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Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers
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(Nov 20, 2018)
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In the early decades of cinema, some of the most innovative and celebrated filmmakers in America were women. Alice Guy-Blaché helped establish the basics of cinematic language, while others boldly continued its development: slapstick queen Mabel Normand (who taught Charlie Chaplin the craft of directing), action star Grace Cunard, and LGBTQ icon Alla Nazimova. Unafraid of controversy, filmmakers such as Lois Weber and Dorothy Davenport Reid tackled explosive issues such as birth control, abortion, and prostitution. This crucial chapter of film history comes alive through the presentation of a wide assortment of films, carefully curated, meticulously restored in 2K and 4K from archival sources, and presented with new musical scores.
Special Features: 80-page booklet with essays and photos | Interviews with historians and archivists | Audio commentaries for select films
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TCM did their own researched introductions with the producers of this Blu-ray set, giving us background on each woman filmmaker.
I can not say if these are the interviews with historians tha will bevon this set, thus I recorded the introductions to include with the set.
I can say that I have not seen most of the films here and they are well done. The restorations are not of Criterion quality, you will see dirt specs & lines here and there. However the images are sharp and clear, most coming from the Library of Congress. A few are previous Kino releases. Original color tints and hand-colored segments are retained here.
The film DREAM LADY is in the worst condition. The negative is damaged with white spots through out the entire film. It looks like it was snowing. True digital restoration is needed fir thus title.
SOMETHING NEW may be the first informercial. Over half of the 60 minute film isdemonstrating how well the Maxwell car climbs over rocky hills, frame bending and twisting. The heroine even hugs the car at the end for saving her. The picture looks great, but the soundtrack (I can’t quite call it music) is horrendous. It sounds like the technician accidentally encoded the recordings of a band tuning their instruments instead of the music intended for the film.
Some of films are a little heavy on the social commentary theme, several discs are devoted to this. But others are comedy and western themed and have no distinction as to the gender of the filmaker. Proof of equality.
The details are sparse here, so here is a listing from the press release.
DISC ONE: ALICE GUY-BLACHE
Mixed Pets [AM], Alice Guy Blaché, 1911, 14.1 min.
Tramp Strategy [AM], Alice Guy Blaché, 1911, 12 min.
Greater Love Hath No Man [AM], Alice Guy Blaché, 1911, 16.25 min.
Algie the Miner [AM], Alice Guy Blaché, 1912, 10 min.
Falling Leaves, Alice Guy Blaché, 1912, 11.75 min.
Little Rangers, The, Alice Guy Blaché, 1912, 11.5 min.
Canned Harmony, Alice Guy Blaché, 1912, 16 min.
Fool and His Money, A, Alice Guy Blaché, 1912, 10.75 min.
High Cost of Living, The, Alice Guy Blaché, 1912, 14.5 min.
* Coming of Sunbeam, The [AM], Alice Guy Blaché, 1913, 11.25 min.
* Burstup Homes' Murder Case, Alice Guy Blaché, 1913, 14.75 min.
* A House Divided, Alice Guy Blaché, 1913, 13.2 min.
Matrimony's Speed Limit / NYWIFT, Alice Guy Blaché, 1913, 14 min.
Ocean Waif, The, Alice Guy Blaché, 1916, 36.3 min.
Colleen Bawn, The, Gauntier, Gene (sc), 1911, 35 min.
On the Brink, Lois Weber, 1911, 12.5 min.
* Cricket, The, Wilson, Elsie Jane, 1917, 12 min.
Introduction to Series, approx 13 min.
Alice Guy-Blache documentary, approx 10 min.
About the Restorations, approx 7 min.
DISC TWO: LOIS WEBER
From Death to Life, Lois Weber, 1912, 13.75 min.
Fine Feathers, Lois Weber, 1912, 15 min.
Rosary, The, Lois Weber, 1913, 14.5 min.
Suspense, Lois Weber, 1913, 11.25 min.
Lost By a Hair, Lois Weber, 1914, 4 min.
Hypocrites, Lois Weber, 1915, 51.5 min.
Sunshine Molly, Lois Weber, 1915, 31.5 min.
Idle Wives, Lois Weber, 1916, 23.5 min.
* Too Wise Wives, Lois Weber, 1921, 69.5 min.
What Do Men Want?, Lois Weber, 1921, 40.75 min.
Lois Weber documentary, approx 12 min.
DISC 3: GENRE PIONEERS
* Hazards of Helen Ep. 09: Leap From the Water Tower, Helen Holmes, 1915, 11 min.
Hazards of Helen Ep.13: The Escape on the Fast Freight*, Helen Holmes, 1915, 11.25 min.
Hazards of Helen Ep. 26: Wild Engine, The, Helen Holmes, 1915, 10.5 min.
* Purple Mask, The; Episode 5, Part 1, Grace Cunard, 1917, 13 min.
Purple Mask, The: Episode 12 (Vault of Mystery), Grace Cunard, 1917, 19.5 min.
Purple Mask, The; Episode 13, Part 1 (The Leap), Grace Cunard, 1917, 10.5 min.
A Daughter of "The Law", Grace Cunard, 1921, 21.75 min.
Eleanor's Catch, Madison, Cleo, 1916, 13.25 min.
49 - '17, Baldwin, Ruth Ann, 1917, 70.25 min.
Caught in a Cabaret, Mabel Normand, 1914, 23.5 min.
Mabel's Blunder, Mabel Normand, 1914, 16.5 min.
Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day, Mabel Normand, 1916, 13 min.
* Mabel Lost and Won, Mabel Normand, 1915, 13.5 min.
That Ice Ticket, Gibson, Angela Murray, 1923, 10 min.
Ethnographic Films, Hurston, Zora Neale, 1929, 12.5 min.
Mabel Normand documentary, approx 7 min.
Serial Queens documentary, approx 7 min.
DISC 4: SOCIAL COMMENTARY 1
Where Are My Children?, Lois Weber, 1916, 65 min.
Her Defiance, Madison, Cleo, 1916, 21 min.
When Little Lindy Sang, Warrenton, Lule, 1916, 10.25 min.
Curse of Quon Gwon: When the Far East Mingle with the West, Wong, Marion E., 1916, 35 min.
Scandal (aka Scandal Mongers), Lois Weber, 1916, 35.5 min.
Dream Lady, The, Wilson, Elsie Jane, 1918, 53.75 min.
* Something New, Shipman, Nell, 1920, 56.75 min.
Social Commentary, approx 12 min.
DISC 5: SOCIAL COMMENTARY 2
Risky Road, The, Park, Ida May, 1918, 2 min.
Bread, Park, Ida May, 1918, 16 min.
Salome, Nazimova, Alla, 1923, 71.5 min.
Red Kimona , Davenport Reid, Dorothy, 1925, 77 min.
* Motherhood: Life's Greatest Miracle, Lawrence, Lita, 1925, 59.25 min.
Linda, Davenport Reid, Dorothy, 1929, 73.25 min.
DISC 6: THE FEATURE FILM
Call of the Cumberlands, The, Ivers, Julia Crawford, 1916, 64 min.
* Broadway Love, Park, Ida May, 1918, 61 min.
Back to God's Country, Shipman, Nell, 1919, 73.5 min.
Song of Love, The, Marion, Frances, 1923, 81 min.
The End of an Era, approx 10 min.