Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Joyzelle Joyner, 1905-1980

Joyzelle Joyner trying to seduce Elissa Landi in The Sign of the Cross (1932)

Today marks the birth anniversary of Joyzelle Joyner. Joyner wasn't particularly successful as an actress, with many roles as a dancer and her career in Hollywood winding down by 1935, with an uncredited appearance in Dante's Inferno. But she appeared in two of my favorite pre-Code films, so she deserves a mention.

First is 1930's Just Imagine. In this one, Joyzelle plays a dual role as Loo Loo the Martian queen, and her evil twin Boo Boo. It's a movie I love, because it's so bizarre, but I can see a lot of people not liking it. It only seems to be available on Youtube, which is presumably not an authorized copy. It really deserves a DVD release.

Two years later, Joyzelle appeared in a scene in The Sign of the Cross, in which she dances and tries to lure Elissa Landi away from Landi's virtuous Christianity. What a dance! It has obvious lesbian overtones, and might be more remembered for its shock value if it weren't for the other even more shocking things in the movie, especially Claudette Colbert bathing in that goats' milk bath. (The fact that Elissa Landi doesn't get star billing, even though her character is the female lead, doesn't help either.) This one is on DVD, both as a stand-alone and as part of a box set with some other Cecil B. DeMille movies of the 1930s.

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