LC Van Savage
Glamour And Glitter
Demi Moore, when asked about her fabulous physical appearance in “Striptease” answered in her uniquely husky voice, “Movies are all illusion.”
Well, perhaps not all, but an awful lot, especially when it comes to women. Hollywood, with make-up and creative lighting, can make women into impossibly beautiful beings, often with the help of some discreet surgery.
I have nothing against any of the above, truly, and would partake a bit if I could. In fact I applaud surgeons, lighting directors and make-up artists who can transform plain folks into glowing Venuses or Adonises. I understand the simple rule and so do actors and actresses that beauty sells, and in Hollywoodland, every single man and woman of every single age of every single shape and size, can be made to look amazingly, perfectly, spectacularly beautiful.
Have any of you had the pleasure of watching the old black and white films of the 40s where the stars always looked incredibly glamorous and perfect? The female star’s false eyelashes were lit in such a way as to cast long shadows on their cheekbones. Those same lighting geniuses could make any woman’s cheekbones seem high and sculpted over shadowed cheeks, their lips large, full and shiny, their hair simply beyond perfect, their skin like unflawed, liquid satin, their teeth ruler straight and marble white.
Their clothing back then was simply glorious, women in furs, high heels, stockings with perfectly straight seams, stylish hats, delicate see-through veils covering their faces, jewelry clanking and tinkling as they applied powder and lipstick to their faces from solid gold compacts. You could smell their expensive perfumes up there, pouring from the screen, and they smoked cigarettes from long bejeweled cigarette holders.
Male stars wore beautifully tailored suits, starched white shirts, richly expensive ties, gleaming shoes and hair. They pulled cigarettes from heavy silver cases and tapped them against their tops before lighting.
I don’t know if actors still have those beyond beautiful headshots made. I hope so, though they can never match those of the 30s and 40s. Even male actors got the glamour treatment; grizzled, always-old looking Spencer Tracy could show us a smooth and youthful face, back-lit and glowing. Runty, dark, balding little Humphrey Bogart could be made to look large, sexy, threatening or debonair. Those make-up artists made magic! Where are they now? I need them!
Should all films be cinema verite? Harshly realistic? Maybe some should. After all, would we want to see violence, sex, mayhem, poverty or war portrayed by actors swishing about in haute couture?? No, today’s filmmakers do make an effort to make their movies realistic, the clothing current. But they should really try to not always have their characters find parking spaces directly in front of city buildings they wish to enter, or have waiters always a finger-snap away from the table. That’s unreal, never happens and plays havoc with one’s sense of suspended disbelief.
I understand that au courant films have to have actors in them wearing current styles even when those styles are sloppy and dirty and the wearers ditto. But oh, how I miss the old days of impossible glamour, where characters in the film were enormously wealthy but never seemed to work for a living, where couples went off to cavernous clubs every night for live-orchestra dancing and dinner, where everyone dressed in elegant evening clothes, the women in silky, floor length garments covered in millions of sequins carrying small, jewel encrusted purses, where waiters too wore tuxedos with starched white studded shirts and white bow ties, and the telephones they brought to the tables for these perfect people to speak to other perfect people were always pure white. I miss those glittering, unrealistic, illusional films. The people on the screen made me want to be like them; they gave me something to aim for. Alas, I never made it, not even close, but oh, those dreams!
As an author with several books published, LC Van Savage still finds time for air time and an active community service life.
See her biography by clicking her byline (name in blue at top of the page.)
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