Eve Unsell (Eve Unsell)

Eve Unsell

Eve Unsell underwent training as a journalist and magazine writer for the Kansas City Post and attended Emerson College in Boston for her postgraduate year, studying literature and drama. The theatrical agent, Beatrice DeMille was so impressed with one of Unsell’s short stories that she hired young Eve as a play reader for her theatrical company in New York. DeMille became a mentor to Eve, giving her the motivation she needed to further her career. Beatrice’s two son’s Cecil and William, partnered with future theatre impresario David Belasco, later took over Beatrice’s company, becoming mentors to Eve as well. In the article, “The Rise Of The Continuity Writer,” featured in Writer’s Monthly, Eve wrote of her mentors, “Masters of screen technique as the DeMille’s have realized the necessity for not only recruiting the eminent authors for screen ranks but for training young writers to become technicians of screen detail, for the purpose of successfully translating the ‘big ideas’ of the big authors in screen terms, and so, close on the heels of the plot itself.” This is where she learned plot construction, or what she liked to call it, plot ‘detecting’. Eve gained much experience under the DeMille’s and David Blasco. Blasco, who cast her in the theatrical comedy “Excuse Me,” gave Unsell two years of on stage experience that would later help in her better understanding of acting and screen writing. It was not until 1913 that Eve’s hard work in screen writing paid off. That year Moving Picture World announced that she would sell several film scenarios to the Pathe Freres, and the Kalem Company, who decided to produce Unsell’s scenario, The Pawnbroker’s Daughter.

Later that year Eve Unsell signed a contract with Cecil DeMille and Jesse Lasky for what was then the Famous Players Film Company. The famous news headline “Eve Unsell Will Sail For England,” announced that in 1916 Eve was chosen to be scenario head of the Famous Players-Lasky British Producers Ltd. The company’s aim was “to feature European locations and to produce the works of the greatest Continental writers.” Eve Unsell liked her office in London, describing it as “comfortable and cozy.” However, her heart was in American Pictures. In an interview with Motion Pictures News she explains, “English audience is a very critical one. American pictures predominate and are well received.” The most successful film written by Unsell in her time abroad was The Call of Youth, a short romance film in which Alfred Hitchcock is credited as a title designer. After the movie was produced in 1921, Unsell moved back to New York to start her own company, Eve Unsell Photoplay Staff, Inc., the only company of its kind at the time headed by a woman. Eve was a feminist and in a time when women had little representation in media she made a point to make both her male and female roles equally important in screen writes and other written works. In an article “From the Studio Angle, The Development Of Screenwriters,” written by Eve and featured in the Writer’s Monthly, she talks of her stance on men and women representation in screen writing and on screen roles. “There’s sex in writing,” she explains. “Men are generally more successful in working out intricate plots, and supplying the broad sweeps of action, the masculine logic, and proper balance of the subject.”

Women’s roles tend to be different, however just as important. The women “successfully ‘doctor’ the scenarios, adding little touches that give that emotional values to the dramatic scenes, and the psychology of the character necessary for the ‘popular’ picture.” Eve defends Eve illuminates how the roles of men and women are brought alive through screen writing and ultimately through pictures and art. The pride she takes in her work is evident through her emphasis on the importance of the storywriter. “Only the best stories are good enough for the film… the screen needs men and women of vision, to portray life at it’s best… the screen writer must learn the art of substituting action for words.” Eve Unsell is now one of the 202 women featured in the “Women Film Pioneers Project,” an online database that “showcases women who worked behind-the-scenes in the silent film industry as directors, producers, editors, and more”.

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  • December, 06, 1887
  • USA
  • Chicago, Illinois


  • July, 06, 1937
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California


  • Woodlawn Cemetery
  • Santa Monica, California
  • USA

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