Louise Brooks in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

Diary of a Lost Girl is a 1929 silent film directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and starring the American silent star Louise Brooks. This was Brooks’ second and last film with Pabst, and like their prior collaboration (1929’s Pandora’s Box), it is considered a classic film. The film was based on the controversial and bestselling novel of the same name, Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (1905) by Margarete Böhme.

Thymian Henning (Louise Brooks), is the innocent, naive daughter of pharmacist Robert Henning. She is puzzled when their housekeeper, Elisabeth, leaves suddenly on the day of Thymian’s confirmation. It turns out that her father got Elisabeth pregnant. Elisabeth’s body is brought to the pharmacy later that day, an apparent suicide by drowning, upsetting Thymian.

Thymian’s father’s assistant Meinert, promises to explain it all to her late that night, but instead takes advantage of her; she gives birth to an illegitimate child. Though Thymian refuses to name the baby’s father, the relatives find out from her diary. They decide that the best solution is for her to marry Meinert. When she refuses because she does not love him, they give the baby to a midwife and send her to a strict reformatory for wayward girls run by a tyrannical woman and her tall, bald assistant.

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Louise Brooks for Diary of a Lost Girl directed by George Wilhem Pabst, 1929 via

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Louise Brooks for Diary of a Lost Girl directed by George Wilhem Pabst, 1929 via

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Louise Brooks for Diary of a Lost Girl directed by George Wilhem Pabst, 1929 via

 

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Theda Bara in Silent Film Sin (1915)

Theda Bara made over 40 films for the Fox Film Corporation, with titles like The Eternal Sin, The Blue Flame, The Soul of Buddha, Purgatory’s Ivory Angel & Carmen.

In 1915 Fox produced silent drama Sin with Theda Bara starring  as Rose.

In order to play up Theda Bara’s image as a vamp, Fox Film Corporation publicized the film with the tagline “Sin With Theda Bara!”. Upon its release, Sin was an enormous hit with audiences and Bara earned generally good reviews for her performance.

In spite of its success, the film was banned in Ohio and Georgia due to its themes of suicide, lust, Roman Catholic sacrilege and love triangles. The Pittsburgh Board of Welfare condemned the film as did the Kansas Board of Censorship (which apparently still allowed the film to run in Kansas theaters).

The film is now considered to be lost.

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Theda Bara as Rosa in Sin (1915)

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Joan Crawford as Billie Brown in Our Modern Maidens (1929)

Our Modern Maidens is a 1929 American silent drama film directed by Jack Conways, the spectacular Art Deco set is by Cedric Gibbons and gowns are by Adrian. The film is a sequal to “Our Dancing Daughters”.

In the film real life couple Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. were teamed together, which made for a clever studio marketing campaign. The public had a fascination with Hollywood’s new “golden couple”, and the studio ensured that Joan’s last silent film was a success.

The story was a controversial for the times.

Joan Crawford stars as heiress Billie Brown who is engaged to marry her longtime sweetheart, budding diplomat, Gil Jordan, played by Fairbanks.

When Billie goes to see senior diplomat Glenn Abbott about ensuring that Gil gets a favorable assignment, Billie and Glenn are undeniably attracted to one another. Gil is likewise attracted to Kentucky Strafford, Billie’s houseguest, who becomes pregnant by Gil.

Gil finds that he loves Kentucky, but marries Billie instead. Once Gil finds that Billie really loves Glenn and Billie finds that Gil loves Kentucky, their marriage is annulled and both are paired up with the people they truly love.

 

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929.

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929.

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929.

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Joan Crawford as Bille Brown for “Our Modern Maidens,” 1929.

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Early Film Dancer Annabelle Moore (1878-1961)

Annabelle Moore (1878 – 1961) was an American dancer and actress who was quite popular in her youth. She appeared in at least nine films beween 1894 and 1897. The films were dance films and included “A Mermaid Dance”, “Butterfly Dance” and “Serpentine Dance”.

