For as long as fashion has existed, animal metaphors have been an indispensible part of the designers language. Hollywood, during its golden age, a leading arbiter of taste, heightened and refined the animal metaphor with brilliant costume designers turning ravishing movie stars into expressions of animal desire.
From where do we draw wisdom?
First and foremost, Seraphic Secret relies on Torah, on the lessons of 3,000 years of Jewish history and the common sense advice of my wife Karen.
And then there are the movies, a moral landscape of immeasurable power where searing images and razor-sharp dialogue deliver lessons in human character that, for better or worse, shape modern man’s consciousness.
I know it seems ludicrous if not downright blasphemous noting Torah and movies as primary influences but the mind of yours truly, a screenwriter and movie-lover, is a stage of raging intellectual conflicts.
Here are several prime slices of dialogue that elegantly and economically reveal secret corners of our hearts and minds.
Barbara Kent: “I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but being an actress was not it.”
—The Sound of Silence, by Michael Ankerich.
Barbara Kent, b. Barbara Cloutman, who passed away a few weeks ago, was one of the last surviving movie stars—Mickey Rooney, ailing and frail might be the last—who worked in the golden era of silent movies and then made the transition to sound.
She was a reluctant actress, a star whose light shined quite briefly, and then with exquisite sanity, she stepped out of the limelight and into the embrace of private life and marriage.
In 1925 Kent won the Miss Hollywood beauty pageant. Apparently, her parents pushed her to enter the contest. Thus, from the very beginning, Barbara was playing a role she neither sought nor desired. Though she had no acting experience Universal offered the tiny—she was under five feet tall—baby-faced, 17 year-old beauty queen a contract.
In 1926, Kent was cast in ”Flesh and the Devil” (1926) as a young women in love with the dashing John Gilbert who has eyes only for the heartless vamp Greta Garbo. Garbo gets all the loving close-ups, but I’ve always felt that Kent was far more attractive and desirable than the remote and narcissistic Garbo.