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Vamp
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Veteran biographer Golden (Platinum Girl: The Life and Legends of Jean Harlow, LJ 10/1/91) here chronicles the career of silent siren Theda Bara, the quintessential "vamp," who played Carmen, Salome, and Cleopatra, among other notorious female roles. Like many film biographies, it succumbs to familiar pitfalls: obligatory but cursory nods to film history and an uneven narrative, where the subject's "rise" inevitably is more compelling than her "fall." Laden with familiar apocrypha on Bara, Vamp isn't groundbreaking, but it is a much-needed full-length work that shows how Bara's precedent-setting career has contemporary resonance in mass-mediated images. With a critical eye for her primary sources, the fanzines, the author deconstructs Hollywood stardom without over-intellectualizing the star. Although Bara's films are dated, Golden gives due consideration to the icon Bara created-and to the life behind it. Recommended for general collections.-Jayne Kate Plymale-Jackson, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens

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