Lois Weber paper

Lois Weber paper - The Career of Lois Weber With...

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The Career of Lois Weber With one-hundred thirty-two directing credits, filmmaker Lois Weber had proven herself as the most prolific and influential female director of the Silent Era. Weber not only directed, but also wrote, acted in and produced some record-breaking photo plays that were distinct with their inclusion of a “propaganda slant” (Black 1). “[She was] perhaps the only [director] who has made good [films] that measured up to the severest standards of men,” said film critic Ernestine Black in a 1916 Literary Digest article. She owed her success to the controversial social topics of the films she chose to create. Lois Weber was born as Florence Pietz in 1879 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She got her start in the entertainment industry as an evangelical street performer. In 1906, she married a director and actor, Phillips Smalley. Weber’s early career began in the theater as she transitioned into writing, directing and starring in short films. (“Biography for Lois Weber” 1) She gained fans with some early directing jobs, by working with other popular actors and playwrights, like her husband; therefore, she was able to gain credibility with the motion picture industry. “… managers did not look kindly upon their marital resolve…to not let the stage separate them, and after a year or two of unsatisfactory engagements [in the theater], they wandered by chance into the motion picture field…which has yielded some art and enormous profits” (Black 1). Weber worked for Gaumont Pictures as an actress for two years before she joined the Rex Company (“Lois Weber” 18). She set new records with her film, the Rex Production of The Merchant of Venice in 1914, which was the first feature to be directed by a woman (“Biography for Lois Weber” 1). Black suggested that “she [was one of the most] forward looking directors who has helped make the fight to give intellectual athleticism a place on the screen instead of reserving it just for comedy gymnastics and sob slush” as one of the reasons that Weber gained
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so much popularity (1). She was said to be the highest paid director of the early 1920s (Holland A6). Weber’s 1915 film Hypocrites is an example of how she confronted demanding social issues. The film follows the parallel stories of an early Christian ascetic and a modern minister with actor Courteney Foote in both roles, as well as numerous other actors in dual roles. The first story shows a “medieval monk who devotes himself to completing a statue of ‘Truth,’ only to be murdered by a mob when his work turns out to be an image of a naked woman” (“Hypocrites Synopsis”). One of the film’s inter-titles states, “Truth is welcome if clothed in our ideas” which emphasizes the double standards of the worshippers ( Hypocrites ). Gabriel, the lead of the contemporary story, is a minister for a congregation that is extrinsically motivated by the appearance of religion. “The hypocrisy of the congregation is exposed by a series of vignettes in
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Lois Weber paper - The Career of Lois Weber With...

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