Puce Moment, a six-minute-long, 1949, avant-garde film short shot by the fiery, furious director (and sometime author) Kenneth Anger focuses on color with a kaleidoscopic intensity that, ironically, pays homage to the black-and-white, powder-faced screen starlets of the silent era. The vivid, bleeding tones transform what would otherwise be a kooky portrait of decadent West-Coast glamor into something biting and timeless.
Actress Yvonne Marquis (herself the future mistress of a Mexican President) appears in textured close-ups—luxuriating on a chaise lounge and dressing to take her borzoi dogs for a walk, all while languidly observing the surrounding opulence in her solitary Hollywood fortress.
In a montage of ritualistic dressing, Marquis is mesmerized by by colorful silks and sequined gowns, many of which Anger collected from his grandmother, a former costume designer of Hollywood's lost silent era. Marquis, in a nod to the bygone glamors of the time, becomes seduced by these vestiments—eventually falling for a puce-hued dress.
It's a color-drenched, surrealistic dream of emeralds, neon blue, golds, cerise, fake eyelashes, and coral lips where dancing dresses develop a life of their own, becoming the stars of the film. Balancing loamy sounds against these visuals, Puce Moment's lo-fi soundtrack features folk singer Johnathan Halper's eerie lyrics, "I am a hermit and I am not the same/yes I am a hermit/and ecstacy is my game." Perhaps Halper was as drunk on color as Anger's heroine.