The sale of her films was further boosted in December 1896 when it was revealed that she had been approached to appear naked at a private dinner party at Sherry’s Restaurant – It is even said she introduced eroticism in film.

In 1907 Annabelle starred as the Gibson Bathing Girl in the first of  the Ziegfeld Follies.

In 1910 she married Edward James Buchan. He died in 1958 and Annabelle died penniless in Chicago in 1961. In her obituary in the New York Times it was said Annabelle:

“was the symbol of beauty in her day. She was billed as ‘the original Gibson Girl’ because of her striking resemblance to the Charles Dana Gibson portrait.”

Annabelle had a similar appearance to the Gibson Girl.  But as far as Gibson modeling his idealization of the perfect woman on Annabelle, there is little evidence that he did (source).

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Annabelle Moore, 1900s

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Annabelle Moore, 1908

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Annabelle Butterfly Dance (1894)

Brigitte Helm as Scheming Baroness Sandorf in L’Argent (1928 film)

L’Argent (“money”) is a French silent film directed in 1928 by Marcel L’Herbier. The film was adapted from the novel L’Argent by Émile Zola, and it portrays the world of banking and the stock market in 1920s Paris. Marcel L’Herbier insisted that the film should be updated from the 1860s to the present-day.

The plot revolves around rival Paris bankers Saccard and Gunderman. Saccard sees an opportunity to rescue his failing bank, Banque Universelle, by financing the solo transatlantic flight of Jacques Hamelin, a pioneering aviator, and then capitalising on his popularity to set up a colonial business project in Guyane. He also hopes to seduce Hamelin’s wife Line in his absence. When a rumour circulates that Hamelin has crashed, Saccard exploits the false reports to manipulate shares at the Bourse.

Gunderman disapproves of Saccard and his methods, and has secretly bought shares in his bank as a future weapon against him. The Baroness Sandorf, a former lover of Saccard, acts as a spy to assist Gunderman’s interests, and more particularly her own. Brigitte Helm stars as the scheming baroness.

Today L’Argent is regarded by many to be ground-breaking work and one of the cinema’s greatest achievements.

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Brigitte Helm in L’Argent

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Brigitte Helm in L’Argent

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Brigitte Helm in L’Argent

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Mary Pickford as The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)

The Poor Little Rich Girl is a 1917 American comedy-drama. Mary Pickford, famous for playing girls and young women, stars as 11-year-old Gwendolyn. She is left by her rich and busy parents to the care of unsympathetic domestic workers at the family’s mansion. Her mother is only interested in her social life and her father has serious financial problem and is even contemplating suicide. When she manages to have some good time with an organ-grinder or a plumber, or have a mud-fight with street boys, she is rapidly brought back on the right track. One day she becomes sick because the maid has given her an extra dose of sleeping medicine to be able to go out. She then becomes delirious and starts seeing an imaginary world inspired by people and things around her; the Garden of Lonely Children in the Tell-Tale forest. Her conditions worsens and Death tries to lure her to eternal rest. But Life also appears to her and finally wins.

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Mary Pickford in The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)

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Mary Pickford in The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)

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Mary Pickford in The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)

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Mary Pickford in The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)

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Vintage Photos of Silent Stars Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille” (1921)

Camille is one of numerous screen adaptations of the book and play La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas. The original play opened in Paris in 1852.

The 1921 silent film stars Rudolph Valentino as smitten law student Armand and Russian actress Alla Nazimova as ailing courtesan Marguerite Gautier.

The film moves the setting of the story to 1920s Paris, and includes many lavish Art Deco sets, including that of Marguerite’s apartment.

Natacha Rambova, who would later become Valentino’s second wife, was the movie’s art director.

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Alla Nazimova photographed by Arthur Rice as Marguerite Gautier in Camille (1921)

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille” (1921)

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille” (1921)

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille” (1921)

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Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino in “Camille” (1921)

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