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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Do they still make shocking beauties like Louise Brooks?

I've been watching some old Louise Brooks films. Hollywood has always been full of gorgeous young women but I don't see many today who have the destabilising beauty of Brooks and a few others (Marlene Dietrich, Myrna Loy, Vivien Leigh) during Hollywood's Golden Age. When you see Brooks on screen its not a figure of speech to say you have to catch your breath, much as you do near the beginning of Rear Window when Grace Kelly's face looms over James Stewart. In fact it's more than beauty. With images like this you can see what Marlowe was getting at when he talked about "the face that launch'd a thousand ships/And burnt the topless towers of Ilium". Scarlett Johansson's very lovely, of course, but, well, she couldn't start a war.