Glamour in a Golden Age: Movie Stars of the 1930s by Adrienne L. McLean, Professor Christine Becker, James
By Adrienne L. McLean, Professor Christine Becker, James Castonguay, Professor Corey Creekmur, Mary Desjardins, Professor Alexander Doty, Lucy Fischer, Professor Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, Professor Ina Rae Hark, Professor Adam Knee, Professor Allen Larson, Prof
Stardom is approached as an impression of, and impression on, the actual old and business contexts that enabled those actors and actresses to be found, featured in movies, publicized, and to develop into famous and admired-sometimes even notorious-parts of the cultural panorama. utilizing archival and well known fabric, together with fan and mass industry magazines, different promotional and exposure fabric, and naturally movies themselves, individuals additionally talk about different artists who have been awfully renowned on the time, between them Ann Harding, Ruth Chatterton, Nancy Carroll, Kay Francis, and Constance Bennett.
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This experience, and her “throaty” voice, dark looks, height (reports vary on whether she was 5' 7" or 5' 9"), and slim ﬁgure that could showcase fashionable low-cut, drop-waisted, bias-cut dresses, prompted Paramount to cast her as vamps in her ﬁrst few ﬁlms, including a sexually conniving secretary in Gentlemen of the Press (1929) and a thief who tries to seduce an uncooperative Harpo as a ruse for a jewel heist in the Marx Brothers’ ﬁrst ﬁlm, The Cocoanuts (1929). Ruth Chatterton, with a more stellar theatrical background than any other ﬁlm star at the turn of the decade,1 was ﬁrst cast by 22 MARY DESJARDINS Paramount in sound ﬁlm roles that cashed in on the prestigious class connotations of her vocally expressive pear-shaped tones and clear enunciation, playing society matrons in drawing-room melodramas and comedies such as Charming Sinners (1929) and The Laughing Lady (1929).
Collection of the author. 36 MARY DESJARDINS These ﬁlms and their preoccupations are not atypical of Hollywood productions of the early 1930s. Films that exploit scenarios of the “female” desires of strong women and narrativize the economic basis of sexual relations could be big box ofﬁce, whether or not it is to be believed that the female audience was evenly divided between the “moral guardian” and the “vice aﬁcionado” that the industry press often constructed in articles about the tastes of women for “cry stuff” or “dirt ﬁlms” (Doherty 126–27).
Johns had already opined that Harding looked “drab” when seen without the aid of the “black magic” of the camera, which allowed her to achieve “an illusion of beauty” (Photoplay, January 1931, 68). In “Sex Takes a Knock-Out,” Harding is said not to be associated with the sexiness of “bathing suits and chaise lounges,” being, instead, the picture of “sweet sophistication” (Silver Screen, March 1931, 13–14). Among those articles that create categories of “mental beauty,” one puts her in the class of the “superintelligent” beauty (Picture Play, January 1931, 19), while for another she is in the class, along with Bennett, of “clever blondes” (Photoplay, November 1932, 34–35).