January 13, 2013

"Rehearsals sap my pep... tell me what I have to do and I'll do it."

Said the actress Clara Bow (in 1929), who did it like this:



... in "Kittens" (1926). And this:



... in "Wings" (1927), which was the first movie to win the "Best Picture" Oscar. Bow said it was "a man's picture and I'm just the whipped cream on top of the pie." When Bow was criticized for her bohemian ways and "dreadful" manners, she said :
"They yell at me to be dignified. But what are the dignified people like? The people who are held up as examples of me? They are snobs. Frightful snobs... I'm a curiosity in Hollywood. I'm a big freak, because I'm myself!"
In 1931, when she was 26, she got married and retired from acting. She moved to a ranch in Nevada, and lived until 1965.

I'm reading about her this morning, after clicking to her Wikipedia page from the Wikipedia page "Pin-up girl," which has a list of "Notable pin-up girls" sorted by decades, beginning with the 1920s. I was researching the topic of pin-up girls after Meade called attention to this current ad:



We had a conversation about the nature of 1950s pin-up style, and it got me looking for the classic Betty Grable pin-up, which I think it emulates — peeking back over a raising shoulder and smiling as if to say Go ahead and look at my ass. Grable's pic is the one pic that appears on the Wikipidea "Pin-up girl" page, but I was interested in seeing the first pin-up, and the first couple names on the 1920s list didn't click through to a pin-up style picture. Clara Bow's did. If you count this:



Tell me what I have to do and I'll do it. She's only 15 there. Can you just hear the photographer directing her how to arrange her fingers and where to move her shoulder and even her eyeballs?

45 comments:

chickelit said...

Pepping men's sap, sapped her pep?

betamax3000 said...

Re: "peeking back over a raising shoulder and smiling as if to say Go ahead and look at my ass."

I KNEW this would come back around to Cheerleader Camp.

(if you listen carefully one can hear Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen" playing softly in the background, as the word 'winsome' flutters on a Post-It note past its adhesive prime)

betamax3000 said...

Adhesive values persistence.

chickelit said...

Persistent values adhere

McTriumph said...

I would guess that Louise Brooks is the most famous pinup from the 1920s, not Clare Bow. Brooks may be more iconic of the those times.

Jack said...

Hey, Ann. Colin Powell was on NBC this morning accusing the GOP of racism. Could you do one of your hit pieces on him? You know, in service to The Cause of the conservative party, the cause for which you have attached yourself at the hip to Rush Limbaugh (while, hilariously, retaining your claim of moderation). I'm sure without much difficulty you could make up some of your trademark lies and contribute your trademark poison to the conversation. You know the drill: anyone who dares get in the way of The Movement must be put down, and has you have demonstrated so neatly over the years, the easiest way to put someone down is to just make shit up.

Go on, Ann, start making up lies and spewing poison about Colin Powell. Your fans will thank you for it!

Plus, it's a Sunday - a day off for a lot of people. Give them something to really enjoy on their day off, some of that classic Althouse fabrication.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "Can you just hear the photographer directing her how to arrange her fingers and where to move her shoulder and even her eyeballs?"

With the advent of pom-poms artful finger arrangement became less necessary, at least for cheerleaders.

Hiding the hands robs one of viewing a very emotive part of the body; without them it is the smile alone. Well, the smile and the ass.

But the hands hidden in the pom poms could be the crossed fingers of Hope or the balled-fists of a Rage that dares not cheer.

Shouting Thomas said...

Ground control to Major Tom, Jack!

What the fuck are you talking about?

It's the internet, I know. A firm connection to reality is not required.

Ron said...

My mother was a big fan of Clara Bow, in part because they shared that first name. She dyed her hair red and wore it like Bow for many years after it was out of fashion...

wyo sis said...

Jack
We're already enjoying some non-political silliness.
Back off.

Shouting Thomas said...

Thinking about doing a job as a musical director for an amateur musical production.

Been a long time since I did that.

Lots of rehearsal. Back when I was a kid, I played in pit orchestras for musicals. It was a great way to get laid.

Think I'm too old for that. But, there is a budget for the musical director in the play I'm considering.

dustbunny said...

Her back pages. She looks so much older when she was fifteen.

betamax3000 said...

The topic at the moment is cheerleaders, people.

Fabrication in this context only applies to Spirit, although I would prefer "conjure", as in: "the cheerleaders conjure Spirit from the whole of the crowd."

Fabricate has an implication that is not cheerful.

Hagar said...

I think "Wings" also had Gary Cooper in his first speaking role.

Shouting Thomas said...

Actors and actresses do have loose morals, as they used to say.

I can vouch for that.

campy said...

We're already enjoying some non-political silliness.
Back off.

Troll gonna troll.

Shouting Thomas said...

Forgot to add the obligatory.... NTTAWWT!

Who am I to judge?

Particularly when the girls are cute?

MisterBuddwing said...

I think "Wings" also had Gary Cooper in his first speaking role.

That supposed to be a joke???

dustbunny said...

The pin- up in the car ad is illustrative of what r.crumb calls
"The Bean Effect"

Shouting Thomas said...

Myrna Loy is my favorite silent era pinup girl. Here's a great old fashioned pinup pic.

Myrna Loy was a huge star in the Philippines. At one time, half the baby girls in the Phils were being named after Loy, including my late wife.

McTriumph said...

ST
Great taste, I never miss a Loy movie on TCM. She was beautiful and could act.

McTriumph said...

Speaking on the topic of cheerleader, ever noticed when you kissed them good night you could taste vaseline.

