Hugh Munro Neely and Andi Hicks, creators of a popular documentary on Olive Thomas, Everybody’s Sweetheart (2005), present a fascinating new film on the life and career of cinema’s first and foremost vamp, Theda Bara. The Woman with the Hungry Eyes follows Bara’s life from her Jewish childhood in Cincinnati to her happy retirement in Hollywood. The film features clips from Bara’s surviving films, and images from those that have been lost. Bara (née Theodosia Goodman), whose screen name was an anagram for Arab Death, is perhaps the best early example of a film personality artificially fashioned to satisfy audience fantasies. Like Rudolph Valentino and Greta Garbo, Bara did not resemble her public persona; she lived a life relatively devoid of tragedy or angst.
Organized by Charles Silver, Associate Curator, Department of Film and Media.