Friday, November 21, 2008

Roaring 20s Cthulhu: The Silver Screen

I've really been enjoying Shadows of Cthulhu, and it has me amped to do a one shot or short Lovecraftian scenario squarely placed in the Roaring 20s. The book does a nice job of giving a basic background for the time, but I decided to do a series of articles detailing a bit about the culture, sounds, literary works, entertainment and sights of the times. Feel free to mix these up in your next Cthulhu game set in the 1920s.

First off the is the Silver Screen. The 1920s were the zenith for silent movies, and also saw by the end of the decade the first talkies. Movie stars were often as popular as they were today, and appeared frequently in the magazines, newspapers, radio features, and the consciousness of the day. It would be fitting with the era for the stars and smash movies of the time to be in the background or casually mentioned as the cultural events as they undoubtedly were. I've done a breakdown by year, with some of the prominent stars, movies, and film industry events of the times. And remember, if you want something more in-depth, IMDB has everything you need:

Movies of Note: Passion, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Mark of Zorro
Actors/Actresses of Note: Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson
Notable Events: United Artists is formed with the cooperation of some of the most prominent names in cinema.

Movies of Note: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Kid, Nosferatu
Actors/Actresses of Note: Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplain
Notable Events: Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's sterling comedic career is destroyed by a sex scandal (and subsequent prosecution), even though he is acquitted. This is a major media event.

Movies of Note: Nanook of the North, The Prisoner of Zenda, Robin Hood
Actors/Actresses of Note: Ramon Navarro, Wallace Reid, the Gish Sisters
Notable Events: Teleview produces one of the first true 3-D features, The Man From M.A.R.S.

Movies of Note: The Ten Commandments, The Covered Wagon, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Actors/Actresses of Note: Pola Negri, Patsy Ruth Miller
Notable Events: With the first two movies above, this is widely considered the beginning of Cecil B. DeMille's run of "epic" films.

Movies of Note: Monsieur Beaucaire, The Iron Horse, The Sea Hawk
Actors/Actresses of Note: Rin-Tin-Tin (seriously), George O'Brien, Lon Chaney
Notable Events: The Iron Horse helps popularize the work of legendary Western director John Ford.

Movies of Note: The Big Parade, The Gold Rush, The Freshman
Actors/Actresses of Note: John Gilbert, Harold Lloyd
Notable Events: Alfred Hitchcock directs his first film, The Pleasure Garden. It will not be shown to U.K. audiences until 1927, when he has a hit with The Lodger.


Movies of Note: Ben-Hur, Son of the Sheik, Torrent
Actors/Actresses of Note: Francis X. Bushman, Greta Garbo
Notable Events: Actor (and sex symbol) Rudolph Valentino dies at the age of 31 from complications from a perforated ulcer; his funeral train is mobbed by thousands.

Movies of Note: It (not the Stephen King one), The King of Kings, The Jazz Singer
Actors/Actresses of Note: Clara Bow, Al Jolson
Notable Events: The Jazz Singer was the first true "talkie" in Hollywood; though it was mainly music, with very little actual dialogue. In addition, the Academy Awards were celebrated for the first time.

Movies of Note: The Singing Fool, Lights of New York, West of Zanzibar, Street Angel
Actors/Actresses of Note: Mickey Mouse, Cullen Landis, Janey Gaynor
Notable Events: Steamboat Willie is released, and is the first feature released starring Mickey Mouse; it is also regarded as the first cartoon with a synchronized soundtrack (a point open to technical debate).


Movies of Note: In Old Arizona, The Cocoanuts, Broadway Melody
Actors/Actresses of Note: Bessie Love, Warner Baxter, The Marx Brothers
Notable Events: The first British "talkie", Hitchcock's Blackmail, is released.

In future installments, I hope to cover Music, Sports, Literature, and a host of other items from the Roaring 20s. And I hope True20 fans enjoy Shadows of Cthulhu as much as I am!


Anonymous said...

Useful useful stuff! Can't wait for the other articles!

sirlarkins said...

The first web page I ever put together was spurred by my interest in 20s slang thanks to CoC: