Gregg Bachman and Thomas J. Slater present an array of essays that reveal the incredible complexity of silent films and the era in which they were produced. Essentially, silent films conjure the names of Mary Pickford and a few white men, including Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith. These eleven essays, however, demonstrate that minorities and women other than Pickford also responded to the times through film. The contributors deal with changing American society at a crucial time, examining our hopes and fears as a nation during the silent film era.
Opening new vistas, this book introduces us to people, films, issues, and concepts that few of us have encountered. One example is screenwriter June Mathis, who wrote more than one hundred scripts, brought Rudolph Valentino to stardom, and supervised all productions at the Goldwyn Studios in 1923. Equally intriguing is Nita Naldi, whose career and tragic life speak volumes about America’s combined fascination with and fear of ethnic minorities. Other key players in the drama of silent films include John Randolph Bray (animated cartoons), Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and female producer, writer, and director Nell Shipman.
Contributors are Kay Armatage, Jean Chateauvert, Maureen Furniss, Mark Langer, Anne Morey, Diane Negra, George Potamianos, Joanna Rapf, Thomas J. Slater, Sam Stoloff, and Judith Thissen.
Seventeen illustrations enliven this study of silent film.