Ann Althouse said...

Jack, off.

chickelit said...

Jack ululated: Could you do one of your hit pieces on him?

I hope she doesn't. Is there anything worse than a completely anonymous (not even suede anonymous) jerk with no blogger profile whatesoever who gets up and demands something?

Chip Ahoy said...

Nora Charles, Thin Man. Those are crossword clues for their dog ASTA. I have no idea what they're talking about but I see it everywhere. Presumably a dog in a series of movies. I'm assuming the series is amusing. And now I see she's Asian. This has been very confusing for ten years.

Valentine Smith said...

Clara was known for taking on much of the University of Southern California football team, including one Marion Morrison.

Ahhh, a real credit to her Brooklyn roots. Her talkie career couldn't survive the Brooklyn accent.

Shouting Thomas said...

Myrna Loy was not Asian, Chip. White as a sheet. In her early career, Loy often played parts that probably should have gone to a Chinese or Filipina.

They didn't do it that way in Hollywood back in that era.

Loy hailed from Helena, Montana.

You would not believe how many Filipinas dreamed of being the first true Filipina to become as big a star in America as Loy.

They are still waiting. But, the Philippines has developed its own movie, music and modeling industries and no longer looks so much to the U.S.

ricpic said...

Interesting that Clara Bow thought of herself as a freak, considering that she epitomized the typical bloom of youth shop girl in almost every Isabel Bishop painting of the urban scene in the late 20's and 30's.

ricpic said...

Hey, get your eyes off that magnificent tush and quick tell me if that's a Chevy an Oldsmobile a Buick or a Pontiac.

Chip S. said...

I see from the link that she was called the "It" girl.

It's not the subtlest Theme of the Day, but it has its charmsl.

Hagar said...

@Mr Buddwing,

Clara Bow as Mary Preston
Charles "Buddy" Rogers as Jack Powell
Richard Arlen as David Armstrong
Gary Cooper as Cadet White
Jobyna Ralston as Sylvia Lewis
El Brendel as Herman Schwimpf, a cadet who washes out and becomes an air force mechanic
Richard Tucker as Air commander
Gunboat Smith as Sergeant
Roscoe Karns as Lieutenant Cameron
Henry B. Walthall as Mr. Armstrong
Julia Swayne Gordon as Mrs. Armstrong
Arlette Marchal as Celeste
Hedda Hopper (uncredited) as Mrs. Powell
George Irving (uncredited) as Mr. Powell

McTriumph said...

ricpic
55 or 56 Chevy two door.

Hagar said...

Woops, Mr. Buddwing is right.

"Wings" was a silent movie, so Cooper did not speak.
It may be the first where he was listed in the credits, since it is counted as his "introduction" though he actually had been around Hollywood for some time.

McTriumph said...

Chip Ahoy

FYI from Wiki,

The Thin Man (1934) is an American comedy-mystery film directed by W.S. Van Dyke, based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. The film stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles; Nick is a hard-drinking, retired private detective and Nora is a wealthy heiress. Their wire-haired fox terrier Asta was played by canine actor Skippy.

chickelit said...

55 or 56 Chevy two door.

Bel Aire or De Riere?

McTriumph said...

55 Bel Aire

ken in sc said...

The 56 Chevy had rectangular parking lights. This one is a 55.

Emil Blatz said...

Budd Schulberg, a producer's son, said, "Clara Bow, no matter how great her popularity, was a low life and disgrace to the community."

edutcher said...

The first method actress. Whoda thunk?

PS Interesting to note the list of pin-up girls is longest in the 40s and 50s (the ones of Miss Grable and Miss Hayworth did much to win WWII) and the list is halved in the decade of the Sexual Revolution.

McTriumph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GrandpaMark said...

1955, first year for Chevrolet small block v8 most popular v8 engine in history

MisterBuddwing said...

Woops, Mr. Buddwing is right.
"Wings" was a silent movie, so Cooper did not speak.


I thought maybe you were riffing on Gary Cooper's laconic delivery - i.e., he sounds the same in a silent or sound movie.

William said...

Wasn't Clara Bow famous for popularizing the fad of bobbing one's hair. Apparently it was a sort of risque thing to do in the twenties. Fitzgerald has a story, Bernice Bobs Her Hair about how momentous such an event was. Here in only ninety years we've gone from hair bobbing to having a dolphin tattooed on your ass, and yet feminists continue to complain that there's been no progress. I think women everywhere--and particularly women with dolphin tattoos--owe a debt of gratitude to Clara Bow.

matthew49 said...

"Wings" is available on DVD and is surprisingly watchable, even today. Clara Bow even has a topless scene. Though her back is to the camera, she is facing a male character. That surprised me.

Gary Cooper is easily recognized in his brief appearance. His speaking role means his words were visually displayed as text on the screen for a few seconds.

Surprisingly for a silent film, there was a lot of criticism for bad language. It is easy enough to lip-read the pilots cursing at each other during the dogfight scenes.

It deserved its "Best Picture" award.

matthew49 said...

"Wings" is available on DVD and is surprisingly watchable, even today. Clara Bow even has a topless scene. Though her back is to the camera, she is facing a male character. That surprised me.

Gary Cooper is easily recognized in his brief appearance. His speaking role means his words were displayed as text on the screen for a few seconds. Surprisingly for a silent film, there was a lot of criticism for its bad language. You could easily lip-read the pilots cursing during the dogfight (aerial combat) scenes.

A good movie, worthy of its "Best Picture" award.