Year: 2022 Runtime: 65 minutes Director: Norbert Pfaffenbichler Writer: Norbert Pfaffenbichler Cast: Stefan Erber, David Ionescu By Joan Amenn This film is a strange amalgamation of dystopian horror, Grand Guignol and a homage to Charlie Chaplin. If experimental film is your thing, you may find “2551.01” (2022) a fascinatingly phantasmagoric ride. If not, the film may just frustrate with its hallucinatory images and lack of … Continue reading SIFF 2022 Review: 2551.01
In the month of August, we at In Their Own League are focusing on Women in Action; female-led films in the action genre. For this piece I’ll be looking back at the work of Helen Gibson, a truly amazing woman from the silent film era who is dubbed “Hollywood’s First Professional Stunt Woman”. Continue reading Spotlight: Helen Gibson, Hollywood’s First Professional Stunt Woman
The first woman to ever direct a movie was Alice Guy-Blaché. Then came Louise Kolm-Fleck. But there is a significant difference between the two. One has made her mark in the history books, is considered a milestone, and does ring a bell for even those not too familiar with female film history. The other one vanished into obscurity. One might argue, if she was “only” the second, maybe that’s why we don’t talk about her anymore? Continue reading In Their Own League Hall of Fame: Louise Kolm-Fleck
Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger was a German film director and the foremost pioneer of silhouette animation. Perhaps her most famous film is “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” (1926) which is considered to be the oldest surviving animated feature film. “Prince Achmed” features a silhouette animation technique that Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. She went on to film over 40 films using this technique and her work went on to influence many filmmakers. Reiniger led an extraordinary life, even escaping the Nazi party in 1935 before having to return to Germany in 1944 and being forced to make propanganda films. Continue reading Animated April: Spotlight on Lotte Reiniger
The first Mexican actress to work in Hollywood during the silent era was Dolores Del Rio. Born on August 3, 1904, in Durango, Durango, Mexico, Dolores was born into an elite family raised surrounded by expensive gifts, grand haciendas, where she was treated like a princess. At a very young age, she would be nicknamed “Lolita” by close family and friends. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Dolores Del Rio
Many women have been called “The It Girl” throughout the past century, but it’s Clara Bow that the term was created for. The actress who helped define what it meant to be a flapper in the 1920s played a shop-girl who wins the heart of her employer in the 1927 box office hit “It” and soon was being called “The It Girl.” Bow had “It” in spades: that sex appeal and vivacious charm that defined the modern woman. And yet, for all her success, Bow had a challenging life and struggled with mental health problems. She once said: “All the time the flapper is laughing and dancing, there’s a feeling of tragedy underneath. She’s unhappy and disillusioned and that’s what people sense.” Continue reading Women’s History Month: Clara Bow
Earlier this year, “Miss Americana” (2020) was released on Netflix. The documentary delves into Taylor Swift’s status as “America’s sweetheart” and the pressures it puts on her. What it also shows is how this perception of her sometimes masks what a brilliant businesswoman she is and how she’s built her own empire from the ground up. But Swift isn’t the first curly-haired blonde to be called “America’s sweetheart” and whose impressive business acumen is often overlooked.
Mary Pickford might be best known as the original ingénue and the “girl with the curls,” but she was also a founder of the United Artists film studio and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She was one of the most powerful figures in the early days of Hollywood and achieved so much in her eighty-seven years. Not only beautiful and talented, she learned to negotiate pay raises for herself to reflect her wild popularity and became a producer of both her own and other films. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Mary Pickford
Gloria Swanson literally created the concept of a “movie star.” She lived as large and dramatically as the heroines she portrayed. In her career, she saw the birth of film, the introduction of sound and the invention of television. She fearlessly embraced them all, and inspired women around the world with her style and ambition.
Gloria grew up as an Army brat traveling the country with her parents but fell into acting as a teenager when she tried out for work as an extra. She moved to California after her parents divorced and found herself working for Mack Sennett along with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand. Gloria didn’t care for comedy and moved on to work for Cecil B. DeMille at Paramount Pictures. This was the beginning of her transformation into a fashionable trendsetter that captured the imagination of silent film audiences. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Gloria Swanson
What is the first image that comes to your mind upon hearing the term “sex symbol”? Could it perhaps be the famous image of Marilyn Monroe and her billowing white skirt? Could it perhaps be a provocative album cover of Madonna–or even a sensual smirk and devilish eyes on the face of Elizabeth Taylor? What if I told you that sex symbols existed even before some of your grandparents were born; would you have any trouble buying that?
Well, get this, in 1885 an infant, with the name Theodosia Burr Goodman was born. An infant who would grow to be so hauntingly beautiful that a simple glance at a vintage photograph of her could stare at and bury itself into the deepest recesses of your very soul. This woman is none other than Theda Bara: one of America’s most prolific silent film actresses–one of cinema’s first sex symbols. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Theda Bara
Time can permit legends to eclipse the reality of someone’s life, particularly in Hollywood. Some are unjustly lionized and some greatly disparaged but in the history of film few have been as mischaracterized as Marion Davies. She was a success on stage and screen but her long term relationship with a wealthy, married man and her portrayal in a film loosely based on his life is all that is remembered now.
Born into a wealthy Brooklyn family, Marion started out as a model and then a chorus girl on Broadway. She was then featured in the “Ziegfeld Follies’ which was a hugely popular musical revue that launched many careers at the beginning of the nineteenth century. As she rose in fame as a stage comedienne, the new medium of the “flickers,” or silent film, beckoned. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Marion Davies