Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028 Map
Sat, May 26, 2018
7:30pm

Retroformat 2018
#MeToo From the Silent Screen
Sponsored by the George Lucas Family Foundation

“The Social Secretary” (1916, 52 min. Dir. John Emerson) features one of the top stars of the silent era, Norma Talmadge, as Mayme, who makes herself up to be as physically unattractive as possible so she can work without being sexually harassed. The witty script is by the legendary Anita Loos, with direction by John Emerson (WILD AND WOOLLY) and (uncredited) set design and assistant direction by Erich von Stroheim, who also costars, along with Gladden James (THE MYSTERY OF THE DOUBLE CROSS). Plus a great program of silent short subjects to be announced.

“The Social Secretary” (1916, 52 min. Dir. John Emerson) features one of the top stars of the silent era, Norma Talmadge, as Mayme, who makes herself up to be as physically unattractive as possible so she can work without being sexually harassed. The witty script is by the legendary Anita Loos, with direction by John Emerson (WILD AND WOOLLY) and (uncredited) set design and assistant direction by Erich von Stroheim, who also costars, along with Gladden James (THE MYSTERY OF THE DOUBLE CROSS). Plus a great program of silent short subjects including the gender-bending Mabel's Blunder (1914), starring its writer/director, Mabel Normand including

The Social Secretary is an early feminist satire penned by the brilliant Anita Loos (pictured below), whose credits include the titles for Griffith's Intolerance; one of the most important novels of the 1920s, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1927); the play based on Collette's Gigi (1951); and even a book about Norma Talmadge and her sisters, Constance and Natalie, The Talmadge Girls - A Memoir (1978). She is often credited as the screen's first staff writer, hired by Griffith in 1915 for the Triangle Film Corporation, and it is certain that she knew a thing or two about sexual harassment and exploitation in the workplace. The Social Secretary predates today's focus on women's rights in bold and surprising ways.

In real life, Loos married Social Secretary's director, John Emerson, three years after it’s release. As a team, they contributed to many of Douglas Fairbanks' early films, including Wild and Wooly. Emerson demanded co-writing credits on all her works – even when he hadn’t contributed a word. They separated in the early 1920s. In 1977, she wrote, "Sometimes I get inquiries concerning my marriage to a man who treated me with complete lack of consideration, tried to take credit for my work and appropriated all my earnings. The main reason is that my husband liberated me; granted me full freedom to choose my own companions."

Anita Loos died in New York 1981 at the age of 92.

With live musical accompaniment by Cliff Retallick.
120 minutes. | Screening format: 8mm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian • Sat, May 26, 2018 • 7:30pm

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