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chapter one A Quiet Invasion Nickelodeons, Narratives, and the First Women in Film O n November 13, 1909, Moving Picture World ran a small editorial under a large headline that proclaimed, in capital letters, “A Woman Invades the American Moving Picture Industry.” The woman in question was Frida Klug, a representative of an Italian film exchange and “the only lady . . . to our knowledge to grapple with the intricacies of the film importing and renting business.” Arriving in Chicago, which had become a national film distribution center, the “vivacious Hungarian brunette” found herself shut out by the Chicago alliance of film distributors . It may have been because she was a woman. But it also may have been because Americans blamed risqué imports for a recent wave of procensorship activity (although her company was known for its high-class product). Or it may have been because her company was not allied with the Motion Picture Patents Company, an Edison-controlled attempt to monopolize the industry. The explanation offered by Moving Picture World was that the snub stemmed from a “technicality, namely, that the business house she represents has no office in this country,” but of course Klug was in Chicago for just that purpose. Chastising the Chicago men, the editor of Moving Picture World tried to make up for their faux pas by “extending her a most hearty welcome into the moving picture field.” A few months later, Moving Picture World reported that Klug successfully established an office on the East Coast.1 In the chaotic expansion of the nickelodeon era, which began in 1905, the American film industry experienced massive industrial change. This change brought with it a gender revolution. Frida Klug was, in fact, something of a latecomer. By the time the “girl” from Turin crossed the Atlantic, women were already working in the exhibition and production branches of the American film industry: as theater owners and managers, actresses and scenario writers, and directors and producers. Though women were rarely mentioned in the trade press, the film industry included them in other positions as well. When a column entitled “With the Film Men” noted Agnes Egan Cobb’s resignation from the Itala Film Company in 1913, she was said to have already “served in executive positions with some of the biggest concerns in the country.”2 Although this gender revolution changed the face of the American film industry, the arrival of women into its various branches was rarely as traumatic as it appears to have been in Chicago.3 Women arrived not as “invaders” but rather as a consequence of industrial reorganization. Between 1903, when a new distribution system created the basis for the explosion of little storefront theaters, and 1907, when a new mode of production was firmly in place, every aspect of the industry changed. The presence of women was but one result of a holistic transformation . From the motion picture’s public debut in 1896 to about 1903, the manner in which films were made, distributed, and exhibited changed little. Movies, made by men, were mere minutes in length and sold by the foot. They were exhibited in vaudeville theaters, traveling exhibits, or in the increasinglypopularpennyarcades .Aswehave seen, the basis for competition during these years was not so much the films as superior cameras and projectors , and, hopefully, the patent rights to go with them.4 In 1903, however, two events occurred that shifted the basis of competition from cameras and projectors to the films themselves: the rise of the narrative film and the creation of the first film exchanges. These events initiated a process that would soon change the way movies were made, exhibited, and distributed, bringing women into an industry where movies had been, in the words of Charles Musser, made “by men, for men.”5 <= The rise of the narrative, or “story,” film was a departure from the newsreels , scenics, and travelogues that dominated pre-1903 cinema. By the start of the twentieth century the novelty of seeing everyday events onscreen had worn thin, and the popularity of moving pictures tottered. Some filmmakers attempted to tell stories before 1903, but such efforts were hamstrung by technology.Itwasdifficulttotellacomprehensible story with a beginning, a middle,andanendwhenfilmswereonlyafewminuteslong.6 Thissituation changed just after the turn of the century, when Edison technician Edwin S. 30 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift Porter invented a projector able to handle a one-thousand-foot reel of film, making it possible to exhibit a fifteen-minute movie uninterrupted. Recognizing the potential popularity of little fifteen-minute “playlets,” Edison built a studio in the heart of the New York theater district, close to props and experienced personnel. At this new Edison studio Porter created the famous nine-shot Life of an American Fireman (1902–3), followed by The Great Train Robbery (1903). Within a matter of months Edison’s competitors were also making or importing narrative films. By 1904 narratives made up a little more than half of all copyrighted film titles in the United States.7 After the introduction of the story film the number of moving pictures screened in vaudeville theaters, penny arcades, and traveling exhibitions rosesignificantly.8 Theincreaseddemandformoviesencouragedtheproduction of fiction films. Unlike newsreels and travelogues, where much money was wasted while cameramen and employees waited for unpredictable events or perfect weather, the production of story films could be planned in advance and executed on a schedule.9 The Biograph Company was the first to fully realize the efficiencies of narrative production; Biograph built a studio with sufficient indoor light to allow filming despite inclement weather or darkness. Other companies (at least those with sufficient capital) soon built their own studios. But although this development represented a major shift in film production, it had little effect on the gender of filmmakers. Men still made the movies. The arrival of the little narratives increased the popularity of moving pictures, but they were still sold in an inefficient manner. People wanting to exhibit a film—owners of penny arcades, vaudeville impresarios, or traveling lecturers—had to choose between the lesser of two evils. Wouldbe exhibitors might spend a great deal of money to buy the film outright from the manufacturer, running it over and over for different audiences. Or they could hire an expensive exhibition service, such as that offered by the French Lumière company, consisting of films, projector, and projectionist. Both options were costly, so there was little to recommend movie exhibition as a profitable endeavor. This situation changed in 1903 with the appearance of the first film exchanges . Rather than buying films directly from the manufacturer, exhibitors across the country could now rent a variety of movies from a local film exchange for reasonable prices. It is now that we begin to observe women outside of the film factory, working in the collaborative partnership configuration that Charles Musser identifies in the industry prior to 1907, only in film exhibition rather than production. Women in collaborative A Quiet Invasion 31 partnerships tended to work with male relatives, continuing the structure of the family firm, a traditional business form that offered women a legitimate if often circumscribed role. Kathryn Fuller-Seeley’s research reveals that Fannie Shaw “Harris” Cook worked in partnership with her husband Bert Cook, taking the Cook and Harris High Class Moving Picture to towns in central New York and northern New England from 1903 to 1911. The Cooks were inspired to form their partnership when Bert could not find employment with itinerant exhibition companies if his wife worked and traveled with him. “Ironically,” Fuller-Seeley notes, one