Olga Petrova - Extant Films

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Brooksie
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Olga Petrova - Extant Films

Unread post by Brooksie » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:53 pm

According to the Library of Congress database, the survival rate for Olga Petrova's features is about on par with that of Theda Bara. Of 26 features made between 1914 and 1918, only three apparently remain: The Vampire (1915), Extravagance (1916) and The Waiting Soul (1918). It appears that a short excerpt from a fourth, The Undying Flame (1917), was included in Paramount's The House That Shadows Built (1931), but that's it.

I'm loath to bracket her with Bara, because she is always characterised as a vamp. Why would she not? She was a Briton with a phoney European name. She appeared in films with titles like The Panther Woman and The Soul Of A Magdalen. She was a dab hand at self-mythologising.

And yet, the more I read about her films, the more I am convinced that they were deliberate deconstructions of the vamp genre. Take The Vampire (1915) - not the proto-vamp film of the same name from 1913, but a completely different story (the very act of borrowing a two year old title seems deliberately provocative). Petrova plays a woman who - yes - revenges herself upon the male sex; but only after she is seduced, abandoned, denigrated, and all but reduced to chattel. The scenario was by Petrova herself, directed by Alice Guy Blaché. Nobody seems to have noted it at the time, but here was essentially an anti-vamp film, completely created by women. Quite extraordinary.

Going through her other scenarios, there's more of this - women who could be vamps but are not. The AFI catalogue entries are relatively scant, but reading the original reviews and synopses reveals a lot more nuance. After leaving film at the height of her fame, she turned to the stage, often appearing in plays of her own authorship.

Has anyone seen any of them? Has anyone read Petrova's autobiography?

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greta de groat
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Re: Olga Petrova - Extant Films

Unread post by greta de groat » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:11 am

Brooksie wrote:According to the Library of Congress database, the survival rate for Olga Petrova's features is about on par with that of Theda Bara. Of 26 features made between 1914 and 1918, only three apparently remain: The Vampire (1915), Extravagance (1916) and The Waiting Soul (1918). It appears that a short excerpt from a fourth, The Undying Flame (1917), was included in Paramount's The House That Shadows Built (1931), but that's it.

I'm loath to bracket her with Bara, because she is always characterised as a vamp. Why would she not? She was a Briton with a phoney European name. She appeared in films with titles like The Panther Woman and The Soul Of A Magdalen. She was a dab hand at self-mythologising.

And yet, the more I read about her films, the more I am convinced that they were deliberate deconstructions of the vamp genre. Take The Vampire (1915) - not the proto-vamp film of the same name from 1913, but a completely different story (the very act of borrowing a two year old title seems deliberately provocative). Petrova plays a woman who - yes - revenges herself upon the male sex; but only after she is seduced, abandoned, denigrated, and all but reduced to chattel. The scenario was by Petrova herself, directed by Alice Guy Blaché. Nobody seems to have noted it at the time, but here was essentially an anti-vamp film, completely created by women. Quite extraordinary.

Going through her other scenarios, there's more of this - women who could be vamps but are not. The AFI catalogue entries are relatively scant, but reading the original reviews and synopses reveals a lot more nuance. After leaving film at the height of her fame, she turned to the stage, often appearing in plays of her own authorship.

Has anyone seen any of them? Has anyone read Petrova's autobiography?
I read her autobiography a couple years ago, and i came away really liking her and loving her attitude. If her firms turned out to be as you suspect, i should not be a bit surprised. She had a great sense of self-worth and was aware of and outspoken about the the indignities she was subjected to because of her gender, starting with the way she was treated in her own family. She determined early on that the only way she had to control her life was to make her own living, and she did it.

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telical
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Re: Olga Petrova - Extant Films

Unread post by telical » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:22 pm

Did you notice the modern blonde that comes up as the main picture for her in a google image search? It's not even a celebrity of note with the same name. Interesting how Google is mostly computer generated. Maybe in her honor they might have a human change that.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Olga+Pe ... e&ie=UTF-8" target="_blank
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salus
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Re: Olga Petrova - Extant Films

Unread post by salus » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:54 pm

In his Whatever Became Of series Richard Lamparski had Olga Petrova pictured with Beverly Bayne in their latter years. Petrova died in Florida , Bayne in Arizona. Petrova tried vaudeville and some Broadway but her career ended decades before her death in her 90's

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Brooksie
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Re: Olga Petrova - Extant Films

Unread post by Brooksie » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:51 pm

greta de groat wrote:I read her autobiography a couple years ago, and i came away really liking her and loving her attitude. If her firms turned out to be as you suspect, i should not be a bit surprised. She had a great sense of self-worth and was aware of and outspoken about the the indignities she was subjected to because of her gender, starting with the way she was treated in her own family. She determined early on that the only way she had to control her life was to make her own living, and she did it.

greta
I'm definitely going to have to track down that autobiography. That sense of self-worth seems to be reflected in her screen persona and the scenarios she worked on.

(And Telical - just try doing a Google Image Search on Charley Chase. Or rather, don't. :shock: )

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