Arena - Screen Goddesses

9:00pm Saturday 22 December on BBC FOUR

In this BBC Four Christmas special, Arena: Screen Goddesses charts the Hollywood studio era from its beginning through to its collapse in the early 1960s, and through the meteoric rise and fall of the screen goddesses that made it.

With the beginning of Hollywood around 1910, the star system was born, with an archetypal bad girl – the vampish Theda Bara – and the good girl – the blazingly sincere Lillian Gish. From the 1920s, the female stars most remembered today are the vivacious ‘It’ Girl Clara Bow and the seductive siren Louise Brooks; but none made the impact of German born, Marlene Dietrich, an icon of mystery or the ‘Great Garbo’ with perfect features and gloomy introspection.

From the power of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis to the beauty and seductiveness of Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner, Hollywood studios produced their own brand of beautiful, sassy and confident women. But it wasn’t to last.

Arena: Screen Goddesses uses film extracts and archive footage to chronicle an era that drew to a close with the supreme fame of Elizabeth Taylor and the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe. It will chart those final days of the reign of the goddess on the big screen – screen queens whose images will last forever.

Narrated by ?Elizabeth McGovern

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