Laugh and Live: The Films of Douglas Fairbanks

Dec 17, 2008–Jan 12, 2009


The Mark of Zorro. 1920. USA. Directed by Fred Niblo. Sessue Hayakawa/Henry Kotani Program

Douglas Fairbanks was a 35-year-old veteran of live theater when he made his first films in 1915 for D. W. Griffith’s Fine Arts studio. There, he created the character of “Doug,” a breezy, all-American go-getter who seemed to move effortlessly though life and across the screen. Still, Fairbanks never quite fit in with the Griffith ensemble, and within 18 months he was working independently, eventually becoming one of the founders of United Artists in 1919. The following year, with the release of The Mark of Zorro, he moved into the production of big-budget costume films, averaging one a year for the rest of the 1920s.

This series—which takes its title from Fairbanks’s 1917 book of the same name, in which he promoted his optimistic outlook as the key to happiness and success—celebrates the 70th anniversary of MoMA’s acquisition of the Douglas Fairbanks Collection. Jeffrey Vance, author of Douglas Fairbanks (University of California Press & Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 2008), introduces the December 17 screening of The Gaucho.

Organized by Steven Higgins, Curator, Department of Film.


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