Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920

By Anthony Slide | Go to book overview

7. KATHERINE ANNE PORTER AND THE MOVIES

A number of practitioners of other art forms--in particular literature--have, at one time or another, become involved with film. For some, such as novelist Malcolm Lowry, the cinema has been a profound influence on their lives; for others it has provided a source of income when needed, and nothing more. Possibly Katherine Anne Porter would fall into the second category. During a particularly low period of her life, motion pictures offered a steady income, but the author of Pale Horse, Pale Rider and Ship of Fools does not appear to have used her film experiences in relation to her writing, unless the cinema is to play a major role in the three pieces she plans to finish up before her death. Admittedly, in the short novel Hacienda, Ms. Porter does concern herself with a film company at work in Mexico, but the basis here is obviously the time she spent in Mexico, not the time she spent working with a film company.

Katherine Anne Porter has displayed all the traits of a movie star when it comes to discussing her life with biographers. John Edward Hardy in his monograph on Porter noted, "it is remarkable how few firmly established facts about her life are available," while George Hendrick in his biography, Katherine Anne Porter ( Twayne Publishers, 1965), commented that the novelist "has been extremely reticent in revealing biographical information, expecially about her early years."

Both biographers claim that Katherine Anne Porter came to Chicago in 1911, worked as an extra with a film company, and returned to her home state of Texas in 1914, after a bout with tuberculosis. In two conversations with Ms. Porter--in September of 1975--I learned a little more, but at the same time became more confused about her early life.

She certainly came to Chicago. "I was just coming out into the world and trying to find myself," she remembered.

-65-

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Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Dedication iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • 6 - Mr. Edison and the Edison Company 63
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - The Evolution of the Film Star 1
  • 2 - Comediennes of the 'Teens 7
  • 3 - Child Stars of the 'Teens 16
  • 4 - Ethel Grandin 27
  • 5 - Forgotten Early Directors 36
  • 7 - Katherine Anne Porter and the Movies 65
  • 8 - The Thanhouser Company 68
  • 9 - The Paralta Company 79
  • 10 - The O'Kalems 87
  • 11 - Early Film Magazines: An Overview 98
  • 12 - The First Motion Picture Bibliography 105
  • 13 - Film History Can Also Be Fun 122
  • Appendices 135
  • Source Material 149
  • Index 153
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