@stripedroseandsketchpads and @counterwiddershins requested a pendant to this post discussing female Hot Villains™ of early and classic film. Let it never be said that I was one to decline such an invitation. I’m going to include here some women whose villainous roles are lost or partially lost, because I like them.
First, foremost, iconic:
DIETRICH. Has anyone on screen ever attained the casually confident eroticism of that pose? I submit that they have not. That’s Der Blaue Engel, by the way, and she is die fesche Lola.
Louise Brooks, here as Lulu in Die Büchse der Pandora:
There’s so much going on here. This movie is so good.
Mae West, as mentioned in the first post (when she’s good, she’s good, but when she’s bad she’s better):
I honestly think her films are largely forgettable in the way that her performances aren’t.
Anna May Wong, often typecast as villains (racism), but very very good always:
She stars with Dietrich in Shanghai Express. Do I watch that movie mostly for Anna May Wong and Marlene Dietrich sharing a cabin and white-hot rage against male stupidity? Possibly.
Here she is provoking small-town American outrage in “A Woman of the World.” I love pre-Code movies. You can find her alongside Basil Rathbone (!) in “A Woman Commands.” And here she is singing a tango.
Theda Bara, arguably THE vamp. She played both Salome and Cleopatra, and I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. She also delivered this iconic line:
So now you know why that turns up in later musicals, parodied.
I’m also going to mention (as in the previous post) Barbara Stanwyck, who frequently played morally ambiguous characters, as in “The Bitter Tea of General Yen”:
In this role, she embodied what the NYT (decades later) called an “outré, fragrantly perverse erotic/philosophical conversion.” Hello.
Lastly, of course, how could I not include the woman who played Mata Hari?
GARBO. Like Dietrich, she deserves all caps in my head (and heart.) Barthes famously wrote that her face aroused “mystical feelings of perdition.” Go off, Roland Barthes.
Please enjoy these sexy villains and their cheekbones.
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Get Collecting: Actress Anna May Wong to Grace U.S. Quarters in 2022
Better hang onto that spare change—the U.S. Mint just announced that legendary 1920s starlet Anna May Wong will appear on the back of the quarter next year.
Wong’s quarter is one of five designs that spotlight the contributions of notable American women; the other 2022 honorees are Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller, poet Maya Angelou, astronaut Sally Ride and suffragette Nina Otero-Warren. The new releases mark the beginning of the “American Women Quarters Program,” which will celebrate five different women every year until 2025. While Ride and Angelou’s coins were announced this past April, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen selected Wong, Mankiller and Otero-Warren for recognition on the quarter after receiving input from the public.
In a press statement, U.S. Mint Acting Director Alison Doone said, “These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture.”
Often described as Hollywood’s first Asian American movie star, Wong rose to fame with her roles in films like “Shanghai Express” and “Daughter of the Dragon.” She’s also known for her vocal criticisms of the studio system, as she frequently spoke out about the racism she endured as an actress.
(via Character Media)
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