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European Stardom in Silent Hollywood: Pola Negri, Vilma Bánky and Jetta Goudal

Frymus, Agata (2017) European Stardom in Silent Hollywood: Pola Negri, Vilma Bánky and Jetta Goudal. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This work investigates the star images of three European movie players – Pola Negri, Vilma Bánky and Jetta Goudal – who rose to the top of their professions in 1920s Hollywood. It combines the investigation of contemporary American fan magazines, such as Photoplay, Picture Play and Motion Picture Magazine, with the analysis of studio correspondence and other documents, and the examination of the characters and narratives of their films, to develop a thorough understanding of the ways in which Negri, Bánky and Goudal were understood within the realm of contemporary American culture. This discussion places their star personae in the context of discourses pertaining to whiteness, femininity and Americanisation. In the United States, where the stories of rags-to-riches were especially potent, stars could offer models of successful cultural integration. But they could also constitute the exact opposite: tales of failing to adjust to a protestant, middle-class American ethos. Pola Negri, the subject of my first case study, came to prominence by playing roles of seductive, passionate women in German film productions; that typecasting continued after she embarked on her career in the US in the early 1920s. The second case study is of Vilma Bánky, who signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn’s studio in 1925. Being discovered by an independent producer marked Bánky as a real-life Cinderella, a narrative which worked in conjunction with her looks to establish her as a perfectly non-threatening version of femininity. In the last case study, I interrogate the characteristics of the image Jetta Goudal sustained throughout her film career, emphasising notions of authenticity, exoticism and the framing of female behaviour as difficult. This exploration draws on questions relating to ethnic ambiguity, as Goudal was presented as both French and Asian, national/ethnic categories that have quite different resonances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of York > Theatre, Film & Television (York)
Depositing User: Miss Agata Frymus
Date Deposited: 04 May 2018 16:04
Last Modified: 23 May 2018 11:09
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19842

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