Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Makeup and Hair

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 1917

Makeup and hair styles of the movies both reflect, and to some degree determine, the styles of the day. As we move into the Silent Classical Era, the importance of the close-up and the growing star system assures an increased focus on having actors who look “just right” for their roles. Not only for beautiful leading ladies, but also for villains and those in comic roles, having just the right makeup and hair helps to create a character that audiences will respond to and remember after the flickering on the screen is over.

This year the nominees run the gamut from comedy to crime to horror to family fare. Max Linder nearly always had the perfect look of an upper-class dandy, and the hair and makeup for “Max in A Taxi” supports him and the characters who populate his bizarre world. In “FearConrad Veidt becomes a mysterious Hindu magician who haunts a foolish European art collector. “Love’s Forgiveness,” the climactic finale of the serial “Judex,” uses makeup and hair to show the trials our characters have survived, and that they can still come off looking stylish and beautiful (even in death!). Mary Pickford always had her trademark locks, but in “Little Princess” we see this attention to grooming extended to a host of other characters as well as some unusual examples of makeup and hair for the “Forty Thieves” fantasy sequence.

The nominees for best makeup and hairstyling of 1917 are:

  1. Fear
  2. Love’s Forgiveness (Judex)
  3. Little Princess
  4. Max in a Taxi

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Best Makeup and Hairstyling 1916

As the close-up becomes an increasingly important piece of filmic vocabulary, the faces and hair of performers are increasingly visible and important aspects of what audiences see and go to movies for. At a minimum, good makeup is necessary to be certain that the camera’s eye sees the performer at his or her best, but hair and makeup can also transform a beauty to a monster, or vice versa. Our selections this year emphasize such extreme transformations.

In “Intolerance,” director D.W. Griffith uses exotic makeup and hairstyles to evoke distant ages, and more subtle styles to show more contemporary periods as he ambitiously travels through time to show the effects of human prejudice through the ages. The Russian production “Queen of Spades” shows us two grand periods in French history, and puts actor Ivan Mosjukine under considerable makeup to create his character of an obsessed soldier. In “Waiters’ Ball,” Roscoe Arbuckle shows that a little change in hair and makeup can make a baby-faced man into a woman, and Gloria Swanson goes the opposite direction in “The Danger Girl.” Finally, the characters of “Snow White” help to create a fairy tale environment with makeup and hairstyles that include an evil witch, a beautiful queen, and, of course, seven children playing grownup dwarves.

The nominees for best makeup and hairstyling of 1916 are:

  1. Intolerance
  2. Queen of Spades
  3. Waiters Ball
  4. The Danger Girl
  5. Snow White

And the winner is…“Intolerance!”

Intolerance_(film)

Although the work on all of these films is impressive, there’s no denying that the scope and attention to detail in this massive superproduction put it in a class by itself. The Babylonian Story, in particular, features some particularly striking and creative makeup and hairstyles. But, in the French Story and the Judean story, a similar amount of attention (if not as much originality) shines through, and the understated work on the Modern Story makes it a perfect contrast with the other three. While we all know Griffith is not my favorite director, I have to honor him and his crew for what they accomplished here.

Best Makeup/Hairstyling 1915

Hello everyone and welcome to the Century Awards! As with last year, my plan is to post one award per hour, building up to the Best Picture of 1915 late tonight. So, get ready, here we go!

Actors and actresses always want to look their best under the camera’s unforgiving eye. In some cases, they even may want to take on an appearance not their own, to put on a mask that convinces the audience they are a different age, color, race, or even sex, than the really are. That’s where the magic of makeup and hairstyling comes into play. While we often don’t have records of the names of these artists from this period, we can still honor their legacy by choosing the best of the best.

This year’s nominees include everything from crime serials to comedies to dramatic narratives. In “The Deadly Ring,” a chapter of “Les Vampires,” the art of deception is used by several characters to appear as others, and we also see Stacia Napierkowska transform into a bat. In “A Woman,” the clowning Charlie Chaplin assumes the fairer sex in a clever deception to get closer to the girl of his dreams. “A Fool There Was” features some of the most famous appearances of the alluring Vamp, Theda Bara. In “Trilby,” the handsome Wilton Lackaye reproduces his stage role and becomes the diabolical Svengali. Finally, Charlie Chaplin again deceives an audience into thinking he’s two separate men in “A Night in the Show,” which also features the outrageous makeup of several of his Essanay comedy comrades.

The nominees for Best Makeup/Hairstyling for 1915 are…

  1. The Deadly Ring
  2. A Woman
  3. A Fool There Was
  4. Trilby
  5. A Night in the Show

And the winner is…”A Night in the Show!”

Night_in_the_Show_(poster)This year, I felt that Charlie Chaplin more or less had to take it. Throughout his movies, he’s demonstrated an understanding of how makeup transforms actors and enhances their performance. In “A Night in the Show” he manages to be two very different characters, surrounded by a crew of other bizarre folks, largely due to makeup and hair.