JF Ptak Science Books Post 1790
I stumbled into an unintentionally iconic time capsule, a collapsible bit in the brevity and complexity department, that sifted out the "extraneous" artistic matter of early motion picture entertainment and got straightaway to the crux of the film-making biscuit, which was finding people to fill the roles in a film. It sounds simple enough in a simpler time, but it wasn't simple for them--and the residue of the difference between the two is interesting.
In looking through some early documents on sound-on-film motion pictures (that's simultaneous sound-on-film) I came across this nostalgic wonderful insight: The Standard for March 1923. The Standard Casting Directors Directory was a film exec's handbook, an advertising vehicle for actors and their favored parts, a picture directory of offerings of all scales of applied talent. In addition to the lovely photos are the descriptions of what their casting specifications might be--including the titles of the specialties.
For "supporting cast/specialty people" for men, the titles include (with actors' names appearing underneath): acrobats, bald headed men, bankers, bearded men (old), bellhops, bit men, boxers, butlers. character men, chauffeurs, Chinamen, Colored Members of the Profession, comedians, cowboys, dancers, detectives, divers, doctors, Englishmen, entertainments, Europeans, evening clothes men (old) , fat men, female impersonators, fencers, footmen, Frenchmen, German types, Hawaiians, Hindus, hunchback, Indians, Irishmen (old), Italians, Japanese, Jewish (old), jockies, judges, juveniles, Mexican, monks, policemen, priests, Russian types, sheriffs, slickers--cake eaters, small town men, Spanish, stunt men, swimmers, tall men (over 6 feet), twins, underworld types, waiters, and well dressed men".
There were 50 categories for the women (compared to 56 for the men), and included quite a lot of overlap, particularly in the stereotyping department. The more-or-less exclusive categories for women included cooks, dancers, flappers, ingenues, maids, matrons, models, mothers, nuns, nurses, old maids,
stenographers, waitresses, witch types and tall old women. I doubt that there was very much money to be made playing a tall old woman (or a fat/matronly/old maid/tall old woman) but evidently it was more than could be made by playing a woman lawyer/doctor/insert other professional position here _________ .
I realize that this was a simple and useful way of getting things done, of finding the necessary actors for movie roles, but taken slightly out-of-context this pamphlet becomes a little more than that--a small, swallowable capsule of what "normalcy" might have looked like for entertainment folks in a relatively mature medium in 1923.