Jan 102016
 
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From left: Tommy (Marguerite Clark), Willie (Eleanor Lawson), and Noel (Helen Greene) in a publicity photo

 

“The Amazons” 1917 Movie That Denies Lesbian Natures

The Amazons is a ‘lost’ silent comedy film that was produced in Hollywood in 1917.  It is, of course, a male version that pokes fun at lesbians and denies their nature by arranging a plot that turns them into men-loving women.

The film was directed by Joseph Kaufman and starred Marguerite Clark, Elsie Lawson and Helen Green.  The script was based on an 1883 play “The Amazons” written by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero and adapted for the screen by female writer Frances Marion.  It was distributed by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount.

An Unknown Film Magazine Reveals the Plot

The parents of three girls are disappointed that they had not produced sons.  The girls are brought up as boys by the Marchioness of Castlejordan (Robinson), and no males are allowed within the walls of the estate.

Being raised as boys, the girls’ antics upset the villagers and cause gossip.

Something has to be done to rectify the situation.  Tommy (Marguerite Clark actress) is the youngest.  She is sent to London to visit relatives.

Looking stunning in a gentleman’s evening clothes, she manages to slip away from high society and visit a commoners’ dance hall.  Tommy is tough and truly an Amazon.  When she encounters a bully, in self-defense, she knowns the man down.  Not wanting any more trouble and fearing reports might get back to the Marchioness and the London relatives, Tommy flees the dance hall.  She jumps into a cab but finds that it has an occupant. He introduces himself as Lord Litterly.  He takes her home and this is the beginning of a warm friendship.  Naturally, since Tommy was seen as a fighting Amazon in the dance hall, the producers of the movie must  have Tommy herocially ‘saved’ by a man!!  Lord Litterly saves the “fragile female” Tommy from a runaway horse!   That’s one mighty Amazon reduced to a frightened and weak woman.   Now, there’s two Amazons to diminish!

The Remaining Two Amazon Sisters

Tommy’s two sisters (Willie and Noel) arrange a meeting with two men in the gymnasium one evening.  At the same time, Tommy who climbs through a skylight (what she’s still somewhat butch?) and ‘drops in” on Litterly who happens to be visiting the Marchioness and bringing a message with a maid.  Now, the scene shows all three women with three men – quite convenient and a male way to wrap up the plot.  Everything is as nature intended it to be (ugh) with women and men attracted to one another. (How many lesbians threw up watching that movie?)

Royalty Bring Natural Order

A Marchioness is wife of a Marquess – above a Countess and below a Duchess known as Lady X) in British society.  She would be in the peerage or ranks of Royalty.

By giving a woman the title of Marchioness, the film sets up a woman who is of royal blood.  Royalty has always thought of itself as being appointed by God to rule.  Anything that this Marchioness does or says carries weight.

Back to the plot.

The Marchioness discovers the trio, and seeing that her girls will be girls, gives them her blessing, and a triple wedding follows.

REWRITTEN TODAY by….(Drum Roll, please)…..Paula Key!  (Moi

Three young lesbians are happily received by Daphne, a Marchioness.  She allows them to swing out of trees, ride dirt bikes and look up femmes on the internet dating sites.  The youngest Tomicita called Tommy) rides her motorcycle to London to visit relatives.

"Tommy" this photo was found on Buzzfeed with no name for the woman

“Tommy” this photo was found on Buzzfeed with no name for the woman

 

She goes to a gay club where some grumpy butch decides to beat up her girlfriend.  Tommy interfers and decks the abusive butch.  She takes the girlfriend’s hand and together they ride to a hotel where they make love for hours upon hours.  They are in love and Tommy brings Julie (the girl) back to introduce her to the Marchioness who wants to be part of the wedding preparations.

Tommy’s two sisters (Willie and Noel) are flexing their muscles in the gym while noticing two women watching them with admiration.

Noel - picture from Buzzfeed that does not identify the woman

Noel – picture from Buzzfeed that does not identify the woman

-and-  “Willie”

"Willie" picture found on Buzzfeed - woman not identified

“Willie” picture found on Buzzfeed – woman not identified

The four lesbians decide to go dancing and end up at a bar where, by wonderful luck, all four want to meet again. Back at the estate,  The Marchioness is shopping when the two sisters decide to show their women the equipment in the gym.  The Marchioness appears in the gym and shakes her head to see the couples kissing and groping one another – floor maps having been set up to give each couple privacy.

