Luna Park Experimental Film Series: Touching Loss: Finding Girls in Early Hollywood

Apr 27 - 28


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Fri, Apr 27 to Sat, Apr 28

Drawing inspiration from Pittsburgh’s famed amusement park, The Luna Park Experimental Film & Media Series celebrates play, inquiry, and the transgression of accepted boundaries of medium and genre in the moving image. Drawing on diverse curatorial perspectives, the series presents new and rarely-seen works by artists testing form and social, cultural, and political structures. LUNA 2018 features programs curated by Staycee Pearl, Audra Wist, D.W. Anselmo, Suzie Silver and Hilary Harp, with screenings accompanied by workshops and performances by established and emerging artists.

Touching Loss: Finding Girls in Early Hollywood
Curated by Diana W. Anselmo

A medley of lectures, screenings, and Q&As, this two-day event will throw light on the vital contributions female players, directors, and spectators made to the successful implementation of early Hollywood.

Focused on rare fragmented films, forgotten young actresses, and personal fan artifacts from the 1910s, and combining a variety of genres (mystery, drama, comedy, adventure) and formats (episodic and feature-length), this program questions what cultural biases underpin the histories we choose to preserve and those we allow to be forgotten. Screenings and talks both aim to throw light on the vital, but often neglected roles, girls and young women played in the formation of the US film industry.

All films screened are 35mm prints lent by the Library of Congress. Most of these titles are not available commercially and have never been screened publicly.

Friday, April 27, 6-8:30pm
Women Directors in Early Hollywood: Lois Weber & Grace Cunard
Screening and Discussion: Where Are My Children? (1916) & The Purple Mask (1916)


Where Are My Children? (1916) (62 minutes)
Directed by Lois Weber and Philip Smalley, written by Lois Weber, produced by Lois Weber Productions, and distributed by Universal Film Manufacturing Company. Starring Tyrone Power and Helen Riaume.

Film scholar Scott Simmon described “Lois Weber's pro-birth control, anti-abortion drama Where Are My Children? as revealing, “perhaps more fully than any other surviving film, how the first Hollywood features could engage issues that became completely forbidden throughout the next half century of mainstream American filmmaking. The title is drawn from the question asked in anguish near the end of the five-reel film by its lead, a district attorney, after he learns of the many abortions that his wife and her wealthy friends have undergone secretly.” (in Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film).

The Purple Mask (1916) (ep. 16 “A Prisoner of Love,” 30 minutes)
Directed by Grace Cunard, written by Grace Cunard, produced and distributed by Universal Film Manufacturing Company. Starring Grace Cunard and Francis Ford.

A multi-chaptered action serial, The Purple Mask depicts the adventures of cunning Patsy Montez (Cunard), who steals her aunt's jewels to get back at detective Phil Kelly (Ford), who has snubbed her. When the jewels are stolen by a servant who is also a member of a criminal gang, Patsy must follow him to Paris to retrieve her loot, incurring in a string of great perils, including living in the slums and falling in love with Kelly.

Saturday, April 28, 4-6:30pm
From the Archives: Forgotten 1910s Girl Stars & the Movie Fans Who Loved Them
Lecture: “Moviegoing Girls and Her Fan Scrapbooks”
Screening: The Master Key (1914), Zudora (1914), The Mysteries of Myra (1915), The Eyes of Julia Deep (1918)


The Master Key (1914) (assorted fragments, 30 minutes)
Directed by Robert Z. Leonard, written by Robert Z. Leonard, produced and distributed by Universal Film Manufacturing Company. Starring Ella Hall and Robert Z. Leonard.

A hugely successful serial about greed and gold mining, set in Southern California and filmed on location. John Dore (Leonard), a mine superintendent, and his young charge, orphaned Ruth Gallon (Hall) must band together against crooked businessmen and ill-intentioned urbanites who try to steal their gold mine and exploit Ruth’s innocence. Western undertones make The Master Key a treat for those interested in the genre.  

Zudora (1914) (ep.3 “The Mystery of the Dutch Cheese Maker,” 30 minutes)
Directed by Howell Hansel and Frederick Sullivan, written by Francis Worcester Doughty, produced and distributed by Thanhouser Film Company. Starring Marguerite Snow, James Cruze, and Harry Benham.

Blending action, romance, and the supernatural with stunning trick cinematography and a resourceful heroine, Zudora was one of the first serials to attract a large audience. Unaware that she is the heiress to a large fortune, eighteen-year-old Zudora (Snow) lives with her uncle Hassam Ali (Cruze), a mystic who secretly covets her inheritance. When she falls in love with a young lawyer, John Storm (Benham), Ali makes a bargain in an attempt to stall her wedding and thus the transference of her fortune: Zudora cannot marry until she solves the next twenty mysteries brought to him.

The Mysteries of Myra (1915) (assorted fragments, about 18 minutes)
Directed by Theodore W. Wharton and Leopold D. Wharton, written by Charles W. Goddard, produced by Wharton Inc. and distributed by International Film Service. Starring Jean Sothern and Howard Estabrook.

The Mysteries of Myra, one of William Hearst’s short-lived forays into film distribution, was promoted as a multipart drama of the occult. It tells the story of Myra Maynard (Sothern) who, on her eighteenth birthday, awakens to mystical powers. Each chapter chronicles the many dangers Myra encounters as she becomes the object of obsession of devil worshipers and the love interest of doctor Payson Alden (Eastabrook). At the time of its release, Myra’s elaborate trick cinematography, mystic contraptions, and promotion gimmicks drew accolades for its innovation and effective spookiness.

The Eyes of Julia Deep (1918) (57 minutes)
Directed by Lloyd Ingraham, written by Elizabeth Mahoney, produced by the American Film Company, and distributed by Pathé. Starring Mary Miles Minter and Alan Forrest.

This is one of the few films starring Minter which are known to have survived, since most of her substantial filmography is now considered lost. In this light dramedy, Minter (then one of the best paid actresses in Hollywood) plays Julia Deep, a young ingenue who works at a department store and falls in love with the impoverished heir of a wealthy family, Terry Hartridge (Forrest). The premarital cohabitational antics Julia and Terry engage in foreshadow the screwball humor that became highly popular in sex comedies of the 1920s.