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

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

Retrospective Review: White Christmas (1954)

It was 1941 and American soldiers were away from home only weeks after Pearl Harbor. On Christmas Day they heard a song written by a Russian Jewish immigrant that spoke of all their longing for home and the comforts of the holiday sung by Bing Crosby on the radio. Seventy-eight years later, “White Christmas’ by Irving Berlin has lost none of its poignancy and the film that shares its title is just as cherished. “White Christmas” is a remarkable film, especially for the two fantastic leading ladies it is lucky to claim. Continue reading Retrospective Review: White Christmas (1954)

The Uninvited: Sophisticated Scares Set to Music

The year 1944 saw an intriguing film take a serious look at the supernatural. This was “The Uninvited”, a scary yet surprisingly sophisticated ghost story that even serenaded its heroine with her own song. Rarely since has a film been as subtle yet effective in delivering chills and foreboding atmosphere while staying faithful to its source material. Originally a book written in 1941 by Dorothy McCardle, “The Uninvited” has become popular among famous directors and lovers of the genre. Continue reading The Uninvited: Sophisticated Scares Set to Music

In Their Own League Hall of Fame: Nell Shipman

By Bianca Garner There’s a high chance that you haven’t heard of Nell Shipman. Like many pioneering female filmmakers of the silent cinema era, her name has become lost in time. So many of us who study film are aware of the ‘great’ film directors of this era: Cecil B. DeMille, Josef von Sternberg, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Erich von Stroheim. However, the achievements … Continue reading In Their Own League Hall of Fame: Nell Shipman

In Their Own League Hall of Fame: Dorothy Arzner

There are many great female directors who have broken barriers in the industry and paved the way for future generations. One of those women (who is often forgotten outside of academia) was Dorothy Arzner. She is the most prolific female director to date, was the first woman to direct a film with sound, and was the first female member of the Directors Guild of America. Continue reading In Their Own League Hall of Fame: Dorothy Arzner

Anna May Wong: The First Asian American Icon

Now if I asked most people, which actor was the trailblazer for Asian people on the worldwide stage (and I guess I mean Hollywood), I would wager most would come up with Bruce Lee. A few might even offer up Nancy Kwan. What if I told you that the breakthrough was not made in the 1970s by Lee, nor in the 1960s by Kwan, but … Continue reading Anna May Wong: The First Asian American Icon