Greta Garbo

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Scott Lord Silent Film: A Girl's Folly (Tourneur, 1917)

The caption to the review of "A Girl's Folly" in the periodical Wid's Films and Film Folk during March 1917 read "Bad Moral and Tells Secrets, But Will Get Money." It elaborated further with "Very interesting, but tells studio secrets, which is dangerous," if that too can be deciphered by a modern audience sauntering through the cannon of silent films left remaining that have not yet deteriorated over time. The periodical then went so far as to, half-heartedly or not, suggest that "exhibitors", theater owners, should "protest" the film's having divulged what were "backstage secrets". The periodical admittedly was looking for the exploitation of silent films but it takes a historian's glance to decided if there was a sensationalism on which the reviewer may have counted during an extratextural discourse. It continued to question "purely from the viewpoint of whether you can get money with it" and conceded, "The thread of the story is quite slender and has a very questionable moral as presented, but the introduction of scenes showing clearly activity about a film studio is sure to prove exceptionally interisting to any film fan." It offerred the theater owner consolation, "Since the producer has already gone and 'done it', I presume you might as well go ahead and get the money with this, because it would be impossible to eliminate the back-stage scenes and have a picture left."
The photoplay was cowriiten with director Maurice Tourneaur by Frances Marion and starred actresses Doris Kenyon and June Eldvidge. Frances Marion that year also wrote the photplays to to the films Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Poor Little Rich Girl both starring Mary Pickford. Silent Film Silent Film

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Scott Lord Silent Film: Mary Pickford as Pollyanna (Powell, 1920)

In addition to one of the most beautiful films made by Mary Pickford, “Pollyanna” (Paul Powell, six reels), during 1920 Pickford also made the film “Suds” (five reels) under the direction of Francis Dillon. The former also stars William Courtleigh, the latter William Austin

Silent Film Mary Pickford Mary Pickford

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Writing the Photoplay

One automatically wonders what was entailed in the writing of photoplays when coming across the term "spot continuity". It was described during 1923 as a script writing technique of making a brief outline listing only the "big situations" or "highspots" in the storyline of a silent film. That year "continuity" was described as the indispensible "director's guide", a transcription of the story with division of scene indicated and specific shots, inserts, perhaps dissolves, being noted, as in a "continuity script". A continuity writer would be assigned to construct it from the scenario, which would be amended by a "scene plot", an itemized list of scenes designating their respective sets and locations.
A manual for the photoplaywright, written a year earlier during 1922, giving the scenario as being "a play in scenes" and the "continuity writer" as a dramaturgist, described "scenarist" as a generic synonym for playwright of screen dramatist. A "synoptist" was responsible for a detailed synopsis, the legnth of which was that of a short story, and it detailed the dramatic story without dialougue. Continuity and synopsis were the same, differing only in dramatic description, the former being scenario, the latter synoptic narrative.
The manual advised the photoplawright that complications should be limited when constructing underplots or cross plots in order to achieve a plot unity and a unity of structure.
Scenario credits, although more often than not having been given to a screenwriter, frequently were shared with the film's director or given solely to the director. Magazine advertisements in 1922 for the film "Notoriety" promoted the film by giving Clara Beranger credit for having written the story especially for director William De Mille. D. W. Griffith
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