The Norman Transcript


September 14, 2013

Silver screen stars: Then and now



So, when it comes to makeup and acting quality, those early actors and actresses of the silent movies had a long road to hoe. This critique is not meant to imply that with talking pictures the acting improved.

Quite the contrary. Some of the old westerns were exhausting when you counted the number of times the good guys and the bad guys went around the same boulder in a chase scene. The lines were still spoken with the emotional range of a cover on a coffin.

Aside from the aforementioned “flaws” of the movies as they evolved over time, we cannot overlook the male physique back then compared to the buff, six-pack abs sported by today’s male actors.

“The Black Swan” was a 1942 swashbuckler filmed in Technicolor starring Tyrone Power. He was a nice looking man, almost pretty man, but he really should have kept his shirt on. His pasty white skin made no sense since pirates were constantly exposed to the sun and other weather conditions. Not even Technicolor helped Tyrone look good shirtless.

Not a discernible abdominal or any other kind of toned muscle was noticeable on old Tyrone. Again, one wishes to be kind but for the sake of authenticity, pirates should have visible muscles. After all, they haul those sails up and down and do all the heavy lifting on the ship. And yet, the physique of every male in that movie was tolerable to paunchy.

The script must have been written by a ventriloquist, stiff and wooden at best and laughable in general.

There have been actors such as Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, who looked fit. However, compared to today’s slim and six or eight-pack abs-enhanced male movie stars, the pasty and paunchy look in the “Black Swan” was not sexy.

If women thought otherwise, they had no awesome abdominal physique available for comparison in those “good old days.”

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Her novels “The Dionysus Connection” and “The Marathon Man” are available on Website:

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