Mrs. Watson takes her pet swan Leila out for a drive.

Mrs. Watson takes her pet swan Leila out for a drive.

GALINA ULANOVA coaches her first pupil, a young EKATERINA MAXIMOVA, for the latter’s debut in Giselle at the Bolshoi Ballet.

Somehow I picture LANA TURNER relaxing this way at home.

Farewell to a great husky-voiced dame … RIP, LAUREN BACALL.

Farewell to a great husky-voiced dame … RIP, LAUREN BACALL.

Harem Scarem

You may not of heard of Babes in Bagdad, a 1952 film set in a harem and starring Paulette Goddard and Gypsy Rose Lee, which kicks off my latest Grand Old Movies post, but you’ve probably at some time during your cinematic explorations have seen a harem movie. Whether it’s Maria Montez in Arabian Nights (1942), a film that’s a model for Arabian adventures movies; or whether it’s Son of Sinbad, or Veils of Bagdad, or Harem Girl, or The Magic Carpet, or Adventures of Hajji Baba, or Thief of Damascus, all from the 1950s (a banner decade for harem cinema); or just plain old Bagdad from 1949 (starring flame-haired Maureen O’Hara, who seems to have specialized in Middle Eastern exotica); or even 1965’s bizarre comedy John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (a huge flop on its release, but which seems to have acquired a cult reputation) —- chances are somewhere, at sometime, you’ve watched a film set in a seraglio, featuring girls (veiled or otherwise) undulating their abdominal muscles. I not only take a look at Babes in Bagdad and at the properties of harem cinema; but also speculate on how you could have made a Harem film during the Hollywood studio age (whether the studio be Fox, Warner Bros., or the stately halls of MGM). It might take more than seven veils and a hootchy-kootch number. Please click here to read my newest post.

Terrific is the word for CAROLE LOMBARD.

BUSTER KEATON goes for a ride.

BUSTER KEATON goes for a ride.

GYPSY ROSE LEE in her dressing room, deep in literary composition.

The great unsung song-n-dance team of Blondell and Oakie in “Boulevardier From The Bronx.”

ALICIA MARKOVA, as photographed by John Rawlings.