#MUFFApproved: Why Be Good?
Why Be Good? (1929)
dir. William A. Seiter
Starring: Colleen Moore
One of my favourite time periods in cinema is the Silent Era. While names like Griffith, Méliès, and the Lumière Brothers probably sound familiar, there was actually a plethora of women working in the motion picture industry during this time. Check it out:
A comprehensive report on the film industry in 1923 (Business Woman) reported “twenty-nine different jobs that women held in addition to” being actresses (Women Film Pioneers Project).
These include (inhale fully here): “that of the typist, stenographer, secretary to the stars and executive secretary, telephone operator, hairdresser, seamstress, costume designer, milliner, reader, script girl, scenarist, cutter, film retoucher, film splicer, laboratory worker, set designer and set dresser, librarian, artist, title writer, publicity writer, plasterer molder, casting director, musician, film editor, department manager, director, and producer.”
In fact women were often better suited at some jobs than men were because of their ability to focus on minute details with the utmost precision. One of these jobs involved being in an editing room and colouring the film celluloid by hand with a paint brush.
A lot of women, both behind the scenes and on screen, are unheard of because it is tough to find a copy of the old films. If it weren’t for amazing communities/organizations that restore and screen these hidden treasures, they would fall into obscurity and be completely forgotten.
One such treasure, Why Be Good? (Seiter, 1929), has been recently restored and will premiere in Canada at the Toronto Silent Film Festival, where they will be screening this classic on April 7th at the Royal Cinema.
Why is it MUFF approved? Well, let’s take a look at the lead actress in the film: Colleen Moore.
Colleen Moore was a top actress in the 1920s. She was one of the most beloved stars and often cast as the rebellious-fashionable flapper. We can think of a flapper as today’s “girl next door”: loveable with a certain degree of mischief and curiosity bundled into one attractive package. Moore actually made a short-cut ‘bob’ trendy!
Like other women on screen during this era, there was a certain liberation from societal “female values” and these are strongly portrayed (negated) in Why Be Good?.
So far, Moore is pretty bad ass!
“Moore, as Pert Kelly, argues that if she contributes to the household with her paycheque, then she has a right to look like and do what she wants. Pert is one of those 'new women' an emancipated working gal by day complete with bobbed hair and lipstick and a wild jazz baby by night who smokes, drinks illegal booze, and flirts with men.” (+)
Reminds me of Rebel Wilson’s character in How To Be Single (2016)! Colleen Moore is a sensation and a comedy genius!
The April 7th screening is co-presented with The MUFF Society and tickets are going fast: Purchase here!
Come watch this amazing film with us and celebrate sassy and classy women on screen!
If you are interested to know more about women in the silent era, here are some great resources you can pour into for hours: