'SHOWGIRL IN HOLLYWOOD': SHOOTING AN EARLY TALKIE IN THE TAWDRY TWENTIES
Above is a fascinating clip from the 1930 musical comedy/drama 'Showgirl In Hollywood'. Like our other recently explored clips from the era, this one features a terrifying set consisting of a gigantic demonic clown which, upon opening its dreadful teeth, spits out the star of the number, the cute as a button/now forgotten as yesterday's mashed potatoes Alice White. The real value of the scene, however, is that it shows the making of an early sound movie--we see the soundstage beyond the set, the multiple cameras in the sealed booths that were the bane of the cameramen's existence (there was a lot of passing out due to airlessness), the sound men fiddling with the the big, boxy sound equipment etc. There's even a very hip shot taken from inside one of the camera booths where you hear the noisy whirring of the film which is what necessitated the booths to begin with (the 'blimp' which silenced the camera had yet to be invented). All in all, a wondrous and unusual look into the world of the early talkie.
I just searched Alice White to give her a little more background and guess what? It turns out I wrote about her and this clip some nine years ago (I have no memory of this). It's a pretty good summary of the vulgar and strange life of this seemingly innocent chorine. Click here to read it. I dare you. Oh, and read the comment posted below it as well. It's written by somebody who once wanted to write a book about Alice White, the perhaps-pseudonemously named John Smith. I wish he'd done so!
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 10:40 AM