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LOST WOMEN OF HOLLYWOOD

by Robert Regan
The reason I still hold on to my printed reference books is to not lose the pleasure and sometimes enlightenment to be had from wandering across the page from one entry to another. One thing that has struck me while doing this in Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion is that the careers of women acting in movies tend to be shorter than those of the men. They usually start younger, but don’t last as long. Of course, there are notable exceptions such as Davis, Stanwyck, and Crawford: driven women surviving whatever changes in the nature of film production. But most of the women in film (this may be changing in our time) have faded away or… Read more

The reason I still hold on to my printed reference books is to not lose the pleasure and sometimes enlightenment to be had from wandering across the page from one entry to another.

One thing that has struck me while doing this in Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion is that the careers of women acting in movies tend to be shorter than those of the men. They usually start younger, but don’t last as long. Of course, there are notable exceptions such as Davis, Stanwyck, and Crawford: driven women surviving whatever changes in the nature of film production. But most of the women in film (this may be changing in our time) have faded away or retired after five years, ten if they have been lucky. The Lost Women of Hollywood mostly come from this largely forgotten majority, and they are people who made a particular impact in one or a few pictures, people for whom I, for one, regret losing so early.

A rare example of a Lost Woman being found and recognized is Louise Brooks. For the story of how this came about, see Robert Farmer’s Lulu in Rochester: Louise Brooks and the Cinema Screen as a Tablua Rasa in Senses of Cinema #55, just out (Aug. ’10). It is long, but highly rewarding.

This is an ongoing project of mine to which I will be adding regularly. My definition of Lost and of Hollywood will become clearer as more names are added to the list. Your definition may be as good as mine, and your suggestions are welcome.

For some stories of those movie aspirants who were even less fortunate in their careers than these Lost Women, see the excellent site, The Unsung Joe.


I have begun with MARY DUNCAN (1895-1903) since, unlike many Lost Women, she has not been totally forgotten. In the long run, she has been more fortunate than many in that she was the leading woman in two films widely considered masterpieces today, though neither was “successful” upon release. In Borzage’s The River and Murnau’s City Girl, she played a more sophisticated and experienced partner to Charles Farrell than Janet Gaynor had. Her expression of a mature, womanly sexuality in The River was unprecedented, even in Borzage, and hard to match to this day. She was the Vamp in Murnau’s lost Four Devils and played one more lead in a Rashomon-type courtroom drama called Thru Different Eyes. For the remainder of her short career (16 films, from 1927 to 1933), she was back to the second or third female, ending with a strong performance in a small part in Morning Glory as a stage actress displaced by Katharine Hepburn. She can surely be forgiven for choosing this time to retire and marry, but Hollywood cannot be forgiven for not giving a remarkably talented women more opportunities such as she had received from Borzage and Murnau.

Is it possible for a performer to be Lost, though she appeared in over 80 films, working with many major directors including Sternberg, Ford, Clair, Cukor, Wyler, Siodmak, Tourneur, and Preminger? Well, sad to say, yes it is. THERESA HARRIS (1906-1985) was a beautiful, talented African-American woman who was occasionally allowed to show a fine sense of humor. In most of the movies she made between 1929 and 1958, she played a maid (Hattie McDaniel: “Better to play a maid than to be one.”), in many she was unbilled, and frequently her part was a bit. In a handful of films, however, she was given more to do than usual, making the usual waste of her screen presence and natural manner of acting regrettable, to say the least. In Baby Face, she was Stanwyck’s friend and companion. She taught Ginger Rogers how to enjoy life in Professional Sweetheart. Buck Benny Rides Again gave her the opportunity to sing and dance with Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (another actor who was capable of playing a wider range of parts than his times permitted). Rene Clair cast her as Dietrich’s maid in The Flame of New Orleans, but filled out her part with scenes of banter with Marlene and with Clarence Muse, a prime candidate for Lost Men of Hollywood. Jacques Tourneur gave her significant roles in I Walked with a Zombie and Out of the Past. That’s pretty much it for being able to see what Theresa Harris could do. More often than not, she’s there, and then she’s gone. She invested her money wisely and was able to live comfortably after she retired and married when in her early fifties.

