Lois Weber: The Director Who Lost Her Way in History

Lois Weber: The Director Who Lost Her Way in History

Lois Weber: The Director Who Lost Her Way in History

Lois Weber: The Director Who Lost Her Way in History

Synopsis

A major contribution to film scholarship and women's studies, this is the first critical biography of America's first native-born female director. It fully documents the career of Lois Weber as a director from 1908 through 1934 and notes the impressive number of short subjects and feature films that she made. Largely forgotten and often maligned, Lois Weber has received scant attention in recent years, yet this study points out that she was one of the cinema's genuine auteurs, not only directing, but also writing and often starring in her films. She was one of the first committed filmmakers who utilized the motion picture to express her views on subjects as varied as birth control, abortion, capital punishment, hypocrisy, and racial intolerance. Lois Weber's career is an extraordinary one, arguably unsurpassed by any other woman director before or since. Acclaimed film historian Anthony Slide presents us with an important reminder of the role women played in the American silent film industry and places Weber's preeminence in film history.

Excerpt

One of the greatest, popular misconceptions in the history of the motion picture is that at no time have women had a dominant influence on film production. The reality is that during the silent era in general, and between 1911 and 1920 in particular, women held prominent positions in many areas of filmmaking. They were overwhelmingly popular as featured players and stars (many with their own production companies), achieved major status as screenwriters and editors, and also made important contributions as directors.

Outside of the Western and comedy genres, actors were usually relegated to secondary roles as leading men to female stars such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Corinne Griffith, and Pola Negri, whose fame and popularity were international and whose admirers were both male and female. Pioneering actresses Gene Gauntier and Helen Gardner are completely forgotten today, and yet they were but two of the many women who boasted their own film companies in the second decade of this century. While their names might be unknown to the moviegoing audiences-- then as now--the editors and cutters were equally divided between the sexes, with the handful who had achieved . . .

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