view.

Film Fun - April 1931

Film Fun - January, 1932

Film Fun - October 1934

Film Fun - June 1935

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dorothy Seastrom

Dorothy Seastrom, born March 16, 1903 was erroneously reported as hailing from Norway, but in reality was a Texan from Dallas. A beauty contest winner at an early age, Dorothy's film career began in 1923 in The Call of the Canyon. After a few comedy shorts, she signed a five year contract with First National in 1925. As an aside, like many First National stars, she had an anti-fat clause written into her contract. The studio stipulated a top limit of 140 pounds, Dorothy weighed in at 117.

For First National, Dorothy appeared (uncredited) in The Perfect Flapper with Colleen Moore and Classified with Corinne Griffith. She barely avoided a potentially disfiguring accident during the filming of her first credited role for National, We Moderns (1925). A shower of sparks from a short-circuited light fell upon her hair and shoulders. A quick thinking assistant director grabbed a table cloth from a prop table and covered the actress' head. She made a full recovery from the burns she sustained, but unfortunately, much more dire circumstances soon followed.

In the fall of 1925, Dorothy, only twenty-two, was diagnosed with tuberculosis, "the white plague". She went to a sanatorium in California for several months, while First National, who had high hopes for her, graciously agreed to hold the starting date of her contract. In early 1926 she seem to be getting better and returned to the screen to make It Must Be Love (1926), her final appearance after only eight films. All of her appearances are believed lost.

Dorothy died of tuberculosis in Dallas in 1930.

The next three images are from Motion Picture Classic, the Feburary 1926 edition. They were featured in the article "The Girl Who Smiles". The sub-head reads "Dorothy Seastrom was on the threshold of success, now she is fighting for her life in the hills above Hollywood."

Venus of the Snows was a nod to her erroneous Norway heritage.

Dorothy Seastrom - What do you think - Allure?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Asides - Costume Design

With a nod to NYC's Fashion Week - Feb 13-20, and the touting of the hottest fashion designer's fall 2009 wardrobes, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the costume designers of the twenties and thirties. Unlike fashion designers, who have a free hand in expressing their creativity within the bounds of showing a profit, costume designers must work through the dictates of script, period, and who will actually be wearing their designs.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Monsieur Beaucaire (1924)

Costume Designers: Natacha Rambova (married to Valentino) and George Barbier

The costumes as worn by Lois Wilson and Rudolph Valentino

The Mystic (1925)

Costume Designer: Erté

The costume as worn by Aileen Pringle

Madam Satan (1930)

Costume Designer: Adrian

The costume as worn by Kay Johnson

Cleopatra (1934)

Costume Designer: Travis Banton

The costume as worn by Claudette Colbert

The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Costume Designer: Adrian
Costumes worn by the Ziegfeld Girls

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Greta Garbo - Fifth of 5 Postings

Our fifth and final post in this series will contain only one quote from Garbo, and we will let the images speak for themselves.
Click on the images for a larger view.

When asked in her later years by a fan if she is Greta Garbo, she replied, "I was Greta Garbo."

A note here: The 25 postcards shown in this series represent less than half the Greta Garbo cards produced.

These next two images are from the book "The Man Who Shot Garbo - The Hollywood Photographs of Clarence Sinclair Bull.", released by Simon and Schuster in 1989. There are over 180 photographs of the major stars of the twenties, thirties and forties (Bull was the head of MGM's stills department for nearly forty years). If you are a fan of the era, or of just good portrait photography, I recommend you locate a copy for yourself. I got mine from Alibris at a very good price.

Publicity still for Anna Christie (1929)

Publicity still for The Kiss (1929)

Greta Garbo - What do you think - Allure?