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Silent Era's Bad Girls

Anita Page

Nineteen twenty-eight, Ann played by Anita Page. She chased men for their money and drank as much as she wanted too. In "Our Dancing Daughters" she starred along with Joan Crawford as Diana and Ben played by Johnny Mack Brown. At a time when, flamboyance was honored and women onscreen did what they pleased.

The movie also dealt with the conflict between the two women and Ben. As much as Diana loved him, she put him off with her inhibited dancing and flirting with other men. It was Ann that came to his side while Diana suffered watching the two of them together.

The movie offered the audiences then, an opening scene where a woman danced in her shimmy in front of a mirror. Also, it showed a passionate love scene at a beach. After all; it was the Jazz Age and the bad girls in movies. They enjoyed every minute of their freedom.

The movie had an interesting mix of background sound effects and recorded singing for a few of the scenes. It was still considered a silent film because the actors spoke no dialogue. A few years later, a production code limited the explicitness shown onscreen.

Gloria Swanson

Nineteen twenty-eight, Gloria Swanson starred in "Sadie Thompson." It was a compelling drama and for her a signature role. Lionel Barrymore played a reformer bent on teaching the islanders to repent their ways. It was Sadie that became his focus. In fact, he used whatever means he could to get her sent back to San Francisco.

The movie captured the idea of sin versus redemption, guilt or innocence, the temptation of lust and sincere heartfelt love. Also, the question of Sadie's past that haunted her future. But it was to Sadie's advantage that forced her to go along with the idea to repent.

She quit wearing heavy make-up, rid herself of her flashy clothes and jewelry. It was the plain Sadie that caused the reformer sleepless nights. The movie's end saw Sadie back to her old ways. However, she got what she wanted all along.

Even with the content and the threat of censorship, the silent movie was well received and Gloria Swanson became "Sadie" the bad girl making her a huge box-office star.

Greta Garbo

Nineteen twenty-eight, Greta Garbo starred in "A Woman Of Affairs." Indeed, she was. The story started out with three friends, Diana Merrick played by Garbo, Neville Holderness played by John Gilbert and David Furness played by Johnny Mack Brown. Her brother, Jeffery Merrick was played by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

When Neville's father sent him to Egypt in order to make money, Diana was distraught. She married David. When in Paris, he plunged out of their hotel window The question became how would such a happy man do such a thing? With her brother turning against her and also much of society, Diana spent her time getting involved in affairs with other men.

After seven years away, Diana returned to London. However, Neville married a woman named Constance. The story revolved around being so much in love while married to someone else. It was also doing the right thing for decency. At what price, they paid with their lives.

The movie was a hit only because of Garbo's portrayal of Diana. It was not so much about being bad as it was about being so much in love and what it drove her character to do. - Sometimes being silent speaks volumes.

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