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
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. 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.”
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. In the 1920s, the film was also banned in the city of Chicago. — Wikipedia
More information on Red Kimono
- Read more about this screenwriter in When Women Wrote Hollywood
- Watch Red Kimono on Canopy (free via many public library web sites)
- Red Kimono on IMDB
- Red Kimono on Wikipedia
- Books by Adela Rogers St. Johns
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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library