WCW: Norma Shearer

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Let’s give some Woman Crush Wednesday love to this leading lady of Hollywood’s early days!

 

The Tower of Lies (1925)

A “lost” film (meaning, no copies are known to exist). Norma Shearer plays the daughter of a farmer who marries her father’s landlord in order to save dad from debt.

1925 The Tower of Lies

Love all the heavy eye makeup for a simple farm girl!

 

Upstage (1926)

Okay, technically a modern-set film, but Shearer plays an actress and she gets this killer wig/standing ruff combo that I have to include:

1926 Upstage

Okay so that’s a lot of era-mixing, and the wig is eating her face, but it’s still fabulous!

 

The Student Prince of Old Heidelberg (1927)

Set in the very recent past, 1901. An Austrian prince falls in love with a barmaid.

1927 The student prince of old Heidelberg

Set 26 years earlier, so basically, this is 1920s/1900s retro!

 

Smilin’ Through (1932)

It’s all pretty complicated, but basically Shearer plays both the accidentally-murdered love interest of Leslie Howard, who is able to commune spiritually with him, as well as her niece who looks just like her.

1932 Smilin' Through

Pretty satin…

Smilin' Through (1932)

…and perfect hair!

 

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

The real-life romance between Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, with costumes by Adrian.

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

PUPPEH

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

It’s hard being an invalid in love!

 

Romeo and Juliet (1936)

Ya know, Shakespeare! With Leslie Howard again, and costumes by Adrian again.

Romeo and Juliet (1936)

Ah yes, the proverbial “Juliet cap.”

1936 Romeo and Juliet

I feel like this is Romeo & Juliet in Space?

Marie Antoinette (1938)

As the ill-fated queen, looking STUPENDOUSLY gorgeous. Another costumed by Adrian!

Marie Antoinette (1938)

SO MUCH 1930S GOODNESS

Marie Antoinette (1938)

*flails*

Marie Antoinette (1938)

The star spray!!

A beautiful take on a chemise gown.

 

What’s your fave Norma Shearer historical costume role?

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About the author

Kendra

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Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

8 Responses

  1. Melanie

    I vaguely remember watching Romeo and Juliet during my first wave of Leslie Howard love. But even though it’s not period, Norma Shearer is FABULOUS in The Women, no matter how problematic the ending. I really need to see The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

    Reply
  2. Frannie Germeshausen

    She’s so iconic. Glad to see her featured. And Adrian. So.Much.Adrian.

    Reply
  3. Susan Pola Staples

    Gotta go with Marie Antoinette. Love Adrian’s costumes. Also Barretts of Wimpole Street.
    Favourite ‘modern’ is The Women.
    I remember reading a bio about Ms Shearer and how she was, as Melanie mentioned, fierce as an actress, and was able to have a successful career as an actress and how as Irving Thalberg’s widow she was deferred to – at times – by the controlling L. B. Mayer.

    Reply
  4. Teri

    Oh, I how I love Norma! She’s too often dismissed as owing her careen solely to being married to Irving Thalberg, but she was such a fighter. After being turned away by both the great Ziegfeld (for being too dumpy) and by D.W. Griffith ( for having eyes too small and too blue), she ignored them, worked on her craft, and plowed on. She learned to control her lazy eye, learned her angles, studied how to make her short legs appear longer – she worked her ass off. What a lady!

    Reply
  5. Fogbraider

    The Romeo and Juliet is wonderful. The two leads are far too old for the parts, but the camera is kind to them, and as mature exponents of their art, they deliver Shakespeare’s lines with so much power. It’s also a very full text, including Juliet’s speech expressing her horror of having to lie in the vault (when she’s drugged to appear dead) with the body of Tybalt. Shearer’s delivery sent shivers down my spine. The ‘comic’ business between the nurse and her servant is also included.

    I think I discovered this film as a result of you good people doing a post on Basil Rathbone. He’s Tybalt, and his magnificent fencing skills are used to the full.

    Reply
  6. mmcquown

    It’s often said that by the time an actress gets old enough to fully understand Juliet, she’s too old to play her. Shearer had a real knack for Looking Noble.

    Reply

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