The fascinating memoir of influential French filmmaker Alice Guy Blaché, one of the industry’s most significant pioneers and a trailblazer for female directors.
Alice Guy Blaché (1873-1968) is a unique pioneer of the motion picture, being not only a female filmmaker but also one of the first, if not the first, to make a narrative film. Her career spanned from 1894, when she became secretary to the legendary Léon Gaumont, through 1920, working in both her native France and the United States. In all, she was responsible for approximately 1,000 films, possibly more than any other director or producer.
The Memoirs of Alice Guy Blaché was first published in 1976, and to a large extent led to her rediscovery after decades of relative obscurity. Guy Blaché writes of her beginnings in the motion picture industry, her direction not only of silent films but also some of the earliest synchronized sound motion pictures, her marriage and journey to the United States, the founding of her own studio in New Jersey, her fame, and the sad journey into obscurity in the 1920s. Her story reveals both the opportunities and the ultimate rejection facing a woman director in the early years of the twentieth century.
These first-hand and original memoirs are enhanced with a complete filmography, an epilogue by her daughter Simone, a brief biography of her director husband, Herbert Blaché, a remembrance by feminist actress/writer Madame Olga Petrova, a sampling of contemporary articles on the director, and a new foreword by editor Anthony Slide. Through it all, Alice Guy Blaché’s personal charm, good humor, and modesty shines.
Anthony Slide is the author or editor of more than 200 works on the history of popular entertainment. Among his achievements are the first volumes on early American cinema, the Vitagraph Company, early women directors, the cinema and Ireland, and many more. His books have been honored by the American Library Association as Outstanding Reference Sources of the Year, and by Choice Magazine as Outstanding Academic Books of the Year. In 1990, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Bowling Green University, at which time he was hailed by Lillian Gish as “our pre-eminent historian of the silent film.”
A remarkable autobiography illuminates the early era of film production and the role a determined woman played in it.
As well as being the first female production talent, Mme. Blache was by every account an able, practiced film-maker and producer, especially noted for her calm and good humor, supported by a Gallic combination of candor and modesty. All these qualities are evident in the memoirs, and much of the book’s charm rests in its perceptions of the United States…Anthony Slide is to be commended for arranging this book’s initial French publication, now for facilitating its English version.