USA 1923. Dir Charles Bryant.

With Alla Nazimova, Mitchell Lewis. Costume and sets Natacha Rambova. c.74min

The cult status that Salomé enjoys today owes much to the outlandish, highly stylised sets and costumes à la Aubrey Beardsley. The designer Natacha Rambova was a protégé of the lead actress and producer Nazimova who reportedly sank much of her own money in the film. Despite being a box office failure the film remains a landmark in the history of cinema, bridging the mainstream and the avant-garde. Its radical modernist aesthetic, camp stylisations and deliberately exaggerated acting is a departure from the turn-of-the-century portrayals of Salomé as an overtly eroticized seductress. Nazimova’s film is arguably less exhibitionist than it is a comment on exhibitionism (one reviewer even complained it had little worthy of censorship) as it thematises looking, voyeurism and transgressive sexual desire – an apt homage to Oscar Wilde indeed.