Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1907) di Meredith M. Nicholson. Scen.: Giles Warren. Int.: Ruth Stonehouse (Rosalind), Lawrence Peyton, Claire McDowell, Martha Mattox. Prod.: Universal Film Manufacturing Company. 35mm. L.: 500 m [incompleto]. D.: 25’. Tinted.
Born in Denver, Colorado in 1892, Ruth Stonehouse moved with her mother to Chicago as a teenager and became friends with Gertrud Spoor, daughter of George Spoor who had launched Essanay with Gilbert M. Anderson (‘Bronco Bill’) in 1907. Stonehouse joined Essanay in 1910, acting in both dramas – such as The Gilded Cage (1915) – and comedies. In 1916, she moved from Essanay to Universal Film Manufacturing Company, where she was soon given the opportunity to direct Puppy Love (1917). This was the first of a series of shorts, which she wrote, directed and starred in as the lead character Mary Ann Kelly. A fascinating article, The Directing Microbe, published in “Moving Picture Stories” (April 13th 1917) highlights the entrance of the “bright little actress” into filmmaking. The article figures the desire to direct as an infectious microbe that has begun to attack individuals involved in film production at every level. Emphasising how “incredible” it is that an actress such as Stonehouse can “be so masterful as to dominate a band of fiery photoplayers”, the article goes on to suggest that the entrance of women into directing is a threat to “men who have spent a lifetime perfecting their art”.
After a series of directorial projects with that studio in 1916 Stonehouse starred in a Triangle production, but soon returned to Universal. One Universal advert read: “Ruth Stonehouse, Authoress, Directress and Featured Player of the following productions: Mary Ann Series, Rosalind at Redgate, Dorothy Dares, Tacky Sue, Little Miss Moonshine, A Loveable Thief. Now being starred in a series of five-reel comedy dramas including The First Assistant Wife”.
Asked about her ambitions in a “Motion Picture Magazine” interview (February 1919) Ruth Stonehouse replied: “Well, of course I do want to be a star… for a while… but eventually I want to be a directress, a producer; I want to be in the business end of it, that is, at the same time, the artistic end of it”. But Rosalind at Redgate would be her last film as a director – and the only one of all her films that has (partly) survived. Stonehouse retired in 1928 after having acted in about 200 films. She was much appreciated as a cook (especially of asparagus soufflé) and a dedicated gardener.
Grateful acknowledgement: most of the information in this note has been sourced from Steve Massa’s book Slapstick Divas and from Michelle Koerber’s entry on Stonehouse at the Women Film Pioneers Project.