That Special Something

What is it about the classic movie stars that make them iconic? What did they possess that today’s A-List actors don’t. They always seemed polished and refined, but there was something more. They swathed themselves in magic.

Grace Kelly never had a hair out of place. Cary Grant’s tie was perfectly straight. Veronica Lake’s peek-a-boo bang hung mysteriously over her long eyelashes. Clark Gable smoldered. Audrey Hepburn demurred. Rita Hayworth sizzled. Fred and Ginger practically leapt from the page.

I’m constantly mesmerized by the black and white portraits from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The photos capture charisma. They sparkle with personality.

Kate Hepburn from the Philadelphia Story

Was the camera the magic wand that cast the spell? Was the photographer a wizard? Was there just an ambient glamour that permeated Hollywood? Where has that gone?

I wouldn’t say that it’s gone, exactly. We still love watching the glamour and glitz of the red carpet movie premieres. But I do think the mystery had changed.

The personas of the classic stars were carefully crafted (and edited) by agents and stylists that handled their careers. Sometimes the “real-life” stories of the actors, as presented in the gossip magazines of the day, were as much fiction as the films in which they starred.

Today’s actors make themselves more accessible to their fans. We read about their lives. We see pictures of them everywhere. They blog their opinions. They tweet about their lunches. They’ve ditched the mystery. In short, they are real people.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s simply different than it used to be. Can the mystique be recaptured? Does anyone want to? What do you think?

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

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