ABSTRACT

The transitional era of 1907-1913 incorporates a wide range of changes, to textual practices and extratextual institutions alike. Frequently these two types of changes work in concert, as when production effi ciencies promote particular stylistic tendencies (such as increased cutting rates or adjusted shot scale) or when the adoption of a new standard for running length, predicated on stabilizing rental charges, also leads to the enshrinement of certain narrative formulae. Nowhere is this tendency more evident than in the intertwined histories of the development of the star system and the concomitant shift to a type of performance style tailored to the demands of crafting compelling fi lm narratives during this period. While changing fi lmic performance styles always owe a least a partial debt to prevailing trends in popular star personae and current promotional strategies, during the transitional era the interconnectedness of stardom and performance style was arguably more pronounced than it would ever be again. More specifi cally, during the years leading up to the feature era, before the enshrinement of motion picture stardom within a complex circuitry of promotional departments and media-based publicity, the fi lmic text played a paramount role in defi ning what Richard deCordova has labeled the “picture personality.”