“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Tallulah Bankhead Day – June 15 1940 (& remembering 1931’s The Cheat)

Posted: June 15th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

In order to drum up some attendance figures the New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940 named various days after celebrities of the time and encouraged their fans to come along….Noel Coward got a day….as did Tallulah Bankhead – on June 15 1940. So, as a fan of Talluluah, I want to record this auspicious day in the calendar and the only thing I can think of is (apart from her 1920s forays into Limehouse for opium and cocaine – see my post on that here) is to recall the 1931 (pre-Hays Code) movie The Cheat.

Tallulah herself saw the movie as ‘banal’, though the New York Times liked it. Tallulah is seriously sexy and the movie is a must for those interested in Orientalist tropes in American movies – it’s basically an entire movie of them! It’s a Harry Hervey script (he of Shanghai Express and the broadway adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s Rain – see my posts on Hervey here and here). Bankhead spends much of the movie in a Chinese dress of some Hollywood concoction – she certainly looks great; stylistic accuracy is less certain. You can watch the film on Youtube here .

Talluluah in her “Chinese costume” with Irving Pichel (in  “Japanese costume”)

Tallulah on the telephone in her costume!

Tallulah with some Chinese dolls

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One Comment on “Tallulah Bankhead Day – June 15 1940 (& remembering 1931’s The Cheat)”

  1. 1 Harlan Greene said at 11:37 am on January 24th, 2019:

    You might want to check out my biography of Harry Hervey The Damned Don’t Cry: They Just Disappear — for more info on Hervey. Glad to see someone else is interested


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