Numbers 4 to 14 below are her films that are in the data bank. Some of her others are:
Arrowsmith (Ford)
Merrily We Go to Hell (Arzner)
Horse Feathers McLeod
The Half-naked Truth (LaCava)
Hold Your Man (Wood)
Morning Glory (Lowell Sherman, a Lost director of Hollywood)
The Worst Woman in Paris (Bell)
A Modern Hero (Pabst)
Flame of New Orleans (Clair)
Phantom Lady (Siodmak)
Strange Illusion (Ulmer)
Miracle on 34th St. (Seaton)

If you watch movies from that era, you’ve seen THERESA HARRIS. If you’ve seen one of the precious few, you’ve noticed her.

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GWEN WELLES’ life (1947-1993) did not turn out as well as Mary Duncan’s or Theresa Harris’. She began her career with a remarkable six years and eight films by directors such as Henry Jaglom, Roger Vadim, Sidney Furie, Joan Silver and, most notably, Robert Altman. After a sympathetic role in his largely unseen California Split, she made her greatest impression on the screen with Nashville, in which she was the aspiring singer conned into a strip tease. She appears not to have worked at all during the six years from Silver’s Between the Lines (77) to a bit part in Fosse’s Star 80. It is said that she suffered a series of drug problems. There followed smallish parts in another eight films, including two more Jagloms (director of her debut film), before succumbing to colon cancer. Apparently, she had resisted treatment, somehow connecting her disease to suicidal fantasies. Welles was filmed during her final illness by her friend for the documentary Angel on my Shoulder (97), a film too painful for me to watch. She specialized in worldly/naive, sensitive, vulnerable young women and just may have been the best crier in movies. I can’t help but feel she could have become much more

Numbers 15 to 20 below are in the data bank. Some other films of GWEN WELLES (no relation) are:
Between the Lines (Silver)
The Men’s Club (Medak)
New Year’s Day (Jaglom)
Angel on My Shoulder (Deitch)


 

CLARINE SEYMOUR (1898-1920) was a tiny, pretty young woman with the largest, darkest, and liveliest eyes the screen had ever seen. She exuberantly epitomized the youth of the optimistic post-war years, and had she lived, she might have become the ultimate Flapper, equalling or surpassing Clara Bow and Colleen Moore. Having brought new life to the films of D.W. Griffith, she was ready to take on the world. She started in a few serials at Thanhauser in New Rochelle NY, but was soon on the West Coast in a series of comedy shorts for Hal Roach, one of which starred the young Hardy-less Stan Laurel. Griffith tested her and put her in a secondary role opposite Robert Harron in The Girl Who Stayed at Home. Most reviews singled out this pair for fulsome praise, and Griffith next cast them in True Heart Susie, one of his best pastoral films, with Lillian Gish. Seymour was the shallow party-girl who lured Harron from his true love, but her charm added a dimension to the character usually lacking in “the Other Woman,” so it is impossible to hate her in spite of her moral shortcomings. Again, reviewers and audiences responded, and Griffith cast her in his western, Scarlet Days, as Chiquita, a part not unlike Linda Darnell’s in My Darling Clementine, but funnier. Now Seymour was ready for a lead, and she got it in one of Griffith’s lesser films, the South Sea romance, The Idol Dancer. As White Almond Flower, a vivacious mixed-race islander, she carries the film and is delightful throughout, and the usual praise followed. What also followed was a four-year contract for two million dollars (a lot of money in the twenties), and she was given a supporting role in Way Down East. After a few weeks of shooting, according to Lillian Gish, Seymour caught pneumonia and shortly after died. She was not yet twenty-two. Her scenes were reshot, but Miss Gish says that Seymour can be seen in some of the long shots.

Numbers 21 and 22 are in the data bank. Other films of CLARINE SEYMOUR are:
Just Ramblin’ (Roach)
The Girl Who Stayed at Home (Griffith)
Scarlet Days (Griffith)
The Idol Dancer (Griffith)


