Hollywood Babylon: Kenneth Anger’s Colorful Screen Siren

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.
For fantastical summer color we love Ohne Titel, Zero Maria Cornejo, David Saunders, VPL's smoking undies and Brian Crumley's glass-bauble jewelry. Of course, it would take a heavy dose of crimson-stained cheeks and painted lips to truly complete the moment.

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