This month is going to be all about the silent stars who also wore the director’s hat. These talented women and men took on two challenging jobs and emerged with some first class entertainment.
Before I get started, though, I wanted to thank everyone who took part in submitting ideas for the Reader Request Month. I really appreciate your feedback and enjoyed reviewing your selections. If your idea wasn’t chosen, just know that I truly appreciate your taking the time the participate and your films may very well show up in the future.
Now, on to the director-stars!
First, the ground rules:
- The director has to have a major role in the film, I’m not talking about Hitchcock-ish cameos. They have to either be the main character or have a meaty supporting role.
Ladies first! This theme month is going to focus on women as much as possible. The female directors of the silent era are often neglected by history. We get a mention of Alice Guy, Lois Weber and then off to talking about more men, tra-la-la-la. Not this time!
The direction has to be either credited or widely acknowledged. For example, there is some evidence that Nazimova directed Camille but it is not confirmed and so it doesn’t count.
My plan is to blend famous films and actor-directors with obscure and forgotten talent.
Review 1: Marion Wong in The Curse of Quon Gwon
The earliest surviving Chinese-American film was written by and starred a woman.
Review 2: Margery Wilson and William S. Hart in The Return of Draw Egan
William S. Hart directs and stars but his leading lady, Margery Wilson, was also known to pick up the megaphone.
Review 3: Mabel Normand in Mabel at the Wheel
Normand was very young when she directed this comedy but she knocks it out of the park– despite some problems with leading man Charlie Chaplin.
Review 4: Lois Weber in Suspense
A perfectly brilliant film that takes its title and distills it to its purest form.
I’m guess Nell Shipman is going to make an appearance ! There’s wonderful background on her in cinematographer Joseph August’s terrific book “The Light On Her Face”.
She is extremely fascinating! A shame she’s not better known today.
Is it okay to ask for Donald Crisp?
I’ve already made the selections for the month but I appreciate the suggestion and will keep it in mind for future months. 🙂
Tenacious, talented (oh, and absolutely gorgeous) Gene Gauntier gets my vote!
Oh yes, Gene Gauntier was amazing. I would love to see some of the Civil War spy films she wrote/starred in.
Please do keep Gauntier in mind for future posts if she doesn’t make an appearance this time around. Dorothy Arzner is another favorite that I’m betting does make the cut- she’s fondly known around these parts as Suit’nTie Gal (that famous photo).
I am going even more obscure than Gauntier and Arzner. (Oooo, hints!)
PS, I reviewed three of Gene Gauntier’s Irish pictures last summer, if you’re interested. Two are O’Kalems, one is the GGs.
The Lad from old Ireland
You Remember Ellen
For Ireland’s Sake
Thanks for the links! That was before I found Movies Silently and became a regular reader here, so was unaware.
Glad to help!
I am looking forward to these upcoming posts because I feel I am getting more educated every time I read something here.
Thank you so much!
As an interesting “FYI,” readers may want to see an interesting documentary on Alice Guy-Blaché produced in 1995 by the National Film Board and which can be found by clicking on this link: https://www.nfb.ca/film/lost_garden_life_cinema_alice_guy_blache
(The site is an excellent–and free–resource for films. Unfortunately, there are no silent ones except for a short film on airplane casualties.)
Comments are closed.