Women’s History Month: Frances Marion

In this day and age female screenwriters still face barriers within the film industry. In fact, a study conducted in 2017 found that women represented just 11 per cent of the writers on the United States’ top 250 films. They fared a little better in the world of Television, where they made up 33 per cent of television writers during the States’ 2016-17 season. One has to wonder what the great screenwriter Frances Marion would have to say about these figures.

There’s a high chance that you haven’t heard of Marion, but her screenwriting attributes have had a long-lasting impact on cinema and helped shaped the language of storytelling on the big screen. She wrote the stories and scenarios for over three hundred films in a career that spans from early days of cinema and into the sound era. Her work earned her two Academy Awards for screenwriting. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Frances Marion

The Illustrious Life and Mysterious Death of Olive Thomas

Olive Thomas died at twenty-five years of age, thanks to the accidental ingestion of mercury bichloride. She had acted in approximately twenty films over four years, but sadly, her career ended as quickly as it had begun. While Thomas’ death essentially created the first Hollywood scandal ever, I feel that she should be remembered for her expressiveness and liveliness that she brought to her acting.

Olive Thomas won the “Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” contest in 1914, launching her modelling career. She joined the Ziegfeld Follies shortly thereafter and remained with the Follies until 1916. That year, she signed with the International Film Company, and her acting debut was in an episode of “Beatrice Fairfax,” called “Playball.” Continue reading The Illustrious Life and Mysterious Death of Olive Thomas

Women’s History Month: Marvelous Mabel Normand

There are many forgotten faces in Hollywood who once captivated audiences. Few were more groundbreaking than Mabel Normand who starred, directed and produced silent films when the medium was still experimenting with what it could do. So much of what she and her professional, sometime private, partner Mack Sennett accomplished has now become standard, even cliché in film comedy. That she did so much in so few years is as dizzying as the breakneck chase scenes they would become recognized for in one of their more successful film series. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Marvelous Mabel Normand

Women’s History Month: Louise Brooks

You may not know her name, but I am damn certain that you would recognise her face and more importantly her hairstyle. The ‘Lulu’ Bob haircut worn by Louise Brooks is a representation of the Jazz age in all of its glory and revolutionary awe. For a few brief years, Brooks was one of the most well known and one of the highest-paid actresses in the world. At the height of her career, she made a bold decision to leave La La Land, in order to star in two of the silent era’s most famous films, “Pandora’s Box” (1929) and “Diary of a Lost Girl” (1929).

However, when she returned to America her career had virtually ended and by 1938 she had turned her back on Hollywood. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Brooks lived in extreme economical hardship before being ‘rediscovered’ by James Card, who encouraged her to write down her memoirs as well as essays that reflected on the silent era. Continue reading Women’s History Month: Louise Brooks

In Their Own League Hall of Fame: Nell Shipman

By Bianca Garner There’s a high chance that you haven’t heard of Nell Shipman. Like many pioneering female filmmakers of the silent cinema era, her name has become lost in time. So many of us who study film are aware of the ‘great’ film directors of this era: Cecil B. DeMille, Josef von Sternberg, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Erich von Stroheim. However, the achievements … Continue reading In Their Own League Hall of Fame: Nell Shipman