Tuesday, August 9, 2011
It might seem strange for a gal who is all about words to have a fascination for the old silent era actresses. But I do, I love them.
After all, what were they? They were storytellers. They came to a brand new medium, usually from difficult backgrounds, and made it their own. Because the "flickers" were new, there were no traditions, no rules, no customs set in stone. It was wide open and nobody knew just how it ought to be done.
At first, all the shots were long, as if seen by an audience sitting in a theater. After all, so many of the people making early motion pictures came from vaudeville backgrounds. But when the camera came close, that was when these women cut loose and made moviegoers fall in love with them.
In a silent medium, it did no good to be subtle. The expressions, the gestures, the emotions, were all big and bold. I love that! Further, the movies were seen as hopelessly low brow in the early days, and so the story lines tended to be populist and sentimental. Fine with me!
Of course, it hardly even needs saying that these gals were beautiful, and I think their old-timey dresses, hats and hair are all as charming as the day is long. But don't be fooled. These were some tough cookies. Mary Pickford was a shrewd businesswoman, and it was Mabel Normand who fought to get a second chance for first-time fizzler Charlie Chaplin.
So, I love them. Maybe you will, too. Enjoy the video!