Funny Women of the Silents

Silver Screenings

Anita Garvin and Marion Byron in 1928. 

There is no delicate way to put this: We’ve been ripped off.

We, meaning all of us movie-watching folk.

Now, before we continue, we realize countless people in the world have been ripped off in much bigger ways, such as famine, war, injustice, etc.

What we’re talking about is a rip-off in film history, an epic What Might Have Been.

Let us explain. We just finished reading Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy by Steve Massa (Bear Manor Media, 2017). This oddly-punctuated volume is a work of staggering research; a look at female movie comediennes in the silent era – an era that gave us Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and a whole army of funny women.

“American silent comedy in particular has come to be regarded as man’s work, as if only men were brave (or foolhardy) enough to hang off a…

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