What motivates a woman to become a criminal? Are some women just born bad, or are they driven to commit crimes for, or because of, the men in their lives? Felonious Flappers will explore the lives and crimes of some of the baddest girls in Los Angeles, from actress and writer Dorothy Mackaye to the ironically named Helen Love.
What is it about Los Angeles that brings out the evil in a woman? Crime writer Raymond Chandler speculated that a local weather phenomenon could cause a woman to contemplate murder: “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”
Whether it’s the climate, their greed, or that they’re just plain evil, curvy killers have always been a part of the fabric of Los Angeles. You may empathize with the femme fatales, or find them repellent, but you are sure to be fascinated by them.
Social historian and writer Joan Renner will present an illustrated lecture which will explore the cases of a few Los Angeles women who found themselves on the wrong side of the law during the Art Deco era.
Presentation will be followed by a rare theatrical screening of the pre-code “lady criminal film” THE LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT starring Barbara Stanwyck.