Scen. e int.: Gene Gauntier; Prod.: Kalem
Before the phenomenon of serial cinema exploded across the American screens with such epochal successes as What Happened to Mary (1912), The Adventures of Kathleen (1913), and The Perils of Pauline (1914), some series films had already begun to exploit the attractiion of young, heroic women confronting danger. Among the first was Gene Gauntier’s Girl Spy, a heroine of the Civil War, striking in her ability to go from the frothy innocence of a crinoline dress to a male disguise in order to perform, incognito, vital missions that are praised by the General. Gene Gauntier was hired at Kalem Studios in 1906, and shortly after she became known as the “Kalem Girl.” The writer of more than 30 films, and the director of at least one of them (The Grandmother, 1909), she also created the character of the girl-spy in a series of four adventure episodes, which started in 1909, with The Girl Spy: An Incident of the Civil War, and continued until a last release in 1911, A Hitherto Unrelated Incident of the Girl Spy. In her autobiography, Gauntier recalls how her character was always ready to do, “difficult and sometimes dangerous stunts… I played a Southern girl disguised as a boy of ’61. It made a tremendous hit and exhibitors wrote in for more. Thus began the first series made in films, and I kept them up for two years until, tired of sprains and bruises and with brains sucked dry of any more adventures for the intrepid young woman, I married her off and ended the war. And I thought this would be the finish. Not so! The demand for them still came in and I was compelled to come back with one called A Hitherto Unrelated Incident of the Girl Spy.