Happy Belated Birthday, Ms. Lupino!

As a teenager, I was obsessed with the Ida Lupino films, The Light That Failed (1939) and Moontide (1942). The former had the bonus of Ronald Colman, the latter of Jean Gabin. Ida was magnificent in both.

Ida Lupino in The Light That Failed (1939)

Ida Lupino in The Light That Failed (1939)

Ida Lupino enriched cinema with some of the most nuanced performances of the 1940s, only to outdo herself as a pioneering director and writer. She deserves that rarest of titles: One of a Kind.

[Classic Movie History Project 2016] The Emancipation of Ossi Oswalda: I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

This is my entry in the Classic Movie History Project, hosted by Movies Silently, Once Upon a Screen, and Silver Screenings.

Classic Movie History Project

Classic Movie History Project

Ossi gets emancipated

Ossi gets emancipated

THE EMANCIPATION OF OSSI OSWALDA: I DON’T WANT TO BE A MAN (1918)

“You are a dream; I hope I never meet you.”-Sylvia Plath

Reliable biographical information on German silent movie actress Ossi Oswalda is scant. Even worse, the crumbs that do exist often conflict with one another. To be blunt: facts are on particularly unreliable ground here. Matters are further gummed up by the early-film habit of naming characters after their actors. Ossi was often Ossi, or, to add variety, Össi. Who was who was who? Does it matter? Fortunately, since the focus of this essay is on her incredible comedic performance in I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918), I’m not particularly concerned with the trajectory of her personal life, or to what extent her true personality coursed through the veins of her screen selves. Even though her off-screen circumstances, opportunities, and choices undoubtedly affected her career, an understanding of them is not a fundamental component to enjoying her remarkable gifts.  It would benefit us to take a page from her delightful films, and, at least for the duration of this piece, leave the logical, workaday world behind in favor of the magical hinterland of the imagination. Let’s travel to a place, then, where time and reality don’t matter, where Our Heroine, in her various fictional disguises, is forever brave, scampish, and determined to grab every experience within her reach. 

Ossi Oswalda, circa 1917

Ossi Oswalda, circa 1917

To sheltered twenty-first century viewers, Ossi Oswalda can seem like a young woman ahead of her time. Her screen characters embrace values that we chauvinistically claim as exclusively ours: they are full of physical courage and a feminist resolve to be treated as equal to all comers, have spicy senses of humor, are confidently attractive, take chances as if they were made for risk, and rebel against the mundane as a matter of principle.

Silent film fans know better. Continue reading

#ReelInfatuation Blogathon Round-Up

Thanks to all who participated in, read, shared, or otherwise engaged in the inaugural #ReelInfatuation Blogathon!

Reel Infatuation Jagger Banner

Reel Infatuation Jagger Banner

You know who you are, and you’re ALL the best (especially our co-hostest with the mostest).

Here’s a round-up of all five fabulous days:

Although we plan on doing a second Reel Infatuation Blogathon, you don’t have to wait that long to join in the fun. The character crush conversation will continue on our website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Stay tuned for more info.

Until then…

Cheers!

Cheers!