By Patrice Petro, Scott Curtis, Professor Mary Desjardins, Lucy Fischer, Krin Gabbard, Professor Gerd Gemunden, Professor Lea Jacobs, Professor Amy Lawrence, Paula J. Massood, Professor Joanna E. Rapf, Professor Yiman Wang, Charles Wolfe
Bringing jointly the easiest new paintings on cinema and stardom within the Twenties, this illustrated assortment showcases the variety of advanced social, institutional, and aesthetic concerns at paintings in American cinema of this time. aware of stardom as an ensemble of texts, contexts, and social phenomena stretching past the cinema, significant students supply cautious research of the careers of either recognized and now forgotten stars of the silent and early sound era—Douglas Fairbanks, Buster Keaton, the Talmadge sisters, Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, Greta Garbo, Anna could Wong, Emil Jannings, Al Jolson, Ernest Morrison, Noble Johnson, Evelyn Preer, Lincoln Perry, and Marie Dressler.
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Additional info for Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s
While Pickford’s persona was clearly a factor in the way journalists wrote about the couple, many of their motifs make use of ideas already established in the publicity and ﬁlms of Douglas Fairbanks. Though it was motivated by love, we cannot discount the strategic advantage Fairbanks enjoyed from this union; it gave him the conﬁdence and security to change his star persona and his product from westerns and modern-era comedies to costumed adventure ﬁlms. This risky transformation eventually paid huge dividends: his swashbuckling persona delighted audiences, his ﬁlms were lauded as the pinnacle of silent ﬁlm art, and his imitators were legion.
By the mid-1930s he had settled into a steady stream of less celebrated roles in low-budget comedy shorts, cameo roles in features, and work behind the camera, chieﬂy as a gag writer and comedy advisor. In the 1950s and 1960s, he added television, commercials, and industrial ﬁlms to the mix and, drawing on skills honed as a child star in vaudeville many decades before, occasionally appeared in stock company theatrical road shows and in circuses in France and Belgium. To a modest degree, then, Keaton remained in the public eye.
12 Thus, the ﬁlm that was supposed to solidify Jannings’s reputation as international cinema’s premiere star performer instead became known as the ﬁlm that launched Dietrich’s spectacular Hollywood career. This brings us, ﬁnally, to issues of ﬁlm acting and ﬁlm style. Trained in an expressionistic, theatrical tradition, Jannings, it seemed, could not com- Buster Keaton, in an MGM studio portrait made in 1928 for The Cameraman. INTRODUCTION 19 pete with Dietrich’s cooler, surface-oriented, cinematic style.