I am surely not the only person who had never heard of BETTY AMANN (1905-1990) before the dvd release of Joe May’s 1929 Asphalt, but when Gordon Thomas on Bright Lights called her “one of the most sexually aggressive females in cinema history,” nothing could have kept me from that film. It was not disappointing, nor was Betty Amann. Asphalt is one of those masterful late silents that seem to take full advantage of the medium prior to its expected demise. It begins with Amann as a small-time jewel thief in a scene that plays like a bargain basement version of Dietrich’s later caper in Borzage’s Desire. Then she seduces the arresting police officer with what Thomas described as “less a seduction than physical assault.” With her intense dark eyes and bobbed black hair and erotic mien, she her brings to mind that other icon of late German silents, Louise Brooks. But there is a great difference between the two women, besides the contrasting body types. That difference is not unlike that between Ava Gardner and Yvonne De Carlo in similar roles in Siodmak’s The Killers and Criss Cross. Now, I don’t think anyone would put DeCarlo or Amann in the same class as Gardner or Brooks, but the former women brought an earthiness to their roles that was more realistic in a literal reading of the films, than the latter pair did with their almost other-worldly beauty and sensuality. In other words, Betty Amann, warm where Brooks was cool, creates a totally believable femme fatale and even carries off a surprising character development toward the end.
I’ve gone into Asphalt at some length, because it just may be the only film in which she realized her potential. She started as Bee Amann in a 1926 Wesley Ruggles movie, followed, after a year of no work, by eight comedy shorts with the likes of Larry Semon and Billy Bevan and a Tom Tyler western. She then turned up in Germany, where she had been born to American parents and secured a contract with UFA and Erich Pommer who changed her name to Betty. After Asphalt, she played the second lead in Mosjoukine’s last silent The White Devil (available on YouTube) in which, though well-played, her performance lacked the fire that marked her previous film. There followed a series of second or third leads in a number of films made in Germany, Poland, and Britain which brings us to her second claim to fame: she was the seductive princess (vamp would seem to be the key word for her career to date) in Hitchcock’s off-beat Rich and Strange. Again, she was certainly at least competent, but I had seen this one more than once before discovering Asphalt and had not remembered her.
In 1933, she married and American lawyer and returned permanently to the US. That year she did another comedy short, and five years later, a Hopalong Cassidy and a Nancy Drew in which she was effective in a small but important role. Four years later came her cinematic swan song, Edgar Ulmer’s Isle of Forgotten Sins in which she is barely noticeable. In 1987, she received an award for her “long and outstanding work” in German film! So, did Betty Amann have but one great performance in her, did she not get another opportunity to stretch herself, or are there some hidden treasures among the few pictures she made in the early thirties? I’ve not been able to learn any more about her, except that she died in Westport, Connecticut.

In addition to numbers 23 and 24 below, these films are available in the US:
The Whiter Devil (Volkoff)
In Old Mexico (Venturini)
Nancy Drew, Reporter (Clemens)
Isle of Forgotten Sins (Ulmer)

If anyone has more information about BETTY AMANN, it would be greatly appreciated.


In a way, it is not surprising that HELEN CHANDLER (1906-1965), in spite of demonstrated acting ability and exceptional blonde, blue-eyed beauty, never reached the heights that she might have in the movies. There was always something a little off about those eyes that probably kept her at a distance from her audiences. Variously described as “starry,” “ethereal,” and “almost translucent,” they seem to reveal nothing and to usually be focussed on something that only she can see. This worked to her benefit, and the film’s, in Browning’s Dracula. As Mina, her best-known role, she spends most of the picture under the thrall of the Count. It also worked well in William Dieterle’s first American movie, The Last Flight. In this story of American expatriates in Paris after the Great War, Chandler’s best picture and best performance, all the central characters are drunk throughout, and those eyes strikingly suggest her character’s alienation. There is an exception to this odd ocular effect in Jacques Feyder’s first English language film, Daybreak, a prince and commoner tale reminiscent of Stroheim. In this one, her eyes seem warmer and more “properly” focussed. Did Feyder understand her face better than most directors? Did she benefit from playing opposite the remarkably warm Ramon Novarro? Hard to say, but the odd focus is strongly evident in Wyler’s A House Divided. From what we are able to see today, these would seem to be the highlights of her nine-year 22 film carer on the screen. Later in the thirties, she began to divide her time between pictures in Hollywood and London and stage work in NY. Her last movie in 1938 was a Stu Erwin vehicle, Mr. Boggs Steps Out, directed by one Gordon Wiles whose niche in film history is as production designer of Gun Crazy. For a few years, Chandler was back on Broadway where she had worked from age 9 to 21, but her heavy drinking, reported to have begun as early as 1930, soon made her unemployable. She was committed to a sanitarium in 1940, and ten years later was disfigured in a fire thought to be started by smoking in bed. In 1965, after surgery for a bleeding ulcer, Helen Chandler died in Hollywood. It is said that no one claimed her ashes. This may sound like a minor career, and yes it was, but I can’t help feel that she could have done much more if the studios she worked for and her directors, with the four noted exceptions, had known what to do with her. And, of course, if she had been sober enough to make some better decisions.

