Cover image for The silent feminists : America's first women directors
The silent feminists : America's first women directors
Slide, Anthony.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, MD : Scarecrow Press, [1996]

Physical Description:
xiv, 160 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Rev. ed. of: Early women directors. c1977.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1998.2 .S548 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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American women who contributed their talent to the silent film industry are still largely unrecognized today. In The Silent Feminists, Anthony Slide shows how " d]uring the first three decades of its existence, the American film industry was, in many ways, a woman's world." His work documents the lives and careers of America's first women directors and provides an introduction to the subject of women in the American silent-film industry. He highlights a number of female pioneers, including Alice Guy Blach , Lois Weber, Margery Wilson, Mrs. Wallace Reid, Frances Marion, and Dorothy Arzner. With this book he continues to unveil the history of the women who, with little recognition, helped pave the way for females in the film business today.

Author Notes

Anthony Slide is the author or editor of some sixty books on the history of popular entertainment, & editor of the "Filmmakers" series published by Scarecrow Press. He has served as an associate archivist of the American Film Institute & resident film historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In 1990, in recognition of his work on the history of popular culture, Mr. Slide was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters by Bowling Green University. Anthony Slide resides in Studio City, California.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 16-adult. From 1896 to the advent of the "talkies," more than 30 women worked as directors in the American film industry. This tribute celebrates these pioneers, who were accepted and respected by their peers, who often shifted from acting or screenwriting to directing, or who directed in conjunction with or in the shadow of their husbands. Alice Blache's daughter speaks of her mother's groundbreaking career in France and the U.S., director Henry Hathaway reminisces about learning his craft from independent producer Lois Weber, and in one wonderful segment, actress Margery Wilson recalls running afoul of the brilliant but strong-minded Dorothy Arzner. Noting the number and variety of films these women produced, their directorial and thematic sensibilities, and the subsequent rise of the male-dominated studio system, this is an enlightening and respectful roster. A wonderful complement to Women Who Made the Movies [BKL Je 1 93] and Calling the Shots [BKL S 15 89]. --Irene Wood

Library Journal Review

Slide's history of women directors in American silent film is a companion to the eponymous video (LJ 10/15/94) and a follow-up to its forerunner, Early Women Directors (1977). With the exception of two new chapters, the outline follows the earlier edition verbatim. Slide's biographical approach, while heartfelt, is outmoded. Critical insight is confined to contemporaneous reviews. Inadequately broached are the reasons why the silent period was such a fruitful one for women; sociocultural ramifications are dully suggested. The author's rubric for a feminist director is ill defined, and his use of the term is problematical: Was Dorothy Arzner more of feminist than the socially aware Lois Weber merely because she featured women in dominant roles? Reprinted selections by Alice Guy Blanché and Ida May Park are interesting, if incidental, padding. Foibles aside, the publication of this derivative work says more about the dearth of scholarship than it does about its egregiously neglected subject. Only for film history collections lacking any material on the subject.‘Jayne Kate Plymale-Jackson, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The grand master of silent film scholarship builds on his Early Women Directors (CH, Dec'77) to construct a worthy and timely memorial to America's first female directors. A pioneer in excavating documents and films produced during the nascent stages of the American film industry, Slide expertly marshals his historical data to offer a persuasive perspective on the active and dynamic roles that women performed in the evolution of the art of film. The work showcases such fascinating directors as Alice Guy Blache (see The Memoirs of Alice Guy Blache, ed. by Slide, 1986), Lois Weber, and an "ever-increasing number" of talented photoplay artists and screenwriters. Of special interest are the moralist/feminist films of Weber, who championed Margaret Sanger, the birth control movement, and an antiabortion position. This tight, succinct, cogent volume shines a deserved light on talented but generally neglected film auteurs. In contrast to Ally Acker's revelatory celebration Reel Women (CH, Nov'91), which ushers readers into the present, Slide's research stays on the unstudied women of early-20th-century cinema, and by so doing reveals priceless treasures of the silver screen. Recommended as a solid little gem for all collections. T. Lindvall Regent University