Archive for September 1, 2019

The Sunday Intertitle: The Film Face

Posted in FILM on September 1, 2019 by dcairns

I can recommend the BFI disc of Anthony Asquith’s SHOOTING STARS, if you turn the contrast up. It’s from the early phase of AA’s career, when he would do extraordinary cinematic things, and also it’s a nehind-the-scenes story about the film biz.

The disc also has great little vintage extras, including STARLINGS OF THE SCREEN, a strange little piece about a talent contest. Here are the girls auditioning to become movie stars.

They affect me with a kind of visceral horror. It’s an instantaneous thing. When I look a bit longer, I find one girl out of each pair to be quite attractive and the other to be just normal-looking. But for some reason, the instant effect of each image is SHOCK, a sense that I’m seeing something I shouldn’t be seeing. Faces from beyond.

None of the poor girls became stars, as far as I can tell. When you see them playing in scenes, the livelier, more natural setting seems to render them all equally attractive and fun. Although probably only in the British Film Industry of the time could such (ir)regular-looking gals have a shot at fame.

Not that women should be judged solely on their appearances! It’s just disconcerting when there’s a beauty pageant format, and —