Daisy Doodad’s Dial. 1914. England. Directed, produced, and written by Florence Turner. With Turner, Larry Trimble. 35mm courtesy the British Film Institute. 9 min.
Florence Turner, aka “the Vitagraph Girl,” left America for Britain—after success as a film actress—in 1913, forming Turner Films in collaboration with director Larry Trimble. There, she produced, wrote, and starred in a number of films, including Daisy Doodad’s Dial (which she also directed), before returning to the US in 1916. (Turner, who never regained her previous level of fame, would return to Britain, appearing in several more films there, such as The Boatswain’s Mate, also in this series, before going back to America in 1924.) In the comedy short Daisy Doodad’s Dial, a longstanding favorite among the WFPP editorial team, Turner’s elastic countenance—she was a noted mimic and facial contortionist—is the star of the show as she plays a wife competing against her husband (Trimble) in an amateur face-making contest.
Lev livet leende (Live Life Smiling). 1921. Sweden. Directed by Pauline Brunius. Screenplay by Brunius, Lars Tessing. With Olof Winnerstrand, Frida Winnerstrand, Palle Brunius. DCP courtesy the Swedish Film Institute. Swedish, Finnish intertitles; English subtitles. 25 min.
When his wife urges grouchy Mr. Vinner to “live life smiling” like Douglas Fairbanks, his grin in public leads to a variety of misunderstandings. Director-screenwriter Pauline Brunius was a noted stage actress and theatrical entrepreneur before she began appearing in films in 1920—her debut, Thora van Deken, has been restored by the Swedish Film Institute—the same year she wrote her first script (Gyurkovicsarna). Between 1920 and 1924, Brunius made several comedy shorts about the Vinners, all starring married performers Olof and Frida Winnerstrand. Lev livet leende is the only one to survive in complete form today. Although Brunius remained active in the cinema, both in front of and behind the camera (Falska Greta), into the 1930s, she is more often remembered as the first female director of Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre, a position she held from 1938 to 1948.
Manden uden fremtid (The Man without a Future). 1916. Denmark. Directed by Holger-Madsen. Screenplay by Harriet Bloch. With Valdemar Psilander, Clara Wieth, Oscar Stribolt. DCP courtesy the Danish Film Institute. Danish intertitles; English subtitles. Approx. 50 min.
Danish screenwriter Harriet Bloch wrote this comedic romantic Western—which she later claimed as a personal favorite—at the request of one of the biggest Danish film stars of the time, Valdemar Psilander, who dreamed of playing an American cowboy. Bloch, who preferred to work as an independent freelance writer so she could stay at home and manage her familial and domestic duties, is estimated to have written 150 screenplays between 1911 and the late 1920s (although some were never made). She mostly wrote original stories, predominantly for Danish film companies like Nordisk, scripting 10 films for Psilander alone, as well as for studios in Germany (e.g., Der Gang in die Nacht) and Sweden (e.g., Kärlek och Journalistik). She reportedly learned the rules of cinematic storytelling by regularly going to the movies, and was inspired to pick up screenwriting after seeing the 1910 Afgrunden, starring actress-producer Asta Nielsen. In Manden uden fremtid, which takes a humorous approach to the cross-class romance plot, Bloch gives Psilander the chance to play the boisterous and unpolished Percy Fancourt, a ranch hand with no future in the eyes of socialite Grace Dremont (Clara Wieth) and her millionaire father (Oscar Stribolt), who comes into some money of his own.
Program 84 min.