When Women Wrote Hollywood – 1 in a series – “The Red Kimono” – Story by Adela Rogers St. Johns, Directed and Starring Dorothy Davenport

To highlight the wonderful yet largely forgotten work of a collection of female screenwriters from the early years of Hollywood (and as a companion to the book, When Women Wrote Hollywood) we will be posting quick bits about the many films they wrote along with links to further information and clips from their works which are still accessible online. Take a few moments once or twice a week to become familiar with their names and their stories. I think you’ll be surprised at how much bold material these writers tackled at the birth of this new medium. — Rosanne Welch

“The Red Kimono” – Story by Adela Rogers St. Johns, Directed and Starring Dorothy Davenport

A clip from The Red Kimono

Original Poster Art

When Women Wrote Hollywood -

The Red Kimono is a 1925 American silent film drama about prostitution produced by Dorothy Davenport (billed as Mrs. Wallace Reid) and starring Priscilla Bonner.

The film is notable today for being one of the few independent productions produced and written by women. This is the third of Davenport’s “social conscience” releases, preceded by Human Wreckage (1923) on the topic of drug addiction (released five months after Wallace Reid‘s death from morphine), and Broken Laws (1924) about excessive mother-love.

The film is based on a real case of prostitution that took place in New Orleans in 1917. This film, billing itself as a true story, used the real name of the woman played by Priscilla Bonner who as a consequence sued producer Dorothy Davenport for a hefty sum in court and won.[1] The case, Melvin v Reid has been cited recently in the emerging “right to be forgotten” cases around the world as an early example of one’s right to leave a past one wishes to forget. In the ruling of the California Appellate Court (Melvin v. Reid, 112 Cal.App. 285, 297 P. 91 (1931)) the Court stated, “any person living a life of rectitude has that right to happiness which includes a freedom from unnecessary attacks on his character, social standing or reputation.”[citation needed]

As with Davenport’s earlier Human Wreckage in 1924, this film was banned in the United Kingdom by the British Board of Film Censors in 1926.[2] In the 1920s, the film was also banned in the city of Chicago[3][4]. — Wikipedia

More information on Red Kimono

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When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry — Now Available!

When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry 

I’m so excited to see that we’re now publishing on this collection of essays written by the original cohort of students in our first Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting which I edited and for which author Cari Beauchamp wrote a wonderful forward covering the life and influence of Frances Marion.

These 23 essays cover a range of female screenwriters from the early years of film through the 1940s, women whose work helped create the unforgettable stories and characters beloved generations of audiences but whose names have been left out of most film histories.  Not this one. This collection is dedicated to those women and written by a group of women grateful to stand on the shoulders of those who came before – as a beacon to those who will come after.

Rosanne Welch

When Women Write Hollywood Cover

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

Use “When Women Wrote Hollywood” in your classroom! — Contact McFarland directly for library and academic purchases. 

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Table Of Contents


Foreword: Finding Frances Marion
Cari Beauchamp

Rosanne Welch 5

Adela Rogers St. Johns: Survival Of The Feisty
Sarah Amble Whorton

Jeanie Macpherson: A Life Unknown
Amelia Phillips

Anita Loos: A Girl Like Her
Toni Anita Hull

The Nature And Genius Of Alice Guy Blaché
Khanisha Foster

“You’d Better Learn To Hold Your Liquor”: Bess Meredyth And A Career In Early Hollywood
Sydney Haven

The Best Revenge Is Outliving Them All: The Life And Heartbreak Of Frederica Sagor Maas
Mikayla Daniels

Silent Screenwriter, Producer And Director: Marion Fairfax
Sarah Phillips

Smart Girl In Charge: Eve Unsell
Laura Kirk

The Glorious Ms. Glyn
Amy L. Banks

Fearless And Fierce: June Mathis
Lauren Elizabeth Smith

Writing Around Lois Weber
Chase Thompson

Gene Gauntier: Ascending By Drowning
Yasser Omar Shahin

Lorna Moon: A Woman Of A Certain Influence
Elizabeth Dwyer Sandlin

Clara Beranger: The Unseen Laborer
Amanda R. Stockwell

Ida May Park: Prolific Pioneer
Jackie Perez

Frances Goodrich And Albert Hackett: The Most Beloved Couple In Hollywood
Julie Berkobien

In Defense Of Lillian Hellman
Kelley C. Zinge

The Intimately Unknowable Dorothy Parker: A Study Of Her Life And Art
Elizabeth Dwyer Sandlin

Joan Harrison: Redefining Femininity In Film Noir And Hollywood
Chelsea Andes

The Six Degrees Of Sarah Y. Mason And Victor Heerman
Pamela L. Scott

Zoë Akins: A Quiet Rebellion
Sarah Amble Whorton

Marriage Of Words: Bella And Sam Spewack
Laura Kirk

The Forgettable Ms. Murfin
Amy L. Banks

A Team In Passionate Action: Ruth Gordon And Garson Kanin
Rosanne Welch

About The Contributors