Oh Norma, Norma, Norma… Norma Talmadge is a mystery in many ways. People wonder why her popularity faded after the silent era. Was it because she made “women’s” pictures? Was it because her work was too much of its time? Well, let me tell you something. It doesn’t help that a good number of her pictures are uproariously, hysterically bad, bad, bad.
Case in point: The Forbidden City. Norma plays a Chinese maiden who talks baby-talk and falls in love with Thomas Meighan. The latter is understandable but the former… Let’s just say that Groucho Marx and I share the same opinion on ‘ittle icky baby talk.
Anyway, the entire film is filled with bizarre moments like this and Norma seems to believe that in order to play an Asian character, one has only to pucker one’s lips and wear lots of mascara. (I also don’t think the filmmakers knew how the Buddha thing worked.)
Availability: The Forbidden City is available on DVD from Grapevine as a double feature with The Social Secretary, another ‘teens Talmadge feature. It has also been released by ReelclassicDVD bundled with the silent movie retrospective Secrets of Hollywood but I have not yet viewed this edition. I should note that I have been very happy with all the discs from this company that I have viewed so far.