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.
Have you looked at a movie poster recently and said to yourself: I really have to see that film.
In the digital era movie posters are barely there, a minor and frequently mediocre—tedious star shots dominate—element in the white-noise media that is dominated by an ever-shifting social media.
There was a time, however, when movie posters were the dominant element by which audiences were lured to the movies.
Here are just a few samples of ordinary posters cranked out by the Hollywood studios; all are characterized by bold graphics and unusual fonts. These are posters that artfully promise action, mystery and romance.
America has long had a love affair with the automobile. Cars are the ultimate expression of form, function, fashion—and speed.
But most of all the car represents freedom.
Try and remember when you were a teenager yearning for your driver’s license so you could hop into daddy’s car and go, go, go. It didn’t matter where, you just wanted to burn rubber and escape into the far horizon.
The brilliant, exhilirating and touching American Grafitti, 1973, is the ultimate expression of American car culture. Almost every single scene takes place in a car.
Los Angeles was the first America city built to accomodate the automobile. And the movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, most born dirt-poor, expressed delight in their sudden prosperity and fame by purchasing and posing with their dream machines.
A great deal has been written about the Hollywood glamour machine that flourished between the mid 1920’s and the late 30’s.
But perhaps the most articulate—if somewhat caustic—meditation on Hollywood and glamour was made by Joan Crawford, a woman who worked harder at the business of stardom than most any other star of Hollywood’s golden age:
“If you want the girl next door, go next door.”
In Seraphic Secret’s move to WordPress last week, this post was, for a while, lost in cyberspace. Due to the kindness and tech know-how of our faithful reader Alter Ben-Zion, we have been able to snatch this blog out of its spectral prison. Alter also sent all the comments and they are included.
In 1925, on Stage 6 of the MGM lot, electrician Carl Barlow was working on a lighting platform when one of the supports fractured. The entire platform collapsed in a heap and Barlow plunged to his death.
Stories of a ghost in white overalls haunting the catwalks of various MGM stages were widespread in Hollywood for many years.
As told by Esther Williams in her memoir “Million Dollar Mermaid,” in 1953 the swimming star heard spectral noises from Stage 5.
Williams entered the empty stage. She heard a voice tragically wailing. Tentatively, Williams moved towards the tortured echo.
And then she saw it.
But Williams did not see a ghost.
She saw the legendary star Joan Crawford, after a twelve-year absence at MGM, standing on the dark sound stage pleading to an audience that no longer existed:
“Why have you left me? Why don’t you come to my movies? What did I do to you? What did I say? Don’t turn your back on me!”
It’s no wonder that when Williams saw her movie career heading into its inevitable decline she got out of Hollywood and became a highly successful businesswoman.