Her Anniversaries. 1917. USA. Directed by Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew [Lucille McVey]. Screenplay by Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew, based on an idea from Helen Duey. With Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew. 35mm print courtesy the Library of Congress. Silent. 10 min.
Stage and screen actress Lucille McVey became (the second) Mrs. Sidney Drew in 1914, inaugurating a period of close collaboration with her husband at Vitagraph, Metro Pictures, and then their own production company, V.B.K. Film Corporation. The couple excelled at writing, directing, and starring in light domestic comedy shorts like Her Anniversaries, which finds humor in the tension between a middle-class wife with too many milestones to celebrate and a husband who can’t remember any of them. After Sidney Drew’s death in 1919, McVey produced, directed, and wrote several more films on her own (Bunkered, Cousin Kate, The Stimulating Mrs. Barton), all of which are sadly considered lost today. She died in 1925 at the age of 35.
The First Year. 1926. USA. Directed by Frank Borzage. Screenplay by Frances Marion, from a play by Frank Craven. With Matt Moore, Kathryn Perry, John Patrick, J. Ferrell MacDonald, Carolynne Snowden. 35mm. 80 min.
One of the most recognizable names in this series, Frances Marion was an influential and powerful figure in early Hollywood, known for her collaborations with actress-producer Mary Pickford, among several other women. A prolific screenwriter, Marion wrote the rarely screened The First Year soon after the hugely successful Stella Dallas. This Fox comedy follows Matt Moore and Kathryn Perry as a young Midwestern couple struggling to survive the inevitable disappointments and disillusionments of the first year of marriage. The film’s centerpiece (as it was on the stage) is an extended dinner scene in which the young couple try to impress a big-city visitor (J. Farrell MacDonald) with their refined manners and sophisticated cuisine—a sequence handily stolen by the pioneering African American actress Carolynne Snowden, despite only being given the stereotypically limiting role of the inexperienced maid.