Again Richard Dyer MacCann has brought his editorial skills to the task of presenting for the students and the general reader what movie making was like in the earliest days of America. This time he tells the stories of the lives, works, and fortunes of the most talented and prolific early American directors. Not only did they express themselves as artists, they also became popular, rich, and famous. Through autobiographical writings and the appraisals of contemporaries and more recent historians, Dr. MacCann provides the reader with a rich background for understanding how Thomas Ince, William S. Hart, D.W. Griffith, and Erich non Stroheim did their work. He also reveals some of the conflicts in critical views about them, past and present. Many teachers will agree that these hard-to-find selections are invaluable source materials to go along with more tradtional texts. From the latest scholarship on Edwin S. Porter and Alice Guy Blache to the little-known "realist-manifesto" of Thomas Ince and the latest judgements on the value of Griffith's later works as art-the reader will find rewards and surprises here. Dr. MacCann's introductory essays also provide new ways of looking at the philosophy an dmotivations of these early creative titans. His view of Erich von Stroheim will cause some controversy among traditional supporters of that temperamental man, and his analysis of D.W. Griffiths's relationships with his associates, especially Lillian Gish, may give pause to pure auteurists.
Richard Dyer MacCann was Hollywood correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and editor of Cinema Journal. He is the author of forty published articles and eight books, including Hollywood in Transition, and Film: A Montage of Theories. He has produced a number of works on film and videotape, including a series of 12 half-hour illustrated lectures coordinating with the titles of the book in this series.