Thursday, August 28, 2008

Alla Nazimova (1879-1945) and 'Salome' (1923)

Born Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon in 1879 in Yalt, the Crimea, Russia, Alla Nazimova played the central role in 'Salome' (1923), from which these stills are taken ....

... and of which the 'Veil Dance of Salome' clip below is part.

Having studied in the now famed Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theater, Nazimova became a major star in Europe, before emigrating to the States where she was a huge hit on Broadway, and then a power in Hollywood from 1917 to 1922, as an actress, screenwriter and producer.

She had that great sense of creative purpose that drove Serge de Diaghilev in masterminding the Ballets Russes. And there is a parallel in the drawing together of so many important artistic elements, in the production of this daring film - from Natasha Rambova's designs from Aubrey Beardsley to the text of Oscar Wilde's play.

The acting and movement has a stylization and exaggeration that, while often typical of the period, is highly appropriate to this essentially aesthetic-movement-meets-German-expressionism material.

Great thanks must go to 'MaidMarian' for this upload to YouTube! Her choice of music is perfect - at times I imagine it as an original sound track!


  1. Thank You!

    Nick, I had never even realized that there were was Anything at all left on record, so to speak, of Nazimova.

    You rock and so does Alla!

    P.S. Just nitpicking but ain't the Crimea in Ukraine? Russian descent(ascent?) she may have but then Polish ancestry did Nijinski have which never stopped folks fr4om seeing him as an epitome of Rusiian culture...

  2. hey peter. yep, and even made films into the 1940's - some where she had sunset boulevard moments - scary stuff. a bit like betty davis and 'whatever happened to ... '. and with respect to the Crimea/Ukraine/Russia thing, i was thinking historically - as things were when Alla was born - where she would see herself coming from. the Crimea was part of the Russian Empire - and has only been part of Ukraine since 1954. but good point to make - thanks. big one on each cheek - you know which ones i am referring to! nick

  3. WOW!! Thanks, Nick, that was sensational. I feel like I was just visited by Oscar Wilde and Audry Beardsley............

  4. hey anon. you're right - the little fim really does gives a sense of oscar wilde and beardsley - did you see the beardsley post i did a while back? and have you seen his erotica? take care. nick