Hypocrites & Eleanor's Catch (DVD)
The most important and prolific of all American women directors of the silent era, Lois Weber entered films in 1907 at Gaumont, working alongside Alice Guy-Blaché. In the ensuing years, she and her husband Phillips Smalley acted in, directed, wrote and edited films for Gaumont, Rex and Universal. By 1914, Weber was a well-known director when she went to work for the Bosworth Company to make HYPOCRITES.
HYPOCRITES is an amazingly complex film in both narrative and technique, following the parallel stories of an early Christian ascetic and a modern minister, with most actors in dual roles. Gabriel (Courteney Foote) is a medieval monk who devotes himself to completing a statue of “Truth,” only to be murdered by a mob when his work turns out to be an image of a naked woman. The contemporary Gabriel is the pastor of a large urban congregation for whom religion is a matter of appearances, not beliefs. The hypocrisy of the congregation is exposed by a series of vignettes in which the Naked Truth, literally portrayed by a nude woman, reveals their appetites for money, sex and power.
HYPOCRITES was a shocking and controversial film whose release was held up for many months by the difficulty of distributing a film with full nudity. Weber’s sincerity and reputation allowed her to use something that in the hands of a male director would have been considered scandalous and immoral. Widely admired at the time for extraordinary use of multiple exposures and intricate editing, HYPOCRITES propelled Weber to the front ranks of silent directors.
ELEANOR'S CATCH is a delightful short, directed by and starring Cleo Madison. A successful actress, Madison was one of many women who directed films at Universal, particularly in the mid 1910s. In this two-reeler, she stars as a young city girl dragged into a life of crime by a ne’er-do-well suitor. A terrific surprise ending gives Eleanor and Cleo an early claim to promoting women’s equality in the workforce.
Lois Weber's infamous attack on the moral decay of society which caused a sensation by featuring a fully nude woman to portray "the naked truth." A huge hit, which propelled Weber to the front ranks of all silent film directors. more info
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