Vintage Tattooed Ladies

After writing my post on my tattoo plans, I started searching for more photos of tattooed women from back in the day. Obviously it was not the done thing at the time and the tattooed lady was a regular feature of the travelling freak show. Luckily times have changed but I can’t help but wonder what these women were like and why they chose to get tattooed.

vintage tattoo 1940s

vintage tattoo

Tattooed older folks also help to rebut the oft-used argument against getting tattoos: “That tattoo looks good now but it will look horrible when you’re old!” In fact, the tattooed elderly look pretty darn awesome.

elderly tattoo

Music of the Roaring Twenties: Annette Hanshaw

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Annette Hanshaw was jazz singer in the 20s and 30s. She had a lovely soft and soothing voice mixed the energy and fun of a flapper. She didn’t think much of her own voice and had a short career, quitting the music business after getting married. Personally I think some of that nonchalance added to her charm. Here’s some of my favourite songs by Annette…

Casting Scarlett O’Hara

gone with the wind

After the novel Gone with the Wind was published in 1936, the search for the right actress to play Scarlett in the MGM film adaptation had begun. 1,400 actresses were interviewed for the part and 400 were asked to do readings. In contrast, the public and the studio were unanimous about who should play the leading man, Rhett Butler. That was Clark Gable.

scarlett ohara gone with the wind

Just a few of the actresses considered: First colomn to last: Paulette Goddard, Tallulah Bankhead, Lana Turner, Lucille Ball, Joan Bennett, Katherine Hepburn, Olivia de Hallivand, Norma Shearer, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford

In Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography Me: Stories of my Life, she says that she was considered a back up option for Scarlett if they couldn’t find a better fit. George Cukor was hired as the director (and later fired) and he had worked with Katharine on A Bill of Divorcement and Little Women (later they would make The Philadelphia Story together). He thought she wasn’t the right type of girl and so they kept searching. Of course, in the end the two serious contenders are said to have been Paulette Goddard and Vivien Leigh.

Vivien Leigh was unknown in America but David Selznick, the producer, was impressed with what he had seen of her. Yet he considered her “too British” for the role. Vivien got a second chance to impress when she met Selznick through Laurence Olivier. He discovered that just like Scarlett, Vivien was half Irish and half French. They had found their Scarlett. Vivien Leigh went on to win an Oscar for her performance.

vivien leigh scarlett o'hara

It Happened One Night (1934)

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Another wonderful thirties film yay! While I was watching I was wondering if this was a pre- or post-code movie because it was a little bit spicy. Claudette Colbert shows a whole thigh! It was indeed pre-code.

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It’s not a laugh out loud comedy but it’s pretty darn fun. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert had great chemistry. I’m ready more more Colbert and screwball comedies after this.

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Katharine Hepburn and the monkey

katharine hepburn monkey

I love the stories of strange publicity stunts in early Hollywood. Greta Garbo was shoved into a lion’s cage and Katharine Hepburn was handed a monkey to carry around for a few days. In the early 1930s, the studio RKO was planning on having Ms. Hepburn star in a film adaptation of the novel Three Came Unarmed. The book was about three people who had grown up in the jungle of Borneo who are transported to the English seaside. Naturally, Katharine had to show the press she was a friend of all exotic creatures and born to play the part. The film never went into production but at least the strange moment was captured on camera. According to the caption in the image below, the “charming little gibbon” was a “notorious woman-hater”. Oh dear…

katharine hepburn monkey

The daughter of a suffragette and a misogynist monkey were never going to be a match made in heaven.

Movie Time: Anna Christie (1931) [German Version]

anna christie greta garbo german

Another Garbo film! This blog is turning into quite the Garbo-fest. I watched Anna Christie auf Deutsch (with English subs). There are a lot of differences between the English and German versions. All the actors apart from Greta are different in each version and the German version is more frank about Anna’s past. Also, as Raymond Daum puts it in Walking with Garbo, they “tarted her up” for the German version.

anna christie german garbo

Greta seems incredibly comfortable with the German language. I wish she’d done more German films. I don’t recall reading that she spoke German before her Hollywood days but perhaps German phonology is easier than English for the Swedish tongue.

Crazily enough, they didn’t alter any of the sets or the storyline to account for the fact that everyone is speaking German. The bathroom door reads ‘Ladies’ Entrance’ and we are supposed to believe that Anna grew up in Minnesota  Another criticism that I have is that there are a lot of bad cuts in the film and the pace is rather slow at times.

The film was adapted from a play by Eugene O’Neill, first presented in 1921. Anna’s father is an alcoholic and her mother died when she was young. She was raised with relatives on a farm but her life there was miserable and tragic. Later she becomes a prostitute and develops a hatred for men. The film starts with her meeting her father for the first time in 15 years.

Compared to Baby Face, another uncensored film that deals with promiscuity, Anna Christie is a lot more direct and realistic. Its realism is due to the fact that the emotional consequences of Anna’s rough life are dealt with and Greta acts these scenes brilliantly. Older films can feel like they are covered by a veneer that prevents any truly heavy emotion from seeping through but this film does not gloss things over.

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I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that Greta’s hair looks awesome in this film. Soft, fluffy curls.

All in all, this film is far from perfect (certainly from a technical perspective!) but it offers a taste of realism that differs from the usual gentle Hollywood approach.

Shameless Garbo Fangirl Post

If I were still a teenage girl I would make a make a Garbo shrine. It would sit next to my David Bowie and Blondie pictures in my old bedroom and look awesome. Unfortunately the phase has passed when I used to cut pictures of beautiful stars out and pin them to a corkboard (we have Pinterest now anyway) so I’ll dedicate a blog post to her.

Who’s your favourite classic Hollywood star?

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo

greta garbo