of the managers who refused to hire them was a woman, Mrs. Alonzo Hatch, who needed help running the Alonzo Hatch Electro Photo Musical Company after her husband was burned in a projector fire. It was Fannie Cook who reassured Bert in 1903 that they would be a success once they became their “own bosses” and that she was “the little Girl that is in for making money.” As FullerSeeley notes, there were probably many more women working as itinerant exhibitors.10 Now that films could be reasonably rented from exchanges, it made sense for the exhibitor to stay in one place, as the local audience could be presented with different films every few days. In 1905 the first five-cent movie theater opened in Pittsburgh. By 1907 these little theaters, now known as nickelodeons, were “multiplying like guinea pigs” all over the nation.11 In that year Moving Picture World boasted that the nickelodeon “has attained that importance where we may no longer snub it as one of the catch-pennies of the street.”12 By 1910 just under 20 percent of the nation’s population visited nickelodeons every week, generating gross receipts of $91 million .13 Scholars disagree over the class origins of the first audiences for the movies, disputing whether the movies appealed only to the working class at this time or whether the well-to-do patronized the nickelodeon. But all note the high proportion of female patrons from the earliest days of the nickel theaters.14 Like the working-class men who attended urban nickelodeons, women had little spending money or leisure. For working-class women the nickelodeon was a particular boon. In the words of one observer, women previously confined to sitting on the doorstep and watching “the teams go by” could now afford a glimpse of “real life.”15 One writer for the Manchester (NH) Mirror reported watching one “matronly” woman, armed with bundles from the day’s shopping, convince a similarly burdened woman to take a break at a nickelodeon. When her friend protested, she replied, “It’s only a nickel,” and that she would be able to get her husband “all the better supper” for having rested before going home.16 In addition, everyday clothes were 32 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift quiteacceptable,asweresmallchildren.17 Evenformoreprosperouswomen, and women outside major cities, the nickelodeon was a welcome novelty. In 1908 a “lady correspondent” from the Boston Journal sheepishly admitted that she had contracted “the moving picture habit,” and while waiting for an equally embarrassed friend outside a nickelodeon, she described the ease with which women entered the little theaters. After a family of three—a mother, father, and a toddler—came a young woman who “looked as though she might be employed in one of the great department stores.” Then arrived three women, evidently “winding up an afternoon’s shopping in town” before “returning to their homes to preside over their own supper tables and afterward put the babies to bed.”18 For a few women the nickel theater offered not only entertainment but also employment. Nickelodeons were often run as family businesses.19 Even outside of family businesses, however, women found employment in nickelodeons . The typical nickelodeon operation had eight positions: manager, cashier, doorkeeper, usher, projectionist (“operator”), pianist, singer, and janitor. Bert and Fannie Cook illustrate the gender typing of exhibition work that existed even before the nickelodeon: “Bert was the manager of the troupe of four performers and an advance man; he also served as projectionist and occasional soloist. Fannie was musical director, accompanist, ticket seller, and treasurer.”20 Only the positions of projectionist and ticket seller were solidly sex-typed. Occasionally a female member of a family-owned theater might operate the projector, but this was rare.21 Running the projector during the nickelodeon period was dangerous and mechanically demanding. The light source was not an encased bulb but an arc light, created by alternating currents surging through two slightly separated carbon rods. Arc lights needed constant care and sputtered dangerously close to the flammable nitrate film. In the summer of 1907 Ohio alone reported two to three projector-related fires a week. To protect patrons, local ordinances required projectionists to work in steel operating booths, which often reached temperatures of 113 degrees Fahrenheit and were filled with dust from the burning arc light. Additionally, projectionists were responsible for keeping both film and projector running smoothly. They were expected to know how to install electrical wire, make wire joints, operate electrical resistance devices like rheostats and transformers, obtain the sharpest focus based on the size of the theater and the type of screen, choose the correct lens, and splice broken films. Keeping both projector and film running required dozens of tools, including three different kinds of pliers, two screwdrivers, a cabinet rasp for A Quiet Invasion 33 sharpeningthecarbons,twodifferenttypesofhammers,andasmallgasoline torch for soldering wire joints. This was not clean, repetitive, unskilled, or low-risk work, so it fell far outside the definition of appropriate work for women.22 Although believed to be too demanding and dangerous for women, projector operation soon became the province of boys. While cinematographers retained an artisanal work culture, projector operation quickly deteriorated into a sweated trade as thousands of new nickelodeons opened after 1906. Efforts were made to form “operator’s schools,” but most nickelodeon-era projectionists learned on the job in deplorable conditions, laboring up to twelve hours a day, six to seven days a week in hot, cramped, and dust-filled sweatboxes. It was little wonder that operators were the first in the industry to attempt unionization in 1907. But although projector operation became a sweated and low-paid occupation, it retained its aura of technical skill and masculinity.23 AfterWorldWarI,whentheRedCrosspublishedatextbook aimed at retraining disabled soldiers for jobs as projectionists, the long list of subjects included the use of an arc lamp, transformers, mercury arc rectifiers, rheostats, motor generators, batteries, construction of lenses, the “theory of light,”the“constructionandcareofprojecting machines,” and the “handling, care, and repairing of films.” The list of topics suggests a conscious definition of the work as highly skilled.24 In fact, projectionists patrolled the borders of their trade as carefully as the cinematographers: by the end of the silent era the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Operators declared that if women attempted to “invade” the projection room, it would exclude them by law.25 Whereas projectionists were male, their sex-typed counterparts were the young women who sold the tickets. Cashiering was a feminized job, most notably in department stores, where female clerks provided a genteel touch at low pay.26 The purpose of the “girl in the box office” was not only to sell tickets at the window but to attract potential patrons from the street, a tradition that continued beyond the nickelodeon era and resulted in the familiar glass-enclosed box office located as close to the sidewalk as possible.27 Nickelodeon cashiers made roughly $4 to $6 a week, the same wage as female department store clerks and semiskilled factory workers. After the cashier sold the tickets, they were taken by the doorkeeper inside, who was usually male. But some female cashiers were required to do more than just sell tickets. At one busy Chicago nickelodeon, for example, the female cashier took “entire charge of the house” during the slow supper hour, acting as cashier, doorkeeper, and usher. At another nickelodeon the cashier 34 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift also led the between-reel sing-alongs.28 Nickelodeons needed a pianist