Monday, August 20, 2007

Concentric Circles of Zasu

When I was in middle school, a girl who worked on art projects with me had an obsession with the actress Zasu Pitts. I had no idea who she was talking about but acted as if I did. No slouch, the girl asked me, "So what are your favorite movies of hers?" Not missing a beat, I responded, "Oh, you know, the German ones." She responded back, "Oh, indeed, Von Stroheim and Greed." That ended the conversation, but the words Greed and Zasu stuck with me for years, years before we had and Wikipedia. There was just something about someone named Zasu that stuck with me, especially when paired with a moniker like Pitts.

Only in my college years, would I have my first opportunity to see Greed on a big screen, albeit in a very poorly preserved print. But her portrayal of Trina did not disappoint me in this rarely afforded opportunity to finally see that face and personality paired with such an odd name. The passing this week of Leona Helmsley harkened back to that image of Pitts' character Trina as well as the miserly Hetty Green whose bio I've referred to earlier here.

What is it about greed in men that is so repulsive but fascinating when embodied in a woman? Of course, Pitts would go on to play mainly comic, light characters, but her early career always fascinated me. Only recently did I discover that she was born and spent her earliest years in Parsons, Kansas, where I have several family members. How fitting that like Louise Brooks, Kansas with its flat, abstract landscape produced a disturbed and distrubing artist.

Stranger still while researching a piece on Zasu for my vlog that I came across this embodiment of the name Zasu in, of all places, Melbourne, Australia. Sometimes sweet, beautiful madness smiles down on a flat landscape and transports its bent poets into great places.

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At 4:16 PM, Blogger WAT said...

And from what I was reading, she even made a fine transition into sound, and TV SHOWS!

Unlike that maniac Norma Desmond!


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