Home Magazine Cover from the 1920s for a travel issue; Essie Davis as Miss Fisher.
Like, you know, whatever.
Barbara Stanwyck, Mexicali Rose, 1929.
I was able to watch a print of this early Stanwyck film last night at an Austin Film Society screening. It is laughably awful — the writing is practically all cliches, with characters saying stuff like, “My mother told me there’d be days like this” and “Put that under your hat” — you get the idea.
Stanwyck plays Rose, a young woman with no scruples. She’s mainly stuck in negligees, parading around with arms akimbo. She’s fun to watch, but unfortunately is only in about half the film. Her newness to film is evident in this one (her second or third movie, I think?), but she still glows on film.
The main guy (Sam Hardy), her ex-husband, is a boring older man called “Happy” who runs a gaming house. The audience is supposed to root for him, I guess, but he was so terrible acting-wise that it was impossible for me to do so.
He has a manservant called “Loco”, played by some white guy (Arthur Rankin) in brownface (ugh). Prof. Charles Ramirez Berg from UT told us after the film that Mexicali Rose was fairly progressive in its portrayal of Mexicans. A few characters speak Spanish with no translation or subtitles underneath, and Loco is the only non-Latino playing a Mexican.
The ending of the movie is so quick and ridiculous that I started giggling as soon as the guy ran into the bar (I’d say spoiler alert, but it’s not like this film is accessible enough to spoil) announcing Rose’s death. If I didn’t see her body onscreen, I don’t believe she’s really dead. I prefer to think she’s still out there somewhere, pulling a quick one on some lame semi-attractive fellow.
My friend J last night asked me to sing this song with her band at their farewell concert this summer. It’s the first song ever banned from radio (for suggestive content), called ”How Could Red Riding Hood?” I’d never heard of it before yesterday.
I told her I thought I could do it if someone sang with me. Despite the number of times I’ve done karaoke, I still get nervous singing alone in front of people I don’t know.
It was a fine portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln, with a compelling story attached to it.
In truth, however, it wasn’t Abraham Lincoln’s wife who was pictured, and the story of the painting was pure fiction, part of a con perpetrated against Lincoln’s heirs in the 1920s. Subsequently, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the state of Illinois were all suckered in as well over the decades.
The full story will be revealed next week at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield when conservator Barry Bauman presents “The Demise of Mary Lincoln: An Artistic Conspiracy,” a lecture that will explain the scam and how he detected it.
“I wrote it on two levels,” he said. “It is written for scholars who can read the letters Mary Lincoln sent me and be dying with laughter knowing where these lines came from. On the other hand, it was written for someone who wants to read about the discovery of the forgery. They can read it as a document, without any citations, a fanciful approach to a case study.”