to accompany the movies and sing-alongs, and here, too, a woman might find opportunity for work. But as the nickelodeons began to expand and improve after 1908, most exhibitors began hiring professional pianists, singers, and vaudeville talent to entertain patrons between the reels. But even among professionals, female entertainers were common.29 Thetwomostimportantoccupationswithin the nickelodeonwere owner and manager. Both were often one and the same, and it appears that partnerships were common. Before 1907, nickelodeons were relatively inexpensive business propositions and appealed to small investors who were often, but not always, from immigrant and working-class communities.30 They were also frequently female. From the time that Moving Picture World first began printing lists of new nickelodeon owners in 1907, the names of women appear consistently. In 1907 the trade journal reported that Mrs. A. R. Lewis, of Salina, Kansas, sold out half an interest in “the Nickelodeon” to E. H. Brown, and was “preparing to open another amusement house here in the near future.” In June of 1909 Mrs. Burns of Ottawa, Kansas, bought the half-interest of her partner, Miss Pearl Chalmers, in the Yale nickelodeon. In August Anna Kiel of Chicago secured a permit to build a moving picture theater on Twelfth Street, and Mrs. Stewart leased the airdrome theater of Warrensboro, Missouri, to F. J. Bailey. That same month Mrs. F. F. Fuller “bought all the moving picture theaters” in Hartford City, Indiana.31 Bert and Fannie Cook settled down to run a nickelodeon in 1911.32 It is difficult to know which women (or men, for that matter) actively managed their theaters, in comparison to those for whom owning a theater was simply an investment. There are several possible reasons women were attracted to nickelodeon ownership. First, American women enjoyed a long history of proprietorship . Evidence suggests that 10 to 25 percent of all women in preindustrial America were “engaged in entrepreneurship” and that half the urban retailersinseventeenth -centuryAmericawerewomen.Typicallywomenworked in fields considered an extension of their “natural” duties in the home, such as cooking and dressmaking or running boardinghouses, inns, restaurants, or taverns, although exceptions were found among widows who continued their husband’s trade.33 It is interesting that as the separate spheres ideology of the early nineteenth century encoded public space as male and defined the home as the proper place for women, female entrepreneurs continued to run businesses serving an increasingly male clientele. Christine Stansell’s study of women in nineteenth-century New York City revealed that when A Quiet Invasion 35 combined with the sale of cheap liquor, female-run businesses such as groceries , inns, and coffeehouses became “bawdy houses,” catering to “sexual license, male rowdiness and ‘bonhomie.’”34 This was true for the stage as well. The number of women managing theaters and traveling troupes increased after 1820, when rowdy masculine audiences and balconies of prostitutes characterized the American theater.35 Women, then, already existed as proprietors of commercial amusements well before the arrival of the nickelodeon . What put nickelodeons in the reach of female entrepreneurs was the fact that they required little cash up front. As Angel Kwolek-Folland discovered , women were “penny capitalists”; compared to men’s, their businesses were “undercapitalized, more ephemeral, and short of credit.”36 In addition, nickelodeon management required little experience, at least early in the boom. A trade journal printed a nickelodeon “recipe” in 1907, beginning with the ingredients: one storefront shop seating two hundred to five hundred persons, chairs, a phonograph, one “young woman cashier,” one electric sign, one projector and projectionist, one screen, one piano, one barker, and one manager. After that, add “a few brains and a little tact.” Then you “open the doors, start the phonograph, and carry the money to the bank.”37 Despite the relative ease of entry into film exhibition, this was the most important branch of the industry during the nickelodeon era. It was the exhibitor who created the nickel theater experience, arranging the brief films into coherent programs, choosing the live entertainment, and often interpreting the films for patrons by providing a lecture to accompany the screening . Indeed, exhibitors were encouraged to manipulate the films to suit their audiences. “If the piece grows dull at any point,” noted Moving Picture World in 1907, “the manager can take a pair of shears and cut out a few yards” to liven it up.38 Our current perception of movie theater proprietors as mere franchisees from large distribution agencies would not become accurate until after the mid-1920s. The fact that women were a part of this branch of the film industry during the nickelodeon era meant that they helped to shape the experience of the first filmgoers. Yet female exhibitors did not attract any particular attention in the pages of the trade journals until the censorship crisis of 1908 and 1909, after which they were often praised for naturally running cleaner shows than their male counterparts. But before that moment their presence elicited little comment in an industry that was still small and decentralized. 36 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift <= The power of exhibitors to control their own shows—and thereby provide a more attractive product than their competitors—was not absolute. Other than on-the-spot editing there was little exhibitors could do to improve the movies, and the high demand meant that there was little incentive among producers to improve the product. According to one frustrated exhibitor, nickelodeon owners were at the mercy of the film exchange operator, who in turn “must take whatever the manufacturer chooses to push on him.”39 Films did begin to improve, but at first this was merely a by-product of demand.By1907mostnickelodeonswererequiringafreshprogramoffilms every day.40 As manufacturers worked furiously to produce mostly narrative films, hiring actors by the day, it became clear that they needed to reprise a tradition that was nearly lost in the legitimate theater—the resident stock company, with its fairly permanent group of actors filling the standardized roles of leading lady, leading man, character actors, comedians, and ingenue .41 As film producers began hiring cinematic stock companies, women entered the production branch of the industry as actresses. Vitagraph was the first to assemble a stock company in 1907.42 As many historians note, the film actor was not the envy of her or his compatriots on the stage. Nearly all early movie actors and actresses were drawn from the mass of unemployed stage actors who gathered in New York each summer. Without work until the touring season began in the fall, many were financially desperate when they first stepped before a camera.43 The standard $5 a day for movie work was good pay, but for several reasons the work was less than appealing. “Canned drama” suffered from a poor reputation , and personal ego, even among unemployed thespians, was an issue. Worse yet, some manufacturers looked on professional stage actors and actresses as a necessary evil. When the writer of the Cyclopedia of Motion-Picture Work (1911) took his readers through a mock production, he described one scene as requiring “a bunch of troublesome actresses” and thus “a large expense for wages.”44 Although this point of view might have been extreme, early movie actors were not coddled as artistes. For women the industry’s hiring of professional actors proved especially helpful,sincepreviouslyfemalerolesweresometimesplayedbymen.Mabel Rhea Dennison claimed in 1909 that an actress’s “chances of making a living have been increased by the rise of the biograph machines . . . Every year there has been an increased demand for women to