Picks and Pans Review: Horst: His Work and His World

updated 12/03/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Valentine Lawford

The subtitle to Return Engagement (Clarkson N. Potter, $24.95) is "Faces to Remember—Then & Now," and what faces they are, or at least were, in the then era: Mary Astor in flawless profile, Dorothy Lamour in torn gown and chains, Vera Hruba Ralston tying on an ice skate, Laura La Plante as Art Deco decoration. There are 74 movie actresses in this large-size book, in old Hollywood stills juxtaposed with recent portraits by Horst Bohrmann, the German-born society photographer. Now 78, he has done his best to make them look still glamorous—-and many of them do: Katharine Hepburn, Louise Brooks, Claire Trevor, Alexis Smith, Fay Wray, Teresa Wright. (Others, alas, look as if they had been pickled.) The author, entertainment editor at LIFE, writes, "As this century starts to come to a close, the great female stars are in short supply, especially when compared to the pre-1950s, when a magnificently large, healthy, productive, glamorous, trend-setting galaxy lighted up the arts." That obvious admiration of and affection for these survivors makes for an enjoyable—and sometimes beautiful—volume. The photographer is the whole show in the even more lavish Horst (Knopf, $55). In addition to Horst's fashion photographs of the '40s and '50s, there are marvelous portraits and informal shots of those who were "in" a few decades ago: Noel Coward with huge ears, a black-gowned-and-gloved Clare Boothe Luce, stern novelist Alberto Moravia. The most telling photographs are those that show models preparing for a shoot. They were elegant, creative people, and with Horst they always looked their absolute best.

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