This essay addresses the question: what distinguished the popular Drew comedies (1915–1919)? First, in what essentially were situation comedies, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew played a white middle-class couple who squabbled over issues or disagreements, usually minor but sometimes not, that were resolved through deft deceptions. Second, and most important, not only was Mrs. Drew (1890–1925) an accomplished comedienne, but she also scripted all of the films, directed or codirected nearly as many, and eventually became a producer. While on screen she may have played a seemingly conventional wife (but not always), behind the scenes she created stories that poked gentle fun at white middle-class domestic life and often challenged, however lightly transgressive, the prevailing patriarchy of the period.
At Home with Polly and Henry: Mrs. Sidney Drew’s Comedies, 1915–1919
Richard Abel is Professor Emeritus of International Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Michigan. His most recent books include Menus for Movie Land: Newspapers and the Emergence of American Film Culture, 1913–1916 (2015), Motor City Movie Culture, 1916–1925 (2020), Barbara C. Hodgdon’s Ghostly Fragments, coedited with Peter Holland (2021), and the edited collection, Movie Mavens: US Newspaper Women Take on the Movies, 1914–1923 (2021). Our Country/Whose Country?: Early Westerns and Travel Pictures Through the Lens of Settler Colonialism will be published in late 2023.
Richard Abel; At Home with Polly and Henry: Mrs. Sidney Drew’s Comedies, 1915–1919. Feminist Media Histories 1 July 2023; 9 (3): 79–109. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2023.9.3.79
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