pose,” Dennison stated, “and indications are that the demand will go on increasing, for instead of one concern in the field, there are now fifteen at least.”45 Like most actors, the A Quiet Invasion 37 first film actresses hailed from the lower end of the boards: cheap vaudeville , touring melodramas, and low-priced plays. Future film star Florence Lawrence ended up in the movies after her mother’s traveling troupe fell on hard times. The teenaged vaudeville veteran and her mother traveled to New York in 1906 with the hope that Lawrence would land a role in an upcoming play, but the summer ended with no engagement and so, too, the fall. Running out of savings, mother and daughter resorted to loitering at the door of the Edison company, where actors were casually handpicked for the day’s work. Allegedly due to her ability to ride a horse, Lawrence was castinDanielBoone;or,PioneerDaysinAmerica. She found to her surprise that moving picture work was not entirely distasteful.46 Gene Gauntier, a stage actress specializing in melodramas, tried to save money “against the rainy day when the season would end and [she] must go back to New York.” In the summer of 1906, however, her savings were gone by June. She thought of moving pictures, “a new opening for actors,” but “looked upon them with scorn.” When a fellow stage actor, Sidney Olcott, convinced her to at least give the movies a try, she auditioned for Biograph. On her first day before the camera, the filmmaker asked Gauntier, a nonswimmer, to dive off a cliff. She did it and was rewarded with the valuable respect of Biograph director Frank Marion, who “for several days would not even consider another leading woman.”47 Once they got over their initial distaste, many stage actors and actresses found moviemaking intriguing and the possibility of steady employment attractive. The hiring of stage actors signaled the beginning of a major shift in the production of moving pictures. As output soared between 1905 and 1908, manufacturers realized that they needed to make movies more like the stage, so they constructed studios that more and more resembled theaters.48 To make story films, manufacturers required the building of sets, the use of props, an array of costumes, and all the other accoutrements of the theater.49 Now called “studios,” the film factories boasted “all that pertains to the theater except the auditorium.”50 All of these theatrical needs required personnel , and film manufacturers quite logically looked to the cheapest source of trainedtalent—theirownactorsandactresses.51 Withinthestockcompanies both men and women were not only allowed to perform offstage duties but were expected to do whatever tasks necessary to speed production along. Vitagraph cofounder J. Stuart Blackton described this practice as “doubling in brass,” an old minstrel term meaning the need to perform double duty.52 FlorenceTurner,Vitagraph’sfirstleadinglady,notonlyassistedVitagraph’s wardrobe mistress (her mother) but attended “to all the business affairs of 38 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift the concern as well as act. I was a sort of handywoman! I paid the staff and the artistes, I kept the books, and was clerk, cashier, accountant, and actress all rolled into one.”53 Blanche Lasky, who coproduced and acted on the variety stage with her brother Jesse, worked with him in his new filmmaking concern as well. At the New York offices of the Jesse Lasky Company, an interviewer noted in 1914 that Blanche “passes the final decision on every important matter that comes up in the multifarious businesses of the company , from the question of which novel or what play is to be made into moving pictures to the way in which the leading lady out on the coast shall do her hair.”54 While men always dominated the numbers of film directors and producers, even after the rise of the feature film, women were able to try their hand at nearly all types of production work. Frances Marion (no relation to director Frank [Francis] Marion) remembered that her first movie job in 1914, as an assistant to Lois Weber, allowed her to try “every kind of job I could find except emptying the garbage pails.” She worked in costume, set design, and in the editing room, and ultimately became a filmmaker herself .55 At about the same time, writer Beulah Marie Dix recalled that in addition to writing scenarios, she worked as an extra, tended the lights, and “spent a good deal of time in the cutting room.”56 At the Griffith studio Lillian Gish helped the laboratory technician develop negatives, and when she wasn’t busy in the laboratory, she worked with the head electrician on lighting effects and screen tests.57 Many early film actors grumbled about their offscreen duties, which often required manual labor and kept them at continuous work throughout the day in a manner resembling a factory.58 But not until 1911, when renegade actor Maurice Costello flatly refused to build sets and paint scenery, were actors relieved of such duties if they wished to be. Historians interpret Costello’s moment of thespian indignation as progress, indicating the rise of the distinct profession of film acting.59 But it was the fluidity between the emerging crafts, the theatrical tradition of “doubling in brass,” that created opportunities for women, as well as men. It kept each craft roughly equal in status and lowered incipient gender boundaries. Manufacturers turned to their stock companies not only for mundane administrative tasks but for help in production. Film manufacturers assumed thatnewlyhiredstageactors,regardlessoftheirsexandhoweverminortheir previous stage careers, brought with them a modicum of dramatic knowhow . Although memoirs are fraught with distortions, the reminiscences of several producers and actors suggest a relative lack of hierarchy and abundance of collaboration in the period between roughly 1907 and 1909. At A Quiet Invasion 39 Carl Laemmle’s Independent Moving Picture Company (IMP), “the actors would go out at night and see a [stage] show, and in the morning come back and make a picture.”60 The collaborative work culture that distinguished filmmaking in the nickelodeon era was especially evident at the Kalem production unit headed by Sidney Olcott between 1907 and 1910. Responsible for budgeting and directing the films, as well as for enforcing discipline, Olcott turned the production tasks over to his company of actors.61 Leading actress Gene Gauntier wrote the scenarios, and on rainy days the men of the company scouted for locations. After the locations were chosen, the “plan of procedure was mapped out.” Olcott expected an actor to take “upon himself certain tasks” and “lend a hand in all emergencies.” In the evenings all the members gathered to hear the scenario read aloud, discuss casting and makeup, and edit the films. After dinner they would gather in a makeshift projection room, “pencil and notebooks in hands, our number augmented by any outsiders who had worked in the film as well as by friends,” and offer a “running comment of criticism and praise” as they watched the day’s rushes. Before retiring, “a discussion in Mr. Olcott’s room [covered] every little detail .”62 Under this new theatrically based system of production, the film director supervised the overall performance in front of the camera, leaving the cameraman to focus on the technical demands of moving picture photography .63 Indeed, it is accurate to dub this new worker the director-producer. Although work culture varied from studio to studio, it was increasingly the role of the director to assume responsibility for the film’s subject, action, cast, crew, location, and budget. Ultimately, the director supervised the cinematography and editing.64 Directors gained a certain amount of authority and respect within the studio, and those chosen to direct had to exhibit some talent. But in the rush to meet demand, the position of director-producer remained