Monday, 21 April 2014

Harem dancer: Winnie Lightner

Geek alert: The Origins of the Term "Silver Screen"

"Silver lenticular (vertically ridged) screens, which are made from a tightly woven fabric, either natural, such as silk, or a synthetic fiber, were excellent for use with low-power projector lamp heads and the monochromatic images that were a staple of early projected images. Other silver screens are made by taking normal matte sheets and adhering silver dust to them; the effect is the same.

True silver screens, however, provide narrower horizontal/vertical viewing angles compared to their more modern counterparts because of their inability to completely disperse light. In addition, a single projection source tends to over-saturate the center of the screen and leave the peripheries darker, depending on the position of the viewer and how well adjusted the lamp head is, a phenomenon known as hot-spotting. Due to these limitations and the continued innovation of screen materials, the use of silver screens in the general motion picture exhibition industry has mostly been phased out."

What all this means is that there's a wealth of movie history that's just lost and gone forever. Today's harem dancing clip is an example of that. It's from 1931's Kismet, starring Winnie Lightner. It proves an eternal truth: just because your audience spends your whole set on the phone, it doesn't mean they're not into you:



So many of Winnie's films haven't survived or have only come to us in bits. She was an absolutely massive Depression-era star in the all-singing, all-dancing vaudeville mode, and was often cast as a wise-cracking flapper (her most famous role was as Mabel in Gold Diggers of Broadway). Winnie was married four times and died in 1971.

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