Lumpendivinity #1


Zasu: All mien, a droopy bouquet self-sufficient in its droopiness, redolent of specific flowers. And yet, this lily of the valley knows it’s been brutally transplanted. Some actors do that, even if unconsciously – embody perfumed there-and-not-there presence, in this case a position within the general mayhem of pre-Code programmers that… yields. Gives way. There’s no sense of tragedy in her exodus from the exalted Silents to All Talking Pictures, not a hint of loss in fact. Decaying sweetness comes with the schtick. At once defining and escaping capital “K” kitsch, the Great Zasu’s trembling trademark vocalizations seem made for the coarsest ballyhoo, because, after all, doormats were suddenly IN! She evokes prettiness more than being pretty, suggests, with her outsized peepers and alabaster skin, Victorian ideas of purity so that her perennial status as a discarded, worn-out broom never fully takes hold – a kind of victory? Today’s Depression Lesson comes to you in a one-liner about the stars of early talkies… They weren’t necessarily pretty.

Truck-faced tootsie, Wynne Gibson…

Squint-savant, Ned Sparks…

Psychotic kewpie, James Cagney…

And, yes, anemic witch…

It sounds incantatory, like the last word of a spell.

“Zasu.”

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