remarkably open. A mere six months after joining Biograph in 1906, an undistinguished actor known as Larry Griffith gained his chance behind the camera and was soon directing under the name D. W. Griffith. Just a year before becoming a director for Kalem in 1907, Sidney Olcott belonged to New York’s army of unemployed stage actors.65 Even gender proved no barrier. Lois Weber, a promising musical actress, emerged from a brief sabbatical from the stage by writing, directing, and playing the lead in her first movie in 1907. Actress Gene Gauntier found herself codirecting, as well as writing and performing, less than a year after joining Kalem in 1906.66 In addition to director-producer, the role of scenarist, or screenwriter, 40 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift emerged during the nickelodeon era as well. While impromptu acting before the camera still occurred, scenarios (a brief outline of the film’s story and action) became standard as films grew to one thousand feet. Early film manufacturing companies often expected their new director-producers to write their own scenarios, as “surely no author is better qualified,” but scenarios were accepted by anyone with imagination or a good memory.67 Actors and actresses commonly contributed scenarios; before the first successful copyright infringement case (over Kalem’s 1907 Ben Hur), actors drew plot ideas from their previous stage productions. But studios also solicited story ideas from freelance writers, stole them from other studios, and even recruited them from the public at large through contests. Given the interest of women in the movies and popular fiction, the winners of such contests were frequently female. In 1909 Evangeline Sicotte of New York City won $150 in the Georges Méliès Scenario Contest for her script “The Red Star Inn,” and Florence E. Turner of Brooklyn won third place, receiving $50 for “The Fiend of the Castle.”68 A scenario submitted by Mrs. Clemens to the St. Louis Times not only resulted in a cash prize but also reached the screen in 1910 as a film entitled The Double.69 Unsolicited scenarios were accepted by many studios well into the mid1910s . The definition of the freelance scenario writer as an “amateur” made it amenable to women, a label that stuck even when writers were paid for their work, mostly because it paid too little to provide a living. Outside of hefty prizes for contest winners, scenario writers generally received $5 to $15 a scenario—a sum considered paltry by a writer for Moving Picture World in 1910.70 The pay was immaterial to dozens and perhaps hundreds of film fans. In 1911, tired of receiving scenarios from hopeful readers, Moving Picture World published a list of film manufacturing companies and their addresses under “Attention, Scenario Writers.”71 As thousands of scenarios arrived at studios on a monthly basis, studios set up scenario departments where outside scenarios could be read and analyzed and where staff writers might work on original plots, draw from already published material, and work on intertitles, which had been almost an afterthought before the nickelodeon era.72 Women often populated the first scenario rooms. Mrs. Breta Breuil worked as a scenario editor for the Vitagraph Company from 1910 to 1913, when she was replaced by Mrs. Catherine Carr.73 Historian Wendy Holliday found that screenwriting in the early 1910s created a particularly “modern” heterosocial work culture in which male and female writers, like actors and actresses, were roughly equal, having a hand in all phases of production. “It was all very informal A Quiet Invasion 41 in those early days,” recalled writer Beulah Marie Dix. “Anybody on the lot did anything he or she was called upon to do.”74 Recruitedfromtheseearlystockcompanies,thefirstdirectors,producers, and writers of the movies enjoyed unusually low craft and gender boundaries . This was not simply due to the high demand for films or the novelty of filmmaking. It was true that film exchanges needed films and that studio executives were primarily concerned that sufficient products flowed out each week. But it was also true that established theatrical practices, the tradition of “doubling in brass,” made the fluidity between craft and gender boundaries possible. These men and women were not inventing film craft out of whole cloth; most of the work closely resembled the production of staged drama. The only exception was cinematography, where masculine associations prevailed. Otherwise, men and women moved smoothly between acting, writing, directing, and other sundry duties behind the camera. This is clearly illustrated by the early career of Gene Gauntier. In 1907 Gauntier considered herself a stage actress temporarily dabbling in the movies for Biograph. That year Frank Marion, the Biograph director for whom she had dived off a cliff, decided to start his own company. Marion convinced Samuel Long, manager of the Biograph film laboratory, to join him, along with film importer George Kleine. When their company, Kalem, was founded in 1907, Marion hired Gauntier as leading lady and Sidney Olcott, heretofore an actor, as director-producer. Marion appointed himself scenarist and, according to Gauntier, hastily scribbled abbreviated stories on the backs of business envelopes for Olcott to decipher.75 Before 1907 was over, the increased workload forced Marion to give up scenarios, and since “there were no trained writers” in the new medium of the film narrative, he asked Gauntier to give it a try. She fashioned a scenario from a 1905 stage melodrama, “Why Girls Leave Home,” in which she had once played. Although her first effort was, in her own estimation, “hopeless ,” she soon became “the mainstay of the Kalem Scenario Department.” Each week she played the female leads in two pictures while writing two or three scenarios.76 Gauntier left the movies to act on the stage in late 1907, but when her tour ended in the spring of 1908, Kalem offered her a summer salary of $20 a week. For this she was to “write, assist Mr. Olcott in the direction, and act when I liked.” She immediately accepted, but Biograph also requested an interview, and she stopped by her old studio out of curiosity. Henry Marvin of Biograph made her a similar offer—“scenario editor, studio manager, supervising director, but no acting.” Since she was satisfied with the Kalem 42 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift offer, and was friends with Sidney Olcott besides, she “audaciously” told Biograph that she would work for no less than $40 a week. To her surprise , they agreed. Eventually she accepted the offer. In an indication of the quickly moving division of labor, Gauntier’s duties at Kalem were now split between four people—Robert Vignola as assistant director; Marion Leonard as leading lady; Kenean Buel, who looked for locations, props, and costumes ; and Frank Marion, who once again took up scenario writing after Gauntier’s departure.77 Working conditions at Biograph did not suit the restless Gauntier. She supervised last rehearsals, wrote and bought scenarios, and interviewed actors .78 Unlike her outdoor work at Kalem, the Biograph job often kept her deskbound, “working over scenarios and interviewing people all day—and watching the hands of the clock for five.” Nevertheless, the respect she received pleased her. “Every morning I went up to Mr. Marvin’s office,” she recalled, “to talk over plans for the next day, discuss new productions and Biograph business in general. It is still rather surprising to me how confidential these heads of both Kalem and Biograph were with a mere slip of a girl.”79 Gauntier returned to Kalem in the winter of 1908. By 1909 she was still doing her “triple job of writing scenarios, playing the leads, and helping Olcott with the directing” at Kalem’s winter location in Florida. In 1910 Kalem offered Gauntier the position of director-producer of the Florida unit after Olcott’s