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Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson still remains a recognizable name and face today. Her spectacular comeback performance in Sunset Boulevard (1950) introduced her to new generations of viewers who never saw a silent film. She was the most self-consciously glamorous of Hollywood stars, but was no Norma Desmond. Despite the flamboyant personality and her famously bizarre fashions, she was a clear-eyed, realistic woman in real life. This common touch was a frequent feature of her screen characters as well. She usually played a wealthy woman, often in love with a lower class man, or a poor woman crashing high society, and there is a strong element of farce in many of her films.

There is a wealth of material available on Swanson, much more than I can list here. The materials below can get you started and point you to other sources:

Phillip Oliver's Gloria Swanson Website

Gloria Swanson
by Julie Buck, in the Women Film Pioneers Project

Bio on Golden Silents

The Internet Movie Database filmography

The Silent Ladies photo gallery on Gloria Swanson

Denny Jackson's Gloria Swanson page

Wikipedia article on Gloria Swanson

Grapevine Video's profile

Swanson's entry in The Blue Book of the Screen (1923)

Swanson's entry in Stars of the Photoplay (1924)

Sadie Thompson, feature of the month on Silents are Golden

Male and Female, feature of the month on Silents are Golden

The Affairs of Anatol, feature of the month on Silents are Golden

Review of Beyond the Rocks, on Silents are Golden

Review of Don't Change your Husband on Silents are Golden

Review of The Love of Sunya on Silents are Golden

Review of Male and Female on Silents are Golden

Review of Manhandled on Silents are Golden

Review of Sadie Thompson on Silents are Golden

Review of Shifting sands on Silents are Golden

Review of Something to Think About on Silents are Golden

Review of Why Change Your Wife? on Silents are Golden

Review of Zaza on Silents are Golden

Silent Films Available on Video

Chaplin's Essanay Comedies, Vol. 1 (1915)
Available from Image Entertainment
Teddy at the Throttle (1917)
Available from Grapevine Video (DVD)
Teddy at the Throttle (1917), The Danger Girl (1916), and The Sultan's Wife (1917)
Available from Sunrise Silents (DVD)
Shifting Sands (1918)
Available from Grapevine Video (DVD)
Male and Female (1919)
Available from Image Entertainment
Why Change Your Wife? (1920)
Available from Facets Multimedia (DVD)
Something to Think About (1920)
Formerly available from Videobrary
Beyond the Rocks (1921)
Available from Milestone Film and Video (DVD) (Check out the half-hour Dutch news story with clips here)
The Affairs of Anatol (1921)
Available from Image Entertainment
Manhandled (1924)
Available from Grapevine Video (DVD) and New York Film Annex
The Love of Sunya (1927)
Out of print, formerly available from Facets Multimedia (DVD)
Sadie Thompson (1928)
Available from Kino Video (DVD)
Queen Kelly (1929)
Available from Kino Video (DVD and VHS)

Further Reading

Swanson, Gloria. Swanson on Swanson. New York: Random House, 1980.

Quirk, Lawrence J. The Films of Gloria Swanson. Secaucus. N.J.: Citadel, 1984.

Basinger, Jeanine. Silent Stars. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999: p. 202-263.

Unsung Divas

©2001, by Greta de Groat. All Rights Reserved

Last revised November 11, 2013