A Kalem Girl: Gene Gauntier

You Remember Ellen
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier. K: George K. Hollister. D: George K. Hollister, Gene Gauntier, Jack J. Clark. P: Kalem Company. USA 1912
Based on the poem ‘You Remember Ellen’ by Thomas Moore.
Print: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive

His Mother
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier. K: George K. Hollister. D: Jack J. Clark, Gene Gauntier, J.P. McGowan. P: Kalem Company. USA 1912
Print: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive
Dutch titles

“Like The Lad from Old Ireland, the Old World and the New are reconciled, the distance between them eliminated. The Mayor from Ireland (Kalem 1912) and The Irish in America (Lubin 1915) tell similar tales of immigrant success in America. In each, New York functions as a site of male adventure and upward mobility. And in each an Irish sweetheart provides the necessary link to the homeland. Indeed, throughout the O’Kalem canon, Ireland for the most part is feminized – symbolized largely through heartbreaken sweethearts and grieving mothers. Underscoring this is the fact that fathers are somewhat rare – widows, by contrast, plentiful – and the authority of priests often ineffectual against the English Crown. America, identified with the male principles of individualism, upward mobility, and adventure, invariably proves the solution to Ireland’s problems.”
Rebecca Prime: Cinematic Homecomings: Exile and Return in Transnational Cinema. New York 2014, p. 24 f.

374-Gene Gauntier

“During the years 1907-–1912, Gene Gauntier, the first ‘Kalem Girl’, was the preeminent figure at the Kalem Film Manufacturing Company. She played key roles in the events that comprise established film history. She wrote the scenario for Ben Hur (1907), the work involved in the controversy that established the first copyright laws covering motion pictures, and wrote and acted in key films. In addition, she acted in the Nan, the Confederate Spy series: The Girl Spy (1909), The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg (1910), The Further Adventures of the Girl Spy (1910), cross-dressing forerunners of the serial action queens. She appeared in  The Lad from Old Ireland (1910), the first film shot on location outside of the United States, and in From the Manger to the Cross (1912), the first (American) feature-length treatment of the life of Christ. The Kalem Company was the first to make fiction motion pictures on location around the world, which has meant that 35mm film prints and other documents may have been deposited in archives outside the United States, the best example of which is the Irish Film Archives in Dublin, where one extant Gene Gauntier Feature Players title and five Kalem titles are archived.”
Gretchen Bisplinghoff
Women Film Pioneers

The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier. D: Gene Gauntier. P: Kalem Company. USA 1910
Print: EYEfilm
Dutch titles

Summary: Moving Picture World synopsis

“As Abel reminds us, not all action heroines in frontier and Civil War films disguised their gender. The difference that cross-dressing makes is that it provides a visual referent to the women’s assumption of a male role. It also provides the spectacle of a novel costume and connects the films to cross-dressing traditions on stage and in literature. On the one hand, the gender disguise could be considered conservative, as it implies that women must temporarily stop being women in order to achieve agency. It also preserves the maleness of the frontier and battlefield. On the other hand, male guise allows female bodies to participate in and contribute to masculinity, and it evokes stories of real-life passing women and female-bodied men.”
Laura Horak: Landscape, Vitality, and Desire: Cross-Dressed Frontier Girls in
Transitional-Era American Cinema. In: Cinema Journal 52, No. 4. University of Texas Press Summer 2013, pp. 74-98, here: p. 83

>>>  on this site:  From the Manger to the Cross,  Ben Hur, Old Ireland