resignation, but she refused on the grounds that it was too strenuous. Instead, Gauntier spent 1911 “mastering many new secrets of the industry,” such as film development, printing, tinting, retakes, titling, editing, “and other mechanical details.” She never went back to the stage.80 <= The former stage actors and actresses who doubled in brass in the early film industry, like Gauntier, did improve dramatic quality. But the ruthless demands of the standard eight-hundred-foot to one-thousand-foot onereel film (approximately ten to fifteen minutes) compromised story lines. If the “motion scenes” were in error, the high cost of film stock demanded that the subtitles be rewritten to fit the scenes already shot, no matter how awkward the fit.81 Even at Kalem, a studio Gauntier considered to have “artistic leanings,” director Olcott would “dance up and down shouting: ‘Hurry up, folks, film’s going. Grab her Jim; kiss her. Not too long, Quick!’”82 In fact, the perception of film as a technological product (rather than a dramatic art) reached its zenith during the nickelodeon era. This view became manifest A Quiet Invasion 43 in the Motion Picture Patents Company, which attempted to monopolize the industry. Edison created the Patents Company in 1908, after winning court cases involving several vital camera patents. To celebrate his victory, Edison created a cartel of the most important film producing companies then in existence : Biograph, Essanay, Lubin, Selig, Vitagraph, Kalem, Méliès, Pathé Frères, George Kleine (an importer), and, of course, his own company. These licensed companies paid royalties to Edison for the use of his patented designs . In return they enjoyed freedom from litigation, access to raw film stock, a dependable release schedule (through the cartel-owned distribution company), and a standardized price per foot (ten cents) for films. The Patents Company’s standardized film length, per-foot pricing, and scheduled weekly output epitomized the “technological view” (as opposed to any artistic vision) of the movies.83 This perspective worked against women’s progress into positions of authority, for it drew from the masculine meanings of scientific and mechanical expertise. Yet while the Patents Company consolidated its technological approach to moviemaking, the first female film producer appeared. In October of 1910 Moving Picture World profiled the new Solax Company, whose “chiefest and most valuable” asset was its director -general, Madame Alice Guy Blaché.84 Alice Guy Blaché was neither an early entrepreneur nor an actress working her way up by doubling in brass. She was a French expatriate who brought a decade’s worth of experience as a film director with her when she arrived in 1907. Although her name was not well known among Americans, Alice Guy Blaché was one of the first filmmakers in the world. It was while working as a secretary to photographer and early filmmaker Leon Gaumont that Guy first tried her hand at making movies. Like his American counterparts in the 1890s, Gaumont was more interested in camera technology than in what was actually filmed, and he shot primarily street scenes. When Guy, who dabbled in amateur theater, suggested that Gaumont film a story, he said it seemed “like a silly girlish thing to do.”85 Gaumont agreed to let Guy try her hand at filming stories as long as it did not interfere with her office duties. Sometime between 1897 and 1900 she made her first film, La fée aux choux (The Cabbage Fairy).86 Decades later, Guy observed that “if the future development of motion pictures had been foreseen at this time, I should never have obtained his consent. My youth, my inexperience, my sex, all conspired against me.” Even at the time, Guy was not without enemies. Once filmmaking became “interesting, doubtless lucrative,” she claimed, “my directorship was bitterly disputed.”87 The Gaumont property 44 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift maninparticularprovedirascible.Guywenttogreatlengthstosecurefinely painted sets for her feature film La Passion, only to find them chopped up and wrapped around the pipes in the property department to keep them from freezing. According to Guy’s biographer, Alison McMahan, the man was a frustrated director who, after being allowed to direct one film, did not prove talented enough for more. It seems Guy’s coworkers had little patience with this person and sided with Guy.88 Guy’s petites histoires, initially made on her own time, succeeded, and she soon became Gaumont’s most important director. By 1906 (the exact date is unclear) Guy’s La Passion was one of the first multireel feature films—a two-thousand-foot passion play using nearly three hundred extras at a time when American audiences were viewing five-hundred- to eight-hundredfoot films in cramped nickelodeons. But European films were not always so highbrow; Guy learned to make movies the same way the first male filmmakers did—by shameless plagiarism. But unlike nearly all other filmmakers at the time, she did not act as her own cinematographer, lending more credence to the argument that camera operation was masculinized from the start. Guy copied Lumière films most frequently, but soon she made films her own way. McMahan argues in her groundbreaking study of Guy’s extant films that she not only showed movies in which “women also worked and played in the world alongside men” but “began to articulate a female address, a layer of messages aimed at women, mostly in the form of satire on heterosexual relations.” Even so, some of Guy’s films were vulgar from the point of view of the American middle classes. The comedy Madame a des envies (Madame Has Her Cravings, 1906) depicted a visibly pregnant woman giving in to a craving for sugar, making “amusing facial contortions” as “she sucks on the phallic sugar stick in a very suggestive manner.” Importantly, the focus of this film is a woman who is satisfying her own desire, not unconsciously providing visual pleasure for men in the audience as was true for so many early peep-show-style films.89 For American reformers, however, such a film would undoubtedly underscore the moral depravity of moving pictures, and of French films in general. Gaumont, like his counterparts in the United States, deeply concerned himself in the technical end of the business, and like several other inventors, including Edison, he developed a fairly successful talking-picture device, which he promoted from 1902 to 1913. Guy made more than one hundred sound films for Gaumont’s Chronophone between 1902 and 1906, while continuing to make regular silent films. The Chronophone consisted of a separate wax recording device that played music or voice in sync with the A Quiet Invasion 45 onscreen images. As a director, Guy played the prerecorded sound while dancers danced, or actors lip-synced to their own voices. Exhibitors needed to precisely link the film and recorded sound or lose the entire effect, though when done correctly, the process worked well. Technical problems surrounding synchronization and amplification prevented it (and other inventions like it) from inaugurating the era of sound movies, but Gaumont hammered away at improvements and at potential markets. Guy even nearly secured Caruso for a phonoscène, but the great opera singer declined.90 It was the Chronophone that brought Guy together with her husband, Herbert Blaché, and then brought them to the United States. Guy met Blaché, a Gaumont employee, while shooting a phonoscène of a bullfight at Nimes. Guy asked Blaché to fill in for her ailing cameraman, so Blaché took his one and only turn behind the crank. He apparently overexposed the film. In any event the couple fell in love on the romantic set (the toreador dedicatedhiskilltoGuy ).AftermakingatriptogethertoGermanyatGaumont’s request to instruct exhibitors on the proper use of the Chronophone, Blaché imported his English father to ask Guy’s family for her hand