1906. USA. Directed by M. R. Harrington. With Gauntier, Jim Slevin, Gordon Burby. Preserved print courtesy The Library of Congress. 10 min.
1911. USA. Directed by Sidney Olcott. Screenplay by Gauntier. With Gauntier, Jack Clark, Robert G. Vignola. Preserved print courtesy the IFI Irish Film Archive. 11 min.
1910. USA. Directed by Sidney Olcott. With Gauntier. Preserved print courtesy The Library of Congress. 15 min.
Girl Spies and Irish Colleens: Gene Gauntier, Actress, Screenwriter, Producer, Stuntwoman
Actress Gene Gauntier, popularly known as “the Kalem Girl,” often performed her own risky stunts and gleefully took on socially provocative roles like the cross-dressing Confederate Girl Spy. She made her brash debut in the Biograph short The Paymaster, which opens this program, and for the next 10 years wrote, produced, and directed or co-directed hundreds of movies around the world. Together with Sidney Olcott she formed one of the first traveling stock companies (if not the first), shooting outdoors on location in New York and Florida, then in Ireland, and even in the Middle East for their hugely successful Biblical epic From the Manger to the Cross, the first American feature-length story of the life of Christ to be shot on location. Gauntier went her own way, producing films under the banner of the short-lived Gene Gauntier Feature Players (1912–14), and after retiring from the movie business wrote a delightful memoir, Blazing the Trail, which was serialized in Woman’s Home Companion in 1928; the original typescript can now be found in The Museum of Modern Art’s special collections. This program, introduced by Jane Gaines, a professor of film at Columbia University School of the Arts, and B. Ruby Rich, a critic and scholar, is a celebration of Gauntier’s many talents, and marks the launch of the Women Film Pioneers Project, an exciting new initiative of the Columbia University Libraries.