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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Vamp When Ready


Louise Glaum Enters Sex (1920) Sweepstakes

I've got to wonder if this title got some exhibs in dutch, but nothing suggests so in Variety or trades lately checked (did any talkie go by that straight-to-point label?). What does come across is aggressive bid by the W.W. Hodkinson Corporation, an independent, to get Sex before audiences during slack April weeks when, according to insiders, competition was offering duds after winter release of stronger fare. Distribution patterns differed then from now, the weather having more to do with boxoffice success/failure. Venues faced tougher time staying comfortable, as in freeze winters, roast summers. Sex is dispensed here by Louise Glaum, a vamp who gets bitter taste of her own medicine. Glaum was Theda Bara on streamlined terms, a spider woman (or tigress, take your pick) who makes toys of men and enemies of their wives. There were such women, of course, plying trade in cabarets or backstage, and not a few stole husbands who'd help them become ... well, movie stars like Louise Glaum. Maybe that explains more-or-less sympathetic treatment accorded Sex's vamp --- we reap what we sow, after all, and the ending here doesn't revel in Glaum's defeat. Production is admirably polished; Fred Niblo of later Ben-Hur directed, and there's florid titling by C. Gardner Sullivan, Bill Hart's old wordsmith. Variety gave Sex the pan, delving into how clothes fit actors cast as Broadway swells, right down to cut of trousers. A player not properly turned out undercut conviction of whatever story he/she told, Sex an instance of clothes making, or spoling, the film. When have we last seen a movie judged on outerwear?

3 Comments:

Blogger lmshah said...


How could a smart-aleck exhibitor resist announcing to their public that this week they have SEX with Louise Glaum at their Theater.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

10:41 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

People laughed hysterically when Theda Bara took A FOOL THERE WAS on the live stage. I'm betting they took its over the top emoting none too seriously on motion picture screens when it was first released. SEX as a title was money in the bank for Mae West when she did it on stage backed by gangster Owney Madden who would kill you as fast as he could look at you. Those were wicked, wild, not too wonderful days. I think I have this somewhere. Just have yet to watch it. Great to see the original ads. Maybe I will show it in Toronto in the New Year just for the fun of posting "SEX" all over the city.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

Makes me think of an editorial in a 1970s Blackhawk Films catalog. The topic was Blackhawk's policy of replacing original theatrical main titles with new titles that included legal language, copyright renewal notices, etc. The editorial mused that this could be trouble, as in the case of "Blackhawk Films presents SEX. Limited to home and nontheatrical exhibition only."

7:30 AM  

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