I’ve now watched this video of Constance Bennett (Hollywood actress from the ’30s) four times. Since last night. I find myself transported by the absurdity of waking in such a manner, desperate for a maid to draw my own bath, absorbed by the glamour, soothed by her voice, and, finally, contemplative about the contradictions within this short film from 1937.
The highlights for me include:
- The entire premise. This is a daily beauty ritual purported to be demonstrating to viewers how to achieve a certain look and, yet, it is delightfully, absurdly obvious that she already has her hair well-coiffed and her makeup donned. I effing love it. It’s very Kardashian, no?
- The dressing gown. The robe. The heeled house slippers. YAAAAHHHSSS to all of these.
- The maid. The maid. The maid.
- Beyond the mere existence of said maid, I can’t get over Constance Bennett’s exchanges with Mary The Maid (also, all names of individuals in service should follow the rules of alliteration, amiright). After informing her mistress that “it is 7:35, you know,” she dutifully pours some sort of presumably delightful bath oil into the tub. While Bennett is threatening to “go on for hours” about her stimulant cream and then a mask, the maid dutifully reminds her majesty that the bath is all ready, at which point Bennett seems to wait longer than necessary—as though she were rolling her eyes but trying to remain polite—before deigning herself to reply that she’ll “be with [her] in just a minute.” Then, my god then, poor muddle-brained Mary the Maid says, in a rather plaintive wannabee actress voice, “But Ms. Bennett, it’s a quarter of eight!” Our beset upon goddess in the tub responds to her maid as if she were a recalcitrant child: “Ohhh, allllll riiiight. [Sigh.] She’s like an alarm clock isn’t she?” With a wink and a nudge at the viewer, as though we all can share in this little joke about a human being compared to an inanimate, but useful, object. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I effing
WANTNEED a Mary the Maid to wake me from bed, draw my bath, remind me of the time, and urge me to hurry if I’m running late. Lord (and my always-waiting-on-me friends) know I need one. Oh, to be lady of luxury…
- Towards the end, when speaking about the importance of a setting powder for her makeup because: “This is very important to all of us women because the only time we’re not on parade is the time we spend in front of our dressing tables—and sometimes not even then.” Preach!
- She ends with, “To be beautiful and natural is the birthright of every woman.” …. Let that sink in. It’s so gorgeously problematic—a piñata of a claim (especially after four minutes of expensive beauty routines) waiting to be bludgeoned by someone to reveal all the yummy absurdities within.
- The final comment is equally interesting. We hear a child’s voice off-screen asking her mommy to hurry up and have breakfast with her. Again, Bennett confides in the camera as though with a peer, and says, with a sly grin, “My lord and master’s voice. I must go.” Well, at least it’s not her husband?
- The kiss-off. I am going to start wishing people loads and loads of loveliness before somewhat insulting them by saying good luck.
That is all.