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"Kiss me, my fool!"
March 29, 2013 11:51 AM   Subscribe

The Most Wicked Face Of Theda Bara
Bara’s extravagant image was the source of her fame, but it likewise shackled her to a very specific set of behaviors — and ways of appearing in public and on the screen. And like all star images, its potency, and its particular social resonance, faded with time. By 1920, Bara’s career was effectively over, and today, only one of her major films remains intact. But for a brief moment in cinematic history, her image functioned as a volatile conduit for displaced female desire. Bara’s image was the immaculate conflation of sex and evil, and in an era still governed by rigid codes of moral, spiritual, and social behavior, it was absolutely irresistible.

Youtube:
Theda Bara - The First Vamp
Cleopatra - surviving footage
Unchastened Woman
A Fool There Was
posted by the man of twists and turns (17 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, suddenly I see where Siouxsie Sioux got her 1920-style inspiration from. Fantastic post, thank you.
posted by dabitch at 12:15 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Theda Bera is like, Great Grandmother of the Goths.

Her name is an anagram of ARAB DEATH!
posted by The Whelk at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


I love sexy pre-Code Hollywood.
posted by pracowity at 12:25 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


For context, being an anagram of ARAB DEATH was used as a marketing tool. Also an anagram for A BAD HEART.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd have to dig it out of my car, but I think she's quite cited in Goth Chic (Baddeley, 2006).
posted by adipocere at 12:32 PM on March 29, 2013


One of my greatest secret pleasures is that my spouse looks a LOT like Theda Bara.
posted by kyrademon at 1:21 PM on March 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


You go, girl! - bewitching all the menfolk despite apparently wearing layers of Snuggies. "A Fool There Was" is due for a remake. (Try playing some Led Zep while you watch it.)
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 1:46 PM on March 29, 2013


Oh man, that outfit at 0:30 of the Cleopatra video... Oh man. Oh god. Oh man.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:59 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I suddenly where Princess Leia's "Jabba the Hut scene" costume came from.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:02 PM on March 29, 2013


Theda Bara is just riveting in A Fool There Was. The other actors have this stilted, vaudevillian theater style, and she's amazingly modern and fluid by comparison. She's very much a movie actor.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 2:09 PM on March 29, 2013


I remember seeing those pictures of Bara when I was in high school and thinking "what could that absolutely blank expression possibly be trying to get across?"

'I am seductive and wicked' did not occur to me.
posted by jamjam at 3:24 PM on March 29, 2013


Does this mean that Lady Gaga will one day lose her appeal?
posted by mecran01 at 4:10 PM on March 29, 2013


Anne Helen Petersen's entire Scandals of Classic Hollywood series is awesome. I hope she keeps it up for a long, long time.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:23 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Hair Pin article was a fun read - thanks for this post. I love the picture of Theda Bara just lounging around with her skeleton buddy.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:41 AM on March 30, 2013


Also an anagram of HATED A BRA, which seems more appropriate.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:03 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


And for about three years, they did. Between 1915 and 1918, she appeared in thirty-three films. The Galley Slave, Sin, Destruction, The Serpent, The Tiger Woman, The Rose of Blood, The Forbidden Path, When a Woman Sins – you get the jist.

"Jist" is the combo of jism and gist.
posted by telstar at 7:16 PM on March 30, 2013


I finally got around to reading this. It would have been better with less lecturing.
posted by bongo_x at 12:39 AM on April 21, 2013


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