← Projections index

Video Gallery: Unassigned US Screenwriters

by Kate Saccone

This post is intended to jumpstart research on a handful of US-based screenwriters by providing avenues for exploration and the opportunity to engage directly with archival moving image materials. Bringing together films held at the EYE Filmmuseum (many in the incomparable Desmet Collection) and valuable digital resources like the AFI Catalogue and Media History Digital Library, WFPP hopes to make research on some of our unassigned pioneers more accessible for both scholars and students. This compilation of tools, archival materials, and information is by no means exhaustive, and individuals interested in researching these screenwriters should use additional resources to confirm behind-the-scenes participation. Our intention is to spark engagement with these materials and encourage a wide range of uses and users for this video gallery, from instructors creating course assignments to individual film scholars looking to contribute to WFPP, or anyone who wants to research women’s participation in early cinema but is unsure where to start.

The videos below are organized by screenwriter. They have all been preserved and digitized by EYE and have Dutch intertitles, which may be translated into English or any other language using Google Translate or other free online translation services. All plot summaries are provided by EYE. We have linked directly to credit data in the AFI Catalogue when possible. (Read more about AFI’s new data-driven gender parity initiative, “Women They Talk About,” on the organization’s website.) In some cases, the featured film is not listed in any official credits, which will require researchers to look to other primary and secondary sources.

 

***

Evelyn Campbell

The Wicked Darling (1919), co-written by Evelyn Campbell

A crime drama about a girl from the slums whose poverty compels her to steal. The thief falls in love with the ex-husband of a wealthy woman, whose pearls she has stolen. She repents, and starts a new life in the countryside.

***

Elizabeth R. Carpenter

The Good in the Worst of Us (1915) (story by Elizabeth R. Carpenter)

Minnie flees from her brother Jim Colby to escape his bad influence. She becomes a household maid, and marries the milkman. During a burglary, Jim shoots a man down, and demands that Minnie help him escape. Minnie’s husband is suspicious, which means that Jim ultimately has to pay with his own life.

***

Marion Carr

Over the Back Fence (1913), written by Marion Carr (as Marian Carr?)

A short comedy about a couple in love, whose parents are fighting. By means of a staged argument, the couple manages to get approval for their courtship.

***

May Foster

The Bachelor’s Baby (1913), written by May Foster

A romantic film in which a young mother leaves her child as a foundling with a wealthy bachelor. By a strange twist of fate, the mother becomes the nanny of her own child. Ultimately, the mother and the bachelor fall in love.

***

Eliza G. Harral

Mixed Identities (1913), written by Eliza G. Harral (aka Elizabeth G. Harral)
A short silent comedy about the twin sisters Alice and Edna, who have received their stenography diplomas. They are taken on by Mr. Redmond and Mr. Freddy, who are friends of each other. When the two men decide to eat with their stenographers in the same restaurant, many complications arise, which are ultimately resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

***

Betty Harte

Their Only Son (1911), written by Betty Harte
The parents of a young man who is wrongly accused of theft eventually find their son on a ship, where he is working as a sailor.
***
Maie B. Havey

At the Masquerade Ball (1912), written by Maie B. Havey (aka M.B. Havey or Maibelle Havey)
A short comedy about the romance between Margaret and John. At a masked ball at the home of John’s mother, Margaret is suspected of stealing jewelry. When the misunderstanding is cleared up, nothing more stands in the way of their romance.

***

Eleanor Hicks

The Two Brothers (1910), written by Eleanor Hicks (as Elinore Hicks)

In the principality of Camarillo, a son is rejected by his mother because of his misconduct. He attacks the bridal carriage of his brother and his bride, and wants to murder the brother, who had threatened him with death. The bride intervenes.

***

Madeline Matzen

Burglar by Proxy (1919), written by Madeline Matzen (as M. Matzen)

A romantic crime comedy about a young man who is falsely accused of theft by the real culprit, who is the boyfriend of the girl he fancies. By chance, he meets a real burglar who helps him to get to the truth by blowing up a safe.

***

Olga Scholl

The Right to Happiness (1919), written by Olga Scholl

The story of twin sisters, one of whom grows up in Jewish revolutionary circles in Russia, and the other who grows up as the daughter of a wealthy American factory manager.

Man-Woman-Marriage (1921), written by Olga Scholl

Victoria marries David, the man of her dreams. After a number of years and two children, the marriage turns out not to be what she had expected. Then she discovers her faith, and everything turns out for the best.

***

Elaine Sterne

The Floor Below (1918), written by Elaine Sterne

A romantic farce about a journalist who, pretending to be a pickpocket, gets admitted to a rehabilitation house. She exposes the true criminal, and she gets a marriage proposal from the director of the facility.

Citation

Saccone, Kate. "Video Gallery: Unassigned US Screenwriters." In Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal, and Monica Dall’Asta, eds. Women Film Pioneers Project. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2020.