If I claimed that the following pictures of beautiful women of the black and white era of movie-making were chosen as much for the aesthetic pleasure from the photography itself as for the sheer gorgeousness of the subjects would you believe me?
More importantly: would I care if you believed me or not?
So, on with twelve stunning beauties of the silver screen.
12. Sybille Schmitz
Sybille was a star of German cinema with a look that said "I’ve Teutonic blood coursing through my veins and I will stamp on you and crush you like a bug. Tonight’s safety word is Bismarck!" Owing to her working throughout the period of the third reich she was subsequently shunned by the post-war film industry, became depressed, developed an addiction to drugs, and eventually committed suicide.
11. Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich was a staunch anti-Nazi opposer of antisemitism and a singer and actress of German descent who moved seamlessly from the stage to silent movies to radio and big Hollywood films. There’s not a single bad photo of her in existence. Dietrich had cheekbones. And underneath those cheekbones? More cheekbones. Not only that, but she was a bisexual atheist. If that’s not ticking all your boxes then you’re not me.
10. Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth’s career exploded at around the time of World War II thanks partly to a popular pin-up photo taken of her for Life magazine at the time dressed in a negligee. Can’t imagine why that was popular. The most interesting fact about Hayworth’s early life was that she underwent forehead-broadening electrolysis treatment. Us men: we do like a nice wide forehead on our ladies.
9. Fay Wray
If you don’t find the Canadian-American actress Fay Wray attractive then I think we can rule out the possibility of you being a giant gorilla. If you do find her attractive then you may be a giant gorilla, but you also have damn fine taste in the ladies. If none of this makes any sense to you and you haven’t considered the possibility that I’m referring to her most famous role in King Kong then just go, get out, leave this site now, begone, and scram.
8. Hedy Lamarr
How many actresses can you name who have patented spread-spectrum communication technology used in radio-guided torpedoes and modern wi-fi systems? Two? You bloody liar! There’s only one and that’s the Austrian-born actress Hedy Lamarr. If you’re thinking that you really liked her in Blazing Saddles then Mel Brooks’ work here is done.
7. Clara Bow
Clara Bow survived a tough childhood that included fending off her deluded mother’s knife pressed against her throat at the age of sixteen to become the poster child for the 1920s’ flapper girls. While most of her movie roles were during the silent era her career did extend into the age of the talkies though Clara found speaking on film nerve-wracking. It was probably this attribute which attracted many men to her. I’ve just implied that women speak too much. I think I’ve probably got away with it too.
6. Gene Tierney
I know what you’re thinking: Gene’s a boy’s name; shot for Eugene, right? I’m almost positive that we’re not looking at a post-op tranny here though. In addition to a film career that included The Razor’s Edge and Heaven Can Wait Tierney’s life is notable for her mental health issues which included periods undergoing electroshock treatments. I certainly felt a little jolt running through my body when I took a look at some of her pictures if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean then I can explain by pointing out that my wife jabbed a cattle prod into my spine. It’s our little punishment/training system. Don’t judge.
5. Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake was a big box office draw in the 1940s thanks to her stunning looks and is most often remembered these days for her roles in noir films such as The Blue Dahlia. Gaining a reputation for being difficult to work with, her career was cut short and in later years she turned to alcohol and developed paranoid delusions before succumbing to hepatitis and renal failure. Still, she influenced Jessica Rabbit so that’s something.
If you had been looking for a femme fatale in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s who had trained as a dancer until she developed tuberculosis and had been born in Vistula Land (part of the Russian empire, now Poland) and who had moved to Warsaw and then Berlin then you were probably mentally unhinged and unlikely to succeed. As luck would have it, however, Pola Negri – born Barbara Apolonia Chalupiec – fit all those criteria. The talkies were her downfall in her movie career as American audiences had trouble with her strong accent. And probably all that geography too.
3. Dorothy Lamour
Dorothy Lamour is probably best known for her starring roles with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the series of "Road To" movies. Born in Louisiana and a former Miss New Orleans, she can trace her sultry good looks back to her Spanish ancestry. She also had Irish ancestry so you took her boiled potatoes away from her at your peril. Rumours suggested that she and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had an affair but it’s more likely that they shared the same shoe and/or dress size.
2. Yvonne De Carlo
If you’re thinking that you know the name or the face but can’t quite place her then imagine this beauty with a streak of white running through her hair. No! No! Not like that! Dirty person! Dirty, dirty person! Yvonne played Lily Munster in the TV series The Munsters. Prior to that role she had a career in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s that included the part of Sephora in The Ten Commandments.
1. Joan Greenwood
Although mainly a stage actress Greenwood is remembered fondly for her small number of film roles which included a handful for the Ealing studios, most notably as the scheming Sibella in Kind Hearts And Coronets. I would like to say that her perfect elocution, husky voice, intelligent eyes, and delicately-upturned nose made her lusted after by the men of the 1950s but I haven’t checked; all I know is that I have lusted after her and that’s all that’s important.