The Two Lives of Justine Johnstone
“As a Ziegfeld Follies girl and film actress, Justine Johnstone (1895-1982) was celebrated as "the most beautiful woman in the world." Her career took an unexpected turn when she abruptly retired from acting at 31. For the remainder of her life, she was a cutting-edge pathologist. Her research at Columbia University contributed to the pre-penicillin treatment of syphilis and she participated in the development of early cancer treatments at Caltech. The first full-length biography of Johnstone chronicles her extraordinary success in two male-dominated fields--show business and medical science.”
If you have the Eric James book (2000), you may want this upcoming title
The Music Of Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin the actor is universally synonymous with his beloved Tramp character. Chaplin the director is considered one of the great auteurs and innovators of cinema history. Less well known is Chaplin the composer, whose instrumental theme for Modern Times (1936) later became the popular standard "Smile," a Billboard hit for Nat King Cole in 1954.
Chaplin was prolific yet could not read or write music. It took a rotating cast of talented musicians to translate his unorthodox humming, off-key singing and amateur piano and violin playing into the singular orchestral vision he heard in his head. Drawing on numerous transcriptions from 60 years of original scores, this comprehensive study reveals the untold story of Chaplin the composer and the string of famous (and not-so-famous) musicians he employed, giving fresh insight into his films and shedding new light on the man behind the icon.”
Comic Venus: Women and Comedy in American Silent Film
“For many people the term "silent comedy" conjures up images of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, Buster Keaton's Stoneface, or Harold Lloyd hanging precariously from the side of a skyscraper. Even people who have never seen a silent film can recognize these comedians at a glance. But what about the female comedians? Gale Henry, Louise Fazenda, Colleen Moore, Constance Talmadge-these and numerous others were wildly popular during the silent film era, appearing in countless motion pictures and earning top salaries, and yet their names have been almost entirely forgotten. As a consequence, recovering their history is all the more compelling given that they laid the foundation for generations of funny women, from Lucille Ball to Carol Burnett to Tina Fey. These women constitute an essential and neglected sector of film history, reflecting a turning point in women's social and political history. Their talent and brave spirit continues to be felt today, and Comic Venus: Women and Comedy in American Silent Film seeks to provide a better understanding of women's experiences in the early twentieth century and to better understand and appreciate the unruly and boundary-breaking women who have followed. The diversity and breadth of archival materials explored in Comic Venus illuminate the social and historical period of comediennes and silent film. In four sections, Kristen Anderson Wagner enumerates the relationship between women and comedy, beginning with the question of why historically women weren't seen as funny or couldn't possibly be funny in the public and male eye, a question that persists even today. Wagner delves into the idea of women's "delicate sensibilities," which presumably prevented them from being funny, and in chapter two traces ideas about feminine beauty and what a woman should express versus what these comedic women did express, as Wagner notes, "comediennes challenged the assumption that beauty was a fundamental component of ideal femininity." In chapter three, Wagner discusses how comediennes such as Clara Bow, Marie Dressler, and Colleen Moore used humor to gain recognition and power through performances of sexuality and desire. Women comedians presented "sexuality as fun and playful, suggesting that personal relationships could be fluid rather than stable." Chapter four examines silent comediennes' relationships to the modern world and argues that these women exemplified modernity and new womanhood. The final chapter of Comic Venus brings readers to understand comediennes and their impact on silent-era cinema, as well as their lasting influence on later generations of funny women.
Comic Venus is the first book to explore the overlooked contributions made by comediennes in American silent film. Those with an interest in film and representations of femininity in comedy will be fascinated by the analytical connections and thoroughly researched histories of these women and their groundbreaking movements in comedy and stage.“
Buster Keaton in His Own Time
Buster Keaton "can impress a weary world with the vitally important fact that life, after all, is a foolishly inconsequential affair," wrote critic Robert Sherwood in 1918. A century later Keaton, with his darkly comic "theater of the absurd," speaks to audiences like no other silent comedian. If you thought you knew Keaton--think again!”
You have just enough time to read these silent comedy fictions
before the May 1st publication of a Laurel and Hardy novel
John Connolly recreates the Golden Age of Hollywood in this moving, literary portrait of two men who found their true selves in a comedic partnership. When Stan Laurel was paired with Oliver Hardy, affectionately known as Babe, the history of comedy--not to mention their personal and professional lives--would be altered forever.
Laurel followed in the wake of Charlie Chaplin, who blazed a trail from the vaudeville stages of England to the dynamic, if often seedy and highly volatile, movie studios of Los Angeles in the early 20th century. Awed like everyone else by Chaplin's genius (and ambition and cruelty), Laurel despaired of ever finding his own path to success--or happiness.
But success and happiness did find Laurel, following the inspired decision by impresario Hal Roach to put him and Oliver Hardy together on screen. Initially a calculated marriage of opposites in an era of highly disposable short films, the partnership bloomed into a professional and personal relationship of lifelong depth.
Eventually, Laurel became one of the greatest screen comedians the world has ever known: a man who knew both adoration and humiliation; who loved, and was loved in turn; who betrayed, and was betrayed; who never sought to cause pain to anyone else, yet left a trail of affairs and broken marriages in his wake.
And whose life was ultimately defined by one relationship of such astonishing tenderness and devotion that only death could sever their profound connection.
Christina G. Petersen- The Freshman: Comedy and Masculinity in 1920s Film and Youth Culture
“Before the advent of the teenager in the 1940s and the teenpic in the 1950s, The Freshman (Taylor and Newmeyer, 1925) represented 1920s college youth culture as an exclusive world of leisure to a mass audience. Starring popular slapstick comedian Harold Lloyd, The Freshman was a hit with audiences for its parody of contemporary conceptions of university life as an orgy of proms and football games, becoming the second-highest grossing comedy feature of the silent era. This book examines The Freshman from a number of perspectives, with a focus on the social, economic, and political context that led to the rise of campus culture as a distinct subculture and popular mass culture in 1920s America; Lloyds use of slapstick to represent an embodied, youthful middle-class masculinity; and the films self-reflexive exploration of the conflict between individuality and conformity as an early entry in the youth film genre.”