A timely and captivating account of America’s first women directors who, with little recognition, helped pave the way for females in the film industry today.
Originally published in 1977 as Early Women Directors, Anthony Slide’s The Silent Feminists was the first volume to recognize and honor the work of female directors in the American silent film industry. With a new foreword by the author, this invaluable resource documents these pioneering women’s lives and careers and provides an introduction to the notable yet often overlooked history of female film directors. It introduces readers to such trailblazers of the motion picture as Alice Guy Blaché, Lois Weber, Mrs. Wallace Reid, Ida May Park, Margery Wilson, and many others.
More than forty years after its original publication, The Silent Feminists remains an important and influential study, providing original documentation on a subject that has steadily and deservedly grown in significance.
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.”
[E]xpertly marshals historical data to offer a persuasive perspective on the active and dynamic roles that women performed in the evolution of the art of film. This tight, succinct, cogent volume shines a deserved light on talented but neglected auteurs...and by so doing reveals priceless treasures of the silver screen. Recommended as a solid little gem for all collections.
Slide gives voice to, contextualizes, and documents the lives and accomplishments of these no-longer-silent feminists.
Slide’s book is there because he is aware of the interest in women filmmakers — and aware, too, that it is easier to research the thirties and forties, and that most ‘historians’ in this area ignore the silent period as though it doesn’t exist. His book, covering the silent period and especially the early years, does all the work for them — but makes no extravagant auteurist or feminist claims….The historical research is thorough, the critical evaluations sound, and he has taken the trouble to interview as many people as possible to get first-hand information…..it is well-considered, well-researched.
In his new foreword, Slide acknowledges how much information—and how many films—have been uncovered in the years since he first wrote his text. This essay is worth the price of the new edition by itself. Slide is not shy about expressing his sometimes-acerbic opinions, but he also provides a wealth of information about these often-forgotten females. Film historians everywhere should applaud the return of two such important books.