Friday, September 18, 2009

Film Fun, February 1917 / Kissing Crow

Hopefully, a fun post this weekend for fans of the early cinema. Let's hop on the scan-o-matic time machine, destination Hollywood. I'm going to post one new scan and couple of older scans in an exploration of some of our early film magazines. First up, an early issue of Film Fun, a scan of mine from a couple of years ago. For a more in-depth look at this magazine, I highly recommend wandering over to the Enoch Bolles Blog. The proprietor is concerned mainly with Bolles' art but has done some nice posts that further explore the life of the magazine.

Our issue tonight features a pre-Bolles cover, and, as far as I'm concerned, it's show-stopper.

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I do not know the artist, so if anyone out there does, feel free to pipe up. A striking vision. Is she ugly or beautiful? Is kissing a crow's mouth tender or just creepy? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, eh? And what is beauty, anyways? Look at the women in this magazine and you'll see a very different version of glamor and the feminine ideal than we have today but also a Hollywood in its early days that perhaps worshiped the feminine a bit more than in our modern times. The magazine itself mentions that the male film star is lacking greatly in appeal to his feminine counterpart. Being male, I completely agree.

And make no doubt about it, these are indeed the early years of Hollywood right here in this magazine. We have President Wilson taking his wife to their first movie for an anniversary, discussion of the explosion of theaters across the globe and what nations prefer what type of movie. Also, front and center in this magazine is the early fascination with what happens on that casting couch. Women from all over the U.S. flocked to Hollywood, the myths and realities of what happen to these aspiring actresses walk a fine line between seedy participation and cautionary tale. But here we also see the success story of D.W. Griffith told by his wife. Only 8 years making movies and already Griffith seems solidly a Hollywood legend. These magazines are a great lens through which to view our classic cinema, not in some rarified air, but in the mags that film fans were gobbling up from corner newstands all across the country. Moreover, all fans of classic cinema know that so many films from the early days of Hollywood are gone and these magazines are a route to perhaps catch a glimpse of some lost bits of our popular culture. I hate to be so blunt as to draw an analogy between lost movies and lost magazines, but make no doubt about it, the time to digitally capture our printed heritage is now.


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Get the scan here!

Next stop, 1926 and a slightly less demure publication - let's see what that scamp Charlie Chaplin is up to...

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