When asked to partake in a radio show featuring film stars of the Finnish studio era, I chose actress Hanna Taini as my subject. I find Taini to be one of the most interesting of Finnish film stars. Finnish speakers can now listen to the Hanna Taini episode at Yle Areena.
The Finnish Jewish actress was born Hanna Schlimowitsch in 1911. Her career began during the final years of the silent era in films by Valentin Vaala and Theodor Tugai, later known as Teuvo Tulio.
During the Finnish silent era when national subjects dominated the silver screen, Hanna Taini portrayed characters that were new and exotic to Finnish audiences. She often played flapperesque characters associated with dancing and active sexuality.
In Mustalaishurmaaja (1929) she plays a Romanian girl competing for the affections of Theodor Tugai, Finland’s answer to Rudolph Valentino. In Jääkärin morsian (1931) Taini is a ballet dancer from Warsaw, in Laveata tietä (1931) a Spanish dancer in Paris and in Erämaan turvissa (1931) a Russian nihilist.
Hanna Taini in Mustalaishurmaaja
With the success of Siltalan pehtoori in 1934, Hanna Taini became one of Finland’s first film stars. In the mid-1930s when Finnish production companies were only beginning to manufacture stars, Siltalan pehtoori broke attendance records: it was seen by an estimated million people, more than any other Finnish film at the time. In fact, it is still in the top 5 of most watched Finnish films of all time.
The character of Lilli Lind, the proud mistress of a country house, altered Taini’s star image forever. She would play similar upper-class ladies until the end of her career in the early 1940s, a fact that bothered the actress to the point of annoyance. Only the role of a scheming vamp in Morsian yllättää (1941) would allow Taini to expand her repertoire once more.
Hanna Taini in Siltalan pehtoori
Hanna Taini was a unique star in the 1930s and 1940s Finland. Although the fact that she was Jewish wasn’t mentioned in the press at the time, Taini was a rare dark haired and brown eyed film star when the large majority of the leading ladies were blonde. Taini was married to Josef Lefko, the President of the Jewish Community of Helsinki.
Yle Radio Suomen 12-osaisessa kesäsarjassa tutustutaan kotimaisen studiokauden elokuvanäyttelijöihin. Jakso, jossa puhun Hanna Tainin urasta ja tähtikuvasta, esitetään 14.8.2014. SF-tähtiä ja tähdenlentoja kesätorstaisin klo 19.06 Yle Radio Suomessa ja nyt myös Yle Areenassa.
Lisää Hanna Tainista kirjoittamassani biografiassa, joka löytyy Elonetistä.
By Michelle Garrett
If it’s tough vintage realness that you’re after, look no further than these turn of the century ladies’ mug shots. The images, released in 2011 by the Australian Historic Houses Trust, come complete with names (or aliases), and descriptions of the charges levied against each woman. These 1920s mug shots are a pretty incredible vintage curiosity, but they’re also an interesting peek into everyday fashions of the early 20th century that exist outside of the flashy film star cosmos.
Annie Gunderson, 20 September 1922
This sombre-looking 19-year-old was charged with stealing a fur coat from a Sydney department store in 1922. Ms Gunderson may be freshly-cuffed, but she looks pretty cosy in her furs. And whilst stealing is generally a bad idea, I’ll give her full marks for commitment to fashion.
Doris Winifred Poole, 31 July 1924
Ms Poole, 21 years old, was charged with stealing jewellery and clothing in 1924. Admittedly, she does look pretty grand. Doris is channeling a Scandinavian goth vibe (about 90 years too early), set off with a killer scowl.
Patsy Neill, 30 January 1930
This 26-year-old barmaid was charged with theft and possession of cocaine. The press described Ms Neill as “looking like a mannequin on parade”, which is a fairly accurate tag line for a lady who wears a party frock to jail.
Fashion history remembers very few working class vintage fashion icons, especially since limited access to cameras in the early 20th century means that wealthy and upper class women are disproportionately represented in vintage images. But these scruffy ladies are femme fatales in their own right: still worth our time and fashion idolatry nearly a century later.
Want to dress like a smouldering 1920s petty thief? Etsy has your back.
You’re just one fur coat away from The Annie look. You should find a lifetime’s worth of Annie-era vintage fur on Etsy, and faux fur aplenty on nearly all modern or vintage reproduction sites. (New fur not required).
Doris does a five star goth flapper look, and you should try it on for size! It’s possible to create this look with vintage pieces, but save your pennies and give modern a go. Start with a Scandinavian shift dress, and work your way out. Try this Monki number – just add a cloche and terrifying eye contact.
Patsy is our party girl, so you’ll be needing a party dress. An authentic 1930s number might be ambitious, but oh, how it’s nice to look! This taffeta frock is pretty lovely, but don’t dance too hard or you’ll tear a fragile sleeve. Don’t forget the cloche, and stay away from trouble, Patsy – you have been warned.
You can find more tough lady mug shots and commentary here. All photos via Historic Houses Trust.