Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review: The Love Goddesses 3 ½ Stars

An insightful and oftentimes funny documentary on the history of the Big Screen’s Movie Queens, from the Silent Era through Bardot, The Love Goddesses holds up extremely well in light of its 1965 release date.

Narrated by Carl King, this film isolates decade-by-decade the prevailing attitudes toward sex and how those attitudes were reflected onscreen. Even more illuminating, however, The Love Goddesses sets the film clips against a historical backdrop that sheds some light on the reasons for the overtly sexual overtones of the Twenties and Sixties and the more repressed mores of the Thirties and Fifties.

The film begins with a brief look at the Nickelodeon Peep Shows before diving into the classics of the Silent Era from directors D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille. The documentary introduces us to some of the earliest love goddesses in True Heart Susie’s Lillian Gish and It’s It Girl, Clara Bow.

The advent of talkies brings us mysterious and exotic European women like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo as well as the lavish comedies of Busby Berkeley with beautiful women like Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers. This pivotal juncture in film history was also responsible for the naughty stylings of Mae West. The Love Goddesses continues through the Depression, the Second World War and the Eisenhower Era, presenting the films of our favorite pin-up girls, girls-next-door and, of course, Marilyn Monroe.

Written by Graeme Ferguson and Saul J. Turell, who also directs, The Love Goddesses isn’t breaking new ground in its approach to documentary filmmaking, but it does provide a loving refresher course on the most beautiful and talented women of the last century. Up to 1965.

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