Pre-Code Gams and Dams(els).

Marlene Dietrich... they're alllll Dietrich.

Legs.

Gams.

A whole lotta tomato.

Pick your hyperbole, the fact is that 1930s cinema were full of that most suggestive of appendages in a way never quite paralleled since.

Sure, they’re still everywhere because they’re still sexy. They’ve always been sexy– ever since skirts first hiked heavenward in the late 20s straight through to today. But never quite this sexy. Perhaps for the fact that the definition of “sexy” is dependent upon the word “suggestive.” Today, sex on film is hardly suggestive. It is blatant, forthright, overpowering, and leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination.

These shots? They leave everything to the imagination.

Wherein the real power lies…

This post is not meant to spark any sort of debate on feminism v. femininity v. sexism … although I’m always game for it.

And since the fundamental core of feminism is the freedom of female CHOICE, I choose to see the following images, not as sexual exploitation, but rather as strong, working women, embracing their newly won sexuality.

And, largely unknown to them, so deeply changing the game in the process.

Chorus girl gams in 42nd STREET

Thelma Todd

Clara Bow, cinema's original IT girl, in 1927.

Joan Blondell

Carole Lombard

Our Dancing Daughters-- Joan Crawford and Anita Page

Eleanor Powell, 1935

Ruby Keeler

Ginger sur la plage.

Joan- Oh Joan - Blondell

Sexy Harlow

Anita Page... in charge, no holds bars.

Myrna Loy

Barbara Stanwyck in LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT, 1933

Toby Wing

Bette Davis, Santa Monica CA

Busby Berkeley's DAMES

Jean Harlow’s Power Pout

It is my considered opinion that no one can pout like Harlow.

"Get out and stay out!" - Hell's Angels (I think she means it...)

That power pout of hers is the reason, strange but true, that I first paid any attention to her at all. I was watching Red Headed Woman one lazy Saturday afternoon, and somewhere in the middle came a foot stomp…followed up with that delicious ‘Don’t Mess With Me’ pout…  and I just had to do a double take.

I still don’t know precisely why it wallops me, but it does. She’s both a toddler in a fit, a clawing goddess, and a vulnerable young woman. That’s not acting. That’s Harlean Carpenter in the flesh, raw and real and thoroughly electrifying.

You can try to mimick it, but you can never ever come close to it. That emotive pout– the reason my eyebrow raised that Saturday afternoon and I sat straight and took note.

My favorite Harlow Power Pout: the entire 7 minutes of this Red Headed Woman clip. The word you’re looking for, ladies and gents, is usually preceded by the word ‘holy’ and followed by something with an ‘f’…

Jean Harlow's Power Pout

It is my considered opinion that no one can pout like Harlow.

"Get out and stay out!" - Hell's Angels (I think she means it...)

That power pout of hers is the reason, strange but true, that I first paid any attention to her at all. I was watching Red Headed Woman one lazy Saturday afternoon, and somewhere in the middle came a foot stomp…followed up with that delicious ‘Don’t Mess With Me’ pout…  and I just had to do a double take.

I still don’t know precisely why it wallops me, but it does. She’s both a toddler in a fit, a clawing goddess, and a vulnerable young woman. That’s not acting. That’s Harlean Carpenter in the flesh, raw and real and thoroughly electrifying.

You can try to mimick it, but you can never ever come close to it. That emotive pout– the reason my eyebrow raised that Saturday afternoon and I sat straight and took note.

My favorite Harlow Power Pout: the entire 7 minutes of this Red Headed Woman clip. The word you’re looking for, ladies and gents, is usually preceded by the word ‘holy’ and followed by something with an ‘f’…