Alice Guy Blaché, Rose Pastor Stokes, and the Birth Control Film That Never Was

Norden, Martin F. (2013) Alice Guy Blaché, Rose Pastor Stokes, and the Birth Control Film That Never Was. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/3801. In: Researching Women in Silent Cinema: New Findings and Perspectives. A cura di: Dall'Asta, Monica ; Duckett, Victoria ; Tralli, Lucia. Bologna: Dipartimento delle Arti - DAR, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, pp. 28-41. ISBN 9788898010103. In: Women and Screen Cultures, (1). A cura di: Dall'Asta, Monica ; Duckett, Victoria. ISSN 2283-6462.
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The worldwide popularity of Lois Weber’s pro-birth control, anti-abortion film Where Are My Children? (1916) prompted many in the movie industry to develop films with similar themes. Prominent among these filmmakers was Alice Guy Blaché, who approached renowned birth-control activist Rose Pastor Stokes about collaborating on such a project. The two women eventually developed a script for a film on birth control tentatively titled Shall the Parents Decide? They hoped to finish their film in time for a key event due to occur in the fall of 1916: Margaret Sanger’s opening of the first birth-control clinic in America. Shall the Parents Decide? was never made, however, and this chapter explores the reasons for its failure. The research materials include Pastor Stokes’ unfinished autobiography, Guy Blaché’s memoirs, and correspondence between the women and Guy Blaché’s representative, Bert Adler. The most important document by far is the unpublished script itself. A fifty-page typewritten affair prepared by Guy Blaché and supplemented by Pastor Stokes’ numerous hand-written emendations, the script offers a fascinating glimpse into the women’s collaborative process. It gives a clear and detailed account of the film that Guy Blaché had hoped would be, in her words, her “crowning cinema achievement.”

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Norden, Martin F.
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28 Sep 2013 15:03
Last modified
13 Mar 2015 14:39

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