in marriage. It was 1906; Guy was thirty-three, and Blaché was twenty-four.91 Guy feared that Gaumont would fire her when their engagement became known.92 Her status did change. The Blachés, with Gaumont’s blessing, severed their official relationship with the French company and went to the United States in 1907 to oversee an effort by Cleveland entrepreneurs to create a Chronophone franchise. Guy-Blaché was in some ways quite traditional and seems to have temporarily given up her own career to follow her new husband. For nine months they lived off their savings, but the Cleveland Chronophone venture failed. Broke, Blaché asked his former employer for work at Gaumont’s new film processing plant on Long Island. This plant would soon house Solax.93 The would-be Gaumont plant sparked protest from the Patents Company , which feared the plant would be used to house a new nonlicensed competitor. While most movie manufacturers welcomed the creation of the Patents Company, and with it the end of litigation over patent rights, film distributors and exhibitors took a different view.94 The Patents Company ’s aim was not only to control film production but to control distribution through the General Film Company, which distributed the product of licensed companies. In 1909 the General Film Company began buying film exchanges across the nation. Within a year and a half many exchanges went out of business, and most of those remaining were owned by General Film. Understandably, distributors were angry. But so, too, were some managers 46 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift of nickel theaters. Although the General Film Company offered them a regular supply of varied films at a fair price, some exhibitors resented the lack of product choice and the attempt to monopolize distribution.95 Disgruntledexhibitorssoonhadanalternativesourceoffilms.Unlicensed distributors formed their own distribution company—the Motion Picture Distributing and Sales Company (or simply Sales Company). The creation of a distribution mechanism for filmmakers outside the Patents Company led to a flood of “independent” movies made by a slew of new filmmaking concerns. By July of 1910 the Sales Company serviced about one-third of America’s moving picture theaters.96 Given the explosion of independent product, many would-be filmmakers were evidently stifled by Edison’s nascent monopoly. By November the trade journal Nickelodeon warned that “if the multiplication of producers continues there will soon be more sellers of films than there are buyers.”97 This is the context in which the Gaumont Long Island plant appeared in 1909. Its alleged function was to process Gaumont films for Patents Company distribution; the Gaumont company claimed that it was cheaper to do this on American soil. But the Patents Company viewed the move as “aggressive .” After all, laboratories were the very foundation of a full-fledged film factory. Thus the Patents Company feared that Gaumont was secretly planning to make films in the United States for the new independent market.98 The plant limped along for nearly a year while the lawyers for Gaumont and the Patents Company exchanged angry letters. Finally, in the summer of 1910, Herbert Blaché bought the Gaumont plant with the help of investors. Moving Picture World, following the dispute, asked Blaché if a new independent Gaumont-American product would soon appear. He answered coyly that “one never could tell what the future would bring forth.”99 For several months nothing happened. Then, in October of 1910, Moving Picture World profiled the new Solax Company. According to the trade journal Solax benefited from “Gaumont brains, Gaumont experience, Gaumont knowledge” but was not formally associated with the French company. It was run by Alice Guy Blaché, Solax’s “director-general.” According to Guy Blaché the Gaumont plant was “underused,” and she gave into “temptation” and rented it to make a “few” films.100 Now the mother of two-year-old Simone, Guy Blaché began making two one-reelers a week for the independent market. In 1911, while Vitagraph’s business practices were deemed “entirely inadequate ” by professional auditors, Alice Guy Blaché was enlarging the Solax studio at Flatbush, New York, where “the finest and most modern devices areinuse”andwheremanagerWilbertMelvillebeganhisexperimentinapA Quiet Invasion 47 plying the principles of scientific management to filmmaking.101 In the late summer of 1912 Guy Blaché’s new $100,000 studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey , was “the last word in moving picture plant architecture” and efficiency. Designed to allow the product to flow through the studio in an assemblyline fashion, the new Fort Lee studio could produce twelve thousand feet of finished positive film each day.102 Blaché supported his wife’s company but remained Gaumont’s U.S. representative until his contract ended in 1912.103 Despite Moving Picture World’s warm support of “Madame” in its initial announcement of the new company, Solax advertising never revealed the sex of its director-producer. Indeed, in an oblique way early Solax advertising indicated that the studio was run by a man. Solax’s first advertisement introduced its mascot, “Ol Sol—the Father of Photography,” a sun-faced male figure that claimed, “I’ve made good pictures for years.”104 Given the traditional take on the marriage, it would seem that Herbert Blaché’s ego played a role, but at this point the more likely reason for Solax’s apprehension was the issue of how the director’s gender would be received. The Blach és and their business manager may have been unsure if Americans would buy films from a studio run by a woman. Despite her decade of filmmaking experience at Gaumont, a respected brand, few if any in the American film industry would have recognized her name. When Motography profiled Guy Blaché in October of 1912, it concluded its short biography by stating that the fact “that the Solax guiding star is a woman seems to be lost in the hurlyburly of business.”105 Ironically, Guy Blaché’s gender might not have mattered as much just a few years earlier, when demand for films meant distributors paid little heed to brand names. But by 1910 the supply was catching up with demand.106 With price and length standardized and plenty of product on the market, the only factor that could induce an independent film exchange to buy one brand of film over another was the films themselves. Between 1909 and 1911, with the patents war behind them and a flattening of demand, film manufacturers necessarily shifted their focus from cameras and projectors to the quality of the films, hoping to achieve brand-name recognition and brand-name loyalty.107 Establishing their company in the midst of this shift, the Blachés may have taken extra care to make sure that the Solax brand was received with confidence. In February of 1911, just four months after Solax opened for business, Moving Picture World noted “with satisfaction the steady improvement in quality” of Solax pictures, claiming that a prominent exchange manager had declared that he was now going to give the Solax brand “preference over 48 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift another make of film.”108 Although Solax had a long way to go to achieve the kind of brand-name loyalty that Biograph had already won under the direction of D. W. Griffith, Solax achieved what all film manufacturing concerns craved: brand-name recognition. But such recognition meant that Alice Guy Blaché’s gender could not go unnoticed. Within a short time, recalled Guy, “Irarelypassedaweekwithoutbeinginterviewed.”109 Generally,thefemale director-general was treated with respect.110 In 1912, when Solax moved into its new $100,000 state-of-the-art studio in Fort Lee, Moving Picture World took note: “The entire studio and factory were planned by Madame Alice Blaché, the presiding genius of the Solax Company. She is a