Douglas Fairbanks and the American Century brings to life the most popular movie star of his day, the personification of the Golden Age of Hollywood. At his peak, in the teens and twenties, the swashbuckling adventurer embodied the new American Century of speed, opportunity, and aggressive optimism. The essays and interviews in this volume bring fresh perspectives to his life and work, including analyses of films never before examined. Also published here for the first time in English is a first-hand production account of the making of Fairbanks's last silent film, The Iron Mask.
Fairbanks (1883-1939) was the most vivid and strenuous exponent of the American Century, whose dominant mode after 1900 was the mass marketing of a burgeoning democratic optimism, at home and abroad. During those first decades of the twentieth century, his satiric comedy adventures shadow-boxed with the illusions of class and custom. His characters managed to combine the American Easterner's experience and pretension and the Westerner's promise and expansion. As the masculine personification of the Old World aristocrat and the New World self-made man--tied to tradition yet emancipated from history--he constructed a uniquely American aristocrat striding into a new age and sensibility.
This is the most complete account yet written of the film career of Douglas Fairbanks, one of the first great stars of the silent American cinema and one of the original United Artists (comprising Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith). John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh's text is especially rich in its coverage of the early years of the star's career from 1915 to 1920 and covers in detail several films previously considered lost.
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About the Author
John C. Tibbetts is an associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas and author of twenty books on a variety of subjects, the most recent being The Gothic Imagination: Conversations on Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction in the Media.
James M. Welsh professor emeritus at Salisbury University, cofounded Literature/Film Quarterly, which he edited for thirty-three years, and is the author of over twenty books, the most recent being The Oliver Stone Encyclopedia.
Table of Contents
A Personal Greeting Vera Fairbanks (Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) xi
Foreword: A Fairbanks Memoir Kevin Brownlow xv
Introduction: The Choreography of Hope 3
Part I Odyssey of a Spring Lamb 15
Chapter 1 "Windows Are the Only Doors": The First Films (The Lamb, 1915, and Double Trouble, 1915) 17
Chapter 2 "The Leap to Greatness": The Years at Triangle, Artcraft, United Artists, 1916-1919 30
Chapter 3 "Arizona Jim": The Fairbanks Westerns, 1916-1920 92
Chapter 4 "Her Picture in the Papers": Mary Pickford's "Growing Girl" 142
Chapter 5 "On an Odd Note": Say, Young Fellow! (1918), The Nut (1920), and When the Clouds Roll By (1919) 170
Part II "The Imperial Reach" 183
Chapter 6 Prologue 185
Chapter 7 "The Mark of Greatness": The Adventures of Señor Zorro 188
Chapter 8 "A Dance of Free Men in the Forest": Robin Hood 200
Chapter 9 "Architecture in Motion": The Thief of Bagdad 209
Chapter 10 "A Painted Ship on a Painted Ocean": The Black Pirate 219
Chapter 11 "Dumas, Douglas, and Delirium": Fairbanks and the Musketeers 239
Chapter 12 "The Fall from Grace": The Gaucho 259
Part III Doug and Mary Find their Voices 271
Chapter 13 Coquette: Goodbye to the Glad Girl 273
Chapter 14 A Shrewd Adaptation: The Taming of the Shrew 283
Part IV Artists and Husbands 297
Chapter 15 Prologue 299
Chapter 16 Reaching for the Moon 303
Chapter 17 Around the World in Eighty Minutes 307
Chapter 18 Mr. Robinson Crusoe 313
Chapter 19 The Private Life of Don Juan 317
Afterword: The Makings of a Man 1880-1927 Brian Faucette 333
Appendix A "His Own Man": Interviews with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. 339
Appendix B On the Set of The Iron Mask (1929) Maurice Leloir 357