Numbers 25 and 26 are in the data bank. Other notable films with HELEN CHANDLER are:
The Music Master (Dwan)
Salute (Ford)
Outward Bound (Milton)
A House Divided (Wyler)
Christopher Strong (Arzner)
The Worst Woman in Paris? (Monta Bell, a Lost Director of Hollywood)

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GAIL RUSSELL (1924-1961) didn’t want to act; she wanted to paint. But when Paramount offers you a contract for $50 a week right after you are graduated from high school, are you able to walk away from it? Are you dissuaded by your lack of acting experience or by your extreme shyness? Few of us could, and Russell didn’t. She spent nearly twenty years, the rest of her life, working in the most glamorous business in America, and she was not happy at it. Within a year of her debut, as she was playing her first significant part in The Uninvited, she began drinking to steady her nerves and allay the stagefright. As the forties progressed, her roles improved, and there were a few exceptional films, like Borzage’s Moonrise and Losey’s The Lawless (in which her dark beauty enabled her to credibly play “Sunny Garcia”). Then, Paramount did not renew her contact, citing her drinking and trouble with the law. Studios often went to great lengths to protect stars like Clark Gable from the law but, as pretty girls were a dime a dozen, Gail Russell was not important enough. For five years, she made no films, but built up her record of drunk driving offenses. No one would hire her, except John Wayne with whom she had made two pictures. His company produced Seven Men from Now, and she was cast opposite Randolph Scott as one of the most effective of Budd Boetticher’s women. After a few more unremarkable parts in unremarkable movies, she was found dead of a heart attack in her apartment, surrounded by empty bottles and piles of sketches which she had never stopped making. She was 36. Watching Gail Russell on the screen, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture her as insecure and plagued by insecurity. She projected a vulnerability that made some of her characters almost uncomfortably memorable. In a simple scene walking along a street or knocking on a door, she looks lost. This, plus her extraordinary good looks, gave her a special appeal to those who identified with her and to those who wanted to protect her. Looking back, though, it is heart-breaking.

Numbers 27 to 30 and the following are some of GAIL RUSSEL’s films:
Lady in the Dark (Leisen)
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (Allen)
Night Has a Thousand Eyes (Farrow)
Wake of the Red Witch (Ludwig)
The Lawless (Losey)


The record on ROSALIND BYRNE (1893-?) is so sparse, that I will be able to tell you you everything I know about her. About twenty minutes into Seven Chances, Buster Keaton has three small scenes with a hatcheck girl, a bob-haired beauty with an unusual face, a sassy air, and exceptional comic timing. This is Rosalind Byrne, and she stands out in a movie that is packed with attractive young women, as the most Keatonesque ever to appear with Buster. This was the third of her seven films made between 1924 and 1928 (IMDb says five, but read on). Her first picture, not listed in all sources, was King Vidor’s Wine of Youth. On TCM’s site, there is a ten-minute clip from this film, and one of the bobbed flappers in a dance scene looks an awful lot like Byrne. Perhaps not a verified credit, but this women deserves all she can get. Her first generally acknowledged part was eighth billing in William DeMille’s The Fast Set, followed by what may be a record of sorts: bit parts with three of the big four silent comics Keaton, Harold LLoyd, and Harry Langdon. Now, here comes IMDb’s gaffe: in the cast of Casey at the Bat, they list Lotus Thompson as playing a character named Rosalind Byrne, an unfortunate error, but there was a Lotus Thompson working in movies at the time (already chosen as the next Lost Woman), and the AFI Catalog tells us they were both in Casey. The recently published The American New Woman Revisited by Martha H. Patterson reprints a page from Photoplay with two pictures of a recognizable Byrne, appropriately captioned. Then there was one more role as “Neighbor” in Frank Capra’s That Certain Thing. After that, there is no more information about her, not even the date of her presumed death. So, of all the women on this list, Rosalind Byrne may be the most lost of all.

These are all of ROSALIND BYRNE’s films, including numbers 31 and 32:
Wine of Youth (Vidor)
The Fast Set (William DeMille)
Seven Chances (Keaton)
The Freshman (Newmeyer/Taylor/Lloyd)
Casey at the Bat (Brice)
Long Pants (Capra/Langdon)
That Certain Thing (Capra)

If anyone has any more information about ROSALIND BYRNE, it would be greatly appreciated.


