Monday, September 7, 2009

Old Hollywood

Don't you love those old black and white films with all the glitz and glamour? I especially like them when they portray our favourite century. It's always a clash of two different fabulous fashions.


Sacramouche (1923)

Monsieur Beaucaire (1924)

Madame DuBarry (1928)

The Divine Lady (1929)

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)

Marie Antoinette (1938)

That Hamilton Woman (1941)

DuBarry was a Lady (1943)

Bedlam (1945)

Mrs Fitzherbert (1947)


  1. I didn't know there was a movie about Mrs. Fitzherbert! How interesting. Not available on DVD, of course :( I adore the Norma Shearer Marie Antoinette and the Leslie Howard Scarlet Pimpernel, although the latter rather falls apart in the second half.

    One of my favorite classic Hollywood period films that you do not have here is Scaramouche; the plot is somewhat ridiculous, and the costumes could possibly have been better, but the fencing is first rate, and overall it is quite endearing.

    Also--Criterion Collection is releasing a new edition of That Hamilton Woman this week!!!

  2. I love them for their camp factor, but it is amazing how little they cared for accuracy. It's always history through the maudlin dreamscape of the Art Deco era. Here duchesses don't wear silk - they wear silver lame - and damned if you could talk a Clark Cable into a tight little pair of breeches, no matter how many hearts might have fluttered to see it. I'm glad that later film makers like Merchant Ivory helped promote the idea of getting the details right.
    My favorite comical travesty of historic accuracy from the old movies? When they would simply tuck a bun or slap a few long curls onto the back of what was obviously a hip 1930's hair-do. Too funny.

  3. Finally, my two favorites in one post! I am an avid watcher of old movies. Actually, that's all I really watch on TV now that BBC America has gone down the tubes. I already know what not to wear. That's why there's mirrors, for pity's sake.

    However, I feel I must mention a couple of 18c silents films for the hopper. The original Scaramouche and M. Beaucaire, which stars Valentino in full French court attire. The costumes are really very well done (by Natacha Rambova no less), considering the pre-1980's lack in historical accuracy, though it was a controversial film at the time.

    There's also The Eagle, which I always recommend. Louise Dresser does a great turn as a very lascivious Catherine the Great. Also starring Valentino, and here he proves he had some comic talent. Sadly seldom used.

    So glad to hear Criterion is releasing That Hamilton Woman. Yay! Criterion always does such a good job. And am just burning to see Mrs Fitzherbert.

  4. I added more stills based on your recommendation. If only these great 20s films were on DVD. That is GREAT NEWS about That Hamilton Woman, I've been dying to see that!

  5. Thanks, Heather! The Eagle is on DVD, as is the silent Scaramouche. M Baeucaire was released on DVD but is now very hard to find. There may be more silents, as there was a mini 18c revival in the 20's. Check out images of the robe de style, one of my favorite 20's fashion trends. Gotta love Lanvin!

  6. I am always confused when I see an old movie portraying any historical event. So funny how women supposedly living in the 18th century have bobs and finger-waves!!

  7. Such lovely expressions some of the ladies have! And one of them looked like she was dressed in a 20's outfit, but it must be a regency one, just with the glitter and feathers. I've seen Marie-Antoinette 1938 movie, it is so very Hollywoodish! And they put a lot of glitter in it to make up for the fact that it was in black and white, just like the 2005 movie has a lot of colours.

  8. Scaramouche... Isn't that in a Queen song? 'Scaramouche, scaramouche, will you do the fangango? Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening. Galelio...'

  9. Wow you just blew my mind with that discovery. I wonder how many of Mercury's songs have 18th c references...Killer Queen mentions Marie Antoinette

  10. You have stumbled across my secret love! I find it fascinating how different eras interpret the past. Just imagine how our films will look to those in the future...

  11. Ahhh I just spent an entire summer researching this very phenomenon with my focus being, of course, on the 18th century. I consider myself pretty much an expert on the subject at this point (or I better be considering all the *$@#$% hours I put into this project). I really want to share my results with the world via my livejournal, but I'm terrified some one will steal my work. But I'm working on getting it into publishable form so hopefully the world will be able to read it eventually!

  12. @Heather: When it comes to blowing people's minds, I do my best. I followed my hunch on that memory and found that it is Bohemian Rhapsody. Wonder if La Mercury would be a court favorite of Mrs. Brown in today's world? Somehow I think so.