Women Film Directors – Gwendolyn Audrey Foster 1995
Women Film Directors – Gwendolyn Audrey Foster 1995
Women Film Directors
An International Bio-Critical Dictionary
Gwendolyn Audrey Foster 1995
Greenwood Press Westport, Connecticut • London
Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary is a reference book designed primarily for use by students, historians, film critics, and film enthusiasts. The entries are arranged alphabetically and include biographical information, critical essay, selected filmography, and selected bibliographic information. Filmmakers were chosen on the basis of availability of information.
GISH, LILLIAN (1896-1993). United States. Lillian Gish is well known as an early screen actress who worked closely in collaboration with D. W. Griffith. Born in Springfield, Ohio, Lillian Gish and her sister, Dorothy Gish, are perhaps the best-known screen actresses from the silent film period. Lillian Gish usually played the victimized heroine in early Griffith films, the embodiment of Victorian notions of feminine sexual purity and, as Richard Dyer notes, the essence of “whiteness.” Gish starred in The Mothering Heart (1913), Way Down East (1920), Orphans of the Storm (1921), and many more films until 1987, when she acted in The Whales of August. Gish may have been passive in front of the camera in her early roles, but she was active behind the camera and behind the scenes on many of her films. She not only was active as a producer and collaborator but also directed one film, Remodeling Her Husband (1920).
D. W. Griffith was initially slated to direct Remodeling Her Husband, starring Dorothy Gish, but at the last moment, for reasons that are still obscure, Griffith turned the direction of the film over to Lillian Gish. Dorothy Gish herself chose the story for the film, which was based on a cartoon in a magazine depicting a husband’s dissatisfaction with his wife’s appearance. Dorothy Parker wrote the comic subtitles for the film, which was her first Hollywood writing job. Unfortunately, Remodeling Her Husband appears to be a lost film, but if the plotline of the cartoon upon which the film is based is any indication, Remodeling Her Husband is a feminist critique of patriarchal gender expectations. The idea of making such a film must have attracted the Gish sisters, who were well aware of their iconic status as the quintessentially objectified women of the silent cinema. Remodeling Her Husband is a clever comedic subversion of male and female codes of beauty, which includes a scene of the leading man’s having his nails filed at a barbershop. Dorothy Parker’s subtitle for the scene reads, The divinity that shapes our ends,” a typical Parkeresque jab at masculine pomposity.
Remodeling Her Husband depicts an unfaithful husband whose wife goes to work to punish him for his actions. It seems appropriate that the Gish sisters, the penultimate screen “beauties,” irreverently mocked male attitudes so blatantly in Remodeling Her Husband. The film was a critical and box-office success. Budgeted at $50,000, the film made over $460,000 and was one of Gish’s most successful comedies. Despite this acclaim, after Remodeling Her Husband, Gish said she “never wanted to direct another film” (Gish, 226).
Lillian Gish describes the making of the film in detail in The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me. Not only was Gish responsible for directing Remodeling Her Husband in the winter of 1919, but Griffith also left her in charge of building a studio in his absence, while he went on location to shoot another film in Florida. Perhaps if Gish had not been saddled with the excess responsibility of overseeing construction on top of directing her first film, she may not have turned completely against the idea of film directing. Instead, Gish returned to acting and had one of the most famous and long-running careers in Hollywood. In 1970***, she earned the Academy Award for her Life Achievement in films. She was also awarded the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984. Gish pioneered “naturalistic” acting and leaves a formidable legacy in motion picture history. It seems odd that Gish’s one feminist directorial effort is lost, given the fervor with which Griffith is obsessively archived by film historians. ***
Remodeling Her Husband (1920)
*** 1971 – Academy Awards, USA – Honorary Award – For superlative artistry and for distinguished contribution to the progress of motion pictures.
*** Kindly search this website with the key word “remodeling”. The results are conclusive.
Gish and Davis: Could the Two Work Together? – By Mike Kaplan (The New York Times – 1993) FILM; Gish and Davis: Could the Two Work Together? By Mike Kaplan The New York Times – April 18, 1993 When “The Whales of August” was filmed in 1986, the story of the relationship between two elderly sisters brought together two of the screen’s most enduring stars, Lillian Gish and Bette Davis. Miss Gish, who died Feb. 27 at the age of 99, will be remembered on Thursday at the Museum of Modern Art with a program called “In Memoriam.” It will include “The Whales of August,” her final film, directed by Lindsay Anderson, as well as her first, D. W. Griffith’s “Unseen Enemy” (1912). Here, Mike Kaplan, who co-produced “The Whales of August,” reflects on the interaction of its two stars. Bette Davis and Lillian Gish – The Whales of August, 1987 In the tributes to Lillian Gish that followed her death, references to her final starring role in “The Whales of August” were always glowing. B
The Movie Magazines and Lillian Gish … The moving Picture World 1914 detail The moving Picture World 1914 The moving Picture World 1914 detail Moving Picture World, November 21, 1914 Her Awakening – Lillian Gish The Angel of Contention Poster The moving Picture World – Mutual Program – A Question of Courage names wrong Lillian Gish And Dorothy The moving Picture World – Mutual Program – The Sisters The Birth of a Nation (David W. Griffith Corp., 1915). Herald2 Sold for Marriage Triangle Plays Program 1916 lillian_gish_photoplay_1917 08 ID Photo Back to Lillian Gish Home page Photoplay, August, 1918 – Dorothy and Lillian Gish in their dressing room Lillian Gish Photoplay August 1918 Lillian Gish Photoplay February 1919 Lillian Gish Photoplay, July, 1919 Back to Lillian Gish Home page Lillian Gish Photoplay October 1920 Orphans of The Storm Prog Herald 1921 Lillian Gish 1921 – The Girl Back Home Motion Picture Classic Magazine (Brewster, 1921) The Lily Maid from Ohio Ph
When Mamaroneck Upstaged Hollywood – By Bruce Berman (The New York Times – June 19, 1977) When Mamaroneck Upstaged Hollywood By Bruce Berman The New York Times – June 19, 1977 BACK in the early 1920’s when Mamaroneck was a center of movie‐making, Joseph Rigano was an employee of D.W. Grif fith’s studio at Orienta. “I was atone mason and mechanic,” the energetic 80year‐old said as we toured on foot Edgewater Point, at the top of the Orienta Peninsula. Griffith Studios, Orienta Point, Mamaroneck NY 1921 “After the studio was finally built, Mr. Griffith asked me to stay on as a set builder. Stone fireplaces were my specialty, but I worked on everything from Gothic walls to painted desert backdrops. The actors were almost always friendly, and I was getting $55 a week and drove a $1,200 Buick. What more could a young man desire?” DW Griffith filming team – Mamaroneck NY – Way Down East In those days the area was less the “East Coast Hollywood” than Hollywood was “the West Co