Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Remember My [Singular] Name!

Our little tour of stars so nice they named them ... once, having so far encompassed Acquanetta, Movita, and the incomparable Charo, continues with an enigmatic lady known to film goers of the early thirties as:

Joyzelle!

She is seen in the fabulous snap above in the film - and costume - for which she is perhaps best remembered. In 1930's Just Imagine, she carries over her penchant for the short and snappy by portraying not one but two single-named characters, BooLoo and LooLoo (they're twins, you see, one good, one evil)...

Just Imagine is one of those little-screened, much-discussed films that, based on the stills, you think is going to be earth-shattering. Our girl, for example, is wearing in the shot above what was described as the screen's first all-mica gown! How could that not be riveting?

Well, it's not. Yes, there are lavish sci-fi sets - reputedly more elaborate than those used a couple of years earlier in Germany for Metropolis - and costumes to match, and an early appearance by Maureen O'Sullivan; but there is also way, way too much shtick that was old when Vaudeville was a tot, pacing that outdoes the creakiest pictures of even just a few months later, and - most fatally - El Brendel (about whom I have nothing to say except to warn you to avoid him like the plague. He's the kind of performer who can make you want never to see a movie older than six months).

As for Miss J., she is very, well, busy, in that way early Talkie performers sometimes are. Like Clara Bow at her worst, you're never quite sure if she's just peppy, or if there's some kind of neuromotor problem coming on.

During her brief vogue, Joyzelle seemed to specialize in characters in search of surnames. A quick check of the good old IMDb reveals that in a film career spanning only nine years (1926-1935), she managed to play: Saida, Salome, Conchita, Carmelita, Chanda, and Vavara, as well as LooLoo/Booloo (try saying that over and over again; it's quite diverting), and several iterations of just plain "dancer").

Beyond Just Imagine, there's really only one other moment of note for Joyzelle. In 1932, Cecil B. DeMille dropped her into his epic Sign of the Cross, where she plays a seductive pagan charged with leading virtuous Christian Elissa Landi down the primrose path.

It stands as one of the most humid moments in Pre-Code Hollywood:

It's good to know that even in Ancient Rome, she stays true to form; her name is Ancaria.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous! I'm now completely fascinated by her.

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