Meanwhile, at that very moment,  Tommy decides to ride her motorcycle with girlfriend into the gym. The  Marchioness bursts into uncontrolled laughter.  “Oh, Girls will be girls, but gay girls are so much MORE exciting!  Oh, I know that I should not have married!”  The audience notes this clue!!

Six months later, the three sisters are dressed in Tuxedos – and their financeės get to dress the way they want for the first triple wedding.  This is done for the benefit of the Marchioness who is old and wants to see a triple wedding.

The film ends with each couple deciding to do their own weddings – when the mood decides.   While the three sisters Tommy, Noel and Willie are definitely” butches” – this does not stop their femmes from being in control, too.   One femme Cecilia, is a pilot for a major airlines, and flies Willie directly off the Marchioness’ property for an unknown honeymoon location.

Noel is a laid back butch and his happy to let Lynda his mate drive his expensive sports car.  They have vowed to have a 50-50 relationship with no one in control.

Tommy still drives the motorcycle with Julie content to be sitting with her arms around different parts of Tommy!

The Film’s Ending

The Marchioness waves goodbye to all three sisters with a tearful handkerchief dabbing at her eyes. The audience watches as she reclines on an expensive sofa with ancient portraits of military figures and heraldry.  Daphne, Marchioness of Castlejordan, places a large decanter of gin beside her and a crystal carafe of tonic water.  She quickly finishes three glasses and the camera catches a mind that has travelled to the past;   two women lie in each other’s arms beside a stream.   We watch as Daphne rises and walks with stately grace to a walnut dresser.  She withdraws a picture and we note that it is a young Daphne withe the woman who was lying beside her by the stream.

Daphne glances away from the framed photograph to the large portrait of the Marquis and her taken shortly after their wedding. “Arnold, we should never have married, but I was very fond of you as a husband but not a lover.”

VictorianQueerWomen28929

Daphne returns her look to the  framed photograph.  She touches the unknown woman’s cheek with her finger.

“Now, you Ellen were one hell of a lover!  We were so happy and complete until the families with controlling males claimed us as chattel.”

Daphne picks up the phone two times and dials a number only to put it down before it is answered.

She takes the fourth gin and tonic and dials; this time she does not hang up.

“Lady Ellen, please.  Tell her it is Daphne,  Marchioness of Castlejordan .”

Someone answers the phone. It appears to be Lady Ellen.

The camera focuses on a smiling Marchioness who has one armed raised in a sign of victory.

“Yes, Ellen, it really is me. ”

The camera reveals a grey-hair older woman with a kind face.  Lady Ellen has aged well and is smiling and stroking a grey cat of considerably body weight.

Lady Ellen says, “Oh, Daphne, after all those years of absence, you have changed your mind and contacted me!”

Daphne says, “I had to keep you away.  I could not have endured seeing you with Cyril.”

Lady Ellen nods her head.  “I understood. I felt the same way, but now both husbands are dead!”

Daphne sighs.  “I don’t suppose…..?”

“Yes,” bursts out Lady Ellen, “We must meet and it must be SOON! We have so much catching up to do.  I’ll have your room made up tonight!”

“My room?” Daphne is obviously disappointed.

Lady Ellen bursts out laughing, “I didn’t want to presume anything, but I would like to say “our room.”

Daphne sighs, “There are no guarantees; we have been apart for such a long time.”

images-8Lady Ellen shakes her head.  “Where is that romantic woman that seduced me by the stream?  Somehow, I think she is capable of doing it again – albeit now that we are aged – on a comfortable bed!”

The movie ends when Daphne rings a bell and the maid appears.   “Monica, I would like you to help me pack for a long duration.”  The maid nods.  “Oh, and Monica would you inform our chauffeur, James, that he will be driving me to Lady Ellen’s estate in Tombridge Wells at 8 a.m.   Tell him, it is a long drive and I MUST be there for a reunion dinner.

The End.

paula key

 

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