Women’s History Month: Marion Davies

Time can permit legends to eclipse the reality of someone’s life, particularly in Hollywood. Some are unjustly lionized and some greatly disparaged but in the history of film few have been as mischaracterized as Marion Davies. She was a success on stage and screen but her long term relationship with a wealthy, married man and her portrayal in a film loosely based on his life is all that is remembered now.

Born into a wealthy Brooklyn family, Marion started out as a model and then a chorus girl on Broadway. She was then featured in the “Ziegfeld Follies’ which was a hugely popular musical revue that launched many careers at the beginning of the nineteenth century. As she rose in fame as a stage comedienne, the new medium of the “flickers,” or silent film, beckoned. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Marion Davies

Spotlights & Spirits – A retrospective on Joan Crawford

Lucille Fay LeSueur started as a dancer for a variety of travelling shows, elevating her way to chorus girl, and would go by LeSueur until her time with MGM, where Joan Crawford would emerge as a prominent force on the Hollywood scene. One of the ‘symbols’ of the studio gals, with the likes of Judy Garland or Claudette Colbert, Crawford would make her first ‘debut’ in ‘Lady of The Night’ (1925) as a body double, her breakout alongside Horror legend Lon Chaney in the 1927 horror film ‘The Unknown’ and her film final appearance in a British sci-fi film entitled ‘Trog’ (1970), a bizarre climax to a turbulent career.  Continue reading Spotlights & Spirits – A retrospective on Joan Crawford

The Illustrious Life and Mysterious Death of Olive Thomas

Olive Thomas died at twenty-five years of age, thanks to the accidental ingestion of mercury bichloride. She had acted in approximately twenty films over four years, but sadly, her career ended as quickly as it had begun. While Thomas’ death essentially created the first Hollywood scandal ever, I feel that she should be remembered for her expressiveness and liveliness that she brought to her acting.

Olive Thomas won the “Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” contest in 1914, launching her modelling career. She joined the Ziegfeld Follies shortly thereafter and remained with the Follies until 1916. That year, she signed with the International Film Company, and her acting debut was in an episode of “Beatrice Fairfax,” called “Playball.” Continue reading The Illustrious Life and Mysterious Death of Olive Thomas

Women’s History Month: Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo started her career in Swedish cinema (her first notable role being the 1924 film “The Saga of Gösta Berling”), which brought her to the attention of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio, leading her to her first Hollywood role in “Torrent” (1926). From here on followed a suite of successful silent films and Garbo’s conquest of international acclaim began.   Continue reading Women’s History Month: Greta Garbo

Spotlight: Betty Gilpin

There are few actresses who give full-on, metaphorical balls-to-the-wall performances.  Betty Gilpin is one of those people. She gives immensely high-caliber performances every time she is on screen.  So, with the release of “The Hunt” (2020) fast approaching it is time we take a moment to appreciate the underappreciated Betty Gilpin.

Gilpin has been working long before her turn as actress-turned-wrestler on Netflix’s “GLOW.”  But it has been her Emmy-nominated performance as Debbie Eagan and wrestling alter-ego Liberty Belle that has shone a light on her innate talent.  Continue reading Spotlight: Betty Gilpin

Women’s History Month: Louise Brooks

You may not know her name, but I am damn certain that you would recognise her face and more importantly her hairstyle. The ‘Lulu’ Bob haircut worn by Louise Brooks is a representation of the Jazz age in all of its glory and revolutionary awe. For a few brief years, Brooks was one of the most well known and one of the highest-paid actresses in the world. At the height of her career, she made a bold decision to leave La La Land, in order to star in two of the silent era’s most famous films, “Pandora’s Box” (1929) and “Diary of a Lost Girl” (1929).

However, when she returned to America her career had virtually ended and by 1938 she had turned her back on Hollywood. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Brooks lived in extreme economical hardship before being ‘rediscovered’ by James Card, who encouraged her to write down her memoirs as well as essays that reflected on the silent era. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Louise Brooks

Black History Month Tribute: Lena Horne

In her life, she witnessed the Jazz Age, two World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement to which she devoted so much of her formidable energy. Lena Horne was fierce in her self-respect when it was not socially recognized that people of colour should receive any at all. Ahead of her time, she lived her life on her terms even when it could prove dangerous to do so.

Born into a performing family, Lena was raised mostly by her grandparents until she dropped out of high school to be a dancer at the Cotton Club, the famous jazz night club in Harlem, New York.  From there she just kept working on her career, eventually touring with various big bands around the country. This was not as glamorous as it sounds since African Americans were denied access to most restaurants and hotels in the 1930’s.  Lena would see first-hand the hardships endured on the road by her fellow musicians due to prejudice and segregation. Continue reading Black History Month Tribute: Lena Horne

Should’ve Been a Contender: Myrna Loy for “Best Years of Our Lives”

 The recent Oscar buzz around Sam Mendes’ “1917” prompted a reviewing of one of the more famous war films of the 1940’s, “Best Years of Our Lives” (1946). Myrna Loy deserved a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in this male dominated film as a much-needed representative of the women who welcomed their men home from WWII. To a lesser extent, Teresa Wright also deserved recognition, but it is Loy who helps tie the stories of three servicemen just returning home together into one powerfully moving story. Continue reading Should’ve Been a Contender: Myrna Loy for “Best Years of Our Lives”

Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No.1: Lupita Nyong’o

To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019, we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team has selected 30 actresses. Guest Writer Alexandra Petrache looks back at Lupita Nyong’o and her career over the last decade. Continue reading Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No.1: Lupita Nyong’o