LOTUS THOMPSON (1906-1963) does not meet one of my main criteria for inclusion on this list. The previous Lost Women have all been people whose work I have seen enough of to determine that they were indeed talented and deserved more than the movies ultimately offered them. Technically, I have seen her in at least a half-dozen times, but I can be forgiven for not remembering any of her nine unbilled bits parts made between 1935 and 1949. She’s included here, because her name came up in the Rosalind Byrne entry above, and because she illustrates how a career that seems to be going pretty well can dwindle away. While still in her teens, Thompson was fairly popular in several pictures made in her native Australia, attaining the sobriquet, “the Girl with the Pretty Legs.” After her arrival in the States, she was disappointed to find only a few chorus girl parts and some work as a “leg double.” Depressed by this, she attempted to disfigure her legs with nitric acid. The resulting publicity brought her and offer from Rudolph Valentino who, alas, died before he could make good on his promise. She soon settled into a series of grade B westerns, but these dried up around the time talkies came along. Then there was a very small part in De Mille’s Madame Satan, and she apparently didn’t work for four years before appearing in nine unbilled bits during the next fourteen years. Nothing else is recorded about her until her death at age 57. There are no pictures of her to be found on the Internet! If anyone has a picture of LOTUS THOMPSON, please share it.

These, plus numbers 33 and 34 are some of LOTUS THOMPSON’s unbilled bits:
Anthony Adverse (LeRoy)
The Prince and the Pauper (Keighley/Dieterle)
Journey for Margaret (Van Dyke)
Red Danube (Sidney)


DIANA LYNN (1926-1971) was in the movies for sixteen years, but her best parts came while she was still in her teens, and her two best pictures were at the beginning of the Paramount contact signed when she was fifteen. She played the real teen confidante of Ginger Rogers, the faux teen, in The Major and the Minor and Betty Hutton’s younger, smarter sister in The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. It is no surprise that the only directors who appreciated her sense of humor and gave her characters with a caustic wit were Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges. She had a pretty big hit in Our Hearts Were Young and Gay in which she and Gail Russell played memoirists Emily Kimbrough and Cornelia Otis Skinner, both of whom, some twenty years older, outlived the two young women who played them. As Lynn matured, there was no place in the post-war American cinema for a sassy, sarcastic young woman, and she was molded into a more conventional young lead, retaining only her quirky voice. There were a few decent parts in films by Ulmer, Sirk, and Wellman, and in You’re Never Too Young, the Martin and Lewis remake of The Major and the Minor, she was cast in the “heavy” role played by Lost Woman Rita Johnson in the original. There was stage work in California, New York, and London and a good deal of television which, ironically, included adaptations of movies that had been successful with other leading women, like A Farewell to Arms, The Philadelphia Story, and The Seventh Veil. In 1971, she was retired and director of a New York travel agency, when her old studio Paramount offered her the role of Anthony Perkins’ wife in Play It As It Lays. Shortly after she arrived back in Los Angeles, she suffered a stroke and died at the age of 45. Her part was played by Tammy Grimes, another Lost one.

These, in addition to numbers 35 to 40, are some of DIANA LYNN’s movies:
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (Allen)
Ruthless (Ulmer)
Paid in Full (Dieterle)
Bedtime for Bonzo (de Cordova)
Meet Me at the Fair (Sirk)
Plunder of the Sun (Farrow)
The Kentuckian (Lancaster)


ELLA RAINES (1920-1988) will be more familiar than many Lost Women, because her too brief career coincided with the first early stage of classic film noir. At twenty-one, she was tested by David Selznick, but signed by Howard Hawks who gave her the female lead in a war picture he produced. He then seems to have lost interest in her and sold her contract to Universal who cast her in a number of noirs, notably Phantom Lady and others by noir-master Robert Siodmak. Her image was a modern version of the girl-next-door, more suited to the wartime and postwar films. She had usually moved to the city where she held down a job she was good at; she was independent, smart, and loyal. She was also good in comedy, particularly Sturges’ Hail the Conquering Hero, though also in some films that were not as good as she deserved. As the forties progressed, and she approached thirty, the quality of the pictures began to diminish, and her billing sometimes dropped down a bit. After her last American movie in 1952, she worked in television, including a series that she starred in and co-produced with longtime Hitchcock collaborator, Joan Harrison. There was one more film in Britain in 1956, and then she gracefully retired and taught acting for many years. In 1968, she succumbed to throat cancer.

