1940s Makeup – The famous Lipstick Scene in Black Narcissus


1940s makeup beauty – Kathleen Bryon in Black Narcissus

Some 1940s makeup images from two beautiful expressionist films made in wartime Britain by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger – Black Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death. This short beauty post celebrates both the amazing cinematography of Jack Cardiff who shot both films, and the striking ethereal beauty of actress Kathleen Byron. First – the infamous ‘Lipstick Scene’ in Black Narcissus when Byron’s Sister Ruth goes mad and taunts Sister ‘Deborah Kerr’ by openly wearing makeup and applying lipstick – which turns her into some sort of ‘werewolf’  according to the Wikipedia entry on Black Narcissus. An accurate enough description. We just love the film, its spiritual integrity and its beauty.
A Matter of Life and Death – starring David Niven – who having bailed out of his stricken bomber without a parachute – fully prepared to die,is ‘missed’ by his angel in the dreaded English fog – survives, falls in love and has to fight in a heavenly court to stay alive. Truly beautiful film by anyone’s standards,and the female stars Kim Hunter and Kathleen Byron – are luminescent thanks to the aforementioned Jack Cardiff.
If you haven’t watched them – treat yourself to both and every other Powell and Pressburger movie.

Kathleen Byron – A Matter of Life and Death -1940s hair and makeup Style.


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2 thoughts on “1940s Makeup – The famous Lipstick Scene in Black Narcissus”

  1. Oh, I agree with Kate! It’s chilling, that scene.

    Fantastic movie, I try to watch it every time it’s on. Have never seen the other, and will certainly watch for it.

  2. I love both films, and it’s so unsettling when Byron puts on that lipstick in the Black Narcissus. Usually lipstick is linked to becoming more glamourous and admirable, I guess, but my stomach just turns when she applies it and becomes this monster… Aaargh, need to watch it again! :) x

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