Much like a glam rock star from the 70s, Hollywood is, if not dead, almost at death’s door, constantly churning out mediocre remakes of old films or relying on almost stale franchises.
The glorious days of Hollywood are now but a tale to be told. It is a tale of audacious beautiful women who make their own way in life. It is a tale of strong, bold, quick tempered men with questionable morals, bending the rules but having fun doing so. And they all enthral us with their magnetic screen personas: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Barbara Stanwyck, Frederic March, Mae West and so many more.
The Pre-Code era of Hollywood holds the key to what makes cinema such an entertaining form of art. It was original, yet relatable, it offered escapism through its almost attainable glamour. All of the screen stars were gods and goddesses with human back stories, inviting the post October ’29 regular Joe to dare to dream.
Continuing in the Roaring Twenties fashion, the flapper girl gave way to the emancipated woman, who wasn’t afraid to break societal boundaries and be free in love and in life. The Pre-Code heroes and heroines are deeply flawed humans, but what they don’t lack in is zest for life. The passion showed on screen was so fierce that even today, both film lovers and history lovers look at the Pre-Code age of Hollywood as a well-documented study of man, a history lesson we can all learn from, especially our contemporary Hollywood studio executives.
The glamour on screen was equalled by a lot of drama off screen. The great studio system, most notably MGM, has a lot to answer for. They’ve established and run Hollywood like a star making machine. In exchange for fame, our beloved movie stars had to dispose of their own identity and be fitted with a new one, much like a see-through cocktail dress.
Perhaps this is where our fascination with movie stars comes from, especially those moving further and further away from our contemporary lifestyle, becoming effigies as well preserved and valued as museum pieces.