Ep. 8: Steve Massa on Slapstick Divas • Capitolfest

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Ep. 8: Steve Massa on Slapstick Divas • Capitolfest

PostWed Jul 05, 2017 6:59 am



NitrateVille Radio Episode 8: Steve Massa, author of Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy | Art Pierce, director of Capitolfest in Rome, New York

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(1:48) Steve Massa is a silent film historian, co-organizer of the Museum of Modern Art's Cruel and Unusual Comedy series, and a librarian in the Billy Rose Theater Collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. In his new book Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy, from BearManor Media, he reveals over 400 silent comediennes largely forgotten today, and digs into the careers of some of the most popular women who made people laugh back then, from Mabel Normand and Marie Dressler to Mrs. Sidney Drew, Gale Henry and Alice Howell. We talk about them—and also about how the reflection of women in the funhouse mirror of comedy evolved over the early years of the century.

Here's Slapstick Divas at Amazon.

Here's Steve's earlier book Lame Brains and Lunatics, and his monograph on Marcel Perez.

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(49:14) Up next in my series looking at classic film festivals around the country is Capitolfest, held every August in Rome, New York; I attended for the first time last year. Art Pierce, manager of the vintage 1928 art deco Capitol Theater where the festival is held, talks about how Rome, in hard economic times, made an advantage out of its classic movie theater and attracted the participation of top archives and scholars.

Here's the link to the Capitolfest site including this year's schedule. Here's the NitrateVille thread on last year's program.

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Here are some YouTube clips of some of the female comics that Steve Massa and I talk about. Quality varies, but this helps you get an idea of the work of some of the women the book is about.

Flora Finch in The Hand Bag (1912; no English titles, but the image quality is good so you can see her facial expressions clearly):



Mabel Normand in Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916):



Alice Howell in Cinderella Cinders (1920):



Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew in Fox Trot Finesse (1915):



Gale Henry in The Detectress (1919), directed by her husband Bruno Becker:



Gale Henry in Charley Chase's His Wooden Wedding (1925):



Listen above, or subscribe at iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher on your mobile device, to make sure you hear every episode.

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Re: Ep. 8: Steve Massa on Slapstick Divas • Capitolfest

PostMon Jul 17, 2017 10:42 pm

Very informative. Thanks for educating us on some of the Hollywood silent film comediennes that we may have know very little about.

Regards,
Dana
Mark Hamilton (I) is on imdb.com

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