Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Allan Dwan, Silent Movie Director

Allan Dwan, born in Toronto, Canada, April 3, 1885 was another contempory of Mary Pickford. "Joseph Aloysious" Dwan moved with his family to the US when he was eleven. He attended the University of Notre Dame, studying engineering. He went to work for a lighting company in Chicago, and it was there that he developed an interest in the brand new motion picture business.

When Essanay Studio (Spoor and Anderson) offered Dwan a chance to come on board as a scriptwriter, he jumped at it. In 1911, he began working in Hollywood. A number of movie companies had relocated to the west coast in order to take advantage of a 360 days of sunshine per year.

Allan Dwan directed both Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks in a number of their early pictures. He directed Pickford in A Girl of Yesterday in 1915, the film that made Mary the first actress ever to fly in a plane in a movie.

In 1922, Dwan directed Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks. In an interview the year before Allan Dwan died, he said of Fairbanks that the actor was athletic, "but not always smart." Once while Dwan was directing, Fairbanks insisted on leaping off a balcony onto a horse. Dwan told him that the idea was insanity. But Fairbanks did the leap -- and ended up in the hospital.

 Dwan admired Douglas Fairbanks Sr. According to the famed director, unlike Faribanks's son Doug Jr., who had a reputation as a ladies' man, Doug Sr. was "devoted to Mary." Well, for a few years anyway.

Allan Dwan died in Los Angeles in 1981, at the age of 96.

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