remarkable personality, combining a true artistic temperament with executive ability and business acumen. Every detail of the making of a Solax picture comes directly under her personal supervision. She takes full responsibility for the Solax product, and, when one considers that this model factory is the result of her work during the two years existence of the Solax Company, her judgment is hardly to be questioned.”111 Guy Blaché’s gender clearly did not detract from her ability to make movies. She was simply lauded as a competent filmmaker. Despitetheshiftawayfromsheerquantity,thetechnicalauraofthefilm’s first decade did not completely recede. The expertise of the camera operator , the laboratory, and the quality of the film stock itself were the primary criteria used to distinguish a good film from a poor one. Thus, like its contemporaries , Solax used its early advertisements to expound on the studio’s superior photography, its tinting and toning, and the longevity of its films— “Looks as New on 30th Run as the Day of Release.”112 As for genre, Solax seemed to make the typical melodramas, comedies, westerns, and military pictures.113 The military picture was in vogue as a result of American expansionism , and Solax became the clear leader in the trend.114 In April of 1911 Solax announced a “Big Series of Gigantic Military Productions,” beginning with Across the Mexican Line. Interestingly, Guy promoted active female leads, and the first military picture concerned the story of brave Juanita, sent to spy on an American lieutenant. In Across the Mexican Line Juanita falls in love with her would-be informant, who teaches her telegraphy, a skill she will soon put to dramatic use. When a Mexican general finds them and orders the American lieutenant to reveal military secrets, Juanita “dashes away to a telegraph pole, climbs, taps the wires, connects them with her instrument and is successful in conveying the news to the American troops,” thus assuring his rescue in the nick of time.115 McMahan, who viewed the 111 extant films of the hundreds Guy made, A Quiet Invasion 49 noted the strong tendency toward powerful women and gender transgression throughout Guy’s career. Although cross-dressing was common in all early films, McMahan argues that in Guy’s films it can be read as questioning the immutability of gender—if gender can be modified by a mere change of clothes, it cannot exist outside human agency. In cross-dressing films by other directors the women don men’s clothes “as proof of great love,” as in Griffith’s 1910 Biograph film The House with the Closed Shutters, concerning a woman who dresses as a soldier to fight for her ne’er-do-well brother and to protect the family name. She dies in battle, and all suspect that it is the mournful sister of the war hero who lives in the house with the closed shutters, when it is really the irresponsible drunken brother. In Guy’s Solax film Cupid and the Comet (1911), by contrast, the woman dresses as a man to pursue her own desire—her true love. In this film a father takes his daughter ’s clothes to keep her from eloping and sleeps with them. Unable to wake him, the daughter dresses in her father’s clothes to make her escape and then locks his closet so he cannot dress to pursue her. The daughter shows up at a minister’s office in male attire with her equally masculine fiancé, but the effeminate minister will not marry two men. The daughter takes off her hat to reveal her identity, but her bearded father arrives in female dress to stop the ceremony.116 According to McMahan, at the center of Guy’s films is the preoccupation with female agency, the connection between agency and gender construction, and the obstacles facing the development of female agency in a patriarchal society. She was quite conscious of the fact that she herself had achieved an unprecedented degree of self-realization through her career as a film producer and director; almost all of her films are addressed directly to women with the message “you can do more—here’s how.” The “how” usually involved creative thinking, daring action, and a sense of humor: all three qualities required by the tomboyish persona and by crossdressers.117 Guy addressed feminism directly in at least two films, one made while she was at Gaumont, the other for Solax. Not surprisingly, the French film tookgreaterrisks.LesRésultatsduféminisme(TheResultsofFeminism,1906) begins with a scene of “elegant” male milliners. When one walks outside with a hatbox, he is accosted by a female masher, who first stares at him, theninviteshimtosit,andthenpresseshimwith her advances until he cries. Another female bystander shoos the masher away, and after she comforts the assaulted man, they begin to flirt. Proper male passersby “cover their 50 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift eyes prudishly” to avoid looking at the lovers. The scene shifts to a home in which a man wearing a housecoat sits at a sewing machine while his father irons and his mother smokes at her leisure and reads the newspaper in a chair. After the man’s parents retire, the apparently kind woman from the street appears at his door and lures him away to her room, where she seduces him. A few years later the man is a harried househusband while his wife sits in a café smoking and talking with her friends. Oddly, Guy includes a scene of male nannies breastfeeding babies, truly pushing the flexibility of gender! When the househusband begs his wife to return home, she ignores him. Desperate, he throws acid in her face. The other “neglected husbands swear vengeance” and mob the cafés wherein their wives take their leisure, throwing them out. The film ends when “the triumphant men remain in the café knowing justice has been served.”118 A tamer version of gender-role reversals appeared in Guy Blaché’s In the Year 2000 (Solax, 1912), a science fiction fantasy in which women rule and menobey.Unfortunately,theonlyevidenceleftofthisfilmisabriefdescription in Moving Picture World, which begins by claiming that “prognosticationsoftenterrifyuswithvisionsofwhatwillbewhenwomenshallrulethe earth and the time when men shall be subordinates and adjuncts.” Calling the film “serio-comic,” the writer claimed that it was the “very seriousness of the purpose of the theme” that “makes the situations ludicrous” and that it was one of the most amusing films ever put out by Solax, a company known for its comedies.119 <= As interesting as these films are, they were probably less shocking to audiences than one might suppose. American audiences, accustomed to crossdressing male actors, as well as cinematic burlesque of suffragists, had seen similar films before. But McMahan’s suggestion that they contained a feminist message aimed at empowering women in the audience is intriguing, especially in light of the fact that Guy seemed to go to some length to hide her gender from the trades. Like female filmmakers who followed in her wake, Guy walked a tightrope between the centuries—balancing Victorian constraints for women on the one hand with possibilities for New Women on the other. At this point in the development of the American film industry, in which films were still judged by their technical merits, Alice Guy Blaché’s most important contribution was her demonstration that a woman could successfully run a studio. But her background was unique. Other women A Quiet Invasion 51 wanting their own studios would have to follow a different route, particularly as $100,000 studios became de rigueur. Fortunately, the outline of a new path to creative and financial control was becoming clear. After 1909 two unforeseen developments rumbled through the movie industry, changingeveryaspectofthebusinessinwaysthatprovedexceedinglyfavorableto a handful of fortunate women—the arrival of the movie star and the creation of the multireel feature film. 52 Expansion, Stardom &Uplift ...


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