Thursday, March 21, 2013

Battle Royale #12: Battle of the Foxy Flappers

Welcome to the twelfth Battle Royale here at The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World.   It is an ongoing series that will pit two classic cinematic greats against each other - and you can vote for who is the greater by clicking your choice over in the poll at the top of the sidebar.

For the twelfth installment of Battle Royale, we are heading back to those halcyon pre-code days of the late silent era and the early sound era - back to that Jazz Age where the booze ran freely (though in supposed hush hush, of course) and the women ran even more so - and how (and not so hush hush).  Yessiree, we are heading back to the days of the flapper.  The days of the bootlegger and the Bronx cheer.  The days of the hood and the hooch and the horsefeathers.  Back to the days when sex sold, and we weren't afraid to say so.  And what two better flappers, what two foxier flappers can you think of, than Miss Louise Brooks and Miss Clara Bow.  Yep, that's right kiddies, it's Lulu versus the It Girl.  Time to get your vote on.  But first, in case you are woefully unfamiliar with these two cinematic beauties - and yes, everyone should be acquainted with them, it has been eighty-some years since either one could be considered relevant in the film industry - please allow me to expand your knowledge base just a bit.

Mary Louise Brooks, a Kansas girl from way back, was just on the verge of superstardom when sound came around, but due to not wanting to be controlled by the studios, or more specifically, Adolph Zukor and Paramount Pictures, the actress with the distinctive bob haircut (she started a trend ya know) and the nickname of Lulu, packed her bags and went off to Germany, becoming the muse for German auteur Georg Wilhelm Pabst, probably second only to Fritz Lang in popularity at the time in theses pre-Hitler days.  Brooks would make just two films with Pabst, but both of them, Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, both released in 1929, are still considered masterpieces to this day.  After returning to Hollywood, Brooks' career was stunted, as, thanks to Zukor's unofficial blacklisting of the actress, she was only able to get small parts in mediocre movies, or big parts in terrible movies.  She would retire from acting in 1938, and would eventually, after years of alcohol abuse, become a writer, specializing in the cinema of her youth.  

Meanwhile, Clara Bow, easily the bigger star of the two at the time, was known as the It Girl, and would become the epitome of the flapper on film (though don't let that sway your vote here).  Starring in many flapper films of the age, as well as a role in Wings, the very first Best Picture Oscar winner, Bow was a shining star at Paramount, but her private life left more than a bit of uproar.  Much like the aforementioned Miss Brooks, Bow was a rather boisterous person, and indeed, quite the partier.  Of course, many in Hollywood were quite rambunctious in those days, but Bow took such a life to extremes.  After getting married, retiring from acting in 1933, and moving onto ranch life in the wilds of Nevada, Bow said of her career, "My life in Hollywood contained plenty of uproar. I'm sorry for a lot of it but not awfully sorry. I never did anything to hurt anyone else. I made a place for myself on the screen and you can't do that by being Mrs. Alcott's idea of a Little Women."

All you need do is to go on over to the poll, found conveniently near the top of the sidebar of this very same site, and click on who you think is the greater of these two long lost legends of the screen - these two foxy flappers.  And remember, you can comment all you wish (and please do comment - we can never have too many of those) but in order for your vote to be counted, you must vote in the actual poll.  After doing that, then you can come back over here and leave all the comments your heart desires.  Who knows, maybe we will get some sort of lively cinematic discussion going.  And also please remember to tell everyone you know to get out the vote as well.  I would like to see us reach triple digits this time around.  Voting will go until midnight, EST, the night of Friday, April 5th (just over two weeks from the starting gate).  The results will be announced that weekend.  So get out there and vote vote vote.

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