Some of ELLA RAINES’ films, in addition to numbers 41 to 43 are:
Cry Havoc (Thorpe)
Tall in the Saddle (Marin)
The Suspect (Siodmak)
Uncle Harry (Siodmak)
Time Out of Mind (Siodmak)
Brute Force (Dassin)
The Senator Was Indiscreet (Kaufman)
Impact (Lubin)


MARIE TRINTIGNANT (1962-2003), though not born in the movies, practically grew up in them. Her first film, in 1967, was Mon amour, mon amour, directed by her mother, Nadine, and starring her father, Jean-Louis. After appearing in several of her mother’s films, she made a lasting impression in Serie noire, directed by Nadine’s second husband, Alain Corneau in 1979. Many film, stage, and tv appearances followed, including a 1988 series, Sueurs froids (the French title of Vertigo), hosted by Claude Chabrol. It was for him that she made two of her three pictures that are best known in the US, Une affaire de femmes and Betty. In between the Chabrols, she was a voice in Leo Carax’ Les amants du Pont-Neuf. Nominated five times for a Cesar, Trintignant worked steadily and with increasing skill until her untimely death in 2003 of a cerebral edema. In Lithuania, playing the title role in her mother’s Colette, une femme libre, her long time boyfriend, Bertrand Cantat, lead singer of Noir Desir, apparently incensed by a phone call from her estranged husband, struck her in the face, according to medical testimony, at least 19 times. Marie Trintignant, in a coma from which she never recovered, was taken home to Paris where she died and was buried in Pere Lachaise. Cantat was sentenced to eight years for manslaughter and was released for good behavior after four. In interviews after his release, he claimed that she was the only love of his life.
The life and career of MARIE TRINTIGNANT were abruptly ended as she was approaching what can reasonably be expected would be her prime.


JOYCE COMPTON (1907-1997) may be remembered, though not by name, by more filmgoers that any of the Lost Women. In The Awful Truth she played Cary Grant’s girlfriend, the dim, blonde showgirl who sings “My Dreams Have Gone With the Wind.” Still in her teens, she arrived in Hollywood in 1924 and secured a number of bit parts before being selected as a WAMPAS Baby Star (see the list of that name) in 1926 along with other hopefuls, including Mary Astor, Dolores Costello, Joan Crawford, Dolores Del Rio, Janet Gaynor, and Fay Wray. This led to several featured roles, including two as Clara Bow’s sidekick. She made a smooth transition to sound, establishing a solid reputation as a reliable comic actress and settled into a routine that kept her working steadily through the fifties: leading roles in B pictures and bit parts in more “important” films. Her charm and sense of humor, as the many fans of The Awful Truth will agree, were endearing. In the fifties, she retired and became a nurse, like the great blues singer Alberta Hunter. Joyce Compton once said that you’ve got to be smart to play dumb, and she was smart enough to never patronize her characters.

In addition to numbers 54 to 65, JOYCE COMPTON also appeared in, among others:
The Golden Bed (Demille)
The Wild Party (Arzner)
Salute (Ford)
Lightnin’ (King)
False Faces (Sherman)
If I Had a Million (Lubitsch, et al.)
Only Yesterday (Stahl)
Artists and Models Abroad (Leisen)
Trade Winds (Garnett)
City for Conquest (Litvak)
Manpower (Walsh)
Jet Pilot (Sternberg, et al.)

