Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twenties Cinema Style

I spent the past Friday morning at one of my favorite and familiar LA haunts, the Margaret Herrick Library (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) which is a treasure trove of documents, stills, books, drawings and letters of everything imaginable from the cinema. (I am in the process of putting the final photo submissions to bed for my film book to be released next year).

My research led me to some incredible images from sets in the twenties filled with Mediterranean, Turkish and Art Deco influences. (Perhaps one of my favorite designs is the picture perfect Pleasure Crazed (1929) shown above). While film design was certainly in its infancy, it was an exciting time where art met technology, Art Deco fused into Modernism and the most stylish films were aimed at stories about the rich and famous --anything to take the Depression off the minds of the moviegoing audience.

Arches, ornate ironwork, symmetry, gloss and the inimitable Greta Garbo seemed to be the order of the day....

Cobra (1925)

Garbo in The Kiss (1929)

Greta Garbo appeared in several highly stylized films such as A Woman of Affairs and The Kiss. Designed by Cedric Gibbons, The Kiss introduced moviegoers to Art Deco. While not adaptable to every American household in real life, it was a popular film decor.

The Kiss (1929)

Thief of Bagdad (1924)

The big budget extravaganza was introduced in the twenties and you can see the effects designs from the fantastical Thief of Bagdad with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. had on other film interiors of the day.

The Wonder of Women (1929) also designed by Cedric Gibbons

A Woman of Affairs (1928) above and below

Check Turner Movie Classics for these films or you might get lucky on Blockbuster.

Photo Credits: Fox, MGM, Margaret Herrick, Paramount Pictures


  1. GORGEOUS images - can't wait for your book!

  2. Thanks and looking forward to your book on Madeline Castaing!