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The Key to Beauty

The Key to Beauty (US 1917)
Paramount - Bray Pictographs: The Magazine on the Screen. No 76.
Production company: The Bray Studios Inc.
Distribution company: Paramount Pictures

Release date: 16 July 1917
Sound: silent
Color: b/w
Length (in feet): 392 ft.
Length (in reels): 1
Running time: 3 min. 30 sec.
Frame rate: 16 fps

Restored from 28mm to 35mm at Haghefilm
Digitized by Eastman Museum Film Preservation Services
Preserved through the Save America’s Treasures Grant, generously supported by the National Park Service in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities

“The subject called The Key to Beauty...is sure to find favor among the gentler sex, for it is an exposition of the methods adopted by some of our famous stage beauties in preserving and developing their charms—and these methods can, if milady is ambitious, be used by her in her boudoir to her great advantage.” – Moving Picture World (April–June 1917) 

Released on the same day and in the same program with The Latest Kinks in Canning and an animation film called Otto Luck and the Ruby Razmataz.

A lot has changed in the 93 years since this promotional short film was made—but a lot hasn’t. Gym clothes have certainly improved, and exercise equipment is sleek and modern. But the message this film sends—“Ladies, the key to beauty is to be fit and be thin”—is still prevalent in 21st-century American society. The various exercises demonstrated here are designed to improve one’s health, posture, muscle tone, and according to the filmmakers, bring happiness. The film encourages exercise to attain “real beauty” without the aid of artificial enhancers—such as rouge. That may seem tame considering the ways in which women and girls today are constantly pressured to be thin and to fit into the style of whatever “look” is currently fashionable. To be sure, contemporary advertising is only beginning to embrace all body shapes and sizes. Slowly, the message is becoming, “The key to beauty is to be healthy and to be yourself!”