Femme Vivre La Rouge has compiled a list of great vintage and burlesque inspired books and films to keep you cozy by the fire this winter!
For a cheeky and satirical look at social history, go with The Nice Girl’s Guide to Good Behavior by Monica Redlich.
With chapter headings such as “A Guide to Public Appearances” and “People You Ought to Know About” this book gives the best worst advice of the 1930s and, while it purports to teaching girls good behavior, it really focuses more on how to put other women down ‘politely,’ play men, and climb the social ladder.
If you’re looking for something instructional this year, you may want to give Atomic Cocktails: Mixed Drinks for Modern Times a whirl. Compiled by Karen Brooks, Gideon Bosker, and Reed Darmon, this book is full of fantastic photos, illustrations, and best of all, drink recipes from the great age of the cocktail. Throughout the year this little gem has helped my fella and I keep our New Year’s resolution of ‘drinking fancy.’
For aesthetic inspiration and leisurely gazing, I recommend The Art of the Great Hollywood Portrait Photographers by John Kobal. Spanning the period of 1925-1940, this title offers up 150 stunning photographs with information on the photographers and their subjects. This one would look great on your coffee table!
Sisters of Salome by Toni Bentley is an excellent look at female artists at the turn of the last century, the emergence of modern dance, and the Salome Craze This one is definitely in my top 10 favorite non-fiction books.
For something spooky, I recommend Hollywood Haunted: A Ghostly Tour of Filmland by Laurie Jacobson and Marc Wanamaker. Featuring stories about Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Bela Lugosi, and many more, this is an excellent compilation of Hollywood’s most famous specters.
If you enjoy pulp fiction and a good detective mystery as much as I do, and you’ve already made your way through the Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet classics, here a few new suggestions:
The Corpse Wore Pasties by Johnny Porkpie, the Burlesque Mayor of New York City– a scintillating burlesque detective mystery written by one of our own He Done Her Wrong: A Toby Peters Mystery by Stuart Kaminsky features Mae West as a main character, blackmailed with a stolen manuscript of her scandalous autobiography. Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont is another fine choice An excellent modern pulp fiction, this book’s characters are all famous writers from the great pulp era.
If you’re in the mood for a classic holiday film, but you’ve tired of White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, check out 1945’s Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck
For another marvelous Barbara Stanwyck film of the burlesque variety, look up Ball of Fire, in which she plays a nightclub performer mixed up in a murder case with her gangster boyfriend. It’s a little bit like a 1941 version of Sister Act except that Stanwyck seeks asylum with a group of nerdy lexicographers rather than nuns.
For a burlesque biopic try The Josephine Baker Story Released in 1991, with Lynn Whitfield as the title character, this film chronicles the incredible life of Josephine Baker.
Another great biopic that shouldn’t be missed is 2009’s Coco Before Chanel starring Audrey Tautou as the great designer, Coco Chanel.
If you’re in the mood for a musical, might I suggest 1960’s Can Can starring Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, and Maurice Chevalier
For Romantic Comedy, try one of my all-time favorite films, 1934’s It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Filmed in just four weeks while Colbert was on break from another film set, this cinematic masterpiece was the first to win every major Academy Award.
A marvelous series of films beginning in 1934, The Thin Man movies are a mix of detective mystery and romantic comedy, with heavy drinking and witty dialogue on the side
Finally, for a modern classic, set in the 1930s just before the dawn of WWII, watch 2008’s Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, with Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, and Lee Pace