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BARBARA LODEN (1932-1980) is not unfamiliar to most cinephiles today; in fact, she has a page on this site which also contains virtually her entire filmography. As a performer, she can be seen in two films directed by Elia Kazan whom she later married. As a director and writer, her reputation has recently been enhanced by the release of her only feature film, Wanda, on DVD. So, you may ask, is Barbara Loden really a Lost Woman of Hollywood? Yes, she is. A career of tremendous promise thwarted by, perhaps, personal factors, an unwelcome ambition, and ultimately, a premature death, places her squarely among those of talent unfulfilled. She arrived in New York in the early fifties, did some magazine modeling, danced in the chorus of the Copacabana, was a regular on television’s well-remembered Ernie Kovacs Show, and worked frequently on the stage for nearly thirty years. Her first film role, in Wild River, was small but effective, and Kazan gave her a larger part in Splendor in the Grass and recruited her into the Lincoln Center theatre company that he directed. This provided her with the role that brought her the most acclaim, Maggie in Arthur Miller’s After the Fall, a character based on the playwright’s former wife, the late Marilyn Monroe (and what might she have achieved in her maturity?). Loden and Kazan were married in 1967 and, she was cast in Frank Perry’s The Swimmer. However, the producer-star, Burt Lancaster was displeased with her single important scene (some say she dominated it) and ordered a retake with Janice Rule in the part. Perry, to his credit, refused to shoot this and was replaced by Sidney Pollack. After Loden’s first leading role on film opposite newcomer Burt Reynolds in Fade-In directed by Alan Smithee (see a forthcoming list of his extensive credits), she seemed to have retired. She had, however been writing a script for some years, and she was able to set up an independent production in 1970, when independent was indeed independent. She would direct and play the leading role in Wanda, shot in 16mm with a minimal crew. Barely exhibited in the US and receiving but a handful of positive notices, the film disappeared for some years. In his memoirs, Kazan is diffident about his wife’s work; on the one hand, he claims to have written much of her script and, on the other hand, expresses doubt that she had the ability to be a director. In the seventies, Loden wrote and directed two educational shorts, directed and acted off-Broadway, and taught an acting class. She was preparing an adaptation of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (later filmed twice by others) when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978. Two years later, it spread to her liver and Barbara Loden, only in her forties, died. Among her papers, Kazan found piles of scripts she had written.

To make BARBARA LODEN’s small filmography complete, the following can be added to numbers 66 to 69:
Fade-In (Smithee)
The Frontier Experience (Loden)
The Boy Who Liked Deer (Loden)


LIEN DEYERS (1909-1965?) started at the top, at least from our modern point of view. Her first role was the second female lead in Fritz Lang’s Spione; she was Kitty, the spy who seduces the Japanese agent, driving him to a ritual suicide. Having just arrived in Berlin from Holland seeking a film career, she approached Lang at a party. According to the story, she asked, “Herr Lang, Why don’t you discover me?” Timing, as they say, is everything, and the pretty, petite, and fresh teen was just the type he was looking for. During the next seven years, she appeared in 34 more films, mostly as the leading woman. Deyers was quite popular in Germany, playing in operetta pictures with major singing stars like Richard Tauber and Jan Kiepura, and she worked in early films of notable directors such as William Dieterle, Max Ophuls, Robert Siodmak, and Alexander Korda. Lang, however, seems to have been the only filmmaker to see her as something more than a bright, perky ingenue. Spione seems to have been the only film in which she displayed the erotic appeal that made Kitty, a relatively small part, most memorable. In 1935, she and her husband, producer and director Alfred Zeisler, left Germany for England. Here, the sparse records are contradictory: some say that he was Jewish, some say that Deyers’ father was. At any rate, after a few years during which she found no work, they moved on to the US where again, there were no films for her. The marriage failed, and Deyers had an unclear number of other short-lived unions, a more lasting relationship with alcohol, and several run-ins with the law. When last heard of, she was in the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas in September 1964. Sources agree that she died the following year, though none offer a date, place, or other details. Any further information about LIEN DEYERS would be greatly appreciated.

Some of LIEN DEYER’s films, in addition to numbers 69 and 70, are:
Die Heilige und ihr Narr (Dieterle)
Der Mann, der seinen Morder sucht (Siodmak)
Lachende Erben (Ophuls)
Die Manner um Lucie (Korda)
Die verliebte Firme (Ophuls)
Sein Scheidungsgrund (Zeisler)


The Port of Forty Thieves (1944) with Stephanie Bachelor, Republic’s main, nay only, claim to sophistication, in the role of a not-so-ladylike killer.
Secrets of Scotland Yard (1944) Stephanie Bachelor in a rare sympathetic role. B Movies, Don Miller, 1973.

Jean Gillie
Helen Mack
Una Merkel
Cathy O’Donnell
Dorothy Mackaill
Ruan Ling Yu
Nina Mae McKinney
Elaine Stewart
Debra Paget
Barbara Parkin
Audrey Young
Margo
Janet Munro
Dorothy Dell
Deborah Foreman
June Lockhart
Marian Marsh
Marcella Mariani
Barbara Harris
Helen Walker
Gail Patrick
Margaret Lindsay
Anna May Wong
Marsha Hunt
Gerda Maurus
Eve Southern
Kaaren Verne
Priscilla Lawson
Joan Hackett
Susan Peters
Barbara Kent
Audrey Young
Carol Lynley
Margo
Zhou Xuan
Audrey Munson
Stephanie Bachelor

 

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