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    ALLA NAZINOVA IN "SALOMÉ"

In 1923, a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé was released. ALLA NAZINOVA, the Russian-American actress and producer of the film, played the protagonist.

This Salomé version, directed by Charles Bryant is often called one of the first art Films to be made in USA The highly stylized costumes, exaggerated acting, minimal sets, and absence of all but the most necessary props make for a screen image much more focused on atmosphere and on conveying a sense of the characters' individual heightened desires than on conventional plot development.

There is a longstanding rumor, that the film's cast is composed entirely of gay or bisexual actors in an homage to Oscar Wilde, as per Nazimova's demand. It is, of course, impossible to say, but one of the extras in Salomé reported that a number of the cast members—both featured and extras—were indeed gay, but not an unusual percentage of them, and certainly not all of them.

 

 

  All the sets were constructed indoors to be able to have complete control over the lighting. The film was shot completely in black and white, matching the illustrations done by Aubrey Beardsley in the printed edition of Wilde's play. The costumes, designed by NATACHA RAMBOVA (USA 1897-1966), who used material only from Maison Lewis of Paris, was inspired by the work of Beardsley too.

Image: Natacha Rambova



  Martin Turnbull novelist and co-founded of the ALLA NAZINOVA Society in order to preserve the memory of the actress, says that “Nazimova wearing her Salomé headdress is kind of one of the iconic images of silent cinema because it was so striking”.

In 2014, Turnbull received and e-mail from Jack Raines with pictures of costumes of Alla Nazimova, that Raines found at his grandma’s house in Georgia.

Turnbull was amazed at what he saw:

"Lo and behold, the first photo that we opened was of Nazimova’s wig from 'Salomé," he says. “And this is something we thought had been lost to the sands of time for decades only to find it had been sitting in a trunk in Columbus, Georgia for the last 60 years”.